Guts and Glory: BRAVA to the Gymnasts Who Took On Dr. Larry Nassar in Court

Get a load of Dr. Larry Nassar now! He can’t even look his victims in the face.

Sometimes poetic justice gets a rare chance to shine.  Today was one of those days.

This was the day the gymnasts who were victims of pervert “Doctor” Larry Nassar began facing him in court, making their victim statements.  This is the creep who was the doctor for USA Gymnastics and had access to far too many underage girls.  His abuse was done in the guise of “treatment,” yet.  He abused others as well, including friends’ daughters and more.  Oh, and he also was convicted on some kind of pornography charges.  What a guy!

Larry Nassar isn’t going to be having a wonderful week.  There are NINETY-EIGHT girls scheduled to confront him in court, to his face, and tell him what his abuse did to their lives.

There Larry Nassar sits.  His head is in his hands, now that he’s caught.  He can’t face these same young women that he once abused, now that he’s caught.  He’s a total mess, now that he’s caught, but if the girls had not spoken up, you can be sure he’d still be “doctoring,” still have the wrong kind of access to kids, and still be busy abusing a whole new set of innocents.  These wonderful girls stopped this monster.

To every single one of those girls, and to the rest of his 150-something victims, the world needs to say a resounding BRAVA!   You know the saying, “No guts, no glory?”   What you girls have done already, just by filing charges, takes an enormous amount of courage.  You stopped him!  You’ve got guts well covered, and glory, too.  Blessings of Love and Light to all of you!

Read on for more:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2018/01/16/larry-nassar-sentencing-victims/1037845001/

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The Book “VULGAR FAVORS: The Assassination of Gianni Versace”

A shocker on every page: VULGAR FAVORS by Maureen Orth.  Soon to be a series on FX.

If you’ve got a strong stomach, and I mean one made of steel, then have I got a book for you!

For quite some time I’ve been seeing VULGAR FAVORS: THE ASSASSINATION OF GIANNI VERSACE by Maureen Orth on the table at a local bookstore.  When I heard it was soon to be a series on FX, I picked it up and flipped through it.  I read enough to decide I wanted to read the whole sordid tale.

I remembered the case: in 1997, Andrew Cunanan, a serial killer, had been on a murder spree through several states.  His last victim was Princess Diana’s favorite designer, Gianni Versace.  She and Elton John went to his funeral.  I recalled there had also been several murders before Versace, and people were delighted when the rampage ended, but that was about it.

Yet what interested me as I scanned the book in the bookstore were the passages about Cunanan’s having been a world-champion pathological liar.  We’ve all known a few of those, sure, but this looked like the most extreme example of one on record.  The psychology of such people rather intrigues me, since it’s always a given that lies can be found out, so why would anybody in their right mind bother to tell a pack of them in the first place?  I purchased the book – and have been unable to put it down ever since.

Cunanan, apparently, came from a middle-class home but wanted to look rich.  Very, very rich.  And since he wasn’t, from childhood on he told one utterly ridiculous tall tale after another after another after another about his totally false, self-invented high-class background that did not really exist…

Andrew Cunanan was a piece of work even long before he started killing people.   The lies he told are just the beginning of the level of muck he mired himself into, and they’re the most incredible collection of whoppers I’ve ever heard, so that’s saying something.  I don’t want to add spoilers here, but if you can stand the more sordid elements of this story, of which there’s also an eyebrow-raising collection, and enjoy a read that can shock you to the gills, check out the book.  Suffice it to say that VULGAR FAVORS is a very apt name for it.

Here’s the trailer:

The Movie I, TONYA – Was the World Wrong about Tonya Harding?

Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding, left, and the real Tonya, right.

Tonya Harding was considered one of ice skating’s “bad girls,” but after seeing the movie, “I, TONYA,” I’ve got to wonder about that.  I came home from this movie yesterday wondering about everything I’d ever heard regarding Tonya Harding.

Obviously, the movie is very pro-Tonya, helped by Harding herself, who participated in numerous interviews to help get her side of the story covered correctly.  Maybe it’s time people started to pay attention.

Harding came from a very poor background, but in my humble opinion, that in and of itself does not render a child who wants to skate as much as Tonya did either “bad” or “trashy.”  She couldn’t afford the same costumes as the other skaters.  She couldn’t afford a fur coat.  She wasn’t a little rich girl.  Personally, I couldn’t care less what kind of socioeconomic background an athlete hails from.  The girl was a great little skater from the age of four, period, and that should count for a lot more than what kind of an image she might project if she, heaven forfend, wasn’t coming to and from competitions in some certain “approved” coat.

