bad TV, celebrities, nostalgia

Repost: The evolution of Lifetime TV and the regression of Kirk Cameron…

This post was originally written on December 5, 2017. I am reposting a slightly edited version of it because it’s about a fun subject that has nothing to do with current events.

Back in the 1980s, when cable television was still fairly new, we had some very interesting programs to watch.  The mid 80s saw the birth of the now female friendly network called Lifetime.  Many people recognize Lifetime as a channel for women with lots of women centric television shows and movies about bad men.  But if you were around in the mid 80s, you might remember that Lifetime used to be a health channel. 

February 1, 1984 marked the first day of Lifetime TV.  Prior to that, it was known first as Daytime, which was a channel dedicated to “alternative” women’s programming.  Then, for about nine months, it was called Cable Health Network.  Then, in November 1983, it was Lifetime Medical Television.  I remember the programming aired on that network was mostly medical stuff… I mean, stuff doctors would be watching.  I remember the channel’s logo featured an apple…  an apple a day keeps the viewers away, I guess.

Some of the clips in this video came from Lifetime Medical Television.

Something had to be done…  the new network was losing a lot of money.  Some people even thought it was a religious channel.  That’s when Lifetime started its incarnation of what it is today.  It was around 1985 that it started featuring Dr. Ruth Westheimer, the tiny German sex therapist who hosted a call in sex advice show on Lifetime.  Her show was called Good Sex!  With Dr. Ruth Westheimer.  In the 80s, it was cutting edge stuff… scandalous, even.  The tiny woman soon became a huge star.

I don’t know why, but for some reason, I thought of Dr. Ruth last night.  It was right before I read a nauseating story about Kirk Cameron, also an 80s icon who underwent a massive makeover (and in his case, not for the better).  Kirk made a statement about how wives are to honor their husbands…

“Wives are to honor and respect and follow their husband’s lead, not to tell their husband how he ought to be a better husband. When each person gets their part right, regardless of how their spouse is treating them, there is hope for real change in their marriage.”

I made the mistake of sharing the story and immediately got a comment from someone wanting me to know about the Bible verse from which this directive comes.  For the record, yes I know that the Bible says women should follow their husbands the way their husbands follow the church.  However, I think many “Christian” men misunderstand or misuse this passage and end up abusing their wives.

I’m not so sure Cameron or others like him do a good job of explaining it.  Moreover, my initial comment was more about how Kirk Cameron changed from a goofy, boyish, funny, likable guy to a religious zealot.  He probably could use some advice from Dr. Ruth.

Dr. Ruth’s show was saucy!  Even in the 80s, she had progressive ideas about homosexuality.

I didn’t watch Dr. Ruth’s show because it aired at 10:00pm and I was about 12 or 13 years old.  Although my parents probably would neither have noticed nor cared that I was watching her program, at that age I found it boring viewing.  Most talk shows that would probably fascinate me today were dull when I was much younger.  I couldn’t be bothered to sit and listen to anyone who wasn’t a musician.  However, she did become very famous when her show was on Lifetime.  I think she and Regis Philbin helped put the then fledgeling cable channel on the map.

Here, Dr. Ruth counsels Richard Lewis, whom I well remember as Rabbi Glass on 7th Heaven.  God, he looks so young!  

For some reason, I used to love to imitate Dr. Ruth’s voice.  It’s so distinctive.    

This poor guy is a 21 year old virgin.  I was a 30 year old virgin, so I can relate to his angst.  He seems kind of sweet, though.  It was brave of him to be on Dr. Ruth’s show.  I hope he has since gotten laid.

Dr. Ruth was born in 1928, which makes her quite elderly.  She still has a channel on YouTube and, if she’s the one who is actually running it, appears to have a pretty good sense of humor.  I notice she favorited one of Robin Williams’ routines about her.

Bwahahahaaha!  This is pretty damn hilarious.

Anyway, I can’t help but miss the good old days sometimes.  Sure, the Internet is great and television has even become somewhat obsolete.  But I do miss some of the stuff that made it on the airwaves back in the day.  Lifetime and other cable channels like Nickelodeon used to be fun to watch.  Then they kind of evolved into crap… but then, that’s kind of the way of the world.  Radio used to be cool, too.  

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book reviews, celebrities

A review of Sorry Not Sorry: Dreams, Mistakes, and Growing Up, by Naya Rivera

A few months ago, I finally binge watched all of Glee. I was an early fan of the show, having watched the premiere for free on Apple iTunes in May 2009, when we lived in Germany the first time. I was quickly hooked on the quirky show about high school show choir and the musical theater geeks who are usually in them. I was not involved in music when I was in high school, but I did become musically active in college. I had lots of friends who were music and theater majors, and a couple who were Longwood’s first musical theater majors. Plus, both of my parents are/were musicians, as are a lot of my relatives. Add in my love of snarky, crude humor and you know I was a super fan… at least at first.

