dogs, videos, work, YouTube

Professional dog grooming seems almost like making magic to me…

I had every intention of writing a fresh post yesterday for this blog. I did write one for the travel blog, although it wasn’t necessarily a travel related post. Bill has been using a new gadget to help him sleep better. I thought it was kind of cool, so I decided to write a post for my other blog about it, since it kind of pertains to our home life and the device comes from London. You can click here if you want to read that and head us talk on a video. Otherwise, I will move on to the topic of the day, which is dog grooming.

A few days ago, I made a music video honoring Ronnie Spector. I wasn’t a big Ronnie Spector fan. In fact, I didn’t really know who she was until 1986, when I was a high school freshman, and she sang with Eddie Money on his hit, “Take Me Home Tonight.” I actually got pretty tired of that song when it was popular, but now it makes me feel nostalgic. And it occurred to me that Ronnie Spector was a very talented performer who probably didn’t get the respect she deserved… especially from her ex husband, Phil Spector. I will have to read her memoirs and get more of the scoop on that, and the rest of her career.

Actually, this very sweet video probably led me to the stray dog video…

Because I made that video, as well as the one I made for yesterday’s travel blog/gadget review, I somehow also ended up also watching a video showing a stray dog in Serbia being rescued, rehabilitated, and adopted. Noyzi and Arran watched with me, and were really enjoying the video. Noyzi was especially excited by it and actually tried to bump noses with the shaggy, rescued dog named Albert who was adopted by a Danish diplomat.

A very sweet video about a dog who found love off the streets, which led me to Rover’s Makeover.

One thing led to another, and next thing I knew, I had found Rover’s Makeover Dog Grooming’s channel… And that pretty much did it for the rest of our Sunday. Before I knew it, I had spent hours watching this Oklahoma lady named Marybeth shearing, shaving, and clipping the masses of stinky matted hair off of a bunch of long haired dogs. Marybeth says she does free jobs for some animals who desperately need to be groomed. The free jobs, naturally, tend to be a lot of work. Some of her videos run for a couple of hours. Much to my surprise, I watched several of them from start to finish. Because of that, I never got to my big computer to write anything. My travel blog post was written on my laptop as I watched Marybeth transform mangy mongrels into much happier, healthier pets.

This was the first video I watched. I was hooked pretty quickly.

I used to clip my dog, Rhonda, when I was a kid. She was a cocker spaniel/English setter mix, and she had long hair that would mat if we didn’t brush her a lot. Rhonda never got nearly as bad as some of the dogs on the videos Marybeth posts. My mom later found a groomer who took care of Rhonda’s grooming needs after my dad shaved her all over and made her look embarrassingly bad. Dad seemed to think Rhonda was like the sheep of his youth that he had to shear for his dad. He had no eye for the aesthetic when it came to grooming our poor pet… Rhonda might as well have been a fellow Air Force recruit, getting shaved before basic training!

As a teenager, I also spent hours grooming my horse, Rusty, trimming his whiskers, bathing him, feeding him supplements, and making him shine like a new penny before our big state horse show every year. But while it was satisfying cleaning up Rusty for the show ring, he was never so unkempt that he literally smiled at me after a clip and a bath.

And at the beginning of the pandemic, I had a go at cutting Bill’s hair with trimmers. I did a pretty good job of it, if I do say so myself. He never looked any more ridiculous than he usually does, anyway. But Bill doesn’t have matted hair.

Some of the dogs Marybeth grooms are so neglected that they can’t even stand properly. They have matted hair on their paws that force them to stand in an odd way, and cause their toenails to grow straight out instead of curved.

These dogs often smell pretty terrible, too, which makes people less likely to want to pet them.
This little sweetheart was in heat. Marybeth says she doesn’t usually groom dogs who are in heat, but the owners had driven four hours to get to her. Apparently, none of the local groomers would do the job.

While I can imagine this work is very physically demanding and often unpleasant, there must be so much satisfaction when Marybeth sees how much better the dogs look when she’s finished. In many cases, they can literally see better, stand and walk better, and no longer have to endure the heat and pain of hair that has pulled so tightly into mats and turned into a thick cloak. Remember, she is in Oklahoma, and it gets HOT there. I couldn’t help but share in the celebration, watching these animals transformed in a matter of hours.

Phew! This little cutie is smiling now!

Marybeth did mention that sometimes, people do dirty things, though… like ditch their animals with her. At the same time, she cautions her viewers not to judge the owners. Sometimes the “owners” are just people who found a badly neglected dog somewhere and rescued them from the street. Sometimes, the owners don’t have the money to groom their dogs properly, but they still love them.

When it comes down to, you just never know what someone’s personal situation is. Sometimes people take on pets when their health or finances are good, only to go through a severe financial or health setback that makes it impossible to take care of their pets properly. I have also noticed that people tend to be very judgmental when it comes to pets. I think sometimes the kindest thing someone can do for an animal is rehome them– to see that they go to a home where they can get the right care and attention. People will often judge others for doing that, too.

I’m just glad to see Marybeth doing this work for the animals. I can tell it’s a labor of love for her. She’s endlessly patient with the dogs, and so many of them seem to be much happier when she’s finished taking care of them. I’m sure their owners are happy, too.

YouTube is a treasure trove of talent. I’ve found so many YouTube channels with original content that offer fascinating glimpses into people’s lives. I follow so many content creators now, some of whom have been able to turn their channels into full time jobs. I have a very modest channel myself, which I mainly use as a supplement to my blogs and a place to put my musical pursuits. If I weren’t so camera shy, maybe I would make a video showing my face, too. Bill and I have talked about it. He’s as camera shy as I am, though. We would probably do a podcast where we don’t have to be camera ready.

Someone on RfM listened to my tribute to Ronnie Spector and said it led her to watch other videos. She said she found other musicians who never got the attention they deserved… and that just made me realize that for every famous person who has made it big with their talents, there are probably dozens more who are equally or even more talented and flew under the radar. The Internet makes it possible for some of those people to be discovered on YouTube or wherever else. In that sense, the Internet is truly awesome. Of course, it can also be the source of much drama and pain… but that’s a discussion for another post.

