book reviews, celebrities, family

Repost: There Was A Little Girl, by Brooke Shields… 

In the interest of augmenting today’s fresh content about Mother’s Day, here’s a repost of a book review I wrote in December 2014 about Brooke Shields’ famously complex relationship with her mom, Teri.

This morning, I finished Brooke Shields’ latest book, There Was A Little Girl: The Real Story of My Mother and Me.  Having grown up when I did, I well remember Brooke’s movies and her famously enmeshed relationship with her mother, Teri.  All I remembered about Teri Shields, who died at age 79 on Halloween in 2012, was that she was often called a notorious stage mom.  She raised Brooke as a single woman, since her marriage to Frank Shields didn’t last, and she was very involved in Brooke’s acting and modeling career.

Though she was well-known for being controlling and domineering, Teri Shields had a fun and flamboyant side to her, which Brooke Shields writes a lot about.  She also writes of her mother’s love of booze and how her mother’s drinking affected her as she came of age.  In her reflective memoir, Brooke reveals how co-dependent growing up with her mother made her.  As a young girl, Brooke declared to her mother, “If you die; I will die.”  She grew up thinking her mother was always right.

I was happy to read that Brooke enjoyed a good relationship with her father, his wife Didi, and her step and half siblings.  Her upbringing was mostly in New York, Newark, and New Jersey, but she was also exposed to her father’s wealthier side of the family in the Hamptons.  Brooke’s father, Frank Shields, would never watch Brooke’s films, but he did enjoy her show, Suddenly Susan, a sitcom I never got into but am now somewhat curious about.  And he no doubt remembers her infamous Calvin Klein ads, too.

Brooke actually discusses this ad in her book…  apparently it helped her in a science class.
And of course, this ad is very famous…

Some years ago, I read and reviewed Brooke’s book Down Came the Rain, which was about her experiences with postpartum depression.  She does touch a bit on that in There Was A Little Girl, since she outlines what it was like having her two daughters, Rowan and Grier.  She writes a little about being married to Andre Agassi and her current husband, Chris Henchy.  But really, this book is all about Brooke and her mom and their very complicated relationship.

I related a bit to Brooke’s story, since I also grew up with an alcoholic.  My parents were not divorced, but my mother was very co-dependent and put up with abuse because she either didn’t want to be raising her kids alone or didn’t think she’d be able to.  I also know she loved my dad very much, even though he could be infuriating and insufferable at times.  I get the sense that Brooke Shields also loved her mother very much and she even spells out how she felt like she wouldn’t be able to live without her.  And yet, she spent a lot of her youth taking care of her mother, even to the point of giving her a livelihood.  There is some bitterness that comes out in Brooke’s writing that indicates that it wasn’t easy to be Teri’s daughter.

I do think There Was A Little Girl probably could have been edited a bit.  It seemed to take forever to finish this book, despite several concentrated sessions.  On the other hand, I liked that Brooke seemed to come across as so normal and human.  Here she is, this famous, beautiful, wealthy woman who seems like she could be a next door neighbor.  And yet, she’s been in many movies, including The Blue Lagoon and Pretty Baby, movies that were controversial because of her age when she did them and the amount of nudity in them (she used body doubles).  There is a photo section at the end of the book that really show how much Brooke looks like her mother.

 I see on that There Was A Little Girl gets mixed reviews.  Some people seemed to love it, while others are quick to pan it.  I thought it was a decent effort and would probably give it about 3.5 stars.  I think I would have given it four stars if it hadn’t rambled on so much. 

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Reach out… reach out and jerk me off!

Years ago, the late comedian George Carlin had a funny routine about what he called “courtesy shit”. It was on his hilarious album, What Am I Doing in New Jersey. Man, I used to listen to that cassette tape over and over again. I could probably recite it from memory. Of course, the cassette came from the HBO special, which aired in 1988. It’s even better to watch Carlin than listen to him.

