communication, condescending twatbags, controversies, true crime, YouTube

People and the glass houses they dwell in…

Yesterday afternoon, I found myself watching more cop videos on YouTube. I know this is a habit I should break, even though sometimes the videos are genuinely entertaining. I should probably curtail the urge to watch them, though, because I think making bodycam videos available to the general public is potentially very harmful.

If you’ve been reading my blog for any time, you might already know that I’m not a big fan of “cancel culture”. I don’t think people’s lives should be ruined over being caught on camera on a bad day. I think justice and punishment should be, by and large, handled by the courts, rather than the public.

Some people are proponents of public shaming, claiming that it’s a good way to get people to behave better. Personally, I disagree with that, because the videos have been available for a long time now, and many people still act like jerks. When you’re having a really bad day, you may not be thinking about eventually being featured on someone’s YouTube channel. Moreover, sometimes people are dealing with mental health issues that they can’t control. Those episodes shouldn’t necessarily be made available for public consumption.

That being said, I do still watch the videos, in spite of my reservations about them… and sometimes I find them very disturbing. It’s very easy to get arrested in the United States. Sometimes police officers are extremely unprofessional, and it’s the luck of the draw as to which one people are going to have to deal with. By the same token, sometimes people act like complete maniacs. Take, for instance, the woman in the below video… This one is not for the faint of heart.

This was rather shocking to watch on many levels.
Adding a screenshot of the video, in case it disappears.

Police officers do have a difficult and dangerous job. There is no question in my mind about that. However, many of the police officers I see on American bodycam videos make me really appreciate German cops. They are less casual, generally more courteous, and resort to violent measures less often. But then, German cops don’t have to deal with as many weapons or unhinged people as American cops do. I suspect German cops are better trained and equipped, too, because Germans are generally more willing to pay taxes that will go towards training them properly.

Here in Germany, there’s also the right to be “forgotten”. That means people who are arrested get a modicum of privacy. Their faces aren’t shown in the media, and their full names generally aren’t publicized. If you see an accused person in a German newspaper, their faces will be covered, and they will be addressed by their first name and last initial. I think it’s a good policy for many people. It gives them a chance to start fresh, once they repay their civic debt. But again, society here is kind of different, and so is the overall mindset. People tend to be more community minded in Germany and other parts of Europe.

Which brings me to the video that prompted today’s post. Yesterday, I watched a DUI arrest video involving a young woman who said she was pregnant. The young woman immediately admitted to drinking and driving, then made the heartbreaking statement that she was “just like her dad.” I guess her dad is an alcoholic. As a daughter of an alcoholic, I sympathize.

This young woman is clearly very upset… She doesn’t come off as a “privileged princess” to me.

Reading some of the vile comments on this video, I get the sense that a lot of Americans are unaware that they’re veering pretty close to agreeing with the ideas and conditions set in The Handmaid’s Tale. Maybe they don’t want everyone wearing clothes in colors that identify their statuses to everyone else. Maybe they don’t think women deemed “loose” should be turned into broodmares for the powerful. But they do seem to think that pregnant folks should have different civil rights than other people should. Many of the commenters were making appalling speculations about this young woman, just because she got caught driving drunk while pregnant.

Now… I am NOT trying to say that this young woman wasn’t very irresponsible for doing what she did. Of course she shouldn’t have been drinking and driving, regardless of the status of her womb. I don’t know what her plans are/were regarding the alleged pregnancy, but I certainly wouldn’t condone drinking alcohol while pregnant. However, based on the comments, some people seem to think this poor woman’s life should be ruined for this incident. Many people speculated that perhaps she was planning to have an abortion, and that’s why she got drunk. It’s not too far of a leap to think that some of them think she’s a “slut” for getting pregnant, which, of course, is an insult to her overall character. I wonder how many of the people making such awful comments would like the same kinds of observations made about them when they make mistakes.

I am a product of a generation when plenty of pregnant women drank, including my own mom. I’m not saying that fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) or Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) aren’t a thing. They absolutely are. Since we don’t know how much alcohol is “safe” during pregnancy, and it’s not necessary to drink alcohol to be healthy, of course it’s wise to avoid it. However, it’s unlikely that this young woman, who clearly isn’t heavily pregnant, will condemn her embryo to FAS or FASD by getting drunk very early in her pregnancy. Moreover, the disgusting comments about her intentions regarding the pregnancy– potential plans to have an abortion, for instance– are completely inappropriate.

