Thursday, December 18, 2014

Cosmo book by Spencer Gordon



Nov. 11 Cosmo book by Spencer Gordon: On the back of  the National Post article called “Self-publishers can’t afford humility” by Melissa Leong on Dec. 15, 2012, there was a book review.  It’s called “Gone Pop, like the World” by Natalie Zina Wahschots.  She reviews the book Cosmo by Spencer Gordon.  It’s a very strong article.  Here’s the whole article:

We are drenched in pop culture. We exude it from our pores, the unctuous and faintly sparkly residue of a life spent constantly plugged into the cultural milieu around us. Our relationships to television shows become love stories, the books we read provide supporting characters in our lives, the bands we listen to are as crucial to the structure of our days as the score of a summer blockbuster. Pop culture saturates us, but it is notoriously difficult to write about. The nuances of obsession and fandom, the precise and constantly evolving language of pop-cultural references is slippery, ever-evolving and difficult to manage. Most writers shy away from direct cultural references in their works, ostensibly to avoid creating an instantly dated text and alienating a potential audience outside the scope of those references, but also because writing around our relationship to the media we consume is frankly really hard. The Canadian landscape, the structure of memory, the geography of the body — those CanLit tropes are static, familiar and often relatively easy, smooth and navigable as opposed to the white-noise fizz and popping technobabble of pop culture.

With Cosmo, his debut collection of short fiction, Spencer Gordon prefers to dive headfirst into the roiling mass of the contemporary cultural moment, insisting the loud, bright water is fine. In a recent interview, Gordon stated that while he does not consider his engagement with pop culture to be a pervasive theme in his text, he does strive to “bring pop culture up to the level of other pervasive daily experiences, like using forks and spoons,” to make cultural references ordinary, and to stand against the notion that such references are somehow gauche. According to Gordon, “pop culture is culture, and ignoring it means we are deliberately distorting reality in service to a middle-class idea of what ‘proper’ literature should depict.”

Cosmo engages with pop culture in a paradoxical way; at once, the references feel perfectly natural, none overstated or artificially highlighted. The references, all of which are sharp and funny, are interwoven deftly, never heavy-handedly. Nevertheless, they stand out for their very presence, defiant simply by existing. Whether or not it was intended to be a central theme of the text, when Cosmo details Matthew McConaughey driving out into the desert on a personal journey of discovery, or explores the depth of the relationship between a young fan and professional wrestling, it cannot avoid making a statement. The relationships that the characters in Cosmo have with the culture that surrounds them are just as real, just as complex and potent, as the relationships they have with each other.

While this engagement with popular culture stands out as Cosmo’s most immediately defining characteristic, what the book reveals more slowly is the dexterity of the prose and the deep emotional authenticity of the narratives. The characters in Cosmo wear their wounds openly, defined by the damage the world does to everyone by the simple horror of living. Each character is defined by their isolation in some way, and the desire to reach out; the narratives themselves often unfold as these efforts to make connections either succeed or fail. This is especially interesting in the context of fame Gordon continually explores throughout the text. Public identity, the politics of fame and fandom come up as themes in the stories again and again, both as a way for characters to attempt to connect with each other and a lens through which Cosmo continually explores the specifics of loneliness.

It succeeds not only as a well-wrought and keenly written collection of narratives, but also as a work of analysis.

In weaving fame and popular culture into Cosmo, Spencer Gordon smudges the boundaries between fiction and non-fiction, smearing real-world cultural references and famous figures, from Leonard Cohen to Miley Cyrus, all over the structure of his narratives. The stories engage with the ways in which the characters grapple with their own loneliness, forge and fail relationships, and also define their own relevance to the world, all within a larger cultural context. This makes Cosmo not only a collection of fiction but also a work of cultural criticism. It succeeds not only as a well-wrought and keenly written collection of narratives, but also as a work of analysis. The ways in which Gordon breaks down the barriers between music writing and fiction in particular (such as in the story “Transcript: Appeal Of The Sentence” which takes the form of a single, run-on sentence in which the speaker defends their love of pop star Miley Cyrus) is extremely exciting.

