Think You Can Make it Right in 2 Years?

I don’t know about anyone else, but this year’s mid-term election cycle was first, exhausting and second, extraordinarily embarrassing to watch. It was embarrassing in a “So-glad-no-one-saw-my-kid-throwing-that-horrifying-temper-tantrum” kind of way; except, the whole world saw the political temper tantrums. And to make matters worse, we had to actually choose the less of the evils on Tuesday. Make no mistake – the Republicans won because the current Administration handed it to them on a silver platter. Whether the Pubs can pull it off – and let’s face it, it’s a golden opportunity – remains to be seen. It’s bad when a hardcore Republican says that – and I haven’t even got started on the Dems.

The Failed Davis Campaign

That delightful young woman who was part of Wendy Davis’ failed Texas governor run, Chelsea Natividad, showed her immaturity in spades. God love her, she’s young and stupid. But don’t sweat it dear, we’ve all been there, we just didn’t prove it time and again on Twitter. She’s clearly upset that her candidate did not win. I’m upset that someone didn’t give her fair warning. My personal favorite among her many vulgar tweets (and hey – don’t get me wrong, I’m not on a pedestal, I just have enough sense to maintain some kind of ladylike stance in those mediums that could come back and haunt me, such as Twitter):

11/5/14: Our party and platform has been hijacked by sniveling political shitlords who only have ambitions for themselves. – (@chelsnatividad)

Welcome to politics, darlin’….welcome to politics.

The good news? At least it’s not the Republicans doing the hijacking. She has her own party to thank for that. And by the way – when left-leaning Slate calls Wendy Davis a has-been, call the priest and get the Last Rites lined up – her political career is dead. While Miss Natividad is busy blaming political shitlords, Davis can turn to Natividad because she holds a responsibility in the wreckage of her lost political ambitions, at least after the fact. Maybe Natividad should send her flowers or something. And in return, maybe Davis can send her “wanna be a grownup” volunteer to a few etiquette classes.

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Now’s the time to take a step back and if these politicians are smart, they’ll do just that. Find their dignity, self-respect and remember their role in society. Never before (and we’ve had some doozies throughout history) has a collective political system been such a dysfunctional failure. The fact that just an estimated one-third of Americans who could vote actually did tells a very dark tale. There is no faith. That’s a shame, too because it’s not supposed to be that way.

No one expects these folks to be anything but human, we’d just like to see them behave not like the temper tantrum throwing kids that they are, but instead, practice a bit of humility. Grace and maturity, even. Think they can make that happen in the next two years, or will we find ourselves as aggravated with them as we do the Obama Administration? The truth is – they hold the power. They can make that happen, not by what they do, but rather, what they don’t do.

capture-20141107-083830Rand Paul – oh, Lord – look, I know he’s a god in some eyes, but seriously, what purpose does it serve for him to trash talk Hillary Clinton? I get it – she annoys me, too. But there are big things happening these days that affect every single one of us. Pull in the reins on what’s sure to be a 2016 run. Make good decisions for the country TODAY, sir. Leave the trash-talking to the bloggers. We got this – I promise. We’re better at it anyway.

Fortunately, we had a few graceful winners and bright moments this week. One of the best happened after the election. Everyone’s talking about the CMAs. Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood were brilliant. It’s one of those things that requires a certain redneck mentality: they annihilated the Dems, Obama, Taylor Swift and even the Ebola nurse who refused to self-quarantine. They did it even as they smiled and while you might not have heard it, we southern folks get it: There was one of those silent “Bless their hearts” at the end. Flawless!

Quarantined Nurse’s Lawyers are Missing the Point

Kaci Hickox, the nurse who is now being quarantined after arriving at a New Jersey airport from West Africa, is planning to sue. She says her civil liberties have been annihilated and her lawyers say she has a strong case. Maybe so. But both she and those lawyers are missing the point.

It’s true the nation is overreacting, but maybe that’s the way some folks like it. Or maybe they’re not overreacting and that’s not OK with certain political slingers. Either way, once again, the American people are little more than a pawn in an election year.

The Quarantine

When Hickox returned to the states this past weekend, she supposedly began running a fever during the hours-long hold they had on her. According to her, the fever was nothing more than her frustration at being held for no reason. Her attorneys agree and say she should be released pronto. Besides, they say, she can self-quarantine at home just fine, thank you very much.

