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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Things & Events in 2008 that I'd like to forget (or get over)

2008 was a weird year. Banks closed, old and familiar businesses closed, people lost their houses and their jobs en masse, gas prices went through the roof (for really NO frigging reason), pirates stormed the seas (actually that part was really kinda cool - do you know if any of them had parrots and said "aye matie"?) But there were some things I'd definitely like to wipe from my memory and some that I just find annoying and would like them to go away but know that they won't. My top 20 are below. There are MANY others but I am sure there is a limit as to the amount of space one can use on this site so maybe I'd better just limit my selection. Enjoy.

20. That Dunkin' Donuts pulled an ad with Rachel Ray because the wingnuts convinced them she was wearing a terrorist scarf.

19. That Dick Cheney still doesn't believe waterboarding is torture.

18. The young college Republican who claimed an Obama supporter had carved a backwards "B" into her cheek. And I would particularly like to forget that so many in the media gave so much play to Ashley's tale.

17. Sarah Palin's belief that there is a "real America" and "pro-America areas" of America.

16. That George Bush blames the economic meltdown on the fact that Wall Street got drunk," but never admits it was his administration that made the last eight years Happy Hour, and kept serving up the drinks. NOW do you all remember when he was running for office and I kept telling anyone who would listen "if he can't run a bloody bank that his daddy bought him without it going under, how in the hell do you think he can run a country???" Does ANYONE remember me saying that????? Well, I did.

15. The $440,000 spa trip taken by AIG "top performers" a week after the company received an $85 billion bailout from taxpayers.

14. That China felt compelled to have a nine-year-old girl lip-sync "Ode to the Motherland" during the Olympic Opening Ceremonies because the seven-year-old girl who had actually sang the song wasn't considered cute enough.

13. OJ's rambling plea for leniency.

12. Thomas Beatie, The Pregnant Man. That Thomas Beatie is preggers again. If he/she wants to be a man TAKE OUT THE PLUMBING YOU FREAK. Yes, I realize fully that I just acted in a very immature and totally politically incorrect fashion. However, I just don't give a shit, THIS PERSON IS A FREAK!

11. That Scott McClellan joined the parade of key Bush administration officials who have tried to wash the blood off their hands -- and add a chunk of change to their bank account -- by writing a come-clean book years after the fact instead of when it actually could have made a difference.

10. Movies:
Love Guru (ugh),
Fool's Gold (hate Kate Hudson - tired of looking at Matthew shirtless - NEVER thought I'd ever say that),
88 Minutes (Al Pacino is a God but what was he thinking? Is he that in need of money??),
The Happening (the ending of this movie PISSED ME OFF! To sit through this movie and deal with the good actors acting badly - really badly - and then to be thanked by the "wrap it up quick and let's go to lunch" ending was maddening),
Religulous (I thought I was going to see a movie that would encourage debate over the subject of religion but what I got was an intolerant rant about how religious people are idiots and should be shunned and made fun of - like a Pat Robertson movie only this time he is an atheist. Now I hate organized religion as much, if not more, than the next guy/girl but even I was offended),
The Air that I Breathe (GREAT cast - I LOVE Kevin Bacon, Andy Garcia, Forest Whitaker, Emile Hirsch but "Mr. Scandal free, all American boy" Brendan Fraser as a thug??? That should sum up this movie in a nutshell)

9. The entire Caylee Anthony thing. God love her.

8. Al Sharpton (this is a yearly thing - I put him in my list every year because I loathe the man)

7. Star Jones and anyone else associated with (past or present) the View. That includes Barbara Wa-wa.

6. Tina Fey. Can someone PLEASE offer her a job in another country far, far away? Please.

5. Nancy Grace - Is she really a much meaner Pat Robertson in drag???? She scares me.

4. SPAM - please stop!!!

3. War in Iraq.

2. the closing of Yankee Stadium (whoever thought that was a good idea needs to shot!)
and my number 1,

1. With the approval of Congress and no outcry from corporate media, the Military Commissions Act (MCA) signed by Bush on October 17, 2006, ushered in military commission law for US citizens and non-citizens alike. While media, including a lead editorial in the New York Times October 19, have given false comfort that we, as American citizens, will not be the victims of the draconian measures legalized by this Act—such as military roundups and life-long detention with no rights or constitutional protections—Robert Parry points to text in the MCA that allows for the institution of a military alternative to the constitutional justice system for “any person” regardless of American citizenship. The MCA effectively does away with habeas corpus rights for “any person” arbitrarily deemed to be an “enemy of the state.” The judgment on who is deemed an “enemy combatant” is solely at the discretion of the President.

Be wary my friends. Be very very wary. Our freedoms are eroding as we sit here. Do not EVER think that the horrors that have happened in other countries in different times could never happen here because they most certainly can and will if we aren't vigilant in preserving our rights and privileges under our Constitution. We simply cannot and must not surf the web to see what some fluff actress wore to a party rather than go to our governments websites to see how our elected officials voted and research the laws being passed.

The men and women who died so we could have our Habeas Corpus died so we wouldn't have to. Don't let them have died in vain.

But that's just me.

Oh Yeah, HAPPY NEW YEAR TO EVERYONE!!! When we are all in wheelchairs parked in the sunroom of "the home" may 2009 be the year that we look back on and say "That was a really good year".

Possible Lifetime Movie in the works

I just read an article this morning that caught my attention about a young couple who were celebrating their one year anniversary aboard a cruise ship with friends and family. A link to this story is below:

To give you a little background, Wife is a freelance reporter who met her husband in a support group for folks who had undergone bariatric treatment for weight loss. She was due to start a new job after the cruise and she was excited about it. She and her husband had decided to start a family and she was excited about that.

Husband works for a paving company. He had been arrested during their short 1 year marriage for head butting her and had his conviction diverted. His wife is missing aboard the ship for OVER 8 hours before he tells anyone. The day after he is told that security cameras caught her going over the side of the ship (but didn't catch enough to see if she was pushed), another passenger comes up to him to offer his condolences whereby "concerned" husband brightly tells the passenger that he has a bucket of quarters and is on his way to the casinos to try and change his luck. BUT, he's not a suspect in her disappearance. Hmm.

Wife's mother told the FBI that her daughter was in an upbeat mood before and during the cruise, that she was excited about her new job and the possibility of having a baby. Life was good! THEN the mother follows that up with "we're afraid she chose to end her life". WHAT??!! Did I miss something here?? New job, possible new baby, massive weight loss does NOT equal suicide.

Wonder how much insurance hubby has on her? Let's not all forget the double indemnity involved in modes of passenger transportation (I checked, cruise ship falls into that category).

The article goes on to say she has had past emotional problems. Excuse me here. I take a great amount of exception with this statement being included in an effort to prove she committed suicide. One does not go from happy and excited about one's future literally one minute and then literally the next minute jump from the side of a ship, for one thing. And for another, who hasn't had some form of emotional issues in their past? Plus, if I had married a man who head butted me, I might have a few emotional issues myself in dealing with that especially since she chose to stay with the guy. Another thing, she was obviously very over weight for some time prior to her surgery and not happy with the weight (or she wouldn't have had the surgery) and that too, can lead to emotional issues. Being unhappy with the path your life has taken and then doing something positive to change it does not equal suicide. If anything it speaks volumes about her wanting to live.

Several of the passengers described the couple as "standing out" and having "raw personalities". What does that mean? Raw personality? Hmm. Does it mean they were jerks? Does it mean that they were the type of couple I hate the most - the type that will pick at one another in a negative way and even fight with one another in front of other folks? Does it mean they were just loud and obnoxious? What does that mean?

I, for one, will continue to follow this story because I believe there is far more here than meets the eye.

But that's just me.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

My Aplogies to All!

I looked over all my postings last night. Wow! I do tend to get on that old soapbox don't I? I appear to push the edge just about as close to intolerant and "know-it-all" as I can get.

One might say that I (like many, if not most of us) truly do believe that I know it all when it comes to an issue that I am passionate about or one that strikes a moral nerve within me. The same could be said for being intolerant when said moral nerve is struck. However, I never cross over that proverbial line. I am fully aware that I do not know it all and I am anything but intolerant of everything except stupidity. I can over look and forgive ignorance, bad decisions, sometimes even lazy but stupid is beyond my ability to over look. Even when I'm the one with the stupid hat on.

Everyone has their own definition of stupid. Mine is simple. Stupid people are those who know better but choose to ignore it. Stupid people are those who when confronted with hard core evidence that they are wrong, still choose to believe their archaic or bigoted points of view. Stupid people are those that hold the entitlement attitudes about themselves.