Perhaps the most defining moment is Cosmo comes in the very last story, “Lonely Planet,” wherein an aging porn star dons a dinosaur costume in a desperate bid to remain in the limelight. The story is notable for how well it navigates the fine lines between hilarity and desperation, the ridiculousness of the moment juxtaposed again the terrifying ache of impending irrelevance. Cosmo is a rare book in that it is brave enough to explore the ways in which being loved in private has a very real counterpoint in public, in the form of fame, public identity and cultural cache. In doing so, Gordon dissects the very idea of the authentic in an increasingly public world in which the self is ever more constructed.

My opinion: What stood out to me was in the beginning about how writers don’t write pop-cultural references because it will be instantly dated.  That’s why I don’t write pop culture in my scripts.  However, there was a time way back in 2009, the Edmonton Public Writer in Residence Chris Craddock pointed out that in my Rain script there were TV and movies references that were either real or fake.

What also stood out to me was this line: “The story is notable for how well it navigates the fine lines between hilarity and desperation.”  That reminds me of Dateline: To Catch a Predator where a 35 yr old guy was going to date a 12 yr old girl.  There were all these Youtube comments that some said it was sad and others said how it was ridiculous. 

Gul Rahman froze to death in CIA captivity: Take action

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Torture is a crime. 
Demand Justice.
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TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images
The recent release of the Senate report on CIA torture and enforced disappearances shed light on grave human rights abuses — including the use of sleep deprivation, forced standing with broken limbs and rectal feeding and rehydration in the absence of medical necessity on detainees.

Attorney General Eric Holder has refused to reopen investigations into torture, despite this damning report.

Demand that Attorney General Eric Holder take action to bring those responsible to justice.
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Dear Tracy,

Eleven years ago, Gul Rahman was a detainee held captive by the CIA. He was chained, nearly naked, to a concrete floor for an extended period of time. He froze to death.

After Rahman died, no officer on-site, nor at the CIA, was disciplined in any way. Instead, the CIA officer in charge of the detention site was recommended to receive a cash bonus for "consistently superior work."

Torture is a crime and those responsible must be brought to justice. Tell Attorney General Eric Holder to act.

As we spent the week digesting the summary of the Senate report on CIA detention and interrogation — which details Rahman's death, as well as abuses such as the use of sleep deprivation, forced standing with broken limbs and rectal feeding and rehydration in the absence of medical necessity on detainees — former Vice President Dick Cheney told the nation:

"I would do it again in a minute."

The report's release made clear that the U.S. government used torture in what was not a rogue operation, but a systematic operation. Now, make it clear to Cheney that torture can never be justified.

Early in the Bush administration, politically appointed lawyers at the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel gave a green light for CIA agents to use techniques during interrogations that amount to torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

Under Attorney General Eric Holder, the Justice Department refused to investigate anyone who "who acted in good faith and within the scope of the legal guidance given" — even though that "legal guidance" was plainly intended to provide a cover for torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

Holder must re-open the investigation into these crimes and, where sufficient evidence is available, pursue prosecution of individuals involved.

No one can render these crimes lawful — no lawyer, no president, no doctor and no interrogator.

Let's remind them of that.

In solidarity,

Naureen Shah
Director of Security with Human Rights
Amnesty International USA

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Demand an end to El Salvador's abortion ban

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In El Salvador, it doesn't matter if a woman is pregnant as a result of rape or whether the pregnancy is a risk to the mother's life. Abortion is banned in all cases.

Miscarriages can result in up to 50 years imprisonment for "homicide" or "aggravated homicide."

Maria Teresa Rivera was sentenced to 40 years in prison after she had a miscarriage.

Tell Salvadoran authorities to end the abortion ban now.
Take Action!

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Dear Tracy,

Three years ago, Maria Teresa Rivera was a 28-year-old mother working in a garment factory in El Salvador. She was unaware that she was pregnant with another child, until her mother-in-law found her bleeding on the floor after she had gone to use the bathroom.

Maria Teresa was rushed to the hospital, where a staff member reported her to the local police. The staff suspected Maria had deliberately ended her pregnancy.

She was charged with aggravated homicide and sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Urge Salvadoran authorities to end the total abortion ban.

In El Salvador, it doesn't matter if a woman is pregnant as a result of rape, or whether the pregnancy is a risk to the mother's life or health. Abortion is banned in all cases.