CNN

Unfortunately, we know that to not be the case for other healthcare workers who’ve returned from the Ebola hot zones. Dr. Nancy Snyderman lost the respect of an entire nation when she bravely announced she would self-quarantine herself, before anyone asked her to, just to be doubly sure that she and others hadn’t contacted the disease like one of their co-workers, camera man Ashoko Mukpo. He’s not a medical worker, wasn’t in nearly as close in contact with the victims as Snyderman and others on the team, and yet, he contracted the disease. Snyderman then busted her own self-quarantine more than once, which, of course, sent some New Jersey residents railing. Making matters worse was Mukpo’s own tweet where he admitted that despite their shared travels, he was always at a distance, “For the record me and her were never within 3 feet of each other once. Be nice to her plz.” So, the question remains, just how did he contract Ebola?

Another “should have been self-quarantined” story is the one that includes Dr. Craig Spencer, who also opted to resume his normal life after returning from the Ebola hot zone. He too is now being cared for, after being diagnosed with the disease, in a New York hospital.

Clearly, self-quarantines aren’t the cure-all.

But here’s the thing – if all of these health care providers and freelance journalists, cameramen and others are taking loads of cautions, how are they still coming down with Ebola? These are the folks who are donning three and four pairs of gloves, countless other protective clothing mechanisms, face shields, heavy plastic from head to toe – these are the ones who are taking no risks at all. Yet they’re being diagnosed with Ebola. Meanwhile, we have every paid medical talking head on every news channel telling us there’s nothing to worry about. And that’s the point the lawyers are missing.

If there’s nothing to worry about, then where is the rest of the story? In our deepest core of common sense, most of us know that the odds of coming down with Ebola are practically nil. Except for the fact that there are now two nurses who thought the same thing, who donned the protective clothing, followed the CDC guidelines and yet, came down with the disease right here in the U.S. What are they not telling us?

The lawyers, instead of seeing this as what it truly is, are instead going to earn big bucks off of that fear. The quarantined nurse? What does she expect? Just because the president says the new rules in Illinois, New Jersey and New York are unnecessary doesn’t make it so. It’s the same president who will walk ten miles to tell a lie and not take two steps for the truth. So, yeah. You have a nation of concerned Americans who no longer know what to believe. The fact that the New York doctor’s family and the New Jersey nurse are crying foul is of no consequence to these same people. We’re more interested in what’s not being told. They say they’re doing God’s work. Great. There are people who are noble and who can do that. Most of us aren’t. And we’re OK with that. Martyrdom isn’t for everyone, after all.

The lawyers, for their part, need to take a step back and rethink this. Sure, they can sue. And they’ll likely make big money for themselves and their client, but at what cost? I can tell you the taxpayers aren’t happy because in the end, that’s where their excessive fees will come from. And what’s next? Does the nurse return to West Africa to continue doing her noble work, only to repeat this same tired story?

Sounds selfish? Maybe. But a few weeks ago, in yet another unnecessary scare, I was the one watching the news about a woman who’d supposedly just returned from West Africa and made her way to the hospital system my own child works at. Odds are, he’d have never come in contact with her, but even that’s too close. He laughed it off and said the media’s misreporting everything. I told him to get over it, I’d worry because it’s my job. In the end, it didn’t change the fact that it’s all happening somewhere else. Until it’s not.

The Affair, Jason Aldean and is Nothing Platinum?

First things first – if you’re a Jason Aldean fan (and really, the only folks who aren’t are the ones who’ve never heard him sing Why), he announced exclusively with Rolling Stone earlier today new dates for what I’m assuming is the second leg of his Burn it Down tour. This kicks off February 12th in Greenville, SC. Luckily for us even further south, he’s hitting some venues a bit closer. And when I say closer, I mean Tupelo, MS and even a Louisiana date if you don’t mind hitting Bossier City. He hits Montana, Ohio and Illinois as well before swinging back through south Texas, up the east coast again with a West Virginia stop and ending it in Pennsylvania. Tickets are on sale. And by the way, Old Boots, New Dirt landed at the top spot on the Billboard 200 chart the day it was released. Not bad for a Georgia boy, right?