As the social isolation shit goes on, I find myself even less tolerant of stupidity. Just now, for instance, some guy named Mark Moses tried to message me. I got a notification on my cell phone, which sits to my right. The notification read, “Mark Moses would like to connect with you.” I sometimes get PMs from people I don’t know because of my wine group. I go to see what ‘ol Mark wants, and it says “Hi.” What the fuck is that? I don’t know you, Mark, and now is not the time to reach out and touch someone. I deleted his message and blocked him.

This was the second message I got today. The first one came from an old college friend of mine. She forwarded a viral “warning” about someone named Andrea Wilson. The warning was obviously not something she wrote herself. I was immediately suspicious that it was a hoax. So I looked it up, and sure enough, it’s bullshit. Andrea Wilson shared an article written by a tech guru who referred to it as an “irritating” scam. I was thinking about my old college friend, who clearly had sent this thing to everyone on her Facebook friends list… and I wondered why she didn’t know better. Then I deleted the message.

I wonder if people are really so bored that they need to reach out to people they don’t know… Mark Moses– why did you message me? Is it because you think I’m “cute”? Is it because you think you can scam me out of money? Do you want to pass along some fucking viruses to me? Are you being congenial? Are you reaching out? Well, as Carlin once said… “Reach out and jerk me off.”

Awww… back when phones were the only way people could annoy you from afar.

I’m sitting here listening to this classic special. It’s hilarious. I miss George Carlin so much. Can you even imagine what he’d have to say about Donald Trump? What about the coronavirus? But I’m so glad we still have these classic recordings to remind us of his wisdom and genius. And What Am I Doing in New Jersey is definitely one of my favorites by him. Just listening to it this morning puts a smile on my face, even as we face another day of social isolation. Except not everyone wants to isolate… they still reach out and touch you from the Internet.

More people should swear, too…

This is why I don’t drive much…

Fuck you and your ticket too! 9:09… “well, reach out and jerk me off!”

I think Carlin’s bit on driving is my favorite of everything he’s done. And he did a lot of great stuff! I’m feeling a bit like Carlin today as I read post after post about what we should be doing right now. Lots of people are “reaching out”… opining about whether or not we should be wearing face masks. Personally, I think it’s better to just stay home and wash your hands than wear a homemade mask. They aren’t equipped to stop the virus from coming and going and, unless you’re wearing something to keep it out of your eyes and other mucous membranes, the most you’ll do is look like you care.

Some folks will think the mask is more helpful than it is, and they won’t take precautions they otherwise would if they weren’t covering their faces. They also trap moisture, which can serve as a breeding ground for germs, especially when people reuse their masks without cleaning them. The best thing to do, in my view, is simply stay away from other people and practice scrupulous hygiene. This isn’t to say I don’t think using PPE is a good idea. I am just not sold on the homemade face masks. The weave on them isn’t tight enough to block microbes.

Of course, I did think it was funny that Trump told everyone that the Centers for Disease Control is now recommending wearing masks. But Trump is not going to be wearing a mask himself, because he thinks it doesn’t look good. Trump, who could get the best PPE available, says:

“Wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens — I don’t know,” he added, though he stopped receiving foreign dignitaries weeks ago. “Somehow, I just don’t see it for myself.”

Naw… Trump just doesn’t want to cover his sewer and spare the rest of us from having to listen to him flapping his gums and spewing from his big pie hole. He’s just like one of the “self-important twits” Carlin spoke of in his routine. I do think that Trump probably should cover his mouth, not just because it would muffle his ridiculous drivel, but also because as a leader, it’s important for him to set a good example for others. If the CDC is recommending that people wear masks, the leader should be the first one to follow that recommendation. But Trump is so grandiosely narcissistic that he doesn’t think rules apply to him. I truly hope he pays the ultimate price for his incredible arrogance.

Anyway, it’s lunchtime, and we have beautiful weather. I’ve already walked Arran, and I’m hungry. So I’m going to sign off for now… Have a lovely coronavirus free Monday.


Old school…

I had kind of a rough night last night, which involved getting up repeatedly thanks to a certain monthly nuisance. I woke up cranky and kind of mentally fuzzy, since I didn’t get the best quality of sleep. Sometimes I have topics on the brain as soon as I get up. This morning, I didn’t really… even though I finally resubscribed to Hulu and watched the most recent episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale.