Anyway… I am glad I discovered Marybeth and her channel yesterday. Those dogs are so lucky to have her. I know she works very hard at what she does, but the results are so satisfying on so many levels. I know the dogs feel better; Marybeth can see the results of her work; and as a viewer, I can see the transformation right before my eyes, even if it takes two hours or more. Seriously… I can’t believe I watched as much as I did yesterday. I was glued to the channel.

I also got a couple of other chores done. I changed the strings on my guitar, which was easier than it was the last time I did it. I also ordered new lamps for our bedroom, because when I picked up my lamp for dusting yesterday, the base of it fell out without any warning. I bought those lamps with Epinions income share money when we lived in Georgia, about twelve years ago. They have served us well, but it’s probably time for new lamps, even if they are going to be 220 voltage.

Today, we are expecting a delivery of heating oil, which is always fun. Maybe after I practice guitar, I’ll go watch another grooming video. I actually caught myself thinking I might not mind doing that for a living… but then I remembered that I have a sore back that would probably not tolerate that work for long. So I guess I’ll just be content to watch Marybeth work and do great things for dogs in need as she educates thousands of viewers like me.

Edited to add: there is also an update on Leon the Lobster. His “dad” also got a sponsorship to help pay for Leon’s new home.

Leon is lucky, I guess.

Standard
bad TV, celebrities, complaints, rants

No, I really don’t hate Alyssa Milano… (partial repost)

Today’s semi-fresh content comes, in part, courtesy of the video below, which recently came up in my Facebook memories.

Alyssa Milano and Wendy Williams bicker over breastfeeding, starting at about 3:55.

I found today’s repost about a LDS woman getting slammed for breastfeeding in public a couple of days ago, after I saw the above video in my memories. I made a mental note to repost that blog entry from 2018. As I was doing that this morning, I also remembered Alyssa’s interview with Wendy Williams, and realized that it kind of went with the public breastfeeding repost. I was going to just include it with the repost, even though Alyssa Milano isn’t LDS and her campaigning for breastfeeding acceptance isn’t based so much on religious bullshit.

But then I remembered something else. Years ago, someone quoted my blog in a college paper about Alyssa Milano. They basically claimed that I was an Alyssa “hater”. I was pretty amused by that revelation. I certainly don’t hate Alyssa Milano. I never have. I don’t love every acting project she’s ever been involved with, but I most definitely respect her as a peer and an actress. I loved watching her on Who’s the Boss when I was a teenager, and on the original Melrose Place when I was a young woman. Hell, Alyssa Milano taught me about hickeys! And I got a huge kick out of watching her workout video, too!

So why did someone claim that I don’t like Alyssa Milano? It was because they found an old Writer’s Corner piece I wrote for Epinions.com many years ago and later rehashed on my original blog. In fact, I want to say I wrote that piece in January, because along with weight loss ads and gym membership plugs, January is also the prime time for various charities to run their guilt tripping fundraising campaigns.

In January 2012, eight years after I wrote my original Writer’s Corner Epinions piece about people like Sarah McLaughlin, Sally Struthers, the late Bonnie Franklin, and yes, Alyssa Milano, begging for donations for organizations like UNICEF, Christian Children’s Fund, and the ASPCA, I retooled the original essay into something semi new. A lot of people read it. The original stats for that rehashed post about charities netted almost 1700 hits, which for me, is a lot. To give you some perspective, most of my blog posts never crack 50 hits, although I seem to be getting more popular lately. I guess people are reading blogs more, given that they’re being encouraged to socially distance.

Anyway, I had written this retooled post about the annoying charity ads. In that post, I snarked on Alyssa Milano’s shilling for UNICEF, in which she begged viewers to send in “just 50 cents a day” to save children in developing countries. I found the below ad very annoying and dared to say so in my rant.

Alyssa Milano uses her prodigious thespian talents to dramatically beg viewers to help save children.

Now, I never said I didn’t otherwise enjoy Alyssa Milano’s work, nor did I say anything disparaging about her as a person. I don’t even know Alyssa, after all. If I did know her, I’m sure I’d like her fine. I just didn’t like that ad, nor do I enjoy viewing others like it done by other celebrities. I’m all for raising money for good causes, and am happy to help when I can, but I don’t enjoy guilt trips or emotional blackmail, even if they are often employed as effective fundraising methods. I know January is when people start thinking about their taxes, and maybe that’s why these ads tend to hit a fever pitch in January. I just don’t like the melodrama.

In my 2012 post, I included a portion of my original 2004 era Writer’s Corner rant, which I will admit was a bit snarky and obnoxious. I was trying to be funny, I guess, since a lot of people enjoy a good snark fest. The Writer’s Corner pieces on Epinions were strictly done for fun and entertainment. We didn’t get paid for them. So I was just cutting loose a bit. I do remember that the 2004 post generated some really interesting comments and discussion. Epinions was good for that, since there were some genuinely talented writers there back in the day. In 2012, my blog wasn’t all that popular and, like today, I was probably searching for a compelling topic. That was during the time at which I didn’t even share it with anyone I knew. How was I to know that post would generate so much controversy several years later?

Anyway, fast forward to January 2016. I decided to check my hits on Statcounter. In those days, I would type in the first letters of my blog to find the Statcounter Web site. Although it’s not my policy to look for comments about me or my blog, on that particular day, I decided to look for results beyond the first two. I noticed that there were a few other blogs called “The Overeducated Housewife” or something similar, all of which were aborted after the first few posts. Those blogs were all started by women who, like me, had gone to school for a long time and wound up keeping house for whatever reason. I guess they all eventually got “lives”.

Then I noticed a few hits down, my blog was mentioned on a Tumblr fan site called CharmedXConfessions. It appears to be a fan site for the old show Charmed, starring Alyssa Milano, Rose McGowan, and Shannen Doherty.  I noticed that the mention of my blog on the Google results indicated that I’m “snarky, sarcastic, and condescending”.  Then I discovered that someone had written a college composition called  Alyssa Milano College Essay- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished. Below are portions of the essay, cut and pasted exactly as I found it, that pertain to me and my controversial blog post.

