Elephants on Parade

Let’s take a deep dive into the realm of tourist attractions. And we’re not talking roller coasters or the teacup ride. This rant is centered around an animal encounter at the Mason Elephant Park & Lodge in Bali. Ostensibly, Mason Elephant Park & Lodge is an elephant conservation park… but they seem to do an awful lot of what I would call sketchy touristy stuff with the elephants they’re supposed to be helping. Elephant chauffeurs, bathing with elephants, elephant treks on safari, and more. Seems a little counterintuitive if you ask me.

One intrepid vacationer embarked on what she probably thought was a good idea at the time. I mean, we’ve all been there, right? In this case, a series of bad decisions made by one Beth Bogar involved, you guessed it, the world’s largest land animal. The excursion in question started with an aquatic bonding experience with an elephant followed by a majestic ride on its back and an up-close photo op at the end. Little did she know, the elephant had a biting sense of humor. Okay, yeah, so that was an insensitive joke. I don’t even care.

Now, let’s take a moment to reflect on the mysteries of life. We live in a world where humans voluntarily hop aboard the backs of wild animals and expect nothing but rainbows and sunshine. It’s truly a marvel that the elephant in question didn’t whip out a “Welcome, Ride Me!” sign instead of biting our daring traveler. The woman required extensive surgery from what I understand, but it’s not surprising considering it was an elephant. They’re kind of on the “big” side. I mean, when you think “what would I rather get bitten by today?” one doesn’t ordinarily think “elephant.” Because again. They’re big. And powerful. And don’t take kindly to being exploited.

Before you start saying “aww, how terrible!” it’s important to note that these animal encounters raise a few ethical eyebrows. If yours aren’t raised in solidarity, then I just don’t know what to even say to you anymore.  You may not know this, but elephants are not born with a predisposition for carrying humans on their backs or posing for photo ops. Surprise, surprise! They prefer to live their lives free from the clutches of capitalism.

But, dear readers, let’s delve deeper into the dark underbelly of these seemingly innocent attractions. For instance, where do you think they find these elephants? It’s not as though you can just pick them up at the pet store. No. These businesses usually get their elephants as babies by either stealing them from their mother in the wild or unethical breeding programs. Rather than a heartwarming story of compassion where the calves (baby elephants) are trained with kindness and empathy, it’s more like a tale of horror with the young elephants being subjected to cruel and abusive practices to instill fear and ensure obedience.

Naturally, it should come as no shock that an animal who has endured a life of fear and manipulation might snap. Or maybe, you know, it simply didn’t like a human in its face, and it did what a wild animal does if its space is being invaded.

Now, here’s where the fun part begins. While Ms. Bogar doesn’t blame the elephant, she does blame the Mason Elephant Park & Lodge – because, and here’s the funny bit, they should have known the elephant might bite her and the guide let her arm get too close to the elephant’s mouth. I guess it never occurred to her that the elephant might bite if you’re up in its face. Wild animal and all that, but no, the thought apparently never crossed her mind. So, anyway, she thinks they should pay for her ordeal. I mean, I guess I agree, and one could say that she’s been punished enough for her bad decisions. But, come on. Everyone involved in this situation is in the wrong, except for the elephant. And it’s hard to muster up any sympathy. Except for the elephant. Because really, dear readers, what did they expect? When you choose to get up close and personal with a wild animal, one that is likely abused and fearful, the universe doesn’t always reward you with a good time.

Of course, I can’t vent about this topic without stating the obvious: if it weren’t for people like Ms. Bogar who condone and actively participate in exploiting animals in this way, there would be no demand for such attractions, and the animals would be left alone to live their lives instead of being “trained” to cater to the whims of tourists. Another plus side to this is that there would be no biting of said tourists.

You know who probably paid the biggest price in this fiasco?  Yep, the elephant. No word on whether the animal was euthanized, punished, or released. But I would bet good money that one of those things is definitely not in its future. Can you guess which one?

Rant over. But I’ll leave you with this last thought… call me cliché, but it’s true. And important. We need to look beyond our selfishness and work together to create a more compassionate world for all living beings.

Okay. Rant really over this time.

Just Another News Story

Today’s rant is brought to you by a story I saw recently on HuffPost, and as you read along, you’ll probably think to yourself – much like I did, “why do the crazy news stories always come from Florida?” I don’t have an answer to that. Maybe the heat? The alligators? But what I can tell you is that this is not a Florida story. Nope, this crazy story is from Oklahoma. Oklahoma. Most people have never even heard of Oklahoma and would swear it’s just a made-up place. But what with all the alt-right legislation sweeping through the red states here in the U.S., I suppose our friends in Oklahoma wanted to join the likes of Texas and Florida on the map of bad decisions.

Let’s just get right to the headline of this news story, which reads: Oklahoma Sheriff Says Recording Of Officials Discussing Killing Reporters Was Illegal.  “I think anyone caught making death threats to another person should be arrested,” said Common Sense.

