book reviews, celebrities

A review of Rememberings: Scenes from My Complicated Life, by Sinead O’Connor

Until very recently, I was not one of Sinead O’Connor’s fans. I remember being in high school when she burst onto the music scene, scoring a smash hit with her cover of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U”. I was aghast by her shaved head and hauntingly beautiful blue eyes. I was astonished by her powerful, raw, emotional vocals. But, for some reason, I never bought her albums. It could be because I had little money for music in those days, so what little I did have, I spent on people I really loved listening to, like Kate Bush. I was, and still am, a Kate Bush fanatic.

Still, I watched Sinead O’Connor’s antics, which came to a head in 1992 when she was the musical guest on Saturday Night Live. She made huge waves when she tore up a photo of Pope John Paul II on live TV. She immediately became a pariah and I’m not sure New Yorkers have forgiven her yet, even after all this time. Personally, when I think about all the furor that arose over Sinead’s decision to tear up that photo, all I can do is shake my head. We tolerated a sexually abusive, narcissistic, criminal moron like Donald Trump as our president for four years and people are still clamoring for him to be the president. Yet Sinead tears up a picture of the Pope, and her career goes straight down the shitter… temporarily, anyway.

Seriously? People hated Sinead O’Connor for this? It just seems so ridiculous now.

I don’t know what made me purchase Rememberings: Scenes from My Complicated Life, which was just released on June 1st. I didn’t even own any of Sinead O’Connor’s music until I started reading her book. Well… I did own a few songs she sang on compilation albums. She did a beautiful version of “Sacrifice” by Elton John on the Two Rooms tribute album. I prefer her version to the original, actually…. and I like to sing that one myself. I also have her version of Dolly Parton’s song, “Dagger Through The Heart”, which, in her book, O’Connor writes is one of her favorite songs. She writes that after she recorded her version, Dolly wrote her a lovely thank you letter. Sinead had it framed and gave it to her beloved stepmother, Viola. That’s another reason why I like Sinead. She loves her stepmother. Also, my great grandmother’s name was Viola, although I never had the chance to know her.

Because of Sinead’s book, I have bought several of her albums and am wondering what took me so long. Sinead O’Connor is a wonderful singer and, based on her book, I think she’s a pretty marvelous person, too. She’s certainly a good storyteller, even if her writing isn’t always grammatically perfect, as a British friend pointed out when I delightedly shared one of Sinead’s anecdotes on Facebook. I like Sinead’s writing style. It’s engaging. I felt like she was sitting in a room, talking to me as if I was a friend. That’s the way I like to write, too.

I often laughed at Sinead’s stories, some of which are legitimately hilarious and outrageous. Some of her other stories were very moving. Others were infuriating. Overall, I came away with the idea that Sinead O’Connor is a very complex person who feels deeply and emotes freely. And yes, she also suffers from mental illness, of which she openly admits. I would imagine that Sinead O’Connor is probably not an easy person to be around, especially when her temper is flaring. But she’s probably just as often kind of awesome… especially when she’s smoked weed. Sinead is also a big pothead, which she also freely admits.

It’s not that often that I feel compelled to share quotes from my Kindle on social media. As I read Rememberings, I found myself sharing a number of Sinead’s musings. She writes that she actually started writing her book in 2015, but then had a full hysterectomy in Ireland due to endometriosis. Apparently, the doctors in Ireland did not prescribe hormone replacement therapy for Sinead; they just sent her home with a follow up appointment and a bottle of Tylenol. Her uterus and ovaries were removed, which sent her into instant menopause. She claims that caused her to go a bit bonkers. She also writes that musicians are naturally crazy– especially if they’ve also had head injuries, which she also claims she suffered when she was a child. I don’t know if that claim is true, although I do think that most creative people are a bit eccentric and weird on some level. God knows, people have called me “weird” my whole life. Below is a gallery of some of the more interesting quotes I found in Rememberings. I particularly loved her comments about Mormon missionaries and her story about the “plump old nun” who drew a picture of a penis with huge balls. That’s the kind of story I like to tell.

Sinead O’Connor has definitely had an unconventional life, so there is truth in advertising in her book’s title. She has four children by four men, and she’s been married three times, although she only married one of her children’s fathers. Two of the men who fathered her children are still friends. The other two, she says would cross the street if they saw each other. She writes lovingly about her children… and she does seem to have great pride and affection for them. I do suspect that they’ve had their share of problems, though, because having a mentally ill parent, particularly one who is also a famous musician, is hard. But I don’t get the sense that Sinead is a narcissist, or anything. When Sinead O’Connor writes praises about her children, I don’t think she’s being fake. She openly acknowledges that they’ve had difficulties, in part, due to her career and her mental illness issues. She also suffered tremendous child abuse when she was growing up, and those traumatic experiences have no doubt affected her as an adult.

Sinead O’Connor talks about her book.