A series of life events caused me to quit being a regular viewer of Glee sometime around 2013. I think I quit watching around the time Cory Monteith overdosed and died. That was also about the time the show had kind of jumped the shark, as the original characters were obviously too old to be in high school and the jokes were getting a bit stale. The new people they brought in didn’t have the same chemistry, and to be honest, Lea Michele really annoys me, even though I know she’s extremely talented.

Naya Rivera’s death was tragic.

Anyway, I decided to watch Glee thanks to the pandemic and the fact that German Netflix has the whole series available… and I’m paying for Netflix and rarely watch it. Sometime during the period when I was watching Glee, I became aware of Naya Rivera’s 2016 book, Sorry Not Sorry: Dreams, Mistakes, and Growing Up. Naya Rivera, as you may know, tragically died last summer at the age of 33 when she and her then four-year-old son, Josey, went on an ill advised boating trip at Lake Piru, a manmade reservoir in Ventura County, California. Naya, who had been a good swimmer, evidently went swimming with Josey and, it’s theorized that she and her son got caught in a rip current. Josey wore a life jacket, but Naya did not, and evidently, the effort of saving her son by getting him back on their rented boat sapped all of Naya’s energy. She slipped under the water while her son looked on; he was found sleeping along on the boat. Naya was declared missing on July 8, 2020 and her dead body was found five days later.

Lately, Naya Rivera is back in the news, as her father, George Rivera, has publicly called out Glee creator Ryan Murphy for failing to set up a college fund for Josey, which Murphy had reportedly vowed to do when Naya suddenly passed away. She’s also in the news because she was left out of the “In Memoriam” segment at the recent Grammy Awards show, and many of her fans are reportedly outraged.

Naya tortured that poor M&M…

To be honest, I probably would not have read Sorry Not Sorry if I hadn’t recently binged on Glee episodes. Naya played Santana Lopez, who was originally a minor character who later took on a bigger role. Santana probably wasn’t my favorite character on Glee, but I did recognize her talent. And she got better as the show went on, while other characters became more irritating (ahem– Rachel Berry and Kurt Hummel). I hadn’t seen Naya’s other shows, either, so I wasn’t otherwise familiar with her work, except for on Glee and that creepy M&Ms ad she did in 2013. But as I watched her on Glee, I decided I liked her. She was a very talented woman and quite beautiful, with an interesting racial makeup that made her surprisingly versatile. And I guess I had a feeling her book would be a trip.

One of my favorite Santana scenes… next to the one where she comes out as a lesbian to her very conservative grandmother.
Heartbreaking… and definitely showed her talents as an actress.

I finally finished reading it this morning and I’m left with mixed feelings. Overall, I found Naya’s book entertaining and somewhat juicy. She comes off as a fun and loving person, who was both down to earth and earthy, like me. I enjoyed reading some of her anecdotes about being in show business, as well as some of the dishing she did on her Glee co-stars. Naya Rivera dated Mark Salling, who famously committed suicide in 2018 as he was facing sentencing for possession of child pornography. Apparently, he wasn’t a very good date, and she adds a snide quip or two about his legal issues, although the book was written before his suicide. She mentions Lea Michele a couple of times, as well as Cory Monteith, adding that filming his tribute on Glee was very difficult. She’s also candid about her upbringing and family life, as well as some of the people she dated and almost married. Being an old fart, I don’t know too much about Big Sean or Ariana Grande. But they’re both mentioned in the book with no shortage of sass and candor.

On the other hand, I wasn’t all that impressed with her writing, at least at first. At the beginning of the book, she repeatedly uses certain phrases, like “to this day”. I got the sense that she was writing the book as she spoke, which can make the writing seem personal, but can lead to overusing certain phrases and words to the point of annoyance. The writing seemed to get better as the book continued. I also wasn’t all that wild about the “sorry, not sorry” premise, as if she was offering life advice to her readers. Some of what she wrote was actually kind of wise, but then she’d add lists of things she was sorry, not sorry for. I guess I’m too old for that kind of a gimmick. On the other hand, I’m probably not in the target audience group for this book, anyway.

Wow… prophetic song. She did this for Cory Monteith’s memorial.

