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Hopelessly Falling in Love With Fictional Characters Since 1979

1 Jul

AMC's "Mad Men" Season 4 Premiere - ArrivalsI have watched the AMC show, Mad Men, since it aired six years ago. In that time, my feelings towards Jon Hamm’s character, Don Draper, have changed from almost idolatry to an uncomfortable truce with the person I now know he is. I used to find him rakish and charming, but now I find his cavalier attitude towards everyone and everything maddening.

He has demons. I get it. The creator of the show, Matthew Weiner, has shown us through flashbacks that he is haunted by his childhood. He grew up in a whorehouse and was witness to women being treated like, well, like whores. Don Draper is not even really who he is, name, credentials, and otherwise (girl, there is so much more, but just watch the show).  Because of the fact that he just won’t deal with his childhood, he hates himself, he drinks too much, he smokes too much, he makes reckless personal choices, and he has severe intimacy issues. He relates to women either as playthings to control or as arm candy that exists only for his pleasure.

I once wrote a letter to Don Draper (just in case you need any further proof that I am crazy) and this line “your choices are causing you to leave an indelible mark on everyone around you and at this point, if I stay involved with you, I will be the one to blame for the blackness you have left on me” stands out because, yes, I wrote the letter to the character Don Draper (and I’m not TOTALLY crazy, it was to be the blog post that turned into this), I was actually addressing someone from my past who reminds me very much of the character Don Draper.

I have always fallen in love with literary characters. Gilbert Blythe broke my heart right along with Anne Shirley back when I read Anne of Green Gables. Most recently, I ached for Naoko and Toru of Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood. I look for bits and pieces of myself or people I have known in these characters that entrance me so. Sometimes it is easier to make sense of a past hurt or situation when seeing it through the eyes of someone else.

Recently, I watched the movie The Silver Linings Playbook, based on the novel of the same name by Matthew Quick. The book has been on my list of books to read for a while so when my friend Chelsea loaned me the movie I thought I would give it a shot.

I have never been one to go crazy over Bradley Cooper. I think we all know that my favorite cast member from The Hangover is Zach Galifianakis.  However, I was crazy silver liningsabout Bradley Cooper in this movie, and joked that of course I was because he was playing a bipolar man who’d had his heart shattered and that I was drawn to him for those reasons. Maybe , maybe not, but I truly was enthralled by him in this movie.

The true love affair for me,  however,  happened as I continued to watch the movie and I got to know Jennifer Lawrence’s character Tiffany, who plays Cooper’s dancing partner and love interest, eventually. This character was mesmerizing, and Lawrence, who was 21 years old when she made the movie, deserved the Oscar for best actress that she won this year. Let’s give her Gwyneth Paltrow’s Oscar that she won for Shakespeare in Love back in 1998 too because Jennifer Lawrence deserves two and Gwyneth doesn’t deserve any (and I love The Royal Tenenbaums as much as the next guy, but no. Sorry). Marissa Tomei, my dear departed dad’s love for you has kept your Oscar safe. For now.

I think this line encompasses why I love Tiffany so much –

“I was a slut. There will always be a part of me that is dirty and sloppy, but I like that, just like all the other parts of myself. I can forgive. Can you say the same for yourself, fucker? Can you forgive? Are you capable of that?”

The fact that her character made some choices that she wasn’t very proud of and she didn’t deny the fact that she made those choices and she didn’t blame anyone else, and she forgave herself, and embraced her “dirty and sloppy”, is an amazingly beautiful thing.

I am introspective, sometimes to a fault. I have tumbled choices around in my head to see them from every angle to try to figure out why I have done some things I have done. I have practically turned beating myself up for those choices into an art form when it became painfully evident that they were mistakes. I do this to hopefully try to learn and become a more evolved, better person. I’ll be honest, it can be exhausting and there are times I wish I was much more like someone who could package the ugly and the dirty and the sloppy into a pretty box and shove it way into the back of my mind and go on with my life, BUT, when I think that might be the way to live, I am reminded of Don Draper, the man who does just that, and the ugly that has permeated every square inch of his life because of it.

I won’t give up on Don Draper (the character), or Mad Men. I also won’t give up on myself.

“If you show someone the sun in your bones and they reject you, you must remember, they hurt themselves this very same way.”

nayyirah waheed

Boxes are Fun

4 May

Boxes, or those parameters we either keep ourselves in or that others make for us, are not fun. My title is a big lie just to suck you in to reading this post. It totally worked, by the way, because here you are.

What do I mean by parameters or boxes?

I think of myself primarily as a funny person. That is how I identify myself, first and foremost. Most of what I write is humorous in nature, I think and hope anyway. My style of writing is conversational and I write exactly how I talk, for better or worse.

I have been comfortable with that style of writing, and I will more than likely always write about silly crap like my dislike for Gwyneth Paltrow (she really is the worst) and my disdain for Mumford & Sons (a banjo killed my father. There. I said it).  That is one box in which I am very comfortable.

