“The Challenge Of The 50s — Years Of Crisis”

Doing some research for doll articles, I ran into this bit from the December 18, 1950 issue of Broadcasting Telecasting about a one hour, Chevrolet sponsored, CBS radio & TV program in which radio reporters from “all over the world” would discuss and present the issues.


The program was The Challenge Of The 50s — Years Of Crises, headed by Edward R. Murrow. The other 10 reporters were Howard K. Smith, Bill Costello, David Schoenrun, Richard C. Hottelet, Winston Burdette, Ned Calmer, Eric Sevareid, Charles Collingwood, and Larry Lesueur. (With names like that, one questions the accuracy of “reporters from all over the world.” Rather than imply international reporters, it should have been stated that the show was with “reporters stationed all over the world.”) These reporters would become known as Murrow’s Boys and the show would go on to be an annual program, best know as Years of Crisis.

For those of you who prefer to think of the 1950s as an idyllic time, one to romance over, there were issues and crises. In fact, one of them was regarding journalism itself, as the film Good Night, and Good Luck covered. This topic is illustrated clearly, if meekly, in the very same issue of Broadcasting Telecasting with mentions of Drew Pearson‘s being attacked by McCarthy and discussions of media censorship. You can click to read larger versions of the articles as needed.



Prison Rape Isn’t Entertaining

The Kinsey Institute reminds us that while Orange Is the New Black (OITNB) may be entertaining, it downplays a major issue that occurs not only in female correctional facilities, but in male correctional facilities as well: sexual coercion.

Although research studies vary, rates of sexual victimization in prison may be as high as 41% of prison inmates.

This is why there’s the Prison Rape Elimination Act (Sexual Violence in Correctional Facilities). However, 11 years later, governors won’t comply with the Federal standards meant to prevent sexual assault in prisons; you can sign this petition to move them to do the right thing.


“If I Had A Voice I Would Sing” (Along With The Theme To Vikings on History)

If you are a fan of Vikings on the History Channel, then you’ve probably fallen in love with the tv show’s theme song.

The song’s official title is If I Had A Heart and it is by Fever Ray.

You know how sometimes theme songs are changed, edited, or cut so short that the TV version is nearly unrecognizable? Well, that’s not the case this time. While If I Had A Heart is much longer, it is only more enchanting, even more moving than the few seconds we get with the television show’s credits, — especially when you can make out the lyrics.

This will never end
‘Cause I want more
More, give me more
Give me more

This will never end
‘Cause I want more
More, give me more
Give me more

If I had a heart I could love you
If I had a voice I would sing
After the night when I wake up
I’ll see what tomorrow brings

If I had a voice, I would sing

Dangling feet from window frame
Will I ever ever reach the floor?
More, give me more, give me more

Crushed and filled with all I found
Underneath and inside
Just to come around
More, give me more, give me more

If I had a voice, I would sing

I don’t want to further blow your mind, but you should also watch the official If I Had A Heart video. It’s not really about Vikings either — but it is stunning.

Once I watched the videos (a number of times), I purchased the If I Had A Heart MP3. Then I watched the video for Seven, and I quickly realized it was more economically prudent to buy the Fever Ray (Deluxe Version) LP than to fiddle away buying single MP3s by Fever Ray. I”m loving it! Let’s see if Seven sells you on Fever Ray to:


The Classics: Music & Humor

When Alyssa Milano was on The Late Late Show last December, she told Craig Ferguson (and all of us watching), that her grandfather said there were two types of people: those who think farts are funny, and those who don’t. Clearly Milano does, because she spent quite a bit of time farting around with Ferguson.

Whether or not Milano’s grandfather was right about there being just those two groups of people in the world, it’s clear that Mozart was a man into fart humor. Yes, that Mozart.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

The proof of poof-amusement comes from (at least) one of 12 letters Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote to his female cousin, Maria Anna Thekla Mozart. These letters, written between 1777 and 1781, are included in Robert Spaethling’s book. And they contain passages which Lapham’s Quarterly calls “alliterative and obscene”. It is in this letter that we find Wolfgang going well-past a love of all things musical into TMI territory. In fact, this might be the first reference to a shart — it’s certainly the earliest I’ve ever read.

You write further, indeed you let it all out, you expose yourself, you let yourself be heard, you give me notice, you declare yourself, you indicate to me, you bring me the news, you announce onto me, you state in broad daylight, you demand, you desire, you wish, you want, you like, you command that I, too, should could send you my portrait. Eh bien, I shall mail fail it for sure. Oui, by the love of my skin, I shit on your nose, so it runs down your chin.I now wish you a good night, shit in your bed with all your might, sleep with peace on your mind, and try to kiss your own behind; I now go off to never-never land and sleep as much as I can stand. Tomorrow we’ll speak freak sensubly with each other. Things I must you tell a lot of, believe it you hardly can, but hear tomorrow it already will you, be well in the meantime. Oh my ass burns like fire! What on earth is the meaning of this!—maybe muck wants to come out? Yes, yes, muck, I know you, see you, taste you—and—what’s this—is it possible? Ye Gods!—Oh ear of mine, are you deceiving me?

Now I must relate to you a sad story that happened just this minute. As I’m in the middle of my best writing, I hear a noise in the street. I stop writing—get up, go to the window— and—the noise is gone—I sit down again, start writing once more—I have barely written ten words when I hear the noise again—I rise—but as I rise, I can still hear something but very faint—it smells like something burning—wherever I go it stinks, when I look out the window, the smell goes away, when I turn my head back to the room, the smell comes back—finally my mama says to me: I bet you let one go?—I don’t think so, Mama. Yes, yes, I’m quite certain. I put it to the test, stick my finger in my ass, then put it to my nose, and—ecce provatum est! Mama was right!

Clearly not all classical musicians are as, errm, stuffy as you might think.

Image via Wikipedia.

Some Of You May Recognize This Song As Hi-Ho Silver Away

In celebration of the new Lone Ranger film (with the usual semi-racist depictions of Tonto, this time played by Johnny Depp), we dug out our copy of The Masked Man by Eddy Bell & the Bel-Aires. Since TheRodge76 already did the work of uploading it to YouTube, my work here is done. (Though now that we are digging through the old vinyl, lord knows what will show up in our online shops and in our spaces at the antique stores; so keep an eye out.)

masked man 45 rpm

The Political Shades Of A Colorpillar

When I grabbed this Romper Room Colorpillar toy, I had vague memories of the Romper Room TV show…

But not enough, apparently. A quick look at the Wiki entry and it turns out this toy is most fitting for this political season.

First, there’s the whole problem with children’s television shows and hosts pitching product during shows. Romper Room was the first target of the newly formed watchdog group Action for Children’s Television who leveraged the power of an threat FCC threat into ceasing “host-selling”.

Then there’s the whole Romper Room abortion scandal.

In 1962, the hostess of the Phoenix franchise of Romper Room linked her own name with that of the ongoing controversies over abortion. Sherri Finkbine, known to television viewers as “Miss Sherri”, sought hospital approval for abortion on the ground that she had been taking thalidomide and believed her child would be born deformed. Finkbine made a public announcement about the dangers of thalidomide, and the hospital refused to allow an abortion, apparently because of her announcement and its own fear of publicity. Finkbine traveled to Sweden for the abortion. Upon completion, it was confirmed that the fetus had no legs and only one arm. The incident became a made-for-TV movie in 1992, A Private Matter, with Sissy Spacek as Finkbine.

I guess this really is an educational toy — if you research it, rather than play with it.

In terms of memories of the show, as I said, they are fuzzy. Not all warm and fuzzy; just not clear. Also according to Wiki:

The hostess would also serve milk and cookies to the children, with prayer offered before eating. The famous Romper Room prayer went “God is great, God is good. Let us thank him for our food. Amen.”