I found a lot of Naya Rivera’s comments very poignant. For example, at one point, she writes that she intends to live a very long time. This book was published in September 2016. No one could have known that Naya was going to be dead less than four years later. Given the way that she died– really through what seems to be negligence and overconfidence– it seems odd to be reading a book full of advice by her. But then, as I said, some of her advice is sound and makes sense, and there are times when she is surprisingly articulate and insightful. She did also pay her dues on her way up the showbiz ladder. She worked at Hooters for awhile, and when producers would praise her talent, she would occasionally mouth off at them, asking them why they never gave her the parts she wanted. Above all, she comes off as a good person with a lot of talent who worked very hard to get where she was. It really is a pity that she wasn’t able to enjoy the fruits of her hard work for longer than she did. I feel especially sad for her young son, who was the last person to see her alive. He’s going to have to live with that for the rest of his life.

Overall, I think Sorry Not Sorry is a fun read. In my younger days, I probably would have finished it in one or two sittings, but lately I tend to fall asleep when I read. Maybe it has to do with Arran making us take him outside in the middle of the night. And given that Naya Rivera is now deceased, maybe the book is less fun and more poignant than it was in 2016, but it’s a nice tribute to a young woman who was taken much too soon. I get a sense that this book is authentic and comes straight from Naya Rivera, rather than a ghost writer. It was not a bad thing to leave behind. Maybe I would have thought she was too young to write her life story in 2016– she repeatedly reminds readers that she’s almost thirty in the book. But as it turns out, her life wasn’t going to continue to the old age she expected. So I’m glad she wrote this book, and I’m pleased to have read it. I will recommend it to those who are similarly interested in Naya Rivera’s story.

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celebrities, complaints, Duggars, religion

Nurie Keller’s got one in the oven…

Lately, I’ve noticed a bunch of hits on a post I wrote about Nurie Keller in October 2020. I wrote that post in reaction to speculation that Nurie Keller, wife of Nathan Keller, might have been pregnant. People in the Duggar Family News Facebook Group were thinking that Nurie, who in October, had just been married a few months, might have one in the oven. One person wrote that Nurie was “pregnant as all get out”. I was amused by that comment, so I used it as a blog post title. If you read what I wrote, though, you’ll find that I don’t actually care if Nurie is having sex. I would expect her to, since she’s a young woman who is married and follows a fundamentalist Christian faith. And I don’t actually care much about the status of her womb, either. I mean, I hope she has a healthy and happy pregnancy, but I would wish that for any pregnant person. I don’t go out of my way looking for information about her life.

I guess I can understand why people are interested in this family, though. Jill Rodrigues is kind of fascinating in a train wreck kind of way. She wears a lot of makeup and sports an 80s era hairdo. She has many children and is often featuring them on social media, particularly the ones who are of marriageable age. Looking at YouTube, I see that a lot of videos have been made spoofing Jill. And Jill herself also has a channel and the camera thumbnails for her videos are often unintentionally hilarious.

Why do I hear the theme song for “Lowered Expectations” when I look at these two?
Seriously…

Well… Nurie’s mother, weirdorama mom of 13, Jill Rodrigues, apparently announced last night that her eldest child, married Nurie Keller, sister-in-law to Anna Keller, who is the wife of Josh Duggar, is now pregnant. She’s about seven weeks along– due October 12, 2021. Jill and her husband, who run a “printing press ministry”, made a nighttime video announcing Nurie’s womb status. It seems a little early to be announcing this, and it also seems like it shouldn’t necessarily be Jill’s news to share. But maybe Nurie’s okay with it.

Notice in the above video screenshot, Jill is wearing a Plexus hoodie. I keep hearing about Plexus, but not being a fan of multi-level marketing schemes, I don’t know a whole lot about it. A quick look at the Plexus Web site tells me that it’s a brand of products for weight management and nutrition. Religious folks seem to be very much into MLMs, but I’m pretty leery of them, mainly because of an experience I had in the mid 90s when I was looking for a job. I see that I haven’t reposted about that experience yet, so I’ll do that after I finish writing this post.

Yikes… almost like a caricature. I don’t really know or care that much about Jill, but candidly speaking, these stills are a bit sideshow-ish.

I don’t follow Jill Rodrigues at all. I only know about her because people in the Duggar group follow her and post about her all the time. A lot of people are fascinated by her, because she seems to be obsessed with self-promotion. I might be inclined to take a peek at her page, but I’ve heard she blocks anyone who either isn’t completely positive or reacts “inappropriately”. Like, for instance, anyone who uses a laugh emoji in a mocking way is liable to be blocked. In that sense, she’s not unlike Lori Alexander, aka The Transformed Wife, who similarly blocks anyone who doesn’t shit hearts and roses on her posts, many of which are pretty cringeworthy.

