communication, complaints, language

I don’t care if “it’s what’s for dinner”… especially since “I ain’t been nowhere”.

I think Bill and I are on the verge of insanity. The last few months have been rather difficult for both of us. Bill has been working very hard, traveling for long stints to the same place in Bavaria, and working extremely long shifts– sometimes overnight, which is not a good fit for his early bird personality. I’m not physically and mentally exhausted like Bill is, but I’m feeling the strain of being socially distanced and not having any fun. We both really need a vacation. It’s not that we’ll die without one… it’s more that we both seriously need a change of scenery. Lately, I’ve found myself daydreaming about day trips to the Rhein, which we used to enjoy before the pandemic struck.

Don’t get me wrong… I know the pandemic is still going on and people are still getting sick and dying. But it’s good to see the infection numbers going down and rules starting to relax a little bit. I’m finding myself less interested in reading about COVID-19 or reading the shrill opinions of neurotic people who think we should be wearing masks forever. I hope to score a walk in appointment this week so I can get my second shot and be “street legal” by my birthday on the 20th. If that doesn’t happen, I’ll get pricked on the 9th. I think Bill is already trying to come up with something for us to do… When we finally do get to break out of here, I suspect it will be a nice trip. Or… I hope it will be. You just never know what’s going to happen in the wonderful world of contracting for the U.S. military.

A few friends managed to get away for the holiday. They’ve been posting photos from Belgium, Luxembourg, and Iceland. I’m happy for them that they got to travel. I hope to join them very soon. I think it will do wonders for my disposition. Lately, I’ve been a bit crankier than usual. I’m sure I’m not the only one, either. Even Rhonda Vincent agrees, having just released a brand new album with this fabulous COVID-19 inspired parody of “I’ve Been Everywhere”… because she, like Bill and I, “ain’t been nowhere” because we’re doing the “responsible” thing and staying home… avoiding masks and annoying busybodies who think we should live this way forever– and if we disagree, we need to be “corrected” and “reeducated”. (I need to quit reading The Atlantic, for sure!)

I love Rhonda Vincent… and I love her song, “I Ain’t Been Nowhere.” I ain’t, you know, and it’s making me even bitchier than I might otherwise be.

Yesterday, I posted a crabby status update about how much I hate the old beef ads from the early 90s… you know, the ones that used Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring” and gave us the ever annoying slogan, “Beef! It’s what’s for dinner!” I don’t remember hating that ad when it was new. It was aired during a time when a lot of Americans had turned away from eating red meat because of the heart risks. Instead of eating beef, people were eating poultry and fish or pork, “the other white meat”. Beef farmers were concerned about their lagging profits, so they came up with this ad, which has led to a highly irritating catchphrase that many people still use today.

On one hand, this was a wildly successful commercial. On the other hand, it’s still irritating the fuck out of me almost 30 years later.

I wish I had a quarter for every time someone says or writes “it’s what’s for dinner”… I would be a much wealthier woman than I am today. Today’s featured photo is a picture I used for my last blog moan about this trend… which I wrote almost five years ago. Yes, this also annoyed me in 2016… and probably before then, too. And in five years, nothing has changed, because people haven’t come up with anything catchier or more clever to say about their evening victuals as they share them with everyone on Facebook.

I bitched about this yesterday, and a friend who is a teacher and also likes to say “kiddo” (another word I can’t stand because it reminds me of a rapey stepfather on the Guiding Light), stopped by to tell me why the beef ad from 1993 is good. I have a feeling she might have felt offended that I was complaining about it, since she’s said she thinks it’s a great ad and apparently uses it as a teaching tool. Look– I am all for people using whatever they can when they teach children. Teaching is a tough job. However, the fact that it’s a good ad for use in the classroom has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that it sets my teeth on edge.

I love beef, too. I would happily eat steak or a burger or barbecue with anyone, unless I’m in Armenia, where the beef wasn’t very good. I wouldn’t say German beef is that awesome, either. I’ve got nothing against beef as a food, even if procuring it does involve killing animals. I should probably like it less than I do.

I just don’t want to hear about “it’s what’s for dinner”… because I just don’t give a fuck. I’d like to be having dinner somewhere where I can order something off a menu and take photos of it for my blog. And the fact that today’s kids like that ad is irrelevant. They weren’t around in the early 90s, when it was shown incessantly on TV– back in the days before the Internet, getting into ridiculous conversations about annoying cliches, and wondering why I shouldn’t be able to say I don’t like something without having my opinions corrected.