Now that’s the prayer I remember saying. But that’s really odd, because our home was not a praying home. Perhaps this praying business is why I don’t recall much of the show… Perhaps when my folks found out prayer and indoctrination was part of the program, they switched the set off. That is something I will have to ask them.

What’s Wrong With OWN, Why Rosie O’Donnell’s Cancelled, & Why That’s Bad

I once was an Oprah fan. I even went to a taping of her show once with a group of friends, one of whom had a cousin on the staff, so we saw a bit more than perhaps the regular guests do/did. I was then impressed with her not-on-camera persona, chit-chat with coworkers (when I’m certain she didn’t know we could hear her) and her professional and kind decision not to air that actual episode because one of the young girls broke down and became too upset to remain on stage. But my affections for Oprah, as well as some respect, left when I experienced domestic violence and, like other survivors such as Alessia, who has written about this herself, discovered how willfully ignorant Oprah wishes to remain on the real issues of domestic violence.

*heavy sigh*

But I should try not to get off task.

A few days ago, Oprah announced that her television network, OWN, would not be renewing Rosie O’Donnell‘s show. This made me feel sad. I don’t know Rosie, personally, but I’ve always enjoyed her shows. Even if I didn’t watch more than three episodes of this latest TV show of hers (put a pin in this; more on it in a bit), it felt nice knowing Rosie was on the air. But my sadness turned to anger when I heard the comments about Rosie and OWN struggling too. Not just the ones made by the namesake of Trump’s Syndrome; that trash talk is expected. No, I was more offended by statements like, “Oprah fires Rosie: Seems another liberal network is failing. Gotta be racism or bigotry against fat women,or fat lesbo’s or something.” (A screenshot here, just in case said thread disappears; and to document the “supportive” comments in agreement.)

Now, you ask, how can I complain about such attacks when I took a shot at Donald Trump myself? I sure can dish it out, but I can’t take it, right?


The Donald’s hair is something which could be managed, should be managed, but the man apparently loves it as much as the attention it gets him. And while I have poked fun at his appearance (and that of his ill-fated children), I didn’t use that dislike of his physicality to deride the man’s character, his ability to be successful, or devalue him as a person. (I really don’t have to do that; in my opinion, Trump does most of that himself every time he opens his mouth in front of the media — and he pushes his way to microphones a lot.) The man is not his bad hair; his bad hair does not equal his worth in terms of money or his value to society. This is normally how it goes for men. Excluding gay men, of course; they, whether they like it or not, are treated like women because they aren’t considered to be “real men”.

In addition to our labels of female &/or gay (quite often said with sneers if not using out-right slurs), we women, gays, lesbians, trans and bi folk are all judged on appearances. It’s more than just some male-gaze objectification reducing us to sex parts. We are our weight, our hair, our appearance and our non-male status — and those things are the reason why we are failures, things of little worth or value.

Now back to those things we put a pin in, beginning with my “Trump’s Syndrome” comment.

Yes, that statement at GetGlue is proof that I watch Celebrity Apprentice — even as I’ve admitted to not having watched much of Rosie’s. How might I reconcile that, at least to myself? Well this is where we pinned that first point.

While I do tell myself that Celebrity Apprentice is an exercise in studying human nature with the benefits to charity, it’s really a guilty pleasure — one that benefits from being a major network show; I am reminded often to see it while watching other shows on that channel. It’s not just that I’m some mindless sheep “the media” controls, but the fact is there are benefits to being part of a major network’s programming. For example, there are times when I “watch” a show because I’m busy researching or writing and not concerned enough to change the station, times when I just continue watching a channel because I like what comes on next and I don’t want to miss it, etc. These realities are the fundamental problems Rosie had with her show and why the whole OWN network is struggling.

There’s just not enough good programming on OWN. And I’m not the only one saying so. Here’s a screenshot of OWN’s main page with comments such as these:

Posted: Thu 3/22/2012 10:14 PM
Like many others, I am so sorry to see the Rosie Show go. It was almost the only show I watched on OWN. I can’t believe the shows that Oprah has chosen to be on her network. This was supposed to be a channel that would lift us up, but it has shows like unfaithful. It was supposed to be fresh but it has endless reruns of Dr. Phil.
I have loved Oprah tor so long and I wanted her channel to succeed, but I’m so disappointed!
O, where are you?

Posted: Thu 3/22/2012 9:44 PM
I’m a big fan of Oprah, and certainly want OWN to succeed, but there is almost nothing I want to watch on OWN at this time. It seems odd that Oprah, who is all about living your best life, has so many shows on her network about people in prison, people cheating on their spouses, murder, etc. None of that appeals to me. And to be quite honest, the Master Class series puts me to sleep, and Oprah’s new show where she goes and interviews people like Steven Tyler are a yawn as well. I think she needs a break from interviewing. Last year my favorite show was the “Behind the Scenes of the 25th season of the Oprah Show”, and I loved the Shania Twain series and Addicted to Food. Also the special Julia Roberts did where she interviewed interesting women. I attended the O Magazine conference in Atlanta in October and that was fantastic – inspirational and motivating. I know these are two completely different formats, but I don’t feel OWN is delivering the types of programs that appeal to your former viewers and magazine subscribers. Give us some Ali Wentworth, or Maria Shriver doing profiles on interesting women, like her interview in the magazine with the female poet. And mix in some new talent as well – not just your tried and true circle. You can do it, Oprah!

[I had no idea about some of those shows — sorry I missed a few of those. But then, since I’m not watching OWN, how would I know or remember?]

When I first heard Oprah Winfrey was going to start her own network, I may not have been the most excited person on the planet… But I was hopeful that it would have good shows. It’s own good shows. Negative comments on what it does air aside, the network lacks dynamic shows. I don’t mean the faux action and tension of “reality shows,” but good solid shows women want to watch about issues that matter. And Oprah needs to move past who she was in terms of her old show and those coaching shows like Lifeclass and Master Class — it feels more condescending than inspiring. Especially when sprinkled between such other “ick” pandering programming.Frankly, Oprah, your network’s shows run dangerously close to treating your stated target market like their physical and psychological attributes and “female” status — when you’re not feeding us crime shows or reruns of stuff we feel we could see anywhere, anytime. And that’s uber disappointing from a woman. Even if I’m not your number one fan, I want you to succeed, Oprah!

Listen, Oprah, a lot of your audience is older — we’ve been-there-done-that with you already. And younger women? Hell, thanks to you, Ms. Winfrey, they’re past what used to be too. It’s not (just) the Internet and new media that challenges you here for audience attention; it’s the old thinking.

If there’s one thing that the Internet should be teaching everyone in media today, it’s that, like the origins of newspapers, the productions of original thought — even if opinionated and “slanted” but with the integrity to disclose itself as such — gain followers. Why not focus on the one thing a woman’s network should never shy away from: Feminism. I don’t think I have to tell you that I’m not talking about Rush Limbaugh’s idea of feminism; but what’s wrong with taking a stand for the equality of women and giving us intelligent programing rather than approaching us like we all need the tv equivalent of chocolate for our periods? (Lifetime annoyingly already covers that.)

Go get Joy Behar; her show was aces but suffered between mindless HLM fear-mongering-hype drones. (Oh, the agony I endured just to make sure I wouldn’t miss my Behar!)

Give Roseanne Barr another talk show; her’s was one of the best ever but ill-suited to daytime when so many of us worked then. (I still wish I had that Mary Daly interview on VHS — why did I tape over that??!).

And then reinstate Rosie O’Donnell, let her have the show we need from her, and you’ll have a trifecta!

(Dare I dream you get Rachel Maddow and I might give up MSNBC completely in favor of OWN!)

As for what you do with the other hours of the day, well, I’ve got long lists. Have your people contact me. I don’t have people. …Well, I have family, but please don’t leave messages with them. Just email me direct at Deanna.pop.tart@gmail.com and I promise I’ll reply asap.

Jessica Savitch (Part One?)

