Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Jon Huntsman's Sexist A**hole Quote of the Day

And I thought low-polling Jon Huntsman was the relatively sane one in the GOP carnival of presidential wannabes. There is no sane one. Speaking of the women who've accused Herman Cain, defender of the sanctimony of marriage, of sexual assault, sexual harassment and 13 years of adultery, Jon Huntsman showed his true colors by referring to the women as "bimbos:"

"We’ve got real issues to talk about, not the latest bimbo eruption."

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Afternoon at Hillwood House

To celebrate Thanksgiving, and for a change of scenery, I headed down to our nation's capitol.  On my list of things to do was to visit Marjorie Merriweather Post's estate in north DC called Hillwood. Marjorie Merriweather Post (188 -1973) was the daughter of C.W. Post who invented a coffee substitute called Posties as well as Grape Nuts.  At the time of his death, when she was 27, she inherited $20 million dollars which is something like over a $100 million dollars in today's money.  Suffice it to say, girlfriend didn't have to clip coupons.  Although she could have spent the rest of her life counting her money, Marjorie was a shrewd businessman. She served on the board of her father's company The Postum Cereal Company,  which he'd founded in 1895.  With her second husband, E.F. Hutton (anyone remember those commericals, "When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen?), she developed a wider range of products including Birdseye.  The company eventually became the General Foods Corporation in 1929.

In the 1950's Marjorie Merriweather Post bought Hillwood House, which she extensively renovated.  It's now home to her large collection of French and Russian decorative arts.  The web-site has an awesome orientation video.which you can watch here  The house is gorgeous, but it is not easy to find, let me tell you. I got lost along the way, and ended up almost in Maryland! However, I did manage to find the Politics and Prose bookstore which was also on my list of places to visit.  After I managed to turn myself around, I finally got to the museum but with only an hour to look around before it closed for the day.  So I quickly headed over to the Adirondack House on the property to see the Wedding Belles exhibition.

The exhibition features not only all 4 of Marjorie Merriweather Post's wedding dresses, to husbands Edward Bennett Close (who later remarried, Glenn Close is his granddaughter), E.F. Hutton, Joseph Davies, and Herbert A. May, but also her mother Ella Merriweather's dress, and the wedding dresses of her daughters Adelaide, and Eleanor Close and Nedenia Hutton (the actress Dina Merrill). It's amazing to see how not only fashion, but wedding fashions have changed since the 19th century.  Back then, very few women wore white wedding dresses unless they were rich, most women like Ella Merriweather wore an afternoon dress, something that they could wear again. The exhibit also features the flower girl and bridesmaids dresses worn by Dina Merrill as a child.

I had enough time after the Wedding Belles exhibition to visit the main house. During her third marriage, her husband Joseph Davies became the second American ambassador to the Soviet Union.  During that time, Marjorie acquired many valuable works of art from the Soviets.  Not just decorative arts but paintings and photographs of the Russian Tsars.  I don't think I've ever seen so many portraits of Tsar Nicholas II as I did at Hillwood House, not to mention some fabulous portraits of Catherine the Great and Empress Alexandra.  There are also several Faberge eggs, Sevres porcelain, French furniture, tapestries, and many, many Russian icons.

This little beauty is what Princess Alexandra of Hesse wore at her wedding ceremony to Tsar Nicholas II in 1894.  The crown consists of bands of diamonds sewn into velvet-covered supports and surmounted by a cross of six large, old mine-cut diamonds.

This small brooch was most likely made soon after Tsar Nicholas and Tsaritsa Alexandra’s wedding. On it, Alexandra wears a headpiece and jewels similar to the ones in the couple’s wedding portraits. Nicholas is depicted in the uniform of the Life-Guard Hussars Regiment that he wore at the wedding.

These objects are part of a large dressing table set from the dowry of Grand Duchess Ekaterina Mikhailovna, a niece of Tsar Nicholas I. Commissioned for her wedding to the duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz in 1851, this set reflects the tradition of grandiose objects produced in the eighteenth century deemed indispensable to the ceremonial acts of grooming and dressing.

