Monday, June 30, 2014

BULLY FOR YOU: NICKI ELSON SHARES VERY DEEP THOUGHTS

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Our BULLY FOR YOU guest postess today is Nick Elson, who blogs at Nicki Elson's Not-So-Deep Thoughts. When Nicki read some of the other guest posts, she became concerned because other guests said that "try ignoring the bully" doesn't work. I told her that I thought her post was fine, and I still think so. Ignoring the bully is the first thing I'd do. Occasionally, it works. Some bullies back down more easily than others. If the bully won't give up, then we need to move onto something else, and Nicki recognizes that.

And now, Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell, here's the talented author Nicki Elson:



I’m the mother of two teenaged children, so the topic of bullying has been prominent on my radar. Not because my kids have been bullied or are bullies, but because the schools around here have assembly after assembly on the issue. But here’s the thing—assemblies don’t stop bullying.

The group lectures & video watching may have some small positive impact, I don’t know, but what I’ve personally witnessed is my kids coming home either feeling like they’ve just been yelled at for something they didn’t do or worse, they suddenly start interpreting every incident of teasing or snide comment as bullying. To me, a mass approach to the issue just doesn’t make sense. I think the teachers and staff know exactly who the bullies are, so I wish they’d take those kids aside, look them in the eye and tell them, “We know what you’re doing. Knock it off.” Bullies often turn to wimps when they know someone with authority is on to them.

But the risk of the look-’em-in-the-eye approach is that the troublemakers’ parents firmly believe that their little poopsies would never ever do anything wrong, so they’ll get all over that school’s arse, and yadda, yadda, yadda. And so the school treats everyone equally by pulling the students into impotent mass assemblies, and the bullying goes on…

And it’s not just kids who bully. I come across adult bullies all the time. Since bullying is a fact of life, my opinion is that we need to focus less on helping kids to define themselves as victims and more on teaching them how to deal with the inevitable bullies. I loved Janie’s bullying post about the Hurricane—that little girl handled the situation she was in and prevailed by growing into a kickass adult.

Sooooo, here is my stab at a three-step approach to dealing with bullies. But please note, the first two steps are for dealing with low- to mid-grade bullies—the ones who are fairly harmless and mostly sting with words. Those dealing with high-grade bullies—the ones who don’t relent and threaten or follow through with physical violence—should go directing to stage three.

First: Ignore them.

Bullies want a reaction. It’s what feeds their need to feel superior. It’s their way of knowing they have impact on this world. So don’t give it to them. Walk away if you can. Click off your Facebook or whatever. Don’t read the nasty things they say. If forced to sit in the same room with the bully, tune them out, as hard as that may be. They might persist for a while, but eventually many will give up.

In Junior High, cute Jimmy used to break my pencils. Every day he’d ask to borrow one, and then he’d snap it in two and laugh with his friends. He’d apologize the next day and promise he wouldn’t do it again, and then he’d do it again. I decided Jimmy wasn’t cute anymore. I stopped giving him my pencils, but his desk was directly behind me, and all through class he’d whisper nasty things to me. I didn’t turn around, I didn’t give him any reaction, and eventually he either stopped or I was able to successfully tune him out, I don’t remember which, but after that class ended, he never bothered me again.

Second: Bite back.

If you’re stuck with a bully who doesn’t relent, it’s time to bite back. I’m not suggesting you throw punches or do anything that will escalate the problem, but find some way to let the bullies know you won’t be messed with. Sometimes it’s as easy as calling them out on their behavior. Stay perfectly composed and become their psychotherapist by asking, “Does putting me down make you feel better about yourself?” or “What do you hope to accomplish by saying/doing that?” Maybe you’ll cause them to actually reevaluate their behavior, but even if you don’t, you just might stun them into a few moments of silence, long enough to walk away.  This sort of thing works all the time on a low-grade bully I have to regularly deal with, and I daresay I’ve nearly driven the bully right out of him.  

Several months ago I had to bite back at a coworker who’d become aggressive with her dislike of me doing my job without catering to her obsessive need for control of every little thing. First I laughed when she told me straight to my face (while flanked by two of “her people”) that I have a lot of nerve—full disclosure: that was a happy accident. Totally thought she was joking. I mean, who talks like that?—and then I started cc:ing the big boss on my communications with her. She backed right down and doesn’t mess with me anymore.

Third: Tell Someone

If either the threat of or actual physical violence is involved, or if the first and second approaches to stop the bully haven’t worked, tell someone about it. Actually, tell someone about it even before it comes to that point. In my example above, it was pulling in the big boss that got the bully wannabe off my case. If you’re a student, parents seem like a good first stop, but I realize not every relationship makes this a good option, so think about what adults you’re comfortable with. Who will have your best interests in mind? Even if this person isn’t someone who can directly intervene, they can make a wonderful coach for dealing with the situation.

My daughter used to work at a bakery/coffee shop that’s owned by a psycho who makes himself feel like a man by intimidating teenaged girls. When his bullying tactics weighed heavily on my daughter’s nerves, I was a safe place for her to vent and a sounding board for her ideas about how to deal with his volatility. He eventually crossed a line, and I’m so happy that she understood that it was his problem, not hers, and she had the confidence to quit and walk away from the bully. If she’d kept all of her anxiety to herself, I’m not sure she’d have been able to keep such a healthy perspective.


I realize my three-step approach is fairly simplistic and limited to my minor experiences with bullying, but maybe it’s a start. It’s also only one side of the equation. “How to Not Be a Bully” is a whole ‘nother post…who’s gonna write it?  

THE END :)

--
Nicki Elson
Author
www.nickielson.com






Please be sure to leave Nicki some bloggy love in the comments, and consider visiting her blog and reading her books. Three Daves has a great eighties college vibe, and Divine Temptation is quite sexy without an embarrassment factor (it's not too graphic). Nicki will have another book coming out before long, and I look forward to it.

Thank you, Nicki!


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Sunday, June 29, 2014

MARGARITAVILLE UPDATE

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

I had two lovely strawberry margaritas last night in a restaurant. I'm not much of a drinker, so Willy Dunne Wooters had to help me walk to the car afterwards.