I’m taking some liberties here because of course Common Sense was not actually consulted, and that’s not what the Sheriff had to say. I mean, he certainly can’t be accused of associating with Common Sense. Because the sub headline reads: Sheriff Kevin Clardy didn’t address the comments about killing journalists and hanging Black people but calls the situation “complex.”

Now, you’d think that the focus here would clearly be the heinous comments made within the Sheriff’s Department. “Let’s get to the root of this corruption!” Common Sense demanded. But, as a flag-flying member of Team Common Sense, you’d be wrong. Instead of dealing with the obvious, the southeastern Oklahoma sheriff’s office said, “the recording in which the sheriff and others are reportedly heard discussing killing two journalists was illegal and predicted felony charges will be filed.

Oh yeah. You read that right. The Sheriff was a participant in the whole “killing journalists and hanging Black people” brainstorming session.  So, you can see why they have to go after the people who recorded the conversation. I mean, we can’t have that, can we? Because, you know, the real crime here is exposing the Sheriff’s true colors, not the fact that he’s advocating murder and hate crimes. Makes total sense.

If I was Sheriff Clardy’s lawyer, as soon as I heard “hanging Black people” I’d be doing the Homer Simpson step backwards into the bushes move. But that’s not the world we live in these days. Oh no. These folks are loud and proud about their bigotry and desire to oppress entire groups and what’s worse, they’re seemingly free from accountability. I mean, this is a Sheriff for fucks’ sake. Instead of this being a clear-cut case of racism and incitement, it’s “complex.” And instead of disassociating himself with his client, the Sheriff’s lawyer probably already has his PR strategy well in hand.

No doubt the Sheriff will say he was having a private conversation and the comments are being taken out of context, but we know better than that. Hell, even he knows better than that. We also know nothing will come of this. Other than the arrest – and probable jail term – of the one who broke the story. The Sheriff may … just may, mind… step down from his position. But that’s up in the air, quite frankly. Regardless, the story will go away.

No one who should be held accountable will be held accountable. No one who should go to jail will go to jail. In six months to a year, the Sheriff and his buddies will have their own reality show or, as seems to be the norm these days, they’ll run for political office. And win.

A Legacy Diminished

Have you heard about Nakano Takeko?  She was one of the last samurai who formed an all-female battalion to defend her shogun during the Boshin War. Yeah, this woman was a freakin’ badass. She even took a bullet to the chest and then had her sister behead her so that the enemy couldn’t take her head as a war trophy. Incredible. The stuff of legends, really.

But you know what’s not so impressive? The fact that a history site decided to lead with “she was good-looking, well-educated, and came from a powerful samurai family” in their post about her.

Now let me get this straight. She was a proficient fighter, led a group of warriors into battle as a female in one of the strictest male-dominated cultures of the time and they lead with “she was good-looking?” And then followed up with a shout out to her family. Want to bet on whether a man wrote this caption or not? You should just give me your money because we both know the answer.

Let me tell you about Dorothy Hodgkin, a brilliant chemist whose contributions to science, and specifically chemistry, were astounding and deservedly won her the Nobel Prize in 1964. But guess what the newspaper’s headline was? “Nobel Prize for British Wife.” Seriously? They couldn’t come up with something a little less sexist like “Nobel Prize for Deserving Chemist?” Nope, they had to go with the woman’s marital status. I mean, can you imagine if a man won the Nobel and the headline read “Nobel Prize for British Husband?” It just wouldn’t happen. Wouldn’t have happened then and wouldn’t happen now.

But that’s not all. In her Nobel Prize biography, they didn’t just talk about her accomplishments, oh no. They also devoted paragraphs to the accomplishments of her father, husband, and children. Meanwhile, male biographies just mentioned their family in a sentence or two, with their own accomplishments rightfully taking center stage. Women are routinely reduced to their family and relationship status rather than being recognized for who they are and what they’ve achieved. And sadly, this kind of bias still happens today.

Imagine a doctor who has worked their entire life on finding the cure for cancer, and they’ve finally done it! After many years of giving their blood, sweat, and tears to their work – all to make the world a better place, they’ve accomplished something no one else has ever done. Their work will change the face of humanity as we know it. They should be hailed as a hero. They’re a shoo-in for the Nobel Prize. However, the subsequent news headline reads, “Woman sacrifices having a family just to find cure for cancer.” Or “In finding a cure for cancer, woman’s biological clock has run out.” Or “Accomplished accordionist, John Doe, proud of wife’s scientific contribution.” Or “With her long-suffering husband by her side, this fresh-faced wife discusses contribution to cure for cancer.”

Can you imagine if these types of headlines were written about men? Here are a few rewrites to give you an idea.

Man Finding an American Lion Tooth Fossil in Shallow Mississippi is “the biggest of Deals” to Scientists

Rewrite: Breaking news: Man discovers ancient American Lion tooth, claims it’s the biggest accomplishment since he last found his car keys. Scientists impressed by his ability to find something in plain sight.

