Sunday, July 31, 2011

I've resorted to this...


Rhymes with Chuck, pairs with duck...  Twisted Oak winery...

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Kindly stroke in private. (warning... much venting and preaching to ensue)

There's a woman in my online life who occasionally annoys me for a number of reasons.  Besides being pretty pious about her religion and occasionally going into proselytizing mode, she thinks she is the world's most maternal person and constantly seeks praise for her "motherly acts".  She has often said that her calling in life is to work with kids and she prides herself on being exceptionally good with them... even the ones who are "difficult".  In short, she is a professional league martyr.

Anyway, this woman recently decided to host foreign students in her home.  She claims she does this because she wants her kids to be exposed to people from other cultures and it's her "calling" to take care of kids.  So far, she has hosted two students.  The first one was a young man from Saudi Arabia.  That didn't work out too well because he was a young adult and a little too independent for her household.  Plus, she has dogs and he hated them.  After a month, he moved out.

She now has a teenaged Turkish student living with her.  The Turkish student has been with her for about a week or so and she has already proclaimed him "adorable".  The other day, she posted a thread on a messageboard we both frequent for stepmoms and second wives.  Her thread was entitled, "Because I care..." She went on to list all the selfless things she had done for this Turkish student, including sitting in 100 degree heat for a half hour so he could pray and preparing special food for the boy that complies with his religion's strict requirement. The initial post was obviously a plea for praise from the rest of us because she was being so respectful of his religion, even though it seems painfully obvious that she thinks his beliefs are ridiculous.

Next, she said she was glad Ramadan was coming up and he was fasting because that makes her job feeding him easier.  Apparently, he will only eat things that have a symbol on the packaging that indicates it's approved for Muslim consumption.  She wrote about how she was careful to make some food for him that complies with his dietary restrictions, but he didn't like what she prepared.  She said she talked to Muslims at the local university who were laughing about this kid's strict adherence to his diet.  These comments make me think she wants more props for being so patient with her Turkish houseguest... and yet, I couldn't help but detect some annoyance with all the fuss she was going to for this kid that she is no doubt being paid to house.

Just when I thought things couldn't get any more pukeworthy, the "voice of reason" chimes in with a "helpful" observation about how the kid probably has poor English skills and therefore probably insists on only eating food with that symbol on the packaging so he knows he's eating things that comply with his beliefs.  Then she follows it up with gushy accolades about how this woman is working as an "ambassador for peace" that the young man would no doubt carry back to his home country.  *Barf*

Here's what I'd like to tell this person in my online life, but won't because I don't have the energy right now for the shitstorm that would inevitably follow.  "If you really care about this student, you shouldn't come on an Internet messageboard and proclaim how awesome you are for doing what you (should have) agreed to be doing when you took on housing a foreign exchange student.  Instead of starting a thread entitled "Because I care," and boasting about all your "good works" and "respect" for another's religion and culture, why not just ask the ladies on the board if they know where you can find food fit for Muslims?"

This woman's own religion forbids her to drink alcohol, tea, or coffee or smoke.  Given that, it seems to me she should be understanding about religions that have dietary laws.  On the surface, she seems to be trying to convince us that she is, in fact, being very respectful.  But then her post comes off as if she's putting forth a lot of effort for this kid...  sitting in 100 degree heat (what, there are no public libraries or fast food restaurants nearby?), cooking special food (and being glad it's almost time for him to fast for religious reasons), and (I hope) not trying to convert him to her own religion, which she has often proclaimed is the only true church.  And clearly this kid isn't giving her the gratitude she thinks she deserves, so she seeks validation from people on the Internet.

Her attitude about this kid's beliefs seems pretty evident-- right down to the fact that she vented to other Muslims about her new student and they told her he was a lot stricter than they were (so obviously the issues they're having come from him, not her).  For someone who claims to be so interested in learning about new cultures, she sure does seem to be pretty disappointed with the experience.  And for someone whose religion forbids masturbation, she sure does seem awfully eager for some stroking.  Just like real masturbation, that kind of ego stroking ought to be a lot more private.  I understand wanting a little praise and deference for doing a good deed or two, but begging for it is not very becoming.

That whole thread just rubbed me the wrong way.  *Sigh*... I shouldn't care about this... and again, I need to find another place to hang out.  I just don't like hypocrisy.  Eh well...

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Leisure Suit Larry... a fond college memory...

