blog news, condescending twatbags, music, true crime

It’s the last Friday of 2022… so how about a few thoughts on the year?

I wasn’t going to share the featured photo, until I realized that it was dated December 24, 2021, which was a week before Betty White died… Eerie! I’d say that kind of sums up a lot of 2022.

Wow… here we are again at Friday! And it’s the very last Friday of 2022, too. Every year, I’m left amazed anew, when I realize how quickly time passes. The older I get, the faster it seems to go. As I’m sitting here thinking about what I would like to write about today, I decided to look at what I wrote about last year. I see that on December 30, 2021, I wrote one of my most popular blog posts– one I wrote about a 2008 French documentary titled America’s Broken Dream. For some reason, a lot of people have hit that post since I wrote it a year ago. I’ve even gotten some comments from people who aren’t regular readers. A couple of people also asked me to update the post with new information, which I haven’t really done.

I don’t really have any insider information about the documentary, or the people who were featured in it, including Amber and Daniel Carter, a young couple with two small children who seemed to be climbing out of poverty when Daniel got arrested for killing his neighbor. When I wrote that post, I was just inspired by my immediate thoughts, after randomly stumbling on the documentary while messing around on YouTube. A lot of people are still intrigued by America’s Broken Dream, but I’ve pretty much moved on, for now. I will keep allowing comments until the comments close automatically, but I don’t have anything to add at this point. Maybe sometime in the future, I’ll be compelled to read more about Amber and Daniel Carter, and find out more about what became of them. They definitely have a story, and people are very interested. But, as I’ve unfortunately discovered, sometimes writing about true crime can lead to unpleasant interactions with people. I’d like to minimize those, if I can.

In August of this year, I decided to disable the Facebook page I used to run for this blog. I had been wanting to do it for awhile, but held off because I knew some readers used it to follow me. It also provided a way for people to contact me privately. I had some concerns about the page, though, because it was so public and difficult to monitor. I thought about circumventing that problem by converting the page into a group, but decided I didn’t want to do that, either. I already run two Facebook groups and I’ve mostly found the experience to be rather thankless and unsatisfying. If I’m honest, I think I’d like to discontinue my wine group, because half the time, it leads to drama and negative interactions with strangers who don’t appreciate what I do. The page was less work to administrate, but it was also a lot less secure. I knew the former tenant from our last home was watching it clandestinely, as a way of monitoring my activities. I don’t worry about her anymore, as the issue that prompted her to surveil me is now resolved… and also, I discovered that, for some reason, she decided to end her life.

So the former tenant stopped being an issue of concern… but then in August, I got a very irate private message from a family member of a true crime victim I had originally written about in 2014. The post was based on newspaper articles from several papers, and comments from a family member who messaged me when I originally wrote about it, in 2014. The irate correspondent apparently saw the repost and didn’t notice the original date of the article, which had been up for YEARS, and actually got little traffic. This person decided to send me a nastygram through the Facebook page, complete with legal threats. For the record, I was not at all worried about her threats. I use Statcounter, which allows me to see how long someone spends on my blog. I could see (and I documented) that she spent about two minutes, missed a lot of details, and was apparently unaware of a number of logistical issues that would have made her legal threats pretty hard to carry out. And if she was really that upset about the content of that post, she would have noticed and contacted me much sooner than eight years after I wrote it.

Nevertheless, even though I was pretty pissed off by her message and did not have to comply with her demands, I decided that the blog post she was upset about wasn’t that important, as no one but her and her associates were even reading it. So I’ve made it private, for now. I also blocked her on Facebook. Then I dismantled the Facebook page for this blog, because I’m not here to take abuse from random people who are upset by my opinions and just want to privately send me offensive comments. My mental health matters too, people. I am a real person, and I deserve to be addressed with basic respect, like anyone does. I will happily hear complaints from people, but I expect to be approached with civility. Those who can’t do that are not welcome here, and will be banned.

Recently, I revisited the post I wrote about that incident. It occurred to me that the poster must have also tried to find the now defunct “contact form page”, which I also disabled for similar reasons. I only got one or two rude responses on that page, but I found that the contact page was problematic because people were leaving comments on posts without identifying them. There were times when I literally didn’t know what they writing about. If they had simply responded to the post in question, it would have been more useful to everyone.

The irate woman who wrote to me a few months ago had hastily identified which post had gotten her so rattled (after eight years of it being online… REALLY?). She must have been looking for the contact form, found my explanatory post about why I no longer have one, and found the Facebook page instead. Well, she can take a bow, because her abusive rant caused me to permanently ax the Facebook page, too. I can’t say I miss it, or the weird messages it used to attract from everyone from unhinged anti-vaxxers to obnoxious Trump supporters. I would always see them right after I woke up, which is not a pleasant way to start the day. Now, if you want to address something I’ve written, you can do it publicly, so everyone can see your comments and share in the response.

