The cat, the pole and the book


Beautiful Betty Ford Alpine Gardens in Vail, CO
This has nothing to do with my blog, I just like the picture.
We visited in August.

First, today’s cat story.

I don’t have a great one this time, although I easily could have if I got a video of Cookie the other day. The cats enjoy a 3-level carpeted tower overlooking the woods. The tower sits in our family room, in immediate view as you enter our home. I never thought I’d have a cat tower in such a visible place, but my desire to see those little fur balls overshadows my desire to impress people with my decorating.

Cookie, like most cats, gets upset if you touch his back paws. He also isn’t always in the mood for pets, but he’s faced with a conundrum when this happens. He doesn’t want to leave his tower but he also wants the harassment to stop. So, he does what any reasonable cat would do. He takes his head and hides it behind the pole, thinking we’ll forget he’s there. I’ve taken a picture of the pole, without Cookie, so you can imagine it. It would have been much better if I had a video of Cookie doing this, but for now this will have to do. Every time I get my phone he stops hiding, knowing potential payments from YouTube are at stake.

towerI know this picture needs to be rotated, but I can’t figure out how to do it in wordpress. This is one of the reasons I am an unpaid writer.

Now, today’s post.

I’ve read many times successful blogs have a focus. You should concentrate on one thing, which in my case could be cats, Disney, book reviews, fibromyalgia, client service, or dead presidents. But, I am all over the place because I accept my blog will never be a big hit. I am never going to have a social media following other than a few faithful friends, and people who marked me as unfollow in Facebook, but didn’t have the heart to unfriend me. I feel okay saying that, since you know they aren’t reading this anyway.

In the spirit of being all over the place, today’s blog is a review of 2 books:

Based on a True Story, possibly by Norm MacDonald
Between Breaths: A Memoir of Panic and Addiction, by ABC’s 20/20 anchor, Elizabeth Vargas.

As usual, I got both at the library and didn’t drop Bailey’s on either this time!

I have always loved Norm MacDonald and thought if I met him in real life, we’d get along. Even if I was single, I don’t think we’d date, because I am not 20 years younger than him. That’s the minimum when you are in Hollywood or a man over 40.

I heard Howard Stern’s interview with Norm about his book*, and couldn’t wait to get a hold of it. What I didn’t know is that everything interesting, was talked about in that interview. Literally, everything. The rest of the book was semi-funny fake stories, that you weren’t sure were fake until you read the entire chapter. And even then, you weren’t always sure. There were several pages written by a supposed ghost rider that I thought were really cool, until the stuff he wrote got even weirder and he killed himself. The character was completely fake, just like many of the other people in the book, making it hard to know what part was memoir and what part was comedy. I don’t even know who wrote the book.  I think it’s sad that Norm, a guy who has been in the business for decades, didn’t feel he had enough life experience to actually write a memoir.

The best chapter in Based on a True Story was Norm’s favorite jokes on Saturday Night Live’s weekend update. But I found one I liked even better on his Wikipedia page. It followed the announcement that Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley were divorcing. “She’s more of a stay-at-home type, and he’s more of a homosexual pedophile”. Oh I know, I’m horrible….

Later Felicia (meaning Norm).


Now to Elizabeth Vargas. First let me say, this bitch looks great for 54! I am not saying she’s 54 in this picture, but she pretty much looks the same today.


I heard a couple years ago that Elizabeth entered rehab for alcoholism for the second time. I was surprised.  She never seemed like someone who would be blacked out on a park bench; but she was. That day, and many others, Elizabeth found herself in the hospital, being treated for alcohol poisoning.

As someone who drinks infrequently, it’s hard for me to understand how someone can be compelled to drink, despite the harm it is causing them and their family. I know in my brain, that alcoholism is an illness, not unlike cancer or heart disease. But, in my heart I found myself getting angry at Elizabeth when she talked about her illness, and the neglect it caused her family. Elizabeth says she was self-medicating a life-long anxiety and panic disorder, which when you hear her life story was understandable. She went through an incredible amount of anxiety each time she went on air, but you’ve never know it watching 20/20 or any of the times she hosted ABC World News Tonight.

Elizabeth’s ex-husband comes out sounding very much like a jerk, which made me curious. What would he say, if given the chance to write his own book? I wondered if he’d look back and think he was wrong to be angry at Elizabeth. That he’d wish he supported her more and brought the kids to visit her in rehab. I also found it annoying how Elizabeth kept mentioning how she was the sole earner, requiring her to be away from her kids continually and to leave rehab before she was ready. Elizabeth’s ex is a Grammy winning songwriter and performer (Marc Cohn). He was on tour for part of the time Elizabeth was battling alcoholism. Therefore, the constant reference to her being the only breadwinner seemed odd. While she probably did have to work the hours she did, traveling internationally, it’s likely this was only to keep her lifestyle, which may have been unnecessary and/or unrealistic. Then again, being a news anchor and walking out of a trailer in Jersey is probably not realistic either.