I also had broccoli and a small steak.



Willy Dunne Wooters knew he was in trouble. He worked quite hard to dig himself out of the grave he was in. I've been picking on him since the moment he arrived yesterday. He now understands how he could have helped during the refrigerator emergency, which remains a story for another day.

Our BULLY FOR YOU guest postess for tomorrow is my darling friend Vebbie, who blogs at Nicky Elson's Not-So-Deep Thoughts. I don't know why her blog isn't called Vebarino's Very Deep Thoughts.

For those of you who threatened to form a lynching party because Willy Dunne Wooters done hurt my feelings, please don't bother yourselves. He has already made amends. However, I shall inform him that he came quite close to facing the wrath of some vicious pit bull-type bloggers. He is sleeping next to me at the moment, and snoring to beat the band.

Last night we watched the last episode of season two of Orange Is The New Black. We agreed that season two was even better than season one, especially the last half dozen episodes.

This evening will find us glued to PBS at 8 p.m. EST for the first episode of season two of Last Tango In Halifax. Willy Dunne Wooters says that the romance in Tango reminds him of us because the characters so clearly adore one another.

That Willy Dunne Wooters.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

P.S. I forgot to say that the extremely cute and young yard guy was here earlier this afternoon. The sight of him always cheers me up. I had to go out in my nightie to talk to him. Next time I think I'll try a naked chat and see if he gets the hint.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

WHAT'S FOR DINNER?

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

It's very hot and my eyes are tired and I have a bit of a headache and Willy Dunne Wooters done hurt my feelings.

For dinner I want a frozen strawberry margarita with a sugar rim. Then for dessert I want a frozen strawberry margarita with a sugar rim. Evening snack? I bet you can figure it out.



Oi, do I have a story to tell you about my refrigerator. But another day, darlings.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Friday, June 27, 2014

THE CEPHALOPOD COFFEEHOUSE: BROKEN PIECES

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Yet again, I've taken up with a bad crowd. I am now a member of The Cephalopod Coffeehouse. Mother, the answer to your question is "Yes, if my friend jumps off a cliff, then I shall follow." 

The Armchair Squid hosts the coffeehouse, the point of which is as follows:

The idea is simple: on the last Friday of each month, post about the best book you've finished over the past month while visiting other bloggers doing the same.  In this way, we'll all have the opportunity to share our thoughts with other enthusiastic readers.

It was Vebbie of Nicki Elson's Not-So-Deep Thoughts who dragged me into this, so do it, Veb. Jump off that cliff, and I'll follow. Or find something else stupid to do. No matter what it is, I know my deceased Mother would disapprove. It's all fun and games until somebody's eye gets poked out.

The best book I've read in the past month is the beautifully written Broken Pieces: Essays Inspired By Life by Rachel Thompson who blogs at Rachel in the OC.

I'm glad I own it because I know I'll read it again and again.



I've always admitted that blogging is my therapy. Writing, in general, can be very therapeutic. Broken Pieces is non-fiction, and I'm sure that writing it allowed Rachel to write the story of her own life. I don't mean in the simple sense that it's autobiographical. We all need to grab our horse on the carousel and write the stories of our lives––not merely the past, but write your present, and what will be your future, too.

Rachel was molested as a child, and survived rape and abuse and horrible losses. She writes about these tragedies lyrically and honestly in Broken Pieces:

BIRD

He found me, waiting and bruised, pushing his way so deeply inside 
me; I never thought he'd find his way out. 

But he surprised us both, shoving me aside as quickly as he'd come.
Using, abusing, he feared his inner darkness would disrupt our carefully 
structured nest.

Scared our pleasure would eat at his soul. 

Too afraid to give room, or care, or thought, he left me as he found
me, waiting and bruised, but now also willing and broken. 

I shakily tend my wounds, mystified if I had flown, or fallen.

I relate very strongly to Broken Pieces. Reading it makes me feel I've found something familiar to touch and hold close because Rachel gives words to my hidden thoughts. I can wrap myself in this soft blanket of a book and know that someone understands me and has given me a voice.

Broken Pieces earns The Janie Junebug Highest Seal of Approval. It's a short book you can read in a short time, but you'll want to ponder and savor the words.

The extra good news is that you can enter to win one of two copies of Broken Pieces. You have until June 30th to enter, so don't wait too long. Go to http://rachelintheoc.com/2014/06/goodreads-giveaway-baby/, which will take you to Rachel's blog and a button to click on so you can enter, or go to https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/92931, which will take you to Goodreads and another button to click so you can enter.

If you're not a winner (though we're all winners), you can purchase Broken Pieces on Amazon at http://goo.gl/EzVfr7 or from Barnes & Noble at http://goo.gl/mIJpyA.

Thank you, Mr. Armchair Squid, for starting The Cephalopod Coffeehouse. 

I hope you'll consider joining the coffeehouse. You can add your link at http://armchairsquid.blogspot.com/.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug












Thursday, June 26, 2014

MOVIE WEEKEND: IN A WORLD & ENOUGH SAID

Gentle Readers . .  and Maxwell,

I want to spend my time catching up with your blogs after the Great Blog Roll Debacle, so this MOVIE WEEKEND is a quickie about two films I didn't like all that much. They aren't bad enough for me to warn you away from them. You might like them, or you might read my review and decide not to waste your time on them.

The first is In A World (2013, Rated R, Available On DVD).


Written, directed, and starring Lake Bell as Carol Solomon, In A World appeared to be a comedy, based on the trailer. Maybe it is a comedy and I just don't get it.

Carol Solomon wants to do voice-overs for movie trailers. She can imitate all sorts of accents and do the kind of smooth voice needed for a movie trailer beginning with a dramatic rendering of "in a world." Her father is one of the most successful voice-over guys around, and even he tells Carol that voice-overs are done by men. It isn't a job for women. Carol sets out to prove him wrong.

The movie has a couple of poignant moments, but that's about it. I didn't laugh. I don't think I smiled. The one point about this movie that stands out to me is that Carol tries to teach some women not to speak in babyish voices and not to end a declaratory statement as if it's a question. A lot of women do that. I think it's a habit borne of insecurity. I used to do it, but Hi! My name is Janie and I've been in voice recovery for a long time.