Miscarriages can result in up to 50 years imprisonment for "homicide" or "aggravated homicide".

The combination of difficulty accessing contraception, high levels of violence  including rape  against women, and a lack of comprehensive sexuality education has resulted in El Salvador has the highest teen pregnancy rate in Latin America.

Devastatingly, suicide accounts for 57 percent of the deaths of pregnant females aged 10 to 19 — but this number is thought to be much higher when taking into account many unreported cases.

The degree of pain and suffering caused by El Salvador's abortion ban is so severe that it constitutes torture.

Tell the Salvadoran government enough is enough: stand up for the women and girls of El Salvador.

In solidarity,

Jasmine Heiss
Senior Campaigner
Amnesty International USA

I need your help

You helped re-unite me with my loved ones. Please donate today and help us re-unite other families.


You helped reunite me with my loved ones.Please donate today and help us reunite other families.
 
Dear Tracy,

We all want something special to celebrate this holiday season. Together, you and thousands of Amnesty International supporters helped bring me home last year from Egypt, where I had been detained for two months without cause, along with colleague Dr. Tarek Loubani, while we were on a humanitarian mission to Gaza.

There were days when I wondered when we would be released, but knowing Amnesty International supporters like you were fighting for our release gave us hope.

Sadly, the truth is that there are many who are imprisoned unjustly around the world, facing torture and abuse on a daily basis. You can help change this by making a donation to Amnesty today and give hope to others
Please watch this special video message about the unjustified prison experiences of Canadians including myself, Marina Nemat and Abdullah Almalki, who were both tortured and know how truly dehumanizing the experience can be.

Now we need your help so that Amnesty International can keep working next year to free other wrongfully imprisoned men and women around the world, and help make sure that we end torture everywhere and forever. 
 

Tracy, please donate this holiday season so that Amnesty Canada can do more to campaign on behalf of others still imprisoned around the world and reunite them with family and loved ones. 

Together, Amnesty supporters like you campaigned to get me released and brought home to my country and my family. You made it work!

But there’s still so much to be done and so many more still separated from their families.

Together, we have to keep trying, because being away from family and loved ones during the holidays is the worst thing we can imagine.

With a gift today, you can help us keep trying to reunite families. Let’s do this together. In the spirit of the holiday season, please donate to Amnesty International Canada today

All the best,

John Greyson

P.S. Being away from family and loved ones is always hard. Imagine the helplessness of being tortured and held indefinitely when you have nothing to confess. This is the reality of Huseyin Celil who has been held in China for more than seven years on spurious charges following a blatantly unfair trial and appeal. And all while his wife, Kamila, and their four children wait for his return in Hamilton, Ontario. I know you’ll make a real difference to Huseyin, his family and others who need our help this holiday season. Please donate today.

The Shape- Shifters (about ghost-writing)



Nov. 5 The Shape- Shifters: I cut out this National Post article called “The Shape- Shifters” by Mark Medley on Mar. 12, 2011.  It’s about ghost-writing and the picture was really captivating.  It’s a man typing on a laptop, and this ghostly woman figure is floating behind him.  You can click on the link below and see the picture.  Here’s the whole article:

This is the 12th installment in our series The Ecology of Books, examining the complex interrelationships that comprise Canada’s publishing industry — from small-press proprietors to the country’s biggest houses, from booksellers to book bloggers to book reviewers. Today, Mark Medley communes with ghostwriters.

Keith Hollihan wrote 15 books over the course of a dozen years before finally publishing one with only his name on the cover. He wrote about history, finance and the environment. He explored subjects ranging from sports network ESPN to real estate giant RE/MAX. One of his books was even featured on The Daily Show, though Hollihan watched the segment on TV like everyone else while the author traded jokes with Jon Stewart. Search his name on Amazon and you’ll get a few hits in return, including his recently released debut novel The Four Stages of Cruelty. Yet these books represent a fraction of his total output.
“When I say I ghostwrite, and I explain what that means,” Hollihan says, “people just seem to be really surprised that the name on the book is not always the name of the person who wrote it.”

Ghostwriters are the imposters of the publishing industry; they’ll adopt a different identity depending on the situation — an actress one instant, an athlete the next. They make their living by transforming into different people, and are rewarded very handsomely for their work. “I’ve been described in various ways,” says John Lawrence Reynolds. “Most commonly as a mercenary writer.”

