Lap Dances: $120 Million

Let me start by saying that I firmly believe that celebrities do outrageous things for the sole purpose of gaining notoriety.  Bad press is still good publicity.  Furthermore, we are all just feeding into that by writing about it and talking about and watching the clip on YouTube.

But I’m writing about it anyway.

I was more than a little surprised at all of the negative reaction to Miley Cyrus’ little performance on the MTV Video Music Awards last night.  Don’t get me wrong–I agree with the negative reaction, but what I don’t understand is why anyone was really shocked at all.

I grew up in the Madonna generation, back when she looked more like a person and less like, well…….







Anyway, Madonna sort of paved the way, in my mind at least, for that whole rolling-around-on-the-stage-sex-simulation thing.  From that point on, each female pop star after her has had to find a way to top the shock factor.  We love to be shocked.  I mean, we live in a world where, as a society, we have made this woman one of the most successful pop artists ever:









But we get up on our high horse like we can’t believe that Miley acted this way.  I mean, that’s Hannah Montana up there humping a foam finger, you say.  That’s Billy Ray’s little girl twerking Beetlejuice……..Robin Thicke, you say.  Well, here’s what I say to that:

WHO CARES????!!! The most irritating thing I could see was that she is trying to be the next Gene Simmons.  (Does she have a hairball?  Is she choking on something? An allergic reaction, maybe?)

The other thing that sort of tickled me was that the VMAs are always crap.  I mean, is everyone just now figuring that out?  The performances are crap, and, let’s be honest, the talent is crap.  That’s what it’s really about, isn’t it?  These poor celebrities have to become famous for something, because the Good Lord knows they can’t sing.  Yet we act all shocked.  Well, watch the Miley Cyrus clip again.  Her backup singers/dancers are gyrating around nearly as badly as her, and when Beetlejuice….er…..Robin Thicke finishes the big number, doesn’t it look like one of the girls is simulating giving him, well, you know?

I despise MTV.  Real music, and yes, real talent, died a little the day MTV was born, and I say that as part of the MTV generation.  (As difficult as it is to believe, there used to be actual music on Music Television.)  It’s pure, solid, talentless, shocking crap.  Pop music as a genre is crap.  Here’s a news flash–Miley Cyrus can’t sing.  Taylor Swift can’t sing.  Britney Spears can’t sing.  Even Gaga, who I personally don’t mind that much, is only marginal.  (Before anyone gets on a high horse, no, I can’t sing either.  But I don’t pretend to.  I embrace it.  There’s a whole group of us non-singers.  Maybe there should be like some sort of “I thought I could sing” rehab or something for people like Miley and Taylor and most of the people who try out for American Idol. But I digress.)  Gyrating around on the stage and causing a huge uproar are what these girls are famous for.  Not singing.  Their voices are enhanced digitally just like the pictures of celebrities are airbrushed.  Just listen to a live performance by Taylor Swift sometime, if you can find one where she isn’t lip singing.  It isn’t even about the music anymore.  You know, Bob Dylan couldn’t really sing, either, and neither could Janis Joplin, whom I worship, but you know what?  Their music was about something.  They didn’t have MTV or the VMAs to make them popular.  They didn’t have to give a live, simultaneous lap dance to everyone in the world to get people talking.

They just sang.  (Well, and drank and did drugs, but that really doesn’t serve my purpose right now, so never mind.)

Long story short, America:  Hannah Montana is dead.  She was dying already, and she took her last gasp last night.  Turn off MTV.  Mourn her and let her go.  If you really want to watch some good tv, I have a suggestion.

Stick with The Andy Griffith Show.


Into the Pit

In the short story “The Pit and the Pendulum,” horror master Edgar Allen Poe spins a yarn about a man imprisoned during the Spanish Inquisition.  I won’t re-write the whole story here.  The part that serves my purpose is when the unlucky fellow finds himself strapped to a board in the middle of his cell.  Suspended above him, hanging from a picture of Father Time, is a giant pendulum that has been sharpened into a deadly scythe.  With each pass, it drops closer and closer to our helpless victim, its goal to cause him to spill his guts, in a very literal sense.  The sound of it torments him with each dreaded pass–will this be the one?


It may not be the best story every written, even by Poe, but it is stark and thrilling.  The senses are aroused.  When he first goes into his cell, he is in total blackness, and long story short, there is ALSO a big pit right in the middle of unknown depth and, as it turns out, unknown contents.  Here’s a spoiler–the guy does not want to fall into the pit.

But back to that pendulum thing.


Imagine being strapped there, helpless to move, knowing that with each passing moment, disaster is coming closer to cut you in half.  You are trapped–lost.

My little girl is having surgery tomorrow.  Not a heart transplant or anything like that, but major surgery just the same.


What I’m learning from this experience is that fear really has no  basis in reality.  Oh, don’t get me wrong–the feelings that come from being afraid of something are as real as it gets.  But the fear itself is a phantom, a black ghost that whispers through the recesses of your mind and imagination at odd times, like when you are laying quietly in the dark, hoping for sleep.  It murmurs unbearable thoughts into your ear when you aren’t expecting it, planting a seed which will, with the right care and tending, grow into a poisonous vine that twists around every thought.  It’s the fear of what if, the unknowable maybe, the surrender of our already delusional control.  Here’s the worst part: these fears aren’t for myself.  That, at least, would be tolerable.  But this isn’t.


When your personality tends to the extreme side, it’s no big deal.  A little too fearful, maybe.  A little too anxious.  A tiny bit obsessive and compulsive.  Nothing therapy-worthy, just material for a blog and a good laugh from time to time.  But when the gears are already slipping a little, real fear shows up, and all hell breaks loose.


I am terrified.  The surgery is tomorrow.  The pendulum is almost here, but here’s the crux–it isn’t swinging over me, but my sweet little girl.  And I’m stuck in one of those dreams where I can see the action happening, but am powerless to do anything to stop it.



This fear has pushed me to the limits of my sanity.  Yesterday, I was driving, and  I had to pull over on the side of the road.  There was an intersection ahead, both in reality and metaphorically speaking.  The fear was there with me, as it always is, a black, pulsating thing that doesn’t kill but only squeezes, tighter and tighter around my heart and my lungs and even my throat.  It squeezes so hard that tears sometimes leak down my face from eyes that look starey and strange to their owner.  I had a wonderful vision.  I took the other road, the road away from home.  My daughter was with me.  My van was full of gas.  We just had a payday.  I stopped and bought the few things we would need to get past the surgery date.  Then, we just drove. We drove southeast, headed for the sea.  My sweet little girl saw all of that water and jumped in her seat because she was so excited.  She loves the beach so much.  We held hands as we drew closer, and when we parked, I got her out and just squeezed and squeezed and squeezed her, and the fear was gone, because I had left it back in the mountains.  There was no pendulum down there, no pit, no darkness.  Just us.  Just me and my little girl, safe and sound.  My little girl whose hair always smells so nice, who puts her hand so trustingly in mine and just knows that I am never going to let anything bad happen to her.

My little girl.

Of course, what I really did was take the road that went home, just as I always do.  Because responsibility comes with a price, a high one.  Pray for us.  Pray for my little girl.



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