Jeff Bezos Just Gave $100 Million to Dolly Parton for Her Charity as the 3rd Winner of His “Courage and Civility Award” Prize

Rewrite: Clingy Much? Bezos Gifts Dolly Parton Huge Sum of Money to Be Friends

Obama Joins Republicans to Sign STOCK Act, Outlawing Congressional ‘Insider Trading’

Rewrite: Michelle’s Husband Does His Job

World’s Sexiest Doctor Raffles Himself for Date to Raise Money for Charity.

Rewrite: I’ve got nothing.  He IS sexy.

It’s time for us to shift our perspective and recognize women for their accomplishments rather than their relationships. Rather than headlines like “Mother of three wins Nobel Prize,” let’s focus on the achievement itself and celebrate the individual for their hard work and dedication. We need to move away from the outdated and limiting view that a woman’s worth is tied to her marital and maternal status, and instead celebrate their individual achievements and contributions to society.



Faith for Sale

Okay, so I know this happened a while ago, but do you remember this past Super Bowl™? More importantly, do you remember that Jesus commercial that aired?

When it first came on, it was quite moving and it had me from the jump, wondering which company’s ad this would be. I thought, wow, this advertising firm really did a hell of a job. As it continued to play, it really had me wondering which company’s logo was going to show up at the end. A litany of ideas ran through my mind. Some person announcing that they’re running for President? No. A Kia ad? I mean, nowadays the best ads don’t have anything to do with the actual product or company, so I thought this was as good a guess as any. But then, the end of the commercial came and I was shocked. It was Jesus. It was an actual ad for Jesus. Jesus just ran an ad during the Super Bowl™. I could be wrong, but I don’t think that’s ever happened before. Jesus usually isn’t interested in or moved by the Super Bowl™ despite what fans desperate for a win might think.

Am I wrong in thinking that if any church or faith-based group has the millions of dollars needed to buy airtime during the Super Bowl™, they shouldn’t do that. I’m not religious – like at all, and I’m definitely not a gazillionaire, so I don’t know what it’s like to have that kind of money, but I feel like the millions of dollars this group just threw at a marketing campaign should’ve been used for things that Jesus would actually condone.

I don’t have the Bible memorized word-for-word, but I sure don’t remember a passage like this:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son five million dollars to advertise on national television during the Super Bowl™.”

Seriously, how about housing the homeless? Feeding the hungry? Giving everyone clean drinkable water? More money and humanitarian aid for countries that start with the letter U? You know, good Christian things? Things that will help make the world a better place.

Jesus doesn’t need an ad campaign. You know how I know that’s true? Any time you ask someone, who is Jesus, it’s a solid bet that they’re going to know just who Jesus is. Whether they believe in him heart and soul or whether they don’t believe in him just as strongly, they’re gonna know. And likely have a lot of opinions that they’ll happily share with you. The one thing Jesus doesn’t need is a brand recognition campaign.

And… AND… here’s the sketchy part. The progressive messaging in the ads seems to be at odds with the conservative beliefs of those who actually funded it, which leads me to really question the reasoning for these ads in the first place. The campaign has connections to far-right ideologies, not least of which are anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion laws. They’ve donated tens of millions to an ultra-conservative legal group who is working diligently to curtail LGBTQ rights and promote legislation that would allow for discrimination of marginalized communities. Hobby Lobby is one of their largest contributors. Enough said, if you ask me.

So why then, are they spending millions on Super Bowl™ ads espousing trumped up messaging like “He gets us. All of us?” Is it some convoluted plot? Are they pretending to be a part of the progressive movement to somehow discredit it? Maybe they hope to drive good people who are rightfully incensed at this frivolous spending by a presumably liberal group more towards the alt-right party? Or maybe it’s just all an elaborate scheme to garner donations for programs that are the exact opposite of their televised messaging. Using good folks to fund bad legislation. The irony that what I’m claiming sounds like an alt-right conspiracy theory is not lost on me, but things like this really make me wonder about ulterior motives.

If I’m even a little bit right, the fact that so much money was spent on such a thing is disgusting. If I’m wrong and this is purely a religious group trying to spread the word of God, the fact that so much money was spent on such a thing is disgusting.

Perfection is Overrated

I know I’ve been a bit quieter than usual here lately. No excuses really, just life getting in the way. But I figure you’ve had enough downtime from my tirades, so I’m determined to get back into the game on a more regular basis. Lucky you. Today felt like kind of a rant-y day, so again, lucky you!

Being a huge animal lover, there’s always been something that I just don’t understand. How is it that we can continue to encroach on wildlife and then wonder why they end up in our space? As humans continue to cut down tree after tree, painstakingly eliminating the vital forests of our planet, people somehow act surprised when a bear, deer, or alligator stumbles into your backyard. If we keep destroying their homelands, then we’re going to have to come to terms with having animal neighbors. And not in the “we’ll just kill them all” way that we’re doing now.