Reynolds might just be Canada’s most successful ghostwriter. He’s worked with Brian Tobin, former premier of Newfoundland and Labrador (All In Good Time); Buzz Hargrove, former head of the Canadian Autoworkers (Laying It On The Line); Robert Milton, president and CEO of Air Canada (Straight From The Top); Frank Odea, co-founder of Second Cup (When All You Have Is Hope); and Robert Herjavec, of CBC’s Dragon’s Den (Driven).

“My name may not be on the cover,” he says, “but it’s always on the cheque.”

Indeed, ghostwriting can be much more lucrative than publishing under one’s own name. Reynolds, who lives in Burlington, Ont., has published six books of his own but doesn’t hide the fact that ghostwriting pays the bills. “I think it’s safe to say that 20% of the writers make 80% of the money,” he says. “And I wanted to be in that 20%. You can take a longshot and hope that you break with fiction — √† la Margaret Atwood, I suppose — or you look for a more commercial way to do it.”

Another “ghost” said “if you’re not making at least $50,000 on a book, it’s not worth it.”
This can partly be attributed to the fact that many of those who hire ghostwriters come from the business community. “At some level, it’s a calling card, and it’s a loss leader, so they’re a little more amenable to the financial side of the whole thing,” says Hollihan, a Canadian writer who now lives in St. Paul, Minn. As well, those successful enough to warrant a book likely don’t have the time to spend a year writing it. “Writing is a full-time job unto itself — it’s more than a full-time job. How do you then do that and run a company [or] speak at 100 different places a year? I just don’t think it’s possible. So I kind of assume that anybody who’s got a public career is pretty much using the services of somebody out there.”

There’s no textbook way to become a “ghost.” Some are constantly on the hunt for new clients, researching and then approaching potential subjects and selling them on the idea of a book — the legacy argument. Others, like Reynolds and Hollihan, have established themselves to the point where subjects approach them. Sometimes, the publisher will sign a subject to a book deal before finding a suitable ghostwriter. “It’s not an easy place to get a start, because we tend to go back to the same people over and over again,” says Jim Gifford, HarperCollins Canada’s editorial director for non-
fiction,
who’s worked on books such as the late hockey enforcer Bob Probert’s Tough Guy and Rick Hillier’s A Solider First, which was ghostwritten by former National Post reporter Chris Wattie. According to literary agent Hilary McMahon, “Once you get a good reputation as a ghostwriter, then publishers come to you.”

For Toronto writer Christopher Shulgan, who has published two well-received books under his own name, it was an out-of-the-blue call from a man looking for a ghostwriter that kickstarted his new career; Shulgan had been recommended by literary agent Beverley Slopen (who isn’t even his agent). A National Magazine Award-winning journalist, Shulgan approached the job no differently than if he was writing a (long) magazine profile; he met with the subject of the book — who wishes to remain anonymous — at least once a week for five months, and interviewed people from every phase of the subject’s life. 

“There are stories in there he didn’t even remember,” Shulgan says. It’s not simply a matter of transcribing interviews; the ghostwriter, in some respects, becomes their doppelg√§nger.
“For me, a ghostwriter is someone who gets along extremely well with the person they’re writing about,” Gifford says. “Who gains their trust, who knows what to put in the book — along with what not to include in the book.”

Working so closely with a subject for an extended period of time means a ghostwriter must be sure before agreeing to write the book. “I’ve turned down at least as many ghostwriting projects as I’ve accepted,” Reynolds says. If the chemistry isn’t there, or if he can’t envision spending a year of his life with the subject, he won’t do it. And though he’s never left a project once he’s signed on — “Once you’ve volunteered for the army you don’t leave when the guns start going” — he includes a clause in every contract that allows him to remove his name from the project, just in case.

Shulgan has no such qualms about the subject of the book, and enjoyed the experience so much that he’s signed up to ghost another; it doesn’t hurt that the money will allow him to escape Toronto for a couple of months this summer to finish work on a long-simmering novel. And while Shulgan was more than willing to discuss his experience, not everyone is so keen to associate themselves with the trade. “There is a perception that you’re supposed to be embarrassed that you’re doing it,” he says.

