complaints, controversies, LDS, mental health, narcissists, social media, YouTube

Self-preservation and the “gift of fear”, rather than bigotry…

I kind of don’t really want to write this post, because I have a bad feeling that it might be controversial… But I saw something yesterday that annoyed me a bit, and since it’s been kind of a difficult week anyway, I figure I might as well post about it.

Some time ago, someone out there in Facebook Land encouraged me to follow Father Nathan Monk. I think it might have been someone in the Duggar Family News group. According to his “about section”, Father Nathan Monk is a best selling author, “depressive humorist”, and former priest. He often posts things that are wise, funny, and insightful. However, there are times when he’s a little too “woke” for me, and I get annoyed. I know at least one time, I unfollowed for awhile. I think last month it happened, and I took a break for a month. Recently, his posts started popping up on my feed again. I mostly enjoyed them, until I saw the one below…

Naturally, he got many comments from people who completely agreed with his take on why so many people don’t like Meghan Markle. Lots of people were jumping on the bandwagon that people “hate” Meghan just because she’s “black”. I noticed that anyone who disagreed with any part of Father Nathan Monk’s post was immediately piled upon by other posters, seemingly eager to shut up the lone dissenter. People were calling the guy a bigot and a misogynist. Granted, he did turn out to be a Trump supporter from Britain, but even that doesn’t necessarily make him a bigot. I thought his comments regarding Meghan made a lot of sense, his political preferences notwithstanding. To me, it just proves that not all Trump supporters are necessarily crazy or stupid. They just haven’t reached the conclusions that I have, for whatever reason. Like the guy posted, “it’s okay to disagree.” I don’t know why he can easily see Meghan Markle’s issues and not see Trump’s, but then, I don’t know anything about him. Maybe he’s right about Trump and I’m wrong, although I doubt it. I suspect he just cares more about money than I do.

Now, if you’re a regular reader of my blog, you might know that I’m not one of Meghan Markle’s fans. My dislike of Meghan Markle has absolutely NOTHING at all to do with her racial makeup. I couldn’t care less about that. I don’t care that she’s an American who had the audacity to marry a British prince, either. I think people should be allowed to love and marry whomever they choose. And I also think that Harry should have been allowed to chart his own course in life, as we all should. I watched the interview Meghan and Harry had with Oprah Winfrey, and a lot of what Harry said made sense to me. I’ve always liked him, and when he and Meghan first got together, I was genuinely happy for both of them. I cried when I watched their wedding, especially at this part…

The man who sings the solo never fails to bring me to tears. This is just beautiful. I was even inspired to make my own version of this song based on this interpretation, which is one of so many over the years.

Here’s proof that I watched and loved their wedding, and this song…

When I heard this and watched the wedding, I had high hopes for this union.

What surprises me is looking at the congregation and not seeing that much emotion… but it is Britain. If I had been there in person, I would have been sobbing. That rendition is– indeed– glorious!

Below is what I had to say in late November 2017, when Harry and Meghan’s engagement was announced…

A screenshot from my original blog in an entry posted on November 29, 2017, so you can see that I’m not making this up… On another, unrelated point, I see that the post in question was about 85% about a certain lurker from Colorado. And given that it was late 2017, when we were having serious issues with our ex landlady, I now know it was the former tenant, spying on me and reporting her findings. I had titled the post “Snoopin’ and poopin’,” and that was definitely what she was doing. Sorry… I know I should forget about this, given what happened to former tenant, but it still really pisses me off.

As you can see, I had nothing bad to say about Meghan in 2017. I thought she was pretty, and Harry seemed happy. I did not give a shit about her race, and in fact, the two people I posted about her resembling are famous and beautiful WHITE people. But even if they were Black, it wouldn’t matter to me.

In May 2018, a few days after Harry’s and Meghan’s nuptials, I posted this :

See? Nothing derisive here about Meghan’s skin color.

Also from May 2018, I had written a post about gun violence in the USA, and added some comments about the royal wedding between Harry and Meghan. Again, totally positive and hopeful comments from yours truly.

Are these comments racist?

And finally, two more comments from October 2018, when Meghan announced her pregnancy… Nothing negative or racist here, either. And here’s a link to my post about Harry’s interview with Oprah last year. I had sympathy then, too, even if, by that point, I was liking Meghan less.

I’m not going to claim that there aren’t a lot of racists out there who don’t like Meghan Markle only because of her skin tone. I’m sure there are plenty of small-minded people who think she had no business marrying a British prince simply due to her being a biracial American woman with middle class roots. My point is that not all of us dislike her for those reasons. And just as it’s not right for people to make assumptions about others due to things they can’t help, like their skin color, it’s also wrong to assume that people are racist just because they’ve come to conclusions that you haven’t. I would gather that coming to that conclusion, even if it’s just for well-intentioned “woke” purposes, is just as wrong as stereotyping people due to their skin color is. In other words, people who instantly cry “RACISM” when someone says something disapproving of Meghan Markle are really not much better than the gossip mongers.

H.G. Tudor, who has been notably relentless and snarky in his observations of Meghan Markle’s behavior, put out what I think is a pretty good video. The main idea is that no, we don’t know her… but people who DO know her have spoken about her behavior. How many more people need to speak up before people realize that not everyone dislikes her due to her skin color?

