*** PLEASE NOTE ***





*** PLEASE NOTE *** I use no other social media, and my comment section here remains closed due to chronic harassment/repeat impersonations by a certain individual. Also, I rarely comment anywhere; when I do, only from this blog as "Chrysalis" or with my real name from email (see correct spelling my profile). If there is ever any question as to legitimacy, please contact myself or Mark via email or phone.


Saturday, July 31, 2021

When Casting Works Well, And When It So Does NOT :)



(*Edited - content added.) 


We watched a movie, the other night, that I knew was being discussed for making into a movie for years, but I didn't know they actually had in 2014 -  based on the book I read about 15 years ago, which I loved, called "Big Stone Gap," by Adriana Trigiani. 




It was semi-autobiographical, and I loved it, mostly because I really identified with the main character, Ave Maria.   Ave was a pharmacist in Big Stone Gap, Virginia, a coal-mining town, just on the other side of the mountains of Eastern Kentucky.  

She feels different from everyone else there, in that she sees things a little differently from the rest of the small town. Though she is  somewhat socially involved, she still feels like an outsider, due to this, as well as being educated, and also because her mother was straight from Italy, when everyone else in the region was British, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, or German descent.

She'd rather read than cheer-lead, and she doesn't subscribe to the town's mentality of labeling certain people or families as being either "good" or "no good" or subscribe to racism, or what it means to be a woman.  As a result, she at least perceives men aren't interested in her because she's different; but to be fair, she isn't interested in most of them, because they don't have much in common.  

At age 40, people are starting to call her an old maid or a lesbian, because she's not married.  However, she's actually in a long-term relationship with the school's theater director, Theodore, who has never proposed, because instead of having a passion for her, he has a passion for melodrama - and a passion for men, she discovers ;)

Thus, she dreams of getting out and away, but feels a responsibility to her family, her family's pharmacy business,  and her community - plus even though her pharmacist father is dead, who hated her, she is still trying to prove to him that she's a good pharmacist and trying to get his approval.

If you want to know the rest of the story, I advise reading the book - NOT watching the movie - which apparently bombed, and for good reason.




Why?

Well, IMO, because even though Adriana wrote the screenplay herself, she also directed it herself, without having any filmmaking experience whatsoever, and she was terrible at it.  

Also, despite an all-star, talented cast, they had virtually no chemistry together whatsoever, and IMO, were miscast.

This is not always the director's fault, that's true, and sometimes not even the casting director's fault.  Sometimes you can think someone can be perfect for the role and they're not, or they audition really well, but when it comes time to film, they party too much, show up late for filming, and just don't do they're best lol.

In this case, though I love Adriana as an author, I think she made a mistake trying to adapt to being a screenwriter, directing it herself, and casting it. 


Now, I understand book authors wanting to do this themselves, because they lose creative control otherwise, especially in this day and age - and sometime this ends in disaster. 

However, just because you can, doesn't mean you should, do it all yourself, either, especially if you have no experience in filmmaking. 

Find a director you can trust, and make sure you have a legal clause that includes you as a contributor over any creative content when being made into a film, and exactly how much - but more about that in a minute. 


As for the film, for starters, though Ashley Judd seemed like the most obvious actress for the role, considering her own history, she had also abandoned her accent (much like Julia Roberts did) for her career, and had to re-manufacturer it -  badly.  

Plus I like Ashley as a person, and in certain roles, but what is also true is that she can often come across as very aloof and wooden.  She's just not quirky enough for quirky roles.   It's like she has trouble relaxing and letting go, allowing herself to be "goofy," if that's what it takes - breaking through that wall?

Now, that could have worked in her favor, considering the character buries her emotions, but unfortunately, there was also no chemistry with any of her castmates, nor any of the cast with each other. 





Speaking of the other cast members, though I admire them as actors in other things, they just didn't work in the roles in which they were placed, and like I said, had no chemistry with each other. 

Whoopie Goldberg seemed like a good choice for Fleeta, but she's not Southern enough and therefore wasn't believable as a Southern woman, and she and Ashley together had zero chemistry.





I also like Jenna Elfman, of Dharma and Greg fame, but I really pictured more of a "Flo" from "Alice" in the role of Iva Lee, the sexy-but-smart, loud, quirky, larger-than-life book-truck librarian  - and again, Jenna isn't believably Southern enough. Or loud enough.  Or blonde bombshell enough.




Then we get to Patrick Wilson's performance, which wasn't entirely his fault, because the movie did not reveal the full attributes of his character, Jack, just hinted at them.




Jack was supposed to be a strong-but-silent type coal miner, but highly intelligent and a deep thinker - an avid reader who could speak Latin.  He also was supposed to be surprising sweet - bringing his mother, and Ave, bluebells he found on the way home from work, just because he thought they were pretty and they'd like them. 

None of that was presented in this film, except a slight hint from Iva Lee about a book he once checked out.

And again, zero chemistry between Ashley and Patrick.




(You'll note she was sporting her Kentucky blue and white for this scene, though ;)

In fact, the only person we liked in his role was Anthony LaPlaglia as Spec, who IMO is an under-rated actor, in that he's extremely versatile and can do any accent you can imagine, such that sometimes you find yourself saying, "OMG, is that Anthony LaPlagia?" because he can camouflage as any character,

 plus can create chemistry with anyone, where none exists.