Well, I’ll admit, I don’t really want a bear sniffing around my house, but I’m also aware that not pissing it off and simply chasing it away with a few loud noises will do the trick just fine. Aside from those adorable little trash pandas, which most people call raccoons, animals don’t typically want to go through your trash. And honestly, raccoons would probably not have to dumpster dive either. They, like all animals, would rather survive on the natural bounty provided by their native habitats.  Those same exact habitats that are being wiped out by, you guessed it, us humans. We create the problem and then complain about the problem we created. Oh, but those darn little critters, right? Deer tearing up the flower bed, opossums in the trash, squirrels stealing stuff from the garden… to hell with these pesky pests, right? Let’s all just ignore the reason these animals are forced into an urban lifestyle in the first place.

Here’s an idea. Maybe the space we are trying to evict them from was never our space to begin with. To them, we’re the pests. Consider the Merriam-Webster definitions of the word pest.

  • A plague.
  • Something resembling a pest in destructiveness.
  • Someone or something who annoys, aka a nuisance.

Humans appear to fit the mold quite nicely.  Considering the pollution and war we brought to this planet, and our constant failure at caring for it, we are arguably the most destructive plague in history.

Destructiveness? That little chipmunk dug a hole in your flowerbed because some lumber company just cleared out 20 acres of its habitat for that new development down the way. Shame on that rodent right? What was more destructive, the golf ball-sized hole under your chrysanthemums or wiping out an entire forest? Perfect lawns. Perfect gardens. Perfect perfect perfect. Animals apparently have no place in this façade of perfection.

A nuisance or something that annoys. The third definition of the word pest is pretty much exclusive to humans, gnats, houseflies, and mosquitoes. If you asked me to name 5 things that I find utterly annoying (aside from gnats, houseflies, and mosquitoes), I’m almost positive they would all be human-related. Let’s try.

  1. Being cut off while driving.
  2. Being placed on hold for longer than 5 minutes.
  3. Cold pizza and warm wine.
  4. Most movie remakes.
  5. People doing TikToks in the grocery store in front of the frosted shredded mini-wheats I have a coupon for.

Before you even argue with me, I get it, I do.  You don’t want potentially life-threatening animals near your home, especially if you have children around. But if you live out in the country, this is just a part of life and you need to learn how to cope with it. Preferably without killing the animals who don’t realize that your home is now smack dab in the middle of what used to be their exclusive space.

If you’re closer to town and you’re dealing with pesky little critters like groundhogs and snakes, there are things you can do to safely deter them from certain areas of your property while still allowing them to, you know, live. If you’re a victim of chipmunk abuse, just pull up Google and look for natural and safe deterrents from these highly hostile, albeit teeny-tiny, monsters. That was sarcasm, of course, chipmunks are cute and harmless, but here, I’ll even do you one solid and give you a link to get started. Or, hey, here’s a novel idea, you could do what you’re always expecting everyone else around you to do… share.

Instead of worrying about the perfect lawn or the perfectly organized flower bed filled with ornamental flora, why not sow wildflowers and plants that attract and feed the wildlife you share this space with? Why not make your garden an oasis for all manner of creatures who, frankly, deserve to be here as much as you do? Instead of finding ways to oust them, find ways to grow your empathy and coexist with the animals.

We have destroyed the majority of the natural habitats that used to grace this planet right along with most of the animals who called those habitats home. It’s now up to us to maintain what is left and to ensure that the wildlife can stay wild and healthy. It’s a ridiculously easy thing to do once you get past the whole “mine mine mine” mindset.

I Just Wanted to Look at Some Memes

There I was, just scanning my Facebook feed for some funny memes and humorous tidbits to help me survive the week. But what do I find instead?  My friend posting about how an owl came down into her yard to tear apart a squirrel. With photos. Cause, you know. Wildlife. Another friend posted about seeing a dog get hit by a car. No context, no lead up to the story, just blam, there in your face as you’re scrolling through your newsfeed.  Oh, and a friend of a friend (cause Facebook just loves to introduce you to new people you have absolutely nothing in common with) whose post you’re not even interested in shows up as well: “here’s a picture of a dead cat I saw down by the bridge,” and that’s it. No lesson to be learned, no particular warning to others, except for maybe if you’re going down to the bridge, you might see a dead cat. Not even to raise money or awareness for a cause, just “hey, dead cat everyone. Heads up.”

One post I had the misfortune of stumbling upon was about two doves that came to someone’s yard to drink, but as the post was sure to point out, only one flew away… and frightened no less. “I mourn with you, Mr. Dove.” Someone commented, being sure to detail the demise of the unlucky bird who was abruptly snatched up by a hawk with dinner plans. Why? Why do people feel the need to share such awful stories with such (seemingly) glee? Oh, sure, these folks ostensibly post these horrible encounters because they’re just sooo sad, but then in the comments, they sure seem to love talking about the thing that has made them sooo sad.  Well, what about the rest of us, I ask you?  Now, we’re burdened with these images that we would very much prefer not to be burdened with, thank you very much.

