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August 16th, 2010

For the Love of God, People, READ TO YOUR KIDS!

Reading stats over at Reach Out & Read and am saddened (but not shocked) to learn that Louisiana ranks last (as in #50) in % of children read to every day by their parents and (no doubt as a small result of that, among other factors, of course - mainly our shitty & dismal excuse for "education" in this state) we are ranked #49 in "% Students at or above Proficient in reading, Grade 4" and #50 in "% Children age 6-17 who have repeated at least one grade".

Damn.  That is sobering and depressing, eh?

In other words, Louisianian parents, please read to your goddamn kids! Please?

Reading and books were so important in my home.  My Mom always read to us, always had us excited about books and stories, took us to the library, etc.  She made the world of books magical - she loved reading so much (inherited from my grandfather) that it just came natural to her to immerse us in the wonderful, imaginative world of stories.

The result?  Three smart kids that - as adults - have a passion for books and one that became a writer (that would be me).

It isn't uncommon for us to give gift certificates to Amazon as birthday/Xmas gifts; we all read, all the time, and we love books.  If we read a really good one, we tell each other to check it out, loan books to one another, etc.  It's awesome, really.  I can't imagine a life without books - without words and stories and all of the neat worlds I've experienced and characters I've met through reading.  The love of books and reading is one of the most precious gifts our mother gave to us and I am forever thankful for it.

Please, parents, take some time away from your busy schedules to read to your kids - it's more important than you know and you will be opening up so many wonderful, creative worlds for them by doing so.  Read to your kids.  Both of you will benefit from it and you just can't beat that precious time spent together.

August 5th, 2010

Whoopi vs The Salahis

To prove just how little I pay attention to the blight on entertainment that "reality shows" are (though I will cop to watching some on MTV now and again if nothing else is on every blue moon or so), I had no idea there was more than one Real Housewives show. I always thought it was the same however-many-women every time they talked about the show.  I had no idea the haughty harpies had multiplied out to different locales.

You know what they say:  You learn something new (and useless) every day.

I learned this while watching a couple of videos about the Whoopi Goldberg vs. Michaele Salahi.  (Note:  I do not know if I spelled her name incorrectly and I do not care.  It's a stupid name with an even stupider spelling.)

In case you weren't privy to the latest The View drama, let me bring you up to speed.  Now, normally, I am not myself "privy to the latest The View drama" because I do not watch The View.  I actually stumbled on all of this while reading People magazine online and depleting my rapidly diminishing cadre of brain cells.  But, to be frank, reading about celebrities and reality TV and Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston's magical back together-engagement-breakup will kill brain cells faster than a huff on a crack pipe.  Therefore, I limit my celeb/gossip ragmag readings to a couple of times a month.

This being one such time, I began reading about how Micheallele claimed - to the producers of The View no less - that Whoopi had "hit" her.  When Whoopi - not one to quietly sit back and let someone talk shit about her - confronted Mihcalele with some "choice words" backstage, Angry Husband Salahi (I honestly don't know - or care what - his name is) jumped in and started yelling at Whoopi and snapping pictures of her with his Blackberry (wtf?).  So Whoopi apparently told them both where to stick it (I'm Team Whoopi here, in case you couldn't tell).

Apparently, Michaleleleale was already upset (and "sobbing" - what a mature adult and strong woman she is) about her "treatment" on The View; "treatment" that was the result of how she acted/reacted.  If you won't answer simple questions and, instead, promote your forthcoming book all while accusing the hosts of "attacking" you because it's "what their viewers want", you sort of dug your own grave there, sweetheart.

It all started when Joy Behar and Sherri Shepherd started out asking Michaleleae about the infamous "White House party crashing" - that she claims didn't happen.  It got a little off-topic when it was mentioned that the bitch's husband could not join them onstage because of an "incident" that had made the other wives "uncomfortable" around him.  Yeah, no shit.

This asshole threw a glass of wine in a woman's face because she asked him to keep it down - because he was screaming his fat head off at two other women!  Sounds like quite a catch Micahalele has there.