As for the word “kiddo”… Yesterday, as I was telling Bill about how much I hate the old beef ads, I introduced him to the sordid tale of Bradley Raines, played by the late James Rebhorn on Guiding Light, a soap opera that lasted for over 70 years and has the distinction of being the only daytime serial that ever held my attention. Back in 1983, when I was about eleven years old, the iconic power couple of Phillip Spaulding (Grant Aleksander) and Beth Raines (Judi Evans) was born. Phillip’s original girlfriend, Mindy Lewis (Krista Tesreau) was in the hospital because she got bucked off of a horse named Boss. Beth was in the hospital because she was abused by her yucky stepfather, Bradley. She called him Bradley, even though he had adopted her and she used his last name.

Bradley Raines was a creepy character. James Rebhorn was a great actor, and he portrayed the part of a narcissistic abusive pervert to the hilt. However, thanks to Rebhorn’s turn as Bradley Raines, I’m left despising the word “kiddo”. Every time I hear it, I think of him, and the way he treated his adopted daughter/stepdaughter, Beth, who was portrayed as fragile and sweet… at least in the early years of her character’s existence.

Phillip and Beth meet, after Beth is hospitalized after Bradley threw her down the stairs.
Rapey stepfather!
Kiddo again, at 9:36. Yuck! At 11:00, he’s abusive to Beth’s mom, Lillian, and at 12:30, he hits Beth.
He says that damnable word, “kiddo”, at 9:59. Looks like a mean motherfucker, too. Incidentally, he was a motherfucker, since he fucked Beth’s mother. Most men are motherfuckers, aren’t they?

Ever since the 80s, the word “kiddo” has made me cringe. I feel the same way about the cutesy term, “doggo”. Ick. One time I mentioned hating that word, “kiddo”, and someone decided to correct my opinions about that, too. Why can’t people just let someone express a thought or an opinion without trying to correct it somehow? It’s just an opinion. If everyone agreed, the world would be a very boring place. I won’t be writing any letters demanding that the word “kiddo” is struck from the everyday American lexicon. I just hate hearing it because it makes me think of Bradley Raines.

But really, I mostly think I just dislike cliches. I am more impressed with people who come up with fresh ways to say things. I think the people who made the beef ads were very good at their job… but they were too good, if you know what I mean. Because people are still parroting that annoying cliche many years later, reminding me of dead cow flesh and Aaron Copland. I used to like Aaron Copland’s masterpiece, but now I feel the same way about it as I do the “it’s what’s for dinner” slogan. If I never hear it again, I’ll be pretty happy. 😉

A classic George Carlin routine on cliches… and how fucking annoying they are.

Ah well… I think I will be a lot less cranky when I can no longer say “I ain’t been nowhere.” I think Bill and I both need to get away and unplug for awhile. I don’t know where we’ll go. Europe is opening up… but, like I said, one never knows what will happen in the wonderful world of military contracting. Bill has been working very hard and needs a rest, though. So hopefully we’ll get a temporary one very soon… and even if it’s not outside of Germany, that will be fine. I would be happy just to have a new hill to photograph and a rainfall shower in a stall that I won’t have to clean. Plus, Noyzi needs to meet the dog sitter.

I ain’t been nowhere in way too long… today, my big plans involve going to the backyard and enjoying the sun while drinking myself into a stupor. Bill plans to barbecue chicken… not beef. Because at our house, beef is what’s NOT for dinner… although wine probably will be. Not that anyone cares. If you don’t care, I don’t want to hear about it… or be corrected… and I don’t want to know “what’s for dinner”.

book reviews

A review of Not That Man Anymore: A Message From Michael

Throughout most of the 1980s, I was a big fan of the now defunct soap opera, Guiding Light. My mom and my sisters watched the show, which always aired at 3:00pm in our time zone, just in time for me to get home from school. Although my time after school was always taken up with horseback riding when I was a teenager, I still watched Guiding Light, often taping the episodes on our VCR. During my high school years, the villain “Roger Thorpe” was especially popular. Roger Thorpe was played by the late actor, Michael Zaslow.

Michael Zaslow died aged 56 on December 6, 1998. He had suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) for some time before his passing. ALS, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a motor neuron disease that causes a progressive decline in a person’s ability to move, speak, or even breathe. Zaslow, who also performed on Broadway and in the movies, was fired from Guiding Light as his illness progressed. However, he was allowed to keep acting on Search for Tomorrow, since the writers of that show created a storyline that included Zaslow’s real life condition.