In A World earns The Janie Junebug Seal of Don't Bother.

The second movie, Enough Said, is a little better (2013, Rated PG-13, Available on DVD). I wanted to see this one because James Gandolfini is in it and I'm still kinda sad that he died. He was Tony Soprano.


In Enough Said, James Gandolfini plays Albert, who meets Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) at a party. Albert asks Eva out on a date, and they hit it off. Eva, who is a masseuse, also meets a new client, Marianne (Catherine Keener), at the party. Eva massages Marianne, and they become friends. Marianne is a successful poet. Eva thinks Marianne is really smart. Marianne complains a lot about her ex-husband, who turns out to be Albert.

Eva allows Marianne's comments to poison her relationship with Albert, who has no idea that his new girlfriend hangs out with his ex-wife. Soon, Eva picks on Albert for the very habits Marianne complains about, instead of appreciating her initial happiness with him.

I enjoy Albert and Eva as a couple. They have a dry, deadpan witty repartee:

Eva: Oh, the Container Store?
Albert: Yes, yes, the Container Store. The store that sells crap so you can put your crap in so you can go out and buy some more crap.
Eva: I love that store. I love crap.

I can't tell you what happens because I'd ruin the movie for you. You might want to look at James Gandolfini and feel sad, too. I've liked Julia Louis-Dreyfus for many years, but as Eva, she's kind of weird and prone to doing stupid stuff. The character is not very likable. Eva also describes herself as middle-aged and flabby. If Julia Louis-Dreyfus is supposed to be middle-aged and flabby, that what the hell am I?

Enough Said earns The Janie Junebug Kinda Sorta Seal of Approval.

You can find better movies to watch than these two.

Happy Viewing!


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Eva: I'm tired of being funny.
Albert: Me too.
Janie Junebug: Same here.

Monday, June 23, 2014

BULLY FOR YOU: STEPHANIE NEIGHBOUR AND HER BOUNDLESS COMPASSION


Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Please allow me to introduce you to Stephanie Neighbour, today's BULLY FOR YOU guest postess:



I have a special fondness for this lovely woman. She's an excellent writer with a great sense of humor. Her posts often make me laugh or provide me with the encouragement I need so badly at a given moment that I have to wonder if she's writing especially for me. Stephanie loves dogs and provides gentle care to her disabled dachshund, Autumn. 

Since she went through the hell of being bullied, she's used her experiences to bring more kindness and compassion to the world.

You can find Stephanie in the following places:


And now I'm honored to present Stephanie Neighbour:


Bullying has been around forever but over the last few years, and thanks in part to the Internet, we’ve finally started to wake up. Each year, countless numbers of young people dread heading off to school where they are taunted, threatened,pushed, kicked, tripped, and verbally abused. That information is what we hear from those who actually make it through their school years. We have also learned that bullying is a root cause of many teen suicides, which is why it is so important for all of us to share our stories.

I was just beginning my high school career when a brother and sister duo—notorious for their bullying—decided to label me, a dyke. I had no idea what the word meant other than it was also used when some students referred to the most hated gym teacher in the school. Eventually, I discovered that the term was not street slang that meant gym teacher. I also learned to keep my head down and my mouth shut. I went out of my way to avoid the brother/sister ringleaders, and all of their cohorts but it always proved to be quite the daunting task.

Back in the early 1980’s, we lacked awareness about the long-term effects of being tormented by our peers, leaving targeted students to suck it up and get through the days. There was no formal labeling, teachers often looked the other way and our parents rarely got involved. The irony in my situation was that the father of the siblings, who made my days a living hell, happened to be one of the most popular teachers at our school. While he went about his teaching day, his son and daughter were tearing through the student body, bullying for sport.

I managed to get through high school with nothing more than some social anxieties and a tattered ego. I’m sure there are others who were not so fortunate. Since graduation, I have never attended school functions, reunions or kept in contact with more than a handful of my former classmates. It’s been almost thirty-years since the turbulent days of high school but I will always remember the names and faces of those who filled my days with torment. Recently, I had a chance encounter with one of those faces—the sister-half of the duo that had made my life hell.

I met my partner at her daughter’s soccer game, and soon discovered that my former tormentor was also a parent of another girl on the team. As she stood less than five-feet away, she didn’t seem to recognize me, but I remembered her right away. I wasn’t surprised to learn that she was now a teacher at the very same school where she had wreaked so much havoc. Her father—himself a bully—had many long-standing ties with both the school district and numerous town officials.

I continued my eavesdropping and learned that in some bizarre twist of karmic voodoo, her youngest child had become a target of some neighborhood bullies. A few moments later, her son— a cute little guy with blonde hair and blue eyes—came wandering over and plopped down in the grass by his mother’s side. It became apparent to me that he had some difficulty communicating and when I asked my partner, she told me that the boy had autism. As his mother discussed an autism awareness event she was hosting at the school, I could not help but feel compassion for both her and the sweet little boy. I silently applauded her efforts to support her son and other families who live with autism but I also wondered, had she given any thought to the countless numbers of others her words and actions had harmed in the past? I doubt I’ll ever know.

My adult-self stopped seeing her as the merciless teenager I remembered and instead, I saw her as a mother whose child was now being tormented as a result of his condition that was no fault of his own. It pained me to think of this likable young boy being subjected to the cruelty of others and I could only begin to imagine the pain it caused his mother. As a student of Buddhism, which probably saved my life, I searched my heart for compassion and wished for them, nothing but good.

I don’t know if this person has changed but I would hope that she is using her position as a teacher to do her part and take action when she witnesses acts of bullying. As a parent, she now sees first-hand the effects of mean-spirited words and actions and I can only hope that in some small way, her son has given her the gift of a more compassionate heart.

Thank you for sharing your feelings with us, Stephanie. I won't be at all surprised, Gentle Readers, if some of you report that Stephanie's post brought tears to your eyes.

Please leave her some bloggy love in the comments, and consider visiting her Web site.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Friday, June 20, 2014

Thursday, June 19, 2014

MOVIE WEEKEND: THE BLING RING

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Although I seem to be in the minority, I like The Bling Ring (2013, Rated R, Available on DVD).