In contrast to this positive publicity, Alyssa Milano’s television pleas for UNICEF have also drawn detractors. One blog particularly singles out her commercials and those of Sarah McLachlan for the SPCA as “melodramatic pleas for donations…when I watch those ads I feel manipulated, emotionally blackmailed…even shamed” (Overeducated Housewife 1). This blog dissects and raises issues about the pictures/techniques used by UNICEF and other international children’s charities that form the backdrop for Milano’s and other pleas. The blog says these commercials show:

—the depiction of fly-covered, malnourished children with large eyes and anglicized names 

—the plea for only 50 cents or the cost of a cup of coffee daily 

—the shaming technique of repeatedly asking what’s your excuse for not calling

NOW to pledge support

This blog questions the use of charitable dollars to pay for expensive television advertising. It also asks whether the celebrity spokespeople are paid for these commercials. Finally this blog raises the question of whether these celebrities personally donate substantially to the causes they are asking others to support. A defender of Milano on Overeducated Housewife points to her $50,000 donation to UNICEF and challenge to corporations to do the same. But questions about the appropriateness of wealthy celebrities pleading for the disadvantaged, the use of charitable dollars for self-promotion, and the lavish staff salaries paid to the leadership of some of these charities (i.e. the CEO of UNICEF makes $454,855) remain and are echoed on UNICEF’s Facebook page, in other blogs and in circulating emails. Milano’s association with UNICEF could, in some circles, taint her as minimally naive or even worse, as complicit in these questionable uses of charitable dollars.
 

The Overeducated Housewife blog in general features a number of snarky, sarcastic and condescending articles on a broad range of topics. The majority of articles seem to be critiques of writers, celebrities or other public figures who the blogger does not like. The blog links to a Facebook page with the name “Knotty” (a pun on Naughty? A reference to the knotty issues it covers?). The face is blurred on a number of images including the profile picture so it appears this blogger is choosing to remain anonymous. Her motto on the blog is “just another boring blog about being a boring housewife.” This motto and the blog’s tone seem to define its audience as educated women who feel they are overeducated for the boring job of being a housewife. The critics of Milano’s involvement with UNICEF, in general, come across as whiny, rude, privileged and nit picking people who are criticizing both a charity and a celebrity who are seeking to impact some of the world’s most pressing and recalcitrant problems. They are not seen as positing positive alternatives, but simply as critiquing and seeking to tear down others’ efforts.

Wow… 😀

Back in January 2016, I was pretty amused by this person’s observations about me and my blog. It appears that he or she was really offended by my comments about celebrity fundraising ads. I don’t think the person spent very much time reading or exploring my blog. It’s hilarious that this person felt it was appropriate to use my comments in an attempt at writing a “scholarly paper” for a university course. I guess I should be flattered… or maybe I should just feel sad. Anything you say or write can and will be used for something, right?

For the record, I certainly didn’t devote an entire post to how annoying I think Alyssa Milano is. On the contrary, for many reasons, I admire Alyssa Milano very much. In fact, I also admire UNICEF and the good work it does to make the people of the world healthier and happier. I just didn’t like that particular UNICEF ad. I also think the commenter completely missed the point of that post.

It’s not that I object to celebrities who do fundraising for charities.  I object to the manipulative ways they go about doing that work. As a rank and file viewer, I find those types of slick ads tasteless and shameless, even if I do think the cause is overall a worthy pursuit. When I wrote that post, years before I was quoted in that paper, I didn’t even think anyone cared about my opinions. I certainly never thought they’d wind up quoted in a paper. I have since found myself used as a reference in multiple Wikipedia entries, too. Isn’t it funny that someone listed me in a bibliography as “knotty” the Overeducated Housewife? I have finally arrived!

My apparently controversial thoughts about Alyssa Milano, which were eventually mentioned in a college paper, were written before Alyssa Milano helped coin and popularize the #MeToo movement, I will admit, I was not initially on board with the #MeToo movement at all. I don’t like catchphrases, and I thought that hashtag movement would peter out, much like the pink vagina hats did. I was wrong about #MeToo, though, and I have since changed my mind about it, and its relevance. Like most women, I can definitely use that hashtag myself, as I have been harassed by men on occasion. I think Alyssa Milano is great for using her platform to give women a voice in that regard. And I applaud her for raising awareness for breastfeeding, as well as money for children in poor countries. I just don’t like guilt tripping, manipulative ads. What’s wrong with saying so on a personal blog? I AM still allowed to share my opinions as a regular person, aren’t I?

The following paragraphs appeared in my January 2016 rant about being misunderstood by a college student who thinks I’m “snarky, sarcastic, and condescending…” They are still how I feel in 2022, and include some information as to why I call myself “knotty”, why I named by blog what I did, and why my picture is “blurry”.

Celebrities who do good deeds are to be commended.  I think it’s great when someone with money and influence is able to effect positive changes in the world.  I don’t have a problem with anyone involved with charitable organizations, especially if they happen to be public figures.  However, as a bored housewife who sometimes watches too much TV (at least when I’m stateside), I am often irritated by the melodramatic, guilt-mongering, begging commercials for charities.  That’s just my opinion, and I feel free to state it on my personal blog. 

I didn’t realize it was my duty to always be uplifting, positive, and looking for ways to make the world a better place.  But I am flattered that the person critiquing my blogging efforts apparently feels that I am important enough to have that role.  It’s funny, because only on my blog has anyone seemed to care much what my opinions are.  Past commenters have chastised me for being too negative and reminding me that I have a “wide audience” out there in Internetland.  According to them, I have a “responsibility” to always be fair, kind, honest, and positive when I write my posts.  Ha!  Actually, I find the above comments about my “overly critical” attitude toward Alyssa Milano’s UNICEF commercials kind of rich.  Isn’t the author of the English composition guilty of the same thing?