I watched Almost Golden: The Jessica Savitch Story, starring Sela Ward, tonight. During commercial breaks, I Googled Jessica Savitch. To my surprise — and major disappointment — there’s not really any website devoted to this groundbreaking woman who earned four Emmys, an Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Award, and election to the board of trustees at Ithaca College.

If you start at Wikipedia (and I never trust Wiki completely, so please only let it be a starting place), the entry on the anchorwoman pretty much follows the made for TV movie. The Accuracy Project has basic bio info, but leaves a lot to be desired as it really only presents corrections, and a handful of them at that. And there’s this bio by Abigail Griffith (Spring 2008).

Reading all of those, there are odd discrepancies which mainly center on Donald Rollie Payne, a gynecologist in Washington, DC, who was Savitch’s last husband who committed suicide on August 1, 1981 by hanging himself in the basement of their home. Abigail Griffith says that Payne “committed suicide after becoming aware of a diagnosis of incurable cancer,” while Wiki says he was a “closet homosexual.” I don’t suppose that matters much to most of us, but I’m certain these things mattered to Savitch and possibly say a lot about her (continued) relationship choices.

For something that fills in more gaps, you can try this archived article from People magazine on Savitch’s death.

And in 1988, five years after her death, a Current Affair episode in which Savitch’s family calls Gwenda Blair’s book lies:

(Worth watching for so many reasons — we can discuss in the comments!)

But for my money, the most insightful piece about Jessica I found online was this article written by Maury Z. Levy when Savitch was still a broadcaster in Philadelphia.

Since her death, Jessica Savitch’s been inducted into The Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia’s Hall of Fame, and the Park School of Communications at Ithaca College hosts a Journalism Lecture Series in her honor as well as named an on-campus television studio in her honor. There should be some sort of official website in her honor.

I bet Jessica would have loved the Internet, even if it/we would have had a field day of speculation and fun at her expense with the gaffes (largely exaggerated in the movie and historical footnotes) made on her last broadcast — just 20 days before her death. So someone, give her her due.

How Much To Put On An Authentic Beverly Hillbillies Play?

The Beverly Hillbillies, A Comedy In Three Acts, Based Upon The Television Program “The Beverly Hillbillies” Created By Paul Henning, Adapted by D. D. Brooke, 1968.

This was published by The Dramatic Publishing Company, Chicago — and that’s just who you’d have had to pay if you wanted to put on a performance of the play: $35 for the first amateur performance, $25 for the second, and $20 for each subsequent performance, providing arrangements were made in advance.

As a writer, I love the simple copyright information:

This law provides authors with a fair return for their creative efforts. Authors earn their living from the royalties they receive on the book sale and on the performace of their works. To copy parts or give performances of a royalty play without paying royalties robs the authors of their livelihood.

I’m giving this vintage play away on Listia as a collectible; it does not come with any permission to perform the play. (If you don’t yet know what Listia is, check out my review.)

In Which Gardasil & I *Almost* Make The News (Or, Ethics In Medicine & Media)

Last week I watched The Republican Debate at the Reagan Library. I found myself astounded by the fact that these people with limited intellectual reasoning, if not limited intellectual functioning, were in positions to actually be running for President of the United States of America. I’ve more to say on that subject (expect another post soon), but for now, I’m just going to focus on the one subject in which I found myself even more shocked: the one time when I found myself agreeing with some of the things the potential candidates said.

Faux Vintage Gardasil Ad

The subject was mandatory use of the Gardasil HPV vaccine; something I’ve long considered dangerous — especially as it’s equated with crony capitalism. Now, to be clear, I’m not one of those who thinks that preventing a disease which is linked to sexual behavior is akin to giving young women (or anyone) a Go Out & Screw card; you should know by now I’m not that kind of silly. But I’ve been concerned for a long time about the dangers of Gardasil, a drug pushed through quickly and forced upon young women and their families who are kept ignorant of the dangers — including deaths — of the vaccine. However, as I was soon to be traveling, I decided I didn’t have time to write about this subject again. Until…

Not long after I arrived home last night, my father in law called me. A reporter, Kristin Helgeson from Valley News Live, had left a message for him, asking if he was related to a Deanna Dahlsad. Yes, he is; yes, I called the phone number Helgeson left, and left her a message. But it wasn’t until this morning that the reporter and I connected.

Seems Michelle Bachmann stepped in it again, this time taking one individual and unverified comment and making the claim that “Gardasil led to mental retardation,” and Helgeson, having found my coverage of Gardasil at my other blog, wanted a comment from me. However, now that it was the next day, the story is “over.” While Helgeson was interested in pursuing the information I had, her boss, News Director Griff Potter, felt new and more accurate information wasn’t warranted — at least not enough to continue the story on air. Instead, Potter feels that I should just add a comment to the news story on their website.

It’s here that my story turns, for the moment, from one of the dangers the Gardasil vaccine, to that of the problems of The Media.”

In Valley News Live‘s coverage of the story, they reported:

On their website, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has a review page for this vaccine. None of the serious side effects have been linked to the vaccine and there have been no reports of mental disability. In fact, the most serious side effect they found was fainting. They now ask patients to sit down for 15 minutes after they get vaccinated.

This may be true — but it’s clearly not the whole story! As I’ve uncovered, there are deaths linked to Gardasil — in the US and India.  While Valley News Live may not find their omission “retraction worthy,” surely they should present the other information that the public ought to be informed about.  And they should do so in the same format as their original coverage.  One hopes that the folks at Valley News Live know that their television viewers are not necessarily those who will turn to the Internet and look for updates on earlier stories (or trust the comments left by some “kook” like me); if there was something important to add to the story, they’d show it on the news right?  Wrong.

I want to be clear here and state that Helgeson wanted/wants to proceed with the story.  And I did call Mr. Potter to voice my concerns too; as of this writing, he has not returned my call.  I hope he is out to lunch in the literal sense, not metaphorically, and that I will hear from him — or from Helgeson, saying Potter has reconsidered.  But until then, this whole thing just makes me so angry.

How long will the arbitrators of news continue to dismiss the issues in this story?  How long will they continue to discount women — not just as part of their audience, but in general?  For cutting or ignoring the facts from stories like this only perpetuates the problems of poor ethics in everything from medicine and politics.

For more, see my other related posts, at varying sites:

Is Medicine At Odds With Women’s Health?

Controlling Parts Is Controlling The Sum Of Its Parts

The Dark Side Of Medicine

What If Everything You Knew About The Corset Was Wrong?

And do see my Gardasil coverage.

The Sexual Segregation Of She-Ra; Or, Why I Love Thundarr

I’m too old to claim to have logged hours of watching She-Ra or He-Man — or any childhood memories from that MOTU period. But that won’t stop me from having an opinion.

In The Problem With She-Ra as a Feminist Text, Renee Martin considers the retro ass-kicking cartoon vixen in terms of various female identities:

As adult, I can look at She-ra and still appreciate the positive role that she filled for some young girls. I say some, because as a WOC, She-ra is not a show that I would particular encourage my children to watch, and even more so if I had a daughter. You, see when feminists start talking about women’s advancement, my first question is which women are we talking about? If we’re honest, no matter how many times the great unified sisterhood is pitched by feminism, there are always going to be some women, who somehow don’t fit the mold, because they are poor, of colour, trans, lesbian, older, disabled etc.

…I love her even though she is flawed and continues the erasure I feel as a marginalized woman in many spheres, but I will not dismiss her, because I don’t have the right to take away heroes from little White girls, who need their heroes too. Even though their challenges will be much different than mine, I will not deny that these challenges exist, and by so doing erase the threat that they pose to me. There are very few positive role models for young girls of colour to look up to but erasing the few White images will not change that.