A screenshot of the big announcement. I think Nurie looks well. She has pretty hair.

Anyway, since I can see that people are looking for Nurie, here’s an obligatory post about her pregnancy. I guess now, she really is “pregnant as all get out” and has “one in the oven”. I hope she’s happy and healthy, and doesn’t get trotted out too much for the masses as she blossoms into motherhood. I really do mean that, by the way. I’m not a completely snarky asshole. I especially hope her mom hasn’t spoken too soon. I am glad, however, that they made the announcement without setting off any explosives. I read another tragic news story today about a man who died while trying to rig a “gender reveal” explosive. His is the second sad story I’ve read in a month about men who have killed themselves trying to celebrate a baby shower or reveal their unborn babies’ genitalia with a bang. I don’t laugh about these obvious Darwin Awards candidates because I know that the babies who will be born without ever knowing their fathers will have to live with that for the rest of their lives.

In other fundie news, Jessa Seewald is also pregnant with her fourth baby. She reportedly had a miscarriage, so this one will be a “rainbow baby”. I’m thinking it might be time for her and Ben to look for new digs. Their tiny hand-me-down house must be getting pretty tight by now. But as it’s not my womb or my family, I don’t actually care too much… I do think she and her husband, Ben, make beautiful babies, though. Also, Kendra Caldwell Duggar is about to pop any day with her third baby with Joe Duggar. And so is her 41 year old mom with Kendra’s next sibling! Sheesh!

I’m also continuing to watch Growing Pains… and yes, there have been even more fat jokes, even as Tracey Gold was obviously fading away. In one episode, Tracey’s character, Carol Seaver, gets asked by her on screen grandma about why she got so “svelte and sexy”. Her other grandma, played by tiny Jane Powell, makes a comment about being a size two. And Kirk Cameron, as Mike Seaver, tells Carol’s date that she will “turn into a porker at midnight”. No wonder Tracey had issues with anorexia!

I’m nursing some pain today, too, because I tried to take the dogs for a walk and Noyzi slipped out the front door. I made a grab for him, slipped, and skinned my knee, gave myself a big bruise, and tore off part of my thumbnail. I also had to sit on the floor for a few minutes, because the pain was enough to make me feel a bit faint. Then Arran threw up. Needless to say, I never got around to walking the dogs yesterday. I’ll try to do it today. Bill has to leave town on Saturday, and I’ll be alone for three fucking weeks. Sometimes, I hate his job…

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celebrities, memories, mental health, rants, stupid people

Fat jokes really aren’t funny… and neither are food phobias.

I know I’ve been writing a lot about eating disorders lately. I wasn’t actually planning to write about them again today. However, as today happens to be the first day of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, I think it’s kind of appropriate to write one more post. If you’re surprised there’s an actual week in February devoted to fighting eating disorders, you shouldn’t be. This has been an annual event for at least twenty years. I remember being a temp at the College of William & Mary back in 1998 and seeing posters for this week plastered all over the Blow Building, which was where I was working in the office of admissions.

Yes, this is a thing.

Lately I’ve been passing the time watching old episodes of the 80s era family friendly comedy, Growing Pains, and I’ve finally reached the fourth season. Season four is when Tracey Gold, who played middle child, perfect Carol Seaver, started to become noticeably thinner. We didn’t know, at the time, that she was developing anorexia nervosa and would eventually drop her weight from 133 pounds to about 80 pounds.

Yesterday, I happened to see the episode “Homecoming Queen”, which originally aired on November 23, 1988. I was sixteen years old then, and pretty obsessed with dieting myself. I’m not sure I was still a Growing Pains fan at that point, though. The show had kind of jumped the shark by then, and I had a lot of other things going on at the time. It’s interesting to watch it now. I’m finding that it was a pretty decently written show, even in season four, which was the season in which the Seavers had their change of life baby, Chrissy. Anyone who grew up in the era of sitcoms knows that new babies or adopted kids always end up on the show as the original kids get too old.

The plot for “Homecoming Queen” is centered around Carol, who is nominated by her peers to be in the Homecoming court. Carol is shocked that they would think she’s pretty and popular enough to be queen. She sees herself as fat and ugly, and unworthy to be Homecoming Queen. She even considers refusing the honor, but ends up running when her competition erroneously assume she’s trying to sway people by being falsely humble.

About ten minutes into the episode, we see Carol having a terrible nightmare. Surrounded by her beautiful competition for Homecoming Queen, Carol is dressed in unflattering overalls that make her look huge. She’s wearing glasses and her hair is short and frumpy. As the principal and her peers laugh at her, Carol falls through the stage because she’s so fat. Then, her brother Mike, who constantly rides her about her weight, comes out and humiliates her, saying she’s “merely going through a stage…” as everyone laughs at her literally “going through a stage” because she’s so fat.