My nickname “knotty” is short for knotheadusc, which is an Internet handle I came up with around 1999 or so. Originally, I just wanted to call myself “knothead”. That was what my dad used to call me all the time when I was a kid and it seemed appropriate to call myself that at the time. Others had the same idea, since I frequently found that name taken when I tried to register it on different Web sites. Since I was a graduate student at the University of South Carolina at the time, I added the letters USC to the end of “knothead”. After awhile, people who got to know me online started calling me “knotty”. When I started this blog, I was trying to stay somewhat anonymous, mainly because I didn’t want trouble from my husband’s ex wife or others I vent my spleen about. So I called myself knotty on my blog. The nickname “knotty” is not a play on the word “naughty”, though some people might think it fits. They’d probably be right. Honestly, had the paper writer just asked me, I would have gladly explained it.

Anyway, now that my husband’s kids are adults, I don’t care so much if people know who I am. My real name is Jenny. I have even mentioned it a few times on this blog. Call me that if you think it’s more appropriate than “knotty” is. The blurred pictures the commenter mentions are probably more because I’m a shitty photographer and feel too ugly to show my face, than a real desire to stay anonymous. But even now that you know my name, wouldn’t I still kind of be anonymous to most people? What difference does it make what I call myself or if I show my photo, if you don’t actually know me personally? This blog was never intended to be used as a professional source for anything or anyone. Moreover, it doesn’t look like the paper writer was interested in knowing the real me, since he or she made many disparaging assumptions about my character and never bothered to engage me to find out if they were valid.

As for the title of the blog, I named it so because I spent seven years in college and I am a housewife.  It’s not because I think I’m “too good” to be a housewife.  On the contrary, I actually feel like even if I wanted to find a full time job, no one would want to hire me.  And yet, I do have all this formal education, which is not required for me to do what I do every day.  I am not bragging about my education.  As a matter of fact, I sometimes wish I’d been smart enough to just stick with my bachelor’s degree.  It would be nice not to have to pay so much for degrees I don’t use (although Bill paid off my education loans in 2018).  I surely don’t look down on housewives.  How could I?  I have been one myself for a long time.  I’m not even a very good housewife.  

Most people who read this blog are drivebys looking for information on specific topics.  The person who thinks I’m snarky, condescending, and sarcastic clearly only read my post about UNICEF, and maybe glanced at a couple of other posts to get a very basic idea of what this blog is about.  This blog has existed since 2010, and has posts about a huge array of topics. I don’t think the commenter got the most accurate picture of The Overeducated Housewife’s contents, nor did they seem to care much about fairness or accuracy.

I was a student once, too, and I’m pretty sure the author’s ideas about me and my blog were not at all personal and were gleaned very quickly. Shucks! He or she probably just wanted to finish their paper, and used my comments about charities as something to flesh out their required essay. And it’s also not lost on me that I’ve done the same thing with today’s blog entry.

Folks, let me remind you that I’m just a regular middle-aged woman living life.  If I come across as snarky, sarcastic, and condescending and you find that offensive, I do apologize.  I am just being myself.  Not everyone likes me, but that’s true for every living person because it’s impossible to please everybody.  This blog was more or less originally meant as a place for me to vent.  Contrary to apparent belief, my blog is not that popular.  I do have some readers who lurk and read everyday, but there really aren’t that many.  Even fewer bother to comment.  I started the Facebook page to give people a way to contact me other than commenting on the blog itself.   As you can see, it doesn’t have that many followers, either.   

I hope the composition earned a good grade, though if I really wanted to be snarky, sarcastic, and condescending, I could probably rip that paper to shreds using my overeducated English lit skills.  I won’t bother, though, because I have better things to do with all the time on my hands.  I think I’ll go troll YouTube and see if there’s anything there begging me to write one of my “snarky” blog posts.  Bonus points for something I can rag on posted by a public figure. For those who are curious, below are a few somewhat recent pictures of me. I don’t put on makeup very often these days, so I usually look more like the third picture.

July 2021.
Sometime last spring, I think… I need a new selfie.
But even in this photo, I have on makeup…
And this was the 2015 era photo I used for the 2016 post. Maybe it’s time I colored my hair again.

This scenario is why I don’t make it a habit to look myself up on Google. Most people think the worst of others, and never take the time to learn the whole truth. But, just in case anyone wonders, no, I don’t hate Alyssa Milano. I think she’s basically an excellent actress and role model. But I am glad I am not in the US, watching her ilk beg for 50 cents a day, either. What’s wrong with that?

Standard
housekeeping tips, reviews

Repost: Betty Crocker Bake n’ Fill Cakes…

Here’s a repost from March 6, 2014, which was also an Epinions repost of a review I wrote in September 2006. I am reposting it because it made me a lot of money on Epinions, and because it had a ton of hits on my original blog. And because I am trying to salvage as many of my old reviews as I can… It may be irrelevant today, but what the hell… maybe someone is interested. Here it is, mostly as/is.

From 2014: This was another lucrative Epinions review that needs a new home.  I must admit, I don’t use these pans anymore, but people loved this review.  I see the price has doubled since I purchased the Bake n’ Fill pans!

In 2021: I left these pans in storage. If I still had them, maybe I might make a project out of baking a cake… however, Bill and I never finish most baked goods. We like them, but our household is just too small!

One of the ads that inspired my purchase.

I watch too much TV. I like to bake. I also spend too much time on the Internet. It was combination of those three elements of my life that led me to buy a Betty Crocker Bake n’ Fill bake set. Since I don’t have kids and rarely entertain, there’s really no other reason why I’d be interested in purchasing this product. Nevertheless, I’d seen the low budget ad on TV many times, watching as some faceless woman made beautiful, tempting cakes with cool looking layers in the middle. Inwardly, I oohed and ahhed every time I saw her make a cake that looked like a baseball or filled the inside of a chocolate cake with pudding or fruit. Secretly, I wanted to try making a cool looking cake, too.

Then, one day when I was online, an acquaintance of mine mentioned that she’d gone to the As Seen On TV store at her local mall and bought a set so that she and her toddler daughter could bake n’ fill some cakes together. Bingo! I remembered that there was an As Seen On TV store near my home, too. So I grabbed my husband, Bill, and off we went in search of the pans! I got to the store and looked around for several minutes before I finally saw the Betty Crocker Bake n’ Fill bake set tucked away in a corner. Priced at just $19.99 plus tax, the pans were fairly economical. I went straight home to try them out.