When I read Martin’s post, I found myself nodding my head in understanding and agreement; however…

I’m still struck by something Hillary DePiano, author of The She-Ra Collector’s Inventory: An Unofficial Illustrated Guide to All Princess of Power Toys and Accessories, said in my interview with her:

Interestingly enough, I started somewhat backwards. He-Man predated She-Ra by quite a few years and as a kid I just LOVED He-Man. I had quite a few of the toys. But when the spin-off show, She-Ra came out, my parents decided that since there was now a “girl version” that I had to give all my He-Man figures to my brother and that he would play with them and I would get the She-Ra. God, was I bitter about that. I think there is some feminism lesson in there.

I can’t help but wonder, then, if She-Ra was a means of sexual or gender segregation.

She-Ra was part of the Master Of The Universe world but she was relegated to her own corners of it, kept out of the “Males Only” areas just because they had lady parts. (The usual over-emphasized comic book figure lady parts, of course. He-Man had his own exaggerated maleness too; it’s the earmarks of such works.)  I can’t say that watching the complete She-Ra series and all the He-Man episodes, we could count how many bubblers water fountains She-Ra and crew couldn’t drink from, how many buses these sheroes rode in the back of; it’s far worse than that.

The simplicity of making an “all female version” of the popular Saturday morning cartoon series completely removes coexistence. Women on one side; men on the other — the original side.  Almost like parallel universes, really. What does that say about gender equality?  Not much. Especially if parents, the kids’ overlords, were interpreting these two shows and their accompanying toy sets as “one for boys, one for girls.”

(If there were any super-cross-over MOTU episodes, those might be more interesting; but I doubt I’d be surprised.)

That’s maybe (partly) why I liked Thundarr The Barbarian. There may not have been complete equality, but at least Princess Ariel and Ookla the Mok existed along side leading man Thundarr.

Sadly, there were no Thundarr The Barbarian toys. *heavy sigh* Which means I cannot discuss the parental interaction. Nor can I collect the toys.

PS For the record, I was — and forever remain — an Ookla fan. Ookla was a formerly enslaved a leonine humanoid with fangs and yellow eyes. Whatever a Mok may be in this cultural equation, I guess that’s how I’m identifying.

While Ookla’s guttural, growling language may seem unintelligible, and therefore not appear well suited for blogging writing, “he” is also, according to those who know, “the most likely of the heroes to charge right into an enemy attack or to be enraged by unusual nuisances or threats.” And that, my friends, is how I see myself. (Plus, I will also go quite out of the way to avoid water on my face as well.)

Image credits: Photo from Hillary DePiano’s book and used with permission.

We All End Up Paying For It, Celebrities Or Not

Gawd I love Roseanne. There are about one million reasons to; here’s one more.

A very special quote from a very special article, And I Should Know, Barr had published at NYMag:

Based on Two and a Half Men’s success, it seems viewers now prefer their comedy dumb and sexist. Charlie Sheen was the world’s most famous john, and a sitcom was written around him. That just says it all. Doing tons of drugs, smacking prostitutes around, holding a knife up to the head of your wife—sure, that sounds like a dream come true for so many guys out there, but that doesn’t make it right! People do what they can get away with (or figure they can), and Sheen is, in fact, a product of what we call politely the “culture.”

After seeing one episode of Two and a Half Men, I (no prude, mind you) was aghast that this subject matter was on during the first hour of prime-time, a slot usually reserved for family programming.  Even if I didn’t have children, or it aired later at night, I wouldn’t have watched it because I don’t enjoy misogynistic television.

I also eschewed the show because I dislike Sheen. I knew the allegations about Sheen and his abusive behavior were true. Even before I experienced domestic violence in my first marriage.  And I have no problems not backing an abuser, no problem refusing to add my consumer clout to a celebrity brand — especially when they refuse to get help, continually mock their victims, and act entitled to their “right” to control and harm others.

And I don’t understand why more people don’t do this, don’t refuse to line the pockets of violent losers who hurt people.

I don’t know what Sheen’s entire problem is; and I really don’t care because he has a wealth of resources and people to support him in his hour lifetime of need. But even if it’s only due in part to the “culture” Roseanne refers to, we all end up paying for it; so why perpetuate it?

Once Upon A Time… There Was The Storyteller

I don’t spend my time listening to TV show announcements, and I admit I know even less about comics — but I do read a lot of blogs. So that’s how I found out that ABC has just announced that they have picked up a new series entitled Once Upon a Time, which is similar to Marvel’s Fables comic book series in that the fairytale characters will be set in “today’s world.” (Poor things.)

For some reason, this reminds me of Jim Henson’s The Storyteller, even if ABC’s show will have actors and (apparently) no puppets. And isn’t set in the past.

I’m looking forward to the new ABC television show… But I would welcome the return of Muppets, or any puppets, really.

“There’s nothing gays hate more than when people treat us like women.”

Cameron:There’s nothing gays hate more than when people treat us like women. We’re not. We don’t want to go to your baby shower. We don’t have a time of the month. We don’t love pink.
Mitchell: You love pink.
Cameron: No, pink loves me.

I had mixed emotions about this past week’s episode of Modern Family… I don’t think gay men are women or should be treated like them, but the attitude about women was practically sneering, as if, again, there’s nothing lower than being a woman.

Kaptain Kool & The Kongs On Gender & Fashion

From issue number two of The New Krofft Supershow comic (1978), deep insights into gender and fashion…

In panel two:

Turkey, why are you wearing your socks wrong side out?

Shh, there’s a hole on the other side!

‘Cuz men are stupid; they never change or replenish their socks — or underwear.

(Confession: I sit here right now, my bare toe sticking out of — wait for it! — my husband’s sock. Why? I am in need of purchasing more socks for myself. …However, it is so fun to say, “My toe is sticking out of hubby’s sock.” That’s how close we are!)

In panel three:

Oh, these pants are tighter than my skin!

How can anything be tighter than your skin?

Easy! She can sit down in her skin, but she sure can’t sit down in those pants.

‘Cuz women are stupid; they kill themselves for fashion.

(Confession: I wore tight Jordache jeans. They were tight… But obviously if I wore them to school or took a ride in a car, I could sit in them. …And I do recall that men’s jeans were just as tight. In fact, I vaguely recall it being some sort of a competition.)

PS Bonus points for the ironic “Watch Your Step” sign in the background of that last panel.

Pinheads & Patriots; The View Edition

I missed seeing Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar, The Patriots, walk away from Bill O’Reilly, The Pinhead, on The View; but thanks to the Internet, I can watch it over and over again. Looking forward to watching Joy on the late rerun of her show tonight to hear what she has to say about this:

We Love Betty White Because She’s Blue

Betty White is my idol. I’ve been a fan my entire life — even when my beloved grandmother stated her dislike of Ms White (which was weird, because my grandma was sooooo like her!).

I thrill at every chance to watch her, especially when, in 2006, Family Guy included her as the book-on-tape voice of Peter’s erotics novel, or Peterotica:

Welcome to Peterotica on tape! I’m Betty White reading The Hot Chick Who Was Italian, or maybe Some Kind of Spanish by Peter Griffin. Chapter One: “Oh God you should have seen this one hot chick. She was totally Italian. Or maybe some kind of Spanish….

But I digress.

As you all know, Betty White was on Saturday Night Live this weekend. The show drew the biggest ratings since November 2008, pulling in somewhere between 12 million and 13 million viewers, according to preliminary Nielsen estimates, some of whom said the show was too blue — but what the heck did they think Betty White was going to do? She’s been risqué, the queen of delivering double entendres, for decades! And it’s one reason we all love her.

I was especially heartened to see the huge number of former SNL female comedians who returned to perform with Betty. I choose to believe that upon hearing that Betty White was scheduled each & every one of them called and asked to be on the show too. I have no proof of this — and don’t contradict me; I prefer to enjoy such thoughts.

If you missed SNL this past Saturday, you can get yourself on over to NBC.com to watch the entire episode — as well as three sketches which were cut from the show due to time. My favorite of the cut sketches is the “Debbie Downer does a suburban lingerie party.”