It’s a wonder that any woman in the United States even wants to be pregnant right now, with so many people in our country judging them so harshly for just about EVERYTHING they do. This young woman made a huge mistake, but the good news is, no one was injured or killed. She can and should learn from the mistake, and then simply go on with her life. But based on some of the shocking comments on YouTube, some people seem to think she should be labeled with a scarlet letter, like Hester Prynne.

Not everyone on YouTube was nasty. Some people did have some empathy for the young woman, as they hoped this was a “wake up call”. There’s no telling why she decided to drink and drive. No one should be doing that. And naturally, it’s not advisable to drink alcohol while pregnant, although in some countries, it’s considered much less of an issue than it is in the United States. Here in Europe, for instance, some physicians even encourage very light drinking during pregnancy (maybe one small glass of wine or beer per week). They get more upset about pregnant women eating very rare meats, unpasteurized cheeses, or raw seafood. And yet, plenty of babies are born in Europe, safe and sound, even if their mothers had a glass of Syrah or a Guinness while they were pregnant.

American culture has some big issues with moderation. I think maybe it has to do with the fact that the US is a young country, and our people lack the wisdom that comes from thousands of years of civilization. Many United States citizens are not unlike new converts to a culty religion. We, as a whole, seem to think we know everything; our culture is the best; and we can do no wrong. The rest of the world laughs at us. You can see it when someone from the States comes to Europe, is super loud and obnoxious, and acts like people should be impressed by where they come from. Many American people lack self-awareness and like to hear themselves talk, rather than stopping to listen occasionally. I’m not saying ALL Americans are like this, but quite a lot of us are. That attitude comes from ignorance and a lack of perspective, as well as significant hubris.

And so, when we watch a video of a young person doing something clearly unwise and potentially very dangerous, we tend to be heavy handed with insults, inappropriate predictions of the future, judgment, and condemnation. It really sucks, because nobody is perfect.

This young woman did, at least, own up to what she did, and mostly cooperated, even if she did it while crying and shrieking in a “baby” voice. She should have the chance to redeem herself and thank God that this incident didn’t turn out much worse. But not only does she have to endure humiliation, pay fines, and probably get yelled at by people who actually know and care about her, she also has to put up with absolutely horrible, soul destroying comments from complete strangers, who evidently see her as nothing more than an embryo bearing vessel, and apparently think her whole life should be ruined over this mistake. That’s what I think is the real shame. Those kinds of words hurt, and they can cause some people to fall into true despair that can lead to more destructive behavior, or even suicide.

There were also a few “abortion is murder” comments thrown in for good measure, although there is no indication that this woman is/was planning a termination. But, if she was planning to terminate her pregnancy, and is actually as terrible, morally bankrupt, and irresponsible as some of the commenters seem to think she is, maybe having an abortion would ultimately be the most appropriate thing for her to do. Because obviously, someone that absolutely horrible can’t possibly take care of herself well enough to gestate a healthy baby… right?

In case some people are missing my sarcasm, I do NOT think this young woman deserves the extreme hate she got on this video. I think she needs someone kind and mature to talk to her and give her some much needed guidance. I really hope she has someone like that in her life… or finds someone who can fulfill that role. And if she chose to stay pregnant, I hope she had/has a healthy baby. She should learn from this mistake and go on with her life… and those who are condemning her character should stop and take a long look in the mirror at themselves and the glass houses they dwell in. I would like to hope that, in person, most people really aren’t as dreadful as they are in vicious comments they make online.

book reviews, celebrities

Britney Spears tells a lot in The Woman in Me…

Good morning, blog fans. Another Monday is upon us. Today, I woke up alone at about 3:00 AM. I couldn’t get back to sleep, so I plowed through the rest of Britney Spears’ bombshell memoir, The Woman in Me.

I read Britney’s book, not because I am a big fan of her music, but because I know she has a story, and she was silenced for far too long under her father’s disgusting conservatorship scam. I’ve come to admire her prodigious talents and her undeniable pluck. She’s been through a lot, and while I have no doubts that she struggles with mental health issues, I also think she was used and abused for most of her life. I admire her for fighting back against the many parasitic people who were in her life, and for making herself heard… and I love that this project is hers, and she will profit from it.

