Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Daddy's Little Girl

The news is abuzz with stories of the Miley Cyrus photo shoot for Vanity Fair. Fifteen year old girl, wrapped in nothing but a sheet, pouting for the camera (she should have thought of that pose for her MySpace page), looking every bit the Lolita. Maybe Anne Leibovitz wanted to show what Miley looks like right after the alarm goes off in the morning. Doubt it, though.

But, that is not the picture that I have an issue with. It's the one of Miley lounging across her daddy, leaning protectively (or is that provocatively) against him.

Okay, Miley is cute and photogenic. Billy Ray is...okay, he looks good for an aging good-ol'-boy. But this father-daughter portrait looks more like one taken of a couple, one that maybe a engaged couple might have taken at Glamor Shots. I showed a video news clip of the photo shoot to my 15 year old daughter and asked her take on the daughter-daddy pic. She looked and then so eloquently said, "Now, that just ain't right." No way would she want to be pose with her daddy like that. I think many 15 year old girls would feel the same way. Too much of a "Yuck" factor there.

But hey, this is Vanity Fair, and you just don't say "No" to Anne Leibovitz. Or so said Miley Cyrus. Of course she is back-peddling in a big way now. Have fun getting the toothpaste back in the tube there, 'kay?

I was thinking also that people in "The Industry" seem to become as much of a character as the characters they play, although I can't imagine Hannah Montana having photos taken like these, posing with the come-hither glare. But, then, Miley Cyrus is not Hannah Montana, just like the Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen were not whomever those cute little twins were on "Full House" were. Maybe it's the viewer's inability to separate the two...which becomes harder when the lines blur like the horizon on a hot, humid day as in the case of Miley Cyrus.

But Miley Cyrus isn't going to be Hannah Montana forever. Characters have only so long of a shelf life as its target audience grows up. I'm sure there was timing to this all. The photo shoot is ushering in the next stage of an ingenue. So, all the kicking and screaming about embarrassment really falls flat for me.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Jason Beghe Interview

You'll have to dodge many an F-bomb, but here is the interview that was supposed to be posted on YouTube until Mark Bunker's account was pulled. Like there aren't other places on the Internet it could be posted to. So, if having Mark Bunker's account pulled was a Sci-ploy, it's another case of Scientology not being able to "handle the Internet".


He still uses a lot of Sci-terms that many who either haven't followed Scientology, or has actually been in, wouldn't understand. But what is understandable is Jason Beghe was a member of a "church" that was anything but. For one, how many churches' members get a commission for bringing someone into the fold? Pyramid scheme, much?

What brought him to Scientology was a need to know who he was. What got him to stay was his first personal "win" where in an exercise he was to sit in a chair, facing another person, but with his eyes closed for some amount of time. He was told not to think during this time. Just sit still with his eyes closed and not think. After awhile, he said he went "exterior" and discovered who he was.

Hmmmm....sounds like a simple meditation exercise to me. And this was some great, magical thing L.Ron discovered?

What got him to leave? Realizing that the longer he was "in" and the further he traveled up the"bridge", the worse he felt. And, he just left. Unfortunately, it isn't as easy for others just to "up and leave". Money and time invested (and time is money, really), keeps people in. Would you be able to so easily walk out the door if you knew that you invested tens of thousands of dollars into a "religion"? And that's just one of the many traps used to keep people in.

Another trap is the "ethics folder". An ethics folder contains Scientology's equivalent to a Catholic's confessional. If you knew all your dirty little secrets were being held over your head, that would make it just that much harder to leave.

What impressed me about Beghe in the interview was he stated that he believes that Scientoloists are good people. That for the most part, they honestly believe that they are doing their best to save this world. And for the most part, I'd like to believe that, also. I know that they all aren't these rabid adherents who pester picketers, trying to "find their ruin". Most of them are just stuck in what Tory Christman, ex-member since 2000 (I think) describes as "The Truman Show".

But, the "We're just following orders" doesn't keep one from being an accessory to the fact. They all can't be clueless to the disconnections, the abuse, the con. There has to be that itch of doubt in the back of their minds. And it seems that more and more are scratching that itch instead of pretending it doesn't exist.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Supression on YouTube

Last week, a critic of Scientology, Tory Christman, a warm, caring, compassionate, sometimes wacky person had her YouTube account pulled for reasons yet to be explained to her. All of her videos are of her in front of her web cam, telling about her experiences in the organization. Nothing violent, nothing obscene, nothing defamatory...just Tory telling her story. When she was asked to open fake Internet accounts in order to suppress the flow of information and discussion on the news group alt.religion.scientology, a news group for critics, Tory "blew" or left the "church". She was not for the suppression of free speech. In fact, one of the reasons she got into Scientology in the first place was because they claimed to be all about freedoms.

After many complaints to YouTube, Tory's account was re-instated. No explanation, no apology.