Aw. Entitlement. I bandy that word around a bit don't I? It's one of my largest gripes about people. I guess to sum up my thoughts on entitlement, I would have to quote Ms. Staple "the world don't owe you nothing just 'cause you're here."

But that's just me.

What's up with Oprah and The View??

I just read that Oprah's newest book find about a man confined to a concentration camp in Buchenwald where he meets his future wife, is a fake. How many books has she endorsed to date that were later proven to be fakes? How many "doctors", personal trainers and diets has she endorsed to date that proved to be fake, loose cannons or just outright obnoxious?

She is a very intelligent woman, have to give her that. I also understand that she relies heavily on her research team to authenticate her guests and the wares they come on her show to promote. Maybe she needs to get a new team of researchers because she's not batting too good lately. Perhaps her team is relying too much on the great and powerful Internet for their research rather than the old days when you spoke with real people to either authenticate or refute a person's claims and asked for written documentation. People these days seem to think that whatever they read on the Internet is absolutely 100% true and accurate. Not at all. Most of what you get on the Internet is rumor, conjecture and personal opinions (redundant wasn't it?). Google anything and you will find differing versions of the same story to the point that your head will spin.

Personally I think she's bored with it all. Until recently she was 100% free of scandal, as was her show. The closest she ever came were the persistent rumors about her and Stedman (whatever happened to him anyway? You never hear anything about him.)

I also think she is now buying into all the hype. She is "above" us all. And she is financially, but she acts as if she is next in line just as soon as God decides to retire.

I'm very proud and happy for her because she truly is the American dream personified. She came from nothing and now is worth a bazillion dollars. Couple that with the fact that not only is she a woman but she is a black woman, that's pretty impressive if she never does another thing. However, she is NOT vice-God and needs to come down off her high horse about it.

I recently ran across a list I had compiled of celebrities that I would love to go have drinks with and chat. Apparently I had written this down as something to do while I sat in my doctor's office waiting for my appointment (which had been pushed way back due to pharmacy salespeople descending upon my doctor). I found this in an old purse as I was searching for something else. Oprah was number one on the list! Goldie Hawn/Kurt Russell was there, Ellen Degeneres was there, Whoopi Goldberg was there, Rosie ODonnell was there. There were 10 altogether. Most of them would no longer be on my list for one reason or another but Oprah's fall from the list was due to her somewhat recent attitude of loftiness that she has adopted.

For years and years, Oprah was a journalist (in my opinion). Her show had to do with issues and the people involved in them. Not African American issues per se but issues in general. Women issues, family issues, legal issues, societal issues. She was extremely adept at choosing issues that crossed the racial borders and most of the time even the gender borders. She was fair and appeared unbiased. Occasionally she would have a fluff show about fashion or whatever and that was great. But then she took the route that "The View" has taken for some time. She began to take herself and her show far too seriously and as a result, both have suffered.

Now her show is a black show in my opinion. She focuses mainly on black issues and black women issues. I am no longer interested in her show and haven't watched it at all for probably 4 or 5 years. At one time, I NEVER missed her show. EVER. I would record any show that I knew I was going to have to miss. I would hurry home from work so as not to miss it. Everyone I knew did the same. Now I don't know one single person who watches her show anymore. Not one.

Now onto the view. TRAINWRECK. In the beginning, it was fun and informative. I really liked it and I never missed it. Oprah and The View were the only 2 shows I ever recorded. I continued to watch it (not as often)when Star began to believe her name was her status. I even watched it when Star left and Rosie came on board. I knew Rosie had a lot of problems with her staff when she had the magazine but I LOVED her show she had before the magazine so I thought she would bring the same quick and extremely funny wit that she exhibited on her show to the view and I was psyched! Boy was I wrong. She was an out and out bully and although, I rarely agree with Elizabeth, I think Rosie bullied Elizabeth unnecessarily and horribly. The worst part was that Joy and (the ultra flakey & in my opinion unintelligent) Sherri acted like yard dogs and jumped in there as well.

Then Whoopi came. I adored Whoopi. I always felt that there wasn't a prejudiced bone in Whoopi's body UNTIL she came onto the view. Now, she is showing her true colors and I am so disappointed in her. She and Sherri are two of the most prejudiced celebrities that I can think of. They sit up there and make every topic a racial issue. And poor Elizabeth? Yes, I did say that. She is eaten alive on every show. It's as if the show is now not about issues but about how badly can we beat up on Elizabeth and how many times can we interrupt her and prevent her from having the same opportunity to talk that the rest of them enjoy? How many times can we be overly rude to her in one show? It's uncomfortable to watch so I don't.

Even Barbara jumps in the dog fight. Is this necessary? Really? the thing that I loved about the show for so long was the fact that there were diverse women on that panel. Different ages, backgrounds, races. They all had a slightly different take on whatever the topic was and it was refreshing in the way that they told their particular opinion and allowed the others to have their say. It was respectful and funny and they seemed to have a genuine camaraderie. It was womanhood at its finest.

The thing that I have always hated about people (especially women) is that they say they want to debate an issue but then when you try they talk over you or they bully you or they say your opinion is stupid. It turns out they don't want to debate the issue, they just want you to listen to their opinion on it. Why is it that the only people who feel that they can have an opinion or that their opinion is correct are the ubber liberals? Huh? Just because you consider yourself to be liberal does NOT make you an authority on anything. Nor does it make you right nor does it make you more informed or more intelligent than the next person with an opinion.

I have always considered myself a liberal. However, since Whoopi, Joy, Sherri and the overly nauseating Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins arrived in all their "I'm so smart and you are so stupid" glory, I never ever say that I'm a liberal for fear that people will lump me into their category.

I have tried to e-mail the folks at the view and oprah's show but guess what?? Can't find an e-mail for them. I always chuckle when I hear them say something like "I got this e-mail from a viewer". How the hell did that happen?? I can't find a way to e-mail them so how did this "viewer" do it??

So annoying and disappointing. The saddest part about both of these shows is that young women are watching and thinking that this is acceptable behavior. They are thinking this is an acceptable way of dealing with anyone who doesn't agree with your personal views. Well, guess what? It's not! They are running a "how to be a bully" college. It's disgusting, sad, nauseating, depressing and frightening in that this behavior and example will grow future Joy Behar's and Whoopi Goldbergs and Sherri Shepards and the last thing the world needs or deserves are more of them.

But that's just me.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Intelligence of our country

I just read the results of a Harris Poll wherein they asked folks to name their favorite book. The survey was called "10 books to read before you die". I must say I was appalled (not really surprised - but appalled) at the results. Below are the "winners":

1. Bible (anyone surprised at that?)
2. Gone with the Wind (as this is one of my personal favorites, I would have to leave it in)
3. Lord of the Rings (a good read, a great movie but seriously, would you have to read this before you died?)
4. The Harry Potter series (I AM SICK TO DEATH OF THIS! Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings series are fun reads. They are not deep novels by any stretch of the imagination they are, in my estimation, akin to gussied up dime store novels)
5. The Stand by Stephen King (again, why would you have to read this before you died?)
6. The Da Vinci Code (now this one makes a person think a bit so I'm not going to scream about it but I will fuss about it. It certainly is NOT a classic)
7. To Kill a Mockingbird (okay. Now we're getting somewhere. We're getting closer to actual reading that requires a touch of thought on the readers part).
8. Angels and Demons (Dear Lord! And I thought The Harry Potter series was as fluff as we were going to get)
9. Atlas Shrugged (whatever)
10. Catcher in the Rye (I'd leave this in).

Where is the Iliad and the Odyssey? Where is QBVII? Where is "Tender is the Night"? Or perhaps, "War and Peace"? "Johnny Got his Gun"? "Enemies"? "Of Mice and Men"? "A Tree grows in Brooklyn" or even "Barfly" by Charles Bukowski. Where are the books that MAKE A PERSON THINK and that mold a young person's character and morals? (not religious morals but human morals - there is a vast difference between the two.) Where are the books with words over 2 syllables? What kind of people are we raising in this country??

Now, what would be my top 10? Hard to narrow it down. Why? Because I have actually read more than 10 books.

I worry about our future as a country when someone is asked to name a book that everyone should read before they die and the results are filled with fluff. To me the question begs me to pick a book that when read makes the reader ponder the questions raised in the book.