The Betty Crocker Bake n’ Fill deluxe bake set comes with four pans. There’s a tall pan, a base pan, a dome pan, and an insert pan. I should mention that the Betty Crocker Bake n’ Fill bake set also comes in a classic version that only has three pans: tall, base, and insert. When I bought my set, the deluxe version was the only one available in the store. The tall pan reminds me of a bucket. The edges of the base are rounded. The dome pan looks kind of like the end of an egg. It’s rounded on top, so that you can make cakes that are round like balls. The base pan looks just like a shallow cake pan, and the insert pan, which connects to either the dome or tall pans, is basically like a small dome pan with a shelf around it. The insert pan is probably the most important part of the set. You hook it to a larger pan full of batter and it displaces the batter so that you have a hollow area in the main part of your cake. You can also use the insert pan to bake smaller cakes to fill in that hollow area.

After washing all of the components of the set, I decided I wanted to try to make Baked Alaska. The handy instruction booklet that came with the set had a recipe for it, as well as recipes for other cakes. Naturally, the manufacturers want you to use Betty Crocker cake mixes when you use these pans. I prefer to bake from scratch, though, so that’s what I did. I also made my own ice cream for the center. As with all cake pans, it’s important to make sure you grease and flour these pans generously so that the finished products don’t stick.

I followed the instructions for Baked Alaska using the dome cake pan and the insert pan. That part of the process came off without a hitch. I filled the dome pan up to the fill line, screwed on the insert pan, baked the cake, and when it was done and cool, had a perfectly formed hollowed out dome that was ready to be filled with ice cream. Let me state here that it’s very important not to fill the pans past the fill line; if you do, the pans will overflow.

The next part of the process was a little more troublesome. I don’t know why, but the instructions didn’t tell me to make a base cake for the bottom of the Baked Alaska. I wanted to follow instructions, so I didn’t make a base cake on my own. Anyone who’s had Baked Alaska knows that it’s usually covered with meringue, which has to be browned in the oven. After filling my dome cake with ice cream, I flipped it over on to a cookie sheet, covered it with meringue, and stuck it in the oven at 400 degrees. And what happened? You guessed it… there was a big mess! I had better luck the next time I used the pans. I made a base cake, used pudding for the filling and the tall cake pan for the top, and it turned out fine, except I didn’t quite fill the hollow area with enough pudding. I had a little space between the pudding and the cake. I’m sure with practice, I’ll eventually get the process right. I just don’t have enough people in my household to eat all the mistakes!

Making a Betty Crocker Bake n’ Fill cake is a process that generally requires planning and patience, depending on how fancy you want to get with your creations. Not only do you have to consider all of the different flavors you want to use for the cake, the center, and the frosting and decorations, but you also have to realize that the different parts of the cake will take different lengths of time to bake. For instance, it will take longer to bake the tall cake with the insert pan than it will to bake the base cake. That’s because the tall cake is bigger. You also have to consider what you want to use for the filling. Do you want to use a different flavor cake? Ice cream? Pudding, custard, or mousse? Fruit? Candy? The sky’s the limit, but you do have to plan first, or you will end up with a mess!

I’m not the most patient person in the world, but I imagine someone who doesn’t mind waiting for and planning their bake n’ fill cakes carefully will not be displeased with the results. While I didn’t have the best luck using the recipes in the instruction booklet, I did like the way the instructions were laid out for actually using the pans. They are well made and surprisingly solid, especially considering the price. I have no trouble cleaning them after using them, and I’ve also never had a problem with cakes sticking to the pans. I wish I could say the same thing about my fancy Calphalon cake pans!

So, the upshot of this review is that the Betty Crocker Bake n’ Fill cake pans do work and it is quite possible to make cool looking cakes with them. However, bear in mind that making those cakes will take time, patience, and creativity. If you like to bake from scratch, you’ll have to be somewhat brave, since the recipes in the booklet are designed to work with cake mixes. And, also, since the set consists of four odd shaped pans, you might have to make some extra room in your cabinets for them. I don’t know how often I’ll be using my set… maybe if I ever have kids, if I ever entertain, or if I get bored on a rainy day. But for $19.99 plus tax, the Betty Crocker Bake n’ Fill bake set is not a bad addition to my kitchen equipment.

ETA 2021: I see these pans are no longer available on Amazon. If you want them, you might want to check eBay.

Standard
communication, complaints, condescending twatbags, rants

Just WTF does that have to do with the price of tea in China?

Well, it finally happened. I now have a topic to discuss today that isn’t about the Duggar family. Prepare for an epic rant.

Years ago, I was a big fan of Mad Magazine. Unfortunately, I was introduced to Mad by the neighborhood pervert, who had a son who was a few years older than me. I suspect the pervert’s son was the Mad Magazine fan. Anyway, that’s neither here nor there. I’m just glad he gave me something to look at besides the men’s magazines he usually showed me back when I was a wee lass. Even though I can’t look at a copy of Mad without remembering the Home of the Whopper (as the neighborhood pervert occasionally referred to himself), the fact remains that it was a funny magazine, especially when I was an adolescent. And after all these years, I have managed to maintain my adolescent sense of humor.

Not that anyone really appreciates it…

Back in the early 1980s, Mad Magazine did a parody of public television telethons. I don’t remember exactly what the spoof was about, but I do remember that Big Bird was a participant. The clever cartoonist had drawn Big Bird as he would have been on Sesame Street, introducing the letter for the day. In that particular article, the letter for the day was “P”, and Big Bird introduced it by saying “P stands for ‘prance’ and ‘pad’ and ‘punch’ and ‘puss’ and ‘please’. As in, ‘I’m going to prance over to your pad and punch you in the puss if you don’t please give us money.'”

The eleven year old version of me thought that was just fucking hilarious. I remember laughing my ass off, mainly because I didn’t know that the word “puss” is not akin to the word “pussy”. I had a grand time picturing Big Bird prancing, let alone prancing over to someone’s “pad” and punching them. And of course, because I had never been exposed to the old fashioned word “puss”, and was picturing Big Bird punching someone in the pussy, I laughed even harder.