Tracey Gold has said that the fat jokes on Growing Pains were one reason why she became so preoccupied with her weight. As I watch that show now, I can see how the fat jokes really ramped up a lot in seasons 3 and 4, which was ironically when Tracey Gold was getting noticeably thinner. I don’t notice them as much in the earlier seasons, when she was legitimately heavier and her character was presented as nerdier and plainer. She gained some weight in 1988, but then lost about twenty five pounds with the help of a doctor, who put her on a 500 calorie a day diet.

Tracey Gold has also said that she had been diagnosed with the early symptoms of anorexia nervosa when she was eleven years old. I remember reading about that when I was in the eighth grade, years before she truly got sick with an eating disorder, around 1990 or so.

It seems especially tone deaf and wrong that the writers on Growing Pains saddled the Carol Seaver character with so many jokes about her weight, especially since she clearly wasn’t overweight at all. They also included “ugly” jokes, but I don’t notice as many of those as “fat” jokes. In fact, on the “Homecoming Queen” episode, Alan Thicke, who plays psychiatrist dad Jason Seaver, is shown offering Carol a piece of cake. When she says something along the lines of, “Oh, I’m not fat enough for you?” Jason starts to say, “Sure you are…” but then stops himself.

Tracey Gold talks about how she struggled with eating pizza in the last scene.

By 1991, the producers of Growing Pains, who had originally urged Gold to lose weight, suspended her from the show because she had become so skeletal. They required her to get treatment for her eating disorder before they would allow her back on the show. She did appear for the series finale in 1992, but she hadn’t recovered by then. She says that in one of the last scenes, the family is shown eating pizza and it’s very obvious that she was faking it. She says she’d forgotten how to hold a piece of pizza. I’m sure it was very traumatizing for her. Kind of like a phobia.

Which leads me to an opportunity for a nice segue… I’ve mentioned this before, but I think I wrote about it on my original Blogspot version of this blog. I happen to have a food related phobia myself– mycophobia, which is an irrational fear of mushrooms. I am a lot better than I used to be. When I was a small child, we lived in England, and there were huge toadstools in our backyard. I remember my parents telling me to never touch the mushrooms. I didn’t like mushrooms to start with, but somehow the directive not to touch them really hit home in an extreme way. I got to the point at which I would freeze and scream bloody murder if I simply saw one in the yard.

I remember my dad was pretty exasperated by my adverse reaction to mushrooms. He was kind of an old school disciplinarian and used to try to force me to eat everything on my plate. I actually have aversions to a number of foods, like unmelted cheese and most dairy products. I think this is because when I was very young, I was allergic to cow’s milk and it would make me vomit. To this day, I don’t drink plain milk, and aside from ice cream and butter, don’t eat most dairy products unless they’re in something. Like, I can’t bring myself to taste cream by itself, although I like it in coffee, and I would never eat a piece of cold cheese that hasn’t been melted. The flavor and the texture completely gross me out. Forget about any kinds of strong cheeses. I will vomit.

A couple of weeks ago, Bill made nachos with melted cheddar cheese. I can normally eat melted cheese, even if it’s cooled off. But on that day, the cheddar had a flavor that overwhelmed and ultimately disgusted me. I ended up throwing up. I do like some mild cheeses in things. I love dishes like lasagna and mac and cheese, and I like pizza, although as a child, it took many years before I would eat it. I can even eat cold pizza with cheese on it. I’ve read that some people can’t eat melted cheese, but they can eat it unmelted. Humans are so strange.

Anyway, yesterday, The New York Times ran an article about mushrooms, complete with a photo. I generally hide photos of mushrooms because even though I don’t run screaming from the room anymore, the sight of them makes me cringe and shudder. I imagine my reaction to mushrooms is much like Tracey Gold’s stated aversion to a lump of butter, back when she was very sick with anorexia.

I tried to hide the article, but for some reason, I wasn’t able to. I mentioned it on Facebook, and everybody laughed, which is rather predictable behavior among so-called friends. Now… I can understand why people laugh at this. I have a phobia, and many people think phobias are funny, especially when they are regarding something as ridiculous as mushrooms. So I don’t really blame people for laughing at my trauma. They’re ignorant and insensitive for doing so, but I can understand why they laugh. It’s probably my fault for mentioning it, although I mention it because it’s one of the many things that makes me unique. However, I did point out that people were laughing, but I was being very candid.