Left in the film, however, was the true story about what happened when Elizabeth Taylor came to town, while her then-husband, at the time, Senator John Warner, visited the area during his campaign.  She was presented with fried chicken at a restaurant, took a wing, and a chicken bone got lodged in her throat, and she had to be hospitalized. 




Ya see, you can't make this quirky sh*t up about the South lol. 

 Adriana claims the whole town of Big Stone Gap was so excited about their visit, they went all out, they were obsessed with trying to impress them - but the event they though would put them on the national register and claim to fame, was now a source of embarrassment.  

Their biggest event in history was no longer for football and basketball team state champions, or for a special visit by Senator John Warner and Elizabeth Taylor - but because Elizabeth Taylor  choked on a chicken bone after eating fried chicken bone in their town.

 Now - NOT in the movie, but mentioned in the book, and just before this,  Adriana claims John and Elizabeth attended a football game, in which the marching band had prepared a special performance, but at which after the band marched off the field, and two dogs followed, and proceeded to, well, copulate on the field - LOL.

 Which, of course, further embarrassed the town - but is par-for-the course, in quirky Southern towns, and if you look at the event, just right, it may have mirrored the life of Elizabeth Taylor and whatever husband-du-jour she had lol)


Regardless, I was so disappointed with the film, because as a book, it seemed like it'd be movie gold -even the cast looked like they would be, on paper - but they weren't.  

And this is why you hire a casting director, he gets where you want to go ;)

So we started thinking about who would've possibly been better in these roles, and came up with: 


Ave Maria - Reese Witherspoon, with hair dyed dark, like in Walk the Line - just add brown contacts and darken her skin to look more Italian. 




Fleeta - Octavia Spencer




Iva Lee - Patricia Arquette 





Jack - Josh Lucas 






Then after watching this movie, today, we noticed Tombstone was on.





Now, this film had the opposite problem - it's ridiculous, hokey and cheesy, and would never be Oscar material, but the casting is what made this film an instant classic.  

Had this movie had any other cast, it would've been a laughingstock and flop.

However, it was perfectly cast - particularly Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday, he was brilliant.  

(The only exception being Dana Delaney as Josie - she's a great actress, I just didn't buy her in this role. )


So we started talking about how much creative book authors should have, over their own films - because it's gone bad both ways.

I think the best example of when this works is what Stephen King learned to do.  After a few missteps earlier, in turning over his books to movies, he has learned to find that balance, and saying, "Here you go.  I'm no director, or even a screenwriter, I'm a novel author - but is this my baby - and now it's is OUR baby together - and we should BOTH have a say and how the characters are presented." 


Having not done it the right way was Anne Rice - though she did have a certain amount of creative control, she had no say in casting, in Interview With a Vampire - or at least her complaints were ignored - perhaps wisely, in the end.  

(In fact, Anne had nothing to do with the future movies made of her own books, as a result, and I believe the movies suffered without her input, which is why you need the original authors for at least some input.)

She protested publicly and vehemently against Tom Cruise, as did the rest of the world, when Tom Cruise was cast as Lestat de Lioncourt - but in the end, she agreed with the rest of us that Tom did a fantastic job, which he did.




Nobody could see it, at first, because he was known for feel-good movies like Top Gun and is all of 5'6" tall.  

In contrast, Lestat was described in the books as a blonde-haired, blue-eyed European, Greek God-like in appearance -  about 6'5" in commanding stature, with formidable brick wall physique, and let's not forget - he was a wolf-pack killer (which is why he was chosen by Magnus to become a vampire), a wealthy European social snob, who fed on the poor and vulnerable, because no one would care or notice, and justified it as "putting them out of their misery."





Though described as blond hair and blue-eyed, it really didn't matter, because hair could be bleached, and they wore translucent, gold-glinted contacts anyway, as vampires - but the rest of Tom Cruise made us all like, "WHAT???"

However, Tom Cruise does get that psycho glint in his eye, sometimes, despite smiling - like that just-under-the-surface, controlled rage, that worked.  He has that look of being able to flash that smile, but at the same time, his eyes aren't smiling, as if a predator looking for his next victim and playing with it first lol.

So he ended up doing a fantastic job - plus there was just no one else who could do it, at that time.

A lot of people thought Brad Pitt should've played Lestat, rather than Louis ... 




... but the truth is, Brad Pitt wasn't mature enough as an actor yet, unless he played truly "hunchback roles" like in 12 Monkeys - (Leonardo Dicaprio suffered from the same malaise, at that time).

Plus partly weeded out at the time, and weed makes it nearly impossible to be intense lol.

Speaking of weeded out, we always knew Matthew McConnaughey had it in him for intensity, and would've been perfect for Lestat  - but at that time, he was hit and miss with movie choices.  He could play a lawyer with aplomb in A Time to Kill, but then turn around and do Dazed and Confused and appeared overly chill and weeded out most of the time lol.





So who was left in the 90s?  

Someone who seems like they could snap at any moment with intensity, but also make you laugh despite yourself and whatever horrifically immoral thing they were engaging in.  Someone with a commanding presence and arrogant, preferably with a sense of refinement and "well-bred" by white European wealth terms, even if they fake it well.


Leonardo DiCaprio?




Too skinny, too young, and too girly, back then - plus he had the same issue as Brad Pitt, at the time - meaning did extremely well acting in "hunchback" roles - roles that required them to be deformed, ugly, and prosthetics-application involved, but had a hard time playing a regular guy with no mask on lol. 