Like I said, I’m not here to take abuse from random people. I have a right to express my opinions, as long as they aren’t defamatory, malicious, or deliberately presenting false information as the truth. And this is my space– which I pay for– so I will run it the way I wish. I think of my blog space in the same way most of you would govern your own homes. You wouldn’t put up with abuse from a guest in your home. I don’t put up with it on my blog. This person also wrote, with evident disgust, that I just do this “for the money”, which really made me laugh. I don’t make money from doing this. I have made some ad revenue, but it’s not even enough to pay for the subscription to WordPress. So, if anyone ever does want to try to sue me to get some of the “big bucks” I supposedly make from sharing my opinions, they’re gonna be disappointed on MANY levels. Below is what I’ve made on WordPress so far… since I started hosting ads in July 2021.

And on the less visited travel blog, where I’ve hosted ads from the beginning (July 2019), I’ve made a whopping $7.25. It takes $100 to cash out, so I might make money there after I’m dead.

True crime posts do generate a lot of interest, though. I find crime interesting to write about, as they usually involve ordinary people who do extraordinary things. When I use the word “extraordinary”, I mean “out of the ordinary” or “unusual”. I’m not using that word in the normally positive way. Sometimes, I notice people repeatedly hitting posts I’ve written about, and it’s a little creepy. Lately, I’ve noticed my posts about Frederick West Greene are getting a lot of hits. I’m glad I don’t live in the United States– for many reasons, really, but especially because it creeps me out that he’s no longer in prison (as far as I know).

My post about Betty White and misattributing quotes to her was also a big winner this year. I had written about her in late December 2021, not knowing that she would die on New Year’s Eve. A few days later, I wrote a post about how people were “honoring” her by sharing a funny comment that she never made. That post consistently gets hits and the odd share, although no one has commented on it yet. I think it’s one of my better ones, even though I’ve gotten some shit from people for having issues with misattributed quotes, too. One guy got so angry about a post I wrote that he blocked me on Facebook and complained to all his friends, who later hit the post repeatedly and generated some AdShare pennies. Thanks, guys.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a blogger, it’s that people aren’t always going to like what you do. But if all I ever did was write things about hearts and flowers, this blog would be very boring, both for me as a writer, and for you as a reader. Besides, that’s just really not me. I’m not a hearts and flowers kind of person. I think if I were that kind of person, I would probably be a lot more miserable than I actually am. Because it wouldn’t be natural for me to be so cheery and positive. It’s not in my DNA. Seriously… read some of my posts, and you know I come from a long line of the miserable… but talented. We’ve got lots of funny, talented, artistic people in my family. Lots of attractive people, too. Too bad I didn’t get the gene for being thin and athletic. SIGH.

2022 has been interesting. I would say it hasn’t been as bad as last year. At least most of the stupid pandemic restrictions went away, although I haven’t been traveling more or even going out much, hence my low earnings on the travel blog. That’s mostly because of our dog, Arran, who has cancer and will likely be leaving us sometime in the new year. I am trying to prepare for his exit, because I know it will hurt. But I also know that once he’s gone, there will be new opportunities… for travel, for making new human friends (which often happens when one adopts a pet), for new canine teachers, and for new overall wisdom. Death is just something that simply happens to everyone, at some point. It hurts, but it’s a necessary part of life. Arran has taught us a lot, and continues to teach us everyday. I think one of the best lessons I’ve learned from him was reiterated yesterday, when Bill came home from work. You can see, he taught Noyzi, too… And I think he’ll tell us when he’s done teaching and ready to move on to the next place in the universe.

Arran reminds us that it’s important to appreciate and welcome those we love back to the pack when they come home…

Well, it’s probably time I finished this post and got on with the day. Got to practice guitar, walk the dogs, and work on reading my next book, so I can review it for the interested. Maybe I’ll even record another song. An old high school friend heard a Pat Benatar cover I did the other day… a B.B. King from her one “blues” album, True Love, which she released in 1991. It hasn’t gotten many hits yet, but she said I have a knack for the blues. I believe her, because she was originally a music major at my alma mater before she transferred out and became a therapist. She’s right. I do have a knack for singing the blues… both literally, and in this blog. So I guess 2023 will bring more of the same. I hope a few of you will stay tuned for that. Maybe I’ll make more big bucks from blogging in 2023.

ETA: I forgot to mention, just a couple of weeks ago, I got the most hits I’ve ever gotten in one day when someone on Reddit shared a true crime post I wrote in November 2020 about Jessica Wiseman. It wasn’t even a particularly newsy post, but I probably made $5 because about four thousand people hit it in one day. I grew up near where Wiseman and her boyfriend murdered her parents. She was a juvenile, so she only spent a few years in juvenile hall. Her boyfriend, who was older, but apparently the less guilty of the pair, wound up being executed. I remembered the case and wrote about it, and it got noticed… which is especially notable to me, because it’s definitely not my best work. 😉

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book reviews, celebrities, music

Repost: Pat Benatar’s life story… no, she’s NOT a bore!

Here’s another reposted Epinions book review from December 2013. It appears as/is!

