These are the days of my week


WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS SO MUCH SWEETNESS, YOU MAY GET CAVITIES.

My Mum and I are both cat lovers of the highest order and while neither of us is lucky enough to actually have a cat living in our homes at the moment, we both love looking at pictures of adorable kitties. I have been following the blog at http://icanhas.cheezburger.com/lolcats for years. Whenever the world gets too harsh and I need quick injection of cute, it’s my go to place. Last year, I began sending my Mum a daily dose of her own kitty cuteness, direct from lolcats. Over the months, I have renamed all of the days of the week to coincide with these feline emails. It all started when I noticed that many of the folks in my twitter feed were referring to Saturday as Caturday and it just spiraled from there. Let me illustrate…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Mum looks forward to her her daily kitty emails. It’s a little thing that brings us closer together even though we live on opposite sides of the country. Thank you to the kind folks at http://icanhas.cheezburger.com/lolcats for giving me such a sweet way to let my Mum know that I am thinking of her.

 

 

 

Pink Parasol. Pretentious or practical?


The cast of Fashion Police

I admit it. Watching the Fashion Police on Friday nights is a guilty pleasure. For me it’s a mindless distraction from all of the things that get me ranting on a daily basis. Last Friday, they put up a photo of the lovely and pale Anne Hathaway, walking down the street in New York, in the sun, holding a pink umbrella.

The photo that started all the fuss.

The cast then proceeded to rip apart her outfit, as is their usual modus operandi. Kelly Osbourne said that she was trying to look like Audrey Hepburn (apparently this is some kind of sin in Kelly’s eyes), George was defending the outfit, saying it was a great daytime ensemble. Then Joan jumped into the fray and said that her umbrella was pretentious. Then Ms. Joan Rivers, a woman who should know all about the importance of caring for your skin, actually said, “It’s just the sun, it can’t kill you.”

As someone who has had melanoma cancer, I beg to differ. I wish I had understood that tanning beds were dangerous when I was in my early twenties, but at that time everyone touted them as being far safer than sun exposure. My aunt died of melanoma cancer from too much actual sun exposure. The sun can kill you. Now I don’t leave the house, even in the dead of winter without sun block and sunglasses. On sunny days I have no issue with carrying an umbrella (hats just make my head sweat). It’s practical. Not only does it keep the UV rays off of my skin, but I stay cooler in my portable shade.

In the case of Anne Hathaway, as she has recently had her hair shorn, it’s a smart move. You can’t put sunscreen on your head (unless you’re bald) and when your hair is very short, scalp burn is a real possibility. I applaud Ms. Hathaway for being smart enough to take care of her skin. While pink is not necessarily my choice in an umbrella colour, it is a cute way of staying cancer free.

More Celebrity Butterfly Effect


The songwriting team of Leiber and Stoller is responsible for launching the careers of some of the most iconic acts in Rock & Roll history.  They wrote songs for the Coasters, the Drifters, Ben E. King, the Shangri-La’s and perhaps most famously, Elvis Presley.

Elvis with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller

With songs like Is That All There Is?, There Goes My Baby, Yakity Yak, Charlie Brown, Stand By Me, Love Potion Number 9, Poison Ivy, Smokey Joe’s Cafe, Jailhouse Rock and Hound Dog, Leiber and Stoller cemented their place in the Song Writers Hall of Fame, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and in music history.

In 1958, Leiber and Stoller took a chance on a young session guitarist and former member of the Teddy Bears (of, To Know Him is to Love Him, fame) by the name of Phil Spector.

a very young Phil Spector

It was while working as an apprentice with Leiber and Stoller, that Phil Spector learned the art of producing music. Spector was already a song writer and performer, but it wasn’t until his time with Leiber and Stoller, taught him the production end of the business that Spector really began to shine.

A scant three years later, Spector formed a new record company along with his partner Lester Sill called Phillies Records and it was during that time that his infamous Wall Of Sound technique was born. It was also during that time that Spector employed Sonny Bono as part of his production team. Spector, himself launched more careers than those of his mentors. He gave the world, Sonny and Cher, The Righteous Brothers, The Ronettes, The Crystals and Ike and Tina Turner. Spector also wrote and/or produced music for Dion, Leonard Cohen, The Beatles (Let It Be), John Lennon (Imagine) and The Ramones. Phil Spector earned himself a place in The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1989 and the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2004.

