Pretty Woman & the Full Jackie O

I see ankle boots are a bit of a thing for fall. Frankly, I’m not thrilled. Aren’t they always in fashion?  I remember feeling vaguely unsatisfied with the boot styles last year as well. Every time the summer light starts to fade and the crispness of fall sets in, I venture out into the world to look for a classic knee high black boot to wear with oh, I don’t know, everything.  Either I can’t find what I’m looking for, can afford what I’m finding, or–it just doesn’t look as you imagine it. When I saw it on Jackie Kennedy, it looked a bit sleeker–a bit slimmer.

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When I go for the full Jackie O, I always feel more like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow man from Ghostbusters.  The great gaping divide between how you want to look,  what you think you look like, and how you actually look can be quite alarming when that little Bermuda Triangle of expectation and reality collide.

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First of all. Why is the average changing room so drab? Audrey Hepburn wouldn’t look good in florescent lighting, so what hope is there for the average woman? Down to the socks and underwear–confronting our figures in a cramped, shadowy spaces bathed in unflattering light? The sounds of chatter, babies crying, toddlers sprinting through the racks, some upbeat non-descript pop song playing just a little too loudly in the background.  Cowering in the changing room at war with the fabric, the buttons, the zipper at it’s height of resistance.  Wedged into a dress/bathing suit/jeans–whatever it is that makes you feel like fat Elvis trying to fit into a little girl’s dress.

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Customer service is a dying art, and odds are, no one is coming to check on you. Put your own clothes back on and venture out into the store–avoiding the pictures of the models looking far better than you in the very clothes that you were wearing. Either buy nothing or something that you don’t really love. It can feel very, very grim.

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Shopping for a specific item can be such an annoyance. Like when you get a job at a place with a very specific dress code? Everyone must wear khaki pants! What better way to spend time and money: on clothes you hate as .for a job you need but possibly don’t want. Of course, khaki pants aren’t really a thing and now you have to roam from store to store searching for some vague equivalent. Worse yet, shopping for bigger clothes after a weight gain. Although, you didn’t really know that you gained weight, because you haven’t been paying attention. You head off to the change room with a size 8 and then require a 10, 12, 14. A most deliciously heinous feeling, trying to wedge one’s cheese filled sausage legs into fabric tubes, coming to quite the realization in a very public arena. Fuck it– I’ll have better luck with sizes at the food court, just going to wear ponchos and yoga pants for the rest of my life.

Image result for girl in a poncho vintageThough I love fashion, glamour, style, and elegance–shopping is not my favorite task. For that reason, I made an excellent personal shopper and was successful in retail.  I really tried to help a sister out–finding an outfit for a wedding, funeral, job interview, date, holiday, party, event with a lot of love, good humor and the occasional hug. Tears were a regular occurrence, as were self-deprecating remarks that usually start with “I hate my…” and end with “thighs, arms, belly, etc, etc, etc”. The key is to keep customers in the change room–bring them outfits that suit their body type and explain all the ways to mix and match. Make it fun, keep it light, and when necessary, a  generous dose of tough love.  Pull yourself together, god damn it–Leave your emotions at the door–and just find some fucking pants. 

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When I encouraged body confidence to others,  I avoided taking in my own reflection in the many mirrors around the store. The agony of a conflicted figure, feeling physically inconsistent with not only your sense of style, but your mental self image. Who is the real me? What do I really look like? How am I perceived by the outside world?  If the reflection is to your dissatisfaction, what is the option? Continue on with the self loathing or shift e gears? Along the way to weight loss, the thought of giving up will enter your mind a million times. If discouraged, frustrated, or exhausted-when you can’t do another stupid squat or count another calorie you need to reconnect with your “why”. Health and mental wellbeing is a noble motivation–but sometimes it’s not an accessible visual like: “Audrey Hepburn in a summer dress. Audrey Hepburn in a summer dress. Audrey. Hepburn. in. a. summer. dress”.

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A year since I began the Herbal One program, I’ve lost 42 pounds and 52 inches. It’s been a time of enormous change, growth and grief. My three weekly visits with Beth and Elisha have whittled down to one, but the beat goes on. I know now that it’s an on-going, never ending process.  Like Sisyphus, the rock and that hill.  Keep pushing–forever and ever.

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Poking around Winners on Labour Day morning, picking up a few pieces to update the professional wardrobe. After three years of working with children in a preschool and gymnastics club, it’s been a lot of stretchy pants and loose layers.  With a new job ahead of me, it’s time for a few fresh touches to the ole closet. I haven’t really had any kind of post-weight loss Pretty Woman shopping montage moments. Mostly I’m shopping in my own closet, wearing items that have been collecting dust on the lowest shelf. Now, that they all fit, I’m really getting a sense of just how long it’s been since I wore them–one pair of jeans that had a whiskering effect  made it very clear that it was not to be matched with this year’s ankle boots.

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Interestingly enough, despite all the life-changing results- I still head straight to the plus sizes in the store. It’s like driving to your old house after you move across town. Taking clothes that are way too big to the change room or dismissing something as too small and it fitting perfectly.  Or the irrational fear of gaining aaaaall the weight back after eating too much bread or skipping exercise for one day.  Ultimately, it’s my brain catching up with my body amid breaking long standing habits, exorcising past pains, and discovering whiskered jeans buried deep in the closet.  I wonder if I would suit ankle boots after all? An option worth exploring I suppose–important to question everything.  It’s the eternal adjustment to the reflection’s metamorphic alteration. Forever seeking the perfect fit, when expectation and reality reconcile with one another once more.

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Images Courtesy of Google etc.

 

 

 

Downward Facing Dog Gone Girl

The 2015 Kamloops Film Festival has just come and gone; this piece was featured in the festival insert that accompanied the Kamloops This Week…without further ado, the extended and Pin-Up-ized version of the article…

Award season is in full swing; and the social media news-feeds are filled with tidbits from these congratulatory evenings that pulsate with fevered anticipation, glittery gowns, and talented performers who are spray tanned within an inch of their life. ‘What are you wearing?” “Who are you here with”? “Are you excited?” “Nervous?” And my question if I were granted court: “When was the last time you had a sandwich?” Of course these people are excited. Number one: if you’re walking that red carpet, dripping in diamonds and adjacent to a bulging three hundred pound bodyguard named Rocco—you’ve made it. You’ve been a part of a significant project, and it’s now being clustered into an exclusive group of significance and a lucky few receive a holy trinket as a result.


But seriously, win or lose, that’s a pretty solid way to spend an evening. Coiffed to perfection, you are privileged to wear jewels and couture, rubbing elbows with wealth, talent and celebrity; swag bags would have gold dipped M&M’s and the champagne fueled after-party people watching would be Olympic level greatness. As it is happening, and in the days that follow, the event and its participants are neatly categorized by the media under: best/worst/memorable/uncomfortable; the hits, the misses. I can’t help but think about the people behind the flops. Who are the people behind the choices? Like…who approved Bjork’s swan dress?

The late 80’s scandal magnet Rob Lowe singing Proud Mary with Snow White?

Who was the guy who pitched Anne Hathaway and James Franco as Oscar hosts? Seriously?

Fact is things hit as often as they miss—sometimes you don’t know why, sometimes you wonder why no one foresaw the future flop–but sometimes the miss evolves into something spectacular in retrospect, and falls under the best category of all–“so bad it’s good” .Rob Lowe + Snow White x “Proud Mary” = The Greatest Thing to Ever Happen to Me. If only something tossed Lowe a saxophone so he could play a la Billy Hicks from “St Elmo’s Fire”, it would have lifted the bar a fair bit.

This performance was so bad that the Academy received strongly worded letters from the likes of Paul Newman and Julie Andrews. Ouch. I just hope I never screw up so badly that I get a strongly worded letter from Mary Poppins.  Perhaps I can comfort my collection of small failures with the sentiment.

It also says something about formulas for success. I can only imagine the late 1980’s executives in their boardrooms, jacked on cocaine and ego clapping each other on the back for these ‘excellent’ ideas. “People love Rob Lowe. People adore Snow White. People can’t resist bastardizing the lyrics to “Proud Mary” with clever cracks about dwarves. What if we threw it all in a great big blender…how smooth would that go down?” Hey—I like fish and I like ice cream, but it doesn’t mean I want to combine the two. In my experience as an event coordinator, I constantly obsess at the near mathematical combination of time of day/day of week/point in year in combination with financial climate/theme/location…and all the details in between. Most importantly, “Who am I catering to?” “What gets people off the couch and out the door? “Why should they get a babysitter?” “Why should they make the time?” Socialization is hard work—at least the idea of it is. I feel like participating in dinner parties or social occasions is like exercise. You don’t feel like doing it, and then you do it and maybe it starts off painfully, and then…you’re just running—smiling, cheeks flushed, wind in your hair, and heart pounding mightily in your chest. You’re glad you tried it. You feel better for having done it. Still, you need to get moving to get that feeling. And that, as everyone knows is the hard part.

So…who are you? What do you want? What do you want in a party or event? What kind of music? What would you eat? Drink? What would make you want to stay? Want to go? The mind reels, right? Do you even know what you want? You want that freshly exercised feeling without the pain. I know I do. Whenever I have a hand in the planning of an event, it always comes with a touch of heartburn and crippling self-doubt. If I planned an event that suited me, there’d be nothing but cheeseboards, bread, mellow lighting, and comfortable seating,  listening to the CBC at a moderate level while waiters who looked like George Clooney handed out free drinks and lingered while making eye contact. But hey, that’s just me.

Also, planning takes time, and when you don’t have time—you are up a creek without a paddle. I don’t know about you, but I personally have the ability to overload my schedule in the same way a prison inmate or a university student would load up their plate at a buffet on a cruise ship. Always, always, always room for dessert, and maybe more mashed potatoes. Heaping spoonful’s of absolutely everything—YOLO y’all, YOLO. Sleep is for babies and great things can be achieved if you make that the thing to take off the plate. It kind of makes you like a circus performer who rides a unicycle and balances plates on sticks…except you are drunk, experiencing vertigo and only have one leg. Oh. And you are on fire. In the thick of film festival preparedness, beyond my demanding career, I was also participating in a thirty-day yoga challenge. Then, just for fun, my husband and I got a new puppy. We named her ‘Bluebear”, which is Latin for “Nothing will ever be achieved in a timely manner again”.