The other cut sketches: Joyologist and Bronx Beat.

Soul Train Lessons

Hubby and I enjoy the hell out of reruns of Soul Train.

Rediscovering lost musical loves and finding new-to-us artists to hunt for, like Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson, is too awesome. The clothing and dances are feasts for the eyes. Don Cornelius holding the mic a hundred yards away because his deep booming voice doesn’t need a mic, but the show totally believes in the props, is a hoot. Spotting regular dancers and keeping up with yesterday’s lingo… It’s heaven.

But we also play this game when we watch reruns of Soul Train. The Soul Train Game is to guess the year of the episode before the credits roll and reveal the answer.

Amazingly, hubby always wins — even though he was an underage kid when most of these shows aired.

You’d think I’d have the advantage; not only was I buying plenty of records and tapes, but soon I was out dancing in (and dressing to kill for) the club scene too. But no, hubby, the stay-at-home-young-pup wins.

I’d like to think it’s a matter of me over-thinking my answer (I lived in the Midwest, so how far behind were we in the fashions?). But the simple fact is, he is smarter about this stuff. I’m greatly disadvantaged because I don’t think in terms of years; I view life and history as “chapters” and “episodes,” and am hard-pressed to name dates. His knowledge of technology and historical time lines beats out my real life experience — at least in this case.

(In fact, I always turn to him to help me date any antique or vintage collectible — even clothing — because he’s so damn good at this stuff.)

But I have another point to make, another story to tell, so I’ll move along…

The other day, hubby and I were joking about the Soul Train Game, and Destiny, the 13 year old, asked us what we were talking about. Have you ever tried to explain Soul Train and American Bandstand to a teenager of today?

She couldn’t fathom the idea of kids wanting to watch a bunch of kids dance on TV, let alone that those dancing kids had groupies and fan clubs of their own.

So how could we move on to the issues of race and lip-syncing — often with a microphone from the future, with a fake short cord that wobbled about. But we did. Because that’s the kind of context geeks hubby and I are.

Honestly, I think Des understood the race issues and the faux Microphone Of The Future better than the concept of turning on the television to watch a bunch of kids dance.

I’m sure getting over this speedbump of understanding is thwarted by her preference for Goth-kid-attire; she’s not interested in finding out the latest trends in fashion.

I’m sure the fact that learning dance steps is only relatable in terms of the uncoolness of line-dancing in phy-ed — or today’s shows which emphasis professional dancers, oft paired with celebrities. Destiny’s clearly not thinking she should bust a new move on the dance floor — or that watching teens dance on TV would be the way to learn. You’d Google it, right?

I guess the basic problem here is that these shows didn’t spoon-feed you the dance steps, or break down fashion into sponsored “must haves.”  You watched, like a voyeur, identified what you wanted, and figured it out. So to kids today, the concept of watching teens dance on television is like watching a party through a window — only you’re allowed to go, so where’s the thrill?

And so I didn’t even try to get into Solid Gold or the Solid Gold dancers.

Even after she watched Soul Train with us (right after a Ru Paul’s Drag Race episode) it didn’t seem to make sense; she made it through the hour of Ru Paul, but only 20 minutes of Soul Train.

Explaining teenage dance shows to kids today is like explaining the joys of watching fuzzy YouTube clips of a kid & his light saber dancing to Star Wars to the kids of yesteryear.

The View From Here, Part II

So, like Stacy (who gave birth during The View), I’ve spent the last few weeks as a Brand Ambassador for The View and thought I should share some of my thoughts on the experience. I’ve blogged about a few of the shows, but I think the most interesting conversations were those I had with friends and family.

Most of my closest friends are internet friendships — not only because my life as a freelance writer keeps me glued to my monitor, but because these friendships have been formed on mutual interests and issues. As a result, we all seem to have the same likes and dislikes about The View — most especially our feelings regarding the ladies of The View. For example, we love and trust Whoopi, Joy, and Barbara as steadfastly as we pity and mistrust Elisabeth and Sherri. However, I have several family members who feel exactly the opposite.

Perhaps most interesting is that after all these years of watching, after all the Hot Topics discussion, we each continue to remain rather married to these feelings, beliefs and attitudes despite our firm belief that it’s through this discussion, both the ladies on the show and our less public personal conversations, that we not only can but will learn, grow and change.

Yet, I remain as heatedly fixed on Hasselbeck’s righteous fear-based stupidity (yes, “stupidity,” because she cannot claim ignorance) applied as fear mongering to limit and control others as I’ve always been.

Heck, I still get hot about Hasselbeck‘s confusion between love and sex, her insistence that fairy tales are sex education, and her preaching that the only way we can be saved from the realities of the world we all live in is to stick our heads in the sand — including forcing everyone to join her under said sand and limiting the rights of others even further; she discriminates and insists we all do it with her! That was years ago and my ire won’t die. Not until such stupidity is gone and done.

But neither does the support of Hasselbeck’s position.

So does The View really do what we all believe it will?

Perhaps not — if the only way one measures the importance of such talks is a change in position. But if you consider the benefit of talking in other ways…

Most of the time we take the high road and agree to disagree, taking it to the extreme of avoiding such conversations out of respect. But the cost of doing so is that we avoid the issues.

With The View, we have a frame for the conversation, a table to sit at, and, perhaps best of all, a time frame for discussion. If we listen and talk with each other and then move along to the next thing — be it an issue we agree on, a celebrity interview, or some shopping thing — we have set limits and prove that we can discuss, agree to disagree, and still connect on other issues. Our conversations can be challenging but our relationships need not be challenged.

This, however, is thwarted by The View‘s time slot.

Too many people work days when The View airs. Watching “together” even though miles apart isn’t the only problem; TiVo space and hours in the day not being infinite, intentions of watching later may pave the road to hell. Even watching episodes online is problematic… Even if these family members of mine use the internet (and many of them don’t use it beyond email & photo sharing), it’s just not the same viewing experience.

Maybe ABC should consider giving The View an additional evening showing.  Who wouldn’t rather watch it than another same-old Jay Leno dealio?


As a Brand Ambassador for The View, I am a participant in a Mom Central campaign for ABC Daytime and will receive a tote bag or other The View branded items to facilitate my review; as you can tell from my long-winded posts about The View, the tote or whatever I may get is not my priority, but I mention it to be ethical.

Too Many Babies, Not Enough Babies, WTF

The ladies of The View were not immune to the irony of having a show about infertility one day after the show with Nadya Suleman aka the Octomom. In their Hot Topics discussion (always my favorite part of the show), Whoopi noted it and there was brief discussion on why Suleman arouses so much heated debate.

At first I was surprised when Hasselbeck defended Suleman — I expected her to be a hard-line republican on the welfare business at the expense of fetal life, even though that fetal life was a medical “opt in” not a manual one — and by a single mother yet. And I was more than a bit surprised by Whoopi as well. I wasn’t surprised at her talk of responsibility in having so many kid so much as what was missing from the conversation.

See, what bothers me the most about all the Octomom haters is the lack of compassion and tolerance. Not just for the buckets of crazy that motivate having so many children, but for outrage expressed at her while folks like the Duggars (of 101 Christian Pups & Counting) continue to skate — even past Jon & Kate Plus 8 before the marital drama. I vented about all this before, but here it is again:

Before watching the Dateline interview of Nadya Suleman, my only interest in this story was the passing thought of, “Will this family replace Jon & Kate Plus 8??” I honestly had no idea of the squawking & hostility towards this mother of six who just gave birth to octuplets. In fact, I was surprised to hear of it — and that’s what drew me towards the show.

(Personally, I’d like to lay a large part of this concerned indignation from our nation on the bitterly infertile; but even the fertile seem to be pissed off. So it’s larger than that… Hit a larger American nerve.)