The photos on the New York Times piece weren’t too bad. The fungus looked more like sea anemones than mushrooms (to be honest, just typing that word skeeves me out a bit). I really get creeped out by pictures of mushrooms in food or toadstools (again– yecch). Like, they make me very uncomfortable. If sometime tried to make me eat one, I would probably have a full blown anxiety attack. Indeed, I did have them when I was a child and my control freak father would try to force me to eat things I didn’t want. Years later, he would call me a “hog” and shame me for being too fat.

A few years ago, I remember trying to eat a dish that had mushrooms in it at a fancy restaurant and I just couldn’t do it. They had to bring me a version without ‘shrooms. And this issue has come up at restaurants and when I’ve been invited to people’s houses for a meal. It’s always embarrassing to try to explain why I can’t eat mushrooms. Many times, people laugh out loud. I know it’s absurd.

You’d think I could tell people in the restaurant that I have an allergy. However, having worked in restaurants myself, I know that that’s also problematic, because the staff will then worry about my having a reaction. I don’t have an allergy, so I don’t want them to freak out about potentially causing anaphylactic shock or something. I won’t have a physical reaction if something I eat comes into contact with mushrooms. But if I can see, smell, or taste them in my food, the meal will be ruined, and I might end up vomiting or worse. I don’t mind if Bill eats them at a restaurant or something, although out of kindness to me, he doesn’t buy them at the grocery store and doesn’t cook with them at home. He’s also been known to switch plates with me if I order something that has them and his dish doesn’t. We have had situations, though, where both dishes have had mushrooms and I’ve had to get something else.

I once thought about becoming a chef, but ultimately decided not to when I realized that my phobia would probably be very problematic. In fact, sometimes my phobia has even led to embarrassing altercations. Below is a repost of a piece I wrote in 2017 for my original blog on Blogspot. I don’t expect anyone to read it– extra credit if you do– but it kind of illustrates how this issue sometimes pops up in my life. Incidentally, the obnoxious guy who laughed at me because of my phobia was recently fired for undisclosed reasons, and they never did spend all of the money that was left for their “party” at the Biergarten…

Phobias are not funny… (originally posted July 20, 2017)

Have you ever met someone with whom you immediately clash?  I think that happened to me last night.  Despite my rather funny personality, I don’t actually like parties very much.  I have a tendency to get carried away sometimes, especially when I’m in the company of certain types of people.  Not everyone can take my sense of humor and I don’t enjoy offending people.  Sometimes I do, despite my best efforts.

Last year, the guy who hired Bill moved on to a new job in Hawaii.  He left behind a huge collection of euro coins, which he donated to everyone he worked with.  The coins were all counted and it came to the euro equivalent of about $800, which was used to pay for last night’s gathering at a biergarten (and, in fact, not all of the money was spent).  It was a farewell dinner of sorts, since the company Bill has been working for lost its contract and many of the people who have been working with Bill are moving on to new jobs and/or locations. 

We arrived too late to sit at the table that was already started, so we sat at a second table that had been reserved.  Soon we were joined by another couple, the male half of whom will continue to be Bill’s co-worker because they were both hired by the new company that is taking over.  The first thing that happened was the guy came up, looked at me, and said “Who do you belong to?”

I answered that I am Bill’s wife.  He then made some crack about my being the daughter of the other guy sitting across from me.  I’m not really sure what that was all about.  Bill had told me a bit about this guy being a bit obnoxious and full of himself, so I wasn’t that surprised at his comment.  This guy also referred to me as “Jen”, when I introduced myself as “Jenny”.  That also happens to be a pet peeve of mine, when someone takes it upon themselves to change my name, especially when they’ve just met me.

I noticed his wife sitting in the corner with their son, whom I had met before.  He is a very bright kid for his age and already speaks German pretty well.  I could tell he is the apple of his mother’s eye.  She was doting on him quite a bit. 

As the evening wore on, Bill and I found ourselves talking about different subjects, including one of the Space A “hops” we took a few years ago.  Bill told everyone about how we landed in Georgia after an overseas flight from Germany.  We were really jet lagged.  He’d gone out to get us some dinner.  I would have been just fine with something from the nearby Wendy’s, but Bill decided to go the extra mile.  He noticed a restaurant across the street and ordered take out.  He brought back steaks, not realizing that they had been smothered with mushrooms.

If you’ve been reading this blog, you may already know that I do not eat mushrooms.  In fact, I have a phobia of them.  I know it sounds ridiculous, but it’s the truth. 