Sofia Coppola, who is one of the writers of this movie in addition to directing it, based it on a Vanity Fair article by Nancy Jo Sales called "The Subjects Wore Louboutins." Sales wrote the movie with Coppola.

It's the strange but true story (not everything in the article is in the movie) of a group of well-off California teens who start off burglarizing unlocked cars, move onto robbing the home of a "friend" who is out of town with his family, and then decide they want to own the belongings of the rich and famous. They use Google Maps and Google Earth to figure out where the glitterati live, and the best ways to reach their homes while avoiding security.

The actors are all fine. The only one of the group I recognize is Emma Watson of Hermione fame. The British beauty does a great job of jumping into the role of an obsessed California girl. Leslie Mann is also very good as one of the parents.

So why do I like this movie that only has a 5.7 rating on the Internet Movie Database?

Yes, I'll answer myself. First, because it's so bizarre that it doesn't seem as if it could possibly be true, but truth is always stranger than fiction.

I don't want to tell you the names of all the celebrities they rob and how they get into their houses. I'm afraid it would ruin the movie for you. I'll merely mention that the scenes in Paris Hilton's house are actually filmed in Paris Hilton's house, and the DVD has an extra feature with Paris showing off her digs and pointing out spots pf particular interest to the burglars, such as her shoe room and jewelry closet. Hilton's decor is so lavishly narcissistic that I find it amusing.

I like the kids' strange attitudes, too. They are deadpan when they talk about what they're doing.

Nicki: I want to rob!

Oh, my goodness! Don't leave out Nicki! 

Finally, I think Sofia Coppola is a good director. The Bling Ring is well made. Coppola tends to choose a good color palette, and the movie has some great shots, especially one of a couple of kids from a distance when they're inside a house that is that almost all windows. I like the security camera footage, too.


What can I say? You have to see a movie like this to believe it. 


Nancy Jo Sales has expanded her article into a book called The Bling Ring: How A Group of Fame-Obsessed Teens Ripped Off Hollywood And Shocked The World. It's on my Amazon Wish List.


As for kids, no. Teens? Be cautious. You don't want them to think stupidity is cool, whether it's the ignoramus kids or the foolish famous.

The Bling Ring earns The Janie Junebug Seal of Approval.

Happy viewing!


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Monday, June 16, 2014

BULLY FOR YOU: THE SILVER FOX DISCUSSES BAD ADVICE

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

The Silver Fox, who blogs at The Lair of the Silver Fox (where else would he blog?), very generously offered to let me publish one of his posts from the past: November 3, 2011. I love  his point about bad advice often given to kids who are bullied. And now, here's The Silver Fox and his Bully For You message:

Bullying -- physical or emotional -- sucks. In fact, in the real world, we have another name for bullying.

Abuse.

"He abuses his wife." What, like, he beats her up? Or "just" belittles her and makes her feel like total crap in front of her friends, family, children, etc.?

Like either one is okay?

"He abused a child." You mean, he sexually molested some poor kid, or did he smack the kid around anytime no one was looking? Or "only" insult the child and make him or her doubt his/her self-worth?

Like any of those are okay?

Hell, you wanna know something? If you were a bully when you were in school, or at any time during your life... You suck.

And that's "suck" in the present tense, even if the last arm you twisted or the last crying kid you taunted was in the schoolyard thirty years ago... unless you've apologized to the kid(s) in question (if that's at all possible) and whatever God or gods you believe in (if you've got one or more).

What, angry? Me? Ya think?

I was bullied a few times in school. It wasn't so much that I was small ('though I was, kinda), or weak (not really, I wasn't) or cowardly (not at all). In my case, I was less likely to fight back because I was always afraid of "getting in trouble" for fighting. And those who knew that fact figured I was "safe" to pick on.

The worst that it ever got for me in grammar school was when I was in second grade, I think. Making a long story short, a guy named Mark would come looking for myself and a few friends every day at recess as part of a stupid game called "Yum, Yum, Eat 'Em Up!" Mark never did anything really violent to any of us, but he roughed us up a lot. And every day. That was too much.

I seemed to be his favorite target. I dreaded hearing that moronic yell of "Yum-Yums!" which signified that Mark had spotted me and was on the attack. And in Mark's case, I never even thought about fighting back. I mean... Come on. I was a second-grader. He was a third-grader. There's some kind of law of Nature or Physics or Some-Damned-Thing that says that a third-grader can automatically out fight a second-grader.

So I told my mom, and asked for her advice. Actually, it's not fair to suggest that I was mature enough to actively seek her counsel. Uhhhh, no. She had demanded to know why I kept "faking sick" and coming up with other ploys to keep me from attending school.

I'm not sure what my dad -- whom I rarely saw because his work schedule demanded that he sleep during the day -- would have advised. My mom talked to the school principal.

My own second-grade teacher walked up to Mark one day as he held me pinned against the school wall, and she trotted us both to the principal's office. As the other kids in the playground stared at us, she told me "Don't worry, David, you're not in trouble."

So, I walked into Mrs. Boyle's office with kind of a grin.

In a matter of minutes, Mark had explained that this was all a silly game called "Yum, Yum, Eat 'Em Up!" There was no actual bullying, just a little innocent, playful rough-housing.

"So, this was all a misunderstanding," offered Mrs. Boyle.

WTF?

I was still the seven-year-old who was "afraid of getting in trouble," remember? So I didn't dare say what I was thinking.

And what I was thinking, of course, was my seven-year-old self's equivalent of "Are you kidding me? A misunderstanding? Is it a 'misunderstanding' when someone pushes you down, or punches you, or twists your arm behind your back?Are you f***ing kidding me?!?"

But no. Of course, I didn't say any of that.

Mark never bothered me again. That would have blown holes in his earlier "game" excuse. But that wasn't even the freakin' point any more.

At least... At least seven-year-old David learned some very important things that day.

1. Public school teachers, paid by the taxpayers' dollars, often want to please everyone. And as most people who try to please everyone eventually learn, whenyou try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one.

2. Don't expect anyone to fight your battles for you. Maybe they can help you, but they can't do it all for you.... especially if you want the result to please you.