Same for Jude Law - but the accent, attitude, and handsome face are right, but he was too skinny and too girly. 





Johnny Depp?




Maybe, with blonde hair and contacts?


Val Kilmer?




Maybe - but almost too brutish and unrefined.


Michael Biehn?




Maybe - but more military than refined gentleman.


Bruce Willis?





Too old already by then, and too - goofy. 


Woody Harrelson?





Though he ended up shocking us all with how good at playing psychos he can actually be, despite the weed, at that time, he was still in comedy, so just - no.


Ralph Fiennes?




He can do psycho well, but still too calm, it's a controlled, methodical psycho - no just-under-the-surface rage, wolf-killer. 


Alexander Skarsgard? 




The man who played the most recent Tarzan would've been perfect for Lestat - had he not been barely 17 at the time lol. 


His dad, Stellan Skarsgard?




Sure - had it been filmed 20 years prior. 


Heath Ledger?




Heath totally could've done this role, with blue contacts, but he was all of 14 years old, at the time lol.


One of my favorite actors of all time, Peter Stormare?




Like Anthony LaPaglia, he's so verstatile, and been in so many things, that you don't always know it's him, he can transform himself so well (even better) - but he was too old by then, too. 


Sean Bean?




Sexy, does just-under-the-surface rage well, but not face-handsome enough, too unrefined for the role, and was likely too old, by that time.


Russell Crowe?




Maybe - but he sucks at other accents.  Plus he sometimes just has this look on his face like he's either eternally constipated or confused lol 


Viggo Mortensen?




Next to Alexander Skarsgard, almost perfect physically for the role - but like Ralph Fiennes, he's almost too chill and lacks that just-under-the-surface psycho rage. Almost too old by then, too. 


Hmm.  I'm just not sure there was anybody on the A-list, at that time - and they all would've had to do some serious deep-diving to find their inner Lestat, acting wise.


Thus, as a result, though we agree that Tom Cruise was likely the best choice out of the bunch, at the time, and did a great job, and yet still, neither my husband nor myself were ever completely satisfied with Tom Cruise as Lestat. 

Now, if we were talking about today, I can only think of ...


Chris Hemsworth?




Absolutely perfect physically for the role - but he needs to work a bit more on his depth/intensity, or at least show us he can be - I have difficulty seeing the psycho/rage in him - he's too well raised and normal lol


Ryan Gosling?




Maybe.  I can definitely see the tortured artist thing going on, the dark side, but almost too quiet?


But as long as we went outside of book descriptions anyway, who says "European" has to be white?


In fact, I could totally by Idris Elba in this role, too, even at his current age.




I dunno, other than that, I'm stumped. 


Perhaps even today, there is no perfect person for that role?


Regardless, I believe I've made my point - a great story can be ruined with the wrong cast or a cast without chemistry, but an awful story can be a hit with the right cast, yes? 












The Rotten Remnants of the "No Child Left Behind" Public-School Federal Policy ...


With our new school year starting soon, and my husband working for the schools, with new policies being implemented, as well as political  polarizations both externally and internally affecting these things, I'm in reflective and re-evaluative mode about our educational system overall.

As you may recall, in 2001, Bush the Second pushed for, and Congress approved, a federal policy on public schools called "No Child Left Behind." 


Now, it presented itself as a rewards system -  but it was actually a penal system.


Though there was supposed to be Title I funding for schools with lower-income populations, considering that the overall goal of NCLB was to better financially reward the schools performed well on standardized testing, the bigger money, of course, went to the latter.


In fact, if a school's overall test scores weren't sufficient, the school was placed by state and federal government into corrective action; "In Need of Improvement" and then "Corrective Action" the following years - all of which means they lost money and staff.


The teachers and staff alone were penalized for a school's failure, without considering any other variables or context - and if your school was in "Corrective Action," it meant virtually the entire staff could and would be replaced - even if some students excelled on the tests, or a particular teacher's class excelled on the test.


No gray areas, no context, no disruptions (personal or not, beyond their control or not), no health conditions, and no monkey wrenches were considered. 

As we know, 9/11 happened later that year, and despite hurricanes, tornadoes, mass-shootings, fire, deaths of teachers or students, but none of those things were factored into the equation they had and  thus didn't matter - if the majority of your school didn't meet a certain average on test scores, that year, your school lost funding and staff, and the funding and staff instead went to schools that did - period.  

It was all about those annual test scores on reports and nothing else - no ifs, ands, or buts, black or white, either/or.


Also, though the policy was supposed to offer better training and services, I never once saw that at any school, and I heard parents o' plenty complain about that.

They ended up having to hire private tutors or commercial tutor agencies - and if they couldn't afford that, well, they were SOL.


Now - to be fair to those schools, how can they afford those extra supportive services and training, if they lost money and staff, based solely on the prior year's test scores? 


Also, students could "transfer" to better-test-performing schools within the district,  but there was no provision of how to transport them there, and with several restrictions.


So the result was, as you might imagine, is that teachers began teaching only what was on the last year's standardized test - and nothing else. 


Also, they implemented "spiral" teaching, meaning they'd teach for three weeks on a subject then drop it and move on, revisiting it three weeks later, instead of teaching for mastery or until most of the class had demonstrated mastery of the subject.  


I was so frustrated with this entire policy, I was pulling my hair out as a parent, as were the teachers and staff themselves, who basically had no hair left, by this point lol.