Spector’s personal life was not as successful. Married three times, he fathered five children (three of whom he adopted with his then wife Ronnie Spector of the Ronettes). Spector was getting increasingly reclusive over the years and began to exhibit some dangerous behavior, like brandishing a gun and stealing unreleased tapes while working with John Lennon in 1973 and threatening Leonard Cohen with a crossbow in 1977, to pulling a gun on the Ramones in 1980, during a meeting at his home when they wanted to leave.

Spector’s mug shot

Phil Spector has been the inspiration for several movie characters including Ronnie “Z-Man” Barzell in the 1970 Russ Meyer movie Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. This year, Al Pacino wrapped filming on a HBO movie, where he played Phil Spector. The movie is centered on the relationship between Phil Spector and defense attorney Linda Kenney Baden while the music business legend was on trial for the murder of Lana Clarkson.

Ironically, Al Pacino worked with Lana Clarkson, the actress that Phil Spector was convicted of murdering in 2003. They appeared together in the Brian De Palma/Oliver Stone classic Scarface. Clarkson also appeared in a few Roger Corman films, as well as the movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

Lana Clarkson

So, if songwriting legends, Leiber and Stoller hadn’t taken a young Phil Spector under their wing, the world would never have heard songs like, Be My Baby,  Chapel Of Love, River Deep-Mountain High, Spanish Harlem, Take Me Home Tonight, Then He Kissed me and You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’. But then, Lana Clarkson would likely still be alive.

Shhhhhhh


A while ago I read a great blog post by Amanda over at Musings from a Misfit Named Amanda regarding Christians who think they are being persecuted and prayer in school among other topics. Amanda was recounting an online conversation she had with a person who believes a moment of silence is a compromise for those people who do not want public prayer. That person wrote, “That’s why I say having a few moments of silence is the best option-those who want to pray can pray quietly, and those who don’t can simply reflect on the situation, or whatever they choose to do. If it’s silent, everyone can do what they want w/o bothering others :)  It won’t kill anyone to be quiet for a few moments lol-both sides should just respect the other’s rights, even if their beliefs r different, is what I’m getting at…”

This stuck with me for quite some time, getting me angrier and angrier until finally I felt the need to post my opinion.

As an atheist, I am entirely opposed to forced public prayer, whether it be in schools, or any other public forum (unless, of course it is in the confines of a church/mosque/temple with other, like-minded individuals.) But, at the risk of stating an unpopular opinion, I am also against a forced/organized/national “moment of silence”. For example, to commemorate a tragic event like the events of September 11th, 2001, I think a moment of silence is insulting. Insulting to all of the people who rushed to ground zero to save survivors and dig bodies out of the rubble and debris. Insulting to all those who lost loved ones in the attacks. Insulting to all the people who are now suffering from Cancer and other deadly diseases as a result of actively helping rescue others from the wreckage. These people could still use financial and legislative help. My suggestion is, instead of using a ‘moment of silence’ to bow your head and look sad and thoughtful, why not use it to write a check to a first responders charity… or a letter to the Federal Government, demanding that insurers cover the ailments of first responders and area residents. If more people had gone that route, perhaps it would not have taken 11 years before the President officially recognized the need to financially compensate these people.

Is it just me, or does a ‘Moment of Silence’ look an awful lot like prayer? To me it’s a lot of pomp and circumstance accomplishing absolutely nothing. Perhaps people should remember the words of Edmund Burke, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”  and actually do something to help others instead of just stand there doing nothing.

Women who have bared it all


The hosts of The Talk

There seems to be a trend of late where famous women are showing the world their bare… faces.

From Teri Hatcher and Tyra Banks to Oprah Winfrey and the hosts of The Talk, famous women are showing us what they look like without make up and the media is touting them for being so brave.

Teri Hatcher

When I was growing up, I never saw my Mother wear make up. To this day, the most glam she gets is when she paints her nails for a fancy evening out to dinner. She never had any trouble finding or keeping a man. She married my Father when she was 22 and they never parted. As most girls who enter their teens, I rebelled against the kind of woman my Mother was. I was very into make up and fashion. Of course it didn’t help that throughout my entire childhood I was teased and criticized for being ugly. I hit my teen years with little to no self esteem. My Mother understood that make up was something that I desperately wanted to play with, so, since she couldn’t teach me about it herself, she took me to the local beauty salon and had one of the experts give me a lesson, then bought all the product that were used on me. I am still very grateful to her for encouraging me to follow my own path, even though it was not her path.