I was chatting with an old friend on Facebook this morning and he reminded me of an activity we used to enjoy when we were college students.  We were freshmen; it was 1990; and we were bored.  My friend had a chat with the peer advisor's roommate, who happened to know of a certain 486 computer in a rarely used study hall.  Someone had surreptitiously loaded the original classic 80s era critical thinking game Leisure Suit Larry on the hard drive.

Most people never would have known the game was there, nor would they have known about the animated porno images that were also on the hard drive.  One night, my friend and I went to the old study hall to see if it was really true that Leisure Suit Larry could be played on a college owned computer.  And sure enough, it could.  We loaded up the game on the old black and white computer monitor and had a fine old time trying to get the world's biggest loser laid.  Unfortunately, neither one of us were very good at Leisure Suit Larry and usually ended up being killed after flushing the toilet.

My friend and I lived on single sex floors.  He was on the first floor, which was all guys, and I was on the second floor, which was all girls.  We all hung out together and got along really well.  One crazy night, a bunch of the guys decided they wanted to have a "boxing" match in the Rotunda.  Since we lived in a dorm that connected to the Rotunda, we could go there after it was locked by campus police.

So a couple of the guys brought their boxing gloves and started sparring in the middle of the Rotunda.  A stray punch hit my friend in the head, not enough to hurt him, but enough to stun him.  We were laughing so hard after that little match.

I remember hanging out with friends, sitting around reading trashy stories that we had written, listening to crappy music on tape decks, and just having a good time.  College was fun.  I wish I had appreciated it more at the time.  On the other hand, I wouldn't want to go back to it.

I am gratified to at least still being friends with my old Leisure Suit Larry pal.



To be honest, this one was my favorite...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

So long, Amy Winehouse... We'll always have Poland.

I have never been a big fan of Amy Winehouse's music, even though I recognize her talent.  I guess I've just gotten to an age at which I no longer pay a lot of attention to up and coming artists.  I love music, but I'm not obsessed with it anymore.  So I'm not one of Amy Winehouse's adoring fans, but I have heard her music and like it well enough.

I was sorry to hear about her death over the weekend.  The first thing I thought of was the fact that she was just 27 years old, the same age Janis Joplin was when she died.  Janis Joplin is another one of those really famous and talented rock stars that I never was really attracted to.  But I can recognize her talent... like Jim Morrison's, Kurt Cobain's, and Jimi Hendrix's, three guys who also died at age 27.  Amy Winehouse is now a card carrying member of the "27 Club".

I first became exposed to Amy Winehouse's music in 2008.  My husband and I were living abroad and had decided to go to Poland for our anniversary.  We drove to an inn run by a British couple of Polish descent who had purchased an old dilapidated barn for about $4000 and renovated it into a cute little inn.  Their lobby was charmingly lit with awesome lamps made at the nearby Borowski studio and they played hip music by the Dixie Chicks and yes, Amy Winehouse.  There were other artists, of course, but those were the two that I still remember.

I remember Amy Winehouse's smoky alto voice in the restaurant area of the inn, her moody vocals echoing off the stone walls and floors.  I was struck by how retro the music sounded, yet it was still very stylish.  I also liked Amy for her unabashed crudeness.  Her song "Addicted", which I think must have been a bonus track on the European version of her album, Back to Black, never failed to crack me up.  The innkeepers played it many times during our visit.  I remember looking for the song after we got back from Poland and not being able to find it on the U.S. version of her album.  

Maybe in light of what happened to her, I shouldn't find the song funny... but any artist so unabashed singing about dicks is bound to make me laugh.





Actually, the one song that popped in my head when I heard Amy Winehouse had died was this one...


I actually never liked "Shooting Star" that much, but this particular version has made me rethink my feelings about it.  And I do think it fits Amy Winehouse's situation.

We had a surprisingly great time in Poland.  We spent five nights at the inn, with two nights on either side in Dresden and Prague.  Remembering that time, I wonder why we didn't spend a couple of days in Berlin, too.

Anyway, RIP Amy Winehouse.  I think a lot of us knew you were not long for the world.  A lot of us will miss your voice.  And I will always enjoy pleasant memories of Poland when I hear your music.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Brain farts in Internet journalism...

Like a lot of people, I get much of my news from the Internet.  I write a lot on the Internet, too, so I know how quickly things are written and slapped up for public consumption.  With such a rapid exchange of information, there are bound to be mistakes ranging from innocuous typos to big ol' brain farts.  Consider this quote from a news article I found this morning about the bombing and shootings in Oslo, Norway.