The museum houses more than 16,000 objects that Post collected over the years.  I definitely want to go back in the spring when the garden is in full bloom.  The estate covers 25 acres of land, including the main house, the cafe, the dacha, the Adirondack house, the Butler's house, etc.  Hillwood was just one of Marjorie Merriweather Post's estates.  Mar-a-lago, her estate in Palm Beach, was bought by Donald Trump and turned into an exclusive club.  It originally had 115 rooms! She also owned Camp Topridge in the Adirondacks as well as a home in Brookville, NY which she sold to Long Island University for $200,000.  It is now the C.W. Post Campus of LIU.

What I loved about Hillwood was that it still felt like a private home. Interspersed amongst all the art work and expensive furniture are tons of family photographs and portraits.  I could just imagine Marjorie Merriweather Post sweeping down the staircase in an evening gown to greet her guests at some swanky party that she was hosting. However, one of the best parts of the visit, was wandering through the gift shop and seeing my book, Scandalous Women perched between Leslie Carroll's Royal Pains and Kris Waldherr's Doomed Queens!

If you are ever in Washington, DC, I encourage you to visit Hillwood House.  You won't regret it!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Guest Blogger Debra Brenegan on The Remarkable Life of Fanny Fern

Scandalous Women is pleased to welcome author Debra Brenegan to the blog today to talk about Fanny Fern, once one of the highest paid columnists in the United States, making $100 a week way back in 1855.

Talk about a scandalous woman! Fanny Fern helped define the term. And the sad thing is that most people have never heard of her. I had never heard of her either until one day, in graduate school, I took a nineteenth-century American Literature class with a professor who told me, “I know a writer you’re just going to love.” This writer, Fanny Fern, wasn’t on our reading list that semester, so, he added her book, Ruth Hall, to the reading list of a course I took with him the next semester. And, he was right – I adored her!

Fanny Fern was the highest-paid, most-popular writer of her era. She served as a literary mentor to Walt Whitman, earned the respect of Nathaniel Hawthorne and was friends with Harriet Beecher Stowe. Fern’s personal life was a rollercoaster of highs and lows. She was widowed, escaped an abusive second marriage, and then married a third man, eleven years her junior.

I became so interested in Fern and her amazing life that I started writing papers about her. I applied for and got a graduate school fellowship to visit Fern’s archives at Smith College in Massachusetts. As I learned more about Fanny Fern, I couldn’t stop telling people about her. And people were amazed with her rags-to-riches story. They couldn’t believe that they had never heard of her. When it came time to write my dissertation, I combined my interest in creative writing, literature and Women’s Studies to write a historical novel about this forgotten journalist, novelist and feminist. I wanted everyone who hadn’t heard of Fanny Fern to learn about her; I wanted to bring her back to life.

That dissertation became my first published book, the historical novel Shame the Devil (SUNY Press). My book tells the remarkable and true story of Fanny Fern (the pen name of Sara Payson Willis). Well ahead of her time, Fern (1811-1872) scrabbled in the depths of poverty before her meteoric rise to fame and fortune. She penned one of the country's first prenuptial agreements and served as a nineteenth-century Oprah to her hundreds of thousands of fans. Her weekly editorials in the pages of the New York Ledger over a period of about twenty years chronicled the myriad controversies of her era and demonstrated her firm belief in the motto, "Speak the truth, and shame the devil."

You can learn more about Fanny Fern, her life, and the book Shame the Devil on my website:

Have you ever heard of Fanny Fern? If you haven’t (and many people haven’t), why do you suppose that is?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Yet Another Woman From Cain's Sordid Past

If Cain's wife had any sense, she would have filed the divorce papers a very long time ago:

Georgia Woman Claims 13-Year Affair with Herman Cain
: An Atlanta businesswoman is breaking her silence, claiming she has been involved in a 13-year-long affair with Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain.

White was worried a political tsunami was headed her way. So, she decided to head it off, by confessing she was involved in a 13-year-long affair with presidential hopeful Herman Cain...

She says the physical relationship ended about eight months ago, right before Cain announced he was running for president. But the communication did not. When we asked for any corroborating evidence, she pointed us to her cell phone contacts. One name: Herman Cain.

She showed us some of her cell phone bills that included 61 phone calls or text messages to or from a number starting with 678. She says it is Herman Cain's private cell phone. The calls were made during four different months-- calls or texts made as early as 4:26 in the early morning, and as late as 7:52 at night. The latest were in September of this year.