A few days later, another critic, this time, Emmy award winner Mark Bunker had his account pulled. He has been chronicling various pickets against Scientology for years, showing just how this "church" that was all about communication and the betterment of man, was really, in their own words, not a "turn the other cheek religion". They pressed Mark and other picketers about their alleged "crimes", because, after all, only an abberated criminal would picket a church. Mark Bunker showed the face of Scientology you don't see when they ask, "Would you like to take a free personality test?"

Bunker was about to release a video of an interview of actor Jason Beghe, who talks about his experiences in Scientology and why he finally left. The three minute "teaser" that Mark had posted earlier showed a man, very pissed off at the organization, and obviously had a lot of beans to spill. No where near as eloquent as Tory, but his message was very clear...Scientology is one f*cked up religion.

But, the day came, and with Mark's account pulled, no Beghe interview.

Scientology said years ago that they would "handle the Internet". If these suspensions are indeed the act of Scientology, what they would consider a "win", is going to be more like blow-back. It's as if Scientology, despite their shiny videos on their flashy website, are stuck in a pre-Internet mindset. L. Ron could not have perceived the Internet, how it would become a soap-box for many bloggers, vloggers and general discussion channels dwellers. Somewhere where the common man (or woman) could make his or her opinions known. All his "tech" is based in a time of mimeos, telexes and dictation machines. It's like trying to figure out how to operate a two-way radio with instructions on how to build a walkie-talkie with two cans and a bale of twine.

Tory Christman said that Scientology is creating it's own enemies. And they are enemies they cannot vanquish.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Aother book review

I finished reading Eat, Pray, Love last night. It is a first person account of a woman, who after a nasty divorce and a rebound romance, decides to take one year, spending a third in Italy, a third in India, and a third in Indonesia. The book is written in 180 chapters, echoing the 180 meditation beads, or japa malas she uses daily in her quest for inner peace.

I found it to be a wonderful book that I wanted to savor, just as the author savored the simple Italian foods of Rome. I am a fast reader, by nature, but with this book, I wanted to slow down and take in the words on the page as if they were sustenance...I'm thinking a nice chilled glass of limoncello in a dewy jelly jar. Eating her way through Italy, she also learns more of the the language she finds so beautiful and poetic, just because she loves the sound of it. So, she also revels in the beauty of words and phrases; finding deeper meaning in the word used as people cross a street..."Attraversiamo", meaning, "Let's cross over". A deeper meaning, as the writer is constantly "crossing over" to new places in her life, leaving trying to leave in her wake pain and loss and emptiness.

In India, she lives in a ashram to be close to her spiritual guru and to help herself come to terms with her past pains. She talks about life in the ashram and the others for across the globe who traveled to India to find their inner peace. She also discovers that Higher beings have a sense of humor, for as just when she decided to spend her last few weeks at the ashram, she would do so in total silence (she's an admitted chatterbox), and instead has been given the title of "key hostess", who mediates for the others who have decided that they prefer to be silent. In this turn of events, she finally discovers what she had been looking for...she finds herself "transported to the palm of God's Hand".

She leaves India for Indonesia. Two years previous, she had been to Bali where she met a Balinese healer who read her palm and told her that she would return to help him learn English. In Indonesia, she learns of the people, befriends a divorced Balinese healing woman and her daughter who are soon to be evicted for their home. Ex-pats who came to find a simpler life, even if that life is to lounge around and drink. A Brazilian man who helps her find her sexual side again after almost a year of celibacy.

It was a journey of her "crossing over", told with humor and honesty, taking common words and phrases and magically transfiguring them into the most profound thoughts.

See, now if I were to write a book on travels with a alliterating bent, it would have to be "Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana"...

Monday, April 14, 2008

Growing up, tearing down.

When I was almost 16, I worked at a local hotel along with my parents. At the time, it was a large chain motel that by guessing at the interior, was built in the mid-60s. So, by the time I started working there in the late 70s, it was just starting to see the thread-born marks of age.

But, it's where I tried to find my way through "my wonder years". I kind of smirk at that analogy, because I may have been a female version of Fred Savage's character from the show of the same name, the supporting cast was, well...many of the kids I went to school with, either hung out at friends, went to the movies, went necking in the cornfields, or just hung out with a case of beer.

I hung out at a hotel. And the people there, I considered "friends". Or at least "acquaintances". Regardless, I liked most people there and I felt I was a part of something. I didn't feel like I was trying to fit with with a bunch of kids that had nothing better to do than to come up with a new put down that would unfortunately stick with me for the next few months.