I don’t like Meghan Markle because I don’t like her behavior. She makes my “cluster B” chimes go off. I’m not the only one who feels this way. And we’re not wrong to have these feelings, because we have had exposure to narcissists, and experience has taught us that these types give off signals that are triggering. Once you’ve been around that type of person, you can pick up on the vibes. Even though I get those vibes– mainly those of hypocrisy, fakeness, and self-centeredness– I totally get that I could be misinterpreting. Experience has told me that I’m pretty perceptive, and my perceptions are often right on target.

There’s a reason that people have this “sixth sense”, by the way. It’s part of self-preservation. Back in 2010, in my old blog, I posted about a book I read called The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker. It was recommended by a YouTuber who called himself Lithodid Man. I blogged about the video by Lithodid Man, and he eventually found the post and left me a comment. Below is his video, which is now twelve years old…

Lithodid Man, who is an atheist, talks about being approached by a very insistent evangelical proselytizer who was trying to wear him down and get access to his minor son. He explains that he had read de Becker’s book, and it opened his eyes to the manipulative techniques the guy was using to get Lithodid Man to agree to let his son go to a church group.
An excerpt of my 2010 post about The Gift of Fear.

Gavin de Becker’s book is about recognizing when your senses are telling you of a threat, and acting accordingly, and in your own best interests, to protect yourself from harm. Our culture often pushes us, through peer pressure, to think one way or the other, to be agreeable and not make a fuss, to not be a “Karen”, to always cooperate and not make any waves… And people who are manipulative, narcissistic, or otherwise up to no good, are only too happy to exploit those pressures we live under to be nice at all costs.

Being nice is not a bad thing, but one shouldn’t be nice simply because it’s the path of least resistance. Sometimes, those instincts are DEAD ON… and tragically, we don’t realize until something heartbreaking has happened. For more on this, read any of my posts about Bill’s ex wife, and what has happened because he was “too nice” and too afraid to upset other people. Granted, it hasn’t been all bad. If he hadn’t married Ex, we might not have gotten married. Some other woman would have almost certainly treated him a lot better and he probably would have stayed married to her, even if the match wasn’t as compatible as ours is. But a lot of people were hurt because Bill ignored “the gift of fear” and didn’t listen to his instincts. He has told me on many occasions that on his wedding day to Ex, he had a voice telling him not to do it. He ignored that voice and suffered the consequences– kind of like Diana, former Princess of Wales, did. He learned a lot of tough lessons. Some of them have rubbed off on me.

Here’s another example. For years, I was quite vocal about how much I dislike Mormonism. I still dislike it, but feel less compelled to speak out about it these days, mainly because Bill’s younger daughter, who is LDS, now talks to him. I know that there are really good people in Mormonism. I knew that, even when I was more outspoken about Mormonism. My disdain for the church had NOTHING to do with the people within it. I don’t dislike people simply due to their religious beliefs. If that were the case, I never would have married Bill, who was still LDS on our wedding day. It was the institution and doctrine itself that I saw as damaging, because it was used as a tool to separate my husband from his daughters. He wasn’t “worthy” to be their father or baptise them, according to Ex and the church itself. He didn’t believe in the church’s teachings, so he was less fit. This, even though Ex was the one who was abusing and neglecting their children, and Bill himself.

So I determined that I don’t like Mormonism for that reason, not because I’m overall a religious bigot. And I also know that the Mormons aren’t the only ones who pull that shit… they just happen to be the ones who have affected us directly. I don’t like the other religions where those kinds of divisive practices prevail, either. In fact, I’m not that big on religion as a whole, but I especially dislike really restrictive, controlling ones where everyone has to believe and think the same way, and criticism isn’t allowed. Does that automatically make me a bigot? I don’t think so. But some people insisted that I am one, no matter how much I tried to explain my reasoning to them. Thankfully, most of them are now out of my life. Likewise, my disdain for Meghan Markle has nothing to do with her skin color or race. It’s because I recognize problematic behaviors that I think are toxic.

It annoys me to read posts like Father Nathan Monk’s, that presume to lecture everyone about being “racist” against Meghan Markle and discounting why people might not like her. First of all, she is a very public figure. She chose to be a public figure. One could argue that making that choice, in and of itself, is kind of a narcissistic thing to do. Yes, there are famous people out there who aren’t really all that “public”. I’ve read and heard about Meghan Markle’s desire for “privacy”, and yet she’s still everywhere.

Sure, I could give Meghan a pass for attending the Queen’s funeral, and even the Platinum Jubilee, but she’s clearly been trying to monetize her association with the British Royal Family. She still uses that title– the Duchess of Sussex– even as she publicly disdains Harry’s family and disowns her own family. This might be easy to ignore if these folks were regular citizens, but they aren’t. The British Royal Family is extremely public.

While I’m not generally a fan of saying, “you knew what you were getting into”, I do think that Meghan had to know that she wouldn’t be living a private life if she married Harry. It’s not even like she was like Diana. Diana was 19 years old when she got married, and didn’t even have a college degree. Meghan was a divorcee in her late 30s when she and Harry got married. And Meghan is certainly old enough to remember Diana, and what happened to her. Moreover, other people who married into royalty have been harassed– Sarah Ferguson definitely was. Camilla Parker Bowles was. Even Kate Middleton was. So, in that sense, she wasn’t alone… and wasn’t really treated that differently, other than the fact that Meghan is biracial and American. I’m not saying it’s right that the press harassed these ladies. What I am saying is that they were all being pursued and treated similarly poorly by the press. Prince Edward’s wife, Sophie, is the only one I don’t remember being messed with as much by the press. Maybe it’s because she was involved in public relations herself, if memory serves.