"I saw many dead people," said 15-year old Elise, whose father, Vidar Myhre, didn't want her to disclose her last name. She just feet away from the gunman when he opened fire in the camp on Utoya island.

Okay... so the writer left out a verb in the second sentence, which is kind of understandable.  He was probably trying hard to get the news out and was just careless.  I've done it myself many times.  But the biggest error is the one that made me laugh out loud.  The writer goes to the trouble of stating that Elise's dad didn't want her to reveal her last name, but then the writer reveals it anyway!  That, my friends, is what I call a big brain fart!  So much for protecting the identity of his source!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

How about that heat?

The heat is back again.  Last week, we got a brief, refreshing reprieve from the hotter than four hells heat we've been enduring lately.  And now it's back, making me not want to venture outside.  So here I sit, watching The Doctors and today's guest is yucky Nancy Grace.  I admire her for being all for victim's rights, but I also find her extremely abrasive and irritating.

I do have to admit, though, to really admiring Elizabeth Smart for giving her the smackdown during an interview...


It'll be interesting to hear what Nancy has to say...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Their parents must be sooo proud...



These charming kids were passengers on a recent Allure of the Seas cruise.  Evidently, they were bored senseless, despite the fact that they were aboard one of the world's largest cruise ships.  Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines has worked so hard to make their ships appealing for everyone, even teenagers.  Apparently, that just wasn't enough.  This group of kids still felt the need to throw a large, metal object overboard and film it for posterity.

It looks like the guy that actually did the deed was trying to impress the young lady who was doing the filming.  I have a feeling this incident could be a source of major embarrassment for both of them.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Utah clothing boutique tries to combine sexy and modest... and sorta fails

So... last night, my friends on Recovery From Mormonism introduced me to a Utah based women's boutique called SexyModest.  I was intrigued by the name of the business, so off I went to check it out.  And I have to say, I was kind of amused by what I found.

Checking out the homepage, I noticed that SexyModest's slogan is "Who says you can't be both?"  I immediately noticed that the word "jewelry" was repeatedly misspelled.  Now, anyone can make a typographical mistake, but I counted three instances of this particular typo.  Maybe spelling shouldn't be a big deal, but it does seem that a business owner who wants to be taken seriously should be able to spell the products that are being sold.

Clicking on "Basics", I immediately see another typo.  This time, the word misspelled is "leggings", which is correctly spelled in one instance and misspelled in another.

Curiously, there are two clickable buttons for dresses and skirts.  And when I look at the shirt offerings, I find a model whose dark colored strapless bra I can see through the sheer material.  A "modest tip" suggests wearing a cap sleeved t-shirt underneath, but I'm still wondering why the owner of the Web site didn't take his or her own advice.  A glaring bra that can be clearly seen through a shirt is definitely not modest or sexy.  And what's with all the ruffles?

The store's return policies are especially entertaining.  I guess I can give the owner props for being very specific about the condition returns must be in before he or she will issue a refund or an exchange.

I have to wonder how successful this business venture is, but I see they recently opened a new location in Salt Lake City.  Oh well... what do I know?  

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

There must be some misunderstanding between me and the UPS guy...

Last week, I received two shipments courtesy of UPS.  The first shipment was on Wednesday.  I got a beautiful new bar/beverage cart for my husband's birthday.  I also got some wine that I had ordered from Wine.Woot!  The UPS driver made what sounded like a snide comment about the wine.  I was annoyed, but got over it because I was excited about the present I bought for my spouse.

Two days later, I got another wine shipment from Wine.Woot!  That was a surprise, since Wine.Woot! usually ships wine via FedEx and I had not been notified of the shipment.  The FedEx guy had just been at my house a few minutes before the UPS guy came.  He's always friendly and jokes with me about the wine.  The UPS guy, by contrast, has always seemed kind of snarly.  When I went to sign for the package, he quipped "You sure are on a wine kick."  Unfortunately, a representative from our property manager's office was at the house doing an inspection and she was standing right next to me when he made his comment.

I wasn't quite sure how to take the UPS guy's comment, since he wasn't smiling or laughing when he made it.  And I wasn't too happy that he'd said such a thing in front of someone else, as if maybe my husband and I are drunks.  Truth is, we do like our wine and drink a lot of it, but we don't necessarily want other people to know that.