Let's take QBVII as an example. Leon Uris, in his usual fashion, gives us a character that is both Angelic and Demonic. He makes no judgment on this character and leaves it up to the reader to decide for themselves if the character is pure evil masquerading as an Angel or vice versa. Whenever I even think of this book, I am transported right back to the first time I read it. Every time I read it, I find even more quandaries to ponder.

The same is true of "The Lamb's War". For those of you who have never read this book, it is about an attractive Jewish woman in a concentration camp who is given a choice. She can either become the concubine for a Nazi officer who will give her suitable shelter, clothing, food and medical treatment OR she can work in the fields with the other starved, disease ridden and nearly naked prisoners with her ultimate reward being the gas chamber. She opts to live with the Officer. He treats her well but the other prisoners do not. It is a story that on the surface is easy to criticize. "Oh, I would never do that" or "I would refuse and instead would take my place with my fellow Jews and go to my death with my head held high". That kind of thing. She doesn't' take her decision lightly at all and she tries to help the other prisoners out as best she can but I'm sure you can imagine the consequences of her decision and the events she has to endure because of it. Even worse were the consequences of her decision that she had to endure AFTER the war was over. As the old saying goes, "there is no easy ride in this life".

However, once I really thought about it and really tried to transport myself into her situation, it became all the more clear to me that I would have jumped on the offer. Hell, yeah I would. And I would wager a bet that pretty much anyone else would IF they were honest with themselves.

Of course, I also understand the other prisoners point of view which is partially what makes this book so compelling. All sides of any situation are clearly presented. Of course, if I am standing on one side of a barbed wire fence in the dead of winter wearing only a thin Cotton dress with no shoes and no food, sick with no medicine, worked and starved nearly to death, I would harbor a bit of hatred towards her too. Human nature to feel that way. I honestly think God would want us to look at her and be thankful that at least she is not suffering but I know that I wouldn't look at it that way. I would view her as worse than foul.

See? Even writing the title of the book brings back the moral dilemma's contained in the book. These are the types of books that we need to have our children read. These are the types of books that must be read in order to prevent anything of this sort from ever happening again.

What about books by Homer? Or (I'm gagging now) plays by Shakespeare (obviously not one of my favorites). Or even "I'm not Rappaport" by Herb Gardner. (An easy read about an old man who, because he views his life as having been boring and uneventful, likes to pretend to be someone else (a retired spy) and the people in his world who want to change him and make him "normal"). Or even "Tell me you love me Junie Moon"? Another light read about not judging others because they are different than you or because their family unit is different than yours.

We cannot and must not allow our children to bypass the books that give them the opportunity to think about what they would do in those situations. How they would feel in those situations. We must give our children books to read that once they are finished we can sit on the couch and discuss it with them. That's the beauty and wonderment of books. They allow you to contemplate yourself in an entirely new place and time with new situations that need to be addressed and new decisions that are oftentimes life and death that need to be made and they help our children to learn to make those decisions or at a minimum to think about the consequences of these situations. Harry Potter does not do that.

Harry Potter, in my opinion, is for 4 types of people. 1. hate to read 2. have a low reading ability, 3. want a simple read due to time constraints or 4. just want to get away from the stresses of their lives without having to give it much, if any, thought. I understand giving one of these books to your child just to get them interested in reading but then slip in a decent book for them. However, they are most certainly not a must read before you die type of book.

From the time my children were born until I guess they were 13 or so, I read to them every night. EVERY night. We turned off the TV, we got into our jammies and they would curl up on the bed while I read to them for an hour. Those were the absolute best hours of my life.

Of course, I read them age appropriate books when they were very small but as they (and their intelligence) grew more complex so did the books. We were reading "Resurrection" (Tolstoy) by the time my youngest was 5. We discussed them, digested them, pondered them. Naturally there were words they weren't familiar with that I would have to explain, but that was the beauty of it all. They were exposed to new situations, times, cultures AND their vocabulary was enormously expanded. To this day, each of my children possess and treasure libraries in their homes that are varied and impressive. I firmly believe that if either of their houses were on fire, they would run to save their books before anything else.

Our nightly reading was wonderful and it saddens me to no end to think that children nowadays are not getting that same time to read books of substance and then discuss their ideas and interpretations with their parents.

We need more readers of substance in our new generations. We need more thinkers of depth in our new generations. We need future leaders who will ponder decisions and consequences closely and thoroughly and who will be able to flash back at some of these characters and their decisions with an educated eye while reaching their judgments. We need future leaders who will be familiar with historical events and the decisions leading up to them as well as, the decisions that ended many of them.

But that's just me.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

On a personal note

I belong to a neighborhood association. Every day I get e-mails from one of the neighbors in my area about this and that. One of the shops is having a sale, garbage pick-up date has changed, association meeting night is coming. This kind of stuff.

However, at least every other day I receive the "roll my eyes" e-mails from neighbors who are too stupid to lock their car doors and wake up to find their change or their cell phone that they left in plain sight in the car stolen. Or the ever vigilant neighbor who left his expensive mountain bike in the carport and came home to find it missing.

The first Christmas I ever lived in this neighborhood (about 5 years ago) I received an e-mail from a neighbor who had just wrapped all of his presents and placed them under the tree which was located in his formal living room right beside the front door right beside the sidewalk when he decided (I can't remember the reason) to step outside and go next door to his neighbors for a second. He left his front door open and went inside his neighbors house and lo and behold when he went back to his house, all of his presents were gone. Vanished into thin air. He told the police that he was only in his neighbors house for maybe 10 minutes. Can you believe that? Apparently 10 minutes is all it takes.

More than once I have had e-mails about neighbors who were getting ready to leave and they got to their vehicle (which was parked on the street next to the sidewalk) put their purse on the car (in one instance it was a briefcase) and then went back inside the house to do something. Well, surprise the hell out of me, but when they got back to the car their purse/briefcase was gone!

The types of e-mails that really make me roll my eyes are the following (I have pasted one of the e-mails below for you. I have gotten rid of the identifying parts (don't want to get sued, now do I?)

"At about 5:15 p.m. on Christmas eve I encountered a suspicious person walking on ??th St. S. at ?th Ave. S.
He was a black male about 6-foot-3, thin, wearing a backpack and cap of hat of some kind with dirty-looking dark clothing.
He had some kind of laser pointer or red-lensed light that he shined on the ground as I passed him.
I glanced back after I passed him and he was shining the light through the fence of the house he was passing by.
As my dog and I past him I said "hey." He answered in a very thuggish tone "what you say?"
After we got home I called the police and asked that they keep an eye out for him tonight.
Since so many people are away for the holidays I wanted to urge everyone to keep an eye on their houses and their neighbors and report any suspicious people or activity to the police.

Before I go any further, don't you love the "thuggish tone" part??

Now, first of all, let me explain the type of neighborhood that I live in. I live in an urban neighborhood that is very diverse. I would say maybe 30% of the residents are white but the rest are black & Hispanic. Also, if you step a block away from our neighborhood in any direction you are then in an almost entirely black neighborhood. I would say 99%. What does/should this tell anyone? It should tell anyone that on any given day or night you are going to find a black person walking down the street.

I have yet to get an e-mail from any of our neighbors telling us to be on the lookout for a white guy walking down the street. However, if you pull up the Sheriff Departments registered sex offender web page, you will find that most of the offenders are white. Shouldn't we be on the lookout for them too??

To be fair to these suburbanites who want to be cool and live in this urban neighborhood, there have been a lot of break-ins in his part of our neighborhood. Also, NO ONE should have to worry about someone else taking what doesn't belong to them. It's just not right and in my book, thieves should be hanged before murderers. (only because most of the time, murderers have a better excuse for their crime than a thief does). However, I still wonder about his right to call the police just because he noticed a black male walking down the damned street.

What do you think the police do when they get these calls? Most of our police down here are black which reflects the demographics down here. How do you think they feel when they continuously get these calls from the upper middle class white yuppies stating they saw a black male walking down their street and want him questioned?? I will say, they are very nice when they get these calls and they come out almost immediately and take a report and promise to drive around and keep their eyes out for them. (We really do have the nicest cops here). But how do you think they personally feel to get these calls? They are WAY better than I am because I am afraid if I got one of these calls and the caller told me the guy was just walking down the street, I'd remind them that they too were walking down the street. IT'S A PUBLIC STREET! ANYONE can walk on it at ANYTIME. Yeah, I wouldn't last long in a dispatch position.

Also, how can these people send out mass e-mails to everyone in the association telling them that they are such stupid idiots (yes, I realize that was redundant - I did it for emphasis) that they put valuable stuff in plain sight where anyone can grab them and run? And furthermore, if they didn't see who took their purse off their car or stole their mountain bike out of their carport how do they know it was a black male??? Honestly!