My laughter is distinctive, and some people find it irritating. My parents were among those who criticized me for the way I laugh. My dad especially hated it, and would tell me I sounded like a cackling witch.

Anyway, after I read that article in Mad, my mom asked me why I was laughing so hard, so I told her. Her response was to get annoyed with me and crankily inform me that the word “puss” refers to someone’s face– hence the expression “sour puss”. In fact, she had a distinctly sour puss as she edified me with that information. I still thought the mental image of Big Bird prancing to someone’s pad and punching someone in the pussy was hilarious, and continued to laugh like a banshee. Years later, I still think that mental image is funny, and I occasionally still laugh about it.

Of course, not everyone thinks the idea of Big Bird punching someone in the pussy is funny. I probably still annoy people, too, even when I’m doing something as innocent as laughing at a ridiculous mental image. For some reason, a lot of people seem to think I’m an asshole, even when I’m seriously not trying to be an asshole.

So what’s that story got to do with today’s title? Keep reading, and I think it will be clearer. Or maybe not. My mind works in strange, tangental ways.

My old friend, Jamie, posted a couple of pictures of himself yesterday. He currently has long hair. I’ve never known him to have long hair, because I haven’t seen him in person in many years. When I knew him offline, he had short, conservatively styled hair. But we have known each other since we were very young, having graduated from the same high school and worked at the same amusement park for a few summers. Naturally, neither of us still looks the way we did in the late 80s, early 90s.

Anyway, Jamie has long hair now, and he wanted to know if he should wear his hair up or down for the occasion of attending his son’s graduation. I’m assuming the young man has just finished college. I didn’t have an opinion on Jamie’s hair or how he should wear it, although I am impressed that he apparently still has so much of it at his age. Instead, I was struck by the rather dour expression on his face in his pictures. I didn’t remember him to be so somber looking when I knew him offline. So I posted, “You’re never fully dressed without a smile.” That’s a song from Annie, by the way, and it was intended as a lighthearted joke.

Some time later, a mutual friend of Jamie’s took me to task for making that comment. She might have been surprised to know that I actually hesitated before posting it, because as a woman, I don’t necessarily like it when someone suggests that I smile. But I figured Jamie and I have known each other for a long time and he wouldn’t be offended. It never crossed my mind that anyone other than him would raise an objection. I certainly never thought I was going to be confronted about COVID-19 when I posted it.

When Jamie’s other friend initially came at me, I figured it was because she’s apparently a woman, and like a lot of women, she doesn’t like to be ordered to smile. But no… somehow, she got the impression that I was making a statement about mask mandates and COVID-19. She left me a second comment about how she lives in New Mexico, where mask mandates have been reinstated, and is fully immunized and boosted and wears masks and yadda, yadda, yadda. I was initially confused by her laundry list of COVID-19 prevention tactics. Then I got a bit irritated.

I should add that it was late at night when I saw her comments. I was about to go to bed, having enjoyed dinner and libations. And I just didn’t get how she took my statement as being about the fucking pandemic, or why everything has to be about the goddamned pandemic. I never mentioned COVID, vaccines, masks, or anything. I just made a simple comment about Jamie’s joyless expression. It never even crossed my mind that his smile would eventually be covered by a face mask, although I’m certain it probably was. But somehow, this lady seemed to think I was making a statement about the pandemic when I was just reacting to pictures posted by an old friend.

So I responded to her that I live in Germany, am fully vaccinated, have an appointment to get a booster, and mask mandates never went away here. I also have a master’s degree in public health and another in social work. And I’ve known Jamie since I was about 17 years old, and was just kidding.

I didn’t add this, but I could have also told her that my comment had absolutely NOTHING whatsoever to do with COVID-19. And I don’t know how she conflated a comment about smiling to being about masks, especially since prior to my peevish response to her comment, she didn’t know a fucking thing about me. I also didn’t add that, given my background, of course I understand how serious the pandemic is. Of course, we’ve never met, so she wouldn’t have known before I told her. But my initial comment wasn’t even about the pandemic. She read a lot more into it than was really necessary.

She came back with “Good to know.”

WTF? I’m not the one who was being rude. She chose to engage me, by chiming in with an inappropriate and nonsensical comment. Why can’t I add a simple response on an old friend’s Facebook status without some stranger assuming the worst about me and putting words in my fingers? I don’t even know this person from Adam, and she doesn’t know me! She might as well have come up to me on the street and started talking about thermonuclear physics, or something equally as irrelevant.

This isn’t so much a rant about the clueless woman in New Mexico with a Ph.D. who works for the Army, as it is that trying to communicate on social media just sucks. People have lost the ability to be civilized. We all sit behind computer screens and deliver the snark first and ask questions later. I’m as guilty of it as anyone is, I guess. We all seem to read more into things than we should, or we make erroneous assumptions that someone is being rude. Or we put words in people’s fingers– make assumptions about points they never even made. We don’t simply take things at face value. I see it in comment sections all the time, which is why I try hard not to respond in them. Too often, making comments ends up being involved in a pissing match with a complete stranger. No thanks.

Communicating with someone online can sometimes be downright weird, especially when you compare it to talking to someone in person. Imagine having an in person chat with someone you know, and suddenly your friend’s mutual friend, a total stranger to you, suddenly butts in to your exchange with a completely irrelevant comment about socks or something. That’s what it’s sometimes like to communicate with an old friend online. But, of course, communicating online, especially on a public forum, is NOT like having an in person conversation, precisely because total strangers and outsiders to the conversation can butt in with something off topic.

Maybe I am perturbed right now because I really miss offline communications, and actually getting to know people. It annoys me that I wind up interacting with complete strangers just so I can exchange a few words with a legitimate old friend from back in the days before the Internet.

I suppose I could have simply ignored her. Maybe next time, I’ll just do that. Ignoring her doesn’t solve the issue that has so irritated me this morning, though. On the other hand, maybe if we have occasion to interact again, she might have a better understanding of who I am before she pops off with something completely useless and irrelevant. Or maybe not. My guess is that she’s already forgotten about me and our unpleasant exchange.