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DNC on Flip-Flopper Mitt Romney: 'The story of two men trapped in one body' (Video)


--... in the DNC video, Jay Leno cracks: “You remember Mitt Romney? He invented Obamacare before he was against it.” And Conan O’Brien jabs: “Experts are predicting kind of a tough fight between Romney and his BIGGEST ideological opponent: Mitt Romney from four years ago.

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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Scandalous Movie Review: My Week with Marilyn


Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe
Kenneth Branagh as Sir Laurence Olivier
Eddie Redmayne as Colin Clark
Judi Dench as Dame Sybil Thorndike
Emma Watson as Lucy
Dougray Scott as Arthur Miller
Dominic Cooper as Milton H. Greene
Julia Ormond as Vivien Leigh
Derek Jacobi as Sir Owen Morshead
Zoƫ Wanamaker as Paula Strasberg
Richard Clifford as Richard Wattis
Philip Jackson as Roger Smith
Simon Russell Beale as Admiral Cotes-Preedy

Directed by: Simon Curtis
Written by Adrian Hodges based on the memoirs of Colin Clark
Produced by David Parfitt, Harvey Weinstein, The Weinstein  Company and BBC Films

Synopsis: In the summer of 1956, and 23 year old Colin Clark is looking for a job as an assistant on a film.  He talks his way into a job working as the 3rd Assistant Director on the British film of The Prince and the Showgirl (based on the The Sleeping Prince by Terrence Rattigan), starring Knight of the British theatre Laurence Olivier and American film star Marilyn Monroe, who is also on honeymoon with her new husband, playwright Arthur Miller. Things on the set start rocky and get worse as Marilyn's insecurities get the best of her.  Olivier is frustrated by her lateness and her dependence on her acting coach Paula Strasberg, wife of Method guru Lee Strasberg. When Arthur Miller leaves the country to do some work, Marilyn begins to rely on Colin to keep her company.  Olivier tells Colin to do anything to make Marilyn happy and get her to the set on time. Colin, who of course falls immediately under Marilyn's spell, introduces her to th wonders of British life as they spend a week together, during which time she escapes from the pressures of work. But the idyll has to end, leaving Colin sad but happy with his memories of the magical time that he spent with Marilyn.

My thoughts:  I read Clark's memoirs when they first came out back in the 1990's on a trip to England. Like many people, I've been fascinated with Marilyn Monroe since childhood. I've read pretty much every book ever written about her, her combination of sexuality and vulnerability has rarely been duplicated by any actress. So when I heard that they were making a movie out of the book, I had my misgivings.  Does anyone remember the HBO movie where Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino shared the role of Marilyn, Ashley played the pre-nose job, pre-blonde Marilyn as a tough cookie, while Sorvino played the later Marilyn.  It didn't really work, and I've avoided biopics about Marilyn ever since.  Still, I couldn't help but wonder, especially given the cast that had been assembled for the film.  The movie premiered at The New York Film Festival but I wasn't not paying $50 to see the film.  However, when the film opened the day before Thanksgiving, I thought I would make it my Thanksgiving film.

I'm happy to see that my fears weren't realized, although at first I was worried, the first few scenes were not promising.  Initially, they just seemed a catalog of Monroe stereotypes, breathy voice, the giggle, as the film progresses, it goes deeper into Monroe's psyche as Colin gets to know the real Marilyn. Michelle Williams doesn't do an impersonation of Marilyn Monroe, she is Marilyn from the tips of her platinum blonde locks to the wiggle in her walk.  Williams has said in interviews that she spent six months not just reading Monroe biographies but also studying her walk and her vocal inflections, and it paid off. However, her work clearly went deeper than that. Williams captures Marilyn's fears, her vulnerability, her neediness, vanity, foolish, and her ability to turn the character that she called 'her' on and off when necessary. Marilyn's emotions are never very far from the surface, and Williams has the ability to portray her ability to turn on a dime from sadness to happiness in the blink of an eye. The scene where she reads her husband's work and realizes that he's created an unflattering portrait of her are devastating.

This film is a coming of age story with Colin Clark, played by the dynamic Eddie Redmayne, going from a boy who is unsure about what he wants to do with his life to a man. It's lovely to see his fumbling attempts to woo Lucy, the wardrobe assistant played by Emma Watson, and to defy the low expectations of the filmmakers who see him as just a gopher initially. Some of the best scenes in the film are when he goes above and beyond the call of duty much to the chagrin of his bosses.