With my e-mail inbox fuller than a Kardashian’s pout, Bluebear’s need for attention at an ‘11’ on the puppy scale, I was at a breaking point: downward facing-dog-gone-girl. This furry little toddler was gnawing away at my spare time like the carpet in the living room; prevention had no point, she was destroying the fabric like it was her mission from God. I had one afternoon to myself, and was bent on catching up. I ran an errand with the dog on the passenger seat. The radio playing low and the pup resting her head peacefully, and me…just driving for 45-minutes basking in the quiet. Eyes narrowed on the road—like a fugitive from the law—just a couple of procrastinating bandits–she the Thelma to my Louise. “Let’s just keen going Blue–let’s just drive until we run out of road”.

My phone rings, my husband’s voice over speakerphone sounding concerned. “Where are you—I’m waiting for you to come home, I was going to take the dog”. “I’m just driving!” I say, laughing, my own voice teetering on the edge of madness—sounding as incredulously giddy and nonsensical as if I had just said: “I just walked on the moon in ice skates, good thing I had my sunglasses! I just had Justin Bieber’s baby—I didn’t even know I was pregnant, I’ve never even heard his music! Charlie Sheen is doing Shakespeare in the park—and he makes a wonderful Juliet!!” Okay then…time to stop driving. This is like 2008 Britney Spears behind the wheel with a baby on her lap kind of crazy.

Once home, both husband and the puppy out of sight, the opportunity presented itself to work alone in the sanctity of my office. I faced the email onslaught with the intensity of Rocky dashing up the steps to the Philadelphia Museum of Art once he’s finally in fighting form. One by one, the emails are answered and filed or deleted, the pressure lessens, a new to-do list is born.

Why do this? Every volunteer has full plates of their own: families, jobs, responsibilities and yet they save room on the dish for the film festival. We do it because we are film-lovers who love film-goers. We like to put all these pieces together, and create a special experience for our community. No greater joy than to sit back and watch others enjoy; like the matriarch in a multi-generational family watching everyone devouring the meal she spent the day making: feasting, tasting, laughing—satiated by your own loving efforts. It makes balancing it along with the yoga challenges, puppy problems, and time constraints worth the while. To participate in a committee like this is to invest your time in creating a special, cathartic, emotional, entertaining and fabulous chain of events. It’s a cinematic holiday in your daily life where film-goers gather to love movies together. It’s worth the lost sleep and increased intake of Tums.

Why the film festival? To me, it’s one of my favourite times of the year. This Netflix age—much precious time is spent looking for “something good”. And then—you finally make a selection, only to lose interest in the first 15 minutes. And so—the journey continues, trudging the path of indecision in the land of endless choices. The issue is of timing and context. It’s the dilemma of film’s purpose—entertaining vs. edifying. Let’s be honest, life can take some pretty dark turns: disease, divorce, war, poverty, the way toddlers have a better i-Phone than you and are so technologically adept that they could very well be the Sony Hackers. There are many serious, important, controversial films that hold a mirror up to history, to humanity—and I have never seen them. Simply because there never seems to be a good time to experience the breakdown of a marriage, the death of a loved one, the atrocities we afflict on others on large and small scales in the comfort of your own home. It never goes well with the end of a long work week, a ratty oversized hoodie and a plate of Chinese food on your lap. If nobody minds, I’d like to keep it so light that the movie could practically float away.

Though in my defense, I am a true sap, an empathetic cinematic sponge that is inflicted with whatever ailment haunts the characters within. My husband has said on more than one occasion: “You know this movie isn’t actually happening to you…right?” Of course I know that…but it could, and being reminded of life’s fragility whilst my fingers are tunneling through a bag of buttery popcorn is as bad a combo as Snow White and Rob Lowe. It makes me think of last year’s beautiful “The Broken Circle Breakdown”, which is quite possibly the most devastating film I’ve ever seen. That’s a kind of film that you watch once, die inside a little and then never again. It does such an exceptional job at bringing you into the heartache, like a 3-D effect, that it hurts way too much to repeat.

With that in mind, it makes you want to polish off too many margaritas and watch a Cameron Diaz movie on a Friday night. Sure, you watch it ironically, and it’s the cinematic equivalent of taking a cabana boy as your lover on holiday. You wouldn’t bring it home with you, but it’s good for the night. But one cannot live off of twenty year olds named Pedro and “Bad Teacher” alone. You need to see the poetry of the human experience in its full breadth: the best/worst/memorable/uncomfortable; the hits, the misses. There are so many excellent emotional cinematic efforts that would pass you by if you avoided the film due to its emotional weight.That’s the beauty of the film festival. It’s a safe place. It is an adventure. It’s a little bit dignified; it’s a social community event. You’re out in public, so odds are your bra is still intact and not carelessly flung onto the kitchen table in the decisive—“Not leaving the house ever again” kind of way. Whether it’s a comedy, a tragedy or somewhere in between—it’s something outside of the norm, outside of your comfort zone. You’re surrounded by empathetic film goers, who share the same doubts, fears, concerns, and who also quiver in the chill of life’s dark shadows; who want to laugh whenever possible, who want to talk about the minor details over a cup of tea afterwards. In the darkness, the group becomes one collective heartbeat, muted observers glimpsing into the lives of others, at the light that shines through the cracks. And you know that you are not alone.

Images Courtesy of Google

Faith Tones & the Freak Show Circuit

For anyone who’s keeping track–the original blogs have not been flooding in plentifully…it’s a trickle. It’s like the tap in the bathtub that occasionally releases a fat drop of water. We’re teetering on full out drought here. Once the very busy summer ended, my life continued to be a morning to night all-consuming marathon of activity and responsibility.

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The luxurious days of writing for hours are gone–for now.  Maybe I’ll have a baby just so I can have a year off–finally write the book that the world has been holding their breath for. In the meantime the only thing I have time for is re-editing and re-posting older posts. Let’s be honest, there’s well over 200 blogs, and not all have been read by everyone. Only a handful of people (that I know of), have read the entire catalogue. Once in a blue moon the pop culture gods release news that allows me to re-release a blog for another dozen or so new readers to relish.  My friend Dusan admonished me over tea one afternoon: “Too busy is not an excuse’, ‘editing and adding new ideas to an old post is not really the same thing as writing a new one’. Well…what can I say? Legitimate writers take collections of already published material and put a spine on it and call it a book–and I bet they tinker and retool their work just a little before it hits the printing press.  As an unpaid, non-legitimate writer, don’t I have the right to rotate the backlog?  Though I no longer write regularly, I still check in on my stats–see what people are reading. I get comments that are almost exclusively spam. For example, samsung 32 inch tv said: “Heyya i am foor the firest time here. I found this board and I tto find It truly useful & it helped me out much. I am hopng to present on thing bak and aid others like you aided me“.  The other day I reposted a piece about the end of summer, and got a very nice shout out from a former co-worker. Her compliment was a nice validation–that someone is reading and enjoying; that it is not unfounded to repost old pieces, as they are new to someone else. Yesterday I checked my email and received a notification about a comment. Wow, another  comment from someone not named ‘fur coats cheap for sale’. It was regarding Crossed Lines at the Cal Neva, a rather epic blog written over my Christmas holiday about Marilyn Monroe’s last weekend.

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“Hell, if your so great why don’t you put up pictures of yourself and have them judge you based on their lives?”

Whoa. That was harsh. As a knee jerk reaction I immediately deleted it. But it really made me stop and think.

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If the writer of this comment had only put an apostrophe and added an ‘e’ to ‘your’, that would have cut me to the quick.  It made me screw my face up in confusion. So…who have I offended here? Are Marilyn, Frank, Jackie and JFK up in heaven nursing wounds over what I wrote about them? Is the commenter offended on their behalf? I reread the piece and realize the issue. (Read along if you wish for the most heightened interactive experience https://pinuppickspenup.com/2013/12/30/crossed-lines-at-the-cal-neva/). The blog was originally going to be about me spending my entire Christmas holiday drunk on spiked coffee, and whiling away many hours on Pinterest…and because I was still drunk I just combined what really should be two blogs into one Lawrence of Arabia length piece. So the blog does start off with me making remarks about vintage celebrity snapshots.Why wouldn’t I?How can you come across a picture like this an not crack a joke>

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Furthermore, Cher is an old friend of mine.  I met her at a Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves summit.  I even introduced her to Val Kilmer. Celebrities in general love when I gently roast their past lives.  What I want to know is how this commenter has deduced that I’m “so great”, and insinuating that my  knowledge of this greatness is bleeding into my comedic work. Does she think that I think I’m better than Cher? Better than Nancy Regan sitting on Mr T’s lap when he is dressed like Santa? Bitch please. Nothing in life will be that good again my friends.

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Clearly this woman has not read all the blogs. It’s a pretty rare day that I shine a light on my many many talents and positive attributes. Don’t I self depreciate enough? I’m an unpaid, unfamous blogger with a slim following and fat thighs, and I am not afraid to shout these facts from the rooftop…what more does she want from me? Maybe she wants to hear more about my life–learn more about my past through the majesty of photography. Allow her to judge me as I have judged others.  Please forgive me…I’ll do my best, but I’m feeling a little foggy–I was just at George’s wedding in Venice and it was a pretty magical weekend.  This is not the most flattering shot of me, I was being attacked by a bee, and was trying to deflect it with my many diamonds.

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Was I invited to Clooney’s wedding? I wasn’t not invited. I know Amal (if that’s her real name), is quite intimated by me, and hoped I would not show my face around Venice over the weekend. What a silly bitch. You don’t spend as much as I have on a face and not show it off.  George needed to see what he was losing for one last time. This is a classic shot–George took this on a particularly hot day in our tow-trailer in Arizona…I was going through a blonde phase, which was a huge mistake. In Clooney land–you better run a tight ship. No dishes in the sink, don’t leave the milk and generic cereal out–and do all that with class, dignity and chestnut hair.

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Of course, I wasn’t always the beauty I am today. In fact, when I was born, doctors told my parents that I would never be attractive. Not wanting to be known as the parents of an ugly baby, they did their best to distance themselves from me.

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Time moved along and I did not outgrow the ugly baby phase. Still, I got a pet and a pack of cigarettes, and suddenly my toddler days were looking up.

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I found a group of friends, and they tried to help me blend into the crowd by wearing masks that were scarier than my actual face.

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Things with the group got kind of out of hand. Egged on by my pet chicken Albert…who had really come to rule the roost, daily life got a little too Lord of the Flies circa Rob Zombie, so we scattered to the wind shortly after this photo was taken.

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From there, it was a ragtag life of menial crime. Knocking off drug stores, liquor stands and 24-hour dry cleaners, and getting short stints with freak shows as they toured throughout the Mid West.

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I made a good honest living for a while–thrilling audiences with my peculiar body and excessively ruffled collar.