Ever since I was a little knothead in Virginia I have admired rock star Pat Benatar.  In fact, the very first record I ever purchased with my own money was a copy of Crimes of Passion (1980).  I remember struggling to save up about $8, walking down the busy highway next to my house to Murphy’s Mart, and handing over the crumpled bills for that album, which I then proceeded to play over and over again for years.  Thinking back on it, times were very different in the early 80s.  Anyway, I have always liked Pat Benatar’s music, so I decided to download her 2010 book Between a Heart and a Rock Place: A Memoir.  Pat Benatar wisely wrote this book with ghost writer Patsi Bale Cox. 

Benatar starts at the beginning, writing about her upbringing in New York, a tiny girl of Polish and Irish extraction among exotice Italian girls in Lindenhurst, Long Island.  Early on, she had an interest in music and thanks to dedicated music teachers in her school system, got classical training early.  She had a German voice teacher who taught her how to use her voice properly and had her singing like Julie Andrews.  But she wanted to rock and roll. 

Originally, Pat Benatar wanted to teach sex ed.  But teaching sex ed was not her destiny.  She dropped out of college after a semester and married her high school sweetheart, Dennis Benatar, who had joined the Army.  They moved to South Carolina and Virginia, two states near and dear to my heart.  Pat took up a brief career as a bank teller and was actually pretty good at the work.  But again, she wanted to rock and roll.  A singing waitress job in Richmond got her started and before long, she moved back to New York City and began singing at Catch a Rising Star, a club for up and coming singers.  She was soon on her way to rock and roll.

It wasn’t long before someone in the music business noticed Pat’s powerhouse pipes and she soon found herself with a band.  She met her husband, Neil Giraldo, when he came to audition for her band.  Benatar explains that she was immediately attracted to her guitar playing husband, a man she nicknamed Spyder.  She and Benatar divorced and pretty soon, one of the first ladies of rock was on her way to stardom.  She eventually married Giraldo in 1982.  They are still married and have two daughters, Haley and Hana. 

Pat Benatar and her husband, Neil Giraldo, are still rockin’.

My thoughts

I really enjoyed reading Pat Benatar’s story.  Looking on Amazon.com, I see a lot of folks criticized this book for being “boring”.  That’s funny, because I didn’t find it boring at all.  Benatar does write a lot about the music business, particularly her dealings with Chrysalis Records, the label who issued her first releases.  I was especially interested in what she wrote about the label’s co-founder, Terry Ellis.  I had read about him in Ray Coleman’s The Carpenters: The Untold Story: An Authorized Biography.  Terry Ellis had dated Karen Carpenter and Coleman had dished quite a bit about their relationship.  He’d made the British record producer sound like he was charming and fun, which was part of the reason he and Karen didn’t work out (Karen was more of a homebody, while Ellis liked to go out on the town).  Pat Benatar’s thoughts about Ellis were not complimentary at all.  Their relationship was all about business and apparently, Ellis was very sexist and apparently told Pa that no one came to a Pat Benatar concert to hear her sing… (REALLY???)

Apparently, the contract Benatar had with Chrysalis was brutal.  The record company demanded albums in quick succession, whether the band was ready to record or not.  Pat Benatar and her band worked very hard in the 1980s and apparently were treated like indentured servants by Chrysalis.  When Pat got pregnant, she had to deal with a lot of flak from the record company.  The powers that be wanted her to project a sexy vixen-like image, while she felt that wasn’t who she really was.  It really gives readers a look at the downside of being a rock star.

Aside from her dealings with Chrysalis, Pat Benatar writes a lot about her love for her family, especially her husband and daughters.  She writes about how she and Giraldo discovered Hana, Hawaii, a beautiful, off the beaten path town in Maui.  The two were married there and later built a home there, where they were neighbors with Kris Kristofferson. 

I am myself a singer, so I also appreciated Benatar’s commentary on singing.  I learned something I never knew when Benatar wrote about her first pregnancy.  Apparently, pregnancy makes your long muscles relax.  Since vocal chords are “long muscles” according to Pat, she found that when she was pregnant, she was able to do things vocally that she never could do before.  That almost makes me want to go out and get pregnant, just so I can find out for myself.  Unfortunately, at age 41, I’m afraid that ship might have sailed.

This book includes color photos, which I appreciated.  There’s one shot of her two daughters, nine years apart in age.  They look like they could be twins.  By the way, I loved reading about Pat Benatar’s devotion as a wife and a mother.  She comes across as very family oriented and grounded.  I also loved that she wrote that while she is a very political person, she doesn’t use her status as a rock star to promote her political views.  I think that’s a smart policy and I appreciate it.

Overall

I like Pat Benatar’s music and I think I would like her as a person, too.  I understand that some readers might have picked up this book hoping for juicy stories about celebrities or crazy stories about sex, drugs, and rock and roll.  Between a Heart and a Rock Place is not that kind of book; which, in my view, makes it refreshing.  Pat Benatar is a hard working woman who has taken good care of herself.  So she didn’t do drugs, smoke, drink, or screw her way to the top…  that doesn’t make her boring, folks.  It makes her smart.

I recommend this book, but only if you want to read about someone who is a worthy role model for young women.  Don’t read it looking for cheap gossip.

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

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