In fact, I remember having this conversation with several of my daughter's teachers a few times, and most weren't happy with spiral teaching themselves.

However, to be honest, because of the strict penalties to them if their students didn't perform well on standardized testing, they seemed almost understandably more concerned about what would happen to them if their students didn't perform well that year that whether the children had grasped the concept - and a couple of them even openly blame the children, out of defensiveness. 


Though I didn't agree with the latter, I also understood, because they could lose their job based on their student's test scores at the end of the year alone -  and defensiveness is human nature.  

Defensiveness is especially high under a policy and/or system that is coming from a perspective of individual or group scapegoating blame, instead of from a perspective of a wrongful policy and/or systemic problem. 


Worst of all, by 2003, they started "portfolios" for children - meaning there were certain items throughout the year that went into their overall portfolio, which a child carried with them throughout their school "career" like a resume.

It sounds great and very grown-up in theory, but here's the problem with that - it wasn't just their best achievements, like what would be on a real-life resume.

If your child had mono and couldn't be there, for a few weeks, and turned in a portfolio item that was not their best, it still followed them around for the rest of not only that year, but their  entire school "career." :(


It quickly became realized that the theory and the practical application of No Child Left Behind were two different things - and was a colossal failure.

In fact,  no one, regardless of their political leanings, was happy with it - and it left school administration and staff, teachers, students AND parents feeling incredibly frustrated and powerless.


By 2015, under the Obama administration, most of the provisions of "No Child Left Behind" had been stripped and were in the process of being reworked and called "Every Child Succeeds," but it wasn't well defined and never fully clearly materialized.  


Then under Trump, nothing was done at all for education, other than efforts to strip funding for public schools in general, in favor of things like giving every American $500 vouchers to promote school choice or home-schooling, which is not enough to either pay parents to stay home and home-school their kids, nor enough to move your  entire family to a supposedly "better" district -  and thus benefits only the wealthy who could already afford to do those things.


It also doesn't address the core problem.  In fact, it's like illogically spending billions of dollars on a giant Band-Aid and placing it on a gushing artery, even though the odds of that actually working are slim to none.  

Kinda like ... building a lame wall around just one land boundary of the United States, in effort to prevent illegal immigration, though we have more boundaries, including water entry?  ;) 

Thankfully, none of these "school choice" efforts gained much traction and were Congressionally approved :)


As a result, we still have the rotten remnants of No Child Left Behind - a plan which still blames only the teachers and staffs (which results in over-defensiveness, in my opinion) and penalizes only them for poor tests performance (now called MAP testing). 


Now, no worries about my daughter - she graduated from college anyway, in 2016 - because she's bright and resilient :)


However, many didn't, as a result :(


Considering all that's happened politically, over the past several years - when are we going to make educating our students to mastery a priority again, rather than basing their entire education on the latest version of last year's standardized test?

Also, when are we going to stop focusing on how to find individual or group scapegoats of blame, rather than looking at  group dynamics as a system and wrongful policy?

A system in which everyone in the group is still held accountable (students, teachers, staff, parents, and the students themselves), but instead of auto-penalizing, one in which we first ask each other: "What happened, and how can we help you? What support services or better training can we help provide, so that you can succeed?"



 



Friday, July 30, 2021

More on the CDC's Communication Issues ...


As I wrote about the other day, the CDC reversed it's mask guidance for indoors, for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people, at first just citing increasing risk of the delta variant - period - and there were some overly specific guidelines. 

Today, they provided further explanation -  that studies are showing there are "breakthrough" delta-variant infections with the vaccinated, as well as that vaccinated people are able to carry/transmit the virus, and lastly, that the delta variant is more infectious than the original SARS-CoV-2 (the virus causing COVID), making it just as infectious as chicken pox - stating the study results would be published later on Friday (today).


I have a childhood friend who works on another team for the CDC, who has lamented the internal communication within the CDC is terrible.


If  I could advise the higher-ups and directors about how they are coming across to the public - which I won't other than here - I would say the following:


1) Be very clear and keep it simple - hire a professional editor if need be  - remember, you're talking to mostly idiots and/or people with the attention span of gnats,  here in America, who already don't trust you; instead, they trust just the titles of click-bait articles without actually fully reading them, or one-sentence social-media posts with a picture (by people they don't know from Adam) - forget about following provided links to any actual studies. 

(Having said that, you should still include the studies, which you sometimes haven't, at least initially, with your latest guidelines).

 

 

2)   Be more specific/explain more about the rationale behind why you are changing the rules and include any new studies to support your decision - on the initial publish date of any new guidelines - not later!

 

 

3)   STOP KNEE-JERKING AND JUMPING THE GUN based on early results of preliminary studies,  out of pure excitement with possible new data (the implications of which can't possibly be well understood yet) or  political/corporate pressure, etc. -  and make sure the studies are thoroughly peer-reviewed before you communicate/publish any new guidance to the public - and that takes time!



I know we are all wanting data just as fast as we can, and there's a lot of political pressure and corporate pressure, but studies still need to be peer-reviewed and variables ruled out, and that takes time.  

I think in addition to internal political pressure within the CDC itself, as well as external political pressure and corporate pressure, much of the problem is you're publishing communication too quickly without enough review.  