The Woman in Me is decently written, and Britney Spears is remarkably candid about what has happened to her since her birth in McComb, Mississippi on December 2, 1981. She was born into a troubled family. According to Spears, her father, Jamie Spears, is a notorious alcoholic who is a very mean drunk. Britney writes that her father’s father, June, was also a very strict, abusive taskmaster who was mean, while his mother, Jean, tragically committed suicide about eight years after she lost her three day old son.

Britney’s mother, Lynne, was born into a family with money, although her British mother, Lily, longed to go back to her native London. Lynne’s father, Barney, would not allow Lily to go home, so she became kind of flighty and distraught, as Britney describes it.

Since Britney’s parents came from dysfunctional backgrounds, they were pretty dysfunctional themselves when they wed in July 1976. Lynne was Jamie’s second wife; his first wife was Debbie Sanders Cross, and their marriage lasted about three years. Jamie and Debbie are reportedly still friends, even though their marriage failed.

There were problems between Britney’s parents even before they welcomed Britney’s brother, Bryan, on April 24, 1977. Besides Jamie Spears’ alcoholism, there were also serious money problems early in the marriage, although Jamie later turned into a capable businessman in their hometown of Kentwood, Louisiana. Lynne went as far as filing for divorce in 1980, but changed her mind. The couple stayed together so that Britney could be born the following year. Sister Jamie Lynn Spears was born April 4, 1991, even though Jamie and Lynne Spears continued to have marital strife. As of May 2002, they are divorced, although they unofficially reconciled in 2010 and seem to continue to be in and out of each other’s lives.

From an early age, Britney Spears showed an affinity for performing. She loved to sing, dance, and do gymnastics. When it became clear that their daughter had a special gift for performing arts, Britney’s parents encouraged her to participate in musical activities. She made her debut in kindergarten, singing “What Child Is This” for a production at her Christian school. By the time she was eight years old, Britney was auditioning for The Mickey Mouse Club. Although she didn’t make the cut the first time, the casting director liked her enough to encourage her to go to New York and work with a talent agent. Lynne took Britney to New York City and pretty soon, she was singing on Broadway with the likes of Natalie Portman. She was also famously a contestant on Star Search, although she didn’t go far on that show. She was eliminated after her second appearance.

Ten year old Britney Spears’ second appearance on Star Search. Little did we know what she would later become… a true star.

Britney later got on The Mickey Mouse Club, and there she met Christina Aguilera and Justin Timberlake. She and Justin had a long romance and she eventually got pregnant with his child. She wanted to keep the baby, but Justin objected. So Britney Spears, who had been baptized as Southern Baptist and went to Christian school in the Deep South, had an abortion that she didn’t want. Later, she realized that Timberlake was unfaithful to her, just as other men in her life have been.

The video that put Britney on the proverbial map…

By the time Britney was seventeen years old, she was a huge star and certifiably bankable to money hungry executives. When she first started, Britney wanted to work constantly. She loved what she was doing and it came very naturally to her. She was also happy to share her good fortune with her family. But soon she was consumed by the demands of her stardom, and the many people who were making money off of her gifts. She started to have mental health issues and began to crumble quite publicly. She famously got married for 55 hours to her friend, Jason Alexander. The press turned on her; her marriage to Kevin Federline collapsed; and she lost custody of her sons, Sean Preston and Jayden James. She responded by shaving her head.

Britney Spears and Michael Jackson, before things went south for both of them…

Then Britney’s father turned into her master, and for thirteen years, she couldn’t so much as eat a piece of pizza or drink a cup of coffee without his permission. Meanwhile, she continued to rake in money, which she was forced to spend on rehabs her father made her attend. He paid himself more than he paid her; she was given an allowance of $2000 a week. And the rest of her family just stood by and did nothing, while Britney was deemed too sick to handle her own affairs, but not too sick to perform on stage or make best selling albums.

My thoughts

This book is pretty easy to read, with short chapters and straightforward writing. There are no photos included, which I see disappointed some readers. Personally, I didn’t mind, since I can easily find many records of the incidents she refers to in the book. Most of them are videos that are easily watched on YouTube.