I worked in the kitchen, and had the pleasure of working with my dad. If it weren't for him, I'm sure I would not have lasted a week bussing tables, especially the night I knocked a whole tray of flowered-filled vases off a cart as I was removing them from the cooler...which was right outside my bosses' office...with him sitting at his desk. He liked my dad, and admitted that he just didn't have the heart to fire me, let alone yell at me. He just hid behind his newspaper as glass shrapnel flew. When I was older and started cooking (which was weird, because I HATE to cook) I learned a lot, too. I learned that it's really fun to have live lobster fights with your Dad. I learned if you drop a knife, don't try to catch it. I also learned in the Summer it is not smart to lay out at the hotel pool all day, then work the dinner shift in a hot kitchen. Heat stroke is not a good thing.

I came across people I never would have if I hadn't worked there. And I was fascinated by them. Like an exotic dancer with a jewel embedded in her forehead, and when she laughed, she sounded just like a witch. Truck drivers who hauled explosives for a living, and when they weren't hauling, they were sitting at the bar, expounding on their view of life, dangerous as it was (I'm sure they thought it was a turn on. I guess nothing says "sex" like, "I might not be here tomorrow, babe"). Bored businessmen who just wanted someone to talk to...even if that person was under the age for anything that might even cross their minds. I guess I just had that "buddy" vibe about me. Okay, I wasn't so fascinated by the bored businessmen...but they were an interesting study in the human condition.

Holiday parties were always interesting. If one got plastered (which, unfortunately at that time in life for me was the only reason I drank), no one had to worry about driving home.

I got away with a lot, working there. And, yes, my parents knew. They were there. Their attitude was, they rather have me drink with them, than to have me drink at a friend's house. But, outside of that place, I had no friends. I'd go back to school, or later my day job the next Monday, sometimes Tuesday, depending on how bad the hangover was, and I was no longer that person who worked at that hotel up on the hill. In fact, I really doubt anyone knew I worked there...or cared, for that matter.

All my silly crushes I had, I had at work. Of course, all of them unrequited. I never got along well with people my age. I'm not saying that in a haughty way, it was just the way I was. Anyway, kids my age never did like me. Honestly, I don't think I really wanted them to.

Looking back at those years, I realized what a noob, dweeb, dork I was. A hotel was a very odd place to figure out the rules in life. It was like one big dysfunctional microcosm of life, so I guess I fit in just fine with all my dorkiness. It's not like working in a factory (did that for awhile, too). I mean, there's drinking and partying and beds and eating and beds and flirting and beds and cute guys and beds and strippers and...anyway...it surprises me at the things I didn't do during those years in my life, especially having to do with beds. I think having my parents working there kept me on the relative up and up and the fact I probably had this neon sign hovering over my head that stated, "Her dad has knives in the kitchen, and he knows how to use them", didn't hurt, either.

I quit working there after I met the man I knew would be my husband, back when I was 19. Him, I met on a blind date. Another thing I did learn working at a hotel was marriage material was not going to be found at a bar.

So, where am I going with all this? Where I "grew up" is being raised to the ground as I type. One more landmark of my life is no more in a visual sense. Every school I went to as a child is either no longer, or now are old brick pigeon roosts. My high school is now a grade school.

I guess it's just a case of being in the place in life where I point at many empty lots and say, "That's where I used to _______". At least I can drive past my home of my childhood, point and say, "That's where I used to live...and there's my Dad right there. Let's go stop and visit! Yeah, so, he's sharpening his knives..."

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The "A-Ha!" moment, or the "D'uh!" moment?

Thanks to sites like Google, one never has to rack their brains over such monumental questions as, "What was the name of that character in that movie made in whatever year?", or, "Who sang that song in the 60's about that the two villages that had a war over buried treasure?"...you know, stuff like that.

One has the choice of relishing in the "A-Ha!" moment when the answer comes to them (usually at 3 a.m.), or giving in, type strings into Google, or head off to IMDB.com (an Internet movie database site, hence the "imdb"), and quickly witness first hand, the "D'uh" moment.

I only bring this up because last night, for some reason, the old series, "MacGyver" pushed it's way to the front of my overflowing filing cabinet excuse for a brain. I knew that one of the long-running gags of the series was trying to figure out what MacGyver's first name was, which was finally exposed in the last episode. But, what was it? I couldn't for the life of me recall.

So, I'm debating...the "A-ha!" moment, or the "D-uh!" moment? I continue to dig through my overtaxed filing system as I feel a migraine coming on. Husband o'mine takes notice. He asks me if I'm okay as I frantically tap the front of my skull, as if that will rustle forth my much needed information before I concede defeat and reach for the laptop.

"What was MacGyver's first name?", I whine.

"Oh, it was 'Angus'", he replies without missing a beat. I've been d'uhed, and it wasn't from Google.

I really need to defrag my brain.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

I'm not laughing.

Hey, okay, I got it already. You can stop now. It isn't funny anymore. Yesterday it was in the 60's , and I actually opened the windows!!! I walked out of the house sans coat! I didn't need to turn on my heated matress cover last night.

So, ha-ha, you got me. April Fool's and all that. Thirty-five degrees. Yeah, some joke. You can warm back up now. Some sunshine would be nice, too.