He hadn't written "A Boy Named Sue" yet when I was in second grade, but Shel Silverstein later wrote -- and Johnny Cash sang -- "get tough or die," and he had one helluva point.

3. To hell with "getting in trouble." Do what your heart -- your "gut" -- tells you to do. Just remain true to your own sense of fair play. As Jiminy-effin'-Cricket said, "always let your conscience be your guide." If you hit me, I'll probably fight back. If you hurt someone whom I care about, though... You just made a very bad enemy.

It's almost scary to think of how some of the later incidents where people thought I was cowed were just examples of my enormous self restraint. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to make myself sound like some sort of bad-ass -- I'm emphatically not a bad-ass! -- but there were a few instances where some guy who thought he was being tough didn't realize that while I was sitting or standing there, quietly & maddeningly smiling at him, I was actually thinking about how surprised he'd be if I lashed out, screaming like a madman, and smashed my stack of schoolbooks against the side of his head, and... and...

Oops. Where was I? Heh.

No, I never did anything crazy like that in school. Worst thing I ever did was when some prankster pulled my pen out of my shirt pocket. He caught me on a bad day. I grabbed his throat with one hand and slammed him up against my locker.

I got the pen back.

Okay, enough of my school days. Let's jump ahead, twenty years after Mark and the "Yum Yums," for not one, but two applications of the lessons I learned when seven.

When I was engaged for the second time, my fiancĂ©e Faye -- Number Two in a series, collect 'em all! -- loved to make me the disciplinarian -- a/k/a "villain" -- where her two kids were concerned. One day I came home from work to find that her son Jason was "grounded in his room," waiting for me.

Jason was ten or eleven at the time. I was to decide his "official" punishment.

"What did he do?" I asked.

"I'll let him tell you," she replied, rather smugly.

So she and I went to his room. "What did you do, Jay?"

"I got in a fight at school."

Terrific, I thought. I'm sure this could have been avoided...

So I asked for details. (And I'm going to make up some names here to make for easier reading.)

Jason's friend Steven was involved in a fight with another kid named Danny. Steven was losing. Jason stepped in to help Steven. I wasn't pleased at all that Jason had interfered, even if Steven had been losing what was, after all, a fair fight.

Ah. But that's when Jason explained that he had indeed stayed out of the fight until Danny's friend Eric had jumped in, to help Danny beat up Steven... who was already losing!

Faye was rather shocked when I looked at Jason and said "Oh. That's different. Go out and play."

As Jason ran outside, I matter-of-factly informed Faye "I would have done the exact same thing. I'm proud of him!"

Sure, he'd broken school rules by fighting. But I admired his motivation. Zorro, The Lone Ranger, Batman, Captain America... They would have all protected the underdog. To hell with "getting in trouble."

And there was another time... Faye's daughter Jen was being bullied by another girl at school. Jen was about twelve, I believe. Faye looked at her and gave her one of the dumbest pieces of advice I've ever heard, one which parents often use in cases of bullying, sad to say:

"Just stay away from her."

I stared at Faye as if to say what I should have said to Mrs. Boyle twenty years earlier: "Are you f***ing kidding me?!?"

Faye looked at the deranged expression which (I assume) was on my face, turned back to Jen, and said once more "Just stay away from her."

And it alllllllll came back. Mark. "Yum, Yum, Eat 'Em Up!" The stupidity of school officials. You name it. I'd heard the same lame-ass "Just stay away from him/her" before, and it always infuriated me.

"Don't tell her that!" I exclaimed. "Don't ever tell her that!" I then went on a verbal tirade, pointing out that these bullies seek out their victims. I literally challenged Faye to try to "stay away from" me. "Go ahead!" I dared her. "Just for the sake of argument, you walk into any room in this apartment, and we'll see if I can or can't follow you in there! What the hell is wrong with you? Don't ever tell a kid that!"

Yeah, I was furious...

But not as much as when I finally stopped ranting... because that's when Faye gave me that look that said "Are you done?" and she looked at Jen once more and said "Just stay away from her." As if I hadn't said a word.

Thank God I'm not the type of jackass who hits women. Cuz even though it didn't even occur to me then, that might have been the moment I'd have done it out of anger, frustration, outrage, you name it.

But even if I had, I'd never try to justify it.

Cuz you can't.

Cuz bullies suck.


Wow! Thank you for allowing me to use this post, Silver Fox. I cringe every time I hear a parent or teacher tell a child, Just ignore it, or Just stay away from that person. Kids are trapped in school. How are they supposed to avoid bullies?

I hope you'll leave some love for The Silver Fox in your comments, and please consider visiting his blog.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Friday, June 13, 2014

THEN & NOW BLOGFEST: MAMMY AND SCARLETT O'HARA

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,


This week I'm joining a blogfest hosted by The Armchair Squid. Here's what the Squid asked of participants:

The greatest films stand the test of time, speaking to us in different ways at various life stages.  Is there a movie that was a part of your life when you were younger that you see differently now?  Like fine wine, has it improved with age or did it die in the bottle?  Has maturity brought you new insights you missed in your youth?  We want to know all about it!



Join us for "Then and Now," a bloghop hosted by The Armchair Squid, SuzeNicki Elson and Nancy Mock.  Tell us about a movie you loved when you were younger and have come to see differently over time - for better or for worse. 

Thanks for asking, Squid. I first saw Gone With The Wind when I was in the sixth grade, which was during the Not-Yet-Technofried Age, which means my friend and I had to go to a movie theater in downtown Topeka, Kansas, to see this movie. We didn't have VCRs (gasp!). We didn't have cable TV (imagine sticking your car key in a light socket––yes, it's that shocking!). Gone With The Wind had never even been on TV, but if it had been, I would have seen it on a black-and-white TV with a snowy picture because we were the last people on Earth to get a color TV with a decent picture; that is, I would have seen it if it were on one of the two channels we could pick up. Windy wasn't on TV until I was in high school, and if I recall correctly, it was shown in two parts on two consecutive nights. 