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I made friends along the way…making one acquaintance in particular on the road. Now this is an exclusive, and you won’t hear about in the press. Sure Amal looks like this now.  When I had Clooney money I looked like a million bucks too.

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I remember Amal from the freak show circuit when she was known as Gertie the Goatee Faced Girl.

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George is not the first man we fought over either. We have loved the same man before–or, at least, we thought it was a man…the heaving breasts were often confusing.  But what can you say? It’s slim pickings on the fair grounds.

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As is the theme of my life, I loved and lost–and was forced in the opposite direction. I got a new hat and a second hand gun and didn’t take shit from anyone ever again.

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Eventually, the law caught up with me, and I was captured trying to cross the border into Mexico with counterfeit money, thirty aerosol cans of hairspray and a trunkful of mushroom colored pantyhose in a stolen Oldsmobile.

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Prison life was a time of growth and self reflection. It’s all detailed in the wildly exaggerated fictional account written about my life.

Don’t even get me started on Orrie Hitt–what a liar. Who gives someone “Sherry Jenkins” as a pseudonym? Why not Doreen Magilicutty? Esther Pinkerinko? Toots McTinkertits? Trade a little sex for money and suddenly you are a hooker–which is another lie–I’ve never even played rugby once in my life.  Nonetheless, prison changed my life, and made me the saint you know me as today.  With those dark days of incarceration behind me, I turned to a more spiritual life. I realized that I had a natural ear for music and a voice that could make the angels weep; naturally I walked straight into the record biz and dropped a rather successful album with some girls I met in a Halfway house. I’m the one with the big hair in this shot.

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Considered the Justin Timberlake of The Faith Tones, it was only natural that I went solo.  I named the album after my favorite place in the world.  This look is a little ‘Sherry Jenkins’, but my management team at the time was going for an elusive combination of bronzer, bleach and bulimia with just a healthy splash of vodka and a venereal infection.  I think that achieving that look became more successful than the actual album. Lesson learned. The album cover is not more important than the album.  The Faith Tones tried to warn me–but I was blinded by money, fame and the reflection in the looking glass–I called them a dime store Lance Bass and Joey Fatone, and laughed off into the sunset with Charlie Sheen…’s recently fired bodyguard Gary.

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Nobody looks like good all the time right? Wrong. I look that amazing all the time. I earned this beauty. I pay monthly installments for it. I lie to my husband and claim they are ‘student loan payments’ when everyone knows a university education is for suckers.  As of recently I’m paying off the butt implant surgery that will make me look more like Nicky Minaj. I look right in the mirror before I look down on Marilyn Monroe or criticize Sinatra’s ability to be a good friend.  I  pass judgement on Cher’s dating life and make off the cuff observations about celebrities in 30 year old snapshots. And I know I am right to do so.  Why not? After all, I  know as anyone else that I am ‘so great’. No one has ever used the internet to pass judgment, make ironic statements or snarky remarks before. No one has commented on a photograph before. No one has ever taken taken vintage imagery and added a modern twist. Marilyn--117784

Thank goodness I came along to shake things up. I pretty much invented irony along with the birth control pill and the friggin’ wheel. Apologies to whomever I’ve offended–especially to Ms Monroe, as I am the first and only individual to ever speculate about her spectacular yet unfortunate life.

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Dear Writer

Not blogging for an extended period of time is like trying to catch a good friend up over e-mail. We need to do this over a coffee and a scone, or a cheese board and a cab sav, or a week-long holiday in Ibiza. Whatever. I’m flexible.  I really should just set up a web cam, get increasingly drunk, and really tell it like it is. I’ll bring in some special guests to help me hammer out the issues.  It’ll be all lipstick, cackling, cigarettes and black mascara running down faces.  It’ll be longer than “Gone with the Wind” and will be just as epic. Settle in for a good, long tale, bitches.  I’ve done some growing. Developments have been made. Shit has gone down.

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Meanwhile, on the road to creative fulfillment there are many deviations and distractions. Once an active blogger, I was a steaming, persistent train engine, and now I’m more like the girl tied to the track.

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Sheesh, have you ever Googled “damsel in distress tied to track”? It’s a bit of a kinky thing on the interweb. (The other day I Googled “boozy Judy Garland” and it was almost entirely pictures from my blog).  Sexual undertone aside, that’s a pretty apt description. Not writing is always the default mode, but it doesn’t make it the best mode.  As I write I feel…better. Lighter. Like it’s the most me I can be. Typing away, making my own funny fantasy world; where George Clooney once loved me, and I’m somewhere in between Hepburn, Monroe, Streisand, a classic pinup girl…with just a dash of boozy Judy.

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Sadly, the closest I get is Liza in a wig.

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My blog used to be my number one time investment; now it is the literary version of an elliptical trainer in the basement than has laundry drying on it.  The fact that I used to write one thoughtful entry a day is as my husband likes to say ‘mind-bobbling”.  I used to check in with the daily stats religiously.  And then I stopped even doing that.  For whatever reason, I checked in with the website one night and noticed that one blog had been read at a rather high rate. I reread it and (is this tacky?) and was totally chuckling at this essay about my robust rear end, and the feminist aspects of Sir Mix-a-Lot.

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The blog used to be a bit of a life raft–in a time when steeped in uncertainty, I leaned on the ritual, relying on this made up routine to give purpose to my life.  I was rather desperate for something to “happen” to me.  I mean, I’ve had plenty “happen” to me, I could easily fill a country album with twelve or so tracks about heart ache, but I required some kind of positive advancement.  I wanted writing to be the trampoline catapulting into some fame stratosphere. Or even to step into the meekest puddle of success, to see my name in print.To earn a spot of cash for my written word. To make people laugh. It is my earthly mission to crack wise, to heal with humor, to say completely inappropriate things if it means to break the tension.  That scene in Steel Magnolias when Sally Field is lamenting the death of her beloved daughter, and is bringing the house down with her raw, guttural “Why God, Why” kind of grief–and I’m Olympia Dukakis trying to break the ice with a little Shirley MacLaine beat down. Go on, take a whack at Ouiser. What else are you going to do? Just cry forever until you die, and have someone take over and start crying for you?

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At the height of blog productivity I entered a number of writing contests, and was never considered, shortlisted…nada.  At this time last year, I hung my hopes pretty high on those stars, and it was so wounding to go unnoticed.  Did this take a toll on my writing? Yes and no.  I definitely stopped believing that the blog was a portal to anything other an elaborate hobby and a creative outlet.  Even then, I still wrote occasionally, cracking out pieces over long weekends or the occasional long night.  Something did “happen” to me. I got busy, I got involved in committees, theatre projects, and marketing efforts. I have had some extracurricular activity going on since last winter.  The time just wasn’t there to commit to the whole process. Which is great because the writing was more like a treadmill that didn’t seem to take me anywhere.  Recently I got a letter in the mail from a publication company, whom I sent a rather charming story to for a long ago contest.

Dear Writer”

That’s not how you start a letter to the winner. That’s a template for a polite rejection notice.

Dear Loser…Don’t give up your day job“.

This isn’t a pity party, more like a melancholic discotheque.  It’s just not my time I guess. The writing just became a luxury I could no longer afford…because I was out there living my life.  Not that I didn’t have things to write about. Which brings up another host of issues.  How much do I want people to know about me?  In Kamloops, in this medium sized city where social circles course into each other like Venn diagrams, eventually people would connect me to my material, and know some pretty intimate details about my private life.  I once gave my card to a former professor, and then was stricken with horror because the last blog I had written was about my vagina.  I mean, it was humorous and laden with pop culture references, but let’s be honest here–it’s me, three days, an apocalyptic yeast infection and a Sex and the City marathon.  I thought I was being rather ribald, but close friends felt I was too restrained.  Having never written about my lady bits, I thought my first crack at it was plenty racy.  I don’t want to go and make a big axe wound out of things, I like a good punchline but I’m still a lady.  After all, I don’t know if I want to be recognized in the grocery store, while absentmindedly pushing a trolley, and people knowing me without knowing me.

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-“Apparently her writing is unpublishable”

-“I hear her vagina is super temperamental“.

There have been a handful of moments, connections and life lessons that have occurred in the last while that could become blog-worthy…there is one time is particular when I was feeling incredibly challenged. Now, haters are going to hate, it to happens to everyone from Bieber to Beyonce–but there was a time when a hater had their sights set on me. I got a proper taste of what it would be like to be a bullied high-school girl in this age of technology. Back in my day a bully would call you on your rotary phone or write a nasty note, now even the most vaguely intelligent person can attack you through a variety of mediums.  It was like grown-up Mean Girls. That experience hit me pretty hard.  What was worse about it was that on legal terms, I couldn’t talk about it.  That was the true beauty of the blog– the catharsis, that incredible release.  Something stopped me.  I became self-conscious.  I was feeling vulnerable.  I feared the over-share. So I stopped sharing.

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That’s not the answer either. I want to tell these stories…but I don’t want any backlash.  While there’s freedom in a blog–it’s a self-governed practice, with access to a host of images., there’s also nothing to protect your written world in the big bad world.  Frankly, that’s why I need a book deal.  There’s something safe about sharing your most personal details in the credible confines of a published formation. With a title and a picture on the back cover and comments on the back from people that are mildly encouraging.  There is also something about the non-credibility of being just some Jane Blogger, spilling my guts onto the internet, something that even Beyonce can’t control.

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For the record, let it be known that during that recent era of the ugly hateration, the whole Beyonce/Jay-Z /Solange Knowles elevator incident happened, and I had a great metaphor about being like B & J at the same time, feeling that this bully was just like Solange Knowles. I was going to call the blog “The 99 Problems Stress Test”.  The time sensitive topic got away from me, and after a while it just didn’t matter.  It was something I didn’t want to relive just then.  Though really, it’s how I process grief, by banging it out on the keyboard. I truly believe that everything is connected, making partners out of seemingly unmatchable things is a real comfort to me.   This is the epicenter of my sense of humor: the biggest hurts require the biggest laughs. Like Truvy that hairdresser says in Steel Magnolias “Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion”.  For me, in times when I have been touched by hardships and the legacy of depression, humor has been the crutch, the oxygen, the mask.  My sense of humor is my soul; if I were to stop laughing, I’d be in pretty big trouble.

You know where I’m going don’t you?