I don’t know Meghan Markle personally, and almost surely never will. So, the fact that I see her behavior as obnoxious and don’t like it is irrelevant, anyway. It’s not like I’m sending her hate mail, or even posting a lot of toxic stuff about her. I don’t even hang around with a bunch of girlfriends and giggle as we drink wine and trade catty gossip about her. I just pick up on these toxic vibes that I can’t ignore. I still wish Meghan and Harry luck with their marriage, particularly since there are now children involved. And I even hope that the two of them prove me wrong and have a long, successful, and happy marriage. I would be even happier if Meghan stopped seeming so artificial and tone deaf to me. And yes, I will continue to write about my observations of her behavior as I see fit. But, whether or not people believe me, my feelings have nothing to do with Meghan’s race. And to make that sweeping and insulting judgment about anyone who has criticisms of Meghan Markle is pretty lazy, limited, and disrespectful, in my view. People are going to “do themselves”, though… so for the sake of my sanity, I’ll try to ignore the bullshit and drive on.

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Bill, funny stories, humor, love, marriage, movies, nostalgia, videos, YouTube

From the horrifying womb of Teen Steam, a new private joke is born!

Regular readers may have noticed that yesterday, just before I wrote about Bill’s needless alarm over Friday’s phone call, I reposted my review of Alyssa Milano’s embarrassing 1988 era exercise video, Teen Steam. I reposted that review because I originally wrote it for the now defunct review site, Epinions.com, and had reposted it on my dying music blog, Dungeon of the Past. Some of my most faithful readers are folks I “met” (in person in a few cases) on that site. I like to preserve my old Epinions reviews whenever I can. As I’m getting close to the $100 in ad revenue I need to cash out on AdSense, I’m thinking about discontinuing my music blog. If I end up doing that, it might mean some of the most popular and personally amusing posts will get rehomed on this blog. I do like writing about music, but I don’t have the desire to update that blog often enough to keep it going. Plus, I simply don’t like writing on Blogger anymore.

Reposting the video again, for those who don’t want to read my old Epinions review.

As I was reposting that review, I watched bits of Alyssa’s godawful Teen Steam video again. I hadn’t seen it in a long time. Indeed, I initially wrote that review in 2009, and while I probably looked at the video again when I reposted it on Dungeon of the Past, I had forgotten how absolutely and shamelessly rotten it is. It’s an exercise video directed at teenaged or prepubescent girls, put out at a time when Alyssa Milano was starring on Who’s the Boss with Judith Light and Tony Danza. Besides being in movies and starring on TV shows, Alyssa Milano also had a burgeoning pop music career in Japan. Obviously, she was striking while the iron was hot, as when she was a teenager, Alyssa Milano was absolutely beautiful. Or, at least I think so… and I say that as an objective, heterosexual female who doesn’t have aspirations of having sexual relations with other females.

I took a fresh look at the Amazon reviews for Teen Steam, and I quickly noticed some of the comments were not coming from the video’s intended audience. I distinctly remember back in 2009, when I originally wrote the Epinions review, there were a lot of men commenting about how watching Alyssa’s workout caused them to be sexually aroused. They might have also enjoyed watching Alyssa’s two hired actress friends, who used the premise of being upset with their parents as a reason to let off “teen steam”. For them, it was “teen steamy” indeed.

Back in the 80s, things were different than they are now. In those days, kids were pretty much allowed to run wild, especially compared to today. There was a lot less concern about child welfare back then, although laws were starting to be made about what children could, or could not, do… and some parents had enough common sense to know what they shouldn’t be doing and actually prevent them from doing those things. I’m sure in the 80s, Alyssa Milano’s workout tape seemed very innocent and cute. I think society, as a whole, was blissfully less aware of the bad stuff in the world.

As Bill and I were listening to music and drinking beer last night, I read aloud one of the Amazon reviews that was posted about this video:

Does anyone else find it creepy that the top of the “What similar items do customers ultimately buy after viewing this item?” is a movie called Jailbait? I guess if you’re not creeped out by the other reviews, that shouldn’t add much.

Bill had just taken a big sip of beer right before I read that actual Amazon review to him. He thought I was joking and almost spewed beer out of his mouth as he choked back laughter. Then he said, “I should be careful drinking beer when you’re making a joke.”

Except I wasn’t joking. That was a literal review on Amazon. We both started cracking up over that. But seriously… below is another honest to God Amazon review of this video:

This is the beautiful girl, turning into a woman right before you’re [sic] very eyes, through each stretch and musical number! Guys who buy this may have to buy another later, so don’t use that still frame button and slow motion button so much!

And another…

The music is terrible. The Fashion is horrible. The dancing is awful. The workouts are laughable. But it’s badness is the genius of its greatness. A must for any Alyssa Milano fan because you won’t be able to take your eyes off of her.