Anyway, I was troubled by the comment and mentioned it to my husband, whose protective instincts went into gear.  He sent a complaint to UPS.com.  They responded by apologizing for the inconvenience and telling my husband to expect a phone call the next day.  My husband did get a call the next day from UPS, but the lady left a voice mail saying that the guy thought we had a rapport and was just joking.  My husband couldn't follow up because the call was made from a blocked cell phone.

Suddenly, I was kind of nervous that my husband had complained.  I like to buy stuff online and was worried that maybe the UPS guy would start screwing with us.  But I needn't have worried.  Yesterday, the UPS guy came by with wine glasses and said he understood he owed me an apology.  He started explaining himself and never gave me much of an opportunity to explain why I was taken aback by his comments.  He was obviously very sincere, though, so I told him not to worry about it and I'd see him next time.

I don't normally like to complain about situations like this one.  However, I guess I'm glad we did in this instance, since now I know the UPS guy isn't unfriendly and judgmental, he's just awkward and lacks communication skills.

 

Monday, July 11, 2011

"You don't have to be mean to the cake..."

Yoplait has come out with a number of new ads for their "dessert" yogurts.  Most of the ads are just slightly annoying as a woman tries to pass the low cal yogurts off as being like real desserts.  One ad got eating disorder activists all up in arms.


Some people said the ad above encourages eating disorders because the woman uses eating disordered thinking to justify having a small piece of that luscious cheesecake.  Another woman comes up and grabs her raspberry cheesecake flavored yogurt, introduces her co-worker to the concept of Yoplait, and goes away.

After the backlash from folks who are sensitive about eating disorders, these ads were pulled.  And now, we have this one...


A grumpy woman at a grocery store snarls at a birthday cake with a bear on it.  Then a nosey store employee comes up and tells her not to be "mean to the cake", since a nice Yoplait can be just as satisfying as a big hunk of birthday cake.  I don't know about that.  I'm not a big fan of yogurt myself, but even if I were, I doubt a small plastic cup of it would stand up to a real dessert.

But such is life when it comes to advertising...

Another ad that makes me cringe are the ones for Jello Temptations, which are treats made by Jello intended for adults.


In this ad, the mom is sitting in a tent with her two kids, one of whom has swiped one of her Jello Temptations.  A dull roar is heard in the background and mom whispers that it "sounds like the choco beast".  She ominously explains to her kids that the monster likes to eat children who steal Jello Temptations from their parents.  We later find out the choco beast is actually the kids' father.  Isn't it just dandy that these kids have a dad who would terrorize them over Jello?



Here's one that embraces the idea of food porn...





And this one about a girl named Olive who "lacks self-control".  Olive stole her mom's Jello Temptations and ends up banished to a coal mine.  

Charming, isn't it?  Is it any wonder we have so many people in our country who have food issues?

When I was a child, my mom would buy big bags of chocolate candy and hide it around the house.  Half the time, I'd find the bags by accident.  It always made me feel kind of shitty that she'd hide things like that.  Understood, she didn't want me to eat her candy for many reasons... One was that she wanted the candy for herself.  The other was that she didn't want me to get fat.  I got fat anyway.

All these ads are yet another clue that maybe it's time to turn off the TV.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Pajama jeans... a tragic collision of poor taste and no style...



Have you seen this ad?  I have.  I have to admit, the prospect of wearing jeans as comfortable as pajama bottoms is very appealing.  However, these pajama jeans are not exactly what I'd have in mind.  The people who made these hideous pants are actually attempting to make the public think they resemble jeans.  And, I guess, if you don't look too hard, they do sorta look like jeans.  I mean, they have pockets and rivets and a fake fly, and if you roll them up, they're lighter colored so they look kinda like jeans inside out.

But let's face it, folks... pajama jeans are a poor substitute for real denim.  Even the relatively thin models on the commercial don't look particularly good in them.  They've tucked in their shirts and the material is so clingy that one can see the bulky outlines of the shirts under the "jeans".  Believe it or not, with denim, it's easier to hide that bulk.

I was curious to find out if anyone had actually bought and worn these jeans, so I consulted YouTube.  Lo and behold, I found these two videos...



This lady seems to like her pajama jeans well enough, although she does bring up some legitimate concerns, like the fact that they attract cat hair and don't look enough like real jeans.  On the other hand, she also never really shows her viewers what they look like, other than a brief shot of the waist area.