As I grew into my twenties and thirties, I never left the house without a full face of make up. Even just a trip to the corner store required, at the very least, concealer, mascara and lipstick. It wasn’t until I hit 40 that I realized that my face is beautiful without a stitch of make up. That’s the ironic thing about being a young woman. When you are at your most beautiful physically is when you are your most insecure. There are times when I have wished that I could have it to do over again with my newfound confidence and priorities along for the ride, but you couldn’t pay me enough to go back to my twenties without all of the wisdom I now have. Now, I maybe put on lipstick once a month. I haven’t worn a full make up application in over 4 years and I don’t see it as bravery, just as a shift in self perception and priorities. I am single and still get plenty of male attention. The attention I get now is different, though. It’s no longer whistles and hoots from afar (which I hated). The attention I get now, without make up is more of a real interest in who I am. I have heard from men, on more than a few occasions, how attractive and sexy my confidence is.

Oprah Winfrey

So, while I applaud these famous women for ditching their masks and showing the younger generation that you can be beautiful with your naked face, I resent the fact that they seem to be doing it for less that altruistic reasons. I also resent the media for making it seem like such a big deal. In the video below, the anchors of The Showbiz Countdown are reacting to the hosts of The Talk recently doing an entire episode of their show without make up.

It also bothers me that they all had to be wearing robes or towels during the episode, as if to say that the only appropriate time in which to be sans make up is before you are fully dressed.

In the wake of one of the world’s most powerful women, Hillary Clinton, being vilified for going without make up this just seemed like a stunt for ratings. When Hillary Clinton goes without make up, she does it because she has more important things to think about. She has also reached an age where she is more worried about who she is and what she is accomplishing than what she looks like, and for that I say Brava!

Hillary Clinton

It’s sad that women, in general, have yet to reach a stage where we are no longer judged first and foremost by what we look like and second by our accomplishments. The fact that the media jumped down throat of the Secretary of State for going without make up speaks volumes about how far women have yet to go before we are truly equal.

The Great Rape Debate


In the wake of Todd Akin’s now infamous comments about “legitimate rape”, there have been quite a few rather offensive and uneducated bon mots in the news on the subject of rape.

Krista Ford

In Canada, the niece of the Mayor of Toronto, Krista Ford got into the debate via her twitter account by giving this bit if advice to women. “Stay alert, walk tall, carry mace, take self-defence classes & don’t dress like a whore. #DontBeAVictim #StreetSmart,”  Never mind that it is illegal to carry mace or pepper spray in Canada unless you work in law enforcement, or that not everyone can afford to take a self defense class. The fact that Krista Ford, who is famous for playing football in her underwear and teetering around Toronto in stiletto heels and mini dresses so tight that it looks like she’s trying to get toothpaste back into the tube, had the nerve to say don’t dress like a whore would be laughable if it weren’t so sad. This kind of slut shaming and victim blaming has got to stop. Why are we not teaching men not to rape, instead of preaching to women not to dress provocatively. This boys will be boys attitude is not helping the situation. 

Chief Prosecutor Paul Richwalsky

Then there is a case out of Louisville Kentucky where a 16 year old girl was sexually assaulted by two boys who thought it would be funny to get her drunk, expose her breasts and genitals, penetrate her with their fingers and take pictures of the event with their cell phones. The two boys plead guilty  to charges of first-degree sexual abuse, a felony, and misdemeanor voyeurism. For their crimes they are required to do 50 hours of volunteer work and attend treatment. As if the 16 year old girl’s violation and humiliation was not enough, the Chief Prosecutor of the case, Paul Richwalsky, actually told the girl, when she complained about the plea agreement being too lenient, to “get over it and see a therapist. … The jail was for ‘real’ rapists, murderers and robbers.” This from the man who was hired to serve the best interests of the victim! 