And another…

What can I say about this rare, late 80’s gem? I had to have this, I just had to. I remember “who’s the Boss” as an interesting if silly family show, if a little strange because it had a single parent who was a somewhat befuddled dad, most single parent families, by far, have a mom and no dad, but I guess they wanted to be different. Lets [sic] start with the star of this show, Alyssa Milano. She is as close to perfect as the good lord makes girls her age, her face is flawless and her well toned body is unparalleled. She is also barely 16. I am not 16. I have not been 16 for a long, long, long time. Shame on me. But wait…I didn’t produce this, I didn’t set up the exercises or tell this young nubile to do stretching exercises in a sports bra and nothing else on top. It wasn’t my idea, why should I be ashamed? I just am. Alyssa Milano is a fascinating individual, like an onion one peels and peels and still there is more. She had a colossal career in Japan, lots of Americans did, but not Like Ms. Milano. She had 4 or 5 albums, albums which must be heard to be believed, I confess to downloading some of the songs, shame on me again. If you can listen to one of her songs all the way through, you are stronger then I am. She sings the theme, the lyrics stick in ones [sic] mind like a chicken bone in a dogs throat, “My parents want an angel, my teachers want a brain, my friends all want to party and it’s driving my insane” Oh the horror, the horror. It is painfully obvious that no teenage girl penned these lyrics but some older male, as was much of her stuff in those days. She wears outfits selected for her to please someone else, she poses for hundreds of photo’s [sic], (check out her fan sites) some of which would make Nabrikov [sic] blush, whatever she did it was top quality, done with true heart and spirit and always a little creepy. Who was the audience for this? Young girls? maybe, but many other demographic groups would enjoy her stretching and bending, and squatting and lunging and squatting some more, and leg lifts…….shame on me. She poses in a nighty for a grown women, she is barely 13, time and time again Alyssa Milano puts the “pro” in “age inappropriate”, but is she to blame? or credit? I just don’t have an answer. What I will say is she takes her exercise very seriously, as do the camera men who constantly leer over her teenage body, and her friends too, what to say? The dance number is done very well, the credit list goes on to name many professionals who worked really hard on this, yet like any of her stuff it is horribly dated, her hair and music scream 1988 and no other year, sadly that was a long time ago, and it shows. I, and many other’s [sic] will always think of Alyssa Milano as our adorable if annoying little sister, or the neighbor girl who we see walking down the street, who we should not be looking at….then we take our camcorder and…..shame on me.

Side note. Alyssa was probably 15, not barely 13, when she made this video. She and I were born the same year, and she was a December baby. This was released in 1988, meaning that her 16th birthday would have been in December 1988. But yeah, I did notice how incredibly and naturally beautiful she was back then. She’s still beautiful today, too, and I have read that, yes, of course she cringes today when she remembers making this video. It apparently sold well, though, and she and her parents probably made some bank with her version of an exercise video. They were all the rage back in the 80s, thanks to Jane Fonda.

“Dad, I think he’s gonna pork her!” One of the many inside jokes between Bill and me…

What does Teen Steam have to do with National Lampoon’s European Vacation? Bill and I share a lot of private, inside jokes. One of our most enduring private jokes involves the scene in European Vacation when Rusty Griswold is watching a newlywed couple making out at breakfast. While Clark and Ellen Griswold are talking to their daughter, Audrey, Rusty suddenly blurts out, “Dad, I think he’s gonna pork her!”

Clark responds, “He’s not gonna pork her, Russ.”

“I think he is, Dad”, Rusty says, raising his eyebrows and smiling admiringly.

Sometimes, when Bill says something that strikes me as funny, I’ll say, a la Rusty Griswold, “I think he is, Dad.”

And I think our exchange regarding the scandalous, yet cheesy, 80s era teen video, Teen Steam, is going to end up being another one of our private, inside jokes. I’ve mentioned before that we’re about to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary, and it really does my heart good to know that we still have a lot to talk and laugh about privately. It makes me feel good that we’re still such good friends, and we not only love each other, but we also really like each other. We laugh over the craziest, dumbest, and most obscure things. I think that Teen Steam Amazon review is going to go down in history as one of our many private guffaws. I’m delighted that we still have them… because God knows, if we don’t laugh, we’re probably going to cry over the state of the world today…

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celebrities, reviews, videos, YouTube

Repost: Teen Steam! Teenaged Alyssa Milano works out!

Here’s an old review I wrote for Epinions.com about Alyssa Milano’s laughable Teen Steam workout video. I reposted it on my Dungeons of the Past blog, but I’m also going to post it here so it doesn’t disappear. I like to preserve my Epinions reviews when I can, and I am probably going to discontinue the music blog at some point in the near future. This review is AS/IS– it has not been edited or updated. So please read this as if it’s 2009, not 2022.

Did you know Alyssa used to be a pop star in Japan?  I like her better as an actress.

Yikes! I’m sure she’d like to forget about this project.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals everything about the movie’s plot.

Ah 1988… What a year that was for people born in 1972. Our birth year may be the one and only thing Alyssa Milano and I have in common, besides being female. As a kid, I used to love watching her on Who’s The Boss, an ABC sitcom in which she played Tony Danza’s daughter, Samantha. And, of course, I’d seen her play Arnold Schwarzenegger’s daughter in the 1985 film, Commando. Back in 1988, all the girls admired her and a lot of the hormonally crazed boys wanted to do her. Naturally, that meant she should put out an exercise video. Perhaps that’s how Teen Steam, starring Alyssa Milano, produced by her mom, Lin Milano, and featuring music by her dad, Tom Milano, came to be.