So, the county historical society decided to post pics of local hunters with their “prizes” – real dead geese – in hand as a “story” on Facebook. There wasn’t any historical anecdote behind the photos, just proud hunters proud of the fact that they had killed something. I mean, why? I get that people hunt, but I’m not sure why they feel the need to showcase the dead animals to the unsuspecting public. I mean, it’s no problem if you’re part of a wildlife group or hunting organization, you expect these sorts of things to be shared, discussed, and what have you. In that case, more power to ya! Share within your own communities all you want! I encourage happiness, morally, ethically, and legally (mostly) of course. But I don’t want to see this kind of stuff in my public feed. That’s why I don’t belong to hunting groups and the like. It wasn’t some sort of ground-breaking story either, and call me old-fashioned but shouldn’t a historical society be posting, hmm I don’t know. Historical things maybe?

In the case of the former, is it like a “misery loves company” sort of thing? With the latter, I cannot even begin to understand the “pride” behind killing something and then pushing photos of said achievement onto the unsuspecting masses. Here I am scrolling along, looking at memes and AITA posts, and then…BAM! A story about a mutilated dove and a dead goose, staring me right in the face. Talk about a buzz kill. But seriously, how have we become so jaded, so numb that it doesn’t even cross our minds that, hey this stark, and startling, photo/story/video might just be upsetting to some folks, maybe I should keep it to myself or maybe, you know, share it somewhere designed for content like this, where folks are expecting it. It just seems like society is all about shock value anymore and those who rail against such random awfulness are labeled “snowflakes” and worse. When did compassion and empathy become bad traits to have?

Some people have a difficult time coming across such things. I’m one of them. It’s the randomness of it, the incongruity of it all, that jars a person. Society as a whole has become an unsympathetic glob of the worst kind of voyeurism.

And now if you’ll excuse me, I really need to find some funny memes.



Seeing Red

So, just recently I had the pleasure of watching the movie Turning Red. I’m sure you’ve probably at least heard the name as it’s been in the news quite a bit lately. It’s an animated coming-of-age film by Pixar (subsidiary of Disney) that tells the story of Meilin “Mei” Lee, a confident, average, dorky 13-year-old girl who struggles with being her mother’s obedient and perfect daughter amid the pandemonium that is adolescence. Her protective, and oftentimes overbearing mother, Ming, is never far from her child, which is a rather unfortunate reality for the teenager. School isn’t even a safe haven as Ming often shows up, keeping an embarrassingly close eye on Mei. On top of maintaining her honor roll grades, navigating relationships, and valiantly trying to to meet her mother’s impossible expectations, Mei Lee turns into a giant red panda every time she has strong emotions… which, as a 13 year old, happens quite often.

Overall, it’s a great movie, I really enjoyed it, and I plan on watching it again. There were a lot of cringe moments in the movie, which went along beautifully with the story, and, if we’re being honest, encapsulated the awkwardness that is being a teenage girl extremely well. I may be a few summers removed from my youth, but not so much that I don’t remember being a 13-year-old girl or what the household was like when my daughter hit the teenage years.  The movie was spot on.  And, if you’re a fan of kids’ movies (like me!) or you have young kids of your own, this is probably a movie you all would enjoy. I highly recommend it.

This brings me to someone else’s opinion on the film. Now, I don’t have any problem with people who aren’t into this kind of thing. I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who wouldn’t find this movie, or any kids’ movie, enjoyable at all. Different strokes for different folks, right? But when you’re a globally recognized company with a verified YouTube account and claim to be “the go-to source for today’s information and updates on new movies, tv shows, games, and celebrity news and gossip,” that’s a different story.

According to CinemaBlend’s managing director, Sean O’Connell, it’s a niche film. Now, to be fair, after having read his original review, I thought surely this O’Connell dude must be an old white guy. I was wrong. He’s a middle-aged white guy, and it shows.  So, according to this middle-aged white guy, Turning Red is relatable to only a select few, namely the film director’s friends and family. This so-called managing director goes on to add that “some Pixar films are made for universal audiences. ‘Turning Red’ is not. The target audience for this one feels very specific and very narrow. If you are in it, this might work very well for you. I am not in it. This was exhausting.”  You can check out the drama here. If you ask me, his opinion is shite, um, less than credible. He put his foot in his mouth and then shoved it in as far as it would go while saying hmmm, this tastes delicious.

Okay, let’s start with the “very specific target audience” and these are his words, not mine. The target audience, ok? So the lead is an Asian girl, and Asians alone make up nearly 60 percent of the world population. But ok, that’s just the main character. Who relates to the main character of a story anyway right? Well, the lead, as well as her friends, are all female. Wait a minute. Females? That’s like half the population, right? But for the sake of Mr. O’Connell, managing director, let’s continue. The movie is about kids, primarily young teens, and who knows how many of them exist out there in the world. I’m sure someone has the stats, but I’m guessing it’s a lot. Alright, that does it. Mr. O’Connell, managing director and middle-aged white dude, I’m going to need to see your credentials, because clearly you have no idea what you’re talking about.