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Ugh, Robin Williams. This is a shotgun blast to the heart. Robin Williams committed suicide. Now there’s a sentence I’d never thought I’d utter. It’s such a poetic, operatic ending that it is too much to bear.  The loudest person in the room, the funniest figure, the biggest ham and cheese on rye snuffs out his own candle at a moderately young age. It brings up lots of ‘tears of a clown’ references, and endless speculations about his demise. Of course, I am right in the mix, reading, speculating and processing.  This has really hit people hard, I suppose for the same reason we fall in love with fictional characters, for what we see in ourselves.  How does it come to be? A beloved man steeped in success;  a beautiful wife, children, fame, accolades and the accessibility to the most incredible people and opportunities closes the door in his California mansion and loops a belt around his neck. Hard to fathom. That’s how deep his own misery was. “Why would you deprive people of your talent?” the masses question the dead. Clearly at that crucial moment he wasn’t thinking about Mrs Doubtfire or the Genie from Aladdin.  He wasn’t defining himself as comic genius or pop culture icon, not even as a husband and father, he must have been a desperate man in a dark place in need for his pain to endThen again, who am I to say what he thought? All I know is that those hurts belonged only to him.  And it shocked the hell out of absolutely everyone.  When I started this blog, he had only died the day before. By the time I actually publish there will be thousands of articles about his life, his death,his demons, his legacy, his generosity, his many characters.

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There’s a lot of comparisons to humor and depression.  You know me, I do love to mix up unrelated things, but these are closer than you’d think.  I’ve been in some pretty dark places in my life, and my saving grace has always been the sanctifying power of laughter and good humor.  Of course, all aliments can’t be cured with a good belly laugh, but for the most part…it certainly doesn’t hurt. The thought of the funniest person having the heaviest heart really shook me up.  What got me most was the comments from other comedians (Jimmy Fallon getting choked up, Conan O’Brien breaking the news with Will Arnett and Andy Richter, Norm MacDonald’s heart breaking tweets). What these individuals focused on was his wealth of material, what he gave, what he taught, what he left behind.  It makes you reflect on what you’d want to be remembered for, what you want to leave behind.

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In the days that followed the death of a comedian, I inched closer to the keyboard, looked closer at myself.   I wrote my first blog in ages.  It was vaguely like climbing the Himalayas, but it was worth the late nights to make like a masturbating teenager and bang one out for old times sake.  In short, to borrow and reinvent a famous Shawshank Redemption quote: get busy laughing or get busy crying.  Whenever possible. Otherwise everything else doesn’t mean a god damn thing.

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Courtesy of Google Images

Thick & Thin

Saturday afternoon of a long weekend.  This time off was so necessary. After a hectic, stressful, busy, emotionally challenging week I am feeling a bit like a filthy t-shirt you wear for the entirety of a four-day music festival.  I’ve seen all kinds of shit.  It was like crawling through the desert on one’s belly, the oasis always beyond one’s reach.  Then you find out that the desert is filled with landmines and the oasis is just a mirage.  Still, as all things must pass, the stress did recede like the ocean after an angry storm, and all was calm once more.  This weekend is the Richard Gere to my Debra Winger.

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To take my Officer and a Gentleman metaphor one step further…this week has been the Louis Gossett Jr to my Richard Gere, forever riding my ass and testing me to the brink of sanity.

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It’s like…”Thanks a lot universe, what did I ever do to you?”

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Leading up to the long weekend, Benjamin and I were making a lot of plans.  ‘Let’s go on a mini break’, “Let’s go to the lake’, “Let’s see people’. And now, past lunchtime on Saturday it’s like…. ‘Let’s never leave the couch ever again”.

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After the longest winter ever, the long work hours and Netflix on the couch I’m feeling…like I could use a little bit of a detox.  But then I hear about no bread, dairy, alcohol or caffeine, and I feel instantly bored.  As for activity, I love to be tricked into exercising.  I love my yoga, and a good long walk, but anything with a higher intensity level is too much to bear.  My favorite thing to do when I have free-time is research and write blogs.   I spend an inordinate amount on time on the computer, social media updates and promoting different events.  Endlessly searching Google images for the right picture to capture my particular vision.  It’s satisfying mentally, but it’s no cardio, and does absolutely nothing for my core.  I think about exercise more than I actually exercise. I think about it as I’m drifting off to sleep.  I’ll get up an hour early and exercise.  That’s what I’ll do.  And then the morning comes and I hit the snooze harder than I would hit the gym.  I should really make time, take up jogging, do it everyday.  Then again, nobody looks happy whilst running.  In reality, I’d only run if I was being chased.

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I mean, I walk briskly from the parking lot to the office, I move around a lot of work and I go to yoga class a few times a month.  But that’s hardly a calorie burner.  My friend invited me over and over to come to kick-boxing. The timing was difficult, but then I finally made it and it was awesome.  I resolved to buy a punch card, go all the time, be fitter, be better, perfect my round-house kick.  And then I took on additional projects and have never been available since.  Free time is feeling scarce, and I do need to maintain my creative life.  Thought admittedly, the writing doesn’t take nearly as long as searching for pictures.  Example, I’ve spent fifteen minutes searching “Baby Got Back”.  But aren’t you glad I did?

rvCPm_TAF7UlYou have to credit Sir Mix-a-Lot for being a true feminist, a pioneer for positive body image.

  • “I’m tired of magazines/Sayin’ flat butts are the thing”
  • “I ain’t talkin’ bout Playboy/Cause silicone parts are made for toys”
  • “So Cosmo says you’re fat/Well I ain’t down with that!”
  • Yeah, baby … when it comes to females, Cosmo ain’t got nothin’ to do with my selection. 36-24-36? Ha ha, only if she’s 5’3″.
  • So your girlfriend rolls a Honda/Playin’ workout tapes by Fonda/But Fonda ain’t got a motor in the back of her Honda

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Sir Mix-a-Lot is a true poet.  And he’s right about Jane Fonda.  She doesn’t have much going on in the Honda of her Fonda.  Led to believe that Mix-a-Lot ran a support group for big-bootied ladies,  I dialed 1-900-MIXALOT, to talk about my body issues.  When he said, “To the beanpole dames in the magazines/You ain’t it, Miss Thing!”, I really felt a kinship.  I felt empowered. I was trying to do as Sir Mix-a-Lot says, and “kick them nasty thoughts”, but I think I’ve misunderstood what he meant by ‘nasty’.  Unfortunately, the representative was rather crude, kept referring to his anaconda, and ‘doubling up on my juicy double’…whatever that means I am still trying to figure out.  I’m pretty sure it was Drake; he is long, strong and is always down get the friction on.

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Really, if you look at the lyrics with a critical eye, the rapper is still telling you to get a sweat on.  After all, he likes to keep [his] women like Flo Jo.

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Goodness me, Flo Jo was a fit lady, known as the fastest woman in the world. Wonder what her secret was, besides God-given talent and speed? The fastest woman in the world also had the longest nails in the world.  Pretty difficult to tuck into recreational snacking with those Freddy Kruger fingers at the helm.

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It’s a balancing act trying to please this body-conscious performer.  According to the Gospel to Sir Mix-a-Lot: “You can do side bends or sit-ups/ But please don’t lose that butt”.  He also heeds a warning: some brothers will play that “hard” role, and try to tell you that the butt ain’t gold.  Don’t worry, remember your affirmations ladies, your butt is plenty gold.  When non-big butt enthusiasts “toss it and leave it”, you can count on Sir Mix to “pull up quick to retrieve it”.  That’s comforting.  But it’s a lot of pressure to live up to.  Imagine deliberately trying to have a fat ass?

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The likes of Twiggy, Audrey Hepburn and Kate Moss were an anomaly in a world that once leaned towards the full female figure.  Certain retro advertisements were certainly geared towards curvaceousness as sexy, and skinny as lacking.

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Of course, for every Sir-Mix certified ad encouraging curves, there’s evil advertising that says…”you’re fat, stop that”. Loving this ad below, the clever ad execs behind this gem offered a pearl of a tagline for this product. Shape. “Stop eating”.  Subtle.

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Thank God that Warner’s has a Body-Do, because I’m apparently a ‘body-don’t”.   The pear shape is here to stay,  I had a big butt when I was a new born baby.  That’s just nature.  Good thing there are so many wonderful products out there to accommodate your full figure.

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Why must generous portions of lady curves have to be reduced to words like chubby? Where is Sir Mix-a-Lot when we need him more than ever?

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Easy on the sugar indeed. She’s so hungry and acidic from all the eggs and grapefruit that she’s seconds away from ramming that spoon us that smug bastard’s nose, in the same way ancient Egyptians yank out the brain for mummification.    Reduce this motherfucker.  Then she could enjoy a large cinnamon bun, sickeningly sweet tea and smoke a cigarette with sticky cream-cheese icing fingers while her husband quietly bleeds to death on the carpet.  This is why we need carbs people.

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I’m 32 now, skin elasticity is as fleeting as fertility and youth.  How can I have my cake and burn it off too? As always, I turn to Victoria Beckham for advice.  She is a busy mother-of-four, a designer, entrepreneur world traveler, and she is fit as fuck.  How does she do it?

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Naturally.  Take the fun of work and then add more work.  I would literally die if I tried to attempt this.  There is almost no space between the treadmill and the wall.  Isaac Hayes died on a treadmill and he was probably in suitable footwear. Me + typing + treadmill x those epic heels=suicide bomber’s certainty of personal injury.

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Bully for you Mrs Beckham.  Is that why you’re lying on the ground? I could wear stilettos all day too if all I had to do was laze about on my back kicking my legs in the air.  I will just need a pillow, my phone and somebody’s WiFi password…and David Beckham to pop in and bask in the glory of my beauty.  I don’t know, I have a difficult time prescribing to celebrity doctrines.  Sure, they put in the work to maintain their pristine figures, but if I had a team of people behind me I could make a hobo red carpet ready.   But wait–there are people far busier than you that look better than you, also without the luxury of extra help.

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I’d love to see this gal post this on the local Mom Swap Facebook page, and then read the 350 comments over a glass of wine.  This mother of three has a better body than me. What’s my excuse? Meh, I’m not too fussed really.  It’s not as important as everything else.  I mean, if I could naturally look like Audrey Hepburn, that would be ideal.

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Since I don’t have a dancer’s body, I can’t help but want to find the balance between happy to improve but happy to love myself regardless of my physical imperfections.

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Still, I catch the occasional glimpse in the mirror that makes me wonder whether some crazy-long Flo Jo nails would be a good idea.  Or maybe I should worry less about exercise and just take up smoking.

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Then again, you wouldn’t like me when I am hungry. It’s like those Snickers ads, only I don’t turn into a hilarious caricature, but a snarling werewolf.

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Hungry + angry =Hangry.  That’s my personal danger zone.  You wouldn’t like me when I’m hangry.  It’s like drowning and having no air to breathe.

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This isn’t sounding good.  I don’t want to not eat, all my favorite things involve sitting and a committed exercise regime is not suiting my current schedule.  This is a slippery slope between having a muffin top and being the mom from What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.