Both Colin and Marilyn have to deal with expectations, for Colin it has to do with having a famous father, art historian Sir Kenneth Clark, and a famous brother, conservative politician and military historian Alan Clark.  For Marilyn, it's the expectations of the public and her fellow actors.  On the Prince and the Showgirl, she worries that she's not good enough to work with the English actors in the cast, most of whom are theatre veterans.  Dame Judi Dench does superb work as usual in the small role of Dame Sybil Thorndike, who goes out of her way to make Marilyn feel welcome on the set, something that Olivier seems incapable of doing.

At first Kenneth Branagh seemed miscast as Laurence Olivier, he's shorter, blonder, doughier with no upper lip, but he manages to capture the impatience, and the narcissism of a man who has been told that he's the greatest actor in England, and feels that his poop doesn't stink. When Olivier has to eat crow later in the film, acknowledging that Marilyn has a gift for film acting that he doesn't possess, it's brilliant. Of course the film is peopled with wonderful actors in supporting roles such as Sir Derek Jacobi, Simon Russell Beale, Toby Jones, and Michael Kitchen.  Zoe Wanamaker almost steals the film as Paula Strasberg.  One longs for someone to make a film out of Susan Strasberg's memoir about what it was like to have her parents virtually adopt Marilyn, neglecting the needs of their own children. Only Dominic Cooper is miscast as Milton Greene, Marilyn's former lover and business partner.  He's too young for the role and lacks the gravitas for the part.  Unfortunately Dougray Scott is given very little too do as Arthur Miller.

While the film is not quite as emotionally satisfying as The King's Speech, it does evoke nostalgia for a time and a world that no longer exists.  The film rests squarely on the more than adequate shoulders of Michelle Williams and Eddie Redmayne.  It was a more than pleasant way to spend my Thanksgiving.

My verdict:  Two thumbs up!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Pepper Spray Pike Meme (Video)

Mocking A**hole Lt. John Pike for pepper-spraying passively peaceful kids like they were some garden cock-roaches... CNN's Jeanie Most documents the mockery that has sprung from the most righteous outrage.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Mysterious Disappearance of Aimee Semple McPherson

Sex scandals involving men of the cloth are not new (see Jimmy Swaggart. Jim Bakker, etc.); as far back as 1874 Henry Ward Beecher’s former assistant Theodore Tilton sued the preacher for ‘criminal intimacy’ with his wife Elizabeth Tilton. But a scandal involving a female evangelist was something new entirely. Aimee Semple McPherson was no ordinary female evangelist; she was also a media celebrity, one of the first evangelists to combine religion and popular entertainment in America. In the 1920's, Aimee was more famous than movie stars, such as Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford.  Her radio show sometimes reached as far as Australia. Over more than 30 years, Aimee Semple McPherson touched the lives of millions across the country.
Born in Canada in 1890, Aimee was exposed to religion at an early age. According to biographer Daniel Mark Epstein, Aimee was consecrated to God at her birth, by her mother Mimi, who was a soldier in the Salvation Army. Strong-willed and inquisitive by nature, Aimee suffered a spiritual crisis in her teens; trying to reconcile the theory of evolution she was taught in school with the teaching of Genesis in the Bible. Attending a revival meeting one day, she met her first husband, a charismatic Irishman named Robert Semple who was a guest preacher. Aimee found her calling and a husband at the same time. They soon married, partners in the Pentecostal faith, intent on spreading the word, but their happiness was short-lived. Robert died of dysentery and malaria four months after the couple arrived in China to do missionary work. Aimee was eight months pregnant with their daughter Roberta, penniless and alone. She managed to make her way back to New York, where her mother arranged a job for her working for the Salvation Army. It was there that she met her second husband, a restaurant accountant by the name of Harold McPherson.

Aimee tried to settle down as an ordinary housewife in Rhode Island, giving birth to a second child, a son named Rolf but she began suffering from depression and various ailments. In the hospital, she heard a voice saying “Now will you go? Now will you go?” Aimee decided to return to her ministry, buying 2 white servant uniforms, which became her signature look. With no savings, no church backing, and no guarantees, she set off to make a name for herself as a female preacher. From that point on, she would be known simply as “Sister.”