“I can’t give you any specific names, but I’ve worked with major novelists,” Gifford says. “Some people are known as very literary writers, and they just want to maintain that image.”

Yet it isn’t as secretive as one might expect. None of the writers interviewed for this story say they’ve had to sign confidentiality agreements, though there is an implicit understanding that a ghostwriter will keep quiet. It is, after all, not their book. “You’re still a storyteller, but it’s not your voice and it’s not your story,” Reynolds says. “And if you can’t accept that, you’re the wrong person for this racket.”

It’s not the ghostwriter’s voice, and it’s not the ghostwriter’s story, but they are the ghostwriter’s words. Thus, when Hollihan tells people his line of work, the reaction is decidedly negative. There’s something “sacred” about a book, he says, and the existence of a ghostwriter is an affront to the idea of authenticity — this notion that the name on the cover should be that of the person who wrote the words inside.

“I think everyone knows that Sarah Palin probably couldn’t write her way out of a baggie — of course everyone knows she uses a ghost,” says Allan Gould, a Toronto ghostwriter and author of close to 40 books. “Certainly if J.K. Rowling had someone write her stuff for her, we’d say ‘Hold on.’ But in the case of non-fiction — I mean, I can see it as an ethical question, but it doesn’t have to be. Anyone’s who literate enough to shell out $29.95 or $36.95 for a hardcover knows damn well that the person who runs this billion-dollar company is probably too bloody busy to write it himself.”

Books are held to a higher standard, it seems. Damien Hirst doesn’t paint all his paintings — the concept might be his, but he has a team to pull them off. Singers routinely record songs they did not write — “What’s an Elvis song?” wonders Hollihan — and several ghostwriters trotted out the example of politicians delivering speeches they didn’t write.

“Aren’t we all savvy enough to realize Andre Agassi didn’t write his book?” Shulgan asks. And perhaps we aren’t giving enough credit to readers, who surely know Snooki didn’t type every word of A Shore Thing — though in Canada most ghostwriting is confined to non-fiction. In any case, “I actually think a lot of what I did was not writing, but was almost editing.” His subject was a great storyteller; Shulgan just shaped the stories. “What’s inauthentic about that? These are stories that happened to this guy. He has and had ultimate control over what appears on the page. On some level, I’m the cameraman and he’s the director.”

In any case, the subject always has final approval. That doesn’t necessarily mean they read the book. The “authors” of one of the first books Reynolds ever ghostwrote once appeared on CBC for an in-depth interview not long after their book was published. When the host asked them a question about a specific chapter, they froze. “The two supposed authors looked at each other,” Reynolds laughs, “and I said to my wife ‘They haven’t read the book. They haven’t read their own book!’ ”

Still, despite a seemingly inexhaustible supply of people — and organizations — who want to tell their story, and require a professional writer to do so, literary agent Linda McKnight cautions her authors against ghostwriting. “People write because they want to write, and usually they have something else that’s intriguing to them, that’s exciting to them, that just gets them going. And it’s not ghostwriting.”
“There comes a point in every ghostwriting project, and I would surmise, in every ghostwriter’s life, when he or she says ‘OK, I’m getting tired of writing this person’s story, I’ve got to start writing my own,’ ” says Reynolds, who will publish a novel in 2012 called Beach Strip.
His name will be on the cover.

http://arts.nationalpost.com/2011/03/11/the-shape-shifters-canadian-writers-on-ghostwriting/

My opinion: It was an interesting article about something that not a lot of people talk about.  I’m sure we were all skeptical with celebrities writing books.  Amy Poehler from Saturday Night Live and Parks and Recreation released her memoir Yes, Please.  I read an excerpt in the Globe and Mail.

It was an average story about her taking her 2 sons to look at the moon.  Now, she I believe wrote her book.

I would like to see my name on the cover of a book, or in an article.  I do have my name on my blogs.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Thank you for taking action for Raif Badawi

Dear Tracy,

Thank you for demanding justice for Raif Badawi.

Now, I’m asking you to take the next step. Deepen your impact by joining the Write for Rights campaign and writing a letter to help change Raif Badawi’s life and the lives of other Prisoners of Conscience like him.