I get the pressure you are under - but rushing to publish guidelines without enough review, not communicating them simply and clearly, and not explaining the rationale for any changes and/or the science behind the new decisions, are not helping your credibility ;)







Thursday, July 29, 2021

To My Personal "Hicks" (My Husband, Mark) For Our Upcoming 5-Year Anniversary


Coincidentally, I noticed someone looking at the prior post with the below video, yesterday, in my stats.

I guess I'm feeling sentimental, lately, with my grandmother's upcoming birthday, plus our anniversary next week, and especially after adding your awesome, supportive response via phone to my first post this morning about what to do about Granny's bucket list :)


Since we'll be away, for our anniversary, I'm going to post this now - and maybe schedule it for repost it that day ...  because because words cannot express how much I love you, more and more each day, and how grateful I am, both to you and for you, in my life :)

You are the smartest, bravest, most bad-ass, most loving and supportive man I have ever known - I love you :)


As you know, I love this movie, because despite being science fiction, it accurately portrays what having PTSD is like for women, at the beginning, and how she becomes the reluctant hero anyway, by the end - and how Hicks sees right inside who she is, gets her completely, and saves her - and then she saves him right back :)

Also, how this video (made by someone else) was made, highlighting that - set to "Bring Me To Life" by Evanescence :) 

It kind of chronicles our life, too, what/who I was dealing with, when we met, in 2011, and then your stroke in 2017 - there's no better analogy lol :)


Happy Upcoming Anniversary, Hicks ...





Love, 

Ripley  



And just for a laugh, after all that sentimental, mushy stuff, here's a pic from our recent vacay, which I've entitled "Hicks and Ripley Finally Take a Vacation" lol 




LOL

I think we make a great team :)

Plus, I just think you look good, in this picture!

 (Me, not so much, makeup-less)

And lastly, of course, our song - featuring the Detroit Red Wings, of course, at their final game at Joe Lewis Arena in Detroit :)







Just a small town girl
Livin' in a lonely world
She took the midnight train goin' anywhere

Just a city boy
Born and raised in South Detroit
He took the midnight train goin' anywhere

A singer in a smokey room
The smell of wine and cheap perfume
For a smile they can share the night
It goes on and on, and on, and on

Strangers, waitin'
Up and down the boulevard
Their shadows
Searchin' in the night
Streetlights, people
Livin' just to find emotion
Hidin' somewhere in the night

Workin' hard to get my fill
Everybody wants a thrill
Payin' anything to roll the dice
Just one more time
Some will win
Some will lose
Some were born to sing the blues

Oh, the movie never ends
It goes on and on, and on, and on ...

Strangers waitin'
Up and down the boulevard
Their shadows
Searchin' in the night
Streetlights, people
Livin' just to find emotion
Hidin' somewhere in the night
Don't stop believin'
Hold on to that feelin'
Streetlight, people

Don't stop, believin'
Hold on
Streetlights, people
Don't stop believin'
Hold on to that feelin'
Streetlight, people









Atta Girl - Sunisa Lee Saves the Day and Takes the Olympic Gold for Best All-Around Women's Gymnast!

 





Congratulations, Sunisa Lee, for taking the gold, on behalf of the U.S. Women's Gymnastic Team for best all-around gymnast!

I'm sure Simone (whom you've described as your 'idol') was cheering you on ... 









Love the heart hands, just after your win, by the way :)


Way to overcome adversity and fight back for the team!!!






My Grandmother's Bucket List: Wondering What I Can Do Now, About Her Hymn?

 

As mentioned in the story about my grandmother in the posts below, one of the items on my grandmother's bucket list was to confront the man who took full name credit for the hymn she wrote that was published in the national Southern Baptist Hymn book.

Having a lifelong fear of confrontation (except with me and my grandfather), she was unable to bring herself to do it, and once again, asked me.

I say "again," because she always asked either my grandfather or myself to confront people for her, lifelong - family, neighbors, cousins, people renting from her - and especially my mother (because we were all terrified of my mother lol).  

Even when the managed the local ASCS local office, unheard of, by a woman, at the time (but men were off to war), she had someone else do her confrontation :/


My grandfather stopped doing it for her, because it always came back on him - she'd act like she didn't ask, and would actually say "Oh, you two, stop fighting - Orville, shhh."

Classic triangulation - victim-antagonist-rescuer - and the rescuer always ends up the bad guy.


So of course, she started asking me, starting very young (like in my teens) and the same thing happened - she acted like she didn't ask/had nothing to do with it. 

Like my grandfather, I eventually got wise to this game, especially after therapy - so I refused to confront this man for two reasons:

The first being as I said, any time I pushed past my social anxiety to confront somebody for her, she sat back and acted like she didn't ask me to do it.

The second reason being there would be no sense of accomplishment for her on her bucket list if I did it.

However, she was unable to bring herself to do it. 


I thought about this a lot, since I wrote it, especially with her birthday coming up - whether there was anything I could and should do now? 

I'm not sure - because first of all, it would look especially crazy, this long after the fact, to call this dude up lol.  

Plus she's not around anymore to verify she asked me to do it (as IF she'd admit she asked  if she was, she never did before lol).

Plus my social anxiety is still a problem - and though I was always better at confronting people when it was for someone else, rather than myself - I fear I'd stumble over my words, or get mad and say too much, with his denial of the situation.

Plus neither my husband nor I are willing to dig up too much old drama, these days.