Nothing’s Gone Platinum? 

Speaking of number one albums, did you know not a single album in any genre has gone platinum this year? Not even that little girl who’s failing miserably at being a grown up – and yes, I’m talking about the twerkin Miley Cyrus. Beyoncé? Nope. The Frozen soundtrack? Nah. Ah, but if anyone’s coming close, it’s…wait for it….Eric Church. Another country crooner – who knew?!

There are two likely reasons for this: – we’re buying singles from Amazon, iTunes and Spotify these days or we’re buying subscriptions to services like Spotify. Go figure.

Sunday Showtime

So this post began as a review of The Affair. I’m trying, I really am, to like this show. Here’s the thing – when it comes to TV, I pay good money to be lazy. That includes good money for a subscription to Showtime.

Sunday nights on Showtime are amazing – whether it’s Shameless, Ray Donovan or House of Lies. And by the way, I’ve adored Don Cheadle since I saw him in Talk to Me, which, by the way, won 8 film awards. And the music? James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World, Otis Redding’s “I Can’t Turn You Loose” and one of my all-time favorites, The Spinners “I’ll be Around” – and that’s a just a few of those incredible classics that still take us back – even if they were before our time.

But The Affair? Eh, it’s a very slow dance. I’ve said it before, I love a good waltz as much as anyone, but it’s just too distracting. We go into it not knowing the actors – or their characters. There are a lot of flashbacks and because the viewer is relying on the memory of the two leads, it’s hard to discern who’s telling the truth. And yes, I know that’s the point. When you have a new show, the first thing you want to do is balance the characters’ good qualities with the bad and so far, we’ve seen nothing out of these two leads; except for the fact that if they ever make it to the stand, the jury’s going to be as lost as we are with their respective recollections.

By the way – women want their men strong, especially if they’re having an affair. None of this tortured soul nonsense, even if Noah is a writer. Show us some testosterone! Get mad. Punch the father in law, stand up to your wife, walk away…do SOMETHING! Instead, he’s a scared puppy being questioned by an investigator for a crime we have no idea who committed. Hell, we’re not really sure what the crime is.

And all of these peripheral characters? They’re just adding to the distraction. Much as I love Mare Winningham, is she playing a drug dealer? I mean, she did offer the daughter in law a supply of Valium, right? For now, The Affair is still on the DVR, but the typical American consumer’s attention span is short – especially when we know House of Lies and Shameless are next up on the Sunday night Showtime roster.

So, here’s Aldean’s new video, Burnin’ it Down (and hey – he’s talking about drinking cold whiskey out of the bottle – life, my friends, simply does not get any better than that) and The Spinners’ I’ll be Around. That song just never gets old with me. Oh – and you can’t call yourself a fan unless you’ve seen the group dance to this song. I swear, come hell or high water, I’m going to bring polyester back. Like…the polyester John Travolta wore in Saturday Night Fever. And the polyester worn by The Spinners in this video.

2014 Write Now Holiday Issue is Live

The 2014 Holiday issue is now live. The host publisher who handles the logistics changed hands this year, so if you subscribed to Write Now and haven’t received it yet, drop me a line at donna@donna-mcgill and I’ll make sure you’re added.

All Eyes on the Past

It’s always been fascinating – those happily ever after stories that we fervently believe when we’re younger, but that we eventually dismiss because after a while, it seems silly. After all, everyone knows reality is anything but “happily ever after”. Those pesky grown up truths get in the way and somehow, we lose that simple belief that sometimes our future is patiently waiting… right smack dab in the past. Apparently, Hollywood is all for challenging the status quo. It’s interesting because nothing is forever in Hollywood – yet, writers and producers are taking huge leaps of faith by building their fantasies on an actual truth:

A new study from California State University shows that people who come back together after at least five years apart have an impressive 76 percent chance of staying together. That’s especially interesting considering only 40 percent of other marriages work out.

Luke Bracey

Luke Bracey

And what better time than the holidays to plant those seeds? At least, they’re banking on hitting a nerve that one time of the year when most of us live for the thought that anything’s possible (including actually surviving the holidays minus the maxed out credit card).

Up first, we’re going back to 1984 with a new film that’s not getting nearly as much attention as it will when it actually opens at the theatre.