These kind of people need to live in the suburbs. They do not need to live in a mixed neighborhood. The houses over here are outrageously overpriced anyway. This guy lives in perhaps an 1200 square foot 3/1 house with a TINY backyard and no driveway and my bet is he could sell his house tomorrow for around $200K. In the mostly white suburbs he could get a house 3 times that size with a larger yard for the same amount.

So why does he live in a place he doesn't trust? Why does he put up with "black males" walking down his sidewalk? Who knows why these yo-yo's do what they do. Maybe they want to be the cool kids in their group?

I wonder if the black male called the police to report a suspicious white male walking down his street? I really wish they would start doing that. Do you think if these same people got the law called on them a few times and had to explain to the police what THEY were doing walking down that street at 5:15 in the afternoon, maybe they would think twice about doing it to others?

No, I think they would just be enraged at the audacity of the police and would immediately lodge a complaint with internal affairs over their callous treatment! They would NOT get it. These types never do. They have an entitlement frame of mind and nothing you could do or show them would ever change it. Sad, but true.

But that's just me.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

My taste for gore

After my last post, a dear friend of mine e-mailed me. At the end of her e-mail she stated that I appeared to have a taste for gore. Partially true.

I do find unusual murders fascinating. I'm really not that big into serials killers. I was at one point but eventually they all appeared to be somewhat the same. Bad childhood, started out killing/torturing animals, blah, blah, blah. There really are just so many tales of childhood abuse or neglect that I can stomach. So I eventually tired of the whole serial killer thing.

Now, familial killing. That is my "new" kick. I don't mean the Melendez type of killing. They were just greedy spoiled brats. Nothing interesting there. You know the type. Greedy kids, wives, husbands, etc just want to do away with the parent or spouse just to get some money type of killings. Those bore me as well. Unless the perp is seriously out of this world crazy. Below are my favorite familial killers at the moment. A common thread in these murders is greed. Remember, I said I wasn't interested in greed killings unless the murderer was seriously nuts. Well, these are. So sit back and enjoy my "favorite killers of the moment".

Diane Downs. I have discussed her in my previous blog so you all know what fascinates me about this case.

Marie Hilley.
Aww, Marie. This woman was indeed out of her frigging mind. She was from Anniston, Alabama and she had always aspired to be rich, beautiful and refined. Unfortunately for Marie, she was born into a working class family who lived in a small town. Not much opera, ballet and high society exposure there. She was very attractive but that didn't help her much in her goal to be "upper class". She married a hard working man in 1951, had a daughter and then discovered insurance. She poisoned her husband with arsenic in 1975. A long hard death. An autopsy revealed symptoms consistent with hepatitis (whose symptoms closely match arsenic poisoning) and this was put on his death certificate as the cause of death.

When he died, she inherited a small policy. She spent it and much more within the course of a couple of years. She needed more so she insured her daughter and began to poison her. Unfortunately for Marie, the daughter didn't die. In 1979 while Marie was in jail for giving the insurance company hot checks for her daughter's insurance premiums, she was arrested for attempted murder. They dug up her husband and tested his remains and popped a murder charge on her for that. For some odd reason, the authorities allowed her to get bond and Marie took off. Marie remained a fugitive for over 3 years.

In her absence, they determined that both her mother and her mother-in-law had substantial levels of arsenic in their bodies when they died.

Marie moved to Florida using the name Robbi and met and married a well to do man named Holman, who by all accounts, was just the nicest guy in the world (you know what women like Marie do to these kinds of guys). They moved to New Hampshire after a couple of years. She worked in an office where she alienated several of the employees with her attitude and stories of how upper class she was. During this time, she told people she had an identical twin sister named Terri who lived in Texas.

When one co-worker in particular began to openly and publicly question the comments Marie would make at work about her "privileged life", Marie figured it was time for Robbie to disappear. So, in 1982 she told her husband that she needed to travel to Texas to visit her sister and to receive treatments for a disease she supposedly had. A few months later, "Terri" called to tell him Robbie had passed away and that Terri had donated her body to science so there would be no memorial.

On November 12 or 13, after changing her hair color and losing weight, she returned to New Hampshire and met John Homan, posing as Teri Martin, his “deceased” wife’s sister. She further went to the office where "Robbie" worked and met the suspicious employee. Rather than satisfying the employee's curiosity, it only made her more suspicious.

An obituary for Robbie Homan appeared in a New Hampshire newspaper. The co-worker contacted the police with her suspicions and when they attempted to check out the information contained in the obituary they were unable to verify any of the information it contained. A New Hampshire state police detective surmised that the woman living as Teri Martin was, in fact, Robbi Homan and had staged her death. That hunch paid off and shortly after police brought “Teri Martin” in for questioning, she confessed to being Audrey Marie Hilley. She was returned to Alabama to face trial.

She was quickly convicted and sentenced to life in prison for her husband’s murder and 20 years for attempting to kill her daughter.

She began serving her sentence in 1983 and was a quiet, model prisoner. This good behavior earned her several one-day passes from the prison, and she always arrived back on time.

In February 1987, however, Hilley escaped after she was given a three-day pass to visit her husband, John Homan, who had moved to Anniston to be near his wife. They spent a day at an Anniston motel and when Homan left for a few hours, she disappeared, leaving behind a note for Homan asking his forgiveness. Her escape prompted an inquiry into the prison system’s furlough policy.

This time, she did not stay missing very long. Four days after she vanished, Anniston police responding to a call about a suspicious person, went to a home and found her. She apparently had been crawling around in the woods, drenched by four days of frequent rain and numb from temperatures dropping to the low 30s. She had landed on the steps of a house within yards from the house where she had grown up. The very house she had struggled, connived and murdered to escape.

She was taken to a local hospital and underwent emergency treatment for hypothermia. While at the hospital she suffered a heart attack and died.

John Homan, her husband, was murdered in 1989. His time with Marie had depleted all of his resources and the man who once owned sailboats and houses in multiple states was reduced to working at the same motel where he and Marie had last stayed as a caretaker. An altercation occurred on his shift and when John stepped in to help, he was stabbed to death.

Robert O. Marshall

This man killed for greed and sex. In 1984, Rob Marshall was a successful business man with 3 perfect sons (one of whom later married Tracy Gold, the actress), a perfect and beautiful wife who all lived in a perfect and beautiful house in a perfect and beautiful suburb of Tom's River, NJ.

However, Rob wasn't as successful as he would lead everyone, his family included, to believe. He was heavily in debt and to top it off had a married neighbor on the side that he wanted to marry. Problem was, he had a wife who had never worked outside the home, 3 children and a heavy mortgage. He would be ruined if he went the divorce route. So, what is the alternative? Insure her to the hilt and then murder her. Life would be good. Or so he thought.

So he hired a former deputy sheriff from Louisiana and a couple of his thugs to "hijack" them at a lonely rest stop one night. They killed Mrs. Marshall and hit Rob on the head. This story is full of twists and turns and craziness by Rob. He attempts suicide and lands up in an asylum for a short time. He professes his undying love for his wife while her ashes sat collecting dust in the funeral parlor for over a year and a half. Also before he buried his wife, the boys came home from school one day to find their father's new, and much younger, flame (the married neighbor had dumped him) trying on their dead mother's clothes, furs and jewelry. When his "hitman" doesn't act quickly enough, he hires another one to kill the original hitman (this second man tips off the first who finally gets the job done). His sons are divided as to his guilt but ultimately, he is found guilty and given the death sentence. This death sentence has since been reduced to life in prison and the enormous insurance policy he had on his wife went to his sons who now will have nothing to do with him.

So, Rob Marshall sits in prison with a life sentence. Amazing story again of someone who just doesn't see that he did anything wrong.

Patricia Vann Radcliffe and Tom Allanson

I can't talk about this case without naming both parties because the situation is just too bizarre for me not to mention them both.

Patricia thought of herself as special. Her parents had always bailed her out and she'd never had to take responsibility for herself. Partly because of that, she felt that her husband ought to be able to give her anything she wanted. She needed constant attention—what some men might call high maintenance---and unqualified love. She first had married an army sergeant and stayed with him long enough to have three children, but got tired of him, so she left him in 1972 to find a better quality of life—what she felt she deserved. She met Tom Allanson, six years younger than her. She had her eye on someone else, but it looked like Tom could give her whatever she wanted.