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My brother Mark and I got talking about that film on our morning hike. It’s too sad to ever watch again,  but it still resonates as a genuine fear.  How does that happen…you are born, you are a child–learn behaviors and eating habits, you grow up, and eventually become so obese that it’s easier to burn the house down than to remove your dead body through the front door.  Of course, there is a long road between thick and thin and back again.  You are usually just going along in your life, not necessarily seeing the changes in yourself until you catch a reflection.

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These photographs are a few years old now, but a terrific example of body shaming.  Jennifer Love-Hewitt is a happy and well-fed gal and the internet had a field day, hammering her for being “fat”.  For the rest of us, with bodies just like that, it sends a clear message that this is an unacceptable joke-worthy body type.

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If she’s happy, and her lover is happy, she is healthy, and her clothes fit, then what’s the trouble?  She’s on holiday, she’s relaxed. Does every day need to be met by a date with the treadmill?  Ugh, the idea of exercise…how exhausting.  The idea of fitting it into jam packed days is even more exhausting.  I wish I could adopt a fictional Gilmore Girls-esque all you can eat, movies and junk food couch potato lifestyle, and still maintain a spectacular physique.

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I flip through a magazine, read the weight-loss success stories and for a fleeting moment, wish I were just like the models in the magazine.  But then again, who would want to work that hard? Until the day comes that I shake from me the excuses and muster up the commitment to truly trim down, I’ll be happy as Love-Hewitt, splashing in the water, not for a second wishing I were any different.  What can I say? I like big butts and cannot lie.

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Images Courtesy of Google

Beyonce It Isn’t So

Couldn’t resist. #anoldiebutagoodie in light of the recent Beyonce drama

"Pin Up Picks Pen Up"

Poor old Beyonce, she performs at the Superbowl…

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Gets her funk on during the performance…

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And it was not pretty.

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Ms B struck a multitude of unflattering poses while getting fierce at the Superbowl, and the photos were released (because bad photos are better than good photos).  Her publicist contacted the offending website, politely asked for the photos to be removed.  But, once it’s on the internet its kind of like asking the the guy who took your virginity to please put it back.  And so, because of a demand to remove all traces from the internet, there has been quite the back lash, in the form of internet memes.

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What’s a meme you ask?

Why, you see them everyday on your Facebook feed.  It can take form in a the way of a link, hashtag, a video, or say, an unflattering picture of Beyonce turned into a joke or…

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Put a Ring on It: Collective Regrets from the George Clooney Women’s Guild

Winter has worn away at my soul.  I desire a luxurious getaway as one longs for a conjugal visit after years of imprisonment.  I am afraid of what I would do for a plane ticket to a hot far-off destination.  I would sprint towards a holiday like Whitney Houston did to Kevin Costner at the end The Bodyguard.  Mashing my face all over it’s face and while belting I Will Always Love You in the background.

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The later-years Beach Boys classic Kokomo recently came up in conversation, when I was expressing to a friend just how badly I wanted to be nursing a solid buzz on a beach with a trashy magazine in my hand.  One simply cannot discuss Kokomo, but must live it, sing it,  harmonize with it.  Hot skin and wet hair. Toes in the sand. Sounds of crashing waves. Salty kisses from island lovers.

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I proclaimed that the Beach Boys song said everything about my current state of mind. And I think a really good solution to all of my problems.

As follows: my personal top ten list of why I would like this song to be about my life.

  1. Now if you want to go and get away from it all (which I do, I really do)
  2. Off the Florida Keys, there’s a place called Kokomo. (There’s not apparently, but let’s move forward anyhow)
  3. That’s where you want to go to get away from it all
  4. We’ll get there fast and then we’ll take it slow
  5. We’ll be falling in love to the rhythm of a steel drum band (I usually fall in love to the sounds of banjos so this would be a welcomed change).
  6. Afternoon delight, cocktails and moonlit nights
  7. That dreamy look in your eye
  8. tropical contact high
  9. Aruba, Jamaica, Bermuda, Bahama, Key Largo, Montego, Jamaica
  10. Bodies in the sand, tropical drink melting in your hand

When I Googled the lyrics of Kokomo, I realized that the line was be “tropical drink melting in your hand”…when all these years I thought that it was “tropical cake melting in your hand”.  I had even remarked that the other day: “I don’t even know what it is…but I want it”.  I imagine golden yellow slice, glistening with coconutty goodness, a thick slab in the palm of your sun-screened hand. Still…a gooey piece of cake is hardly beach food.  And why are they no plates at this resort? Could a sister get a wet-nap up in here?  Stand down guys.  It’s tropical drink, which when you come to think about it…that really does make more sense.  Perhaps this is because my first introduction to this super timeless track is when the Beach Boys appeared on Full House.  I would have been about six, and a stiff cocktail would have been no good to me.

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Wow. What kind of deal with the devil did these guys make in the 60’s to make an appearance on this saccharine-sweet sitcom in the 80’s? Look at the guy in the dead center wearing those ridiculous mom jeans…I really don’t know who was driving that style choice there.  His fly is longer than Mary Kate/Ashley Olsen’s leg. And ole pointy fingers on the end…leather jacket+ball hat+those sweatpants =my favorite person in this picture. Nonetheless.  The song grown had  with me, and now I would like to feel like the human equivalent to the saxophone solo in this sexy, ooey-gooey cheesy beach jam.  Haven’t heard it recently? Allow me to remind you.

 It’s one of my favorite things about YouTube: that some guy in Peru loved Kokomo, and the film in which it was written for (Cocktail) so much that he just plays full scenes of the movie. Not a montage in sight, just whole chunks of muted dialogue with the Beach Boys crooning away.  But what an ending to the video.  Ugh, when have you ever woken up and thought: “I really hope I don’t have sex in a waterfall today” or “Jeez I hope that a hunky bartender doesn’t try to get into my black one piece bathing suit”.  Cocktail is actually loosely based on a relationship I had.  Watching the footage actually makes me feel very emotional….in light of the current news.

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Whoa, looks like somebody’s gotten their priorities all out of whack at the Daily Express.  Hayfever hell? Boohoo.  My Georgey-Porgey is getting married–and I am having a difficult time coping.  When I first got word I…had a rather strong reaction.

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The Vicodin I took couldn’t touch my grief.  The three martinis I threw down my throat didn’t dull the ache. George, George, not you.  That’s when I starting smashing everything in sight.

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He said he never wanted to get married, only because I didn’t want to marry him.  It’s not that I didn’t want to be “Mrs George Clooney”. It’s just that he wanted to be “Mr Alicia Ashcroft” a bit too desperately.  George loved me so deeply, that it really was all-consuming.  We were young, met on holiday, and let’s just say he got ‘under the waterfall’.  He adored me.  Worshipped me.  Said I was perfect mix of Jackie Kennedy and the Pillsbury Dough Boy.  I loved him in return. We were the Golden Couple.

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Some of the greatest moments in pop culture were inspired by George’s romantic gestures to me. John Cusack in Say Anything? That has George all over it.  He actually had Peter Gabriel write In Your Eyes about me.

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In later years, he had inspired Beyonce’s Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It), because he was trying to get a message to me.   I was hesitating and he was slipping through my fingers.  George actually said that to me one night, after a dinner party at our home in Lake Como.  He hissed it, so that the waitstaff couldn’t hear.  All the other couples were married and engaged, nannies holding gorgeous babies who are named after exotic locations and expensive cheese.  George was humiliated after Beyonce and Jay-Z pressed us about our single status.  Why couldn’t I give him those things? Why didn’t we have a little Camembert Dubai Clooney? Why couldn’t I put a ring on it?

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Not this again.  George, baby, things are so good why complicate it with things like marriage and children?  What if dating is like the first half of Cocktail, hot sex in a Jamaican waterfall and marriage is like the second half, when it gets all serious with unwanted pregnancies, angry parents and suicide notes?  A friend and I had both lamented that brief and glorious time when love is new and your lover doesn’t know you yet.  “Just dating” George Clooney was my life support.  Marriage was quicksand.  I pressed myself up against George, and swore my allegiance.  I knew his heart was breaking.

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Eventually we fell apart…around the”In your Eyes” era.  He needed to get married, and by the time I offered to throw him a bone and marry him just to shut him up…it was too late.  His heart had hardened to the whole institution of marriage.  I broke George Clooney. I regret everyday since that I couldn’t repair the damage I had caused.

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I don’t see him around much.  I hear things like the rest of the world does now….in the news, on the internet.  Do I get jealous? Well, sometimes I miss the Italian air, our housemaid Lupe, and the smell of George’s musk.  He had good musk.  When I see pictures of George trying to aptly describe just how enormous his Clooney is, and people like Sandra Bullock aren’t even paying attention to him, I get a little peeved.  That could have been me. 

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News of Clooney’s engagement has shaken the world through and through, inspiring bios on his new fiance Amal Alamuddin, and lists of “Clooney’s former flames”…or as I like to call it, “Clooney-Bear and the luckiest Bitches on Earth”.

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Don’t look for me, I’m not on the list.  I don’t know if this is TMZ’s mistake, or that George has worked so hard to forget me, that the press has forgotten me as well.  That’s fine…the paparazzi know me by name, but whatever leave me off the list.  I know what I had with George.  I don’t need to prove it with pictures of me on George’s yacht.

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Please…that’s obvi me…I would recognize those legs from anywhere.

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Oh this? Just George and I leaving after a nice meal out.  The photogs were really there to catch a glimpse of me, but snaps of George would do too.

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The other women knew about me as well. I was famous amongst the other Cloonists as having made his hair go salt and pepper from all the heart ache I caused him.  Many tried and failed to slay the dragon as only I and his ex wife Talia Balsam had done before.

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So…after all the replacements that George has tried to tried to fill the gap with…all the vivacious, intelligent brunettes he’s known–and all he could see was me.  And now…it seems that someone has finally ‘put a ring on it’ : Beirut born, London based human rights Lawyer Amal Alamuddin.