To see Gone With The Wind way back when, one had to wait for it to be shown in a theater, which happened every five years or so. Maybe. I don't know of a definite schedule for when it would appear. I remember my mother and older sisters going to see it in Kansas City several years before I saw it. I was not allowed to go, probably because I was too annoying. But then sixth grade came along and so did Wind, and my mother dumped my best friend and me at the theater to get rid of us for a few hours. It's a long movie.

We watched awestruck as the movie began and Scarlett prepared to attend the barbecue at the Wilkes' plantation.



We sat through the opening, the first part of the movie, the intermission, the rest of the movie, and the closing credits and music. It was amazing! We had never seen such a movie––so beautiful and yet so grotesque with the horribly wounded Confederate soldiers and Melanie giving birth with no one but Scarlett to help her because Prissy the slave was too stupid.

Did we understand that when Frank Kennedy sought help to control the miscreants in Shantytown that he turned to the Ku Klux Klan?

Nope.

Did we understand that when Rhett Butler carried Scarlett up the stairs to their bedroom that he raped her?

Nope.

Did we understand, despite her beauty and suffering, that Scarlett O'Hara was ruthless and vicious?



Nope! Clueless.

We didn't even understand that the slaves weren't happy. We knew that slavery had been a bad thing, but the slaves in Wind loved the O'Hara family so much that some of them stayed on after they were freed. These slaves were happy slaves.

We were so innocent and stupid.

When I watch Wind now, I'm still enthralled by the beauty of the production, but I see it with a more discerning eye.

One sequence in particular stands out to me. Mammy tells Scarlett that she needs to eat before she goes to the barbecue:


Mammy: Oh now, Miss Scarlett, you come on and eat jess a little, honey!
Scarlett: No! I'm going to have a good time today, and do my eating at the barbeque.
Mammy: If you don't care what folks says about dis family I does! I is told ya and told ya that you can always tell a lady by the way she eat in front of folks like a bird. And I ain't aimin' for you to go to Mr. John Wilkenson's and eat like a field hand and gobble like a hog!
Scarlett: Fiddle-dee-dee! Ashley told me he likes to see a girl with a healthy appetite!
Mammy: What gentlemen says and what they thinks is two different things, and I ain't noticed Mr. Ashley askin' for to marry you.
Scarlett: [Turns around slowly to face Mammy then throws her umbrella and stuffs food into her mouth]
Mammy: Now don't eat too fast. Ain't no need for it come right back up again!
Scarlett: [With her mouth full] Why does a girl have to be so silly to catch a husband?

I absolutely did not understand the undercurrents of this sequence the first time I saw it, nor the second, perhaps not even the third. I had to be more mature and an aficionado of films before I saw what Hattie McDaniel (Mammy) really does. Yes, Mammy manipulates Scarlett into eating breakfast by bringing up that Ashley Wilkes has not asked Scarlett to marry him. What I didn't comprehend until more recent years is that Hattie McDaniel reveals what Mammy really thinks of Scarlett. It's in the subtlety of McDaniel's performance. She gives the correct impression for a slave: loving, fussing over young Scarlett. But right before McDaniel says the line about Ashley Wilkes, a shadow passes over her face. It's a brief look of malevolence that speaks volumes. This photo does not capture it, but it's close to the moment:


"The look" reveals that Mammy hates Scarlett. Out and out hates her. She may have brought up this child, she may be dressing her perfectly for the barbecue, but Mammy sees Scarlett for the selfish, foolish creature she really is.

When I was younger, I didn't understand why Hattie McDaniel won the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for Gone With The Wind. Olivia de Havilland was nominated for playing sweet Melanie. Why didn't Olivia de Havilland win?

She didn't win because she didn't deserve it, and Hattie McDaniel did. She became the first African-American to be nominated for an Academy Award, and the first to win.

Even though she couldn't attend the premiere of the film in Atlanta because colored people weren't allowed at such an important occasion.

So it's my opinion of Gone With The Wind that has changed the most over the years. It's a great movie––an epic film––but maturity has brought me greater insight into this movie, and in particular, to Hattie McDaniel's performance. I see Gone With The Wind for better now, because I'm able to see it for worse.

Thank you, Squid Ladies, for setting up this blogfest.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug



Thursday, June 12, 2014

MOVIE WEEKEND: THE WOLF OF WALL STREET

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Today I present for your consideration a movie about which I have mixed emotions. It's The Wolf of Wall Street (2013, Rated R, Available on DVD, Directed by Martin Scorsese).


Drugs. Sex. Money. Corruption. Greed. Depravity. More Drugs. More Sex. More money. The Wolf of Wall Street is based on the true story of a corrupt and crazily successful broker on Wall Street named Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio).

DiCaprio's performance in Wolf is outstanding. Last year I predicted that DiCaprio would win the Best Actor Academy Award for The Great Gatsby, which was not adored by the critics and the public quite to the extent that I loved it. DiCaprio was instead nominated for Wolf, but of course that little gold guy went home with Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club. I felt that MM deserved his award––until I saw Wolf. DiCaprio is so good, so intense, so caught up in his role, that I can't say one of the actors deserved the award over the other.

I must point out, however, that McConaughey has a small role in this movie. His sequence in a restaurant with DiCaprio is hilarious. Some other aspects of Wolf that are supposed to be funny did not have me laughing. I'd say "gawked in amazement" is a better description, or I was bored by the "joke" because it was too obvious.

I have great respect for Martin Scorsese. I have yet to see a movie directed by this man that I didn't think was brilliant. Wolf is brilliant, right down to the strange cuts that are used when characters are high.

Here are my problems:

  • This movie is long. I'm not bothered by 180 minutes of Wolf, but I'm not everybody. Some people will lose interest in the bizarre, frenetic world of the characters.
  • Jonah Hill was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for playing Belfort's partner in crime and business (they're one and the same), Donnie Azoff. I'm not feelin' it with Jonah at the moment. I thought he was a lot better in Moneyball.
  • Margot Robbie, as Naomi Lapaglia, gives a very good performance, while at the same time displaying her prodigious assets. BUT I hate seeing so many women depicted as sex objects. I realize that in Belfort's universe that women were meant to be used in Belfort's best interests––whether he helped a woman become a successful businessperson or snorted coke off her bare butt––but I don't have to like it.
  • This movie verges on what can probably be described as soft-core pornography. I'm no expert on porn, but I felt disgusted by the grotesque behavior of some of the characters. Inaugurating a new glass elevator with a secretary or some assistant giving an executive a blow job while everyone watches? No, thank you. I understand that this movie portrays some real events and that the ugliness is meant to underscore how depraved and drug addled Jordan Belfort is, but I don't like it. How can this movie be rated R when some movies that have far less profanity, drug use, and nudity are rated R? Wolf should be NC-17.