So while the woman who had been wined tried to tell her side of the story - as the hosts asked her to do - Miaechele kept jumping in and interrupting and trying to tell her version of events - which, of course, quickly devolved into the two women trying to talk over each other and starting to yell and fight.  It was then that Whoopi Goldberg came in, side stage, touched Malchaldjfie on the side and arm and asked her to stay on topic/get back to the White House stuff.  That was the "hit" that Michalejala claimed Whoopi gave her (seriously?).

Here is the original show, where the Housewives appeared on The View (and you can see Whoopi come out and hit touch Michalalaeea) and here is the next day's taping (which was today, actually) where Whoopi explains what she actually did and what happened.

Miechilae whined that she was treated with hostility on The View, but I didn't see it.  Instead of answering their direct questions, she danced around the issue by saying "you're prejudging" (ok, so set the record straight) or "you're just saying that because it is what your viewers want to hear".

What all of that avoiding actually meant was this:  "the truth will come out when the book comes out - buy the book! - but I won't tell you now.  Did I mention my book - buy my book!  However, before the book - and the "truth" that I cannot tell you because it would ruin the whole reason for buying and reading the book - comes out, DO NOT by any means come up with your own conjecture of what may or may not have happened because then you will be "prejudging" me unfairly for ratings."

The Salahis - fine, upstanding Americans right there, folks.

July 30th, 2010

An Open Letter to Dina Lohan

So I'm reading in Popeater that Dina Lohan - over-protective, Hollywood mum to terribly-addled, near-hopeless actress Lindsay Lohan - is upset that Lindsay, during her (what will likely turn out to be all-too-brief) stay at a women's correctional facility in Lynwood, California for probation violation and charges stemming from an old DUI and drug arrest.  (You know, the kinds of things you and I would have been quickly thrown in jail for without the media claiming our sentence was "too harsh and unfair").

Dina had this to say about the deplorable conditions her daughter is being forced to suffer in:

"She doesn't have cell phone privileges, that's absurd. She doesn't even have a pillow to sleep on," Dina told Radaronline.com yesterday. "I talk to her through glass. There's a phone and we put her on speaker but I can't even hug my daughter. She's treated like a common criminal."

I would like to give Ms. Mama Lohan a little real life talking-to here; a bit of an explanation of how the world works for those of us that aren't treated as if we shit golden eggs.

Dearest Mrs. Lohan:

Lindsay is being treated like a "common criminal" because she broke the law and violated her probation.  Dina, that is actually the definition of "criminal", dear.

It should be noted that Lindsay's extended stay is taking place at a correctional facility.  No, I don't think you quite understand - that means jail, j-a-i-l.  She is in jail not the Ritz-Carlton.  Do you honestly not realize that if she wasn't Lindsay Lohan and was just some messed-up, drugged-out young adult off the street, she'd of gotten that sentence long before now and would have served it and then some?  You decry her punishment as "unfair" and "too harsh" - so what is it when a judge orders the same (or a harsher) sentence down to a young woman who isn't a celebrity?  Would you care and advocate for them then?  Don't even bother answering that one - let's move on...

She does not have cell phone privileges because no jail in America allows cell phones to be used by inmates (need I even say why?) and, remember this because I realize you're having trouble grasping the concept, Lindsay is an inmate right now.  In a jail.  Because of her own actions and even inaction.

I would think, as a mother worried about the path her meal ticket daughter is going down, you'd be happy about this; maybe this will be a wake-up call for Lindsay to grow up and take control of her life.  Anyone ignorant and childish enough to paint "fuck you" on her fingernails before going to court - and not expecting the judge to notice and deem you, well, ignorant and childish - bespeaks of someone either not all right in the head or desperately crying out for help; perhaps and likely both.

This time could be good for Lindsay, if she were treated like everyone else and had to actually experience the consequences of her actions (something far too few of these Hollywood starlets ever have to do).

Get used to talking to her through glass, because that is how you visit an inmate in jail, Dina.  Which - let's remind you once more - your daughter is.  And it isn't the judge who put her there, nor the lawyer that Lindsay immediately fired (and then hired someone right out of law school with no experience).  It's not even Michael Lohan's fault, though I know you and Lindsay like to blame him.  I feel he is just as much to blame for Lindsay's current state of fucked-uppedness as you are; you two were obviously terrible parents as you seemed to confuse the task of parenting with the job of managing.

