MY NAME IS MAHTOB by Mahtob Mahmoody: The Daughter Speaks

MY NAME IS MAHTOB by Mahtob Mahmoody. The story of NOT WITHOUT MY DAUGHTER continues.

MY NAME IS MAHTOB by Mahtob Mahmoody. The story of NOT WITHOUT MY DAUGHTER continues.

If you are a fan of the book and movie NOT WITHOUT MY DAUGHTER by Betty Mahmoody, you’ll be sure to enjoy this new book.

As you may remember, NOT WITHOUT MY DAUGHTER was a harrowing look at the ordeal of an American woman who went to Iran with her Iranian husband and daughter, thinking it was for a two-week vacation.

It wasn’t.  Her husband, a doctor, had decided they were all going to stay in Iran, despite his wife and five-year-old daughter’s desire to return home to Michigan.

The situation took a turn for the nightmarish as Betty found out that, as the wife of an Iranian man, on Iranian soil, she was now considered an Iranian citizen under Iranian law, not an American citizen any longer.  She also would automatically lose custody of her child if she were to divorce her husband and leave Iran – and never see the little girl again.  Custody in Iran is automatically given to the father.

This particular dad isn’t exactly a candidate for Father of the Year, either.  He’s violent.  He consistently threatens to kill Betty, to take Mahtob away, and even has a habit of punching the mother in front of the child.  This, keep in mind, is a doctor…yet one without a shred of adherence to the Hippocratic Oath.

Betty was resourceful and found a way out of the country and, with the help of a sympathetic businessman who led her to smugglers, managed to sneak across the border with her child, an odyssey that included a horseback ride on an icy mountain path.

MY NAME IS MAHTOB continues the story from the point of view of her daughter.  Upon their return to America, while they’re free to some extent, mother and daughter are not 100% out of the woods yet.  Mahtob’s father in Iran still has custody of her, at least by their law, and could materialize to try and take her back at any minute.  They are forced, of necessity, to always have to look over their shoulders.  The child has to go to school under an assumed name.  She and her mother make numerous moves to ensure they’re not found.  They’re often terrified, and many strange things happen to raise their fear level.  Later, once Mahtob, now using her real name, is in college, the father finds out what school she’s attending after he searches for her on the Internet, and he and his relatives step up their bizarre efforts to “get to” the girl.  The nightmare just keeps on going, yet Mahtob is a Lutheran child of enormous faith and continuously manages to rise above it.

It’s a great read.  Congratulations to Mahtob for turning out so spectacularly!



For Shame, Amazon!

Amazon, get thy act together!

Amazon, get thy act together!

For shame, Amazon! What’s this latest stunt of yours about signing me up for “Kindle Unlimited” and trying to bill me for it monthly – when I don’t have a Kindle?!!!!

I don’t quite know how this happened, but that’s the latest Internet scam that’s being run, and Amazon is running it.  What a neat trick, to attempt to charge people like me for unlimited access to use a device we don’t own!

Where is the IRS?


I’ve Said It Before & I’m Saying It Again

My motto!

My motto!

Indeed!  Like my motto?

THE ORPHANS OF SHAO: A Harrowing Account of How Chinese “Orphans” are Created & How China is Trafficking in Stolen Children

THE ORPHANS OF SHAO by Pang Jiaoming. A must-read book about Chinese "adoptions!"

THE ORPHANS OF SHAO by Pang Jiaoming: a must-read book about dubious Chinese “adoptions!”


China is trafficking in stolen children!

Many years ago, after a good friend adopted his beautiful little girl from China, I looked into the possibility of adopting one myself.

I didn’t think it would actually be possible.  The “adoption fees” cost between $30,000 and $40,000, and I didn’t have that kind of money in my bank account.  I also thought the process of adopting from that country was pretty strange.  The Chinese government wanted the adoptive parents to not only pick the children up personally – in China – and have to pay for air fare, but also to stay in China for about two or three weeks, paying for hotels, food, transportation from one province to another as all foreign adoptions could “only” be finalized in one specific Chinese city, etc.  There were also legal fees, document translation fees, and all kinds of fees that seemed way too far over-the-top.