Sinead O’Connor has even had dealings with Dr. Phil, who put her in a treatment center. She was already being hospitalized when Dr. Phil stepped in, and being mentally ill, she decided to try his approach because he was “Dr. ‘fuckin’ Phil” and of course he could fix her. It turns out the people she saw at his behest were not helpful at all, and he basically exploited her for television. She says the psychiatrist at the first facility Dr. Phil sent her two offered her a fig bar, which immediately turned her off for some reason. She says fig bars are for “hippies”. It turns out the psychiatrist was a bit of a flake, and she kind of implies that Dr. Phil is in with the MAGA crowd, although he “faked” being disgusted with it. She offers a delightfully profane criticism of Donald Trump, and I wholeheartedly agree with her astute comments. She may have a mental illness, but she’s no dummy. Personally, I think Trump and Dr. Phil are cut from the same cloth.

This book also includes commentary about Sinead’s albums. She writes about her favorite songs, how she came to name her albums and songs she’s written, and why she made certain recordings. I appreciated the backstories to a lot of her music, many of which made me want to buy and listen to her songs. The other day, one of her songs came on my HomePod and I had never heard it before. It was a hilarious song called “Daddy I’m Fine”… and it just spoke to me. And I wouldn’t have heard it if I hadn’t read her book. I love that Sinead was so generous with her stories about how she created her music and the people who inspired her.

Love this.

Honestly, reading Sinead O’Connor’s book makes me want to visit Ireland again and hang out with funny people. Given that so much of my own ancestry is from Scotland, Ireland, and England, it stands to reason that I’d feel at home there. Alas, we can’t go anywhere near the UK or Ireland anytime soon, thanks to the fucking coronavirus. But I sure did enjoy reading Sinead’s book, even if she does seem oddly enamored of American culture and even American healthcare, which she seems to think is better than Irish healthcare. And maybe it is… who knows?

Anyway… I really liked Sinead O’Connor’s book, Rememberings: Scenes from My Complicated Life. I laughed; I sighed; I remembered things; I learned things; I became inspired… especially to spend money on music. Fortunately, Bill thinks music is a good investment. I know some people think Sinead O’Connor is “crazy”. And maybe she is… but at least she’s honest about it. I like her. I recommend her book. And now, I’m going to have to find the next book and hope it entertains me as much as Sinead’s has.

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complaints, condescending twatbags, rants, religion

“He needs to attach his ass to a Soloflex… PERMANENTLY!”

Apparently, we should all aspire to look like Melania, scowl-face, Trump…

Today’s blog post title is a direct quote uttered by my old friend, Jamie, back in the early 1990s. At the time, we were working at Busch Gardens, wearing ugly, polyester, fake lederhosen uniforms. The uniforms were as unflattering as they were uncomfortable, and had an unfortunate tendency to give us wedgies. We had a co-worker who usually suffered more than most in the heat and humidity of Virginia’s summers. Glancing over at our obviously out of shape colleague, who was dripping sweat and had recently annoyed us by being authoritative out of turn, my friend said, “He needs to attach his ass to a Soloflex.”

I probably said something inane like, “You mean he needs to work out on a Soloflex?”

“No, I mean he needs to attach his ass to one. PERMANENTLY.” Jamie snarled.

I had a good laugh at Jamie’s snark. I’ve always enjoyed his quips, which are usually acidly witty, occasionally shocking, and uniformly hilarious. I remember years later, I shared an article with him about how French men supposedly need the largest condoms in Europe. And Jamie said something along the lines of, “Well that only stands to reason, since they are the biggest dicks.”

Sometimes, I wish I could come up with obnoxious zingers so quickly. On the other hand, I do have my moments. Especially when I’m in a certain mood.

Hey Pastor Clark… here’s something for you to think about.

So what brings up today’s topic? It’s this post I read today about a pastor in Missouri who advises his female congregants to “look pretty” so their husbands won’t go astray. This dude, Stewart-Allen Clark, who looks like he ought to “attach his ass to a Soloflex… PERMANENTLY!”, as Jamie would say, told the ladies of his flock to lose weight, look hotter, and submit to their husbands’ sexual desires, so they won’t stray. And he said this with a straight face, as he looks a bit like ten pounds of shit in a five pound bag himself. Clark also told the ladies to wear makeup, choose appropriate hairstyles, dress up, and avoid looking “butch”.

Here’s the sermon in question.

This guy, walking around looking like a fucking slob, says it’s “really important” for a man to have a “beautiful woman” on his arm. He says that to your man, you “should be the most beautiful woman in the world.” Then he goes on to talk about how women “let themselves go” after they get married. Then he qualifies and says, “I know not every woman can look like a Melania Trump trophy wife… maybe you’re more of a ‘participation trophy.'”

Here’s a little mood music for Pastor Stewart-Allen Clark and his ilk.

Wow…

And as I listen to this guy speak, I can’t help but notice he ain’t no great shakes himself. And there “ain’t nothin’ attractive” about a big fat slob on a stage spouting off sexist bullshit about how women look as he talks about how “visual” men are. He says, “God made men to be drawn to ‘beautiful women'”.”

This showed up in my Facebook memories yesterday. How apropos! Guys, it goes both ways.