So yeah, perhaps the movie’s reach isn’t such a narrow niche after all. Not to mention, that literally everyone can relate to this movie unless you somehow skipped your entire childhood. We can ALL relate to the nerves, the anxiety, the crushes, and most of us can relate to the mother who loves us but will also accept nothing less than perfection. Like I said before, it really is a coming-of-age film. Who hasn’t come of age? I mean, who can’t understand what a young person goes through?

Similarly, Luca is a film about a young boy who experiences an unforgettable seaside summer on the Italian Riviera filled with gelato, pasta, and endless scooter rides. Stay with me here for a minute. So, Luca goes on these fascinating adventures with his newly-made best friend, Alberto, but things take a mysterious turn once Luca’s deep-dark secret comes to light. The fact that he is a sea monster from a world that exists just below the ocean’s surface. Oh, and so is Alberto. It’s a great movie, don’t get me wrong. It even had a similar storyline to Turning Red – a coming-of-age tale where a young person is not all they appear to be. Both stories have a suffocating mother, and both kids want the freedom to be who they are and explore the world. It’s a well-loved movie, in fact, it was rated 4-stars by CinemaBlend. Of course, the leads were all males so therein lies the difference. Mr. Managing Director could relate to a movie about a boy-who-turns-into-a-sea-monster. A. Sea. Monster.

In regard to Turning Red, a few conservative critics have even gone as far to say that the film deals with topics that aren’t suitable for kids. Like periods and girls having crushes. *GASP* I know, right!?  I’m scarred for having watched it.  Scarred, I tell you!  You know what’s a-okay with these conservative critics though? Killing Bambi’s mother. Killing Nemo’s mother. Killing Elsa and Anna’s parents. Killing Tod’s mother (Fox and the Hound). Killing Quasimodo’s mother (Hunchback of Notre Dame). Killing Koda’s mother (Brother Bear). One word, Mufasa. Hmmm… there seems to be a pattern here. Even Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben died in the streets, just the same as Batman’s parents. What else? The hanging of Clayton in Tarzan. Sid, the sadist in Toy Story. But a story about a young teen girl getting her period and experiencing her first crush just isn’t suitable or relatable viewing material.

Here’s the kicker. CinemaBlend called Turning Red unrelatable as compared to other animated films.  What the hell are they even talking about it?  Do they mean Finding Nemo, where the lead is a fish? Or Luca, where the lead is a sea monster-boy-hybrid? Or perhaps it was Finding Dory, oh wait, that was about a different fish. It was probably Toy Story. No, wait, that’s not right either. All the leads in that one were toys. Now I know they couldn’t have been referencing the movie Cars because they were all actually cars. CARS. I love Wall-E, it’s one of my absolute favorites, but even this one is all about AI and robots. The humans in Wall-E are secondary characters at best.

So, what I’m getting out of all this is that CinemaBlend can relate more to a FISH or a TOY than they can a Chinese GIRL. I happen to love Shrek, also a fantastic movie. Soundtrack is phenomenal. It’s a film that CinemaBlend gave 4.5 stars, maybe because they relate more to ogres and donkeys than humans? Misogyny and racism has always played a role in non-kid films, but here you go folks, puffed up old middle-aged white men want to keep girls out of kids’ movies because they’re unrelatable.

A Cheerful Christmas Story, Or Not

Time for a rant. So, my daughter and I were at the local grocery store the other day and we saw this little girl, maybe 5 years old. Well, first we heard her. We didn’t see her till later. And that would be because she was in the walkway at the end of the cash registers on the floor. You really couldn’t see her unless you looked for her or were say, trying to leave the store (since she was blocking the walkway). You could certainly hear her though.

Being the time of year it is, it was about Christmas. Of course, I mean, it had to be, right? She was repeatedly yelling that she wanted presents for Christmas and for Santa to visit her – all in that whiney little voice that only a child’s own mother can tolerate. I was a little late to the party here, but I gathered from the cashier that this precious little light of mirth had demanded candy or whatever and her mother said no. Not only that, but the mother had chosen to pour a healthy amount of salt in that wound by additionally threatening that Santa wouldn’t visit unless she behaved. Bad move, mommy. That bold-faced lie unleashed the kraken hiding within her doe-eyed daughter turning what may have been a manageable tantrum into full on Krampus fodder displaying itself for all to see on the floor of this grocery store.

We all have our parenting style and I’m not (fully) criticizing what this mother did next. I’m just saying that it’s not something I would do and leave it at that. So, the kid is screaming full blast and this mom, rather than step away from her conversation with the cashier, decided instead to proclaim to the child, “NOW, Santa won’t visit or bring you presents unless you get up off the floor.”  Right.

Well, you would have thought that she’d sent an electric shock straight through the air to this child. The little girl splayed herself across the floor with flailing limbs that resembled an 80’s break-dancer and her voice reached a pitch of whine that I thought only possible in a machine shop. And, almost impossibly (but I swear it’s true), her repeated demand that Santa must visit her and must bring her presents, got even louder. It was truly a sight to behold.