Yet that blame can only carry so far and, I personally feel, once you are in your 20's, what you do starts to be on you and not anyone else.  Ya'll may not have given her a solid foundation on which to build adulthood, but her choices are what have put her where she is now.  It's no one's fault but Lindsay's that she is in jail.

That you think she should get "special privileges" while there speaks volumes; especially considering the fact that she is getting special treatment in that jail - she is not in population, her family doesn't have to wait in lines just to see her as everyone else does, and the guards give her candy when she asks for it.  I'm sure there's much more in the way of special privileges that Lindsay alone is favored with, but those are a few choice tidbits we've been privy to thanks to the media.

The problem here is that Lindsay isn't being treated like a "common criminal" and she should be.  Firstly, because she is a criminal, she did break the law, and she should be subject to the same laws and punishments the rest of us are.  Secondly, how is she going to learn to accept responsibility for her own fuckups if everyone keeps giving her a free pass?

I hope, for the sake of your daughter's sanity and, quite possibly, life that you take heed to what I know some people close to you must be saying.  Ignore the sycophants and stop being one yourself wherein your child is concerned.  Do what is best for her, not what will bring in more money for all of you.  The extent to which Lindsay has been used by you and Michael is deplorable.  I have no doubt you love your child, but I believe deep down you know it is a selfish love rather than a selfless one, as it should be.  Perhaps if those around her tried to truly help and listen to her rather than pander to her childish whims, I think she would respond.  She is screaming out for guidance and discipline in her life; help her to establish that - even if it means a few years away from the media circus, the limelight, and the entire Hollywood scene.  For once, do what is best for Lindsay and not those that rely on her for a paycheck.

Sincerely,

Shanna Riley
aka skatoolaki

I honestly started out to write this with some snark and bite and a few laughs, but - in the end - found myself actually imploring Dina Lohan to wake up and realize that her daughter is on a fast-moving, one-way trip straight to an early grave.  I found I couldn't poke fun at Lindsay because, as much as I dislike her, she's obviously very ill - mentally and emotionally she is damaged and the self-medicating with drugs and alcohol is only making it worse.  Her parents are constantly in the media, calling it on themselves, and pulling Lindsay between them like a rag doll; she's a meal ticket to them and not a daughter and that's just...sad.  I see Lindsay as this broken, desperate little girl just crying out for someone to love her and take care of her.

No, in the end, I could not poke too much fun because, all around, this is just a sad situation and if something doesn't change - if there is no wake-up call for Lindsay soon - the news we write about her will only continue to be more tragic.

May 25th, 2010

The Evolution of Marriage

One day - in the not-so-distant future - same-sex marriage will be a legal right afforded to all gay Americans.  It will happen, no matter how hard the dissenters try to stop it from happening.

Marriage is not a sacred inexorable establishment.  In fact, the institution of marriage has metamorphosed and evolved over time; changing through the centuries to fit the times in which it was applied.  Marriage today is nothing like marriage in the 1200s, for example, and even further removed from marriage (which the commoners rarely even did) in any B.C. era.

Contrary to popular belief, the Church has no claim or hold on matrimony's origins.  Church control over the institution did not heavily begin until the 1300s, and even then it was arbitrarily administered, at best; banes, divorces, and annulments were meted out to royalty and aristocracy for the right amount of money or if an alliance or division suited their own political and power play maneuverings.  The rules and regulations were ever-changing as befit the times, the political atmosphere of the day, or the whims of sovereign rulers or religious leaders.

In fact, Popes and Catholic priests were often married despite the cessation of the practice as decreed in 325 at the Council of Nicaea as part of the Nicene Creed.  Regardless of the Creed's dictate, however, priests and even a number of Popes continued to enjoy wedlock up until the eleventh century when Pope Urban II tried to put a kibosh on the practice by selling priests' wives into slavery and forcing them to abandon their children in 1095.

Even with such heinous measures, the tradition took a long time in dying out (as traditions often do) and in the fifteenth century, 50% of all priests were married and accepted as such by their parishioners.  The last recorded married Pope was Felix V (1439-1449); he and his wife had one son.