I dunno... maybe these "jeans" might be cute enough to wear around the house, but I would hesitate before wearing them in public.  Your mileage may vary.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Ann Coulter actually said something I agree with... and the Casey Anthony trial

First, about Ann Coulter...

I don't usually get too excited about things that political pundits say.  In fact, I don't remember ever watching Ann Coulter on television, at least not on purpose.  But the other day, I happened to catch one of her sound bytes.  This time, it was about Catherine, otherwise known as the former Kate Middleton.  Ann Coulter said that Kate is leagues classier than Princess Diana was and is a much better match for Britain's royal family.  To be completely honest, I happen to agree with her.  What??  Someone dared to criticize Diana?  Say it isn't so!

Now... don't get me wrong.  I recognize that Diana was a very charismatic, beautiful woman with many wonderful qualities.  I was sad when she died at age 36.  I was actually in Europe at the time of her death, on my way from Vienna to Venice.  I didn't learn about her death until the next day, when I was in Florence.  I heard her funeral on the radio as I was riding on a train through the French Riviera.  That being said, though, as lovely as Diana was and as many good works as she did when she was alive, it's a well-known fact that Diana had problems.

She was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, which is pretty much a guarantee that she was very difficult to live with.  She had eating disorders, which also is pretty much a guarantee that she was difficult to live with.  Yes, she often put on a saintly face in public, but just knowing that she had those two psychiatric problems makes me realize that she was definitely a high conflict person.  There were many indications that Diana was manipulative and wont to cutting off people who didn't give in to her whims.  Granted, she did have a difficult upbringing, and it's obvious that being royal was very difficult for her.  But she was not a saint, nor was she completely innocent.  Diana was human, just like everyone else.  She was a very beautiful and charismatic human, but she was human just the same.

Kate Middleton comes across as so much more mature and stable than Diana ever did.  I know she's only been married to Will for a few months, but I have a feeling that their marriage will be a lot less dramatic than Diana's and Charles' marriage was.  Comparing the two women, I would pick Kate in a heartbeat to be queen.

Switching topics...

I was a little chagrined by the whole Casey Anthony spectacle that went on yesterday.  At 2:15pm, people all over the 'Net were gathering around the telly to see what the verdict of the trial would be.  Seems like so many folks "know" in their hearts that Casey Anthony is guilty.  When she was acquitted of many of the serious charges against her, people all over the 'Net were expressing their disgust that Casey Anthony "got away with murder".

My thinking is this.  I haven't been following the trial.  I don't know Casey Anthony and wasn't sitting in the court room when she was tried.  I was not on the jury.  Whatever I know about her case I know because the media reported it.  I didn't read a lot about the case, so I only know snippets of the facts.  My guess is that a lot of people are like me... they only know what the media has reported.

Now, on the other side of this issue is the darling little girl, Caylee, who lost her life at such a tender age.  It's very tragic that Caylee Anthony is dead, though if her mother is as horrible as people have said she is, maybe it's a blessing.  Because had she lived, she no doubt would have grown up abused, ended up in foster care, or perhaps even both.  Maybe, just maybe, the girl's father could have gotten custody, but given the way family courts tend to bias against fathers, I think it's a long shot.

I don't know what happened in the Casey Anthony situation, but I do think it's interesting that the jury came up with a verdict so wildly different than the court of public opinion.  Perhaps they know something the rest of the world doesn't?  Anyway, I would much rather see a guilty person get off than an innocent person be executed or spend the rest of their lives in prison.

If Casey Anthony is guilty, she will eventually pay for her crime.  If she really is a monster, chances are good that she'll end up in trouble with the law again.  Hopefully, she won't have another child.  As it stands now, I wonder what her life will be like when she gets out of jail for lying to the police.  Will she be able to get a job?  Find a place to live?  Does she have any friends?  I think it's very likely she'll have a tough time of it.

I worry that people are so focused on the emotional side of court cases that they forget that justice is supposed to be fair and impartial.  It's natural that people want justice for Caylee, but I worry that people just want someone to pay no matter what.  I also think that far too many people were seeing this trial as entertainment, rather than an important fixture of the justice system.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

People whose "shit doesn't stink" versus people who have an "inner glow"

My husband's daughter doesn't know that her father has found her blog.  He reads it regularly.  I don't look at it, because it makes me sad and angry.  But my husband sometimes tells me about things his child writes on her blog.  This kid, who, along with her sister, sent my husband a hate letter and "decided" to disown him when she was 12, tries very hard to come across as an intensely moral and noble girl with "high standards".  She preaches about her church and the "right" way to behave and believe, and ultimately comes across as fake, holier than thou, and just plain weird.  It's as if she's trying so hard to be a shining beacon of righteousness-- that person that everyone admires-- but ultimately looks like an annoying freak.