Didi Conn starred in the film, You Light Up My Life. Michael Zaslow was also in this film.

Although Zaslow has been dead for over twenty years, I was reminded of him recently when I watched a clip from the 1977 film, You Light Up My Life. I was reminded of that film in January of 2019, when Shirley Boone, mother of Debby Boone, died. Debby Boone, of course, made the song “You Light Up My Life” a huge hit, but her version was not used in the movie of the same name, in which Zaslow starred. The film version of that song was sung by the late Kasey Cisyk, who also died tragically young. As I was writing about Shirley Boone on my old blog, I was reminded of that old movie. I saw the younger version of Zaslow on it and decided I would finally read his story.

Not That Man Anymore: A Message From Michael is a book Zaslow and his second wife, the late Susan Hufford, wrote together. It was published in 2005, just a year before Hufford herself died of cancer. Hufford was an actress, novelist, and a psychotherapist; she and Zaslow were married on June 7, 1975, and they raised two adopted Korean daughters, Helena and Marika. Sadly, Helena died on December 28, 2004 at age 19, just days after finishing her first semester at Wellesley College.

When I decided to purchase and read Not That Man Anymore, I did not realize that anyone in Zaslow’s family had died besides him. I did remember when he died and the circumstances of his death, since it was reported in People magazine and, in those days, I read People all the time. I was sad, since I knew that ALS is not an easy way to go, and I had remembered Zaslow on Guiding Light. Still, it took Shirley Boone’s passing to get me to buy and read the book, which to my knowledge, is only available in print, rather than a digital download. It’s also not cheap to acquire at $19.95. Fortunately, I thought the money was well-spent, as this was a beautifully written book.

In 1994, Michael Zaslow won a Daytime Emmy for his character, Roger Thorpe. This was also the year he was fired because of his ALS, although he was not officially diagnosed with the disease until 1997.

I just finished reading this morning. I’m glad I read the book, since I had no idea how accomplished and talented Mr. Zaslow was. Not only was he an award winning actor, he was also a musician who sang and played piano. He was on Star Trek, a show I never followed, but that captured the hearts of many of my friends of Generation X. The book is well-written and poignant, as Hufford and Zaslow explain the heartbreak of what ALS does to its victims. Zaslow was full of life and spunk, and he tried very hard to keep fighting as the illness inexorably took over his faculties. Zaslow and Hufford were devoted to their daughters, trying hard to shield them from the realities of the disease and keep life as normal as possible for them.

Not That Man Anymore is movingly written, but it also conveys the frustration people who are facing life threatening illnesses must contend with as they navigate the United States healthcare system. In one heartbreaking chapter, Zaslow is confronted by a physician who adamantly tells him he must accept that he has ALS, and stop trying to find a healthcare provider who will tell him otherwise. As Zaslow had been traveling around the country seeking other opinions, he was delaying his access to the right care, although tragically, ALS is pretty much a death sentence. But then, we all must die of something. It’s just that most of us live beyond the age of 56.

Zaslow played Roger Thorpe from 1971 until 1994, with a few hiatuses throughout the series. Guiding Light, which started on radio in 1937, was permanently cancelled in 2009. I remember that we arrived back in the United States just in time for me to be able to see the tail end of the final episode. It was the end of an era, but it was pretty much time for the show to end. It had become unwatchable as budgets were slashed and the best actors left the show. Zaslow worked with actress Sherry Stringfield, who went on to achieve fame on ER. She came to Guiding Light just out of college and was one of several actresses who played Roger’s daughter, Blake. In his book, Not That Man Anymore, Zaslow and Hufford write about what a good friend Stringfield was to them. Indeed, after Zaslow, Hufford, and their daughter, Helena, had died, Stringfield was there for their surviving daughter, Marika, who got married without them. Marika, like me, also studied social work, although she attended New York University.

I’m not sure who else remembers Zaslow and wants to read his story, but for the few who are reading this blog, I will recommend this book about his and his wife’s experiences with ALS. It really offers an interesting glimpse into the life of an actor struck by a disease that probably doesn’t get enough attention. It’s definitely a must read for Guiding Light fans. My only quibble about this book is that it contains a photo section with extremely small print. My aging eyes can no longer read small print as well as they once did. I guess it’s time for bifocals.

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