Adding to my moan this morning are a couple of other things. First off, I somehow managed to break the business end of the Type C thunderbolt cable for my iPad. I don’t know what happened, but the end managed to come loose and now it no longer works. So I had to order a new cable, and that cost me some euros. I ordered early in the morning and Amazon.de said the replacement would get to me today. But, I see that it will probably get here tomorrow, which sucks because Saturday is the one day of the week I might hope to get out of the house and do something fun. Sundays in Germany are often pretty dead… at least if one wants to do any shopping or anything. Delivery people here don’t always leave packages like they do in the States.

And then, another person– someone I don’t know offline, but “met” through Epinions– decided to add a rude comment to a discussion my friends and I had a couple of days ago about Josh Duggar. This dude felt the need to post “YAWWWNNN…” on that topic.

My response to him was to “keep scrolling.” I mean, if you have nothing of substance to add to a discussion on someone else’s Facebook page, and you think what they’ve posted is boring, why not just move on? There’s no need to leave a rude comment that does nothing more than irritate people. Again with the uncivilized behavior, right?

That guy has a tendency to be a grouch sometimes, but he’s not the worst offender. In fact, he rarely chimes in on things on my page. He probably has better things to do than hang out on social media. Given that, he doesn’t need to leave a random comment that he thinks my discussion is boring. But at least he’s not like …tom… Some of my regulars know all about …tom…

…tom… could not resist leaving insulting comments to any and all topics. He was another person I “met” on Epinions. I never liked him much, but decided to try to give him the benefit of the doubt. After awhile, when he would leave those kinds of rude and useless comments, I would respond with profanity. Usually, I would tell him to “fuck off” or “go play in traffic” or something like that. I will admit that’s not very civilized behavior, either. I mainly did it because he was such an insufferable jackass, and it was sometimes fun for me to be unabashedly profane when he asked for it. Remember, I wasn’t on his page; he was on mine.

One day, I finally got tired of the bullshit and kicked …tom… off my friends list. That was kind of sad for me, because he gave me a lot to blog about– or at least vent. On the other hand, trying to have a meaningful conversation with him was a complete waste of time. He would chime in on things, often without having the slightest notion of what the discussion was about. He would leave rude, critical, condescending comments. He had no respect for me, so trying to be friendly with him was not productive. And while cursing is something I do as if it’s my job, I don’t feel good about swearing at people. Not unless I know they enjoy it. I don’t know how …tom… felt about being asked to “fuck off”, but he once told me he wasn’t “unfriending”, even though he seemed to find my page so worthy of criticism. So I decided to take matters into my own hands.

Maybe that’s the solution. I should just tell people who annoy me to “fuck off” and use my block button. Not caring about how other people perceive me might even be the key to happiness. Another key to happiness is to stop trying to engage with strangers, especially those who make assumptions before they know any facts. And maybe someday, I’ll log off of social media altogether and simply read books, like I did in the days before I joined Facebook. It doesn’t sound like a bad idea.

People need to learn to come at people where they live… or simply shut the fuck up.

And just to bring this topic back around to where it started before I seemed to go wildly off on a tangent, I’d like to announce the letters for today. Big Bird says, the letters for today are “F” and “U”. As in, “feeling fed up”… and of course you know what else. 😉

Standard
book reviews, celebrities, LDS, religion

Repost: A review of Faith and Fortune: A Mormon Family in Hollywood by Kimball Jacobs

I originally reviewed this book for Epinions.com in January 2006. I reposted the review on my Blogspot version of this blog in November 2014. In my previous repost, I included videos from Rachel Jacobs’ career. I am not including the videos this time, because they tend to get schwacked for copyright reasons.

A few days ago I was on YouTube, watching an old Pop-Tarts commercial from the mid 1970s. Someone asked who the little girl in the ad was.  I knew, because I was an avid fan of Diff’rent Strokes back in the day.  There was an episode in 1979 that featured a cute little girl named Rachel Jacobs as Arnold’s “girlfriend” when they were in the hospital together.

Rachel Jacobs went on to act in a number of TV shows, as did her brothers, Parker and Christian.  Their father, Kimball Jacobs, went on to write a book about his kids and their show business careers.  I read and reviewed his book.  It wasn’t good.  But I am reposting my review of Faith and Fortune anyway, because I know I have a lot of Mormon and exMormon readers who might be interested.  

Pros:  A little bit of gossip. Probably the only book about the Jacobs kids.

Cons:  Horribly written. Typos and grammatical errors galore. Preaching.

The Bottom Line: Writing this review might be my one good deed for today.

Since I am an aspiring writer, I take a strange form of comfort from the sheer suck factor of the 2002 book, Faith and Fortune: A Mormon Family in Hollywood written by Kimball Jacobs. This book is probably the worst one I’ve read in a very long time. But before I get into how hard this book sucks, let me explain who Kimball Jacobs is and why I read Faith and Fortune in the first place. After all, as I quickly found out, Jacobs’ book is not on any best seller lists– thank heavens! 

Kimball Jacobs is the father of three former child actors who worked mostly during the late 1970s and 1980s. His daughter Rachel, and his two sons Christian and Parker Jacobs, were in a number of commercials, television series, and movies. I am a child of the 1970s and 1980s. That means I remember a lot of cheesy television sitcoms from that era. Sometimes, I can be persuaded to watch re-runs of shows that aired during that time. Anyway, the other day, I was watching a re-run of Diff’rent Strokes and remembered the episode in which the character Arnold (played by Gary Coleman) gets a case of appendicitis. He goes to the hospital and shares his room with an adorable little girl named Alice, played by Rachel Jacobs. They become friends, much to Alice’s bigoted father’s (Dabney Coleman) chagrin. 