In my offline life, I have been lucky enough to know some truly admirable people.  These are people who don't have to work hard to be good because they already are good.  These are people who are always thoughtful and considerate and don't have to think about being that way because they come by it naturally.  They wouldn't dream of intentionally hurting other people.  They have empathy, even for their (very few) enemies.  They have an inner glow that is reflected on their faces when they enter a room.  People are drawn to them because they are positive people who don't try to raise their self-image by showing another person up.

My husband is one of those people.  He is a very kind, considerate, loving person.  He hurts when another person hurts.  He has an attitude of service toward other people and always does what he can to better a situation.  Sadly, his children are the only ones who don't see that side of him because they have selfishly decided to shun him and everyone else in his family.

My aunt is also one of those people with an inner glow.  My father's brother's wife always puts other peoples' wants and needs before her own.  She has a gentle, generous spirit and does good because it wouldn't occur to her not to do good.  I have several friends who are genuinely good people.  They have genuine empathy for others and others respond by genuinely admiring them.  They are just really good eggs and people love them for being who they are.

I will freely admit--and I'm sure it comes across in my blog-- that I am not a person with an inner glow that instantly draws people.  I often have a bad attitude.  I can be very selfish and critical of other people.  But I don't pretend to be someone I'm not.  I don't patronize people by assuming that they should look up to me.  At least I try not to.  I don't spend a lot of time with other people and don't assume that they would or should like me.   In fact, I often assume people won't like me.          

My husband's daughter is not an unattractive girl in the physical sense.  She was lucky enough to inherit my husband's good looks.  Unfortunately, she has also inherited her mother's yucky personality, which, coupled with her rigid thinking, makes her try to be someone she's not.  She recently posted about how the boys don't seem to like her much.  I'm sure it has little to do with her looks and everything to do with her personality, which is pretty unpleasant because she tries so hard to one up other people and constantly maintains a high horse mentality.  Instead of being herself and presenting a real image of who she is, flaws and all, she projects a fake image of who she thinks she should be.  Consciously trying to set a "good" example for others to follow is really the height of arrogance... unless, perhaps, you are raising a child or in a position of authority that specifically mandates setting a good example.  And even then, riding a high horse is still pretty damn off-putting.  

I swear... if I had the stomach to read that blog, I just might be tempted to leave a comment letting that girl know that her shit stinks as much as everyone else's does.

Patti LaBelle countersues the the guy who got the shit kicked out of him by her bodyguards

Remember this post?  It's about Patti LaBelle's run in with Richard King, a West Point cadet who apparently got too close for her comfort to her luggage when they were at the Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas.  Back when I wrote that post, there was video available that showed LaBelle's bodyguards beating the hell out of King while he was talking on his cell phone.  Three men pounded the cadet until he crumpled to the ground.  After he staggered off, bleeding and disoriented, LaBelle was shown posing for photos with police officers.

Well... evidently, Patti LaBelle is pissed about being sued for damages, so now she's countersuing King for allegedly hurling racial insults at her and attacking her bodyguards.  LaBelle also claims King was drunk.  I sure as hell didn't see LaBelle's version of events on the official video that was available after the incident occurred in Houston.  From what I could see, King was on his cell phone minding his own business.  Even if he did hurl racist insults and try to attack LaBelle's bodyguards, the three thugs were quick put a stop to King actually doing anything to injure Patti LaBelle.  Unless there was a blood alcohol test done on the day of the incident, I don't know how LaBelle's lawyers can prove he was drunk.

As I wrote before, it will be interesting to see how this pans out.    

Friday, July 1, 2011

Have you been labeled a "bad influence" by someone? Chances are, you're just not part of the wheel...

Those of you who regularly read my blog may know that I am my husband's second wife.  His marriage to his first wife ended in divorce almost ten years after it began.  My husband's ex wife is an abusive person.  I was not around when they were married, but I have witnessed the after-effects of their union.  I believe she is a narcissistic person and that has led me to do a lot of reading about narcissism.  In fact, my husband's ex wife's craziness even led me to seek out information for men who are victims of abuse.  My research eventually led me to Shrink4Men, an excellent resource for men who are involved with crazy women.