Some of Britney’s bombshells are shocking and infuriating, but she also manages to include some interesting anecdotes about her life as a star. I was particularly intrigued by her story about working with a huge snake while performing at the 2001 Video Music Awards. While I wouldn’t say Britney’s writing (which is actually assisted by several ghost writers) is extraordinary, nor would I describe her book as super detailed, I would say that she delivers a pretty raw story about what her life as a superstar has been like. Based on Britney’s account, I would say being a superstar is definitely a mixed bag, even if her father hadn’t been an abusive tyrant.


Sure, Britney got to meet a lot of her heroes and has worked with fellow superstars Elton John, Madonna, Michael Jackson, and But she also lost her privacy, as she was hounded by the press. Her every move was scrutinized and critiqued, and she wasn’t allowed to fail. And while she’s made a lot of money, she’s also employed a lot of people, whose livelihoods depend on her ability to deliver great performances. That’s a lot of pressure, even if your parents aren’t dysfunctional assholes. Based on Britney’s story, her parents are definitely in asshole territory.

As of June 9, 2022, Britney Spears is now on her third marriage, but by September 2023 she had already separated from Sam Ashgari. I have no doubt that it’s a challenge to live with Britney Spears. Even if her mental health was rock solid, she can’t enjoy the basic things normal people take for granted. That would be bound to affect anyone close to her, especially a spouse. I don’t know why she and her husband have already split. I hope it’s not because he turned out to be yet another exploiter.

As a singer myself, I really admire Britney Spears’ talents. I also find her very likable, even if I’m still not a big fan of her genre of music. She has undeniable charisma, and that is what makes her such a bankable star. I’m glad she wrote The Woman in Me, and I hope she enjoys the surge of success that comes from sharing her story. She’s entitled to be free to live her life on her own terms. Even if she has a mental illness, she should have the right to handle it without interference from leeches who are just trying to make money off of her star power. I don’t want to see Britney end up like so many other incredibly gifted people who burn out fast and die too young.

As I was reading this book, I was actually reminded a little of Tina Turner, who was also famously exploited by a greedy man who wanted to profit off her talents. Tina was also able to break away in her 40s, just like Britney has. I hope, that like Tina Turner did, Britney is able to enjoy the rest of her life as she pleases. She really deserves it.

I would give The Woman in Me four stars out of five and a hearty recommendation.

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book reviews

My review of Unbreakable by Jelena Dokic, with Jessica Halloran…

January seems to be my month for reading true stories. Early this morning, because I couldn’t sleep, I finished reading 2017’s Unbreakable, the story of tennis phenom Jelena Dokic, ghostwritten by Jessica Halloran. I bought this book a week ago and finished it in less than 48 hours. Part of the reason I finished so quickly is because I’m alone this week, but I also found it a very compelling and interesting book. I don’t follow tennis at all, and had never even heard of Jelena Dokic before I read Unbreakable. But her story interested and frustrated me on many levels. I think anyone who has ever had to deal with a controlling, narcissistic, alcoholic person will relate to it.

Who is Jelena Dokic?

Born April 12, 1983 in Croatia, which was then part of the former Yugoslavia, Jelena Dokic once played tennis with the likes of Martina Hingis, Monica Seles, Jennifer Capriati, and both Venus and Serena Williams. But her earliest days in Osijek, Croatia, didn’t lend a hint to the fame and fortune she would eventually attain.

Jelena Dokic’s mother is from Croatia; her father was born in Croatia, but was of Serbian descent. She was an only child until 1991, when her mother gave birth to her beloved brother, Savo. From the very beginning, Jelena adored her brother and saw herself as his protector. His birth was at the time when the Iron Curtain was falling apart, and that included Jelena’s homeland, Yugoslavia, which was really just a conglomeration of different states with different languages and cultures cobbled together.

One day, when Jelena was still very young, she and her father, Damir Dokic, were in a rowboat fishing, when they saw a body floating past. As Yugoslavia was breaking up, people from the different countries were fighting among themselves. Murders were increasingly common as the area became a war zone. The obstetrician who delivered both Jelena and her brother was murdered, prompting the family to temporarily move to Serbia. There, Jelena had to learn the Serbian language as the civil unrest and ethnic and religion based violence continued.