But I looked him up, just to see if he was still around - admittedly, hoping he was leading some small church choir in Podunk Backwoods, Kentucky somewhere lol 


Instead, unfortunately it appears that he is now the head of music at a local, world-famous, well-respected theological university, and after obtaining his Master's in music, he has supposedly composed music for the World Equestrian Games when they were held here in Lexington.


I also note that he has since started putting "arranged by" on his publications if he didn't actually write them -  which is one good thing.

HOWEVER, I also found a YouTube video in which he "shared some encouraging hymns" under his own name, without crediting the people who wrote them, as per his usual - for his own glory - which tells me he's still up to his old tricks, wanting to get his own name out there :/


I can't tell you the feeling it gives you when you know someone who has done your sweet, old-fashioned, charitable Christian grandmother wrong, goes on to be so successful without censure or sanction :(


It also makes me think twice about ever confronting him, in any fashion, or even publishing my grandmother's hymn that he took credit for here, because that could result in a legal action, because it's his name instead of hers.

And if that happened, though I watched her compose it, I have no evidence she did - as I mentioned, I signed off on all rights to her estate, to prove my being her primary caretaker was not about money and was genuine - so I don't have her handwritten notes or compositions.

So it would be his word against mine - and I've learned in life that when it's my word versus someone else, if that someone has more money, more social support, and/or more power than I do, nobody will believe me - they will win that battle, despite the truth, because of those things - so often just better just to let it go and walk away, Let Go and Let God.


But this is not for myself - this is for my grandmother. 

Well, not just for my grandmother, but for ALL women this has happened to. 

And as mentioned, it's easier to push past my social anxiety and confront someone when it's on behalf of someone I love or the issue is bigger than just me.

So, what to do ... 


So perhaps when Mark retires, before we move (hopefully to North Carolina), I will confront him privately, before we leave.

By the way, NO, I will NOT ask my husband to do it for - as mentioned, that is an old family game, with women in our family, and women in general, that takes us women back centuries.

I understand why women did it, back in the day, because of this situation in the first place - a man taking credit for a woman's work would take another man confronting him on it or standing beside her to take her seriously.

In fact, it's still that way, but asking someone else to do it for you doesn't help.

So when I told my husband, Mark, about what I wanted to do, this morning, he said (paraphrasing):  


"Okay, but not until just before we move when I retire, because we don't need the drama backlash that may result." 

"Also, I know you loved your grandmother, but I'm not a big fan, myself, because look what has happened to your family because she was too afraid to speak up against their lies?"  

"But then again, I know you and everybody else loved her anyway,  and I never met her - maybe I'd feel differently if I had." 

"So okay, if this is what you want to do.  She wouldn't do the same for you, you know that - she proved it time and time again." 

"But I know I'm talking to a brick wall, because that never matters to you - you'll still defend the people you love till the bitter end, even  if they'd never do the same for you, or shit on you repeatedly." 

"But if you're going to do this, you're NOT going alone - I'm going to sit there with you, when you say it. This a-hole may railroad your Granny, maybe even you, but not me"


See, this is why my husband is the best husband in the world :)


Honey, where were you, all my life again, until 10 years ago?

Oh, that's right - MSU in Michigan, then Africa and Latin America as an Army Ranger - I guess those things were more important, so you're excused, Hicks :)


But back to him at least accompanying me there, that I can do - because even though I won't let him speak for me, unfortunately, in this day and age, it apparently does still take a man standing beside you to give you more credibility :?

If I do, I think it's best that I plan what I'm going to say, with perhaps a few adjustments in time - but  I'm hoping it would go something like this?


JD,

Do you remember Dolores Singleton, from the little church you started out in, in Nicholasville, Kentucky?  She was my grandmother :)   

She wrote a hymn, which you were able to get published in the Southern Baptist Hymnal.  Despite losing most of her voice due to lung cancer, she still played that piano and sang hymns, hers and others, until nearly the day she died, raspy voice or not :)

So, as to why I'm here :) 

She had a bucket list of things she wanted to do before she died, and one of them was to talk to you about that, but she was unable to do it - so I'm doing it for her now. 

First, let me start by saying we  do appreciate that you got it published, this made her so happy  - but the fact is, it appears you took full name credit for music and lyrics, when from our understanding, you merely arranged the hymn for chorus and contacted the Southern Baptist Hymnal Organization for publishing, is that correct? 

 

(Wait for a response)

 

Okay, but shouldn't you have put her as the composer of both lyrics and music, and yourself as simply the arranger?

Perhaps we've misunderstood, because we weren't there - but shouldn't the way it was credited at least been discussed with her first?

It's also possible that we didn't misunderstand - and that you did take full credit for something my grandmother wrote.  

So could you explain to us why you alone are listed as the music and lyrics composer, with a small note at the bottom about my grandmother's "contribution?"

 

(Wait for response - if there is a denial, which I anticipate, then this ... ) 

 

 

Okay, we can rationalize and justify it all day -  but the fact  remains - my grandmother both wrote the music AND the lyrics for that hymn, even composing it on paper for the piano, I watched her do it -  you just arranged it.  

 

As a result, putting a small note about her contribution in the lyrics, you can't search for that hymn by her name at hymnal.org  -  and  though she didn't care as much about this part - you got paid handsomely, while my grandmother got pennies. 

Now, my grandmother forgave you (though you didn't ask) and told everyone she was just happy it was published and hoped it gave people comfort and praised the Lord - but the truth is, it was the top unresolved thing on her bucket list and mind, before she died.   