What qualifies a woman as “beautiful”? I know some women that most people would consider quite plain in terms of their physical appearances. It has nothing to do with their being lazy. They just weren’t blessed with what many people would consider classically attractive looks. And yet, in many ways, they are still beautiful because of some other quality that doesn’t immediately meet the eye. They’re intelligent, or quick witted, or talented in some way. They have a kind heart; or they’re generous. They’re good cooks or athletic or easy to talk to. There are so many ways a person can be “beautiful”, and not all of them are limited to the physical.

On the other hand, I can think of some women that many people consider beautiful, but they’re not good people. They’re dishonest, or narcissistic, or manipulative. They’re disloyal or irresponsible or mean. Lots of people are attracted to them because they’re nice to look at. But the minute you start speaking to them, you find out they’re shallow and callous. And they’re not much fun to be around because of that.

Pastor Clark goes on to admit that he doesn’t do marriage counseling anymore because a lot of times, when married people would come to him for advice about intimacy, he would be brutally honest and upset the wives. He says one couple came to him. She looked like a “sumo wrestler” and he was a “little guy”. The guy said he wasn’t attracted to his wife because she was a fat “beeeep”. The woman then proceeded to beat the crap out of him. Then she lost 100 pounds and got pregnant with their second child… which would, of course, cause her to gain weight.

But, I mean, seriously… Clark excuses men for looking like the Michelin Man and being all sweaty and gross. Then he says that his wife used to be quite “robust”… then someone corrects him with the word “healthy”. Oh yes, “thank you!” he says.

Then he says that she knows he looks at other women. She wants him to look at her, and nobody else. So she lost a lot of weight and goes around saying, “Food never tastes as good as skinny feels.” Clark says he’s glad that his wife understands that all men are this way… and he also loves make up. Apparently, all men like make up, too. And you don’t want to be “ugly” and “stink”… or look butch. Because God forbid you smell of hormones or sweat or menstrual fluid… or any of the other body fluids we all encounter. Don’t ruin the illusion of beauty, girls, by letting your men know that you have to shit, too.

But then I look at Clark and hope his wife doesn’t get crushed under him or repelled by his body odor and bad breath. He really ought to take his own advice… especially as he talks about how women gain weight because of thyroid and prostate problems. Hello? I don’t know any women who have prostate glands. Then he bitches about how women “always” cut their hair after they get married.

The Bible does come up. He says that men should post this on the headboards of their beds:

1 Corinthians 7:4

The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife.

How egalitarian! But I don’t hear Clark saying that men need to look their best for their wives. I only hear him berating women for not trying hard enough… (heh heh, I said hard…) to make their men hard by looking “hawt”. And that’s the only way to keep them from straying. I also don’t hear Clark emphasizing that second part AT ALL. He’s probably a lay preacher… (heh heh, I said lay…)

I’m really lucky. My husband is a wonderful, classy, and loving man. He is intelligent, sensitive, evolved, and loyal. And he appreciates me for the way I am. I know he does. I don’t know how I got so lucky. But then, Bill didn’t choose me after seeing me across a crowded room. He chose me because I engaged his mind first. He appreciated my imagination, my sense of humor, my ability to keep him interested and the fact that I was just as interested in him. And Bill is smart enough to know that the sexiest part of anyone is not something you can see externally. It’s the mind… it’s what’s inside that matters most. I also know that Bill has already been divorced and doesn’t want to divorce again.

When the situation calls for it, yes, I do gussy up. When we go out to a nice restaurant that doesn’t require PPE, I’ll put on a dress and makeup. I fix my hair and wear jewelry. So does Bill. We still look like a cute couple, too. But if I’m just going to hang out with the dogs all day, no I’m not putting on makeup for that. I’ll be clean and brush my teeth and hair and take care of all of that other hygiene stuff. Bill doesn’t mind. He never has, because he’s a man of substance who sees beneath the surfaces of everyone. He’s probably a much better man than I deserve, to be honest.

I know there are a lot of men out there who are like Pastor Clark, though. They aren’t attracted to women who don’t “meet their standards” or ring their chimes sexually. And then, when they get older and their wives get tired of being told how fat and ugly and unappealing they are, a lot of the men wind up alone. My mom is single now. She’s happy that way. A few years ago, she decided to do a river cruise in Europe. She got many offers from men to accompany her. She declined. After years of taking care of my dad and putting up with his shit, she’s much happier on her own. Believe me, I can tell.

Rosie O’Donnell makes sense… and Donald Trump hates her for it. I’m sure that Pastor Stewart-Allen Clark does, too. Incidentally, Bill has told me his favorite parts of my body are my eyes… followed by my boobs. But if I lose my boobs because of cancer or something, I expect he’ll still love me anyway.

Anyway… I’m glad I don’t go to Pastor Clark’s church. I think he’s a hypocrite, and I don’t like hypocrisy. I hear what he’s saying about the importance of physical attraction. That is important. But it’s a two way street, and there has to be a lot more to the relationship than just physical attraction. Otherwise, you’re gonna get bored. Real women are better than fake ones… and after awhile, real women get tired of having to put on makeup, curling their hair, starving themselves, and whatever else simply to keep a man’s attention. Especially guys like Pastor Stewart-Allen Clark, who needs to attach his ass AND his mouth to a Soloflex… PERMANENTLY.