I also feel passionate about some issues that are serious, and that I cannot joke through, or about. I have written about a couple of them on this blog. I feel the need to write about these issues because first of all I feel strongly about them and second of all, the kind of discussion that arose from the post I wrote yesterday makes me extremely uncomfortable.  I hate conflict. At this very moment I want to scream “GET OFF MY BLOG” at the top of my lungs to anyone who is continuing to lurk in the comments section, BUT, I won’t stop writing about these issues because I think it is vital for me to continue to be uncomfortable in this way.

The conflict box is one that I am not totally comfortable being in as of yet, but I think it is extremely important to push my boundaries and push myself out of my comfort zones. I have learned that fear is a large component of why I dislike conflict so much. It has been easier for me in the past to be as non-confrontational as possible so that I could avoid any consequences that came along with facing something head on, or expressing my opinion, including someone possibly not liking me. It is a cowardly way to go through life and the past several years in my hippie bullshit introspective phase I have realized that I didn’t want to live like that any more. It’s crappy and disingenuous.

I’m funny. I know most people like my sense of humor (hey, know your strengths), I am also someone who has viewpoints and opinions that not everybody is going to agree with, and that is okay. Not everybody needs to like me. It took me 43 years to get to this point. I really hope I can figure out a way to impart this wisdom on to my children at a much earlier age.


*Do I really have to give photo credits for the box picture? It’s a box. From the internet.


25 Apr

peopleWell played People Magazine. This is trolling at its finest. For those who are fortunate enough to not be familiar with the term “trolling” let me enlighten you.

From Wikipedia –

In Internet slang, a troll (pron.: /ˈtrl/, /ˈtrɒl/) is someone who posts inflammatory,[1]extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as a forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[2] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.[3] The noun troll may also refer to the provocative message itself, as in: “That was an excellent troll you posted.”

I have some personal experience with trolling, or maybe I don’t. Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether someone is trolling or whether they are just jerks. In either case, both times that my award-winning (not really) iReports were chosen to be featured in CNN stories, there were comments made in the comment section following the stories that were either made by trolls to stir some kind of proverbial internet pot or they were made by clueless or kind of jerky people.

I think it’s a fine line actually.

I personally take issue with people who claim that they enjoy being jerks just to stir people up. I am all for healthy debate, but I think  saying contrary things for the sake of saying contrary things is, well, it’s jerky.

That said, I think People Magazine is fully aware that Gwynnie is not a well-liked celebrity. Whether you dislike her because of her dumb cookbook, her stilted and privileged view of life, her kiddie bikinis,  or her crazy over-inflated view of herself,  the woman manages to annoy a lot of people.  I think People magazine knows that and is hoping this will entice consumers to buy the magazine to put the cover on dart boards.  NO, no, I think we are being trolled or they are hoping we will all be forced to love her as much as she loves herself and I can tell you right now People magazine, that will not happen. No one loves Gwyneth as much as Gwyneth. NOBODY.

I can only imagine her next cookbook will include the lines “As the world’s most beautiful woman, I can tell you the secret to my beauty is eating a gluten-free pro-biotic macro-biotic vegetarian diet. I can share this with you as the world’s most beautiful woman, because I am beautiful.  In fact, some would say, the world’s most beautiful. ”


The Most Controversial Thing I have Ever Written…Besides That Time I Said I Did Not Like Mumford and Sons

4 Apr
Oprah Gwyneth….Gwyneth Oprah

There is so much about these ladies to love. Oprah encourages people to read. She speaks of gratitude. She is philanthropic. She is spiritual.  And, not that it should matter, but I saw her in person once when my sister and I were standing outside the Emmy awards back in the 80’s and the woman is GORGEOUS.

 And Gwyneth! She is Hollywood royalty. She is an Oscar winner. She is married to a rock star. She’s a mom. She’s an author. She’s concerned about the environment. She is absolutely lovely herself.

Both of these women are successful, and I really think they both come from a place of wanting to help others. Help us little people, if you will.  I do not think they are malicious in their intent, so it pains me to say, I really cannot stand either one of them and don’t want their help in any way. That might be a little harsh. Let me elaborate.

I know, saying I don’t like Oprah is akin to saying I don’t like the Dalai Lama (I have no problem with him thus far) and as I said, I know she comes from a place of just wanting to inspire all of us, and judging from what is shown on her network, maybe wanting to scare the hell out of us and perhaps turn us on occasionally, but, as much as I know I am going to hell for saying so, she really does irk me.I know what you are feeling. I was once where you are. When my friend Cara told me that she didn’t like Oprah I wanted to slap her face and call her a communist. She did not push the matter, she simply stated that she found Oprah annoying, and mentioned the magazine in particular.Somewhere around that time, Oprah all but tarred and feathered author James Frey on National TV for fudging the details of his “memoir” A Million Little Pieces.  SO he only spent a few hours in jail, rather than 87  days like he claimed in the book.  Of course this is sarcasm, what he did was crappy and I imagine Oprah felt personally slighted because she had chosen his book as one of her selections for “Oprah’s Book Club” and had called it “brutally honest” and it…wasn’t apparently. I just felt that she was a bit harsh on him and that it wasn’t necessarily the fact that he lied, but the fact that he lied TO HER, the Queen. When it came out that afterwards she apologized for being so harsh with him and claimed it was “just business”, it did nothing to change my worsening opinion of her.