When you write, you will be joining activists like John Legend and thousands of others across the globe as part of Write for Rights - the largest grassroots human rights event in the world.




Every year, in advance of Human Rights Day on December 10, Amnesty International identifies cases where global activism can have a huge impact - right now. Activists sign up to organize and join events or write letters on their own on behalf of the ten cases identified.

Raif Badawi is one of ten individuals highlighted during this year’s campaign.

Stand in solidarity with Raif and his family. Sign up to write a letter to Raif's wife, Ensaf, to let her know that Raif is not forgotten. Ensaf will share the letters with their three children and know that you are standing with her as she continues to work for her husband’s freedom.

Petitions, letters and notes of solidarity are already arriving at government offices, in prison cells and to families all over the world.

We’ve made letter writing easy for you: Sign up to tell us you’re writing, and on our site, you’ll find a letter template to the Saudi authorities that you can easily download, print and put in the mail. You will also find Ensaf’s address, a sample tweet in support of Raif, and a suggested message of solidarity.

After you’ve written, you can sign up to participate in a letter-writing event to help change more lives.

We know your time is limited, and we appreciate your efforts for speaking out on behalf of human rights that much more. Believe us when we say that together we are making a difference.

In solidarity,

Jasmine Heiss
Senior Campaigner
Amnesty International USA

Adam West/ Hero Races Into Burning Building to Save Stranger



Nov. 16 Adam West: I was reading in the Edmonton Journal on Nov. 14, 2014 about Batman TV actor Adam West.  It was about the 1960s TV show is going into high- resolution dvds.  I watched some of that TV show when I was a kid.  I didn’t really like it because I don’t like watching old TV shows and movies.  It seemed so dated.

When I read the article, I learned a lot about West.  He jokes around and has a light sense of humor.  Here are some excerpts:

“I’m a happy man about it, because I can make others happy. I know that sounds a little corny, but I get a great pleasure delivering the laughs,” West told Comic Riffs. “And when I go out and I do the Comic-Cons and these [other] shows and I see the reaction, the things that people say, and how they react, is just wonderful.

“But you have to do that on a business level as well, because, if you don’t stimulate or service your fans, your career maybe lasts 10 minutes,” continued West, who has better known to many younger viewers as mayor of Quahog on Seth McFarlane’s “Family Guy.”

So what does West think of the Batmen who have come after him?

“I can’t think about about it. I get too upset and jealous and envious. I can’t even sleep,” the deadpanning West said. “It’s just terrible that they’re getting all that money and I’m not.

“No, I’m kidding,” the actor continued with a laugh. “All of them really are very talented and fine actors in their own way, and they do their own thing.”

Robin the Boy Wonder has intentionally kept out of — or barely hinted at — in many recent Bat productions. West spoke highly, though, of his crime-fighting partner Burt Ward. “He’s a scene-stealer, I don’t like him,” West said, not able to resist another joke. “I love the theater of the absurd and Burt Ward – Robin — simply was a great additive to that. His enthusiasm, his athleticism and his innocence … in those days — I knew in five minutes after testing with him that this was the guy.”

West’s trip down Gotham’s memory lane ends with one question: Does he have a favorite Catwoman among Julie Newmar, Eartha Kitt and Lee Meriwether)?

“I do,” West chuckled. “But I can’t say, because it wouldn’t be honorable. Bruce Wayne would kill me. I had three Catwomen. I was so lucky. They all gave me curious stirrings in my utility belt.”


Breastfeeding Mom Graduation Photo Goes Viral: I found this on Yahoo:

“Jacci Sharkey juggled motherhood and schoolwork for most of her three-and-a-half years at the University of Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia.”  I couldn’t find the exact link in my “parking lot” email, but I posted another link to the story.  Here are some Yahoo comments:

Stephen Marks: Tit for tat, thats what this is, shes just giving her baby the breast up
bringing possible so lets not get into weather she cans or cannot do this and try and knock her down, there are enough boobs on here willing to pass judgement, including one from as far away as Nipal.  I just don't want to hear any hooters yelling profanitities at this girl, who obviously got an education while juggsaling motherhood and marriage and besides the little squirt looks content motorboating his mom and remember guys, if you can decide what to say more then a mouthfull is a waste!