Of the 2 books, Elizabeth’s was by far the most interesting and well written. It’s a must-read for anyone who seeks to better understand alcoholism and the challenges those battling it face. I am glad I read it and feel that Elizabeth did a great service in writing it. I hope that she likes cats, because that would make me feel really good about recommending her book.

*My husband can’t believe I listen to Stern. He thinks it’s tasteless and crass. Every Time he turns it on, that’s exactly what’s happening on the show. But, I’ve assured him the News with Robin and Stern’s interviews are really good, and that it’s not weird I listen to the show. Truthfully, I can’t stand the wack packers or the phoney phone calls. That’s when I turn on Dr. Laura, another show he can’t stand.












What You Don’t Know about Rose and Rosemary Kennedy

rosemaryKathleen, Rose and Rosemary Kennedy in London before being presented at court.
May 1938. CreditKeystone/Getty Images

I have become a Kennedy historian in recent years. I’ve read dozens of books about the family and was excited beyond measure when my local library had Rosemary-The Hidden Kennedy Daughter on the shelf. It was among People Magazine’s recommended books recently, but because it was new I couldn’t request it. Yet, there it was. Begging me to check it out, along with Remembering Amy, written by Amy Winehouse’s mother. Although I enjoyed both books, Rosemary was my favorite.  I’ve always wondered about her story, but only knew pieces of it.

Rose Kennedy’s first daughter, Rosemary, was born in 1918. Her birth was preceded by Joe Kennedy, Sr., who died in WW2 during a volunteer high risk mission. John F. Kennedy was Rose’s second child. He went on to become a war hero, Pulitzer Prize winning author, and the 35th President of the United States. But before either boy exited toddler-hood, along came Rosemary. Like her brothers, Rosemary was born at home but this time, her birth was delayed purposefully. The obstetrics nurse caring for Rose used her hand, to keep Rosemary’s head inside Rose’s birth canal. The theory being she delayed Rosemary’s birth so the doctor could charge his customary fee, $2353 in today’s dollars. Unfortunately, the doctor didn’t arrive for 2 hours, he was detained treating Spanish Flu patients. My own great-grandfather (August) died from that flu when he was 27 years old. Unlike other flues, this one favored killing those in the prime of their life. It is believed that about 1/3 of the world contracted the flu from 1918-1919 and that up to 50 million people died of the disease; more people than died during WW1.

No one knew then and for many decades later, that the nurse’s actions likely caused a lack of oxygen and Rosemary’s subsequent “dullness”. She was fine at first, but over the next few months and years, Rose couldn’t help but notice how her sons achieved developmental milestones much earlier. When Rosemary’s sister was born 2 years later, Kathleen “Kick”, it became painfully obvious that something was wrong with Rosemary. Rose and her husband Joe employed the best tutors and physical therapists in an effort to help her catch up. Rosemary was a pleasant and obedient child during those early years and was quite close to her siblings. But, her limitations were an embarrassment to her parents, particularly given their family goal of achieving high political office. It was a different time. One where learning disabilities and low IQ were seen as the fault of the parents. People with these challenges were seen as flawed in some way, responsible at least in part for their fate. As described by Author Kate Clifford Larson:

“The intellectually and physically disabled were another category of defectives. Eugenics scientists and their followers believed that these individuals were also the products of inherited bad genes and should be treated much the same way as the mentally ill, criminals, and the chronically poor. Forced sterilization, they argued, was society’s cure. Some believed that spending money on insane asylums, poorhouses and other charitable and social institutions and programs serving the mentally ill and disabled only encouraged propagation of bad seeds. The parents of defectives carried these bad genes-an idea that placed the blame and shame squarely on families. Some of the most prominent industrialists, scientists, and political leaders of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, including President Teddy Roosevelt, supported these views.”

That’s right. The President of the United States thought if you didn’t spend money on the treatment and housing of the mentally ill and disabled, they’d die off and we’d suddenly be free of more people like them. It’s sort of like Naked and Afraid, without the camera crew and extraction point.

It’s amazing how evolved our view has become since Rosemary’s time. Well, I am assuming you aren’t a Trump supporter when I say that, LOL. It was because of this view and Rosemary’s increasing frustration and outbursts that Joe Kennedy Sr. searched in earnest for a cure. It was his desperate desire to “fix” the problem that led Joe to believing doctors when they suggested supplements and hormones could reverse Rosemary’s “condition”.  When this unsurprisingly did not work, Joe turned to a new treatment that eventually earned a 1949 Noble Prize in Medicine. That treatment?

A lobotomy.