Ridiculous, I thought.  Adoptions from other countries, like Korea and Vietnam, I knew from a book I’d once read by Marjorie Margolies, allow the children to be brought to their overseas adoptive parents by escorts.  The idea of American parents having to go to China seemed like a blatant attempt to simply bring additional tourist bucks into the country.

Still, I knew, or at least had been told, there were so many orphans there, where abandoned girls abounded due to China’s “one-child policy.”  Chinese families wanted boys, not girls, it was said.  This was some kind of bizarre cultural preference not entirely understood here.  Or if a parent tried to have more than one child, there was also an astronomical penalty fee to pay, and most couldn’t afford it.  As a result, girls were left in parks or at police stations while the parents tried again for a boy.  So I felt it wouldn’t hurt to, at least, go to a meeting about adopting a child from China.

Well, the meeting ended any thought I’d ever had that adopting from China might be a good idea.

It was run by a lovely American woman who, with her husband, had adopted a luminescent little Chinese girl and given her a home.  The pictures they showed us prospective parents were of a child that was healthy, gorgeous and clearly loved.  I had no fault with the kind woman who had opened her heart and home to the little orphan.

However…what I did have a hard time with was one of the “regulations” she described that the Chinese government had “decreed” all adoptive parents “had to follow.”

It was this.  Now, fasten your seatbelts before I say it, please, first.  All set?  Okay.  It was this.  The Chinese authorities required every adoptive parent from America to show up with four thousand American dollars in brand-new $100 bill denominations.  Not ones, fives, tens, twenties or fifties.  Oh no.  They wanted hundred-dollar bills.  And this, the Chinese claimed – are you ready again? – was “an orphanage donation.”  “After all,” the woman in charge of the meeting said in her well-modulated, reasonable voice, “the abandoned babies, most of whom are about eight months old when you’ll adopt them, have been consuming formula at the orphanages until you get there.”

Consuming formula?

Four thousand dollars worth of formula?

I didn’t exactly know what the going rate for baby formula in China was, but four thousand dollars of it, imbibed in eight months, seemed like a ridiculously inflated estimation.

And if that, by itself, didn’t set off every alarm bell I had within me already, the requirement that the four thousand bucks be in brand-new hundred-dollar bills certainly did.  The woman running the meeting even described the group she’d been with in China, the night before they had to hand their “donation” of new hundreds over, ironing old bills in their hotel room to make them look brand new.  What was this?  What could possibly be the reason for it?  Were these crazy people serious?  Even if the Chinese were shaking down the parents – who would be taking these babies off their hands and, therefore, should be offered a stipend for leaving with them, if anything, not the other way around – why wouldn’t an older $100 bill work?  Why demand a brand-new one?  And what the heck is wrong with a  $20 or a $50?  I’m sorry, but this was nuts!

Then I had another concern: how could all of these Americans just blindly fall for lines like these, formula fees, donations that were anything but, and the incredibly hinky insistence on brand-new bills?  What kind of mental acrobatics does an intelligent American have to do in order to justify their actions as they iron the money in the Chinese hotel room the night before they “donate” it as a requirement to take home a baby?  How could anyone think any of this was on the up-and-up?  I was shocked to the point it was all I could do to stay until the end of that meeting, and not run from the room – screaming.

Well, whatever was going on over there, that ended that.  I didn’t trust China.  I didn’t even trust the idea that these babies were genuine orphans.  Too much money was apparently in play here.  This one-child policy situation was resulting in babies being left by the roadside and some officials somewhere were no doubt getting rich from their “adoptions.”

About a week ago I found out that my initial reservations were right on target when I heard of a book called THE ORPHANS OF SHAO: A TRUE ACCOUNT OF THE ONE-CHILD POLICY IN CHINA – Children are Kidnapped, and Orphans are Created – to be Sold to the West.  The truth of what was going on came to light thanks to a group of farmers who started a petition – signed in blood, they were so heartbroken – because their children had been seized and taken to “welfare institutes,” like orphanages.  Those who could pay got their kids back; those who couldn’t found out they’d been given up for international adoptions.

