Saturday, November 25, 2017

My 13th Annual Thanks/No Thanks List

Every year since 2005, usually just before Thanksgiving, I have posted my annual "thanks/no thanks" list. This particular year has thrown my priorities out of whack (for better or worse) and as such I'm posting this a little later than usual.

This year, a hearty "thanks" to my sister, my aunt, my family friend Barb, my two dogs, and anyone who has offered their support, whether it was tangible or not, during these tumultuous last few months. That, plus comedy and improv.

On that note, I give a firm "no thanks" to our increasingly incompetent and mismanaged government, old friends that don't communicate, dealing with back-to-back inheritances and small estate affidavits, and "adulting" in general.

If 2016 was an anal wart, then 2017 is a hemorrhoid. Let's finish this year on a positive note.


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Complicit in Alabama

In the Fall of 2009, TV actress Mackenzie Phillips published an autobiography titled "High on Arrival." A lot of memoirs written by former child actors follow familiar beats --lack of control, abuse, narcissism, drug and alcohol addiction-- and "Arrival" doesn't deviate too much from that narrative, but it does contain two details that turned heads at the time. Mackenzie's father, the late songwriter "Papa John" Phillips, not only raped Mackenzie in a drugged-out stupor but wanted her to be his wife. Even if Mackenzie admitted they eventually had a consensual affair, the psychological damage she suffered is unfathomable.

As brave as Phillips was to tell her story, there was still a backlash. Many people (myself included, unfortunately) wondered why Phillips waited seven years after Papa John's death to write this book. Others, including Phillips' own stepmom, had doubts that the date-rape ever happened. Mackenzie was also accused of trying to profit on her father's legacy, regardless of how tainted it was. Phillips was abused and gaslighted, and it took her over three decades to find the courage to open up about her father's monstrous behavior. The book was dismissed as salacious gossip-mongering.

I thought about Phillips' ordeal as I've read up on the Judge Roy Moore scandal. As of this writing, five women (now all in their 50s and 60s) have accused Moore of making unwarranted sexual advances when they were teenagers. One victim was as young as 14, and it was recently revealed that Moore first noticed his wife when she was 15 (and he was 30). In any other part of the country, Moore's campaign would be practically over. In crimson-red Alabama, however competitor Doug Jones holds a very narrow lead in the polls, largely because the locals simply refuse to "vote liberal."

We could debate the questionable moral compass of Alabama Republicans, and putting political agenda over human decency, but that's a discussion for another time.  What bothers me is how we're questioning the timing of the accusations. Given how many celebrities have been taken off their pedestal in recent weeks, it would be easy for a critic to assume that outing a public figure as a sexual deviant is "trendy" right now. If anything, this is part of a far greater inclination, of shifting socio-cultural norms in which sexual harassment and similarly inappropriate behavior is taken seriously. A woman that was humiliated decades ago has every right to be reluctant to tell their story, and we must both laud their bravery and respect their privacy.

Mackenzie Phillips, quintessential narcissistic ex-child actor, was demonized and shamed eight years ago. Her confessional on "Oprah" (see clip in link) was dismissed as pandering for a book junket. Society as a whole is a little more enlightened now. If "High on Arrival" was released now, she could be at the forefront of meaningful systemic change.


Friday, November 10, 2017

I Still Resolve...

I don't put much energy into promoting this blog, and for good reason. I market myself as a comedy writer that performs improv, and this blog is an outlet for more serious matters, an opportunity to let my guard down. In the 12 1/2 years since I started this blog, I have likely seen a complete turnover in audience. I launched this blog on, and I'm sure a scant handful of people who read my missives then still read it now on Blogspot. (Its also more accessible to people.)

You might think from the tone of the previous paragraph that I'm quitting this blog, but I'm not (yet). 2017 has been a rough year on a personal level, one of mourning and reevaluating, one where goals have been easier said than accomplished. My clutter, both physical and intangible, is mostly still there. My mother, father, and grandmother's belongings, however are gradually getting sifted out.

I suppose my resolution now is to end 2017 on a positive note. My long-gestating solo sketch show opened this week, and even if I'm not meeting all my goals I'm still feeling pretty accomplished. Even if I do get distracted from time to time, there simply aren't enough hours in the day. I'm goal-oriented, and I feel rudderless when I'm not pursuing a new challenge.