Even within the supposed sacred sanctity of the Church, the history of marriage is one of change, adaptation, and growth.  The major divisive action of Henry VIII that created the Protestant movement, all so he would be allowed to divorce his wife, is ample evidence that, as far as the confines of the Church, the institution of marriage is not the steady stalwart many believe it to be.

The idea of marrying for something as capricious as love would have been foolish, to say the least, to our not-so-distant ancestors.  In fact, it would have been unthinkable and, even more importantly, forbidden by the lovers' parents.  Marriage was a business deal, (hopefully) a step up in one's and their family's wealth and status.  For royalty it was a contract that allowed for alliances, accumulation of land, and legitimate heirs to pass their title and assets onto.  It was not much different for the aristocracy and other upper class echelons.  Due to this, young adults were not allowed to choose their prospective mates; it was entirely too important a deal to be left up to the vagaries of youth and hormones.

One of the things that always comes to mind when people talk about "traditional marriage" is one of its not-so-distant customs.  Not that many years ago, parents were the decision-makers for a young couple's future.  Plans were made, often without consulting the children.  If we went back to "traditional" marriage, then your parents would be choosing your mate and you'd have no say-so in the matter.  If you refused, not only would you be shunned by your parents but by your entire community!

The fact of the matter is that marriage is not the stable, resolute practice many believe it to be.  Anti-gay marriage proponents feel that allowing homosexuals to marry somehow ruins the "institution of marriage" or changes an "age-old tradition" and this will all, somehow, destroy marriage as we know it  This is erroneous thinking; this is simply a new age and a new time with modern circumstances that require a face lift to the current state of matrimony.

March 10th, 2010

If You Ever Needed Proof That Lindsay Lohan Is Delusional…

It was some years ago that I hung up my celeb-bashing hat and closed down my popular celeb gossip/bash blog, Star Suck.  Though I enjoyed writing the material, it was sort of like shooting fish in a barrel; the subjects of my ire and derision seemed to float around with enormous targets painted on their backs.

That wasn't the only reason I stopped, though.  It was also negative, too negative in the end, and I figured – at least karma-wise – it would be best to refrain from profiting off of bad-mouthing others (regardless that those others were often self-centered, selfish, narcissists who often deserved every bit of it).  But, boy, it was fun while it lasted.

I vowed to never pick on celebrities again – okay, scratch that.  I vowed to not make a habit of picking on celebrities again, unless they did something stupid enough to warrant a worded takedown.

And that brings us to Lindsay Lohan and the E-Trade Saga.

Some of you may remember the cute (if you're into that sort of thing), creepy (if you're not) talking E-trade babies commercial from the Super Bowl.

It's a running theme – this fast-talking, tech-savvy, portolio-trading baby that confers with the screen like an adult awash with the glow of his laptop – that E-trade has done a few commercials with.  On Super Bowl Sunday they decided not to mess with a good thing, and kept the little guy for their big spot – this time adding a couple of females into the mix.

The NY Post describes the commercial succinctly:

In the ad for the financial-services company, a baby girl is upset with her boyfriend for not calling the previous night.

After the boy apologizes, saying he was diversifying his portfolio, the girl asks suspiciously: "And that milkaholic Lindsay wasn't over?"

"Lindsay?" the boy asks sheepishly before another baby girl pokes her head into the frame and asks, "Milk-a-what?"

What's the big deal, you're wondering?  Well, apparently, as the rest of the world went back to their chips and beer – and the game – Lindsay Lohan was on the phone with her mother…crying.

You see, Lindsay is positive the commercial was making fun of her.

Not so, says E-trade.  It's simply "a popular baby's name".

But Lindsay, who apparently – if no one else does – sees herself as an –aholic of something or other, is insistent.  She is suing E-trade for $100 million for her "pain and suffering".

Dina Lohan is proud of Lindsay for taking a stand and is quoted as saying, "I'm just basically glad I took a stand. I'm not going to let them do this to us anymore."  Fruit Loop and her mother are also insisting the "horrible" and "mean" ad be yanked.

I can't decide if she's really this ignorant or she's really just that desperate for some publicity.