According to the Internet Movie Database, Scorsese gained independent financing for this movie so he wouldn't have to fight with a studio over the more prurient aspects of Wolf, but he had to tone it down to avoid the NC-17 rating. IMDb states:  Leonardo DiCaprio says that he and Martin Scorsese were able to 'push the envelope' with their depiction of over-the-top sexual acts and scenes in "Wolf" and 'make the movie they wanted to' primarily because the production was financed independently, and not by any major studio. Scorsese did however edit some sexual content and nudity to avoid an NC-17 rating at the request of the MPAA.

I still say it should be rated NC-17, and I suspect Scorsese received special consideration from the MPAA because he's Scorsese. Heck, I would probably make coffee for Scorsese if he asked me, and I don't make coffee.

I suspect you've already figured out that this movie is not for children. I wouldn't show it to teenagers, unless they're at least 18 and mature enough to understand that the lifestyle portrayed here is not pretty and exciting.

How do I give Wolf a seal? I'm thinking . . . thinking . . . considering . . . it's brilliant, but I hate misogyny and drugs and greed. Sometimes art transcends my personal dislikes . . . thinking.

Okay. I have it.

The Wolf of Wall Street earns The Janie Junebug Highest Seal of Nastay and the Highest Seal of Approval. Two seals. I don't think I've ever done that before, but I've never seen a movie like Wolf before.

Happy Viewing! Make sure the kids are tucked away and won't be wandering out for a drink of water while you're watching this one.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Monday, June 9, 2014

BULLY FOR YOU: THE MAMA TALKS ABOUT SAVING YOUR SELF

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Welcome to BULLY FOR YOU. Our guest postess today is the ever-popular Sherry Ellis, a.k.a. The Mama, who blogs at Mama Diaries. Sherry claims that she was bullied because she was  a geek. Hard to imagine, isn't it? Sherry is so cool.



Saving Your Self

by
Sherry Ellis


There are three reasons bullies bully. One, they hate themselves. Two, they see you as a threat. Three, they want to be you.

I think most of us have been victims of bullies at one time or another. I know I was. Sixth and
seventh grade were the worst. I was a short, skinny, geeky kid who had crooked teeth and wore glasses – the perfect victim. Being shy and quiet, I didn’t know what to say when the mean kids hurled their insults at me. When I told my mom, she said, “They’re just jealous.”

I looked in the mirror and thought, Jealous of what?  Now that I’m a mom, I can see there’s some truth to what she said. There are lots of things people can be jealous of – not just looks. It might be about your brains, or work ethic, or your personality.

What I tell my kids – especially my daughter who’s now in middle school and experiencing some of this nastiness – is that you should never let anyone change who you are. Look at your strengths and focus on those. Be proud of what makes you special. And remember the reasons people bully.

That said, sometimes knowing this isn’t enough. My husband and I have also tried to give our kids some “comeback lines” for when bullies say nasty things. We’ve also given them self-defense skills through Krav Maga to help them if they ever have a physical encounter with a bully. Hopefully this will never happen, but it’s best to be prepared.

It would be nice if everyone always got along and treated each other with respect. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Bullies are a part of life. So what we have to do is respect ourselves, learn self-defense skills and teach our kids to do the same.

I'm not at all surprised that Sherry's post is straightforward and provides easy-to-follow advice. That's the kind of person she is. I hope you'll leave some love for Sherry in the comments, and consider stopping by her blog. If you don't follow Sherry, then you'll probably want to start. I love my daily dose of the antics in Sherry's house.

And now I have to learn what Krav Maga is. Or maybe you can give us a quick explanation, Sherry. Having self-defense skills seems wise to me.

Thank you, Sherry!


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Friday, June 6, 2014

CONGRATULATIONS, CAROL KILGORE, ON SECRETS OF HONOR

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Our friend Carol Kilgore, who blogs at Under The Tiki Hut, has written a new book called Secrets of Honor.



By the end of a long evening working as a special set of eyes for the presidential security detail,

all Kat Marengo wants is to kick off her shoes and stash two not-really-stolen rings in a secure

spot. Plus, maybe sleep with Dave Krizak. No, make that definitely sleep with Dave Krizak. The

next morning, she wishes her new top priorities were so simple.


As an operative for a covert agency buried in the depths of the Department of Homeland

Security, Kat is asked to participate in a matter of life or death—locate a kidnapped girl

believed to be held in Corpus Christi, Texas. Since the person doing the asking is the wife of the

president and the girl is the daughter of the first lady’s dearest friend, it’s hard to say no.

Kat and Dave quickly learn the real stakes are higher than they or the first lady believed and will

require more than any of them bargained for.


The kicker? They have twenty-four hours to find the girl—or the matter of life or death will

become more than a possibility.

The only problem I see with the book is that the real Carol Kilore is prettier than the woman on the cover of the book. Here's Carol Kilgore, who is always super-duper nice to me.


Here's Carol Kilgore's bio:

Carol writes grocery lists, texts to her family, new lyrics to old songs for her dogs, love notes to

her husband, and novels for herself. And for you. In between, she blogs weekly at Under the

Tiki Hut and is active on Facebook and Twitter.


She sees mystery and subterfuge everywhere. And she’s a sucker for a good love story—

especially ones with humor and mystery. Crime Fiction with a Kiss gives her the latitude to mix

and match throughout the broad mystery and romance genres. Having flexibility makes her

heart happy.



You can connect with Carol and her books here:

Under the Tiki Hut blog

Website with Monthly Contest

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Amazon

Best wishes to you, Carol. Franklin says, Carol Kilgore rocks.