Nothing she ever had was enough. She had to make things go her way and she did: through manipulation, poisoning, theft, lies, and deceit. Her presence was a constant danger to people who stood in her way: her brother a "suicide", her new in-laws shot dead, her grandparents-in-law nearly poisoned by arsenic, her employer severely overdosed, her daughter, who finally saw the awful truth about her mother, possibly poisoned. A narcissistic personality, without a shred of conscience, she systematically destroyed her own family.

Tom had money and as soon as he was divorced, he was quite insistent that Pat marry him. He later recalled that he was the one who pressured her, while she would say, "You don't want to marry me." Yet she could just as easily have been stoking the fire by making herself unobtainable.

In 1974, he married her dressed as Rhett Butler, while she played Scarlett, and gave her a heavily-mortgaged, 52-acre home in Zebulon, Georgia, that she referred to as Tara. They set about to raise Morgan horses, and even Jimmy Carter, then governor of Georgia, came to visit. Pat's ambitions of being the proper Southern belle were being realized—or so it seemed.

When Walter Allanson, Tom's father, disapproved of her and angrily tried to force Tom out of his life (and will), Pat filed complaints of sexual harassment against him, claiming that he had exposed himself to her. Tom grew alarmed over this, along with threats that he heard that his father was going to kill him, so he took out a restraining order. Yet his father was taking a defensive stand, believing that his own son was out to kill him. Someone had stolen a pistol and rifle from his home and he was convinced it was his son. The police searched Tom's home and came up empty-handed, yet the intense fear and anger continued to grow on both sides. With no form of communication taking place, it was the perfect set-up for a manipulative psychopath who wanted to get something for herself.

This back and forth paranoia goes on for some time with anonymous phone calls to Tom and also to his father telling them of potential threats to their lives by the other. Mysterious drive by shootings followed up with more anonymous "tips" until one day the trap is complete. The elder Allansons are murdered and Tom is accused of the killings.

Tom was soon arrested. Pat insists on directing the defense. When Pat told a number of lies to the attorney in an alleged attempt to provide Tom with an alibi, the situation became even more suspicious. Tom had his own story—also a lie—and it didn't match. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. At the time of the murders, he and Pat had been married less than two months, and now Pat had the farm to herself. It wasn't long before she tried to talk Tom into a suicide pact, which he later felt sure was an attempt to get him to die so she would inherit everything.

Tom is convicted and sentenced to life. Pat was left alone, so then turns her attention to Tom's remaining family, ingratiating herself with his invalid grandparents. Her house and barns burned down, and she forged Tom's signature to get the insurance payments. When she's certain that the grandparents name her as a major beneficiary in their wills, she begins lacing their food with arsenic. But before she can kill them, she's caught - and does eight years for attempted murder.

Released and apparently reformed, she's hired as a practical nurse by a rich Atlanta couple, Mr. and Mrs. Crist. The aged pair soon sickens; the husband dies, and Pat is convicted of attempted murder and theft.

Once again, Pat was facing prison time. In a shrewd and controversial plea bargain, she agreed to seven charges, including theft, attempted murder, and posing as a registered nurse, with the proviso that she never be charged with the murder of Mr. Crist or investigated for the murder of Tom's parents. One again, she was sentenced to eight years.

There is never a shortage of news about Patricia Vann Radcliffe Taylor Allanson Taylor, Pat is 70 now, and scarcely the slender and lovely Southern Belle she once was. Several years ago, she was paroled from her second prison sentence--for pretending to be a "Registered Nurse," and poisoning and stealing from the elderly Crist couple.

Pat returned to McDonough, Georgia, to move in with her stepfather, Clifford,” The Colonel" Radcliffe and his new bride, Aggie whom he had married a few months after "Boppo" died. (Aggie was Pat's mother Boppo's younger sister.) Pat has a small doll shop nearby: "Pat's Pretty Playthings." Aggie passed away last year, and Pat's son, Ronnie, also died in 2004. Pat is battling Ronnie's widow over who will possess his remains.

Radcliffe is in his nineties and was hospitalized several times in 2005. When he is home, Pat cares for him and oversees his business affairs. Pat bears much ill will toward her granddaughter, Ashlynne, now in her twenties, and, of course toward her daughter, Susan, who was instrumental in Pat's most recent arrest. Susan lives on the West Coast, but occasionally gets ominous messages from Pat. Susan and Bill divorced many years ago, and Susan has happily remarried and is slowly putting her family back together.

The now-released Tom gives stunning suggestions of how Pat engineered the killing of his parents. I can see how he would feel totally manipulated by Pat but come on.........he's the one who pulled the trigger MORE than once and killed both of his parents. She may have pushed him to do it and she may have set the stage, but HE did the killing. He needs to accept responsibility for HIS actions as well as, blaming Pat. Personally, I'd be ashamed to admit that I was such a puss that someone could talk me into murdering my parents. Unbelievable.

UPDATE: As of February, 2008 the elderly Georgia woman who had twice been convicted of attempted murder in arsenic poisoning cases, stood before a Fayette County Magistrate on felony drug charges. According to Lt. Jody Thomas of the Fayette County Drug Task Force, Pat Taylor (as she is now known), 70, was arrested Tuesday and charged with doctor shopping for thousands of pain pills over the past year.

“We believe she may have received over 3,700 pills in less than a year,” said Thomas. Lt. Thomas said officials suspect Taylor was using the pain medication herself. He said normally the quantity of pain pills would indicate the suspect was selling narcotics, but that did not appear to be the case with Taylor.

Betty Broderick

This story is convoluted at best. Dan Broderick was not at all a sympathetic victim nor was his new much younger bride with whom he had carried on an affair for quite some time before he decided to divorce Betty. Linda was also his office assistant when their affair started.

Dan was by all accounts, vain, selfish, cold and verbally abusive to Betty. He belittled her at every opportunity during their marriage and once the divorce proceedings began he jumped at every opportunity to harass her and put her in her place.

On the other hand. Betty was a wild cat during the divorce. She did not take it well (at all) that most of their friends became his friends. Their 4 children seemed to want to spend more time with their father and his new wife than with her and she saw that as him brainwashing the kids and taking them away from her after having taken everything and everyone else.

It should also be said that Betty worked multiple jobs so that Dan could finish medical school and then when he decided later that he didn't want to be a doctor but a lawyer, Betty worked her butt off again to make sure he could finish law school while raising 4 children and being the social butterfly she was expected to be.

I can understand her feelings about Dan and Linda to an extent. Linda had in essence taken over Betty's life. Betty had been traded in for a new model and was expected to go away quietly and retire. Not Betty.

Dan gave Betty an allowance of $17,000 a month. That's a lot of money these days but back in 1984, it was a tremendous amount. She also lived in a multi-million dollar home and drove a top of the line car. But that wasn't going to work for her. She wanted her life back!

Whenever Betty would commit an act of harassment against either Dan or Linda (little things such as running a truck through the front of their house while they had a dinner party or stealing their door key off her daughters key chain so she could go inside their new home and destroy it) Dan would "fine" her by deducting the amount of money it cost him to repair or replace the things she destroyed out of her monthly check. This enraged Betty.

The last time Dan fined her, some reports state that Betty had a row with her children where they begged her to stop acting crazy and then told her they wanted to go live with Dan and Linda. This was enough for Betty. It was all she could take and that night, she went to their new house, broke in and killed them both as they lay sleeping in their bed.

To be fair, I honestly and fervently believe that Betty was raped by the courts in her divorce. Dan gave her $17,000 a month temporary support but he was raking in over $300,000 a month in a career that SHE had financed for him by working her butt off so he could concentrate on his law studies.

When it looks as if the money is rolling in and Betty can finally kick back and reap the rewards of her years of hard work, Dan starts a 6 year affair with is 20 something assistant and leaves Betty.

When the divorce was finalized, the court ultilized the "Epstein" credits that California courts use as a means of "debiting" the non-working spouse for loans and money given to them from the time of the divorce filing until the time of the divorce finalization. After the credits were subtracted from her settlement, Betty only received around $30,000 in a cash settlement BUT she was still responsible for HALF of the marital debts to that point.

Dan was the President of the Bar Association in San Diego and he most assuredly used every trick in the book and pulled every string he could find to make certain that Betty walked away with nothing and he accomplished that feat quite well.

For a woman who feels her life is utterly out of control and she has no one to help her and no place to turn, I can see that she might entertain the thought of murder. I probably might in her situation. However, I wouldn't actually do it. She did.