I will be honest. Back in 1988, when this video was selling via television ads, I wasn’t the slightest bit interested in it… not even for the “stylish” Teen Steam digital watch that was thrown in to sweeten the sale. All I remember was seeing Alyssa Milano on those ads, dressed in a spandex shirt and torn up jeans, hawking her exercise/dance video and singing a very annoying but catchy theme song. My curiosity finally got the best of me and I finally ended up getting the chance to watch the thing. And now, some enterprising soul has posted the whole video in its entirety on YouTube for the whole world to see.

The video

Teen Steam is definitely a low budget affair. Currently only available on VHS, it’s now out of print. Used copies are available on Amazon.com. Judging by some of the comments left by reviewers on that site, I’m guessing that this video might have been meant for teenaged girls, but actually appeals more to adult men. It runs for 30 minutes and is not rated. Below is the actual video, which is still available on YouTube.

I read a comment from one guy who said this video made him shoot “huge loads”. Sounds like he’s using Teen Steam for “off label” purposes.

The “plot”

Okay… actually, Teen Steam doesn’t have much of a plot. Basically, the video starts off showing Alyssa in her bedroom, dressed in spandex biker shorts and a tight fitting white tank top that ends just below her budding bosom. She’s listening to her answering machine and gets a message from a girl named Tiffanie (Tiffanie Poston) who claims she’s having a major problem and asks Alyssa to call her back. Then the phone rings and it’s a girl named Michelle (Michelle Simms), who evidently tells Alyssa that she’s also heard from Tiffanie, but Michelle’s problem is even worse than their mutual friend’s. Alyssa, obviously the most level headed one in this group, invites them both over to her house so they can “work it out” together. Given that this video is a “workout” video, I guess that was sort of a lame play on words. On the other hand, maybe it was an unintentional play on words.

Alyssa heads over to her “hi-fi” stereo and puts in what looks like a mix tape. She presses play and suddenly the room starts to pulsate with some 80s era techno dance music. Alyssa says forlornly, “Another one of those days. I can feel the steam rising.” Suddenly, she’s joined by Michelle who complains that she can’t go out that weekend because she has to babysit her little brother. Then Tiffanie gripes about being grounded for bringing home a D on her report card.

Alyssa turns to the camera and says she likes to work out the stress by working out. Then she rattles off an obviously scripted spiel about how warming up is the most important part of the workout. The three girls start to work out to the increasingly lame techno music as Alyssa directs them, gamely trying to sound just like a pro.

I’m not a horny teenaged guy, so I don’t get into watching Alyssa Milano work out. I suppose I might have gotten into watching this if, as a teen, I really looked up to Alyssa Milano. But she’s my age, so I didn’t see her as a role model back when this video was on the market.

The girls do some obligatory chit chatting as they do stretches and basic dance moves to a soundtrack that sounds like it was inspired by the jungle. I don’t really get the feeling that these girls are friends in real life, but they look nice enough on camera. Speaking of the camera, it pans around to show Alyssa’s face as she sweats and gyrates to the music. Just when I think it can’t get any cheesier, Alyssa and her buddies start to rap sort of half-heartedly. Afterwards, Alyssa giggles and says the next exercise is hard to explain, so we should “follow her”.

Alyssa then leads her buddies in floor exercises. She claims she’s already done her exercises for the day, so she’ll just play coach. Alyssa sits between the two girls and counts, offering constructive criticism every so often. It’s at this point that the music threatens to overtake the girls’ chattering. Between the music and the constant giggling, it’s hard to make everything out. Although Alyssa does a good job of keeping things moving, she’s not very convincing as an exercise leader. But I get the feeling that most of the people who would seriously want to watch this won’t care about that. 

When the floor exercises are over, Alyssa joins her buddies in stretches. She begins with an exercise she calls “pretzel thingies”. Then she tells her audience that if they still have energy left, they can “dance it out” with her and her friends. She faces the camera and reassures viewers that the steps are easy and they probably do them all the time when they’re dancing with their friends. Then she tells them if they get lost, they can either rewind the tape or come up with their own steps. Finally, she offers a half-hearted encouragement, saying “Let’s do it!” as she walks through her bedroom mirror. Real helpful, Alyssa!

The next part of the video is the dance segment. As Alyssa walks through her mirror, she ends up in what looks like a dark alley. She’s dressed in ripped acid washed jeans, high tops, a pink spandex shirt that shows off her midriff, and a jean jacket. She’s joined by a bunch of dancers who gyrate to the cheesy electronic music, but Alyssa’s workout buddies are nowhere to be found. This part of the video is sort of set up like a music video, complete with a loosely told story. It’s really pretty hokey. Alyssa Milano isn’t the best dancer in the world. In fact, she sort of emulates Tiffany’s “hand jive” moves that were kind of popular back in the day. But I’m guessing that most people who would really want to watch this video won’t care about that. 