So I just wanted you to know that it hurt her deeply, but she couldn't bring herself to tell you that and asked me to. 

You can justify it to yourself all day, but we both know what you did to her was wrong - you took advantage of her naivete about this business, and her gentle nature, fear of confrontation, lack of money/power, faith in you and your being a Christian, and the fact that she was a woman versus you. 

And you did all this despite knowing she was the most devoted, compassionate, loving Christian woman around, beloved by many.  She actually became a grandmother to about 10 of my friends, growing up, who still talk about her to this day :) 

So I'll pray that our sweet God of justice, whom it's clear often doesn't intervene on the justice in this life as part of free will,  will discuss it with you someday, when you meet him - because his sense of good-parent justice better than anything we humans can conceive. 

As for me, though it's admittedly hard for me to say, I forgive you, too, for taking credit for my grandmother's work, too, as Christ commanded - and I will pray for you and bless you, as Christ also commanded (Luke 6:28 "Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.) 


So God bless you, my Christian brother - and all I want from you is to ask that you please at least consider the effect that taking credit for someone else's work has on the true authors and composers?

Thank you for your time.


Or something like that.  I'll work on it some more ;)




 

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

'Atta Girl - Congratulations, Katie Ledecky, for Winning Our First U.S. Gold Medal in Tokyo (Distance Swimming)!


Just an hour after failing to podium in the 200-meter freestyle, the greatest disappointment in her career, Katie - who is largely regarded as the greatest distance-swimmer in history - came back with a vengeance to take gold in the 1,500 meter!

Oh, and did I mention this Olympics was the first time in history there was even a category for women in 1,500 meter freestyle (though men have had the category for decades)?  :)

Awesome job, Katie! Get it! 

Way to overcome disappointment and then take gold, especially in a distance category previously only allowed to men - congratulations!!!





Come on, people - as mentioned 3 posts below, despite being multi-time world and former Olympic gold-medal or world trophy winners, from some athletes regarded the best in the world or even best of all time, our U.S. Olympic athletes appear to be struggling this go-round in Tokyo - and we've been lackadaisical due to COVID and politics  - neither of which is their fault.

IMO, they need more of our support, even if they stumble - and it appears more support is working!








 



Tuesday, July 27, 2021

The Serengeti Post Below Has Been Edited to Include This Personal Story ...


Edited - content added - I went ahead and added the story here, as well, including new content with a happier story about my grandmother's bucket list and "The Dorothy Doll" :)

___________________________________________


Work is slow today, lots of people on vacay, thus the reason for more posts today lol. 

Getting serious, for a second, on this one - so skip it, if it's not your thing.


So I wrote a post a couple of days ago, the inspiration for which was watching an episode of Serengeti and how elephants handle birth, death, family, and community VS. us supposedly more highly-evolved humans - but I just added a personal story to it about my grandmother.


I hope many will read it - because it's a situation that many have dealt with, or will have to deal with, when a loved one with cancer - who is of sound mind - either refuses further cancer treatment or refuses to undergo any cancer treatment at all. 


Do you legally force them to undergo it or comply with their wishes, if they're of sound mind?

The answer isn't so simple, is it? 


Some things aren't as black and white, as we Christians especially try to make them - there are gray areas that aren't specifically addressed by the bible, and they don't fit into neat little boxes.


But the truth remains - that despite what WE think, feel, and believe, and our best daily protests, the decision to choose no treatment/no more treatment and hospice care/certain death - choosing to die on their own terms and with dignity - is still ultimately their decision (if the person is of sound mind) - and so it should be. 




_________________________


The added story/content to the original post ... 


For example, my 91-year-old grandmother with lung cancer could've had Cyberknife therapy to remove the small adenoma - but she refused. 


Granny: "There's a 50% chance they puncture my lung and I'll be in pain breathless." 

Me: "But Granny - if you DON'T get it, it will grow, and then there's a 100% chance you will DEFINITELY be breathless and in pain at some point?!?

I begged her. I pleaded with her. Daily.

But she refused.

When it grew, as we knew it would, she asked to have the surgery done then, but they told her it was too late :(

At that point, she chose hospice care rather than undergoing any sort of chemo or radiation treatment.

I realized at that point -
"If this is the way she wants to go out, on her terms and with dignity, rather than chemo weakening and sickening her further, then she should have it, despite what I think."


But to this day, I ask myself: "Could and should I have legally forced my grandmother to have more treatment, or did I do the right thing abiding by her wishes?"


Not helping is when the rest of the family is nowhere around - so they blame you for not forcing more treatment :/

Then again, people want someone to blame, when someone dies, and they say insane stuff out of grief - especially in my family.


Stuff like "This is your fault, you wanted her to die" which is, of course, absurd.

Because at that time, next to my daughter, not only did I love and trust my grandmother more than anyone else in this world, *but I had already signed off on the will/any right to her estate whatsoever early on, to prove my care for her was genuine.*


Or stuff like "You're irresponsible" or "I know you didn't do this, but you're a jinx, bad things happen when you're around." 


If you ever experience this by family - - *and you're 100% sure it's not true and that you genuinely have tried your best, as primary caretaker (because some people genuinely don't), when the rest of the family was either scarce or nowhere around* ...