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Well let’s just acknowledge the elephant in the room.  That’s my doppelganger.  I’ve got piercing eyes and endless locks of shiny ravine hair.  The similarities do not end there. Amal Alamuddin? Alicia Ashcroft? Uh George, this is a little embarrassing for you, chasing the dream as you tend to do. At the last Clooney Guild meeting, the others offered scant details–just that George chases versions of me the same way a nerdy Asian teen tracks ever-evolving technology.  Amal Alamuddin is just a new i-Phone..a shiny distraction.  When news of the engagement spread, I caught a ride to the secret compound on Kelly Preston’s helicopter along with Stacey Keibler and the gal with the awful arm band tattoo circa Pamela Anderson in Barb Wire, who now dates the guy from Jack Ass.  We pooled together about what we knew of her:

  • She’s provided legal council to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
  • She served as council into the United Nations.
  • Legal advisor to the King of Bahrain…
  • She speaks fluent French and Arabic…
  • She’s a published author.  Apparently has written several  articles about international criminal law.
  • She was voted “hottest barrister in London” by a particularly sexist and ethically dubious legal blog called Your Barrister Boyfriend…for achieving “the seemingly unattainable ideal of contemporary femininity: she is both breathtakingly beautiful and formidably successful.”

Breathtakingly beautiful and formidably successful? That’s how most people describe me.  Frankly, it’s like looking in a mirror.  Although, according to this photo she’s like a little pocket-sized lawyer.  That’s never going to work. What is this? A bride for ants?

Amal Alamuddin dresses up on her way to dinner in New York City

Maybe watching Clooney up and marry my evil twin is my equivalent of The Beach Boys on Full House:  karmic payback for not appreciating the glory days.  I had him, and I lost him, and now I have to live with it.  All because of my foolish pride.  So there it is.  Goodbye George Clooney.  I will grieve this loss in only the most glamorous of ways.   One of the things he loved most about me.

charade-1963-720p-bluray-x264-cinefile01-13-28   Images Courtesy of Google

 

The Last Supper Club

Happy Easter to my lovely readers. A revamped #oldiebutagoodie.

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I always intended to see “The Passion of the Christ”, if only to see what the fuss is about.  But, if ever faced with the option of actually renting it–the thought of choosing it over a a light romantic comedy, taking it home, putting on your comfy pants and curling up on the couch to watch the Romans soldiers beat the crap out of Jesus.  Just never felt right.  And listen, I am sure that if you can trust anyone with the sensitive issue of Jesus’ crucifixion and Resurrection, it’s Mel Gibson.  But it’s just never happened…so there that is.  I’m more a “Jesus of Nazareth” girl, or as my mother always called it, “the one with the good looking Jesus”.

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I personally struggled with the Easter story. Poor Jesus, I personally the part of the story where he’s a sweet little baby.  But then, I would get depressed in…

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Rock n’ Roll Rabbit Holes

In the summer before I started university, before the Twin Towers fell in New York City, I slept in a room on Vancouver Island.  I shared it with my older brother’s ex-girlfriend (whom I referred to as my sister-in-law regardless of their romantic stare of affairs).  Her son, my nephew, was quite young and slept in a large enclosure around the corner with colorful sarongs tacked up in the doorway.  Above my sister-in-law’s bed was an enormous black-and-white poster of Kurt Cobain.  It was not uncommon to have a restless sleep, and to remedy the sleeplessness by staring up at the poster and wonder about this famous stranger.

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Now, this is going to come as a real shock, but if I were a Nirvana album I would be MTV Unplugged in New York.  I don’t rock hard in the slightest.  Maybe if you play something from Kylie Minogue’s Fever, I might let my hair down a little.  As would a middle-aged men’s choir after happy hour on Fire Island but it’s one of the most important albums of anyone’s generation, so who can blames them? This album was scientifically engineered to make even the dead dance.  It’s actually the same science behind Minogue’s eternal youth, and legs that I personally would participate in a Hunger Games style death-match to earn such tasty gams.

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My older brother was a music aficionado and was my source of knowledge before the internet existed.  The very first time I heard “Landslide”, was as a Smashing Pumpkins cover on a bootleg cassette tape.  He listened to a variety of genres, listened to a lot of hip hop and rap, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Blind Melon what have you. In the pre-grunge era, he was really into hair bands: Twisted Sister, Cinderella, Poison, Motley Crue.  He had a picture of Dee Snider on his wall that scared the hell out of me. Some of his musical choices made me feel like a forty-year old-square who said things like “This isn’t music, this is noise”.  I’d never admit it, I’d always attempt to play the part.  Thinking back, I was such a nerdy kid, I really wasn’t fooling anyone.  Anthony was a very popular guy, athletic, cool, fun; all the things I was not.  I could make him laugh, and a well-crafted wise crack was my currency.  He introduced me to Tori Amos, and I used to do an impression of her that made him bust a gut.  True, he was my brother, but he was also ‘Anthony Price’, and that meant something in our next of the woods.  Besides, I can’t be that much of a loser if I’m making the cool guy chuckle.

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We lived in a trailer, and our rooms were across a slight hallway.  Almost every night I would cross the hall, tap on the door lightly, and sit on the bed for a chat.  He regaled stories about parties, people, sport field trips, his new girlfriend (there was a real female fan base and the phone was always ringing).  He talked about the places he was going, what his future was going to look like.  We would always listen to music.  He had a pretty expansive audio tape collection.  He was always buying new music, and always had something new to show me.  I wanted desperately to impress him, so when he said things I didn’t really understand–which was often, I would try my best to just nod with the right kind of serious expression.  Perhaps in between watching black and white movies, playing with Barbie dolls for about a year too long, and listening to the Righteous Brothers, I was clocking long hours on the wild side of life.

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He played a wonderful game that went like this:

“Like this band?”

“Totally…love them”. (nodding seriously)

“It’s Bon Jovi”

“Oh yeah, I celebrate their entire catalogue”

“It’s not Bon Jovi”

“Haha, I know…I was just kidding”.

“It’s Guns and Roses”

“I knew that”.

“It’s not…it’s actually Whitesnake”.

And let’s be honest, I listened to tapes I pilfered from my parent’s collection: Whitney Houston, Barbra Streisand and Belinda Carlisle.  I got a record player in my early teens and usurped my parent’s albums for my own use.  Cat Stevens, Simon and Garfunkel, Blondie, ABBA, Billie Holiday–that was how I rolled.  There was a Bee Gee’s record I found when I was 13, and it rocked my world.  I was so out of touch, that even the most overplayed tracks slipped past my social-consciousness.  Around the time Ace of Base arrived on the scene with “The Sign”, I went on a school trip.  I was perfectly terrified that the excursion would be an alienating day, but I got by with my good-humor and over-compensating compliments.  All the cool girls were rocking out to that song pretty hard, singing acapella versions of the track.  I just kept a smile frozen on my face, trying to earn my keep.  That these girls were even tolerating my presence was a total coup. I was on social tenterhooks, I couldn’t afford to not know who Ace of Base was…or admit that I would have preferred ABBA anyway.

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I finally heard it…about six months later.  I saw the Queen Bee shortly afterwards and made the fatal mistake of mentioning that I had only recently heard and enjoyed a song that was now long dead to her.

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I remember the first time I met my now best friend–she was performing in school talent show.  I asked Evelyn what song she was doing.  She said “About a Girl” and I huffed sarcastically: “That’s specific”.  It shames me to admit just how long it took me to realize that it was an actual song title.  Not to compare Ace of Base to Nirvana–but suffice to say, I did not have my finger on the modern-day music pulse, other than what my brother had shown me.  Evelyn and her brother Rory were smart, funny, and musically talented,  both had a vast knowledge of punk and indie music. Their dad had a Master’s, was in a band, they didn’t have cable, they just sat around reading books at night.  They were this impossibly cool family that were the Royal Tenenbaums to my Eli Cash.

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Evelyn actually listened to Nirvana, as opposed to me only hearing of him only because I read about it him my mother’s People magazineI had heard the Weird Al Yankovic version of Smells like Teen Spirit, before I heard the original.  The prime of our high-school friendship was following Cobain’s death. After all, we were only twelve and thirteen years when Cobain died.  But he was very much alive in our world,despite the shotgun blast. Evelyn was Cobain obsessed; now recalls him as “her partner in teenage angst”, that he was “mysterious, talented, sexy, dysfunctional…and his music was really good…dark and awesome and grungy”.  Evelyn’s love for Nirvana and Kurt Cobain was something I personally did not understand.  I got that there was a mystique, but it wasn’t my kind of cologne if you know what I mean.  I faulted my own uncool DNA.  You know who did really rock my world? Courtney Love.  She was the coolest woman ever.  The baby doll dresses, barrettes dangling in messy locks, red lipstick and a mohair cardis, mixed with army boots–so effing cool.  Anthony bought me a copy of Live Through This and it was a revelation.  This was my kind of rock and roll.

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Anthony was seeing this girl, Jenne, who in my mind,  was just as-or if not cooler than Courtney  Love.  I remember seeing her sitting on the steps of the community hall, during an all ages show: short blonde hair tucked behind eyes, smoking a cigarette in a white tank top with a black bra.  I could never pull that look off.   This girl eventually became the sister-in-law I shared a room with.  She loved Kurt and Courtney in equal measure.  In that same town Love was there with Kevin Bacon and Charlize Theron filming a movie.  I met Love at a Blockbuster video store, she was in the independent film section, and was extremely rude when I approached her.  (I wouldn’t have it any other way).  I waited outside smoking a cigarette, hoping to score an autograph to give to Jenne.  Standing next to her as she scribbled on the back of the receipt, I thought about Kurt.  This was Kurt Cobain’s widow–this woman revolutionized by teen years.  I read about her in magazines, I knew things about her life.  I vividly remember how only a month before Cobain died, his “accidental overdose” in Rome and this shot in People magazine.

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On April 8, 1994, I was washing dishes during a commercial break on Oprah, when the news broke. Kurt Cobain found dead by shotgun in his Seattle home.  Obviously, it was a dominating news-story.  Suicide, drugs, celebrity, what a perfectly scandalous cocktail.  A large crowd had gathered to commemorate Cobain; Courtney Love read his suicide note aloud, (and allegedly gave his possessions away to strangers, who I imagine made a killing on e-Bay years later).  The news cameras were like flies to excrement, leaching every last ounce of marrow from the bone.  I vividly remember a young girl being interviewed; she had never heard of Nirvana or of Cobain, but that news of his death was deeply moving.  Her mother had driven her to the site, so they could drink in the mutual sorrow, though it wasn’t really their loss to share.  That is a metaphor for the six-o’clock news.  I couldn’t get enough of it. Even my mother was fascinated, more-so in a cautionary tale, tsk tsk, ‘this is the trouble with drugs’ kind of way.  Since I had first heard the parable of poor Elvis Presley, I’ve always had a morbid fascination about celebrity deaths.  Cobain’s suicide happened on an auspicious age, 27, and it drew a lot of focus on the artists that died before him at the same age.