During those early years, Jelena’s father got the idea to see if his daughter could play tennis. Boy, could she… Jelena was a natural talent. From the age of six, she showed everyone that she was born for the game. Reluctant coaches in Serbia didn’t think she could hang with the bigger girls, but she soon proved herself a formidable player. Before she’d hit puberty, Jelena had launched what would turn into a lucrative career.

Enter “Daddy Dearest”…

Besides dealing with the violence of war and the upheaval of moving from Croatia to Serbia, Jelena’s family was poor. For some time, Jelena, her mother, and brother lived in a garden shack owned by relatives. It was rat infested and freezing cold. Meanwhile, her father and other relatives were in Croatia. Jelena’s dad, Damir, came back when it became clear that his daughter had the potential to go far in the tennis world.

The family eventually immigrated to Australia, where Jelena rose in the ranks to become a great tennis player. But she would inspire jealousy among other Aussie tennis players, who weren’t a match for her. Her entire life revolved around winning tennis matches and making money for her abusive father. Jelena’s mother, beaten down by years of abuse, aided and abetted Damir’s tyrannical behavior.

Damir Dokic had a tragically effective way of “motivating” Jelena to succeed. He drove her to train constantly, berated her, called her vile, filthy names, and when she didn’t win on the tennis court, beat her with his leather belt. Damir was also a severe alcoholic with a weakness for white wine and whiskey. He would show up to Jelena’s games rip roaring drunk, screaming at her from the sidelines. Jelena was treated like a commodity. She wasn’t allowed to have friends, and her abusive father would threaten and humiliate her constantly, even when she did well.

Still, in spite of being called names like “whore” and “cow”, and even though her father would regularly terrorize Jelena, and tell her she was a disgrace, the young tennis phenom consistently rose to the occasion. At the pinnacle of her tennis career, Jelena Dokic was ranked number four in the world. For awhile, she was unstoppable, although her father never praised Jelena for her achievements.

But sadly, before Jelena was even twenty-one years old, it all began to unravel. She went through many coaches, endured a narcissistic boyfriend, and through it all, had to face her terrifying father, who leveraged Jelena’s access to her mother and brother to get what he wanted… which was basically ALL of her money and complete control over her career.

A familiar story, yet still shocking…

As I read Jelena Dokic’s story, I was reminded of several other stories of extremely talented and successful people. A couple of years ago, I wrote a review of a book written by Verona van de Leur, a former elite gymnast from The Netherlands who eventually went to prison and then became a porn star. Like Jelena Dokic, Verona was expected to perform and achieve in her sport, mainly because her parents were leeching money from her.

I don’t believe Verona van de Leur ever made as much money as Jelena Dokic did, as Jelena’s father eventually built a mansion with Jelena’s earnings, complete with a wine cellar and stables. He made her agree to keep sending him payments of $200,000, as well as most of her other earnings. Jelena’s father also forced her to sign over her rights to a house paid for with money she won. Naturally, she was also expected to pay the taxes on her winnings, which she soon couldn’t do as she stopped winning. Not winning meant making much less money playing tennis.

I was also reminded of Dominique Moceanu, an American former elite gymnast of Romanian descent, whose father abused her in order to motivate her to achieve. I remember how adorable Dominique was in the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. I didn’t know, at that time, the price she was paying to be at the top of her game in gymnastics. I read and reviewed Dominique’s book, too.

Finally, Jelena’s crazy abuse story reminded a bit of Tina Turner, and her story of being mentored by her ex husband, the late Ike Turner. Although Tina is known for being a great singer, she shared the same tragic fate as Jelena, Verona, and Dominique did. All of these incredibly gifted and talented women basically served as “golden geese” for abusive men who exploited and terrorized them to get money and power from them.


As compelling as Unbreakable is, I have to admit, I found it a frustrating read. Jelena Dokic was caught in a terrible abuse cycle. Over and over again, her father would abuse her in almost every way. He would make her run for miles after exhausting tennis matches or in extreme heat. He would verbally abuse her and terrorize her. Or he would beat her up, kick her with his pointy toed dress shoes, or whip her with his belt. When she became an adult, she would say “enough” and try to leave. But he’d always manage to talk her into coming back for more abuse.

Ditto to other abusers in Jelena’s life. She had a tennis coach who took advantage of her. He wasn’t very experienced in the game, but he was manipulative. More than once, Jelena tried to get rid of him, only to take him back later. She had an abusive, controlling boyfriend of the same ilk who was hard to shake.