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Biden, musings, Trump

Struggling not to be a hypocrite…

This week has been bewildering. I can see it in my blog posts from the past ten days or so. I’ve gone from being cranky and irritable, to elation. Elation turned into dismay, then there was a dash of guilt. This morning, as I sit here thinking about what I want to write about today, I realize I’m a hypocrite. Every day, I struggle to be consistent about things. I try not to be hypocritical. But I often fail.

I’m not alone. Most people are hypocrites. Most of us say one thing and do another. We often have good reasons for being hypocritical. A common excuse is that a certain situation is different somehow. Like, for instance, I recently wrote a sympathetic post about how hard people are being on Skylar Mack, but then I wrote another, much less understanding article about how Jenna Ryan and Jacob Chansley are getting what they deserve.

I wrote yesterday about how I think redemption is important. I think that people should be able to rise above their mistakes. So how is it that I can have so much empathy for Skylar Mack, but not as much for Jacob Chansley and Jenna Ryan? There are some significant differences in each of those cases, of course.

Skylar Mack is 18 years old and barely an adult. What she did, while foolish and potentially dangerous, didn’t actually harm anyone. She wasn’t infected with COVID-19 when she broke quarantine. That doesn’t mean she was right to break the rules; it simply means that this time, she didn’t literally hurt anyone by breaking them.

Skylar needed to be punished, though, because other people are always watching. Not punishing Skylar could have emboldened other people to do what she did. Some of those would be rule breakers might be infected with COVID-19, and if they broke quarantine and mingled with the locals, they could cause an outbreak on the Cayman Islands. It was just my opinion that Skylar didn’t need to rot in jail forever for what she did. I’m glad the local officials agreed and let her go this month, even if a lot of virtue signaling hypocrites at home thought she should have fried.

Conversely, both Jenna and Jacob are much older than Skylar is. Jenna Ryan is a 50 year old businesswoman. Jacob Chansley is 33 years old. Both are well over the ages at which their brains should be fully developed. Skylar still has a few more years to go before her noggin is completely solid, and medical science supports that. According to this article by the University of Rochester Medical Center, Skylar still has a “teen brain”, and she will have that for about seven more years. That means her judgment is not the same as an older person’s should be.

Jenna and Jacob surely knew that what they were doing was illegal, and it’s been illegal for a very long time. I mean, come on. When was the last time you were able to just walk into a federal building like the Capitol, completely unvetted and unchecked? Granted, I haven’t been in a U.S. federal building in ages, but even in the years prior to 2014 (which is the last time I was in the USA), most federal buildings had at least a security guard. Many of those buildings have metal detectors and require showing identification. On January 6th, 2021, a whole bunch of people showed up in Washington, DC, hellbent on breaking and entering a restricted building. They KNEW it was wrong. If they didn’t know, they probably shouldn’t be allowed to cross the street by themselves.

Moreover, five people DIED at the riot. Countless other people were physically injured, psychologically traumatized, or both. There was a lot of property damage due to vandalism, and there was also theft. Jenna Ryan and Jacob Chansley may not have stolen anything or caused any property damage themselves, but they were certainly not doing anything to stop the damage. In fact, they were encouraging it and participating, and they were doing so with a very defiant, unapologetic attitude. They had to know that what they were doing was against the law.

By contrast, up until the spring of last year, people were coming and going from places like the Cayman Islands with no one tracking their movements. Face masks weren’t a fashion accessory. Neither were armbands that monitor a person’s movements. Except for the fact that Skylar Mack was evidently in the Cayman Islands alone at age 18, she was doing what many teenagers before her have done, completely without consequence. The rules suddenly and radically changed for her and her peers. The rules did not suddenly and radically change for Jenna and Jacob.

And finally, Jenna and Jacob did things to draw attention to themselves. They bragged about what they were doing on social media. Jenna Ryan went so far as to advertise herself as a realtor as she raved about “stopping the steal” and “taking back our country”. It’s sheer lunacy that she thought this was okay and that she’d get away with it. And after she got busted, she took to social media to beg for donations. Later, she posted an unbelievable confession:

WHAT? Who do you think you are, Jenna? Televangelist Paula White? Seriously, I bet Jenna is a fan of Paula White’s. I used to watch Paula on TBN, as she would beg for love gifts for her “ministry”, even though she lived in a mansion.
Paula White in action. I think Jenna sounds a bit like her.

PayPal canceled Jenna’s account, so I guess those “blessings” are no longer flowing. Mom and Dad would be so proud that I remember a concept from the Doxology. All those years in church sometimes come in handy. But, besides taking donations she claims she doesn’t need, Jenna also felt entitled to a pardon from Donald Trump, who quite predictably, didn’t come through for her, or her buddy Jacob Chansley, who can’t eat prison grub and needs an organic diet.

At least Skylar Mack did her time, paid her fines, and respectfully admitted that she deserved to be held accountable for what she did. Yes, her grandmother reached out for help from the government. She was genuinely concerned about her loved one’s well-being. But I didn’t hear Skylar, herself, asking for Trump’s help.