Victoria Jackson

SNL alumnus and Tea Party darling, Victoria Jackson, came out in defense of the aforementioned Todd Akin’s legitimate rape comments. She was quoted as saying, “The Todd Akin thing was so blown out of proportion — it’s a joke. How many times do people get pregnant from rape? It’s point zero zero one percent. It’s a joke. I read lots of articles. I know people, because I’m 53. I’ve know a lot of people, and I’ve actually never known anyone who got pregnant from being raped.” She went on to say, “If I got raped, I would have the baby. And if I didn’t want to keep it because I had these [mocking tone] horrible nightmares, I would adopt it out. But I think that God can turn a bad thing into a good thing. And that, if I got raped and a beautiful baby who was innocent was born out of it, that would be a blessing. The DNA of a baby is individual. It’s not the mother’s DNA. It’s not the father’s DNA. And that’s why I believe abortion is murder, because it’s not the woman’s body. It has it’s own DNA. If there’s a boy baby inside of me, he has a penis. That’s not my body.” Good for you, Ms. Jackson, but not every woman feels the same way. To deny others a choice just because you think that everyone should believe what you believe is the antithesis of what the pro-life movement should be doing more of… live and let live.

With a tip of the hat to Bill Maher, I would like to suggest my own New Rule. Unless you are a woman or a man (yes, men get raped too) who has been through the violation, humiliation and emotional toll of the crime of rape, you must keep your pie hole shut. All you are doing with ignorant statements like the ones above is opening wounds and putting the responsibility for the crime on the victim instead of the criminal. It’s attitudes like these that make rape the most unreported crime on the planet. You are only showing a lack of compassion, empathy and humanity when you vilify a victim of rape, not to mention giving rapists the message that you are on their side.

I quit


It was exactly one year ago today that I had my last cigarette. That makes it official, I am a quitter. I never thought I would be. I smoked one pack a day for 33 years. I started smoking for the very same reason most kids start, it was cool and I was not, but wanted to be. I was a 13 year old nerd when I first started smoking and it never got me any cool points in Junior High, or High School, but by that time, I was already a smoker.

Over the years I had many people preach to me about the dangers of smoking and I had my little pat lines to deflect the conversation. I used to say things like, “Sure smoking takes years off your life, but it’s the years at the end… and who wants those anyway?” , “I might die early, but I will die happy with a big yellow grin on my face”, “My parents never raised any quitters” or the clever “Piss off and mind your own damned business”.

I was a defiant smoker. It was part of my identity. So how did I quit?

There were two major factors that lead to my decision to quit. The first, it got to the point where I just couldn’t afford it anymore. A carton of cigarettes where I live goes for just over $80, which works out to $360 per month. The second and most important factor was, I was ready. It got to the point where I didn’t like the taste anymore. The smell of cigarettes in my drapes and my clothes became nauseating. It just stopped being satisfying, so I quit on September 6th 2011 and never looked back.

Since quitting I have noticed all of the things that every quitter raves on and on about. Food tastes better, my sense of smell is heightened (which is both good and bad), no more yellow stains on my fingers or my teeth and all of that is great. Unfortunately, the fear that kept me smoking for 33 years came true… the dreaded weight gain. Yes, food tastes better, but that’s not necessarily a good thing if you want to keep your weight in check. I never had much of a sweet tooth before quitting, but after quitting, I couldn’t get enough ice cream and cake.

I figured I would indulge those cravings to “get over the hump” and then deal with losing the weight when I felt like I had successfully quit smoking. About 6 months in, I realized that I had gone from a size 6 to a size 10 (that’s an American size 4 to an American size 8). I had never worn a double digit size in my entire life. I’m 5’7″ and am small boned, so every pound shows. I refuse to buy a scale, so I am not sure exactly how many pounds I gained, but a two size gain is not acceptable. I have never seen rolls on my back before, but they are there now. My upper arms are starting to look like they are full of tapioca pudding. It’s not a pretty picture. At the 8 month mark, I went on the Atkins diet, a diet that has worked well for me in the past and I am walking a lot more. While it is helping, I am not shedding the weight as quickly and easily as I had before. Leave it to me to quit smoking during menopause, a time that goes hand in hand with weight gain.

I guess the point of all of this is a warning to all of you female smokers out there. If you think you may want to quit in the future, but are scared to quit because of the potential weight gain, don’t wait until mother nature slows your metabolism during menopause. because it’s just that much harder. And hot flashes when you are heavier are no joke.