Unfortunately, the first possible collateral damage entered the scene in the form of an elderly woman who had had enough and had decided that no matter how curious she might be to see if this demon girl’s head was going to start spinning she’s got other things to do and tried to make her way out of the store. She had to gingerly make her way past this kid without having a leg taken out from under her and breaking a hip. Wonder what Santa would’ve said about that!?

And the mom of this lovely floor ornament? Well, the mother, to her credit, was not the least bit fazed or concerned, certainly not enough to become a proactive participant in this wild scene. In fact, you’d barely know she had a child at all. Instead of physically removing the child from the aisle so the elderly woman could get by safely (which would have been the LEAST of my kids’ problems had this been them), she simply continued repeating her mantra… “Santa won’t visit unless you get off the floor” from the relative safety of the checkout line. What kind of idiotic bribery is this? Good grief, the parenting skills that people use today! Oh wait…skills imply talent or useful abilities. Scratch that. Good grief, what passes as parenting these days! Is this one of those feral children I’ve heard so much about?

I mean, really? Let’s do a little play-by-play. First the girl misbehaves. Next, mom pulls out the Santa’s Watching card. So of course, the girl’s natural reaction is to throw herself down on the floor. Santa’s watching after all, right? Magically though, now Santa visits tantrum throwing kids just so long as they don’t throw their tantrum while flailing about on the floor or take out the elderly woman trying to exit stage left. Oh wait. Okay, well, just so long as you don’t take out the elderly woman, you’re golden. Talk about a bit of holiday spirit perversion. I think Santa would be appalled if he knew he was being used in this manner. I’ve always had a thing for Krampus and I think this may be why.

I wish I could be a fly on the wall of that household when the natural dynamic of this mother and child hits the teenage years. Now that should be a party! Bet Santa’s invite to that one gets lost in the mail.

Blast from the Past

In my old neck of the woods, they have some classic, high-minded, quality journalists on Facebook that keep the community informed and offer helpful tips on how to stay safe. You know, the kind of journalism straight out of the 1950s. Headlines that drag one’s memory back to a time when wives met husbands at the door with a cocktail and doe-eyed kisses, all while balancing delicately on heels and happy pills.

If you can’t feel the sarcasm dripping from these statements, let me share with you their recent report that inspired it. See if you can spot the informational gem in question.

aa first alert redacted

Yes, ladies, close those blinds! Be sure to spend your sun-filled days and early evening hours in a dark hole of false safety. While you’re at it, strap down those boobs, keep your skirts floor-length, and never (but never!) go out at night! Men just can’t help themselves, apparently, and it is your responsibility to not be their next victim! 

What is perhaps most disappointing is that this band of merry journalists are themselves, women.

I was not alone in taking offense at this headline. Several readers, all women, of course, complained. Unfortunately, most of our comments were deleted or hidden. Silencing the voices of the dissenters, the bedrock of quality journalism.

Admittedly, my first comment, made directly to the post, may have been a little snarky:  “Men, here is your reminder to not be a perv and exploit women!” There, fixed your headline for you. Do better, Anne Arundel First Alert.” 

Yeah, perhaps I could have gone a little easier on them, but I am just so sick and tired of seeing these passive headlines.

Turns out, quite a few others made similar remarks.

Someone mentioned how wrong it was to victim blame, and AA First Alert came back with: “We’re not victim blaming at all, and the article does not infer that. But the fact remains, if the blinds or shades were drawn, there would be nothing for the Peeping Tom to peep at.”

Hmm… sounds a little like victim-blaming to me. How dare that woman open her blinds to the beauty of the world outside? Doesn’t she know there are creepy, uncontrollable men lurking in the bushes? Could she not think about them for once!?


I crafted a more intelligent response to that particular comment and posted this: “As journalists, you should understand that words matter, words have power. Your headline calling out the victim is disappointing. Victim blaming and putting the onus on women to control men’s behavior is misguided and wrong, to say the least. Women should be able to simply exist, especially in their own homes, and men should be able to control themselves.”

Welp. That didn’t go over well. After deleting mine and other comments, they edited their above comment to exclude the But… statement. Talk about journalistic integrity, right?

A male reader commented, “The ‘woke’ women on this page (insert eye roll emoji in place of a period) Taking someone’s wording with good intentions and twisting them to some delusional opinions.” Guess who loved this comment (and others like it)… yep, you guessed it. AA First Alert.

first alert another screen shot

It’s extremely disheartening to see a group of women who are unwilling to grow beyond their own ingrained biases, even more so when they put themselves out there as a voice for the community. It is not unreasonable to expect better from people who are reporting the news. Yeah, I know, I know, I’ve given up on expecting anything better from the likes of FOX News, but still. 

Instead of addressing their own internal misogyny and striving to grow as journalists (which would’ve been an excellent take on their part), they simply deleted the naysayers. I had hoped this group of local aspiring journalists would take misogyny, bigotry, and hate in hand and do better for the community they claim to represent.