So anyway, I opened the carton he handed me and was immediately confronted by this piece of meat covered with ‘shrooms.  They were totally grossing me out.  I was pretty exasperated because I was exhausted and hungry.  All I’d really wanted was a sandwich, and if Bill had just gotten something at Wendy’s, I could have had a sandwich and gone to bed.  Instead, I was sitting there with what could have been a nice dinner that was rendered completely unappetizing due to the fungus.  Aside from that, I was annoyed that a restaurant would put mushrooms on a steak without advertising that they were going to do so. 

Bill was telling this story and people were wondering why I didn’t just scrape off the mushrooms.  And that’s where the whole mushroom phobia story came in.  Phobias are, by nature, ridiculous, irrational, and perhaps even funny.  However, if you actually have a phobia, it’s not really a laughing matter. 

My whole life, I’ve been laughed at for having a fear of mushrooms.  When I was a kid, family members even chased me with them and yukked it up when I reacted with fear.  I can mostly laugh about it now… and the phobia is not nearly as bad as it used to be.  For instance, I no longer scream when I am confronted with mushrooms.  I don’t like having them on my plate and I refuse to touch them or eat them, but I won’t freak out or anything.  I still have a phobia, though. 

I used to think I was the only person with this problem, but then I wrote an article about mycophobia (fear of mushrooms).  In my article, I even referenced an episode of The Montel Williams Show that was about phobias.  There was a woman on that show who was afraid of mushrooms and reacted the very same way I did when I was much younger.  She actually saw my article and sent me an email.  I got so many comments and emails from people who have unusual phobias and happened to read my article.  In fact, a quick YouTube search turns up a number of videos about mycophobia (mushroom phobia).

I was trying to explain this last night.  I will admit, a phobia of something weird like mushrooms sounds hilarious if you don’t make an effort to understand what having a phobia is like.  I have been in some embarrassing and annoying situations due to this problem, but I can see why some people think it’s funny. 

Of course, Bill’s co-worker thought my mushroom phobia was totally hilarious.  He was cracking jokes and hysterically laughing at me, as was his son.  I was trying to explain the origins of the phobia, which started when I was a little kid, and he was just having a knee slapper of a time laughing.  I had been drinking beer, so I was feeling my oats.  And I let loose with some really far out insults involving his testicles being covered with fungus.  I’m sure whatever I said was shocking and disgusting.  Sometimes, I have no filter, especially if I’ve been drinking.

I could tell the guy’s wife was horrified and it looked like she was trying to shield her son from the insults springing forth from me.  I wasn’t sure if she was horrified by my comments, her husband’s comments, or the whole scene in general.  But anyway, they made a hasty retreat.  I’m sure they think I’m an asshole, now.  On the other hand, I thought the guy was being an asshole for outwardly laughing at me and lacking empathy. 

Meh… I really think sometimes I should not go to these kinds of parties with Bill.  I’m sure a lot of his co-workers think I’m nuts.  On the plus side, we did talk to a really nice lady last night.  Too bad she and her husband (and their fabulous dog) will be leaving soon.  Also, I gave our waitress the stink eye because she told me that putting a wine bottle upside down in a galvanized bucket full of melted ice is “nasty”.  That sounded a bit like bullshit to me, but what do I know?  She was happy when we left, though, because she was tipped handsomely.

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celebrities, obits, politics, racism

Rush Limbaugh is finally dead… shit makes the flowers grow.

A few months ago, my husband lost a “friend” over his “hatred” for Rush Limbaugh. I put quotes around the words “friend” and “hatred”, because I’m being facetious. Anyone who knows Bill knows that he doesn’t hate anyone. He doesn’t even hate his ex wife, who probably deserves his hatred more than anyone on the planet. The point is, my husband isn’t a hater. But he never liked Rush Limbaugh. Neither did I.

Last night, we found out that Rush finally kicked the bucket at age 70. He’d been suffering from lung cancer, having announced his illness in February 2020.

Back in October 2020, Bill was labeled a hater by a former friend because he had noticed that the very organ that had allowed Rush Limbaugh to spread hatred and bigotry toward large groups of marginalized people was also going to be the death of him. Bill had posted his thoughts about Rush’s illness on his Facebook timeline, and some of his friends went freakin’ nuts. One even accused him of being a “bad person” for stating this:

I know what I’m about to say is the result of unskilled thinking, but this appears to be an example of Karmic Justice. The organ used to spew years of hate, vitriol, and self-centeredness will be his undoing.

We weren’t rejoicing in Rush’s illness in October, and we’re not rejoicing in his death now. I don’t generally celebrate when people die, even people I think of as highly contemptible, and worthy of disdain or even outright hatred. I think Rush Limbaugh qualifies as someone who, in life, was highly contemptible. And while I’m not particularly happy that he’s dead, I am relieved that he won’t be spreading his toxic negativity, ignorance, and bigotry anymore. He won’t be saying or writing hurtful things to or about people who aren’t like him and don’t share his opinions.