Jenna and Jacob acted like their shenanigans were a big fucking joke, and they were entitled to behave like miscreants because apparently, they think Trump gave them permission. Even if Trump had “invited” them to break the law, that didn’t mean there wouldn’t be serious consequences for doing so. Surely, Jacob and Jenna know that U.S. Presidents aren’t actually above the law– although Trump has sure acted like he was.

Judging by the news yesterday, I can see that there are still some pesky QAnon folks around who haven’t gotten the news that they were “played”. Some of those folks have wisely come to their senses… but too many are still on the QAnon/Proud Boys’ bandwagon. That includes a newly elected legislator from Georgia named Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has already filed articles of impeachment against President Joe Biden. This Trump trailing twit says that Joe Biden is unfit to hold office because he “blatantly abused power” when he was Vice President during the Obama years. She also accuses Biden of “blatant nepotism” regarding his son, Hunter Biden. Um… nepotism? Where the fuck was Ms. Greene during Trump’s tenure? Does she not realize that Trump gave most of his children and their spouses government jobs? I just can’t understand the stubborn cognitive dissonance in some of these people.

But anyway… I see that some people might think I’m a hypocrite for some of my views. And I’ll own up to that. I did get a little pissy the other day when someone chastised me and accused me of “falling for click bait”, although my getting pissy didn’t result in anyone getting blocked or unfriended on Facebook. And maybe I should be more understanding about my former “friend” blocking me a couple of days ago for praising Mike Pence on my space. I really don’t know what she’s going through right now. We’re all dealing with a lot of stress. I mean, I’m feeling depressed, hopeless, and stressed out and I don’t even have kids or a fucking job!

On the other hand, Biden is now in power and Mike Pence is not, so is it really that harmful to offer Pence some praise as he (hopefully) leaves federal politics? I’ll bet praise has been slow in coming for him over the past four years. He sure as hell never got it from a true narcissist like Donald Trump. I’ll bet “Mother” went through some hell, too. Poor woman probably had to hear and witness many horror stories about what an unapologetic asshole Trump is… although I’m sure Pence didn’t swear when he told her about it. If he didn’t actually tell her, then I’m sure it showed up in his demeanor. I’m married to a man who was both married to and once worked for narcissists. And I’ve witnessed and heard a whole lot of sad stories myself.

Well, anyway, I guess it’s time to wrap up today’s post. Bill has just called me to breakfast and he hates it when I let it get cold. So I’ll close by saying I know I’m a hypocrite about a lot of things. I really try not to be. But, as my former asshole psychiatrist once told me, “The first step to overcoming a problem is admitting you have one.” So I’m doing that now, and I’ll try to be accountable. And maybe my next post will be about something other than politics.

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book reviews, politics

Grateful to have left “The Room Where it Happened” by John Bolton…

In about three weeks, Donald Trump will (hopefully) leave the White House, and Washington, DC, for good. I also hope that will mean fewer political posts on my blog, since political posts invite commentary that I often find irritating. I don’t enjoy being annoyed, and yet I can’t help but opine about Trump’s egregious abuse of power. That means my posts get read by his supporters, who feel compelled to “set me straight” about my opinions.

I have felt compelled to write about Mr. Trump, probably because Bill and I have had some unfortunate and extensive dealings with much lower level narcissists. We’ve learned a lot from being exposed to narcissists, and that makes us able to spot them quite easily. Donald Trump is the Grand Poobah of narcissists, so I find his behavior very triggering. When I get triggered, I want to write. But, to tell you all the truth, I don’t actually find politics or politicians that interesting, except when they are engaged in specific topics for which I have an interest. And usually, it’s only the topics I care about, not the politician. Trump is different, though, because he’s a walking billboard for narcissistic personality disorder. It distresses me that so many people still don’t see him for what he is and don’t realize the damage he’s done– and NOT because he’s supposedly a Republican (not really), but because he’s a vile, self-obsessed, money grubbing, maniacal asshole who has been enabled by people like John Bolton, one of Trump’s many ex flunkies turned author.

I expect I will still occasionally write about politics once the orange walrus has waddled off into the sunset, but I hope it won’t be as often. And I hope I will write about a wider variety of people rather than just Trump. I am truly troubled by the number of people who continue to support Trump. But, after reading John Bolton’s book, The Room Where it Happened, I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised. If someone like John Bolton can be taken in by Donald Trump, I suppose anyone can.

Who is John Bolton, you ask?