Yeah, cutting people’s brains led to a Noble Prize. Later, it was determined that the research shared by Antonio Caetano Abreau Freire Egas Moniz (all one guy’s name) was questionable. Since Rosemary was treated, a variety of medications have been introduced, stabilizing many of the mentally ill. Society’s views of mental disabilities such as “dullness” has also changed, but lobotomies still exist. The procedure is now used for difficult epilepsy cases on a controlled basis. There’s a great article about the history of lobotomy and its present day use here:

Although Rose claims she had no idea for years that Rosemary had this procedure, it is doubtful she didn’t at least know it was a possibility. Rose frequently sent her children off to boarding school and Joe Sr. merely stated that Rose was at a new location in Wisconsin. However, Rose knew Joe was researching the procedure and asked her daughter, Kick, to investigate it. Kick reported it was not for Rosemary but when Rose was out of the country, Joe Sr. had it done anyway. It was an instant disaster. Rosemary could no longer talk or care for herself. Whereas before Rosemary was able to read and write, albeit at an elementary level, she was now a shell of a person. Thanks to many years of care and therapy in Wisconsin, Rose achieved the ability to communicate rudimentarily and walk with assistance. However, this was due to the love and care of the nuns who treated Rosemary like family. Rose offered no such support. In fact, she didn’t visit Rosemary for over 20 years! Joe visited her at first, but abruptly stopped his visits in 1948, 13 years before his devastating stroke. Outside the family, it was said Rosemary took a teaching position in the mid-west and wanted her privacy. Even her siblings didn’t know the truth for many years.

Which brings me to a fact most people don’t know about Rose. She’s a bitch. Most people think she selflessly cared for her 9 children while her husband cavorted through the country with beautiful women. In truth, Rose had servants that did most of the household duties and child care. Rose was there emotionally supporting the kids, which in her mind meant weighing them constantly, putting them at diet tables, and pushing them academically and athletically. Poor Rosemary was under so much pressure to preform like a Kennedy, she likely felt immense failure. Her parents accompanied her to many social events with the expectation no one must know she’s not like her sisters. It is theorized that these expectations and the continual educational goals, led to Rosemary’s outburst in her early 20’s and her eventual lobotomy.

Speaking of emotional support, it was hard for Rose to give it because she’d travel to Europe for months at a time. Her son, JFK, even wrote her once saying what a fine mother she was leaving for such a long time (sarcasm intended). Simply put, Rose was far from mother of the year. And while Joe Sr. did have quite a few girlfriends, including Gloria Swanson, Greta Garbo and Marion Davies, Rose didn’t make it easy. Rose believed in sexual relations only for the purpose of procreating. So when her last son, Teddy, was born she said “no more sex” and Joe said to himself “I’ll call Gloria”. The point being that although Joe Sr. was a womanizer, Rose may not have minded his diversions.

The Kennedys sent their children to boarding skill by middle school age, but in Teddy’s situation it was around third grade. The Kennedy’s enjoyed spending November-May in their Palm Beach, FL home. This didn’t coincide well with Teddy’s school schedule, so off he went. I can’t imagine sending Josh to boarding school, let alone an 8 year old kid! Like her siblings, Rosemary spent much of her childhood away from the family. Rose had a bad habit of not telling the nuns how bad Rosemary really was. At one point she convinced 2 owners of a summer camp to tell Rosemary she was a Jr. Camp Counselor but offered to pay her tuition, considering her disabilities. Rose purposely downplayed Rosemary’s issues and the level of oversight she required. Rose did this a lot and as a result, Rosemary had to move schools and camps frequently, each transition being extremely difficult. The camp owners (sisters) telegrammed Rose within a couple weeks of Rosemary’s arrival, explaining how difficult things had been.  They asked that Rose pick-up Rosemary immediately. In true Rose fashion, she refused, and later questioned the bill she received, which was the same as agreed upon earlier. Rose did offer to have Rosemary’s godparents pick her-up, but only in New York, a full day’s trip away. Both owners always stayed at the camp when it was in session, but they were left with no choice other than accompanying Rosemary to NY.

When Rose finally went to Wisconsin, she was upset and surprised that Rosemary didn’t welcome her lovingly. This is the same woman who abandoned her daughter for decades and she was surprised she didn’t get a bear hug? Rose spent no time bitching out the nuns for Rosemary not wearing a size 4. Remember, she weighed her kids regularly, and thought nothing of placing them on diets. Poor Teddy was on a diet probably his entire childhood! I guess he found where the Oreo’s were hidden or there was a kind servant. I bet Rose gave them terrible raises each year.

If you find this story interesting, you will love Rosemary-the Hidden Kennedy Daughter. It was a great history lesson, teaching me more about society’s view on the mentally challenged than anything I’ve read before. I also recommend you read Doris Kearns Goodwin’s the Fitzgerald’s and the Kennedy’s, ideally before Rosemary.  It gives you a great backdrop for understanding Rosemary and provides an in-depth look at Joe Sr, Joe Jr, JFK and Kick’s life.