In the aftermath of Rush’s death, we’ve also seen yet another falsely attributed quote arise from the dead. If you’ve been on Facebook lately, you’ve probably seen people sharing this meme.

According to The Atlantic, Mark Twain NEVER SAID THIS.

I know a lot of people like to share these kinds of cute and clever memes, and many people don’t actually care who said it. I care, though, because I like to give credit where credit is due, and I don’t like false attributions. So where did this quote come from? According to the article from The Atlantic I linked above, no one important actually said or wrote it in that precise manner. Alex Eichler, the person who wrote the article for The Atlantic, writes:

Matt Blum at Wired has the fact-check: the quotation actually comes from Clarence Darrow, the lawyer of Scopes Trial fame. Here’s a fuller version of the quote, which appears in Darrow’s 1932 work The Story of My Life:

All men have an emotion to kill; when they strongly dislike some one they involuntarily wish he was dead. I have never killed any one, but I have read some obituary notices with great satisfaction.

Clarence Darrow

I know some people are glad Rush is gone. Some are actually jubilant about it. And I would never tell them they don’t have the right to feel whatever it is they feel. I’m not in a group that Rush openly mocked, unless you want to call me a liberal. I’m not actually that liberal, but I don’t like the way the Republican party has gone in recent years. I think their embrace of both evangelical Christians and Donald Trump is confusing and wrong. And Republicans often say regrettable, heartless things to people who are in trouble and need help.

Case in point. Yesterday, I read about former Colorado City, Texas mayor Tim Boyd, who basically went off on his constituents for begging the government for help. Texas, as you probably know, is in serious trouble right now, thanks to a terrible winter storm that has disrupted the power grid. People are suffering because of power outages. Some people are even dying! They’re either freezing to death, or poisoning themselves with carbon monoxide by doing things like running their cars in closed garages or using barbecue grills indoors to generate heat. But Mr. Boyd, proud Texan conservative he is, had this to say in a poorly written and now deleted Facebook post:

Typical Republican ASSHOLE!

And then he continued with this:

To be clear, I don’t agree with issuing death threats or even so-called “cancel culture”, but what the hell reaction does Tim Boyd expect? He was an elected official and it was his JOB to help his constituents and show some fucking compassion!

I’ll bet Tim Boyd is sad that Rush is dead. I’ll bet Boyd was a Limbaugh fan. I don’t know for certain that he was, but what he posted is the same kind of hateful, mean-spirited shit that Rush Limbaugh was spewing for YEARS on the airwaves. And ignorant, compassion challenged people who are deeply saddened that the raucous voice of their belief system has died don’t seem to understand that Rush hurt a lot of people with his snarky, hateful rhetoric.

This has been a very difficult year for so many people– from the deaths and illnesses caused by the pandemic, to the many natural disasters, to the massive job losses, and complete upending of of normal life for everyone. It’s really sucked on many levels. And so, when an elected official like Tim Boyd mocks and lectures people for their valid complaints, it stings a bit. Rush Limbaugh was of the same ilk, and people like Tim Boyd looked up to him. He had no compunction about saying awful things to and about anyone, especially people who have historically suffered and been marginalized by privileged people.

Seriously…

Let me remind Rush’s supporters of a few things. Rush Limbaugh mocked Michael J. Fox for having Parkinson’s Disease and accused him of exaggerating his symptoms. Rush Limbaugh called women “sluts”, and referred to Barack Obama as the “magic negro”. And he wouldn’t have thought much of me, either…

Bwahahaha… maybe he wouldn’t have thought of me as “overeducated”. But I don’t think that Rush was a very good judge of intelligence.

Anyway… I’m not glad Rush is dead. I don’t care enough about him to rejoice in his death. Besides, everybody has to die sometime. It was simply his time to go. I’m not going to celebrate his death. But I’m also not going to shame or blame anyone who is glad to see him gone. I figure they have their reasons, and many of those reasons, while perhaps hypocritical, are understandable. We all have our own karma to tend.

Bye now.. enjoy the next life..

In other news, our heating went out last night. It’s not as bad here as it is in Texas, but I am a bit chilled. Hopefully, the landlord will have it fixed soon, so my hands, feet, and nose won’t be so cold. And Bill has to go away for three weeks next Saturday. Hopefully, he won’t bring any COVID-19 viruses back with him. Otherwise, people might be cheering about my death.

So long, Rush… You served a purpose and now your work is done. And, as Folk Uke reminds us, even shit has a purpose.

“You’re not good for nothin’…”
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