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The first noted club member was Alexandre Levy,  Brazilian composer responsible for bringing a Latin flavor to classical music. He died mysteriously in 1892.  Ragtime musician Louis Chauvin died from syphilis in 1908. Chauvin was a ragtime musician from Missouri who made a name for himself in the early jazz haunts of St. Louis and Chicago. My personal favorite of “The 27 Club: The Early Years” was blues player Robert Johnson, who died in 1938. As the legend goes, Johnson met the devil at the crossroads one night and traded his soul to be a better blues player. His death still remains a mystery, many claim that he was poisoned by a revenge seeking, cuckolded husband, while others insist that the devil was making good on a hellish deal.  There’s Jimi, Joplin, Jim and Brian Jones, who drowned in his own pool in 1969.

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The autopsy report decreed “death by misadventure”, and  Jones was buried twelve feet deep in the ground (to prevent grave robbing) in a coffin that was paid for by Bob Dylan.  His death was a precursor for many tragedies to come.

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Jimi Hendrix dedicated a song to Jones on American television, and Jim Morrison of The Doors published a poem entitled “Ode to L.A. While Thinking of Brian Jones, Deceased”.  Both men would be dead within two years time.  Hendrix in September 1970, and Morrison in July of 1971.  Janis Joplin died only sixteen days after Hendrix.

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Yikes. Talk about a rule of threes.  All at 27.  That must have blown some minds. Though as far as a stigma, or pop-culture curiosity, it wasn’t really a phenomenon, it was more of a side note or point of reference until Cobain turned the lights out. Between Morrison and Cobain there were seventeen lesser known additions to the 27 Club. A member of The Grateful Dead, Inner Circle, The Stooges, The Gits–murder, car accidents, overdoses, suicides, diabetes, you name it.  There are ten additions between Cobain, and the next major player Amy Winehouse, also pronounced “death by misadventure”. She feared 27 as being a rock and roll expiration date.  Of course, while these deaths are accidental, they are not accidents.  Many of these people had participated in the unraveling in their own lives. Winehouse being a classic example. One does not go from this…

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…to this, over night.

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By the end, WInehouse didn’t know the words to the songs that made her famous–and she helped write many of them.  She was such a horror-show, and her antics overshadowed her unbelievable talent and once great stage presence.  Don’t get me wrong, Winehouse is actually my 27-club favorite, her death was very emotional for me.  It’s troubling to me that the very things that makes one great, is quite possibly the same thing that destroys them–it’s a kind of Ouroboros, that snake eating it’s tail, representing an eternal cycle of rebirth.  I hate to take Egyptian symbolism and bend it to my own will, but I’m going to do it anyway–it is an eternal cycle–talented individuals with this undefinable x-factor, that are plucked from obscurity and thrust into fame with the pressures, expectations–artistic promises made on your behalf by someone who cares only for the all-mighty dollar.  For someone with mental illness, propensity for addiction, or crippling self-doubt the limelight would be like an itchy wool sweater to skin that had only known silk.  Of course, narcotics and booze and excess have always been part in parcel of the rock and roll culture, but imagine the era when doctors recommended smoking and really strong pharmaceuticals were best washed down with a stiff drink. Sounds fun doesn’t it?  Of course, that’s like the first bit of Requiem for a Dream before the amputations and double ended dildos, before addiction begins to erode reason, rationale, relationships and brain cells.  I mean, it isn’t as if God Almighty is sitting up on his judgment cloud, striking down talented, healthy musicians at 27 just for shits-and-gigs, these artists were ceasing to function (it was maybe a bit personal with Jim Morrison because of all the whispers that he looked like a ‘Fat Jesus” ).

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Around my 32nd birthday, I made a discovery about my age that gets very little press. After watching Dreamgirls over Christmas holiday, I did a little post-film trivia recon.  I knew that the Broadway musical and subsequent film was based on The Supremes, but little else. The musical has a much better ending for all parties, Effie White gets her moment on the stage at the end.  Florence Ballard, the woman on whom White was based, had a short and tragic run.

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Born eighth of thirteen children in Detroit Michigan, Ballard was due for some hard living.  Financial constraints forced the family to move all over town.  Her father, who taught her about music,  died when she was sixteen. She had met Mary Wilson and Diane–not yet Diana Ross while still in high-school   She was lead vocalist in The Primettes, the first incarnation of The Supremes.  They auditioned for Berry Gordy, who told them to finish high-school first.  The others graduated, Ballard did not.  As their group crept towards fame, Ballard was brutally raped at knife-point in an empty parking lot.  In the aftermath, Ballard retreated inward, not leaving her house for a considerable time which worried her band-mates.  Ballard shared about the incident, and then never spoke about it again.  Obviously, it caused major psychological damage, and from the time on was distrustful, negative, and bitter (Um, who can blame her?).  She eventually returned to the group, personally selected the name “The Supremes” off of a list and signed a record contract with Motown Records. Between 1963-1967, “Ballard contributed vocals to ten number-one pop hits and 16 top forty hit singles”.

SUPREMES in Paris mid 1960s from l Diana Ross Florence Ballard and Mary Wilson

For those who’ve seen Dreamgirls, Effie White is a big girl with a big personality and an even bigger voice.  She also has a large ego, which prevents her from being a team player; which ultimately gets her kicked out of the band. Having always been the lead, she struggles to cope with playing second fiddle to beautiful Deena Jones.  As in the movie, Ballard had a better voice than Ross, but Ross was deemed more attractive.  Ross was being groomed as the star and Ballard drank excessively, gain weight, fighting with Gordy and Ross, and missing rehearsals and recording sessions.  Ballard once had a sore throat and asked Ross to sing her signature song; People.  After that night she never took the lead on the vocals again. The decline was becoming much steeper.  Ballard was disillusioned; their success only exacerbated her misery.  She lamented in an interview the loss of intimacy between the women now that they stayed in separate hotel rooms.  She suggested that it was a mistake for Gordy to highlight Diana Ross over the others, and resented that their romantic relationship,which skewed opportunities within the group.    In 1967, Ballard took a leave of absence, understanding it to be temporary.  Gordy renamed the group The Supremes with Diana Ross.  Shortly after her 24th birthday Ballard reported to work intoxicated–which was not uncommon.  Gordy sent her home, immediately terminating her position.  She was replaced by Cindy Birdsong, who had covered before in Ballard’s absence.  Ballard was released from her contract, was offered a one-time payment of $139,804.94, and was told she could not use “The Supremes” brand, a name that she had approved, to promote solo work.

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From there: spousal abuse, divorce, debt, foreclosure, poverty, welfare, rehab, all while raising three children. She tried to fight Motown Records for additional royalties, and lost. Meanwhile Diana Ross had gone solo in 1970 and was living large in fur coats and diamonds, with many accolades and film roles at her finger tips.  Ballard performed intermittently, (she once opened for Bill Cosby), and occasionally sang with other former Supremes, once playing tambourine at Six Flags in California.  She had lost her desire to sing.  Following rehab, she attempted to stage a comeback.  Ballard performed for the first time in five years, and was in talks to write an autobiography.

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None of that was to be, the two-hundred pound, 32-year-old Florence died of a heart attack.  Diana Ross made a splashy diva entrance, skipping the long, slow-moving line, bee-lining for the front row while surrounded by four burly bodyguards. She sat with the Ballard family in the front row.  She was booed by the crowd, and even Ross’ own mother felt as though she was deeply unwelcome.

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God love Diana Ross, what a bitch move.  Making a big production of her grief.  Although, at this point Diana Ross was not just a singer, she was an Oscar nominated movie star.  She had already done Lady Sings the Blues and Mahogany.  Naturally she can’t just walk in by herself or stand in the back respectfullyIn truth, it had been nearly eight years since Ballard left the group, and Ross had been going strong after six years of solo success.  There was enough water under the bridge…but that still didn’t stop Ballard’s supporters to want to hold Ross’s head under said water.  Sheesh, That would have been a mighty tough crowd to face.  According to some sources Ross had donated $50,000 to Ballard before her death, and opened trust accounts for her daughters after her untimely demise.  Perhaps it was generosity, perhaps it was out of guilt.  It was her dream, and Ross helped blacklist her.  Ballard supports claimed that Florence had died of a broken heart.   A month or so after the funeral Ross said to People Magazine:

Did I cry? Yes, I cried. People tried to help Florence. I tried to help her. She had it all and she threw it away.  She quit The Supremes, we didn’t quit her. Don’t make too big a thing of this.  Florence was very important in my life, but I’m not dead. She did this to herself.”

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Shortly after Dreamgirls, I was listening to The Carpenters, (naturally, some things never change) it got me thinking about poor old Karen Carpenter.  During her 14-year career, she and her brother Richard recorded eleven albums, had thirty-one singles, five television specials, and a short-lived television series.

Karen_0009Carpenter lived with her mother until she was 26, dated Tony Danza and Steve Martin, and was also an accomplished drummer.

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Carpenter struggled with anorexia nervosa for years and weighed as little as eighty pounds at the height of her illness.  She spent most of 1982 undergoing treatments to gain weight (30 pounds in eight weeks).  She died at the age of 32, on the day her divorce was to be finalized. Her real-estate developer husband Thomas James Burris had failed to mention that he had a vasectomy to the family-minded Karen during their wedding vows, and their marriage crumbled almost instantly.  She collapsed in the bedroom her parents kept for her at their home; before a planned shopping trip.  Carpenter and her mother were off to buy her new clothes to accommodate the weight gain.

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 After reading all the depressing details, I couldn’t bear to listen to hear her velvety, melancholic voice. I changed the record and put on a Mamas & the Papas album…which then made me wonder about poor old Mama Cass.

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Cass Elliot died after a significant weight loss (80 pounds in eight months by fasting four days a week)…at 32 years of age. Whoa.  Scientists who discovered cures to diseases had nothing on me and my discovery.  This trifecta connection led to a long meandering jazz riff of internet research that lead me to discovery that there is a “32 Club”.  First things first–for Mama Cass it was not death by ham sandwich.  What an unfortunate urban legend to haunt your legacy.  During my research I came across the old joke “if only Mama Cass had given her ham sandwich to Karen Carpenter that they would both be alive today”.  That’s slightly clever, granted, but it’s undermining two paralleled deaths that connect to body images and societal expectations.  The circumstances surrounding her death have been made into a punchline in routines by Frank Zappa, Adam Sandler, Denis Leary, Mike Myers, “Weird Al” Yankovic and Robin Williams.  Aw, Mama Cass,  that rumor is unfortunate and unfair in the same way stripes don’t flatter certain figures.

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Mama Cass died in London, after a sold-out solo show.  She was staying on Curzon Street, in an apartment owned by singer-songwriter Harry Nilsson.  The young mother had a little champagne, called fellow Mama Michelle Philips, expressed gratitude about the packed houses and loving fans, that people were accepting her solo efforts–and then went to sleep and never woke up.