What transpires in the Diff’rent Strokes episode is not important as it relates to this review. Suffice to say that I became curious about the little girl who played Alice, so I went off to the Internet Movie Database and found Rachel Jacobs’ bio. It was there that I discovered that she had two brothers who were also in show business and she’s a Mormon. Besides being a fan of crappy 80s sitcoms, I’m also the wife of an inactive (now resigned) member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (aka the Mormons). Being married to Bill has led me to learn more about the LDS faith, especially since Bill’s children are still members of the church. I noticed that Rachel Jacobs and her brothers were the subjects of Kimball Jacobs’ book. I looked up Faith and Fortune on Amazon.com and found that it got two one star ratings. One of the ratings appeared to be from a disgruntled family member, perhaps his ex wife. Apparently, this book was unauthorized. Now that I’ve read it, I can see why. 

Actual review from Amazon: This is a totally unauthorized version of exploiting your own family. Each child involved feels used. Each child involved requested that it not be printed and Dad went right ahead… not only that, even if the story is interesting, it is terribly written and tweaked in its approach …Mom thinks this is unforgivable.. (This review was written by someone named Rebecca.)

Some of you might be wondering why I read this book if it got such poor ratings. Well, Bill has been out of town all week, so I needed something to do. Besides, I’ve been reading entirely too many decent books lately. Against my better judgment, I went to Booklocker.com and downloaded Faith and Fortune. Thank God I didn’t pay full price for the paperback edition. The ebook version of Faith and Fortune runs for 120 pages. Actually, that’s not an entirely true statement. It runs for about 113 pages. The ebook was 120 pages long, but for some reason, quite a few pages were left blank. As I looked at all of those wasted blank pages, I was even happier that I didn’t buy a paper version of this book. What a waste of trees! 

Faith and Fortune starts off with Kimball Jacobs explaining how he and his first wife, Rebecca, met at Brigham Young University’s drama department. In his very affected writing style, Jacobs explains that it was his older brother, David, who introduced the two, because David felt he was too old for Rebecca. Kimball and Rebecca Jacobs were married and they moved to Ririe, Idaho to embark on their lives together. Kimball Jacobs got a job as a teacher and wrestling coach and his wife became a teacher’s aide.

It wasn’t long before Rebecca Jacobs gave birth to their first child, Rachel, the adorable little girl I saw on Diff’rent Strokes. A year and a half later, Christian Jacobs was born. Then, the family moved to Ogden, Utah, so that the Jacobs’ family could try their hand at running a restaurant, an adventure that lasted a year, during which time Parker Jacobs was born. It’s at this part that I’m starting to think that perhaps the exuberance of youth had gotten the best of the Jacobs family. Here they were with three young children, trying to launch a restaurant, a stressful venture under the best of circumstances. It sounded like a recipe for disaster and apparently it was. But Jacobs doesn’t dwell too much on this part of the book. He has bigger fish to fry. 

While Kimball and Rebecca Jacobs were trying to launch their restaurant business, they remained active in local theater. Little Rachel showed a talent for acting, so her parents started looking for an agent who could launch their cute daughter’s acting career. They got in touch with Hollywood child star agent, Mary Grady, who told them that they should be living in Los Angeles for best results. The young family left their safe Utah haven for Los Angeles, literally living on prayers. They used their formidable connections within the church to secure an apartment in Los Angeles. Then Jacobs got himself a minimum wage job, while his wife got their three children hooked up with Mary Grady, the Hollywood agent. In fact, the whole family started looking for show biz work in Hollywood, but the kids saw more action. 

What follows is Kimball Jacobs’ story of how his three older kids (youngest son Tyler was born after Rachel, Christian, and Parker had become established actors) became child actors. I won’t call them stars, though, because none of them ever really made it big. Jacobs points out that at one point, all three kids were regulars on network series, but that success was short-lived. 

In my opinion, Jacobs really comes off like a stage dad. It looks like he was really wanting his kids to become big stars and perhaps, ride on their coattails. This book reads like a poorly written resume, with Jacobs’ kids accomplishments listed and little else besides a gratuitous amount of self-important preaching.  Faith and Fortune is also riddled with typos and grammatical errors. Jacobs uses awkward sentence constructions and seems to have a particularly irritating penchant for writing in the passive voice. It’s clear to me that this book was never edited by a professional or even its author, for that matter. 

Faith and Fortune does not include any pictures, which would have made this book a little bit more worthwhile. Instead, it’s full of testimony bearing for the LDS Church and moralizing. Jacobs continually states that he and his family have high conduct standards and were constantly butting heads with agents and Hollywood types over the lines their kids would say, the products they would endorse, and how they would dress. I don’t really fault them for having standards, especially when it comes to how their kids were portrayed, but I got the feeling that Jacobs was expecting his family to make it big. And they weren’t willing to play by Hollywood’s rules in order to achieve that end. As it stands now, none of the Jacobs kids are still working in Hollywood (ETA: As of 2014, it looks like Parker and Christian may be back in the biz). What’s more, I got the impression (though I may be wrong about this) that the Jacobs kids were completely financially supporting their parents!

Faith and Fortune does include some interesting gossip about other kid stars from the 1980s. Jacobs dishes a little bit about Ricky Schroder, who apparently had a crush on Rachel. He shares a little bit about jobs that his kids had on popular sitcoms like Family TiesGrowing PainsSilver Spoons, and the short-lived All in the Family spinoff, Gloria. But the information that he provides is not very worthwhile and it is, very much, gossip. It’s not even firsthand gossip, either, since most of what he writes about are things that he heard about from his kids. 

I think that Kimball Jacobs could have written a decent book, had he taken the time to expand his story a bit, added some pictures, and included more insight into his experiences as a Hollywood dad. I do think that this book is more about his experience as a Mormon Hollywood dad than it is about his children’s experiences as child actors. And, while I’m not knocking Jacobs for having great faith in his religion, I do think that he pushed it a little too much. I think he could have written about his faith without constantly beating his readers over the head with it. 

Yes, Faith and Fortune: A Mormon Family in Hollywood has a high suck factor. Fortunately for you, dear readers, this book takes some effort to find. It’s not likely that you’d buy this book by mistake. I’m offering my opinion so that anyone who might be curious about reading it on purpose will think twice about it. Unfortunately, it’s garbage like this that give print on demand books a bad name.

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site.

Standard