What I saw was an articulate young woman who managed to keep her own anger at bay, who seemed understanding and forgiving of people who do not accept her decision, and was composed yet passionate as she tactfully mentioned her beliefs about the sanctity of life. But it was her earliest statements, regarding other large families, which seemed to lie at the root of all of the hullabaloo.

When two parent families give birth to &/or adopt other children, people seem to respect them. We’re fascinated, yes; we’ve got television shows, both series and ‘specials’, dedicated to such large & extraordinary families. But we treat them with respect in those shows.

However, few seem to respect this woman. As they said on Chelsea Lately, single, unemployed moms who aren’t entrenched in their community church aren’t cute. Funny? Sure. But too true; and that’s what’s not funny. As were the comments Chelsea Handler made tonight (Tuesday, February 10th) about a new mom having a French tip manicure — seeing those nails near such paper-fragile premature baby skin made me whine and wince. And yes, there are some questions about where the money for manicures and whatever is going on with mom’s new lips… But would these statements be made with such heat about other new moms?

Would we trust the judgment of children? When her older children are questioned on Dateline, they mention ‘squishy’ (aka crowded living space) and crying babies. Those may be true things, and even un-coached or non-parroted statements they heard from adults; but are children known for their unselfishness? Not all children welcome additional siblings period. Does that mean parents or persons considering becoming parents take the advice or sentiments of their children to heart and not increase their family’s size because their children complained?

I’m no pro-lifer, but as the mother of special needs children are the plethora of haters (& Dateline) actually saying that it is irresponsible for a family to increase in size because they have special needs children? And sure, special needs kids come with extra bills — but I don’t see anyone worried about me and my family struggling to care for my special needs kids… Where’s the concern for us?

I’m not saying I think Ms. Suleman has all answers or answers that I’d like to hear when it comes to caring for her children; but then, see, that’s the point: This is not my family, these are not my questions to answer, I am not the judge. I’m not a Christian, but I think that’s supposed to be the Christian way; to leave the judging to God.

This is not to say that I, or anyone, shouldn’t care about the welfare of this family, these 14 children — but then most of the people worried are freaking out about the word ‘welfare’ so maybe I shouldn’t use that word…

We currently have no test or licensing practices for parenthood; even adoption has few rules if one has enough money. And don’t let money fool you either; money doesn’t free any family from neglect and abuse — which is what most everyone is talking about in defense of their questioning this woman’s right to a large family.

But it seems to me, too much emphasis is this woman’s single status. It seems to be the bottom line of all the upset reminding me of the old fuss about Murhpy Brown having a baby; a big moral debate about choosing to be a single mom.

Have a two-parent family who keeps popping out children because they don’t believe in birth control, and few take them to task for their lack of common sense, even when they live on the government dole, or in a house that is ‘squishy’. Extra points if they evoke God a lot. And when they have specific religious or church affiliations, no one dares to really berate them because they have religious protections & a coven of church brothers and sisters.

You want examples? Fine. Those annoying Duggars (of 17 and Counting) take their kids to a “wild life refuge” and allow/encourage their kids to feed animals pasty white bread from their mouths, run & chase animals despite the “do not chase the animals” signs — and when asked, bozo dad Duggar says he wasn’t worried about his kids. Apparently God will protect his kids from his own stupidity. Plus they do all sorts of impractical and stunting things to their kids in the name of religion — so we aren’t supposed to judge. Even my beloved Kate of Jon & Kate Plus 8 totes & promotes her faith.

Most egregiously of all, the Murphy family, headed by John and Jeanette Murphy, who, already the parents of four, opened up their home — aka privately adopted — 23 children with Down Syndrome and were the subject of Our 27 Kids. If you want to talk about what’s fair to the children you already have, where’s the outrage that they placed upon their young biological children (two who existed before they began adopting, and two born after) the burdens of special needs siblings? It’s not just the daily grind either — it’s for the lifetime of those children they’ve adopted. As a mom who has had to deal with the safety of one child’s future — aka legal guardianship — in light of other children’s needs, I can’t imagine saddling children with 23 such responsibilities.

But we don’t talk about these issues. Or their economic dole. The Murphy’s admit they too take food stamps, like Ms. Suleman; Jon & Kate likely don’t need them due to their TV deal, their church, etc.; and I bet the Duggars took food stamps & more — at least before the TV deal — and their children, ill-prepared for the real world, are destined to return to such public assistance in the future. But we don’t talk about them because these are two parent families who evoke the name of God & their idea of His vision of morality when speaking of their large families. In the case of the Gosselins & the Murphys, their marital status is a tacit approval of God for most of the gossip-mongering public so ready to judge Suleman.

I guess Suleman should get all kooky with an old time religion and marry a man; preferably the man who biologically fathered her kids — the man her mother claims offered to married her. Then would everyone just shut up about her — or at least just talk about the blessings and realities of raising so many tiny babies? Judging isn’t going to diaper and feed those eight babies. Or her six other children. Nor is is going to help a new mom with her stress. It’s just empty finger pointing.

Well, it’s not completely empty finger pointing… Every finger pointed at Suleman has three more fingers pointed back the the finger pointer. And maybe those people should start there, looking at what makes them so judgmental.

Whew. I’m glad to have that all off my chest. Again.

But back to The View.

(Not that this whole discussion wasn’t about The View; it was. Like I said, Hot Topics is my favorite part of the show, primarily because it’s just like how women talk. But it’s time to leave the Octomom alone and move along.)

Yesterday’s episode was a “special episode” about infertility. While I am not without my sympathies for this issue (something my sister and most of her friends have had to deal with), I am waiting for today– Friday’s — Hot Topic fallout regarding the segment with Bill and Giuliana Rancic. (I know it will be there — especially as Joy mentioned it on her HLN show this evening.)

The short version, for those too lazy to click the above link and watch, it that Giuliana stated that her doctor advised her to gain 5 to 10 pounds to assist conception — and Giuliana resisted.

Now I get that her career is to be a thin woman-child waif on the red carpet etc., and that such a gig requires her to be thin, plus lose an extra 10 for the camera. But her reluctance seemed to have exposed a resentment that she should have to do such a thing in order to have a baby — as opposed to the more sane response that her career ideal weight would be so low that it would interfere with her basic biology.

Giuliana and Bill are both to be admired for sharing their intimate problems for, as they state, the ability to remove the taboo from fertility issues. So I don’t want to sound too harsh or kick folks when they are already down. But…

Giuliana’s statements regarding her earlier career-formed impressions that as a 20-something watching 40-somethings having babies had led her astray, given her the wrong impression about how much time she and her biological clock really had. So perhaps it’s time for Giuliana to see that she too is sending unfortunate messages to women.

By resisting those baby-needed 10 pounds, by emotionally fearing the horrid industry standard of “fat” rather than be horrified by just what those standards do to her and other women who aim to be so slim, she is not only receiving the wrong message, but sending it too.

She would do herself and those who view and idolize her better by accepting the literal baby fat and making a stink about the fictitious and unhealthy standards.


As a Brand Ambassador for The View, I am a participant in a Mom Central campaign for ABC Daytime and will receive a tote bag or other The View branded items to facilitate my review; as you can tell from my long-winded posts about The View, the tote or whatever I may get is not my priority, but I mention it to be ethical.

The View From Here

Last week I became an official View Brand Ambassador, part of the Mom Central campaign for ABC Daytime. This means you’ll be hearing more from me on The View and while I will receive a tote bag or other The View branded items for &/or to facilitate my commentary &/or reviews, I’m really excited to have the opportunity to participate in the discussion about and promotion of one of my favorite shows — yup, one of my favorite shoes, not just a daytime favorite.  It doesn’t hurt that we’re supposed to get some face or ear time with show producers either.

In short, being an ambassador for the show means I now have a legitimate reason to watch shows uninterrupted and a larger motivation to talk about them too.