I know I would ask that question, in any other presidential administration. And mustachioed John Bolton has worked in a few of them. Wikipedia says he’s an “attorney, diplomat, Republican consultant and political commentator who served as the 25th United States Ambassador to the United Nations from 2005 to 2006 and as the 27th United States National Security Advisor from 2018 to 2019.” Bolton truly has an impressive resume, having been educated at Yale University and spent his working life rubbing elbows with Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and yes, Trump. Bolton is also a military veteran, having served a total of six years in the Army, Army Reserve, and the Maryland Army National Guard. He’s been a Republican heavy hitter since the early 1980s. If you read my post yesterday, you know how very long ago that was. 😉

When Mr. Bolton’s book was first published last June, I initially resisted downloading it. I still have several Trump related books to read and, again, I’m not actually that interested in the nuts and bolts of politics. I think I changed my mind after I read Michael Cohen’s book about being Trump’s lawyer. I thought Cohen’s book was rather illuminating and kind of tragic in some ways. I thought maybe Bolton’s book would be similar, with juicy, yet readable, stories about what it’s like to work with Trump as U.S. President. Well, I’m here to tell you, it wasn’t.

I finally finished Bolton’s book late last night. I’ve been chipping away at it for weeks. And, I have to say, I don’t feel I came away with much new knowledge after plowing through all 578 pages of The Room Where It Happened. John Bolton comes off as overly impressed with himself, unrelatable, and pompous. I’m sure he’s very competent as an attorney and political advisor. He’s clearly an intelligent man. But he does not have a gift for writing. There is not much engaging about his book. Reading it, for me, was like sitting through a very long-winded lecture while I also had an urgent need to pee. I was quite “antsy” to finish it. I’m glad I finally did.

There were a couple of times when I thought about abandoning my efforts to read Bolton’s lengthy tome; it was so dry. But I like to finish what I start, especially when it comes to books. If there is one thing I learned when I used to write book reviews for Epinions.com, it’s that it’s not really fair to review a book I haven’t read… and not finishing a book is akin to not reading it. However, I’m not going to sugar coat it, folks. This was rough going for me. Parts of this book were about as interesting as watching flies fuck.

The Room Where it Happened: A White House Memoir promises scathing details and damning evidence of Donald Trump’s corruption as “45”. And maybe, somewhere buried in the many pages of complex and clumsily constructed text, there’s an exciting tale to be told. Alas, this book was not well-edited, so it’s easy to get knocked off course by minutiae and random asides. I found it a frustrating experience trying to read Bolton’s complicated accounts of what supposedly went on while he was serving as Trump’s security advisor. Nothing was particularly exciting about this book, and every time I sat down to read more of it, I felt like a masochist.

So what did I learn from reading The Room Where it Happened? Not that much, actually. The most interesting part of this book, for me, is probably the title, which was reportedly “borrowed” from the popular musical, Hamilton. Bolton mostly writes about his work with an air of being “above” the job.

One thing I have observed, though, is that Washington, DC is full of narcissists who are convinced that they can reform the biggest narcissist of all, Donald Trump. Think about it. It takes a special kind of arrogance for someone to look at a guy like Trump– who might as well have a flashing neon sign over his head with the word “narcissist” on it– and think that he can be reformed or guided in any way. Even though I know, just by the sheer number of YouTube channels and self-help books out there about narcissistic personality disorder, that many people have narcissists in their lives, it seems that a lot of folks still haven’t been clued in by what Trump is and what that means.

Even after four years of watching this very selfish man do everything in his power to destroy democracy and use his time as POTUS as a way to line his pockets and reward his cronies, rather than serve the people, many folks still champion him and think he’s the only one who can “save America”. Well, my friends, that is utter bullshit. In fact, there’s a whole slew of people who can do a better job at making America a better place, simply because they have a conscience, a functioning brain, and a heart.

Another thing I’ve learned, which was reinforced by reading Bolton’s book, is that you can be very intelligent, experienced, politically savvy, and highly accomplished, and still be suckered by someone like Trump. John Bolton, like other Trump flunkies, thought he could advise Donald Trump. He was mistaken. Trump doesn’t answer to anyone but himself. The only way to survive working with him is to agree with everything he says and does and kiss his ass, even as you helplessly watch him destroy everything. He fires or forces to resign anyone who isn’t willing to pucker up for him. Once he’s done using a person, they will be discarded. This is what ALL narcissists do to some extent, although some narcissists are more narcissistic than others are. I suspect John Bolton has a healthy level of narcissism himself. Many politicians do, due to the nature of their work. But he wasn’t a match for Trump. No one in Trump’s administration has been.

I think Bolton would like to think he made a difference, hence his decision to write this book… which shows a frank lack of consideration to his readers. He could have easily shaved at least 100 pages from this volume, which would have spared his readers some time and saved a few trees (for those reading the print version). He could have enlisted the help of a talented writer and/or an editor, to make his story more concise and engaging. Instead, he decided to take us into “the room where it happened” all by himself. Once again, he’s grossly overestimated his abilities, but at least he does give us a few interesting photos at the end of the book.

It was a colossal chore to read The Room Where it Happened, but great God almighty, I’m free at last. And now, I feel like the world’s most disastrous dinner date has finally ended. I suspect I’ll feel similarly on January 20th, 2021.

John Bolton talks about his thick skin.
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celebrities, complaints, condescending twatbags, psychology, rants

Has Trump “desensitized” Americans to abuse?

Yesterday’s post about Tom Cruise and his nuclear meltdown over social distancing on his movie set led to more interesting discussion. One friend wrote this:

I hunted down the recording and listened to it. Fuck the message; that’s a mood-disordered, entitled shithead if I ever heard one. Maybe it’s just a bad idea to make movies until everyone can be vaccinated.