On a conscious level, I understand that Jelena was trapped in a cycle of abuse. She was coping the only way she knew how. She didn’t have much help from other people, even though some had seen evidence of her father’s telltale abuse. Jelena was a valuable commodity to a lot of men, and I guess it was easier to allow the blatant terrorism to continue, rather than do something about it. I have had experience with an abusive alcoholic father myself, so I do have an inkling of what Jelena was facing. My dad wasn’t as bad as Jelena’s dad is, either. But still, it was frustrating to read about this very talented and successful woman being horrifically abused, and nothing being done about it. It’s pretty shameful, actually. Fortunately, the story ends well.

Jelena Dokic makes a comeback.


I think Jessica Halloran did a fine job writing this book. It’s in the historical present tense, which is kind of different. I never got the sense that I wasn’t reading this book from the source, though, which is a good thing. There are some photos included, too.

Like I mentioned up post, I don’t really follow tennis at all. I’m not into sports. But I could relate to and empathize with Jelena Dokic’s story in Unbreakable. It sounds like she’s gotten her life back on track, as she now works as a tennis coach and motivational speaker in Australia. Jelena’s story is horrific at times, but ultimately, she’s triumphed.

Yes, it took a long time for Jelena Dokic to get to where she is… and that may frustrate some readers, who will see her making the same mistakes repeatedly. I notice some comments on Amazon are about how Jelena didn’t ask for help and/or denied the abuse, and the stories of abuse became “tedious” and “repetitive”.

I think it’s helpful to remember that people who are caught up in abuse don’t have the benefit of clarity. They have been conditioned to accept bad treatment from their abusers, who isolate them and swear them to secrecy by using shame, violence, and fear for other loved ones. In Jelena’s case, it was her beloved brother who served as a bargaining chip. If she didn’t cooperate with her father, she would lose contact with Savo. When abuse victims are in that kind of a bind, it can be especially difficult to break free from tyranny. Yes, it’s frustrating to watch obvious abuse when it happens, but getting away from abuse and “stepping out of the F.O.G.” is legitimately hard.

In any case, I think Unbreakable is worth reading. I’d give it four stars out of five.

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celebrities, condescending twatbags, narcissists

Some people are just greedy scumbags…

This morning, we enjoyed a bit of a “lie in”, since Bill has the day off work. When I woke up, I read some more of my current book, Things I Should Have Said by Jamie Lynn Spears. I can’t say it’s the greatest book I’ve read, but I have learned some new things. According to Jamie Lynn, her dad, Jamie Spears, was quite a controlling, alcoholic nightmare who had a habit of “taking off” when things got too difficult at home. I already had an inkling about Jamie Spears, not because I am a fan of the Spears sisters, but because over the years, it’s been impossible to avoid seeing them in the news.

A year ago, Britney Spears was very publicly fighting to end a thirteen year conservatorship, controlled mostly by her father. She had no control over anything in her life, right down to her ability to reproduce. She was forced to have an intrauterine device, to prevent her from getting pregnant. Although she was deemed unable to manage her career, her money, her romantic relationships, or make her own medical decisions, Britney continued to work. And lots of people in her family profited from what she did– everything from concerts to selling records. Britney Spears has been a very bankable star for years. But her family– especially her father– have basically been using her for her money and fame.

Jamie Lynn Spears has also worked as an actress and singer. She hasn’t been as successful as her sister, the “Princess of Pop” has, but as far as I can tell, she doesn’t seem to suffer from any mental health issues. The one thing she did do that got everyone upset was get pregnant at age sixteen. She writes that she was pressured to have an abortion, and her parents became so intrusive that she threatened to file for emancipation. That plan was eventually called off, when her parents finally relented and allowed her to make her own decisions for herself and her baby. As I read about Jamie Lynn as a teenager– a girl with an actual career on Nickelodeon– I was reminded of Jennette McCurdy’s much better book, I’m Glad My Mom Died. In both of these situations, there were beautiful, talented young people involved, working and making enough money to support greedy parents, who apparently saw them as possessions.