She, to this day, denies that she did anything wrong. Dan and Linda wouldn't leave her alone. Dan and Linda took her life away from her. Dan and Linda were poisoning her children's minds against her. blah, blah, blah. Fact of the matter is, she killed them. When she shot Dan he fell off the bed. As he crawled towards the phone she walked over, pulled the cord out of the wall and beat him in the head with it. I actually saw an in person interview once where Betty talked about this part and actually chuckled about beating him in the head with the phone. I think the situation could have been handled a bit differently.

All of the above examples are perfect examples of how these seriously flawed minds work. They, without exception, have no remorse for any of their actions. Everything they did, they had to do in order to have what they wanted. They seem to truly believe that it's not their fault that another human being just happened to get in their way. They appear to believe that each victim, in essence, caused their own murders simply by the fact that they stood between the murderer and what that murderer wanted.

It's intriguing to me, obviously.

But that's just me.
(Note: Much of the Patricia Allanson information above was originally found on the Ann Rule Website. My thanks to Ms. Rule)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Diane Downs Update

Remember Diane? She (played by Farrah Fawcett in the movie) was the "mother" who shot her three children because her married boyfriend (played by Ryan O'Neal in the movie) didn't want children. Ann Rule wrote a book that the movie was based on called "Small Sacrifices".

She went before the parole board last week and was denied. Imagine that! I read the transcript of her hearing and folks, it was scary. I came away from it feeling that either she is the craziest woman in the country OR (to play Devil's advocate) they hopped her up on some serious drugs before they allowed her to go in there. She brought a book with her to the hearing. It was a book of short stories about Angels. She repeatedly referred to this book as having evidence of a conspiracy surrounding her conviction. She stated often during the hearing that this book would exonerate her and prove to the world that she was rail roaded. Hmm.

Her father, Wes Fredickson, has a website ( dedicated to Diane wherein he pleads her innocence. He has also self published a book which is supposed to prove her innocence. As of this writing, he is being sued for the contents of it. I have read everything on that site and I will say he makes two interesting points. First, there was no residue on her and there were no blood splatters on her both of which would have indicated her as the shooter. I spent the better part of 4 hours trying to find out if those statements were true or not but couldn't find anything to either collaborate his statements or refute them.

Having said the above, I still feel she was guilty as hell and is exactly where she deserves to be. The rest of his site is dedicated to detailing "witness" statements who name the "real" shooter. They say this guy killed the kids because Diane owed him money.

Now, my problem with this is the fact that although Diane changed her story more often than she changed her underwear, three facts were always consistent and three facts alone. The location of the shooting, the location of the shooter (when she first saw him) and how she and her children happened to be in that spot at that moment.

The location was a lonely strip of a road. The location of the shooter when she first saw him is always that he was standing in the middle of the road in front of her car trying to flag her down. And the third consistency in her story(s) is that she, on the spur of the moment, decided to take this lonely strip of a road as a shortcut to get to another road.

My problem with this is simple. If the guy she owed money to was out to kill her children because of it, how in the hell did he know that she would be coming down that exact road, at that exact spot, at that exact time? I would come closer to believing this fairy tale IF Diane had stated that the guy was behind her. Then I could think he followed her. But in each and every tale she utters about that night, he is ALWAYS standing in the road in front of her car flagging her down. Unless this guy has teleporting powers, I don't see how this scenario could be possible.

Sometimes, it's not what a person changes about their story that tells you volumes. It's what they don't change and because of the above consistencies, I have no doubt that she is guilty.

I understand her father's pain and completely understand him wanting to convince SOMEONE that he could never have raised a daughter who would do this to her children. However, he needs to put it to rest. She did it. He needs to accept that fact and try to move forward from that standpoint. I am very sorry for him and her mother. I really am. I can't imagine being in their situation.

Back to Diane. When I googled her, it came up with 182,000 hits. When I googled John Gacy I got 110,000. WOW!

I think people are still intrigued by her for several reasons.

1. She was a mother of 3 small children (ages 2-6) who viciously and systematically shot each of them. One by one. In a moment of passion to shoot one person can sometimes be accepted (never a child but anyway) but to shoot 3 children who were in a car, it would require her to shoot the one sitting next to her, get out of the car, go around to the back door, open it, lean in, shoot another child. Then close the door, walk around the car, open the door, lean in, shoot the third child. Now also, it should be known that while she was shooting the other two the first child sitting in the front seat apparently opened the door and fell out of the car, still alive. Diane then had to go to her, pick her up, put her back into the car and then she shot her again. Now that's a LOT of effort to put into killing your own children. It was proven at court that she then drove 5 - 8 miles an hour to the hospital. She apparently wanted to make sure she didn't get there before she thought they were all dead because the ones in the back seat were still making "gurgling" noises.

The middle child, Cheryl, died. The oldest child, Christie is partially paralyzed on her left side after suffering a stroke from the massive loss of blood and the baby, Dan, is paralyzed from the waist down.

2. Diane was way past flamboyant and has always been described as being very pretty (I think she looked average but that's just my opinion). She made really good press. She loved the press and sought out attention anywhere she could get it. In an interview right after the shootings Diane was asked about her feelings regarding the incident. Diane stated: "Everybody says you sure were lucky. Well, I don't feel very lucky. I couldn't tie my damn shoes for
about two months. How's that for motherly concern? At the time of this interview, Cheryl was dead, Christie had suffered a debilitating stroke and Danny was paralyzed from the waist down for life and she is concerned that she couldn't tie her "damn shoes for about two months".

3. Another reason I think folks are still captivated is because the prosecuting attorney and his wife adopted the surviving children and raised them as their own.

During these years, Diane has escaped from prison, been put in the hole for trying to start a drug ring while in prison, been put in the hole for being physically and verbally abusive to the employees of the prison and has attempted on numerous times to contact her former lover and his wife, as well as, threatened the lives of her remaining children and their adoptive parents. Yeah, she's a real peach.

As I stated earlier, Diane Downs is exactly where she needs to be and she should never be free to walk the streets of any town ever again.

But that's just me.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


It's nearly Christmas! At one time, this would be followed by my jumping up and down and screeching the sentence! These days, it's more of a "let's get it over" kind of reaction. Looking back, I realize that the ONLY years in which I was really truly excited about Christmas were the years before my children were grown when I was either finished with my shopping and/or had enough money/credit to make it commercially festive. This year ain't either one of those, for sure!

When the kids were growing up and even after they became young adults (they are still young adults so I guess I should have said "younger" adults), it was still fun to do the Christmas thing. I loved going shopping with my daughter and cooking for everyone. I especially loved taking them to Midnight Mass and then driving around town looking at the Christmas lights with them. We would watch the Christmas movies and I would buy Christmas albums and we would all pray for snow!!

As payment for my children riding along with me looking at the lights (I enjoyed this far more than they did, it would seem) they could open one present when we got home.

I slowly began to tire of what Christmas had become several years ago. My normally cohesive family began to fuss during this time of year over stupid things like, "don't buy me anymore stupid unicorns - I have never liked unicorns what ever gave you the impression that I did?"(that was me to my sister)

or, "We came to your house last year and even though we understand that YOUR house is large enough for everyone to comfortably fit AND contains enough beds for everyone to sleep in, we want all of you to come to OUR house and squeeze into it and then after driving all that distance and putting up with the tight quarters, sleep on the frigging floor while we sleep comfortably in our own beds AND then drive hours back to your own house, have a dead tired sleep and then go to work the next day!" (that would be my sister to me) That kind of crap. (I will say, in defense of my brother-in-law, that once he married my sister holidays were better. She and my mother chilled out quite a bit on the demands and planning portion of the holiday and our visits to their house became more enjoyable.)

But until that point arrived, we would load up the car, drive the 2 hours to their house, endure the tight quarters and then have to wait until THEY decided to go to bed so WE could get some sleep since they like to stay up until dawn and sleeping on a couch, recliner or floor is bad enough as it is but try to do it while folks are literally feet away from you sitting at the kitchen table drinking coffee and being loud!

The entire trip was always peppered with me praying to God that the weather didn't turn bad on us preventing us from making a hasty retreat back to our home as soon as breakfast was finished the following day. Although my mother and sister only lived a couple of hours north of Memphis, the weather was vastly different. They get ice and snow...Memphis hardly ever.

It just became such a tiresome, emotionally draining and dreaded experience that I decided to start chopping the Holiday season down a bit.

I started chopping with Thanksgiving. My family rows started normally as soon as Halloween was over. That was when my mother and sister would begin to plan the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays FOR EVERYONE (without consultations). So, I decided that I was no longer going to celebrate Thanksgiving. It was no longer a celebratory holiday for me. I will not participate. End of chat.