I agree with the idea of suspending movie production until more people can be vaccinated. The fact is, people are really tired of COVID-19 and they’re going to do human things, even though people have been preaching about COVID-19 precautions for months. It’s perfectly normal and natural for people to want to socialize with each other. In fact, it’s a healthy thing for most people to socialize– that is, when there isn’t a pandemic going on. I’m sure working with Tom Cruise is hard. He’s a well-known perfectionist about a lot of things, and as we noted yesterday, he’s not shy when it comes to throwing massive profane tantrums.

Another commenter assumed that maybe Cruise had finally just lost it after multiple meetings about taking COVID-19 precautions. This same commenter is irritated about people not following the pandemic rules. Because of that annoyance with people flouting the rules in general, in the commenter’s view, what Tom Cruise did is totally okay. I had written that I disagreed with that notion. I think Cruise could have made his point about maintaining social distancing without calling his employees motherfuckers and screaming at them. I think he could have done that, even if there had been “multiple meetings” and he was at the end of his patience with his crew. He certainly could have addressed this problem without flying into a rage, even if it meant counting to ten and cooling off for a few minutes first. I think most people have enough self control to contain themselves if they try. Clearly, Cruise didn’t think he needed to try to control himself.

This morning, I found this comment from the commenter who is fine with a good old fashioned hissy fit:

Perhaps I have been desensitized by having listened to Trump for the past years. Given everything he’s gotten away with saying and doing I’ll still give Tom a pass. 🙂

I had to stop and think about that for a moment. Because of Donald Trump’s completely uncivilized conduct, some folks are now “desensitized” to similarly bad conduct by other people? Based on that comment, I’m assuming that this person isn’t a Trump fan. Indeed, I remember when Joe Biden was announced the winner of the 2020 election, this person expressed delight that we might soon be rid of Trump. But now, because of Trump’s constant abuse of his position and the people who work for him, they are “desensitized”? Does this mean that Trump has now made people meaner and less civilized? Even the ones who don’t admire him and his toxic brand of leadership?

I think it’s really sad that some people are evidently willing to accept Trump style leadership in people like Tom Cruise, just because they’ve had to listen to Trump’s verbal diarrhea for the past four years. Even if Cruise had a valid point that his staff needs to practice health and safety precautions on the movie set, his message is drastically weakened when it’s delivered in the way it was. And, to be totally frank, I doubt Tom Cruise really cares that much about COVID-19, anyway. To me, he sounded like he was getting off on the power of being a movie star and Scientology power player. No one else is going to be allowed to freak out like that on his movie set. And certainly, they won’t be allowed to do it to Tom Cruise. He’s made it clear that he’s just itching to fire them.

I didn’t want to get into an argument with this person, even though I completely disagree with the notion that Cruise’s outburst is acceptable because of Donald Trump. I pointed out that listening to Tom scream like that brought back awful memories of my father’s alcoholic and PTSD inspired rages. My dad never used the language Cruise used. He hated profanity. I almost never heard him use a word stronger than “damn” or “hell”. I think it was because his own father, who was also an abusive drunk, would go into rages and use a lot of filthy language. Hearing curse words would remind my dad of those ugly rages he’d been on the receiving end of by his own father. But even though my dad didn’t curse like Tom Cruise obviously does, the insanely angry mood was still there.

I remember, when I was a child, being terrified when my dad would get extremely angry. His face would turn red. Veins would pop out. His eyes would glaze over and look piggish as he would let loose with his fury. My dad, who was much bigger and stronger than I was, would grab me and administer corporal punishment with all of his strength and energy. Afterwards, I would be left quaking in my room, hysterical, while he’d finish cooling off. Then later, he would act like nothing happened. I was expected to forgive and forget.

I always hated my father after those rages. I didn’t have respect for him for beating on me or screaming at me. I was angry and humiliated, and his outbursts made me afraid to be around him. Thankfully, I’m a decent person, and I would eventually forgive him. At least until the next episode.

Fortunately, my dad didn’t go into rages on a regular basis. It happened more times than I can count, but it wasn’t like it was a weekly or even a monthly thing. And in between those rages, he was basically a good man. As an adult, I realize that he had his own problems. He was chronically depressed and never dealt with the traumas of growing up during the Great Depression with an alcoholic father. He went to Vietnam and saw action, which caused him to suffer from PTSD for the rest of his life. He used to have nightmares that would cause him to jump out of bed while he was still sleeping. One time, he almost lost his middle finger because he punched the wall while he was sleeping and having a nightmare. He injured his finger so badly that there was talk that it might need to be amputated.

The end result of all of this is that I have a very low tolerance for verbal abuse. I can’t stand it. It brings out a visceral reaction in me. This effect has gotten worse the older I get. I used to be able to put up with being screamed at a lot more than I can now. So, in my case, being exposed to people like Donald Trump and Tom Cruise has made me more sensitive to abuse, rather than less sensitive. But I’m only one person. Maybe some people are fine with a Tom Cruise style freak out in the workplace. I am definitely not, and when people freak out on me now, they can expect to be kicked out of my life. There’s no place for that in my world. But then, I also realize that my position is a very privileged one. If I were trying to support a family, I might be forced to accept abusive behavior from a narcissistic creep like Tom Cruise or Donald Trump.