So consider this post a disclaimer — and warning of things to come, both here and at my other blog, Motherhood Metamorphosis. (Heck, it might even show up at other places, depending upon the topic!)

If you’re a fan of The View, right now Mom Central has an exciting contest: The View Sweepstakes. The prize for one lucky winner? A trip to New York City to watch a taping of The View! The sweepstakes is open until February 28th and I encourage you to enter — but I hope I win!

PS If you join Mom Central, befriend me here!

We Had Joy, We Had Fun, We had Seasons In The Sun…

I’ve been listening a lot to the cable music stations — most recently to the 70’s station. Tonight, Seasons in the Sun by Terry Jacks came on and I found myself singing along as I had in my childhood:

We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun
‘Til the cops came along and shot us in our buns.

At this point hubby (10 years my junior, remember, and so perhaps not even born at the time I was singing along to the AM radio), turns around and calls me an affectionate slur for a mental handicap.

“Come on,” I laugh, “I was like 10 years old when this song came out.”

And I continue to sing along with the song — growing happier and louder with each opportunity to sing my childhood recollections of the verse. I was seriously clapping with glee by the end of the song. Perverse? Maybe. But it was thrilling to relive my 10 year actions and enthusiasm.

Blaming my age might seem like a weak defense, but honestly, little kid weirdness can often be attributed to very real — and very grown-up — things.

Streaking was a big thing then (at least pop culture reference wise; I never knew anyone then who had done so) and as kids, uncomfortable with the notion of naked adults, we made jokes about it. Continually.

And the song, Seasons In The Sun, was terribly depressing; it reeked of death. Another thing kids would be terribly uncomfortable with.

So we dealt with our anxieties via the mutilation (further mutilation?) of the song.

Come to think of it, so many 70’s songs were about death…

There was Wildfire and Brandy, of course (the latter of which may not have explicitly about death, but certainly there was loss). Helen Reddy’s Angie Baby used to scare the crap out of me (that swirling noise made me dizzy and is somehow mythologically tied to my experience with the floor dropping in Disney’s Haunted Mansion) — second only to Eleanor Rigby, which, with the popularity of Wings, was played far too often as far as I was concerned. (Wearing a face that she keeps in a jar by the door?! I’m old enough to understand the lyrics better now, but that only creeps me out more.)

However, in terms of raw exploitation and manipulation of emotion, there were even worse offenders.

Like Rocky (“Rocky I’ve never had a baby before, don’t know if I can do it…”) by Austin Roberts. In my mind, Rocky was from the made for TV movie, Sunshine, which was based on the real life story of Jacquelyn Marie “Lyn” Helton, a young woman who while dying journaled for her young daughter so that she’d remember her (unbearably more than ironic if this post is to be believed).

I recently discovered that Rocky was not from that film when we found the record at a thrift shoppe (and yes, I snatched it up). I don’t think I ever saw the Sunshine movie, or the television series which followed…

But maybe I did. In my mind, it was all twisted up with my Sunshine Family dolls. Dolls who suffered greatly, despite their cheerful happy hippy faces. One parent often died… Of course, it could have been worse for the children after I read Flowers In The Attic (the baby boy obviously would have been named Cory).

All of this is so depressing.

The only way to really cleanse from this is to sing along with Seasons In The Sun — my way. Go ahead and try it, you’ll understand why we sang it this way as kids.

We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun
‘Til the cops came along and shot us in our buns.

Let’s Talk Disney Princesses

About 15 years ago, I sent a letter to Disney (on behalf of my Disney stock-owning and Disney-loving daughter) demanding that they diversify their stock of Disney characters and stories.

Among other things, I suggested they make stories about adventurous mice, a la The Rescuers, who either didn’t all sound like white folk or who helped more than white children — both maybe. And I said they ought to include princesses of color in their films — and that maybe these princess didn’t have to be exclusively limited to exotic locations, like Princess Jasmine.

disney-princessesSince this letter of mine, there has been Pocahontas & Mulan, each’s ethnicity presented as exotic and distant via the pageantry of location and historical period as Jasmine. But now there’s the first black Disney princess, Princess Tiana in The Princess & The Frog.

(I know this sounds like one of those new Windows 7 commercials — but If I had any affect on The Mouse, it took 15 years to get past the corporate layers of white defenses.)

Tony Award-winning actress Anika Noni Rose is the voice of Princess Tiana and she’s excited, telling People magazine, “This feels amazing. Not only is [Tiana] the first black princess, she’s the first American princess. So, the scope and the significance is larger than people even realize.”

Apparently Rose is so excited that she’s forgotten that Pocahontas was a Native American. While the ‘princess’ title may be debatable and the treatment of Native Americans is deplorable, is Pocahontas’ status as American really questioned?

If your daughter is a Disney princess fan — and you meet the other requirements — maybe you’d like to be on The Tyra Show:

Does your little girl love Disney princesses? Is she eagerly anticipating the arrival of the first black Disney princess, Princess Tiana? Have you always wanted to take your daughter to Disney World but have never had the means? Do you have an emotional story to share?

Emmy Award Winning Talk Show is looking for deserving moms and daughters who love Disney Princesses! Daughters should be ages 7-11. Must be available Tuesday, November 17 and the following Thursday to Friday.

My kids are all past Disney princess, but my niece isn’t (and my nephew is half charmed by them, half held hostage by his older sister’s demands). But even if there weren’t Disney kids in my clan, I’d still be glad to see an African American Disney princess. Because fairy tails may not come true, but believing in the magic of them is so much easier to do when folks look and sound more like you; not to mention what this does to those with delusions of white superiority.

Whatjamacallit Wednesday: Soap Opera Challenge, Y&R Edition

young-and-the-restless-soap-opera-challenge-gameHubby grabbed this 1987 Soap Opera Challenge game for me at a rummage sale this summer for a buck or two and I’ve just now gotten around to attempting to play it.

This particular game in the series by The United States Playing Card Company is based on television’s The Young and the Restless daytime soap. There were several others in the series — and had I either the As The World Turns or Guiding Light versions, I might have fared far better… As it is, my puny knowledge of the Y&R was limited to either my high school summers (1979-1982) when my sister insisted upon watching it because she discovered that the show’s fictional Genoa City, Wisconsin, was based on the very real — and visited — Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, and a few episodes in my freshman year of college (1982-83), when the boys in the dorms insisted upon watching it. (Though most of them locked their dorm doors and pretended not to be ‘home’ whilst watching the show, Y&R had a huge male following at the University of Whitewater; mostly the same guys who watched pro-wrestling, so no surprises there, really.)

Anyway, since the Soap Opera Challenge games are, as you’ve likely surmised, trivia games, my lack of viewing of the soap itself, especially around 1987, impedes my ability to play the game with any success. If you were a fan you’ll likely do much better — though that’s not saying much, because I stink.

However, I endeavor to be fair in my reviews and my lack of knowledge isn’t the game’s fault. While pretending that can fathom just who Jack Curtzynski is/was and so make a guess as to who his first wife was won’t quit cut it, I will focus on the game’s play.

ynr-tv-soap-challenge-game-legendThe game itself consists of a game die and deck of 54 question & answer trivia cards, categorized as Love Affairs & Friendships, The Family Tree, Characters & Circumstance, Disappearing Acts, It’s A Crime, and Challenge Plus (“Outrageous questions challenge even the most devoted soap opera fan. It’s in the name of the game!”). Each of the six categories is represented by it’s own icon (Broken Heart, Tree, Theater Masks, Question Mark, Scales, and a Star, respectively) which are then repeated on the game die.

Here’s how it’s played:

Two or more players gather. Each rolls the die and the player who rolls the Star goes first.

Game play begins with a (fresh) roll of the die. The player to the right of the die-rolling player picks a card off the deck (with questions facing ‘up’) and asks the question which corresponds to the icon on the die. If the question is answered incorrectly, the card is placed at the bottom of the deck and the player on the right begins their turn. If the question is answered correctly, the roller keeps the card and rolls again until she gives an incorrect answer.