I feel a bit better. I'm especially glad because I'm scheduled for blood work today as part of my physical that I get with my new health insurance. I don't want to miss out on blood work. I hope nothing is wrong with me, but I hope something is wrong with me so maybe I can be repaired. I am strangely exhausted and I experience heat waves (not mere hot flashes) that make me feel feverish.

Sorry I didn't provide you with a MOVIE WEEKEND yesterday. I realize you have no idea what to watch. MOVIE WEEKEND should return next week, but, yes, I admit that being as important as I am can be quite a burden.

BULLY FOR YOU will be here on Monday, thanks to the Mama, Sherry Ellis.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Monday, June 2, 2014

BULLY FOR YOU: TOM (SHADY DEL KNIGHT) MEETS THE WELCOME WAGON

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Our BULLY FOR YOU guest post for today comes from a true gentleman by the name of Tom Anderson, but in the blogosphere he's better known as Shady Del Knight of Shady Dell Music & Memories. Tom's compassion is always evident on his blog and in his comments. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the memories Tom recounts in Welcome Wagon didn't contribute to his empathy for others.
Thank you, Tom Anderson.

WELCOME WAGON

My 5th birthday was approaching when my family moved from a rural area to the suburbs in 1954.  To my delight I soon found a boy my own age in the neighborhood and we became friends.  One day my friend and I decided to explore a nearby park with a stream running through it.  We were following the stream searching for crawdads when I looked up and noticed a group of five older boys advancing toward us.  I soon noticed that the tribe of fierce looking young warriors was armed with what appeared to be foot long sections of rubber garden hose.  The leader of the pack was Ross, a boy who lived a few houses up the road from me. 

I flashed back to the first time I had seen Ross.  He was playing in his front yard one day as I rode past in the car with my father.  Dad beeped the horn and we both waved to Ross.  Remarkably, Ross seemed to regard the friendly gesture of two strangers as a threat.  Instead of reciprocating, he darted behind a bush and peered through the branches until my dad and I were a safe distance up the road.  The incident left me with an uneasy feeling about Ross.

Now, here we were, Ross and I, face to face in the park.  For some reason he had been motivated to organize a Welcome Wagon committee and lead a march to the park to confront me.  Ross told my friend he was free to leave, explaining that the business at hand did not involve him.  My friend promptly ran from the park and vanished over the hill.  Smelling my fear and savoring the power he had over me at that moment, Ross declared that I was trespassing on his territory.  Charged with the crime and found guilty, it was time for me to face the punishment phase of my ordeal.  Ross and his posse surrounded me and began beating me about the arms, legs and torso with their rubber clubs.  The attack seemed to go on forever and my body was soon covered with welts.  Suddenly the assault ended and Ross and his pals scattered.  I looked up the hill to see my older brother and his buddy running to the rescue.  They had been alerted by my friend who had the presence of mind to run to my house and summon help.  The welts healed but that traumatic incident left the inevitable emotional scars. 

Reflecting on the events of that day 60 years later, I believe my list of sins went beyond trespassing on Ross's turf.  I was also guilty of living in a new house that was built on a corner lot at the end of Ross's street, eliminating what had probably been a convenient playground for Ross and his friends when they didn't feel like walking the extra block to the park.  I was also guilty of having a dad who loved me and spent a lot of time playing games and sports with me.  Ross's parents were separated and his father, who lived across town, didn't spend much time with him.

I often wish I could rewind that mental movie and have Ross smile and wave back at me that first day.  It could have been the start of a great friendship rather than a very painful memory.


CLIFTON

A couple of years later Ross and his disciples found a new target, one who didn't have a big brother watching his back.  A boy named Clifton moved into the neighborhood and I befriended him.  Three years older than me, Clifton was stricken with Cerebral Palsy.  He wore thick lens glasses, walked with a severe limp, was mentally retarded, had difficulty pronouncing words and suffered frequent seizures.  During those episodes, which lasted the better part of an hour, Clifton's legs turned to jelly and he collapsed wherever he happened to be - on the ground, on the road or inside someone's home.  If he was fortunate enough to go down in the presence of people who knew who he was and where he lived, they would call his uncle to pick him up and take him home.  If Clifton was alone or among uncaring strangers, he was stranded for the duration.  

Clifton was gregarious, eager to make friends, but he was different and different made people uncomfortable. Most residents of the neighborhood regarded him as a pest and shunned him.  Parents who treated Clifton with apathy set a poor example for their children.  No wonder kids considered it acceptable to pick on him.

Clifton and I were playing at the park one day when Ross and his chums arrived and another ugly scene unfolded.  I was wrestled to the ground and pinned by a larger boy who sat on my chest.  Ross, resembling a boot camp drill sergeant, stood a few inches in front of Clifton mocking him, ridiculing him and calling him names that included cripple, moron and queer of the year.  As Ross delivered his cruel insults, another boy crept behind Clifton and got down on his hands and knees.  When Ross finished reciting his litany he pushed Clifton, causing the handicapped boy to take a nasty tumble over the other boy's back.  Clifton landed in a heap.  His glasses flew off his face and broke.  His clothes were left dirty, wet and grass stained.  The gang members laughed and exited the park.  I ran to Clifton's house, informed his uncle and rode back to the park in his car.  Discovering that Clifton's glasses were broken and his clothing soiled, the uncle scolded and shamed Clifton, as if what had happened was his fault.
Sadly, what transpired in the park that day was not an isolated incident.  Clifton's life has been plagued with similar episodes.  I visited him in jail at Christmas 1983 after a woman had him arrested for peeping in her window.  She incorrectly assumed that people with Cerebral Palsy are perverts with overgrown genitalia and libidos to match.  She got it all wrong.  The truth of the matter is that Clifton, a man with the I.Q. of a child, saw a window and looked through it because that's what windows are for.  He did not know the difference between right and wrong.  He was merely doing what he has spent his life doing - searching high and low for a friend.


Thank you so much for joining us today, Tom. I consider myself blessed to count you among my friends.

I hope you'll all take the time to give Tom some love in comment form, and please consider visiting his blog at Shady Dell Music & Memories.

If you were bullied, do you think it made you kinder and more empathetic?


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug


I