Please note: this is hardly the first time I’ve heard less than stellar things about the powers that be in the skating community.  They weren’t too fond of another terrific skater, Surya Bonaly, either.  She was also branded “bad,” and also didn’t fit their preferred image of a sweet little skater.  This is ridiculous!  If these kids can skate, they can skate!

Margot Robbie is wonderful in her role as Tonya Harding.  The movie portrays Tonya’s mother Lavona as a real monster, one of those awful parents who believes if they belittle and smack the child around, they’ll make her care more about her performance.  Allison Janney won a Golden Globe Award last night for the role, and she certainly deserved it.  The movie is excellent, and even has lots of funny parts to it, believe it or not, given it’s not only about skating but child abuse, spousal abuse, and criminal behavior.

For those who may be too young to remember, Tonya Harding was an Olympic Team hopeful back in 1994, as was her rival, Nancy Kerrigan.  All hell broke lose when a man attacked poor Kerrigan at the rink where she was practicing by hitting her in the knee with a baton.  It soon came to light that Harding’s husband, Jeff Gillooly, and his ultra-whacked best friend, Shawn Eckhardt, had hired two idiots, Shane Stant and Derrick Smith, to carry out the attack.  Watch for the scenes with Eckhardt, played by Paul Walter Hauser, in them.  I won’t add spoilers, but whoa…!  What a performance!

Harding claimed to be innocent, although the FBI alleged that her handwriting was found on a plan of attack written on a restaurant napkin…

According to this movie, Tonya had no knowledge of the attack.  But it was her career that was ended over it, just the same.  Following an Olympic competition where she came in 8th, a show that went on because the ratings were through the roof when Nancy and Tonya had a skate-off, Tonya wound up banned from skating.

So I’m thinking…did the world view Tonya correctly way back when, or did every reporter who covered this admittedly strange story make a horrible mistake?  Was the FBI right or wrong about the notes on the napkin they said were written by Tonya?  Perhaps the world should take another look at the whole situation.

I, TONYA: one excellent movie!

 

Ridiculous and Sublime: Julie Andrews in “STAR!”

Julie Andrews in “STAR!” singing “The Physician.”

Yesterday afternoon, with virtually nothing on the television since it was Christmas Day, I watched Julie Andrews in “STAR!” with my parents.

I remembered the movie from when I was a little girl.  I must have been about seven years old when I saw it in the theaters.  It was strange then, and it’s strange yet.

The musical numbers are fantastic.  I doubt there’s any such thing as a bad Julie Andrews musical number.  She knocks all of them out of the ballpark.  Every song in this movie is a sublime treat.

But then, there’s the dialogue.

“STAR!” tells the story of an English actress named Gertrude Lawrence, one who was way before my time.  Aside from this movie, I know very little about her.  After seeing this movie, I wouldn’t want to know much about her, since she is portrayed as a shrill manic lunatic of a woman.  I know she was “Anna” in the original cast of “The King and I” with Yul Brynner on Broadway in the early 1950s, right before she passed away, and if that had been the main thing she was remembered for, it would have been preferable to this strange film.

If this movie was meant to be a tribute to Gertrude Lawrence, it falls flat.  She’s portrayed as ambitious, but not in a classy or admirable way.  From her starting days in the chorus, she cares more about upstaging the other actresses than anything else, walking all over them.  It’s hard to watch that and feel too much sympathy for her.  The Gertrude character is a colossal jerk.

Then there’s the scenes with the men in her life.  “Honestly,” I said to my father during one of the blessed commercial breaks, “it’s hard to watch a movie where you not only don’t want to see the girl get together with the guy, but hope the guy runs like Hell away from such an awful, self-centered, impossible girl.”

Dad agreed.

See what I mean?  It’s sublime in terms of the musical numbers and ridiculous in terms of the dialogue and plot.

Daniel Massey is very cute as Noel Coward, and many of the songs in the show were written by Coward.  They’re great.

I recommend the soundtrack album of this movie wholeheartedly, had it on vinyl as a kid and got it again on CD later, which tells you how much I love the numbers, but unless you want an ear ache bar none from the shrillness of the spoken scenes, give viewing this turkey a pass.

Andrews performing well-done but tragic rendition of the song “Limehouse Blues.”

The Spirit of Scrooge and The Pingry School

Albert Finney counting his money in “Scrooge.” The character’s spirit seems to be running a private school in NJ…

I recently read some terrible articles, and then a full book, about the child sex abuse that went on at the Horace Mann School in New York City.   The abuse was widespread and horrific.  More than twenty losers on the Horace Mann faculty abused the children and this went on over tree decades.  The abuse was later followed by Horace Mann’s appalling treatment of the adult survivors of that abuse by their failure to properly compensate the victims.