When Alyssa’s done dancing, she walks back through her mirror, once again dressed in her biker shorts and tiny tank top. Suddenly, we see Alyssa’s friends again. They appear to be doing exercises in fast forward. Alyssa says “Oops” then snaps her fingers. The friends act as if they were stuck in some kind of time warp. At this point, Alyssa does something truly cringeworthy. She appears to try to emulate Dana Carvey’s Church Lady as she sneers, “Well… wasn’t that effect… special?” It’s enough to make you want to jump out of your skin.

At this point, we’ve seen Alyssa work out, play exercise coach, and dance. Now it’s time to hear her sing. That’s right, folks. Alyssa Milano sings too. Apparently, she had a number of hits in Japan back in the day. She walks over to her tape deck and turns over the cassette. I’m suddenly surprised that she doesn’t have a machine with auto-reverse. I would think with the way her career was going in the 1980s, she could have afforded it.

The punchy electronic theme song to the video starts and suddenly Alyssa’s in the recording studio, dressed in her ripped jeans get up. Holding an earphone to her ear, Alyssa starts to sing the following prize worthy lyrics:

“My parents want an angel, my teachers want a brain, my friends all want to party and it’s driving me insane”

She looks like even she thinks the song is stupid, but ever the professional, she sells it as best she can. The lyrics to this song are pretty inane and seem inappropriate for a girl Alyssa’s age, but she has a passable singing voice and the melody is catchy enough. If you’re not careful, it’ll be stuck in your head for the rest of the day. After about three minutes of this, the credits mercifully start to roll, the irritating theme song playing all the while.

Overall

I don’t think I would have liked this video when I was a teenager. I will admit it’s kind of fun to watch it 21 years later, but only as a lark. To be honest, it’s not a very interesting video and Alyssa doesn’t seem that invested in it. I got the feeling that she was doing it just for the money. Come to think of it, she probably was.

That being said, I will comment that this video seems to be popular among men, especially those who admired Alyssa Milano when she was a teenager. She was a very good looking girl and has blossomed into an attractive woman. I’m sure this exercise video was meant for adolescent girls, but I think it’s more appealing to men… and that makes me wonder what the hell her parents were thinking when they got involved with this project! In fact, I also wonder why Alyssa Milano needed to do an exercise video. She hasn’t seemed to have gone through that cursed transition to adulthood that a lot of childhood actors do. I don’t think she ever had an ugly duckling phase.

Anyway… I don’t think I’d recommend this video to anyone who plans to take it seriously. It’s fun to watch for nostalgic purposes and, judging from some of the comments on YouTube and Amazon, some people also watch it for sexual purposes… but remember, Alyssa was only 15 years old when this video was made. Tsk tsk tsk…

Recommend this product? No

Not that I think many people want a VHS cassette of Alyssa Milano’s cheesy exercise video, but here’s the link to Amazon in case anyone does. I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site.

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animals, dogs, music, pests, songs, videos, YouTube

Getting rid of “Flea-loaders” with an old fashioned Avon product…

This morning, I ordered a bottle of Avon’s Skin So Soft. I don’t usually use this product, but thanks to the pesky hedgehog who has made a home in our backyard, I feel compelled to buy it. I woke up this morning with a rash around my neck, and I’m pretty sure it came from fleas on the hedgehog and her baby. Hedgehogs are notorious for having fleas.

Arran has been messing with the hedgehog ever since she showed up on August 1, and sure enough, he did get fleas. Now, these aren’t the usual fleas that infest dogs and cats. These are hedgehog fleas, which supposedly can’t infest pets the way they do hedgehogs. The fur on dogs and cats is too soft, or something. However, these little beasts do bite, and while Arran isn’t covered in them, I know that he brought a few into our house. In fact, when he was at the vet’s office last Friday, the vet was looking for an actual infestation. She didn’t find one, but then a flea jumped off Arran’s head. The tech managed to catch it, and they killed it so they could look at it under a microscope. Maybe that’s where Arran’s swollen lymph nodes came from. The vet did tell Bill that Arran’s hormones are fine. I actually hope the swollen nodes are from fleas… because the alternative is probably cancer.

Today, I’m also washing all of the bedding. I needed to do that anyway, and often do it on Wednesdays, but thanks to the blood sucking little fuckers Arran brought into the house, it’s necessary to be aggressive. Both dogs have been treated for fleas. Ordinarily, I would be giving them oral flea preventative as a matter of course, but since Arran is old and has had mast cell tumors, I try not to give him products that might encourage tumors to form. He only gets the most basic vaccines now.

It’s finally raining, which is a huge blessing. We need the rain desperately. I’ve been really delighted to see the grass starting to grow back in our yard. I even used the lawnmower for the first time in weeks a couple of days ago, because there were patches of grass that were looking unkempt. The cooler weather will help get rid of the fleas. The hedgehog will also be going into hibernation soon, if she hasn’t already.

I haven’t had to deal with fleas since the 1980s, before dogs routinely got flea and tick preventative. Our dogs used to get them every summer, and my mom would obsessively find and kill them with her bare hands. I would give the dogs baths to get rid of a bunch of them at once. I gave our dogs baths a few days ago, and all that came off of them, besides a little dirt, was lots of undercoat. Arran, especially, had lots of loose hair coming off.