Over the next seven years, Aimee would criss-cross the country six times. She didn’t just talk of the gospel but of her own experiences as a wife and a mother. She turned the usual gospel of hell-fire and damnation into a gospel of love. But the constant touring took a toll on her marriage, and her husband eventually filed for divorce. After touring around the country for several years, Aimee decided to settle down in Los Angeles. Although she preached a conservative gospel, against evolution and for temperance, Aimee used modern technology, radio, movies and magazines, to get her message across. Her revival meetings were more like stage shows, dramatizing scenes from the Bible, with a full orchestra. In Los Angeles, she founded the Church of the Foursquare Gospel, building the huge Angelus Temple, which seated 5,300 people. Aimee was also one of the first women to preach a radio sermon, and she racially integrated her tent meetings and church services. By 1926, she was one of the most influential and charismatic women of her time.

On April 24, 1926, evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson returned from a three month trip to Europe and the Holy Land. She returned home to a life of loneliness, overwork, bickering with her mother, and the pressures of fame. “At the end of each day,” she wrote, “…dear people would go to their homes arm in arm, while I would sit in silence.” Aimee had almost immediately plunged back into her crusade against evolution. If that wasn’t enough on her plate, she’d also stuck her nose into local politics, campaigning to keep Venice Beach’s blue laws on the books, which prohibited things like dancing on Sundays. Her actions just added to her list of enemies which already included fellow evangelist Robert P. Schuler who felt that she was a poacher, raiding other church’s congregations. He also believed that she was more of a personality than a preacher, McPhersonism rather than Christianity.

Almost five weeks later, on May 18, 1926, Aimee went with her secretary to Ocean Park Beach north of Venice Beach for a swim. She often went to the beach to work on her sermons. That day she ate waffles with her secretary, wrote for a little while, and then went for a swim. After an hour, her secretary grew alarmed that she hadn’t returned. McPherson was scheduled to hold a service that day; her mother Minnie Kennedy preached the sermon instead, concluding with the words, "Sister is with Jesus," sending parishioners into a tearful frenzy. Thousands flocked to Venice Beach to watch the hunt for Aimee’s body as parishioners held day and night seaside vigils. Merchants did a big business selling photos of the evangelist. The hunt hurt the bootleggers business since they couldn’t bring in the booze without drawing attention to themselves. One parishioner drowned while searching for the body and a diver died of exposure. McPherson's mother received a ransom note (signed by "The Avengers") which demanded a half million dollars, or else the kidnappers would sell McPherson into "white slavery". She later claimed that she’d tossed the letter away, believing her daughter was already dead.

Aimee’s disappearance was a boon to the local newspapers circulation, The Los Angeles Times and William Randolph Hearst's Los Angeles Examiner competed to see who could get the latest scoop. Daily updates appeared in newspapers around the country, the story helping to attract new subscribers. The New York Times printed the same number of articles that they had on the Scopes Monkey trial one year earlier. Americans eagerly followed each new tidbit in the story. The Los Angeles Times chartered a plane to scan the ocean for Aimee’s body and even hired a parachutist. Other papers, lacking the resources, printed excerpts from Aimee’s autobiography. More than 50 reporters were assigned to the story. When there was no news, they simply printed rumor and innuendo.

On June 23, just when everyone assumed she was knocking on heaven’s door, Aimee knocked on the door of a cottage in Agua Prieta, Sonora, a Mexican town across the border from Douglas, Arizona. She claimed she had been kidnapped, drugged, tortured, and held for ransom in a shack by a man and a woman, "Steve" and "Mexicali Rose". She had managed to escape from her captors,  walking 13 hours through the desert to freedom. She was quickly taken to a hospital. On the surface, the story seemed plausible; the FBI had been investigating a number of kidnapping rings in Southern California, but things didn’t seem to add up. Aimee's shoes showed no signs of a long desert trek, nor did they have grass stains on them. Aimee had also been wearing a bathing suit when she disappeared, but turned up in a dress, wearing a wristwatch that she hadn’t worn to the beach. Although she claimed that had been tortured and drugged, she seemed in surprisingly good health for someone who been through an ordeal nor was there any evidence of sunburn or dehydration.
A crowd of at least 50,000 people gathered to welcome her home after her ordeal, which was the largest crowd that had ever gathered to greet anyone arriving in Los Angeles—including sports figures, presidents, politicians or movie stars. The Los Angeles police department assigned a special guard to protect her and the Fire Department turned up in their parade uniforms.  Aimee stood surrounded by 7 young women dressed in white as rose petals were tossed from planes overhead. Gossip columnist Louella Parsons covered the event for Hearst’s Los Angeles Examiner.