I can’t say that I’m getting the greatest impressions of Jamie Lynn Spears as I read her book. She seems a little full of herself and a bit jealous of her sister. I also think she had a pretty substandard education, based on the quality of writing in her book. But I do have some compassion for the fact that her parents were basically leeches. Especially her dad, whom at this point of the book, she doesn’t seem to have a lot of regard for anymore. I remember a year ago, when Britney was in the news a lot and Jamie Lynn’s book was first released, Britney seemed rightfully pissed off at her whole family, including Jamie Lynn. It made me feel sorry for Britney. She’s been used and abused for too many years. All the while, there was this narrative put out to the public that they were a happy, close-knit, caring family… at least before Britney started having the well-publicized mental health problems that had prompted the conservatorship in the first place.

So I came into my office and sat down on my new office chair, navigated to my blog, and started looking through my posts. Someone had hit an old one that I’d forgotten about, so I decided to read it. Then I noticed the next post. It was a May 2019 post titled “All my kids”. This was a post about Ex’s current husband, a man I refer to as #3. I had found him on Facebook, and noticed some posts from 2012… posts about Ex’s kids, all five of whom he was referring to as “his”. I got angry as I looked at them, especially since Ex did the same thing to Bill, with her eldest son. She encouraged them to bond. She wanted Bill to think of her son with #1 as his son. She got his name changed, though I don’t think she ever did it legally, since it costs money. She somehow got a document made by the State Department that listed Bill as ex stepson’s father, even though he wasn’t. Ex stepson was born in Germany, and Bill came into his life as a father figure when he was a toddler. Bill went along with it, because Ex had told him stories about #1, claiming that he was abusive and “crazy”. Because she was his wife and he thought he loved her, he trusted her. He believed her stories. They were lies. And she did the same thing to Bill when they divorced. She told #3 lies about Bill… and made Bill’s kids call him “Dad”, as if they were possessions who just needed to be reprogrammed to accept a new man as their father.

Now, Ex’s kids aren’t stars. They aren’t famous. But she uses them, in much the same way Jamie and Lynne Spears use their children. She lies to them to keep them under control, and she manipulates people to put out a false narrative. Jamie Spears was trying to convince everyone that Britney Spears needed him to control her life, “for her own good”. But he was just using her.

Lately, younger daughter has been sending us videos, mostly about her cooking projects. She and Bill have been bonding over their love of making food. I think it’s because they’re both compassionate, nurturing types of people. When I see how much she loves her real dad, it makes me angry to think about #3 putting up public pictures of her on Facebook and calling her his daughter. Under one photo, he had captioned that the “name change” would soon be final, as if it’s going to be this great, healing decision. But younger daughter doesn’t even like #3 as a friend, let alone love him as her “dad”. It’s a fucking lie for him to refer to her as his daughter, and it’s out there because Ex was using and manipulating people to promote her hateful, narcissistic agenda. That post is public, probably, because Ex was hoping Bill would see it and be hurt. Fortunately, at the time, I made a point of not looking for information about Ex or the kids. I was very angry with all of them. But now, I’m curious… and as we all know, curiosity killed the cat. 😉

Looking back at that old post, I figured out that #3’s mother was posting comments. The comments she left indicate that she believed it was appropriate for Ex to have Bill’s daughters’ names legally changed. Younger daughter later explained to us that it really bothered Ex that her children’s legal names weren’t the same as her name. She also has to totally discard the fathers of her children… although I see that #3 and #1 are Facebook friends. Her daughters are also friends with #1, but they aren’t friends with Bill. It’s because he won’t buy into Ex’s lies and bullshit.

Younger daughter actively avoids being in contact with Ex now. When she does talk to her, Ex claims that #3 wants to see their “grandchildren”. But they aren’t his grandchildren, because he is not her father. Furthermore, he’s not even interested in her, or her kids. I think he’s only interested in older daughter, because she does all the work in their house and takes care of his son.

Ex still tries to maintain that fake bond, though. She’s tried to get younger daughter to think of #3’s mother as her grandmother. But younger daughter doesn’t even seem to like #3’s mom, mainly because she made disparaging comments about younger daughter’s desire to be a wife and mom. #3’s mom basically said, in a pretty disdainful way, that just being a wife and mother was a waste of her life. I guess this shouldn’t surprise us at all, though, since Ex pushed Bill’s mom out of the girls’ lives and promoted his stepmother as their grandmother. And now, stepmother-in-law has posted things on Facebook referring to younger daughter’s children as hers, even as she seems to forget that the only reason she even knows Bill’s daughters is because of her stepson… a man she seems to believe Ex’s lies about. It’s just so fucked up… so many lies, and so much exploitation. If Ex could, I bet she’d get a conservatorship over her children’s lives, so she could harness their earning power and capacity to work for her… never allowing them to leave her sphere and have their own lives.