Geneviève Waite, Michelle Phillips and John Phillips at Mama Cass Elliot funeral, July 31 1974

In 1978, now four years later, Keith Moon, drummer of The Who rented the flat.  The 1970’s had not gone well for Keith, who habitually flushed explosives down public toilets and trashed hotel rooms–once was about to leave one location, claimed he had forgotten something in the room, and went back to hurl a television set into the pool.  His 21st birthday was spent in a Holiday Inn in Flint, Michigan and cost $24,000 in damages.

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On January 4, 1970 a wildly intoxicated Moon, caught in an onslaught of over-zealous fans, struck and killed his bodyguard/driver/friend Neil Boland with his Bentley.  Close friends claimed that he was forever haunted by the incident, but it didn’t really give him a new lease on life on the straight and narrow.  I apologize to any Keith Moon fans out there, but Christ Almighty this guy sounds like he was as bad at living as he was good at drumming.  Even then, percussion was a bit of a trial for him –during an incident in 1973, after a heaping portion of tranquilizers and brandy, he passed out behind his kit during “Won’t get Fooled Again”.  Eventually Moon was carried off stage, given a shower and a shot of cortisone.

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Thirty minutes later, he was back on track….or rather slumped behind the drums with damp hair.  After passing out once more during “Magic Bus”, Pete Townsend put a call out to the audience:  “Can anyone play the drums? – I mean somebody good?”  Scot Halpin, a drummer from Iowa came up and played the rest of the show.  In 1973 Halpin was recognized by  Rolling Stone magazine’s “Pick-Up Player of the Year Award” for his historic performance.  Moon sounded like a messy, monstrous man,  inconsiderate and unprofessional.  He alone was responsible for driving The Who into mountains of debt.  After calculating all of his losses following a 1975 UK tour, he was owed a whopping £47.35. By the late seventies, The Who could nary get through a show without major incident.  He was costing a fortune, whilst making a mess of their collective success. He had caused a death, ruined personal relationships–another thing he couldn’t recover from was his 1973 divorce, where his long-suffering wife left with their daughter Amanda.  She later spoke of Moon as being incapable of parenting because he was a child himself .

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While many of you like to start your morning with toast and coffee, or maybe a fruit smoothie, for Keith Moon he liked to blend champagne, Courvoisier and amphetamines before he started any day.

“I always get up about six in the morning. I have my bangers and eggs. And I drink a bottle of Dom Perignon and half a bottle of brandy. Then I take a couple of downers. Then it’s about 10 and I’ll have a nice nap until five. I get up, have a couple of black beauties [also known as Black Birds or Black Bombers and are a combination of Amphetamine (Speed) and Dextroamphetamine], some brandy, a little champagne and go out on the town. Then we boogie. We’ll wrap it up about four”.

How can one live like that? Short answer? You don’t.  Come late 1978, he’s off the booze, and has been prescribed sedatives, 100 Heminevrin as means to cope with alcohol withdrawal.  He and his girlfriend Annette Walter-Lax stepped out with Paul and Linda McCartney for the film preview of “The Buddy Holly Story”.

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Following the film, they returned home, where he asked for steak and eggs. She apparently declined the task, to which he uttered his last words: “If you don’t like it, you can fuck off”.  Real classy send off, Keith.

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He died in the same bed as Mama Cass, at the same age, with thirty-two pills in his system.

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Annette was heavily sedated for the funeral, and collapsed during the service. Jim Henson immortalized Moon by creating the drummer Animal. In 2012, thirty-four years after his death, some dumb-ass from The London Summer Olympics committee–contacted The Who’s manager about Moon performing at the games. In an interview Bill Curbishley said he replied: “I emailed back saying Keith now resides in Golders Green crematorium, having lived up to The Who’s anthemic line ‘I hope I die before I get old’.

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After Moon died Harry Nilsson immediately sold the house, for fear the house was truly haunted. Nilsson was no stranger to rock and roll excesses; once in a recording studio he opened his mouth to sing and blood poured out instead of lyrics.  The copious amounts of cocaine caused his throat to rupture, but Nilsson was so far-gone that he didn’t even notice.  If you were Harry, the house would be the last thing you’d worry about.  Two years after Moon’s death, another drummer met his demise.

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Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham was found dead, having choked on his own vomit after consuming forty shots of vodka in twelve hours. Led Zeppelin had spent the day rehearsing, and were about kick of the first tour since 1977. The father of two was 32.  Bonham was in a bad place, thinking that his drumming abilities were sub-par, when really…in the spirit of Keith Moon and all the others who fell before him,  perhaps his addiction was getting in the way of his talent.

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Led Zeppelin, inventors and innovators of ‘cock rock’ were the kind of men you wouldn’t want to clean up after. Collectively, between cocaine, booze, tight pants, huge egos and extremely willing sexual conquests, Led Zeppelin were dangerously out of hand.  Writer Simon Hardeman examined the gritty underbelly of John Bonham.

The most unsettling member of the band itself was Bonham, whose other nickname was The Beast. The American journalist Ellen Sander describes how on the last night of Zep’s second America tour, band members, led by Bonham, ripped her clothes off, “shrieking and grabbing”. She goes on: “They were in a frenzy. I was absolutely terrified that I was going to be raped…” Zep’s former-nightclub-bouncer manager, Peter Grant, bodily pulled Bonham off her. She describes life with the band as like being inside cages at a zoo where “you get to smell the shit first-hand”.

Another terrifying Bonham incident occurred aboard the Starship, the Boeing 720 passenger aircraft that the band fitted with luxurious bedrooms for their 1973 and 1975 tours. Plant says his fondest memory of the craft is “oral sex in turbulence”, but one stewardess will have a different take. Stephen Davis describes how Bonham, after drinking a bottle of whisky, appeared in a robe, grabbed the attendant, bent her over forwards in an arm lock and announced that he was going to “have her from the rear”. He then threw open his robe. At the girl’s screams, Cole and Grant appeared and dragged him off.

Maddox said Bonham was the nicest guy in the world when sober, but a maniac when drunk. Once, in a Los Angeles bar, a woman looked at him and, apparently recognising him, smiled; he went over and punched her in the face. And in 1977 he, Cole, Grant and a former London gangster called John Bindon were arrested in San Francisco after a security man was beaten unconscious and left in a pool of blood. A $2m legal action ensued, and the night lives in Led Zep legend as “The Oakland Incident”.

And we shan’t forget the ‘mudshark’ incident, with Bonham once again at the helm. The band were fishing from their window–and had caught a mudshark–or a red snapper, depends on who you ask.  Either way, a pretty red head arrived on the scene, red snapper jokes ensued, and ultimately she was tied to the bed, and her cavities was then stuffed with bits of fish in a room filled with people.  I’ve heard this story before, and it’s rather hard to take.  Before I got the details I just thought it was your average one girl, ten guys, a motel room and a mudshark kind of situation.  The fact that it’s just bits of meat really drives me over the edge. Oh, those boys, they seem like they could gets their female fans to do just about anything–with dogs, octopuses, the mind reels.  Led Zeppelin were the Kings of excess, and were hardly gentlemen to a huge number of the female population.  They burned girls with cigarettes, cut their hair, and generally abused because they could. They were stars–Rock Gods, the rules of human decency don’t apply.  How degrading and unhygienic.  Just think of all those grandmother’s and pensioners out there with some unbelievably filthy stories.

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Phew! Let the record show that I have never spent so long researching a blog before.  And like a Led Zeppelin groupies, I could just go on all night. This entry is going to be longer than a Bonham drum solo, and some famous penises, if you ask Cynthia Plaster-Caster–a groupie who apparently never wanted to forget a phallus. She started on Jimi Hendrix…who was apparently flying at ‘half-mast’ and was not pleased with the final result.  Nonetheless, it became a fun hobby, great way to get into someone’s pants without looking slutty or over eager, just write it off as an art project, and see what you can get cooking on an extra curricular level.

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I’ve fallen down numerous rock n’ roll rabbit holes–each figure I’ve mentioned merits plenty of attention.  My intention was to spend more time with Kurt Cobain, who originally inspired the thesis of this piece. Of course, he is a part of a great cosmic web of excess, self-destruction and wasted life.  Like others before him, Cobain was someone’s husband and father.

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For Cobain, he felt the same way about music as Charlie Brown did about Christmas: things had gotten far too commercial.  Cobain’s suicide note references his lack of passion for the craft–he felt as though he needed to punch the time clock before stepping onstage.

kurt-cobain_sassy_courtney-love_magazineClearly, there are a whole host of issues at hand, addiction, crippling stomach pains, mental anguish, a tortured soul.  Why this man couldn’t just bow out of the limelight and leave the business is beyond me.  The pressures, contracts, obligations to band-members, who knows the what and the why.  A need to burn out than to fade away.   Which brings us back to April 8, 1994–twenty years ago, when I walked across the hall to my older brother’s room.  He was sitting at his desk, listening to Nirvana.  “Isn’t it weird to listen to this now?” I ask.  “It’s different…sad” he said.  We didn’t talk much, I didn’t really know what to say. Kurt Cobain didn’t belong to me.  I wondered if this was how people felt when Elvis died…he had been on his way out as well, shadow of his former self.  Yet people grieved as if he was “Love Me Tender” guy, not “Bloated, pill popping, awkward high kicks, and sequined jumpsuit” guy.  Cobain wanted to be the former, not the latter, and so he is forever 27, the tortured artist who never wanted to be a star.  When tragedy strikes, endless possibilities and speculation grows like a giant tree, each branch individual versions of what was, what could have been, what could have been different, if only.  Life ends, and the legend begins, but really it would have been nice to hear just one more song.

27-club-of-death-wallpaper-hd-e1384384643890 Images Courtesy of Google

Paint Me Paltrow.

"Pin Up Picks Pen Up"

I wish I had Gwyneth Paltrow‘s problems. I wish I had her money.  I wish I had her wardrobe.  I wish I had her legs.

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I wish I could make huffy remarks like: “When you go to Paris and your concierge sends you to some restaurant because they get a kickback, it’s like, ‘No. Where should I really be? Where is the great bar with organic wine?”…oh yeah, and you have to say it with a straight face.  And, furthermore, Paltrow complains about poor concierge recommendations, like “Where do I get a bikini wax in Paris?”  You just hear her fury loud and clear.  My god, this is a woman with her finger on the pulse.  She is touching on some serious issues that today’s woman really struggle with–being in a foreign country and having no one to tend to your solid gold snatch.

What’s embarrassing, is that…

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