I had no sooner finished the book when I found out that The Pingry School in New Jersey is trying to pull the exact same type of stunt with regard to compensating their victims of sexual abuse.  The school is  trying to use what appears to be a loophole in the NJ statute of limitations regarding such cases to get out of paying what they should to their students.  This comes directly after the school first “made sure” they went all over the media claiming “they’re sorry, they’re sorry, they’re sorry” for what happened to the boys who should have been protected while going to their school, but weren’t.

Pingy’s crying “sorry” on the one hand, yet looking for a loophole to get out of making recompense on the other?  Sorry, my foot!  This is ridiculous!  Who is running this Pingry School, anyway – indecent money-hoarders like Ebenezer Scrooge?

For some reason that thought popped into my head as I woke up on this bright and pretty Christmas morning: that The Pingry School clearly has more in common with the “Spirit of Scrooge” than it does with peace, light, and people of goodwill everywhere.  Remember, it took four ghosts to convince Scrooge to part with some of his money and assist Tiny Tim so that the child’s health could improve, but hey, at least Scrooge wasn’t the initial cause of Tiny Tim’s condition.  Scrooge had a change of heart in the end, too.  What does it take to convince the greedy powers-that-be at Pingry to cut the crap and help the children their own staff members went out of their way to hurt?

Note to Pingry, Horace Mann, and any other lax institution where students were victimized and grew up to shout it out loud: decently run schools do not hire rapists!

In the spirit of Christmas, and Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa, and the Solstice, and being the change we wish to see in the world – not to mention helping to create a Happy New Year for the students who were victimized at Pingry – won’t you please sign this petition in their support?  And God bless us, every one!

Sign here:

https://www.change.org/p/demand-that-the-pingry-school-take-responsibility-for-survivors-of-sexual-abuse-and-offer-fair-and-equal-treatment-to-abuse-victims

The Pingry School.  A place of no respect for their students!

Another Good Movie: WONDER

WONDER, in theaters now.

Here’s another good movie of this holiday season.  WONDER stars Jacob Tremblay as Auggie, a smart-as-a-whip little boy with a condition involving a facial deformity.  Auggie gets around the stares and derision of people by usually keeping a space helmet over his head when he leaves the house.  Just knowing that a child would do such a thing as a coping strategy is enough to break your heart.

Auggie has been home-schooled, but now he’s about to enter the fifth grade.  His parents, beautifully played by Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson, decide to send him to a Middle School.

It’s a bit of an ordeal to watch this gutsy little boy as he walks into the school and has to face so many inter-personal problems during his first year, but it’s well worth it.  Naturally it’s a great movie for kids to see, and could especially give pause to the ones who may think they’re being “funny” when mocking other children.

Jacob Tremblay deserves an Oscar nomination for this one!

 

 

Darkest Hour, Murder on the Orient Express & Coco

Finest movie of the year so far: DARKEST HOUR!

I love November and December in New York City.  We get all of the movies first and the best ones of the year are always released as close to the end of the year as possible.

The finest one I’ve seen in 2017 is DARKEST HOUR.  Gary Oldman stars as Winston Churchill in the early days of World War II in England.  Incredibly, there are those in the Parliament who are hoping to negotiate a peace treaty with none other than Adolf Hitler.  They might have succeeded.  Thank God for Winston Churchill!

MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS.

Another movie that recently premiered is the re-make of MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS.  I was looking forward to this one, but it was a disappointment.  Oh, the photography is great.  The cast is a stellar assemblage.  But the way it’s written and presented is a confusing muddle.

I saw the original movie back in 1974 at the age of 12 and it was done in such a way that it made a lot more sense than this one does.  I already knew whodunit, but the movie buddy I went to see it with didn’t know the story and was having a very hard time trying to follow the narrative.

If it’s worth it for anything, it’s to see Johnny Depp in a deliciously chilling turn as a villain.

As for the make-up job on Sir Kenneth Brannagh, playing Agatha Christie’s legendary detective Hercule Poirot, I can’t help but wonder if somebody’s actual intention here was to create a spoof of a movie called MUSTACHE ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS.  The one he sports is so wild it’s a terrifying distraction.

COCO. Fabulous!

And finally there’s COCO.  I can never resist a Disney animated film, no matter how old I get.  They’re works of art, every last one, and this one is no exception.  COCO is adorable.  An adorable little boy from Mexico who wants to be a singer – and comes from a family with a reason for banning music – visits The Land of the Dead on the Mexican Day of the Dead.  His ancestors have the answers to a lot of his family’s current problems and he seeks to solve the mysteries.

Only Disney and Pixar could work a modern concept like facial recognition software computers into a story of the Day of the Dead.  Watch it to see how incredibly drawn the scenes are, in particular all those in The Land of the Dead, where you’ll see tramways, skyscrapers and theaters.  A few villains are on the loose there, too.

It’s a feast for the eyes.  BRAVO AGAIN, Disney!