So how did I know about the wonders of non-toxic Skin So Soft? It was thanks to my days riding horses. My old riding coach used to buy the product to use on the horses. I couldn’t put it on my horse, because he was allergic to the oils in it. I had to use special fly spray on him. However, I do remember my folksy riding teacher talking about how effective Skin So Soft is for getting rid of biting flies, mosquitos, and other insects. A quick Googling told me that the product will also work for fleas. Some people like the way it smells, too; however, I find the scent basically pleasant, but kind of cloying and sickeningly sweet. I will be able to tolerate it, though, if it means the fleas don’t bite me anymore.

There are, of course, more important things I could be writing about today. Lots of news stories that are blogger worthy have popped up on my radar. But I’m just not in the mood to write about such things today, because I’m irritable. Itchy rashes have a way of doing that to a person.

Remembering about Skin So Soft reminded me that sometimes, even the carefree pursuits of childhood can prove useful in the future. I probably would not have known about Skin So Soft if not for my horse crazy days. My mom didn’t use Avon products. In those days, you had to have a supplier. Now, you can just buy the stuff on Amazon. They even have it in Germany, so I won’t have to get it through the APO system.

In other news, I decided to make another music video yesterday. I had wanted to do it last month, when Olivia Newton-John died, but I was having trouble getting the vocals right. It’s not a lyrically challenging song, but the key is right at the part of my voice that goes from chest to head, so it can be hard to be accurate with my pitch. I’m a stickler for pitch, so I held off on recording. Then, when the Queen of England died, I decided it was time to give “Grace and Gratitude” another try. I managed to do it yesterday, complete with harmonies. Took me about two hours from recording to making a simple video.

This song comes from the album, Liv On, which Olivia Newton-John made with Beth Nielsen Chapman and Amy Sky in 2016. It’s a very comforting album, especially when a person is experiencing loss. So anyway, here’s my take on “Grace and Gratitude”. I don’t think it turned out too shabbily. I used photos from last fall’s trip to Slovenia, which was combined with our first proper visit (as opposed to a joyriding day trip) to Croatia. Both places are insanely beautiful. I hope to visit again soon.

I really enjoy making music videos… They usually aren’t controversial, and I almost always find singing relaxing.

Just in case anyone wants to know which product I bought… And if you purchase through the Amazon link, I get a small commission from Amazon. But there is certainly no pressure. I’m just sharing the link to be helpful to those who are suffering like I am.

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controversies, lessons learned, Police, true crime, YouTube

Maryland cops mimic kindergartner’s temper tantrum with one of their own…

A few days ago, The Washington Post shared an article about two cops in Montgomery County, Maryland, who have just been part of a lawsuit stemming from their actions on January 14, 2020. A five year old boy at East Silver Spring Elementary School had a meltdown shortly after lunch. He became upset and threw a clipboard at a teacher and a fellow student. Then he ran out of the classroom, outside of the school, and toward a congested section of Silver Spring, Maryland. Having been to Silver Spring myself, I know that this is basically a suburb of Washington, DC, and there’s a lot of traffic.

School officials called the police, and officers Kevin Christmon and Dionne Holliday arrived on the scene. They quickly located the boy, who was hiding nearby. At first, the cops were pleasant toward the boy, but when he refused to cooperate with him, the police officers became very controlling and, many would say, abusive. Christmon’s voice turns stern as he demands that the boy look at him, then asks why he’s out of school. When the boy doesn’t willingly emerge from his hiding spot, Christmon grabs him by the arm and yanks him toward the other officer. The boy starts screaming “No, no, no, no…” as the police order him into the back of their squad car. By that point, an assistant principal had arrived, and managed to get the boy to calm down enough to get into the car.

Bodycam footage was released on Friday, hence the news article I read. I watched the raw footage, and I was pretty shocked by the way those “peace officers” were berating that child. According to the Washington Post, the following exchange occurred:

“I don’t wanna to go,” [the boy] said, his voice shaking and coughing.

“I don’t care!” the officer replied. “You don’t make that decision for yourself!”

Holliday spoke to the child through an open door. “Does your momma spank you?” she asked, adding, “I’m going to ask her if I can do it.”

Naturally, the harsh words and threats served to upset the boy even more. He screamed and cried. The officers described his behavior as “headstrong” and “defiant”. Christmon said that he felt his actions were justified, because the boy was being “non-compliant.” Holliday said that she threatened him to “get him to shut up.” Both officers screamed at the boy, trying to overpower his screams with their voices. At one point, Holliday “primal screams” a couple of inches from the boy’s face, which only served to cause him to scream louder.

This is a news report from March 2021 from NBC news. It was aired before the outcome of the lawsuit was revealed.

At one point, Officer Christman holds the boy down in the chair for 80 seconds. Later, Christmon puts a handcuff on the boy’s wrist and tells him that handcuffs are what people who don’t want to listen end up wearing. The cops call the boy’s mother, who later comes to the school and complains that she has trouble disciplining the child. She says she fears using corporal punishment, because she doesn’t want child protection services to take him away. Officer Holliday then advises the boy’s mother on the level of corporal punishment that will not result in his being removed from her custody. She tells the mom, “We want you to beat him… All I can tell you is to beat that ass.” At one point, Holliday also made a comment about how “animals should be crated”, adding that that’s what should happen to boys who want to “act like a little beast.” And she referred to the child as “a shepherd for the devil.”