I mentioned yesterday that I think Cruise’s fit was less about COVID-19 than it was about being in control. It’s interesting to me that the commenter on my thread brought up Trump, because I think Cruise and Trump have some things in common. They are both very wealthy and famous. They are both charismatic. They both had abusive, neglectful fathers, although Trump’s dad at least stuck around when he was growing up. In the Wikipedia article about Cruise (sorry, not the best source, but I’m lazy), it says of Cruise’s father:

Cruise grew up in near poverty and had a Catholic upbringing. He later described his father as “a merchant of chaos”,[11] a “bully”, and a “coward” who beat his children. He elaborated, “[My father] was the kind of person where, if something goes wrong, they kick you. It was a great lesson in my life—how he’d lull you in, make you feel safe and then, bang! For me, it was like, ‘There’s something wrong with this guy. Don’t trust him. Be careful around him.'”[11]

I find it very interesting that Cruise supposedly said those things about his dad. I see the very same tendencies in him. I have read about him being very generous and heroic in some situations, and that makes him look like a great guy. I’ve seen news articles about how Cruise has a tendency to sweep his love interests off their feet and shower his children with luxurious gifts and outings. But then, when Cruise gets pissed off, I read other accounts of the hellish fury he delivers on those who land on his shit list. If you’ve ever studied the behavior of abusers, you find that this is a very familiar pattern.

Special thanks to Wikipedia user Avanduyn, for making this image available in the public domain.

Actress Leah Remini, who knows Cruise personally, and was a Scientologist and a member of the Sea Org, says that Cruise’s tantrum was for publicity reasons only. She’s quoted in US Magazine:

“Tom’s reaction that was released yesterday shows his true personality. He is an abusive person,” the King of Queens alum said of Cruise, who is a high-profile member of the Church of Scientology. “I witnessed it, I’ve been a recipient of it on a small level … This is the real Tom.”

“Tom does not care about the families of his crew; this is all for publicity,” Remini, a former Scientologist, continued. “Tom does not believe in family values. I mean, how anyone is falling for this is just mindblowing. I would bet that Tom had this rant written for him and had his Scientology assistant record and release it. Hearing a rich actor with enormous power address his crew in this way is a sign of weakness and a deeply troubled person. This is not just a rant of another a–hole actor. Tom Cruise pretending that he cares is why a few have called him out. They know this is a publicity stunt, they know what Tom really is and what Tom really believes.”

Yes… you see, it kind of blows my mind that Tom Cruise would allow anyone on set to have a recording device handy. Seems to me, he’d want his staff to sign non-disclosure agreements and put their phones away for safe keeping. But either way, someone knew that he was going to melt down and was ready to record him. Whether or not he orchestrated this rant in an attempt to make himself look “caring” to the masses, or someone snuck in a recorder and taped him unawares, it says something that he was recorded going off like this. Either he’s done this as a stunt, or he’s abusive often enough that someone was fully prepared to tape his next meltdown. They knew it was going to happen.

While many people are siding with Tom, mainly because so many of us are so sick of the pandemic lifestyle, and many more of us are feeling sanctimonious these days, the fact remains that Cruise’s meltdown was totally inappropriate. If he had been going off about anything besides COVID-19, would people think this was okay? How about if he threatened bodily harm because he was enraged? Imagine how he must behave behind closed doors.

Remini continues:

“No one needs to be ‘addressed’ by Tom about safety codes. There are producers who could have and should have handled the situation privately and professionally. What more likely happened was, two crew members who were in the same zone were talking to each other and Tom saw this as an opportunity to appear as the epitome of strength; of a leader who is taking this pandemic very seriously,” she added. “This behavior is not normal or appropriate. No one can respond to his outburst without being fired.”

Exactly. There are other people on that set who can deal with the crew members, and they would have handled the situation professionally and, hopefully, privately. It’s not really Tom’s job to go off on crew members like that. He’s just trying to look “heroic” and doing so in the most bullying manner possible. I think his stunt has backfired, though, because although a lot of people are fully supporting him, other people are seeing his behavior for what it really is– pure verbal abuse and narcissistic rage. It was completely unprofessional and inappropriate.

Still, I am baffled by the notion that Donald Trump has “desensitized” people to this kind of behavior and some of us are willing to let it slide because of our feckless soon to be former president. Donald Trump is not someone I want to emulate in any way, shape, or form. I would not praise someone else for emulating Trump’s abusive style of leadership. I would not excuse someone for behaving the way Tom Cruise did because I’ve been “desensitized” by abusive behavior from an authority figure like Trump or my father. Having studied human communication, as well as having taken a few courses in counseling and undergone it myself, I would never condone the screaming approach as a means of effecting change. All it does is cause people to shut down and become depressed or anxious. And it just makes Cruise out to be a tyrannical bully.

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