Yesterday, Shrink4Men's Dr. Tara Palmatier posted an email she had gotten from one of her readers.  The man wanted to know if his fiancee is an abusive/controlling person.  His description of his fiancee made it clear that he's involved in an abusive relationship.  But there was one aspect of that email that stood out to me.  The man wrote that his fiancee wanted him to break off a friendship he had enjoyed with another woman.  The fiancee claimed that this female friend, whom the man had known for ten years, was a "bad influence".

Those two words, bad influence, were used to describe me after the one and only visitation my husband and I had with his two daughters.  The visit occurred in the summer of 2003.  The girls and their brother came to see us at our crappy apartment.  My husband, excited to see his daughters and former stepson, had taken off several days of work.  Ex, who at that time lived across the country from us, had told my husband that they would be spending about a week in our area.  My husband wanted to make himself fully available to them.

Finally, the expected day of arrival came... and went.  We heard nothing from the ex.  My husband paced around in our apartment, nervous and upset about the bullshit, yet still very excited at the prospect of seeing his kids.  The ex finally contacted him.  She was driving cross country with her husband, their baby daughter, and the three older kids.  She claimed that none of the phone numbers she'd had for us worked.  Then she said that former stepson was angry at my husband and didn't want to visit.  Then she said she had thought about just dropping by with the kids, but apparently thought better of it.

So we went to the hotel where the ex, her husband, and all four of their kids were sharing a single room. We picked up former stepson and my husband's daughters and took them to our apartment.  We all had a pretty good time.  They spent barely 48 hours with us, but the visit had gone pretty well.  One of the kids even called me her second mom and gave me a hug.  Then the kids left.  That was the first and last time I ever saw them in person.

After that visit, the ex went on the warpath.  She labeled me a bad influence and said the kids didn't want to have anything to do with me.  Prior to my being labeled a  "bad influence", my husband's mother was labeled a "bad influence".  My husband's mother had encouraged her son to get out of the marriage because the ex was abusive and toxic.  Consequently, the kids apparently wanted nothing to do with their grandmother, either.

Years later, ex sent my husband an email, asking him for help with her oldest child.  She was worried about the girl he was dating.  She said the girl reminded her of herself when she was a teenager and was a "bad influence".  Later, my husband and I met the girl and we both agreed that she mostly came across as pretty, smart, and opinionated.  Obviously, a person like that might be a "bad influence" in that she might eventually encourage her boyfriend to think for himself.  On the other hand, my husband and I also saw some evidence that the girl had already herself been influenced by the ex.  She had the same eerily similar speech patterns that my husband's stepmother had before she, too, was labeled a "bad influence" and unceremoniously cut out of the kids' lives.

The label "bad influence" has a negative connotation, of course.  When a narcissist tells her minions that someone is a "bad influence", they either really believe her or they're too afraid to cross her.  So anyone who might encourage the minions to think for themselves is inevitably labeled a "bad influence" and the minions are strongly encouraged not to associate with that person.  That includes people like the female friend of the man who sent Dr. Tara an email about his fiancee.  The friend is an objective person who cares... and she might be a "bad influence" in the sense that she will encourage her friend to get out of the relationship or at least stand up for himself.

Abusive people isolate their victims, even from each other.  When I think of an abusive person, I picture a wheel with spokes.  The abuser is the axis and all of her minions are spokes.  The spokes don't have contact with anyone but the axis and the wheel (the world).   Likewise, the abuser's minions don't talk to each other or compare notes.  They are devoted to the axis, who keeps them spinning around, confused, yet obediently functional, at least for the abuser's purposes.  

I find the idea of a wagon wheel useful whenever I encounter an abusive relationship that involves a narcissistic person.  Narcissists hate dissension and defiance.  They surround themselves with people who are indoctrinated and "settled".  When one of those spokes "breaks", it creates havoc and desperation.  The wheel is not as strong as it was and threatens to spin out of control.  So the narcissist does whatever he or she can to get things back under control.  A"spoke" that breaks is suddenly a "bad influence" or weak link and must be cast away from the wheel before it collapses. 

If someone in your life is involved with an abuser and you find yourself being labeled a "bad influence", take heed.  You have been spotted as a threat.  The abuser is trying to neutralize you and isolate her victim(s) from your influence.