Speaking of Kick, Rose refused to acknowledge her  after she had the nerve to marry a Protestant! Reading how horrified Rose was about Kick’s choice, despite his nobility and kind nature, really cemented my option of Rose. Sadly, Kick’s husband died as a war hero soon after their marriage. Rose never met him and no one in the family attended his funeral. Kick later became engaged to a divorced Protestant man, which Rose is probably turning in her grave over still to this day. Joe Sr. was eventually convinced to meet Kick and her boyfriend in Paris. But a few days before, the pair decided to vacation in Cannes and on their way, their plane crashed in a severe storm. Kathleen died at 28 years old. Only her brother, Joe Jr., attended her funeral in England because, gasp, Kathleen had the nerve to love someone who wasn’t Catholic. Can you imagine if she brought home a black or Jewish man? Rose would have had a heart attack right then and there. As it was, she didn’t die until 1995 at the age of 105. Proof that only the good die young… okay, maybe I am a bit dramatic, but you have to admit. She wasn’t the best mother.

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The One Show I Couldn’t Live Without: Beverly Hills 90210

90210*This blog is dedicated (to the still alive) Rob R. in Chesterfield, MO. Of course, as high as his pulse rate gets on the treadmill, I should probably place a call to make sure.* 

Beverly Hills 90210, brought to you by Northville Mom 

Last night I had the pleasure of reliving my youth as I watched Lifetime’s “unauthorized” movie about Beverly Hills 90210. Although I was snapped back into reality when my daughter asked, “Who is Kelly Taylor”, I couldn’t help but realize how much I missed the show.  It took me through my years as a student, living with my parents in St. Louis to married life and a newborn baby in Michigan.

I easily found the pilot episode on HULU and watched it today. It didn’t take long for me to identify my favorite quote, spoken by 26 year old High School Student Steve “Sharknado” Sanders.

Steve: You got a nose job!
Kelly: Yeah, I did.
Steve: It looks…looks good.
Kelly: Big improvement, huh?
Steve: Well yeah, they took about a foot off.
Kelly: Now I know why I broke up with you.

When watching the Lie Detector Q&A that followed the movie, I learned that the actors selected their own wardrobe; particularly once the show became a hit. In the pilot episode, Jennie wore 2 pairs of shorts at the same time (see below), accenting her look with an orange t-shirt and aqua socks. Let’s just hope Jennie felt she couldn’t say anything since it was the first episode! I can’t remember anyone wearing this look, but Parkway Central was not exactly Beverly Hills High.


If you missed the Q&A portion of the evening, I will give you one guess who was the one actor that participated. Only one person is desperate enough to do that; the one and only Tori Spelling. I kept looking for her Benihana burns, which are horrific, but the camera did not show her arm.

As usual, I couldn’t help but get the impression Tori is desperate for money, fame or both. I will give her credit though, she still fits easily into her old wardrobe from the set. If I tried to wear my clothes from 1990, I’d need the Jaws of Life to unzip myself! 

The best part of the night was when Tori was asked if she really sold Jason Priestley’s wedding invitation at her yard sale for $5. She said no, but the lie detector said otherwise. I read about the other big revelation before the show aired, which was that Tori and Jason had a summer fling and were “intimate”. I don’t mean they shared a good book and coffee at Starbucks either. Jason responded on social media saying that, “I’m not getting into this…it’s nobody’s business…Either way.” I have a feeling he wishes he could forget it happened.

Speaking of really cute guys, at least in the 90’s, I also learned that Luke Perry was cast after the original pilot was shot. After it was agreed the pilot was “missing something”, Aaron Spelling wisely suggested they add a “bad boy” figure. At the time, Luke was just promoted to a supervisor role in the construction business. He swore 90210 would be the last audition he’d go on. He already auditioned once before, for Steve Sanders’ role.

In the words of Dylan McKay, “I just don’t believe in winning through intimidation, unless, of course, I’m doing the intimidating.

If you are a 90210 fan and haven’t seen the movie on lifetime, I recommend it. The actors were strikingly like the real stars, other than the girl who played Donna Martin. Let’s just say the actress they used was a little more attractive. The girl who played Kelly was dead-on, she even talked like her. It was worth seeing the movie for that alone.

Still dying for more 90210? Check out Jennie Garth’s acting debut on Growing Pains at age 17. It was the only time she was on TV before Beverly Hills 90210.


WTF- really?

Jared from Subway may be into child porn?

I was just talking about his cameo in Sharknado 2.

Update: After reviewing TMZ I think this may have to do with an associate who was previously been arrested for child porn. Let’s hope anyway. After my children’s pediatrician was sentenced to 10 years for being a pedophile, I believe anything is possible.