[Yesterday I was just about to post the following when I felt a recurrence of the dizziness that sent me to the floor on Thanksgiving, This sent me to the emergency room, where I spent the second worst birthday of my life. I just got home, now just about 24 hours later, after three blood tests, about ten stroke tests, lots of other tests and quizzes, four doctors and a miserable night, culminating in the conclusion that whatever this was, it wasn’t related to my heart or circulation. 54% of fainting incidents, I learned remain mysteries. Swell.]
Ten years ago today, I went over to my parent’s condo to check on my dad, since my mother, then recovering from knee surgery, was concerned that she hadn’t heard from him. Jack A. Marshall Sr. was also going to take me out for dinner, since it was my birthday, but that pleasure was not to be. He had died, quietly during a nap, a few months short of his 90th year. I miss my father’s inspiration, guidance and unflagging support constantly, and December first has been a matter of serious dissonance for me ever since. I did take comfort, while everyone was telling me that I was a fool not to go to the emergency room after my fainting episode on Thanksgiving, that the odds of anyone dropping dead not only on the anniversary of his father’s death, but also on his own birthday, seems extremely remote. Kind of cool, though.
I took my birthday off of my Facebook page because those reflex happy birthday messages—I send them myself—are meaningless and faintly obligatory. Two years ago I received almost 200 of them, then last year I got the message when the number fell by about two-thirds. I had made it clear by then that I was rebelling against the Facebook Borg aka “the resistance,” and so I had been told that I did NOT deserve a happy birthday. Fine. Bite me.
1 “The Crown” Ethics. A. The Pretend Sister-in-Law Of The King’s Pass! While waiting to see if I was going to pass out again, I began watching Season 3 of Netflix’s “The Crown.” Like the first two seasons, the series is uniformly excellent and largely accurate, but I am annoyed at Helena Bonham Carter’s turn as the middle-aged Princess Margaret. Carter is an excellent actress as well as one of the biggest stars the series has featured, but to be blunt, she’s too fat to play Margaret, who at that point in her life was still vain winning the battle against middle-aged spread (at 5’1, it could not have been easy.) For a production that mostly aims for near perfect look-alike casting (young Charles, Princess Anne and Prince Phillip are especially uncanny), why would the producers allow Carter to appear on screen like this? Mostly, I’m annoyed at her: actors gain and lose weight all the time for roles, and a mere 10-15 pounds would have made Carter a credible and flattering Margaret. She could have hit the gym and laid off the kidney pie; obviously the actress didn’t care, and the producer and director let her get away with it, because she’s a star. Yet all the lines about how glamorous Margaret is make no sense as a result. Carter’s a beautiful woman, but she’s a mighty frumpy Princess Margaret.
B. A perfect future episode for Season 4, or maybe 5, is going on right now. Prince Andrew, the younger brother of Prince Charles, has long been mentioned a party pal of billionaire sex-slaver Jeffrey Epstein, and thanks to a car crash of a BBC interview in which he couldn’t have seemed more guilty and less remorseful, the Duke of York is reportedly being removed from all royal duties and may have his allowance cut off, meaning that his two princess daughters will no longer be supported by taxpayers, among other nasty consequences. Charleshas ordered a crisis meeting with his scandal-scarred brother before Monday night’s dreaded BBC special with key accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who accuses Andrew of raping her while she was under Epstein’s control.
The news media has been ostentatiously uninterested in Prince Andrew’s travails, in marked contrast to its coverage of the various Charles-Diana scandals in days of yore. One reason, I think, is that Epstein’s OTHER celebrity playmate was Bill Clinton, and it will be hard to expose one without drawing attention to the other. After all, the objective now is to get Trump, not remind the public about Bill (or Harvey.) Media bias is exhibited as much by what isn’t reported as by what is.
2. Wait, WHAT? Randi Chaverria, a 36-year-old family and consumer science teacher at Round Rock (Texas) High School,who had been named “Teacher of the Year” in May, was arrested after a student reported that she had performed oral sex on him twice in her classroom last month. (No, not during class. The headlines were vague on that point…) Text messages sent between the student and Chaverria support the teen’s accusations, investigators said.
3. One more reason to celebrate American exceptionalism: This can’t happen here. (YET!) But in Canada, comedian Mike Ward lost his appeal and was ordered by a Quebec judge to pay $35,000 to Jeremy Gabriel, a disabled celebrity who was the target of a mean joke. Gabriel suffers from a genetic disorder that causes facial deformity and affects his hearing, an two of three judges ruled Mike Ward’s facetious comments regarding Gabriel were not justifiable “in a society where freedom of expression is valued.”
The Quebec Human Rights Tribunal ruled the joke was discrimination against Gabriel and his parents and ordered Ward to pay damages for “making discriminatory comments regarding Jéremy Gabriel, infringing his right to equality.” This absurd logic is akin to that of American college students who claim that the opinions of conservative campus speakers make them “unsafe.”
Incredibly—I guess this is a Canadian thing?—Ward was originally ordered to pay an additional $7,000 to Gabriel’s mother. The courts overturned that decree due to the indirect relationship between the joke and the boy’s mother. In 2005, Gabriel sang to Pope Benedict and Celine Dion to achieve his dream of becoming an international singer. That made him a celebrity. In the U.S., anyone can make cruel jokes about them at will, anywhere, any time. They often deserve it.
Ward is defiant, and says he won’t pay a Canadian penny. He deserves out support.
4. When ethics alarms don’t ring…Amazon has pulled Christmas ornaments from its website after many pointed out on social media that Auschwitz- themed bulbs—one shows a train full of doomed Jews arriving at the death camp—are in bad taste.
Good call, Amazon!