... try to remember that these things are often said not only out of wanting someone to blame and grief - but also out of their own projected guilt, for being too busy, too selfish, or too afraid, to get their asses there and deal with it, so they could conveniently have the excuse, and the audacity, to judge and blame you for everything   :/


Because the truth is - they weren't even there or around much at all, either because they admittedly couldn't deal with it or were "too busy," so they have no effing clue, though you tried to tell them, repeatedly lol.


And you know dang well that had I legally forced her, they would've said I was creating legal drama unnecessarily, while she was sick,  and forcing my will onto hers/trying to control her, so you're danged if you do, danged if you don't ;)



I was always the scapegoat when things went wrong in my family anyway, danged if I did, danged if I didn't - so I was somewhat used to it lol.



Like for my little sister using drugs, despite the fact that I never used drugs, except for trying weed in college, which I didn't like.  The microwave didn't work, the crops failed, you name it, it was my fault lol.  :)

It certainly doesn't help the situation of being primary caretaker OR your self-esteem, to say the least - and not a single one of them ever once said, "How can I help?"  - just dictated what they thought I should do, or chew me out for what they assumed I didn't do.

Half of you wonders if these people you once loved might be right about you, but the other half realizes they just want someone to blame out of their grief - and I'd become fairly used to it and I've got big enough shoulders to handle all that BS for the sake of honoring my grandmother's wishes :)


I figure God and my grandmother know the truth - and that's good enough for me - she chose not to have more treatment, and despite my daily protests, I realized it was ultimately her decision, how her life would end - on her own terms and with dignity - and I honored that decision.  

If that's wrong, God and family forgive me, but that IS what she wanted and she never changed it.

I just wish she had been a little more forthcoming about that, and some other things, with the rest of the family, when some already were trying to blame me, before she died, but not only was she  always terrified of confrontation lifelong (except with me and my grandfather), but now she was sick, so she especially didn't want to argue with anyone - she had bigger things on her mind about her life ending - things done at her funeral and she wanted to accomplish before she died, rather than petty family squabbles  ;)


In fact, speaking of her lifelong fear of confrontation, when we had a discussion about things she wanted to do, I helped her make a "bucket list" - some items on the list were fun things she always wanted to do or have, but other things had things she always wanted to confront, but feared. 


The first thing on her bucket list was having all of the Madame Alexander Wizard of Oz dolls that McDonald's was giving away with Happy Meals, at that time (2007) :)






Don't you know, I ran all over the whole damn city of Lexington, visiting every McDonald's and buying about 5 Happy Meals a day, trying to get the whole collection for her lol.

The last one I couldn't get was Dorothy herself - even today, people selling the whole collection on Ebay are missing a Dorothy, she was hard to find.



Granny (wringing her hands, frantic) : "Where's Dorothy? WHERE IS DOROTHY? Why can't we get Dorothy? Please find Dorothy. Please. God, please help us find Dorothy, just do this one thing? Do whatever it takes, Chrystal - just find her."


Me: "I'm trying! Okay, Granny, sheesh, what is the big freakin' deal with finding Dorothy? I'm doing my best. "




Then I realized the reason she was so frantic about Dorothy - Dorothy was her ;)

So now, I'm like, "All right - who do I have to kill to get a Dorothy doll? ;)  lol.  I'll pay somebody whatever it takes, dammit! "



So I went to the local McDonald's manager, told them the situation, and the regional McDonald's put out an APB for a Dorothy doll, God love 'em.



As it turns out, one manager in Frankfort had held onto one personally, for her collection, and donated it to my grandmother for free - wasn't that awesome? :)



In fact, Granny, my little sister at her Easter visit, and I "played" with them all one day at the kitchen table, which we have on video.  (My daughter was at her Dad's for Easter Sunday, at that time :)


I'm not sure what happened to the dolls, because as I mentioned, I signed off my rights to everything, my older sister got everything - but I'm hoping she kept Dorothy, because it was so important to Granny - Dorothy WAS Granny.



Also on the list, she always wanted to confront the man that took full name credit for the hymn she wrote that was published in the Southern Baptist hymnal :(


I got his phone number at the new church where he worked -  
and then she asked ME to confront him for her?!?


Nope - I refused -  because, as I told her, not only every time that I pushed past my social anxiety to confront somebody for her, did it get flipped back on me (and she sat back and acted like she never asked me to) -  but this was her work, she wrote the hymn, and it doesn't count on the bucket list if she didn't do it herself, there's no sense of accomplishment for her  - so if she wanted it confronted before she died, she needed to do it herself.


She got a little mad at me and tried to guilt trip me into it, but like I said, every time I've braved up past my social anxiety to confront someone when she asked me to, she sat back and acted like she didn't ask, and I'm left holding the bag of crap - AND - it was her bucket list - there's be no sense of accomplishment for her if she didn't do this herself ;)

But she got over it - however, I'm sorry to say, she was unable to bring herself to confront him  - she was that terrified of confrontation (except with me and my grandfather).



However, no worries about the things said to me by my family, during that time, and in general - since we unfortunately are NOT elephants, I've found my life is so much better, since I distanced myself from my toxic, extremely dysfunctional,  band-of-unevolved-chimps family, years ago :)

Because if you're the family scapegoat anyway,  family death or not - it's best to just walk away and let them think whatever, rather than continue to defend yourself, which always gets flipped back on you into "attacking" them anyway lol - plus your self-esteem will never improve in that environment.  

I've forgiven them (though they never asked) - but I haven't forgotten, either, which is why I stay away, it's toxic for me.

So you take the good memories with you and leave the rest behind :)