The Best of Me

The trailers have begun airing for this Nicholas Sparks film and it’ll find its way to a movie theater near you on October 17th. The plot sounds “done to death”, as my Maw-Maw would say, and that’s a shame since it’s so much more than what it’s officially claiming:

Based on the bestselling novel by acclaimed author Nicholas Sparks, The Best of Me tells the story of Dawson and Amanda, two former high school sweethearts who find themselves reunited after 20 years apart, when they’re drawn back to their small town. Their bittersweet reunion reignites the love they’ve never forgotten. This epic love story captures the enduring power of our first true love, and the wrenching choices we face when confronted with elusive second chances.

Make no mistake – The Best of Me is not for lovelorn teens – I mean, it works for that, but this is one of those stories that goes far deeper than any teenager ever expects for his or her life. It’s dark and it’s set in the south – which is always a bonus for this southern girl.

If you’re not OK with your past and things left unsaid or undone, it could be a challenge to watch. Also, too, Nicholas Sparks is an incredible writer and the book is exactly what we expect from him. This time, the movie goes deeper, which is rare with novels brought to life on the silver screen.

Don’t let the different actors fool you, either. Initially, we meet Amanda and Dawson as teens. It simply sets the stage for what’s to come. And by the way, James Marsden has never looked better. It’s beautiful and simple and then it turns dark. Honestly, I’ve no idea how the last moments play out. I know how it ends, but that’s just me – I made my own ending. The gorgeous cinematography and really, one of the more authentic southern settings I’ve seen in a film in a long time help bring the story alive. It’s hard to believe it doesn’t end as beautifully as we expect. That said, you still leave content.

And changed.

Here’s the extended trailer and be watching for it October 17th.

And, of course, here are three (and there are actually five or six storylines that come to mind) of the latest gambles on rekindled love that we can expect to see on TV this fall.

Sons of Anarchy

Kurt Sutter has this magical way of making viewers hate and love his characters at the same time. There’s something so authentic in these stories, even though most mothers-in-law would never kill their son’s wife with a carving fork to the skull.  The reasons make sense, the violence? Not so much – but that’s what we like about TV. We want to see some of the darker sides of the human condition. Something tells me we’re going to get a healthy dose of those darker sides as the storyline between Jax and Wendy appears to be heating up.

Now that the missus is out of the way, thanks to the ever-helpful Gemma, Jax the widower just might find solace in the mother of his first son. In the first season, we didn’t like Wendy. We didn’t like the fact that her addictions nearly killed her son and while some of us might have thought Gemma loading the needle for Wendy hours after she gave birth to Gemma’s grandson was disturbing on a new level, there just wasn’t much sympathy for the woman lying in the hospital bed.

Now though, Wendy’s returned and after a relapse (again, courtesy of Gemma), she’s on track for becoming a good mother – and maybe something more for Jax. The third episode of this final season, Playing with Monsters, sheds new light on Wendy, especially when she says to Brooke the babysitter, “I still love Jax.” As if we didn’t already know. Catch the latest and final season of Sons of Anarchy on FX Network Tuesday nights, 9 p.m. CT.

Nashville

Oh, that crazy Rayna! Two marriage proposals? You go, girl. Deacon’s still trying to woo her and she’s struggling with what he put her through all those years ago. Pretty sure she’s ultimately going to pick Deacon -even though she chose the other guy. See? Does anyone even know his name? She’s fooling no one, except herself. And, of course, in true Hollywood – and Nashville – fashion, she’ll magically realize it moments before walking down the aisle to marry what’s-his-name.

But the best part with this Nashville gem? You know we’re going to get a few honkytonk heartbreak songs. And those are the best!

Lost in Love

One of the best new shows this summer was brought to us courtesy of a little network known as FYI. Married at First Sight was absolutely mesmerizing. Now, the network is going to double down with another reality-love-story show. This time, Lost in Love brings people together who are carrying old flames for someone in their past. This one’s iffy because of social media and by the way, God bless Mark Zuckerberg. Thanks to him, we’ve become a nation of stalkers; and really, isn’t that a good thing?

Do people really need a TV show about lost loves when we have Facebook? And especially one that could result in heartbreak? We’ll see. The tentative release is late October.