When there are no more remaining cards, each player counts the cards they ‘won’ and the player with the most cards (correct answers) wins.

There also is a Solitaire version of play. In this version, the player draws a card from the deck, rolls the die to determine the question category, and takes a stab at answering 54 questions (one question off of each card). Cards answered correctly are placed to create a ‘yes’ or ‘correct’ pile; cards answered incorrectly are placed to create a ‘no’ pile. After going through the entire deck, the player counts all the number of cards in the ‘correct’ pile:

If there are 27 or more cards in the ‘correct’ pile in front of you, you are a winner and a devoted soap opera fan.

If there are less than 27 cards in the ‘correct’ pile, don’t take it to heart, these questions are truly a ‘Soap Opera Challenge.’

Again, I can’t really experience the joy of playing, let alone winning, this game; but if you are a Y&R fan — who knows the show’s history — I can’t see why you wouldn’t dig it. A gaggle of giggling girl’s night guests who know the soap opera’s score (and who scored with whom) would have fun; and lonely girls with a half-gallon of ice cream could distract themselves well enough.

And, if all else fails, you could turn it into a drinking game by having the loser take a shot for failing. Just be sure that stinky players such as myself do not drive themselves home.


Defending Kate Gosselin

I’ve been trying to ignore every impulse I’ve had to blog about the Gosselins. Sure, I’ve spat at the TV and grumbled at my pc (just ask hubby for confirmation), but I’ve put off writing about them — until Catherinette, that is.

When she tweeted her dislike of Kate, I just couldn’t refuse the bait. Witnessing how so many are oblivious to the facts here drives me crazy. Crazy enough to challenge Catherinette to a duel for Kate Gosselin’s honor. (Or, baring her “honor,” at least for some understanding.) Even though I know Catherinette’s post is likely to be far more clever to read, I challenged her. (And even the entertainment value is part of the problem; it’s much easier to impart the snark than it is to look at the real issues here. Especially if those issues have something to do with you, your behaviors, your value-laden actions.) So I probably won’t “win” this duel; not only is what I have to say far less entertaining, but Catherinette has far more vocal readers than I. But like many who have doth declared a duel, I must do it in spite of winning and simply for the principal of the thing.

First of all, we, the collective “we” of society, are partly responsible for the Gosselins being on TV in the first place. Read through any publication from the past, and you’ll see that we humans have a long history of loving to vicariously follow the lives of people we don’t know. Before film, before more timely mass communication gave us the ability to herald public figures on the national or international scene, we read the local society pages & made local celebrities out of those people in our local bergs — especially those who could travel to the big cities and see the opera or buy Paris fashions.

Unusual human drama was the stuff we entertained ourselves with during our hum-drum days and nights. We consoled ourselves as “at least not having those problems,” and puffed our chests with “proof” that the rich had more dollars than sense.

quintuplets-clipping-smallThrow children into the mix — especially an unusual number of babies — and whoa, Nellie, we’re smitten. Why else do I continue to find so much evidence of the Dionne Quints?

The Dionne Quintuplets who, by the way, grew up under the intense media spotlight yet turned out normal — and by “normal,” I mean they have as adults complained about their not normal childhoods. Children everywhere complain about their parents, the lots they are born into, even without such public interest & scrutiny.

Think I’m being cold & crass? Before their complaints, we didn’t feel responsible for literally buying their story; since their complaints, we continue to buy the lives of others.

While I’ll leave it to others to debate the “who had it worse, the Dionne Quints or Jon & Kate’s + 8?” and/or the “do the plus eight have it any worse than any child actor?” I will say that most folks justify their watching and purchasing with a “Had they not our dollars, where would they be? Had they not been born a litter of five or eight, who can say where they would have ended up…”

OK, so even if you don’t agree with the choices Jon and Kate made (and I did turn down Wife Swap), to make some money off the general public interest in their über sized family of tiny tots, you must at least see how tempting such monetary gains would be when faced with the costs and work of raising such a large family. And the decision was theirs to make.

If you don’t get it, I don’t see any way to convince you. So I’ll move along.

My next point is that Jon’s a jerk.

more-husbands-self-starters-wife-would-not-have-to-be-a-crankEven without the publicity, Jon’s a poster-boy for male jerks everywhere who eschew family responsibilities. From the beginning of the show, Jon has sat back and done very little with his kids. Even less for his wife. When people say, “Kate’s a bitch,” I say, “Of course she looks like one. What woman can shoulder what she does and not look like she’s bossy?” And I don’t just mean the number of kids.

Worse than simply lazy, Jon’s a nightmare.

Jon’s passive-aggressive behavior reads off the television screen like a text book case for psych students. He doesn’t lift a finger unless he’s told to, does a half-assed job of it (if he actually does anything) — and then he stares into the camera and plays victim to millions — millions who then view Kate, the responsible party trying to get her husband to participate in his life, as mean.

It’s crazy-making and abusive. Enough to dislike him for on its own.

But then he cheats.

Looking for escape from a reality he created, he continues to paint himself the victim while he partys-on, dude.

And then he tries to leak a story about Kate’s cheating, just to make himself look, hell, I don’t know, “better” as the victim again. *sigh*

Jon says he’s not, despite his plethora of boys toys (of the mechanic, electronic, and human female varieties) and mode of recapturing-my-youth rocker garb, having a midlife crisis. Maybe he’s not. Like drugs, a midlife crisis is not required to be an asshole; but such things help.

Meanwhile, Kate, who likely has been worried about this whole thing for years now (even if not consciously), continues to try to get what she can for her kids. Jon complains about her book tours — and some of the public bitches in agreement. But really, would you have any respect for a woman who didn’t do anything to support her kids? Why is Kate blamed for wanting to use what popularity she has & leverage it into something more? I don’t have eight children, but I continually worry about feeding & providing for the kids I do have.

And when talking heads & comedians mock the Gosselins for being out & about, not home with their kids, there are distinctions to be made: Momma’s working, daddy’s an asshat.

But even if both parents are out of the home working, leaving the kids with other childcare providers, so what? Millions of us do it every single day. So these parents have a much longer commute, traveling to the far more fashionable production coasts; the same talking heads on TV do it all the time. Does anyone wonder just who is watching Stephen Colbert’s kids? Or Nicole Kidman’s?

I’m soooooo tired of people bitching about Kate when she’s been victimized and abused here.

No, she hasn’t handled everything with as much aplomb as you’d like to imagine you would. Being the sane responsible one who looks like the problem drives you crazy — and sometimes you act like it. And divorces bring out the worst in people. Even when you are trying so hard to do the right thing.

It sucks that this drama is playing out in public, especially for the kids. But dude, let’s keep some perspective here. As a kid, you’re worried about what your friends will say or think… Your friends and the kids at school, the kids in the neighborhood, at day care, your cousins, maybe. And even without such a media frenzy, all those kids would already know that your dad’s a jerk because they will have met him — or heard from some other kid who has. Seeing Daddy Dearest on TV, boozing it up with other babes only confirms what they already know. And it helps explain why your mom is tight-lipped, teary-eyed, and sometimes failing while trying to hard to hold it together.

Give her a break.

And start with a hard look at yourself. What is it that Kate brings up in your own life, about your actions/beliefs/behaviors, which you are trying so hard not to see or be responsible for?

PS In case Catherinette should mention Kate’s hair cut…

My middle child went out and got Kate’s haircut a few months ago. Did she intend to get Kate’s haircut? I can’t say; Destiny was with her biological mom that day. But the 80’s are back, baby, and asymmetrical haircuts along with it.

Besides, if Kate’s hair is anything like Destiny’s, that haircut is completely wash-and-go. Who couldn’t use that much style with eight kids, a lazy husband, a busy traveling work life, and continual media attention?