Good God Almighty, I thought.  This is even worse than I thought, and I’ve known since that meeting there’s something wrong with China’s adoption program!  This is downright disgusting, amoral, and sick.  Thousands upon thousands of Chinese “orphans” are here in the United States already – but how many of them are genuine ones, and how many have grieving parents like the ones in the book, hoping to find them back home?  The last time I looked at the criminal codes of the United States, kidnapping was still a Federal offense.  How much worse if it’s been done there and presented as “adoption” here!  If so much as one of them is here, then it’s already an injustice.  There are probably hundreds of trafficked children here, living under the misnamed banner of “adopted” children.

Furthermore, have the corrupt officials of China never heard of a handy little device known as genetic testing?  It should not be too difficult to prove which kids are stolen children, or to match them back up with their natural parents, either.  It’s a matter of a test with a cheek swab.

The author of this book, Pang Jiaoming, deserves an award for his hard work in exposing the story.  Thank god for Pang Jiaoming!  I highly recommend the book, whether you are an adoptive parent, an adoptee from China, or merely curious.   Another resource is Women’s Rights in China, the publisher, reachable at  Something major-league needs to be done on behalf of the Chinese parents and their lost children.  Please, help spread the word.







Further, the kind lady said, the night before the brand-new hundreds had to be turned in, American adoptive parents who had traveled in her group, while in the hotel in China, had been standing there, with an iron, ironing them so that some of their older hundred-dollar bills would look new, and therefore pass “inspection.”  Adoptive parents came halfway around the world to get these poor children, then were in the hotel, wielding an iron over money? 

Further, the kind lady said, the night before the brand-new hundreds had to be turned in, American adoptive parents who had traveled in her group, while in the hotel in China, had been standing there, with an iron, ironing them so that some of their older hundred-dollar bills would look new, and therefore pass “inspection.”  Adoptive parents came halfway around the world to get these poor children, then were in the hotel, wielding an iron over money? 

Three Who Should Get Nominated

John Goodman, Helen Mirren and Bryan Cranston from TRUMBO.  Nominate 'em ALL!

John Goodman, Helen Mirren and Bryan Cranston from TRUMBO. Nominate ’em ALL!

The Oscar nominations are due to be announced on January 14th, and here are three actors from the movie TRUMBO whose performances are definitely worthy.

TRUMBO tells the story of screenwriter Dalton Trumbo who was blacklisted during the McCarthy Era.  Bryan Cranston does a terrific job playing this talented, though highly complicated man, one who does his best writing in the bathtub and manages to find ways around his own industry banishment.  However, it’s Helen Mirren, as the venal Hedda Hopper, and John Goodman, as Frank King, the decent small-time movie man who lets Trumbo write again using several fake pseudonyms, who make this whole story riveting.

I’m hoping to see them all come home with Oscars!

Actors, Please, Let the Cosby Case be a WARNING to You!

hey forgot to add "sick." My, how what's on the surface can be deceiving!

TIME didn’t know back then to add “perverse” to his resume. My, how what’s on the surface can be deceiving!

I’m glad that the closing big news story of 2015 is that Bill Cosby is, at last, going to be put on trial for one of his many, many reported rapes of women.  I’d be happier if the situation had never happened, but accusations against this creep go all the way back to 1965, and there’s apparently been between 60 and 100 of them, so it’s far too late to hope it’s a hoax.  All those women, all reporting the same sequence of events that led up to their assaults, cannot all be wrong, or all making it up, or all seeking attention.  The details mesh too well for that.

I used to work in entertainment industry jobs, on the administrative side.  And I found out about abuses that were enough to make my hair stand straight up on end.

I am not now, nor have I ever wanted to be, an actress, but saw scores of people who did, especially in a job I had at a talent agency that handled 600+ of them.  From that experience, I can tell you this: there are two types of people who want to make a living as actors.  Just two.