Within days, many were calling for a full investigation into Aimee’s “kidnapping.” The Los Angeles Examiner offered $10,000 for information about the kidnappers and $1,000 if anyone could locate the shack where Aimee was allegedly kept. However, the police seemed to have no interest in trying to find the kidnappers. Instead they focused on investigating Aimee’s personal life. They focused in particular on Kenneth Ormiston, the married engineer of the radio station she owned, who mysteriously disappeared around the same time. People quickly put two and two together and came up with the idea that the two were having an affair. Others, however, believed that the story was just one big publicity stunt.
A grand jury convened on July 8, 1926, but adjourned 12 days later citing lack of evidence to proceed. Witnesses came forward claiming to have seen Aimee at a seaside cottage in Carmel-by-the-Sea, the cottage rented by Kenneth Ormiston under an assumed name. Ormiston admitted he had rented the cottage but claimed that the woman --known in the press as Mrs. X--was not Aimee but another woman with whom he was having an affair. When the grand jury reconvened on August 3, it heard further testimony along with documents from hotels, all said to be in Aimee's handwriting.

Aimee never wavered from her story, that she was approached by a young couple at the beach who had asked her to come over and pray for their sick child, and that she was then shoved into a car and drugged with chloroform. When she was not forthcoming with answers regarding her relationship with Ormiston, the judge charged Aimee and her mother with obstruction of justice. She showed up in court every day with seven female attendants who were dressed like her in a white uniform with a navy cape. Not content to leave her fate solely in God’s hands, Aimee hired three of the most powerful lawyers in Los Angeles. To combat the bad newspaper publicity, Aimee spoke freely about the court trials on the air from her radio station. She likened herself to Joan of Arc, claiming that the forces of evil were trying to sacrifice a woman preacher. Just like in the 15th century, men were threatened by a powerful woman who challenged the status quo.

The prosecution of Aimee generated support for her among local flappers who attended the trial in support, they regarded her as a modern woman similar to themselves, and whose prosecution they believed was motivated by issues of gender. Newspaperman and cynic H.L. Mencken, previously a vocal critic of McPherson's,  came away from the trial impressed with Aimee and disdainful of the prosecution. He concluded that that if you want to discredit somebody’s political agenda, then you go after their private life (now a fact of life for politicians) but still somewhat new at the time. Aimee had been very vocal about getting the teaching of evolution out of California schools and Bibles into every classroom. The same civic leaders, who had had once embraced her, now saw her as an embarrassment. In the end, the district attorney had no clear evidence that she and her mother had obstructed justice, and the charges were dropped. However, the damage to Aimee’s reputation was done.

To this day no one knows what really happened to Aimee Semple McPherson. Biographer Matthew Avery Sutton concedes that Aimee may have simply wanted to disappear for a break, or for good, not realizing the uproar that would be created by her disappearance. Others believed that Aimee would have risked everything that she had worked so hard for just to throw it away on a sexual affair or a publicity stunt. Theories and innuendo abounded: that she had run off with a lover, she had gone off to have an abortion, she was taking time to heal from plastic surgery, or she had staged a publicity stunt. Nevertheless, her disappearance produced a turmoil that convulsed Los Angeles, and enthralled millions of spectators who watched the unfolding drama in the press and on radio.

Aimee struggled for several years after the kidnapping, trying to re-establish her public image. She lost weight, and bobbed her hair, appeared in a Broadway show about her life, which was less than successful since she refused to talk about the kidnapping. There were dozens of lawsuits, and she even became estranged for a time from her mother and daughter. She eloped with a singer named Dave Hutton, who had appeared in one of her productions, outraging some of her parishioners who believed that divorcees should never remarry (the couple later divorced). As the country entered the Depression, Aimee began preaching to the poor and disenfranchised, particularly the African-American and Mexican communities in Los Angeles. Finally, she returned to her Pentecostal roots, publicly speaking in tongues, preaching that the country needed not just an economic revival but a spiritual one as well. In 1944, she arrived in Oakland to preach. One night before she went to bed, she took some barbiturates to help her sleep. She never woke up. Her son found her unconscious on the floor of her room. Although the official coroner’s report stated that her death was an accident, it was initially reported as a suicide.