Robb: Not to mention the dichotomy that  a SINGLE MALE parent faces each and every day

Herbert: I'm a normal every-day guy out there. When I saw this photo, the first thing I saw was a woman with loose clothing and a big breast hanging out and I looked straight in at it, then I noticed the baby and at the end, the cap and gown. I am sorry, there must be something wrong with me because that breast is the focus of this picture but not whether she graduated from university or looked after two or three babies while she did it. I saw a photo one time of a woman dressed as a Nurse, with her uniform set aside to show her leg (and more).

My opinion: I didn’t really like the photo, but I wasn’t really against it either.  She was breastfeeding her baby, and it wasn’t supposed to be sexual.  If she wore her graduation gown and was posing all sexy in it, then I might have a problem with it.


Dec. 8 Turkey prank: On Dec. 1, 2014, I found this on Yahoo:

“Take one Thanksgiving turkey, a Cornish hen and an evil genius of a mom and what do you get? An epic Thanksgiving prank. Nerissa was planning on pranking both of her daughters into believing the turkey planned for dinner was pregnant. Nerissa’s animal-loving daughter Raquel was so shocked when she discovered the Cornish hen inside the carcass of the turkey that she burst into surprised tears.  Raquel’s sister Nicole had discovered the Cornish hen in the fridge earlier in the day so was aware of the prank being pulled on her sister. Nicole cried tears of her own, but these were tears of uncontrollable laughter. Credit: YouTube/ Nerissa Hawkinson”


My opinion: I didn’t read the description, because I didn’t want to be spoiled.  I thought it would be something scary like a tarantula in the turkey.  Instead it was another hen in the turkey.  Raquel was crying, and you can hear the dog off screen howling too.  It was kind of funny.

Jeopardy story: I found this on Yahoo: “Is This The Worst Story Ever Told On 'Jeopardy'?”

Dan Tran, a PhD student living in Boston, was a contestant on Monday night's episode of "Jeopardy" and told a story that many are claiming is the worst story ever.” 

Here’s a Yahoo comment:

Carol: I thought it was funny, he confused the sun for the moon. What makes the story funnier is that he's smart guy. This story just showed another side of him and I thought it was sweet. Btw, he's cute!  When I was a teenager working at McDonald's, my co-worker/friend confused black smoke from a fire for a rain cloud. The rest of the sky is blue with white clouds and she thinks rain is going to come. I looked at her, she
looks at me and we both started laughing for a good 10 minutes (I'm smiling to myself as I'm typing this). :)It happens to the best of us.

My opinion: I thought the story was kind of eh.  It was mediocre and mildly funny.  It wasn’t the worst story ever.


Mike Tyson: On Sept. 24, 2014, “Mike Tyson rescues Vegas road crash victim”:

Injured rider Ryan Chesley thought he was hallucinating when he saw Tyson looming over him after he had been cut off by a taxi and his bike slid out from under him.

The former world heavyweight boxing champion was first on the scene at the accident last Tuesday (NZT last Wednesday) and was instructing people not to touch the injured man in case they inflicted further injuries, Chesley's lawyer Stephen Stubbs said.


Hero Races Into Burning Building to Save Stranger: I found this on Yahoo on Oct. 19, 2014.

“A mystery bystander raced into a burning building in Fresno California to save a man trapped inside. Beth Lederach captured the scene on camera as neighbours tried to fight the blaze with garden hoses before a man wearing a blue baseball cap raced into the house to carry a elderly man to safety. The Fresno Bee reported the fire started in the garage and police were dispatched at 8:14am on Saturday, October 18.This footage showed a small explosion before a man is carried away from the house on the shoulders of another man. Credit: Beth Lederach”


Dec. 14 Post Secret: Today I went to the website and found this: 

Email: Frank, Can you tell me what this secret says that’s on the front cover of your new book?

Email: It says, “You make me feel beautiful”.  Why do you ask?

Email:

Frank,
I think I sent that 6 years ago, this has made me smile! I sent that card in the early stages of dating, fast forward 6 years we’re now happily married with 2nd child on the way and he still makes me feel this way!! Does it have a camel on it?

 Email: A picture of a camel.

My opinion: Oh, that’s nice.