March 4th, 2010

Guest Post at Haunt Jaunts

I was invited by the lovely Courtney Mroch of Haunt Jaunts to do a guest piece on my 2001 experience at The Myrtles Plantation, one of the most haunted houses in America.

The post is up, and I'd love it if you would head on over and give it a read - be sure to check out the rest of Courtney's awesome blog if you're into the spooky and mysterious or just love a good ghost story or hunt!

Read the entry here:  An Occurrence At The Myrtles Plantation

March 3rd, 2010

Buzz Control

I have noted an alarming phenomenon that appears to be gaining in popularity – much to the detriment of those that like to keep the sound switched "on" when using their instant messaging programs.

I refer to this blight on the i.m.ing world as "Buzzer Frenzy", and it refers to the individuals that like to, rather excessively, abuse the BUZZ button while chatting.  (Note:  In particular, this refers to the BUZZ feature in Yahoo! Messenger.)

I do not like to ever use the BUZZ button, truth be told; yet there are some – very few – instances where it might apply.  Perhaps when someone has been a.f.k. overlong or you truly need to grab their attention in case of an emergency.

To truly understand the seriousness of Buzzer Frenzy and why it must be stopped, one must first understand what happens when the BUZZ button is pressed.

Not only does it deliver a loud, jarring sound to the user being buzzed (if their sound is on) and vibrates their messenger window making it appear to be seizing, it takes the cursor out of whatever window the user happens to already be typing in, and puts it into the buzzing, vibrating, horribly annoying window with the buzzing user that you now want to choke the everliving shit out of.

Rude?  It goes beyond that.

Let's say I'm typing to a family member who does not live near me and we are discussing a sudden family crisis that has just happened – we are typing back and forth, completely absorbed in our conversation and not paying attention to other i.m.s popping up that are, at this moment, not as important.  (Yes, this has happened to me).

Some asshat, let's call him Asshat, comes on and says "hi", and I – in the midst of having a very important conversation – do not respond immediately to that person.  Asshat waits a few moments then, just as I'm in mid-sentence typing a frantic reply to my family member, my cursor is zapped over to Asshat's window and the remainder of my sentence ends up there.

Amazingly, Asshat rarely understands why I then go into a homicidal rage and start typing in all caps and bold, red font WTMF DO YOU WANT YOU STUPID, IMPATIENT, RUDE ASSHAT OF A MORON???!!!!!

The worse are the dumbfucks that BUZZ as a conversation starter.

For example, a dumbfuck, let's call him Dumbfuck, decides he wants to chat with me.  I do not know Dumbfuck, I have never talked to Dumbfuck before, but he has read my profile (which, by the way, says, "please do not buzz") and sees I'm female (really, that's all it takes) and decides to strike up a conversation with me.

Dumbfuck does not send a friendly "Hello, would you like to chat", a simple "Hi", or even a spastic, incoherent "hiiiii h r u" to see if I'm interested in responding or even online at all.  He doesn't care if I'm busy, in a location where I need not have a loud jarring sound blaring from my computer, or in the middle of a chat with someone else.  He wants my attention now, and – to him apparently – it is imperative that I respond to him and only him right at this very instant.

Dumbfuck:  BUZZ

That is his hello.  That is his introduction…no idea that this makes him come across as an arrogant, rude, impatient dumbfuck.  No care that his rude buzzing may take my cursor from an already open window and on-going conversation and stick it in his – a complete stranger with a patience problem and a lack of common decency.

Dumbfuck, then, also has no idea why I respond with a curt "Go suck a donkey's taint, fucktard".

I have become so irate and intolerant of the buzz button that I get livid even when it is used in moderation; if someone uses it at all, I pretty much go ballistic and put them on ignore.

These people (usually men) are completely ignorant of the fact that their excessive abuse of the Buzz button is driving the sane half of the i.m. world insane.  This has to stop – or instant messengers need to eliminate the buzz button from their programs, as they seem to serve no better purpose than to drive people batty.

Please, do your part to end Buzzer Frenzy.

(Have your own BUZZ or other I.M.-irritations to share?  Leave them in the comments & we'll commiserate together!)

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Writing since I could hold a pen, I have put out an extensive mess of words that have, over the years, accumulated into a myriad of web sites, blogs, and even a few published works. This happens to be one of them.

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