So I did what I always do when I don’t have a topic to write about. I went to YouTube and promptly found this episode of The Price is Right from 1981. I was eight years old when this episode aired, on April 22, 1981. I remember watching The Price is Right was a special treat, since it aired at 11:00am on weekdays and I was always in school at that time. The Price is Right is probably my favorite game show of all time. I think it appealed to me because there were so many different games. I had a short attention span when I was a child, so that format and the variety that came with it was very attractive to me. That, and I enjoyed the corny music. On this episode, they even used the Family Feud theme song for one of the prizes, a really tacky, tricked out van.

Bob Barker was hosting the show in 1981. At that time, he’d been on The Price is Right for 8.5 years. He would continue to host for another 26 years before handing over the show to Drew Carey. I’ve seen Drew’s version of The Price is Right and I think he does a good job. I also like that they stopped only offering American products. In Barker’s day, one could only win American cars by Chevy, Ford, Pontiac, or Oldsmobile. But you can win a Mini Cooper on Drew Carey’s version. Since I have a Mini, I like that they can now be won on TPIR. They’ve also updated the models and the music. I’m kind of sorry they updated the music. I loved that they kept the same groove for so many years during Barker’s reign.

I’ve heard lots of stories about how Barker was on the show. Supposedly, he sexually harassed his models. But, as a host, he was the consummate professional. He knew the big wheel so well that he almost always could tell where the spin would land. I’m sure that was frustrating for the contestants, as Barker would announce the score and get it right 95% of the time, even before the wheel stopped spinning. He handled people so well; always thinking of something to say and saying it in a friendly way, even when people did dumb things. In the 80s, Johnny Olsen was the announcer before he died.

I think what I enjoyed most about this episode were the ads, which the uploader kindly included. I remember a lot of those ads, because back in the those days, I was addicted to TV. During this particular broadcast, they even had a “test” from the Emergency Broadcast System. Back in the day, networks would periodically have these tests to train people to know where to get information in the event of an emergency. Nowadays, we have so many ways to get informed, but back in the old days, TV and radio were where it was at. The EBS system was replaced by the Emergency Alert System in 1997. I love the cheesy ads they had, too… some of which were for products that no longer exist or will probably be defunct very soon (Sear’s fashions, anyone?) and pitched by long dead people like Tom Bosley, who used to sell Glad trash bags.

One person commented on the video that his grandmother was Keely, who won the first prize. Keely was quite a looker in 1981. I know that was 38 years ago, but it doesn’t seem so long ago to me. I remember that time well, even though so much time has passed.

The Price is Right also reminds me of Granny’s house. I don’t really know why, since it was rare for me to get to visit her at a time when that show would be airing and I would be able to see it. There was something about the music, the cheesy prizes, and madcap games that reminded me of being at her house, having fun with my cousins when we weren’t fighting amongst ourselves. I’ve been thinking a lot about those times lately, especially as my Uncle Brownlee is entering his last days. Granny’s house, after all, is now his house. For awhile, my dad was even buried there. My mom eventually had him moved to the family church cemetery, since she probably realized that this would eventually happen and the property might no longer be in the family’s hands. My Uncle Brownlee, by the way, made the wooden box my dad’s ashes were buried in.

I’ve always been a nostalgic person. I love watching old TV, listening to old school radio and music, and looking up old news or old people I used to know. About the only old school stuff I don’t enjoy is some of the clothes… especially 70s era clothes. Actually, I’d probably toss in 90s era clothes, too. But give me an article about disgusting casseroles from the 70s, embarrassing toys or snacks from the 80s, or misleading ads from those days (Wonder Bread and Hostess Cupcakes are “wholesome and healthy”? I don’t think so.) and I am happy as a clam in high water.

Well… I’m feeling slightly more awake now. We tried to get rid of a futon and grill today. The futon was picked up by the trash people, but they left the grill. Bill is going to be annoyed about that (ETA: the grill was picked up later). I’m going to finish the laundry and maybe take a nap, if my body doesn’t keep waking up to go to the bathroom. If not, maybe I’ll read some old school porn or something.