Our Dumbed Down Society

A few weeks ago, I watched in sheer amazement the so-called catastrophic damage done to a few celebrities over leaked photos. I’m still trying to figure out how and why that became a national tragedy. There’s no doubt it was embarrassing for those whose accounts were hacked, but really, to expect any kind of privacy in an online environment shows just how unplugged some folks are. Our society picks and chooses which “tragedies” deserve its undivided attention, not to mention the bulk of its tweets. If you’re struggling with that truth, consider this:

With the nude photo leak scandal, anyone who dismissed it as yet another stunt by some entitled celebrity was surely going to burn in hell and God forbid you refer to it as the nonsense it truly is (I’m still getting emails from that post about how I need my ass kicked for ridiculing these precious celebrities). Even Twitter and Reddit got into the mix and said they would ban anyone who passed any of the photos in their newsfeeds.

Meanwhile, it’s impossible to scroll through the #breakingnews hashtag without being subjected to the thousands of photos of the recent beheadings, courtesy of Isis. It’s also impossible to scroll through that same feed without being assaulted with thousands of still images, as well as the actual video, of Ray Rice knocking the hell out of his then-fiancé (they’ve married since then). In other words, those disturbing images of how these vulgar terrorists put their work on display as well as the truly tragic example of what domestic abuse looks like in this country are all fine and good as far as Twitter and many folks across other social media platforms are concerned. Just don’t piss off a Hollywood princess.

That brings us to my “dumbing down” reference.

Remember 11 years ago, when The Dixie Chicks, on tour in London, made one comment that got them kicked out of country music? The exact quote from Natalie Mains:

“Just so you know, we’re on the good side with y’all. We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas.”

It exploded faster than a bull rider getting his eight seconds in. There weren’t many who weren’t upset – and rightfully so (in my opinion), but here’s the thing: I like their music more than I disliked the comment. And apparently, the trio are as adamant about their First Amendment rights as I am about my Second Amendment rights. It was probably the most difficult time in America’s history; nerves were raw and our nation as a whole was grieving fierce and hard. Anyone who knows me knows what I think of Dubya (and Ronald Reagan, but I’ll save that for another time). President Bush was the aggressive badass we needed at that time (and frankly, still do), but the Chicks never backed down. Instead, they doubled down with a powerful tune, Not Ready to Make Nice, that said it all:

I made my bed and I sleep like a baby
with no regrets and I don’t mind sayin’
It’s a sad sad story when a mother will teach her
daughter that she ought to hate a perfect stranger
And how in the world can the words that I said
send somebody so over the edge
that they’d write me a letter
sayin’ that I better shut up and sing
or my life will be over

See, that’s what it’s all about: speaking your peace with no apologies. Too many folks are trying too hard to please everyone. What happened to never apologizing for what you believe?

dumbed down societyWhatever scandals or tragedies are playing out, we’re killing ourselves to make it to Twitter, Facebook and anywhere else we can stir trouble – first so we can annihilate whoever it was that made such an inflammatory remark and then to hound them relentlessly to delete the tweet and offer an apology.

It’s become so disturbing that our government is actually indicting and suing itself. Governor Rick Perry is a perfect example of one who’s paying a high price for….wait for it….speaking the truth. A Texas DA is arrested for driving at three times the legal limit and it’s the governor who’s indicted? And by the way, the same ones who are crying foul because of Perry’s insensitive comments in the days following his arrest are also the very ones who are quick to say, “You drive drunk and kill someone I love? I’ll see to it you never drink another drop of anything.”

Perry’s sarcastic tweet (speaking from the perspective of the drunk D.A.) that he was pressured to delete:

“I don’t always drive drunk at 3x the legal blood alcohol limit… …but when I do, I indict Gov. Perry for calling me out about it. I am the most drunk Democrat in Texas.”

Bringing it full circle, Ricky Gervais imparted a bit of his own common sense wisdom into the nude photo leak (and was then pressured to delete it):

“Celebrities, make it harder for hackers to get nude picks of you from your computer by not putting nude pics of yourself on your computer.”

Sounds reasonable to me. It’s common sense, right?

Maybe it’s time folks adopt a mindset of “If it’s on my mind, it’s on my tongue.”  Remember, a forced apology is never a sincere apology. Doesn’t matter if you’re Holly Fisher, or Holly Hobby Lobby as many people know her or The Dixie Chicks.