One group approaches the acting business as a business.  They came into New York already knowing they would need to be in the unions to get union acting jobs and arrive with their membership cards in hand.  They know they have to market themselves, take the best classes, approach everything they do in the acting business as a business transaction.

Sounds obvious, no?  Ha!

The other group, the less savvy ones who believe they’ll be discovered by a Casting Director in a deli or on the bus, thinks the whole world of “acting” is some kind of a la-la dream factory, a ride on a Wonder Wheel, a place where you can wish upon a star and then become one.  They think their “big break” is right around the next corner, and Some Big Somebody is just awaiting them Somewhere, ready to give it to them.  One thought she was about to “make it big” just because she knew me and I landed a job in a talent agency – which wouldn’t represent her since she wasn’t in the union, though I did try my best to get the poor girl seen.  It’s pathetic.

Another bought years of “acting classes” from a nobody who fleeced her.

Yet another was going to be “sponsored” by a “rich guy” who “surprised” her by making an indecent proposal.  I remember saying to that one, “Why ELSE would he be claiming he wanted to sponsor your career?”  She said it never occurred to her that he’d want anything back from handing her thousands and thousands of dollars to pursue her acting dream.  Hello?!!!

The savvy business group, naturally, did a whole lot better than that other group, who seemed born to flounder.

The other group often fell for scams.  They went to acting classes run by people who didn’t have a decent credit to their name, and were fleeced out of tuition money.  They sucked up to anyone who was even remotely involved in “the industry.”  It was pathetic to watch.  Many of them also believed those who, like Bill Cosby, invited them up to their homes to “discuss their careers” and found themselves subjected to offers they had to refuse.

In the case of all those who believed Cosby when he claimed he had a desire to “mentor” them, they wound up subjected to horrors.

As for the whole idea of “trusting” someone due to what character he plays on television…that is absolutely far-and-away over-the-top crazy.  Were the actors who played in Frost/Nixon actually the real Frost and Nixon?  Was Julie Andrews ever a nun?  Was Angela Cartwright ever truly on a ship that was lost in space?

Why do you think they call them roles?

I cannot say this enough.  Actors, beware, beware!  There are plenty of scammers who have no conscience and will prey upon you by feeding you lines about wanting to make your dreams come true.  But think about that for a moment, please, won’t you?  Think about it.  Why would a stranger, repeat, stranger, one more time, stranger, who only just met you, have so little going on  in their own life that their primary goal of the day is to make YOUR dreams come true?

Maybe one in a million might really be legit, but for the most part, that’s not the methodology of a stranger.  That’s a predator!

So please, if you want to become a star, that’s great, but open your eyes.  Go through the direct channels.  Get into the unions.  Get to the best acting school you can afford, not to a class in some garret run by a harridan whose sole acting credit is in a crowd scene in a movie that was shot in 1972.  And get wised up, too: nobody runs around giving people something for nothing!  If an offer seems to good to be true, then it is!

Don’t be a putz and convince yourself it’s okay to believe it.


Bill Cosby, arrested.

Bill Cosby, arrested.

Imelda Staunton in GYPSY on the BBC

Ladies and Gentlemen, and GYPSY fans in particular, here’s a real treat: the BBC broadcast of Imelda Staunton as Rose in the Chichester Festival’s production of GYPSY!  Not only does she make a spectacular – and scary – Rose Hovick, but she actually looks a whole lot like the real Rose did, too.  See the photos below.  As someone who literally spent years researching Rose and going through scores of photographs of her, seeing Imelda’s performance is giving me the best kind of chills.

Pay particular attention to the little girl playing Baby June in this production, too.  She is hilarious!

Now what are you still reading this for when you could already be playing the video?  Give it a whirl!  Here she is, boys!  Here she is, WORLD!  Here’s Rose!


The real Rose Hovick.

The real Rose Hovick.

Imelda Staunton, the actress who looks the most like the real Rose.

Imelda Staunton, the actress who looks the most like the real Rose.