I can show you what my Thanksgivings turned into before I stopped having them. Isn't my daughter just having the most fun?! Too bad I wasn't!

OR how about this one? Her father wasn't quite sure if he liked this tradition or not at this point.
He later decided he didn't.
And this one was taken on the event of my brother-in-laws very first Thanksgiving at his new in-laws house (mine). Unfortunately no one had bothered to warn him of the food fight tradition. (oops) He was adequately surprised (and horrified).

Food fights were all the rage at my house on Thanksgiving for years. It all started when my daughter (first photo) was a vegan. One Thanksgiving when my daughter was perhaps 15 and my son 18, the entire family sat around my dining room table which was completely full of delicious holiday fare that I had worked on for the entire week. I had struggled to make certain that there would be enough vegan variety for my daughter while ensuring everyone else had their personal favorites and was extremely proud of the resulting feast.

As we all began to fill our plates and spirits were high, my daughter filled her fork with mashed potatoes. My son, who was sitting directly across the table from her, leaned towards her and in a very sinister voice went "MOO!" as he popped a large piece of roast into his mouth. My daughter responded by flicking her fork and it's entire contents across the table hitting my son squarely between the eyes. The fight was on!

My mother went into grandma panic mode, yelling for them to immediately stop it! My sister grabbed her son and they went into the kitchen for shelter. (Note: my terrors finally caught up with her when he tried to hide on the deck. She was very soundly splattered with pie). Her boyfriend at that time, sat there with his mouth open in stunned amazement (until he was hit in the forehead with a turkey leg when my daughter ducked behind him to avoid it. At this point, he too, fled into the kitchen), the friends my children had invited over had a look of "Boy are you two going to get it" on their food spattered faces. Me? I filled my plate and began to alternate between ducking and eating the fruit of my labors. I knew they would calm down eventually and I, for one, was too tired to chase them around the house until they did.

This "tradition" continued until about 4 years ago. Let's see that would be 10 years. Eventually, I made a rule for this food fight. It could only happen AFTER we had all eaten and the only food that could be thrown would be cool whip or the equivalent. That seemed to appease the God and Goddess of terror that I had raised.

Then about 4 years ago, my sister passed and we retired the food fight for good.

Christmas was (and is) not the same without her. She truly loved all things from October 31 to January 2. She adored holidays (especially the ones concerning gifts) more than anyone I have ever known. I can not put into words how much I miss her.

It was about that time that my fiances really took a downturn. So, not only was my sister gone but so was my money. What a combo. From that time on, Christmas sucked. And it sucks to this day.

I know Christmas is supposed to be about Jesus and peace and kindness and all that stuff but it's not. It's about decorating your house festively, going to equally festive parties and buying gifts that you wrap and place under your festive tree. I loved Christmas and I miss it so.

To that end, I have completely bought into the commercialism that has become Christmas. I can't adequately express my gratitude that my financial situation happened AFTER my children and nephew were grown. I can't imagine trying to make merry when there's no money for your children.

Now I can get on my soapbox and declare to all that Christmas is too commercial for me to participate and most will believe me.

But deep down, I hide an ugly secret. I'm a fake. I still love Christmas and I still mourn the loss of it.

But, hopefully, I will live to see another one. And maybe it will be better?

But that's just me.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Drew Peterson and men (in my opinion) like him

It was announced today that Drew Peterson is engaged. Since he's not yet divorced from Stacey and she hasn't been declared legally dead, isn't this whole engagement thing a bit premature at best? Oh yeah, the new wife to be is 24. He does like them young doesn't he? He admitted to a reporter that his new love is a "fan" of his. This really got me thinking.

Men who murder or are accused of murdering their wives have a huge fan base in this country. I just don't get it. Drew is suspected of murdering not one but two of his wives. Think that makes him safe to marry??? In my mind, he's not even safe enough to invite to the neighborhood bar-b-Que.

Even Charles Manson still receives marriage proposals. Why do women do this? You certainly don't see Betty Broderick with a new husband. Men apparently take the thought of dating people who murder their spouses a little more seriously than women do.

I don't know about you but I can promise that (a) I'm not going to strike up a relationship with a man convicted OR even accused of beating, cheating on (and especially not) murdering his wife (much less 2), and (b) IF by some weird happenstance I should find myself dating a man who unbeknownst to me was any of the above, I would run, run, RUN. Anyone who would not run from someone like this, is seriously in need of deep and prolonged psychological help.

A girl I knew socially when I was in college (we'll call her Rhonda) ran after these types of men. I don't know why. She was VERY pretty. Knew how to dress, do her hair and make-up to get the most out of her already stunning looks and was a very sweet girl and a hard worker who paid her bills and stayed out of trouble. She had a mom and dad who loved their only child and would do anything for her. She was never abused by her parents.

But, she had a couple of prison penpals (WAY before Internet) and she always seemed to date some guy who was "down on his luck" (meaning wouldn't work but sure would spend HER money). They were always the same, only the names were different. She would meet them and before the week was over, they were living in her apartment.

They were always "tough guys" who liked to keep her on an extremely tight leash. They never worked. They spent HER money freely. One guy in particular (we'll call him Jerk) would come to her job (in HER car) and sit in the parking lot watching to see who she ate lunch with. He would call her office every hour and God forbid she not talk with him until HE decided to get off the phone or there was hell to pay.

She came to work on more than one occasion with bruises. Her boss was a friend of mine and one day at lunch he told me about the situation. All I knew at the time was that she was dating Jerk and I tried to stay away from both of them until he moved on (and I knew he would) because he didn't like me and I didn't like him and I knew that if I visited or called as soon as I was gone he was going to trip out on her. So I stayed away.

Her boss told me about Jerk sitting in the parking lot to keep an eye on her. He said a couple of times Jerk even came into the office and demanded to see her RIGHT THEN because he hadn't seen her go out to lunch and assumed she had "snuck" out the back door with some man.

The last time he had come inside, the boss asked him to leave and not come back on the property or he would have him arrested. Jerk promptly and loudly accused the boss of sleeping with Rhonda and threatened to kill him AND her if he ever found out that was true.

Boss was going to call the police but Rhonda talked him out of it. The next day, Rhonda called in sick and the day after that, she arrived at work wearing sunglasses and continued wearing them for nearly a week.

Boss was put in the position of having to tell Rhonda that the next time the guy even pulled up on the parking lot, she was fired if she didn't do something to keep him away such as kicking him out and getting a peace bond on him.

Rhonda and I had a night class together. She never missed class regardless of what was going on in her life. However, before the semester was over, she rarely showed up in class and when she did, she came late and sat in the back and slipped out the door before I could get to her when it was over.

One day a few friends and I had lunch together. Cindy, one of our mutual acquaintances, told me that she heard Rhonda had moved back in with her parents in an attempt to get rid of Jerk. I was really glad to hear that and hoped for the best.

Rhonda's daddy was an independent long distance truck driver and whenever he had a trip, he and Rhonda's mother would jump in the truck and be gone for weeks on end together.

It was nearly the end of the semester, close to Christmas and I was getting ready to head out of the door on my way to class when my phone rang. It was Cindy in tears telling me that Rhonda was dead.

Apparently, her parents were on a haul and Rhonda was alone in their house one night when someone beat her, tied her to her bed, stabbed her over 100 times with a pen knife. The police later said that stabbing her with the pen knife wouldn't kill her but would inflict pain which was akin to torturing her. Once she passed out, he poured gas around her bed and set the house on fire. She eventually died from smoke inhalation.

However, the bed he tied her to was a water bed and didn't burn and the fire department got there before the roof caved in so her body wasn't burned either so the idiot who did this to her left ALL his evidence at the scene of the crime. But this was before DNA testing. Local cops relied on fingerprints and the like. They said there were no prints to get.

They never arrested Jerk because (surprise!) he was long gone by the time they went to her apartment to get him. Neighbors said they saw him putting his duffel bag in the back seat of Rhonda's car and driving away alone late on the night before (which would have been the night of her murder).

They eventually found her car parked beneath an overpass with blood in the trunk. They came to the conclusion that he came upon her somewhere other than her parents house, beat her, put her in the trunk and then took her back to her parents house to finish the job. I assume he took her to her parents house because it was far more private than her own upstairs apartment located only blocks from the campus.