Instead, it appears they can’t think past the cliché, pandering clickbait headline. Until they do, they have no hope of becoming credible journalists. 

Have a Glass of Wine with Your Whine

Motherhood is hard. I don’t think anyone would argue that fact. It is a demanding, multi-faceted, over-worked, and under-appreciated, sometimes soul-crushing job. Of course, I know it also brings with it the most profound joy, connection, and love – blah blah blah – so save your comments. I’ll repeat it for those in the back, motherhood is hard.

This shouldn’t be news to anyone. Apparently, this was an unexpected consequence for one woman who decided to write a post for the blog called “Love What Matters.”  It’s not a long read, so please, hop on over and give it a gander. It will also help the below make a lot more sense.

Now, I have a few issues with what Ashley has shared with us, not least of which is the fact that she wrote this under her own name, using photos of herself and her child, so clearly no anonymity was intended. She’s just putting it all out there for the subject of her diatribe, her “very good friend,” to see. But let’s start with the classic debate between stay-at-home moms and working moms. Why do we still argue over who is more deserving of sainthood? Here’s a hint. It’s none of us.

She insults working mothers by claiming, “My job literally never ends. It is 24/7. No hopping in the car, driving to work, clocking in, doing my 8 hours, clocking out.” Oh yeah, cause that’s the fantasy we’re all chasing. She continues with her vision of a working mom, “…driving home to my kids and being with them for 2 to 3 hours for the night routine and then putting them to bed.” As if bedtime is ever that easy. Please.

Does she think a working mom’s job does end? *insert maniacal laughter here* For those who may be wondering, no. No, it doesn’t. And frankly, it’s disheartening to see a mother using this tripe to belittle other mothers. I’ve been both a stay-at-home mom and a working mom at various times in my life, and they are equally fucking hard. Let’s end that tireless debate and put it to rest. Something we all wish our kids would do at a decent hour every evening.  

Then there is the focus of her essay, her “very good friend” going to a bachelorette party. I mean, how dare she!?  I understand the feelings of jealousy, especially coming off such a tough week.  “…near the end of what seemed to be one of the hardest, most tiring weeks of my life as a mother and wife.”  I also get the feelings of hurt that this friend didn’t make it to the writer’s wedding. Although I feel like we are missing a lot of context with that one.

First off, if you choose to have a destination wedding, you don’t have the right to get mad at anyone for not coming. It’s a big commitment, a big ask. People have to take time off work, use their vacation days, spend untold amounts of money to come to a celebration centered around you. Not everyone has that luxury. Maybe this friend wanted to be at her wedding but couldn’t afford the price tag or the time off work. Perhaps now she is in a better financial position to take time off, and it just happened to be for another friend’s bachelorette party (arguably way more fun than a wedding) that was closer to home.

The writer says her friend deserved this trip. Then be happy for her. Don’t write a blog post complaining about how selfish she is to share her deserved adventure with a good friend. It sounds to me as though her friend thought she’d be interested in the photos and what was going on, not lording it over her. Obviously, the writer did not appreciate it.

Ashley questions her friend’s loyalty and commitment to their friendship, but that sure seems like a stretch. On the other hand, Ashley seems almost hateful when talking about her “very good friend,” telling all and sundry “Don’t be that friend. Don’t be rude, don’t be selfish and only think about you.” The lack of self-awareness is strong here, don’t you think?

I get it. The writer had a rough week with her kids. I get it, I do. Unfortunately, that happens in parenting. A lot.

One of the valuable lessons I have learned in life is that if you need something, you have to ask for it (or demand it in some cases). Few people are going to step in and offer help where they don’t think it is needed. People aren’t mind readers. If you need a break from your kids, don’t wait for a friend to offer. Ask directly, plead your case of needing a night away, offer to order them all pizza, and give up your Netflix password for the night. In that case, you’d probably find a willing friend.

Instead of proudly proclaiming that your kids never stay with Grandma, thereby solidifying your martyrdom, ask Grandma if she’s up for some time with the kids. Assuming Grandma isn’t a freak or otherwise unable to care for children, both kids and Grandma might just have a blast enjoying each other’s company. 

Tell your husband that you are on the verge of committing yourself, and it’s time for him to step up and keep the kids for a night. They’re his kids too, after all.  Grab a box of wine and crash on a friend’s couch.

Hire a babysitter for a two-hour dinner with your husband. Or work out a babysitting swap with a friend so you can get some couple time on a regular basis. As a mother, I can attest to the healing power of something as simple as a meal without young children. Even if the dinner is at Denny’s or someplace designed for a smaller budget, it can do wonders for the soul.

Lastly, why the hell is this in a blog called “Love What Matters”? This post is not about love. It is about resentment and blaming others for one’s own lot in life. It is a complaint about the life choices this writer made. She is transferring her frustration and contempt for these choices onto her friend, who was probably just trying to share the joy of her own life. I’d be willing to bet the writer has sent numerous happy pictures of her family to this friend. Hopefully, the friend received those photos with more grace than hers were met with.