I wasn’t originally planning to write about this case, as I’ve found that a lot of times, people involved in these situations go looking for opinions and then get angry or upset when they disagree with mine. Regular readers might recall that I recently disabled my official Facebook page for this blog because someone contacted me through Facebook with abuse, threats, and insults because they didn’t like an old blog entry I reposted. I have a feeling that this case could inspire similar attempts to berate me, simply for having and sharing an opinion.

However… against my better judgment, I’m going to write about this. My heart broke for that poor kid, even as I have empathy for the adults who were trying to deal with him. I was never as out of control as that boy was, but I do remember being very small and emotionally immature, crying and screaming, and being threatened, bullied, and hit by some of the adults in my life– particularly, my father. I don’t remember anyone ever speaking to me calmly and trying to redirect the tantrum– which is a pretty normal thing for kids to have, by the way. I remember hyperventilating and being terrified. And when I saw and heard that boy’s screams, it took me back to that place, many years in the past.

Not surprisingly, the boy in this story had nightmares in the wee hours of the next morning. He woke up at 3:00am and cried to his mother, saying that he was afraid the police were going to shoot him. The mother filed a complaint with the police department and later sued. Her suit was settled out of court for $275,000, which according to Dr. Todd Grande, who also analyzed this case, the boy will get when he’s an adult.

I liked what Dr. Grande had to say about this case. He’s very astute.

Dr. Grande notes that the police, who are trained to “take control” of a crime situation, lost control in dealing with this child. Cops, as I have observed from watching many Bodycam videos on YouTube, are used to being able to get as physical as they need to with non-compliant adults. But this is a five year old child, so obviously, it would not have been appropriate for them to wrestle him to the ground, put him in handcuffs, and Taser the shit out of him. Instead, they tried to act like “stern adults” and browbeat the child into submission with screaming, yelling, threats, and insults. But, as we can all see, that technique only made things a lot worse.

Christmon later said, having watched the video footage, “Honestly, after looking at this, we should have dropped him off and left,”

I agree. Because it’s clear that these two officers don’t have much expertise in talking to children, and their methods were abusive and inappropriate for a young child. I believe that, even though I have worked with children myself, and I know that dealing with them can be frustrating. Kids don’t have the same situational awareness that adults have, and they often lack self-control. This child, who apparently has a record of acting out in school and at home, needed someone with more experience dealing with troubled children. From what I saw in the video footage, it appeared that the cops weren’t behaving much better than the boy was. However, the boy has his age and maturity level as an excuse.

The two officers did face discipline for the way they handled this case. Officer Christmon was suspended for almost two weeks. Officer Holliday got four weeks’ suspension. Both suspensions occurred without pay. The officers were also administratively charged with a number of infractions, including neglect of duty and failure to be courteous.  The police officers agreed with the punishments, did their penance, and the matter was closed. Both remain employed as police officers today.

Many people seemed to think that these two cops should be fired for their bad conduct, especially since it’s cost the county $275,000. I’m not quite sure how I feel about it. It does sound to me like the officers recognize that they did wrong, and handled the situation poorly. They seem amenable to learning from the incident and doing a better job in the future. I’m not a big fan of canceling people’s livelihoods for one mistake, even when it’s a whopper like this one. In this case, the boy suffered significant mental distress that he’ll probably remember from now on. But no one was physically injured or killed, and it does sound like some learning happened.

I am not a fan of “beating children”, as most of my regular readers probably know. I had a teacher in the 80s who employed corporal punishment. He once carried it out on me, in front of my entire class of peers. Forty plus years later, I still haven’t forgotten it, and it still really pisses me off to think about it. That punishment was inappropriate. I also had a father whose methods of discipline involved force, yelling, insults, and physical abuse. He’s been dead for eight years, and I still have bad feelings toward him. That kind of “discipline” doesn’t teach anything but fear, and tends to make things much worse. Sadly, some school districts in the United States still use corporal punishment. At this writing, 19 states still allow corporal punishment in schools, although happily, my home state of Virginia no longer does. The state of Missouri has just now brought the method back to schools, reportedly at the request of some parents. 

I understand that inflicting physical pain on someone who is out of control with emotion can sometimes “shock” them into compliance, especially when they are young children. However, in my experience, relying on that method of discipline leads to laziness on the part of the adult, and is ultimately disrespectful to the child, who is a human being and worthy of basic respect. We would never advocate for a husband slapping or spanking his wife when he became angry with or frustrated by her behavior. Many people would consider that “domestic violence.” And yet, a lot of people think it’s perfectly fine for a much larger human being to terrorize a child with threats of being hit or beaten, personal insults and comparisons to animals, and screaming and yelling. I promise, yelling and screaming at children doesn’t tend to inspire them to calm down and be quiet.

Police officers have a very difficult job, dealing with dangerous people who carry weapons. This was a case of a small child, obviously unarmed, and clearly much smaller and weaker than the cops were. The level of control the officers tried to inflict on the child was inappropriate, and clearly, very abusive. The boy wasn’t a threat to them. He was simply having a tantrum, which young kids often do. It seems to me the appropriate thing for the cops to do in this case was simply to see that the boy got back to school safely. And then, they should have allowed a professional who has much more experience working with children handle the boy’s meltdown. I don’t know if either of these cops have children, but their conduct offers a glimpse at how their children could be disciplined. It’s disturbing that one of the officers advocated for “beating” the child, even if she meant it in the vernacular. It’s really not a good look.

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