I greatly admire the fact that Oprah came from humble beginnings, and she really has succeeded spectacularly.  I think she is probably cool in a very un-cool way, like back when she had a talk show and she sang her own theme song that one year, that was neat, and I can see maybe going to Zumba class with her and Gayle one day and then grabbing a smoothie afterwards, but not really wanting to hang out too much after that because I imagine she would be really into herself and refer to herself in the third person and say things like “Oprah would enjoy shopping for a Coach bag right now” which is another part of the problem I have with her. I mean, an entire magazine devoted to what she thinks and what she buys and what she’s reading and eating? And she’s on the cover every month? I would have loved to have been in a meeting when this idea was being tossed around. “So, here’s the thing. I want it to be about ME. All ME. All the time. And I want to be on the cover, just sitting around looking and being fabulously ME.”

Also, she introduced all of us to the self-help book The Secret, which was based on the film by the same name, which is also known as “the law of attraction”. This is from the Wikipedia site for The Secret –

the secretThe tenet of the film and book is that the universe is governed by a natural law called the law of attraction which is said to work by attracting into a person’s life the experiences, situations, events, and people that “match the frequency” of the person’s thoughts and feelings. Therefore, positive thinking and feeling positive are claimed to create life-changing results such as increased wealth, health, and happiness


I have read The Secret and it is such a nice idea and I do think positive thinking in the grand scheme of things is better than negative thinking, but I just have a hard time buying into this kind of thinking on the whole, and honestly, I feel like Oprah doesn’t even buy into it. Which brings me to my other issue with her. She has honed her image as someone who is very self-aware and very much into thinking positively, and that is awesome, but she also promotes this idea of spending your way to true happiness.

Almost every year since 2002, Oprah has compiled a list of her favorite things and calls the list, cleverly enough,  “Oprah’s Favorite Things.”  The list comes out before the holidays and is made up of items that are noteworthy or that Oprah thinks would make great gifts. When her show was on the air, she would unveil the list and everyone in attendance received one of everything on the list, which is pretty awesome. The list ITSELF, though, borders on ridiculous. Sure, Oprah, my sister would love that box of nail polish for – GADZOOKS $168!  And my mom would be thrilled to get those Gemvara Naked Cushion earrings for a mere $1109! YIKES.

This same kind of totally out of touch with all except a small minority of people who make a lot of money and/or have a lot of money to spend thinking brings me to Gwyneth Paltrow.  My goodness….the rarefied air that woman breathes must be HEAVENLY.  Take a stroll through her website GOOP for some admittedly lovely words about various topics, but also, for some cray cray expensive shit that nobody I know can afford.

Both Oprah and Gwyneth seem utterly humorless, especially if Gwyneth wrote these oh so fabulous and useful tips for other “working mums” like herself, with a straight face. Unless her tongue was planted firmly in her cheek (it wasn’t) then this is one of the most accidentally hilarious things I have ever read –

  • Have a personal trainer come to your house, preferably on Mondays. This will be great motivation for working out the rest of the week.
  • Have a weekly blow-out. This means that you don’t need to wash your hair each day and can save time in the morning.
  • Get an amazing assistant.
  • Condense your spa appointments. For example, JB has a salon she goes to at the end of the day to have a facial, manicure, and pedicure at the EXACT same time. She’s in and out in 70 minutes.
  • Get seven hours of uninterrupted sleep a night
  • Get a fishmonger who delivers. This way you can always have fish in the house and can be prepared in case you need to whip up a quick fish dinner.

I KNOW, RIGHT!?  Oh my sides hurt from laughing.  I can’t even begin to rip this apart, but unless you are Gwyneth herself, or another 1%er, you don’t need me to point out the laughably unrealistic poop on this list. I mean, what even IS a fishmonger? And SPA APPOINTMENTS!??? OH Gwynnie…stop. Just. Stop.

Goop has stopped doling out the advice for “working mums” after it was met with such huge backlash, which I am sure totally puzzled Gwyneth and left her melancholy and strolling the streets of Paris  wondering where she went wrong. All she wants is for us to like her, and to impart her vast knowledge and wisdom on to us. Well, some people just can’t be helped.  Move on from all of it Gwyneth. Please. Move. On.

Oprah and Gwyneth both seem like your friend who is nice enough and everybody seems to be fond of but who really is totally out of touch with who you are as a person or what your life is like at all, and they don’t really want to know. I totally understand that this is just who these women are. I don’t expect nor want them to “dumb things down” so to speak, for us poor folks.  I just want them to stop. I feel like they are very “this is my wonderful life, and YOU can get a peek into my wonderful life, because it is wonderful, is it not? Am I NOT wonderful? I AM! And you can be too, sort of, not really, but again, this is my WONDERFUL LIFE.”

I am sure that neither Oprah nor Gwyneth will miss me in their fan clubs. There are MILLIONS who are members and I think as long as they have their biggest fans, themselves, they will be just fine.
J. A. Allen

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