You might as well toughen up, because you can be sure the voices of a few are the very ones who are forcing schools to send kids home for wearing American flags on their tee shirts. We’ve allowed entirely too many dumbing down efforts to pass.

Here’s the video of Not Ready to Make Nice. The symbolisms that play out are remarkable. Note the use of black and white (good and evil), the x-rays of spines, the drinking of the “Kool Aid” and the physical restraints used as a symbol of the First Amendment. Oh – and be sure to read the chalkboard – the video was released a few weeks after Vice President Cheney’s accidental shooting during a hunting trip.

 

Nude Photo Leak Bothers You? You’re an Idiot

capture-20140902-125858The tragedy that is Hollywood…bless their hearts. Over the extended holiday, a purely evil scandal broke amongst our most worshiped in this nation. Apparently, more than 100 women who grace our silver screens…wait, scratch that….more than 100 of this nation’s most narcissistic celebrities who grace the covers of every tabloid we see when we’re checking out of Wal Mart were hacked. More specifically, their iClouds were hacked. As the nation mourns this tragic incident and as the hacker is on the run; a dangerous criminal who threatens world peace, the rest of us focus on those other aspects of life.

The reactions of those coming to their defense are both funny and really, kind of sad when you think about it. Twitter has come to their defense and has said anyone who posts the leaked photos will be banned from their platform. Where was that outrage when photos by some of the most vile humans who are wasting oxygen on this planet surfaced? You can see the worst of human nature as these images of beheadings are easily found on Twitter feeds around the world. Way to go, Twitter.

Now, it seems Congress is preparing to ride in gloriously and save the reputations of those poor, mistreated celebrities. Such hard workers, they are. Meanwhile, Ricky Gervais, controversial though he is, made a comment that the one sure fire way to halt the criminal is for the “victim” to not upload photos that don’t include clothes. Seems like the kind of paternal advice most of us have heard our entire lives. And yes, I know that using the name “Ricky Gervais” and “paternal” has its own irony, but he has a point. He’s caught ten different kinds of hell over the past 24 hours. He took the tweet down, which is ridiculous to me. He posted another photo of himself, though, and dared anyone to retweet the “leaked” photo. He makes me laugh.

When are we going to begin taking responsibility for our own actions? These women are not “victims”. In fact, they have had complete control over these photos, which they should have exercised by not uploading them to start with. At the very least, they should have incorporated the 2 step authentication Apple provides. Consider these facts:

Fifty percent of those who responded to a recent Maryland poll said they had texted compromising (nude) photos of themselves to someone who is now their ex. Fifty percent!

Revenge porn is now the fastest growing trend on the web. This is when an angry ex posts to any number of sites those compromising images that were sent to him by the one who took the photo. It’s funny, because most breakups (not to include divorces) in this country happen because of betrayals that happened months before the actual break up. We all know that couple: one cheats, gets caught, begs the other to forgive him and then goes through months and years of being accused of cheating again. My question is: why send photos to someone you don’t trust?

If you know how iffy the internet is and how formidable today’s hackers are, why in God’s name would you upload anything that could be construed as scandalous? And when your account is hacked, why are you so surprised?

As Congress steps up to the plate, ready to save the day (I make myself laugh), here’s a better question: Where is the outrage for the hackers who are compromising our financial and banking sector? Where’s the immediate response to those who are in the middle of a drawn out process to recoup the funds and their identity that was stolen, courtesy of some Russian hacker? I’ve written about the DDoS hacks for years. I’m more interested in keeping my banking information safe than I am some twit in Hollywood who feels she’s entitled to more life perks and Congressional protections because she made the choice to upload a series of compromising pictures.

And for those screaming about protecting the “victim”, here are far more deserving “victims” you should consider defending:

Those who are forced into child pornography (it’s a $13 billion industry in the U.S.)

The lack of proper veteran’s medical and mental assistance upon returning home (Half of returning veterans with PTSD go untreated)

The fast rising child poverty and hunger realities in the U.S. (22% of our kids live in poverty and go hungry and another 45% are nearing that status)

Here’s the truth: one year from now, this latest Hollywood tragedy will be as murky in our minds as the New England Patriots releasing Tim Tebow (which happened one year ago today).