Being on the edge of this toxic crap has bothered me for years. I guess reading Jamie Lynn’s book reminds me that there are families that are just as– or even more– fucked up as Ex’s is. I look forward to finishing Jamie Lynn Spears’ book, and reviewing it. There’s definitely a lot to unpack. I don’t find her particularly likable, but I do think she was used and exploited. But Britney definitely got shafted by her family. I’m surprised she trusts anyone. And the more I hear about life behind the social media facade put out there by Ex and #3, the more I think her kids have been shafted, to varying degrees. It’s so sad.

Well… I suppose I should do something less stress inducing. It’s already 1:00 PM, and I haven’t practiced guitar yet. So I think I’ll quit writing this shit, and get on with my day. Have a good one.

book reviews

Repost: A review of The Facts of My Life by Charlotte Rae…

I wasn’t going to put up another repost today, but I just realized that I never got around to reposting my review of the late actress, Charlotte Rae’s, book about her life. And since I’ve been binge watching The Facts of Life, I figure now is a good time to repost this review, dated December 15, 2015.

Having grown up in the 70s and 80s, I watched a lot of TV.  One of my favorite shows was Diff’rent Strokes.  I also loved The Facts of Life.  Both shows starred Charlotte Rae as Mrs. Edna Garrett, a maternal, wise, loving woman who first served as a live in housekeeper, then became the cook/dietician/house mother at Eastland School for Girls.

What I didn’t know was that Charlotte Rae’s career encompassed so much more than just 80s era sitcoms.  I learned much more about her life when I read her book, The Facts of My Life, which she co-wrote with her son, Larry Strauss.

Charlotte Rae Lubotsky was born the middle of three daughters to Russian Jewish parents.  She grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Born in 1926, Charlotte Rae was around to see the Great Depression and watch her parents and everyone else around her struggle to make ends meet.  Nevertheless, Rae and her sisters were musically talented and felt a pull toward show business.  After studying at Northwestern University among several other future stars, Rae moved to New York City and became active in the theater.

Having married John Strauss, Rae bore two sons.  Her older son, Andy, was severely autistic and spent most of his life institutionalized.  After a lifetime of health struggles, Andy passed away in 1999.  Her younger son, Larry, is a writer and teacher.  Rae writes about what it was like to work in the theater and later, Hollywood.  She and her husband battled alcoholism and later, Rae dealt with the fact that her husband preferred the company of males.  They managed to stay friends after their divorce. 

Rae writes quite a lot about her family of origin and her career.  Her attitude is upbeat, even as she describes having to deal with sibling rivalry with her older sister, Beverly, who was an opera diva.  Younger sister, Mimi, was a great pianist.  Rae describes her voice as “bluesy”, which is kind of hard for me to imagine, having seen her be Mrs. Garrett for so many years.  Apparently, she is quite an accomplished singer, besides a great actress.

Sister Beverly Ann became an opera singer, then married a wealthy doctor and became a socialite.  Sadly, she succumbed to pancreatic cancer.  Pancreatic cancer has since become a cause near and dear to Rae’s heart.   

I never knew that Charlotte Rae struggled with alcoholism.  Apparently, she’s been sober for about forty years.  She praises Alcoholics Anonymous and her AA buddies for helping her stay ahead of her addiction to booze.  I also didn’t know that Rae was Jewish.  She shares some interesting anecdotes about what it was life to grow up Jewish in the United States. 

Parts of this book were very witty.  Other parts were kind of sad.  Those who are looking for anecdotes about Diff’rent Strokes or The Facts of Life may come away somewhat disappointed; after all, this book is not just about those two shows, even if they did make her much more visible to the world.  But what she does share is enlightening and heartwarming.  We are reminded that Mrs. Garrett and Charlotte Rae are two different entities, as are the people who portrayed the characters with whom Rae starred.

I think this book will appeal most to people like me, who have enjoyed Charlotte Rae’s talents.  As celebrity life stories go, it’s pretty interesting.  I’d give it four stars.

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