To compound the situation, no one could remember Jerk's last name or knew where he was supposed to be from. Rhonda never discussed him or their relationship with anyone that I am aware of. Jerk wouldn't allow her to socialize with any of her friends once he moved in and she had only known him about a week before he was her new "roomie" and her parents had never even met him so there weren't many leads.

Her parents told the police that once he moved in with Rhonda she rarely came to their house. They, like her friends, decided to give her the space she needed in the hopes that either she would eventually kick him out or he would leave of his own accord. That's the way things were done back then in my neck of the woods. Wait it out. Don't interfere.

The police assume he was one of her prison pen pals but being that this all occurred in the early 1980's long before data bases and the like, they couldn't find out exactly who she had been corresponding with and since the guy never worked, no paper trail there either.

Needless to say, they never found him and as far as I know the case is still open. Doesn't do any good for Rhonda though does it?

I told this story in an attempt to prove my point. Don't believe what this type of guy tells you. Don't think that just because he did it to one girl doesn't mean he'll do it to you (because you would be wrong to believe that).

Guys like this are creatures of habit. They, on some level, enjoy what they do. They enjoy the power they exact over these women. They thrive on the fear they see in the women's eyes.

THEY WILL DO IT AGAIN...AND AGAIN...and again until they are either put away or dead. At some point this behavior becomes their nature, their character, their life and they will hurt or kill anything or anyone who threatens to come between them and their prey.

Any woman who strikes up or allows a relationship to continue with this type of guy might as well go on down to the funeral home and pick out their coffin because that's where their story will likely end.

Having said all of this, do I have pity for the girl who is now engaged to Drew Peterson? No, actually I do not. Did I have pity for Rhonda? Yes, I did. I'll tell you the difference between the two (slight though it is).

Remember Rhonda's story happened in the very early part of the 1980's before Internet and before folks locked up their cars or had security alarms installed (or at least in my neck of the woods).

Rhonda had no idea or reason to suspect that Jerk had ever hurt a woman before her. He wasn't from that area, she only had his word (for what that was worth) and her gut feelings to go by. Although she seemed to only date creeps, they never beat her, they just used her. So, she had never been in that type of situation and probably never knew anyone who had so why would she think that he would actually torture and kill her if she left him? She was still providing him a place to live so in her mind I'm sure she thought that he would just go out and find another unsuspecting woman to harass and then she could move back into her apartment and go on with her life.

Now as for Drew Peterson's new squeeze, that's a different story altogether. Unless this chick has been living under a rock and is deaf and blind, she has to know what he is accused of. The article I read said she lived only a few blocks from his house so I'm certain she knows the story on him. It also said SHE wrote to HIM. She initiated this scenario. WTF??? Why would she do this?? Is she crazy? Does she WANT to be his next victim? Dear Lord!

Oh yeah, innocent until proven guilty. Well, let's put it this way. He may be innocent of all charges and suspicions. He very well may be. BUT, it's common sense to stay away from people like that just in case he is guilty. It's survival. If he's innocent, then no harm done and everyone goes about their lives. But if he's guilty, she could be signing her own death certificate.

Who on this earth (not even Brad Pitt) is worth taking that risk and being wrong. So, I do not have pity for her. She is a grown woman and is going into this with both eyes wide open. She knows she is playing with fire and is literally betting her life that she won't get burned. Let's see if she's right.

But that's just me.

What ever happened to "love of the game"?

At one time, I LOVED sports! Not playing them (Not a big fan of the possibility of pain or sweating) but I loved watching them! That was when folks played sports because they loved the sport. That was back in the day when there was a team of guys playing versus nowadays when there are just a group of individuals playing.

I used to roll my eyes whenever I would hear anyone say "there's no I in team". Well, now I completely get it. These ego driven, out of control, money loving "stars" on both the college and professional teams are not there so their team can win. They are there so that THEY can win at the expense of their team if need be.

What would I do if I had a magic wand? I would put a cap on sports salaries (that includes the coaches). I would also mandate that half of their salary was required to be put aside for the eventual day when they could no longer play their sport. Just think about it, does ANYONE really need $10M to live on for a year??? Could they not live just fine with $5M and have the other 5 go into a trust for their future - as well as the future of their children?

Too many young men are wooed out of college to go pro and are given these enormous salaries and they blow every nickel of it and then some. One day they are injured or become such a problem that they are fired and the next day they lose everything they and their family owns. At that point, what can these guys do for a living? Bus tables at the local truck stop because I would venture to say many of them wouldn't be capable of running the cash register because the only thing they really learned in high school or their very short stint in college was how to play sports.

The powers that be need to take a little more responsibility with these young men. They need to look out for their futures a bit more. Some of these guys didn't exactly have the best role models growing up (if at all) and they need that guidance and support in the new world into which they have been thrust. These owners, managers, coaches need to realize that to some of these young men, they are the only positive father figures that some of these players have ever had and then act accordingly.

If we took the game back to being about the game and the TEAM, children would have better role models, more people could afford to go to the games without stopping by the title loan place on their way so they could afford the tickets. And, the most important effect, would be that the games would be exciting again. They would be "us against them" again rather than like it is today "him against him".

Another issue I have (and this is my biggest issue) with sports is college sports. Can you please explain to me why ANY coach in the world is worth $32M??? That's what we pay our coach down here. I will say I like him. He does an excellent job. But $32M??? Our tuition goes up, costs of books/lab supplies are out the roof, students are living hand to mouth in order to get an education and yet, the University can come up with that kind of money to pay ONE coach??

Of course, I hear it is coming from "private" backers not the coffers of the University. So, these same private backers couldn't see it in their hearts to put that money into keeping tuition down or lowering the price of books? How about getting some parking for the students so they don't have to illegally park and risk their cars getting towed away? OR putting up more student housing so students can actually afford to live with a roof over their heads (that isn't attached to their car)?

We in this country have lost our focus. We wonder why places like Japan pump out such smart students who go on to invent the most awesome things and churn out some really brilliant doctors. Well, I have the answer to this question. It's because in Japan education is highly valued and everything else is secondary. Their children go to school all year...just like a job. Their money is spent on academics and if there is money left over, THEN the sports department gets it.

Sports is intended to be a past time. A hobby. Entertainment. It has evolved into a monster. It is now the focus and everything else is a hobby (like intelligence, jobs, education). I would venture to say a majority of these guys don't go to college because they want to be an attorney or a doctor (ever hear of a pro getting drafted who was in law school or medical school?) They don't even aspire to be writers or teachers (wanting to be a coach doesn't count). They aspire to be football players or baseball players, first and foremost with no plan "B" in the works.

My son and I discussed this at length and although he agrees with it, he also agrees it will never happen because we have spoiled the athlete pool. They expect to be paid zillions per year and won't settle for anything less. Well, I say, if this went into effect, we would have a new breed of players who would jump at the chance to do what they love even if it's for half the money and glory. I say if we groomed these young men to be team players instead of individual players, a whole lot of the problems plaguing our teams would disappear and we could all focus on the game and the teams and less on some player who shot himself in the thigh while illegally having a loaded firearm in an establishment that serves alcohol. We wouldn't have to worry about some hotshot who can't keep his mouth shut and hands to himself and gets suspended to the detriment of his team. Or how about the guy who tortured and killed dogs as a sport? I get SO sick of hearing all these folks talk about what a great guy dog killer is and how he has been SO wronged to be in prison. WHAT??

If these guys knew from the outset that their behavior could and would result in their either playing or not, they just might straighten themselves up. And if they didn't, well good bye. Have a nice life busing those tables. We don't need that kind of guy on any of our teams anyway. I certainly don't want to think that my ticket sales in any way contributed to his paycheck.

What about the Olympic athlete's? They sacrifice and struggle to become the athlete they are and then when it looks as if all their years of struggle, sacrifices and hard work is about to pay off, some political machine decides they can't go to the Olympics because of the country in which it is being held. WHO CARES what country is hosting it? These guys have worked all their lives for this one shot at the gold and we are going to deny them this for ANY reason??? These people are the only true athletes left in the world. These guys have strict codes to follow and it is rare (it does happen - but it is rare) that you get scandal and jail time out of any of them. That's because they KNOW that if they get into trouble, everything they have worked so hard for is gone. This is a lesson that we need to impart on our professional athletes.

There is no such thing as Superman. He doesn't exist. There are exceptional football players, baseball players, basketball players, but no Supermen. This is evident because every time we think we have got one, along comes another one who is even better. Just goes to show you that there is no such thing as an indispensable player and they all need to know that.

The last role model I would want for my kids is a professional athlete. Maybe once upon a time. Not anymore.

But that's just me.