More than 50 years later, the story of her disappearance still continues to fascinate novelists such as Sinclair Lewis and Nathaniel West, songwriters, and filmmakers. It is one of the great unsolved mysteries in American history.


Epstein, Daniel Mark. Sister Aimee: The Life of Aimee Semple McPherson. New York: Harcourt, Brace & Company, 1993.
Sutton, Matthew A. Aimee Semple McPherson and the Resurrection of Christian America. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2007

Lt. John Pike, Pepper-Spray Cop, Meme Slide Show

Lt. John Pike, aka the Pepper Spray Cop, earned his mark of infamy:

Lt. John Pike Pepper-Spray Cop Meme | Slide show

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Democrats Urge Obama to Step Aside For Hillary

Democrats Patrick Caddell and Douglas Schoen argue in the Wall Street Journal that Obama must forgo a second term for the sake of the Democratic Party and for the sake of the country.

For obvious reasons, the piece is titled, The Hillary Moment:

He should abandon his candidacy for re-election in favor of a clear alternative, one capable not only of saving the Democratic Party, but more important, of governing effectively and in a way that preserves the most important of the president's accomplishments. He should step aside for the one candidate who would become, by acclamation, the nominee of the Democratic Party: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

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Why Occupy Wall Street Will Keep Up the Fight

From the original instigators of Occupy Wall Street:

Washington Post--Bloomberg’s shock-troop assault has stiffened our resolve and ushered in a new phase of our movement. The people’s assemblies will continue with or without winter encampments. What will be new is the marked escalation of surprise, playful, precision disruptions — rush-hour flash mobs, bank occupations, “occupy squads” and edgy theatrics. And we will see clearly articulated demands emerging, among them a “Robin Hood tax” on all financial transactions and currency trades; a ban on high-frequency “flash” trading; the reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act to again separate investment banking from commercial banking; a constitutional amendment to revoke corporate personhood and overrule Citizens United ; a move toward a “true cost” market regime in which the price of every product reflects the ecological cost of its production, distribution and use; and with a bit of luck, perhaps even the birth of a new, left-right hybrid political party that moves America beyond the Coke vs. Pepsi choices of the past.

In this visceral, canny, militantly nonviolent phase of our march to real democracy, we will “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.” We will regroup, lick our wounds, brainstorm and network all winter. We will build momentum for a full-spectrum counterattack when the crocuses bloom next spring.

[The authors - Kalle Lasn and Micah White - are editor in chief and senior editor, respectively, of Adbusters magazine, the go-to source for info on the Occupy Movement.]

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Occupy Hope Poster: Shepard Fairey Replaces Obama With Guy Fawkes Mask (Photo)

The poster reads: "Mister President, we HOPE you're on our side" and the former Obama logo has been transformed into a "We are the 99 percent" logo.

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Brute Cop Pepper Sprays Non-Violent Seated Students at UC-Davis (Video)

This despicable brute of a cop (The brute is Lieutenant John Pike. 530-752-3989 would be right at home in Syria.

Boing-Boing: In the video above, you see a police officer [Update: UC Davis Police Lt. John Pike] walk down a line of those young people seated quietly on the ground in an act of nonviolent civil disobedience, and spray them all with pepper spray at very close range. He is clearing a path for fellow officers to walk through and arrest more students, but it's as if he's dousing a row of bugs with insecticide. . . At least one woman is reported to have been taken away in an ambulance with chemical burns.

Chancellor’s office (530) 752-2065

UC Davis police (530) 752-1727

Occupy UC Davis has a Facebook here: Protesters will be engaging civil rights attorneys to pursue legal action against the University and City of Davis for excessive force and for violating their civil and constitutional rights.

Sign the Petition: Police Pepper-Spray Peaceful UC Davis Students: Ask Chancellor Katehi to Resign!

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Woman Gets Jail For Food-Stamp Fraud; Wall Street Fraudsters Get Bailouts

She lied about her past drug convictions in order to get food stamps or a little help feeding her two children. In unforgiving states like Mississippi, children must go hungry when parents are caught in the War on Drugs.

The mom got 3 years in a federal prison. The children got 3 years without a mom. No pity for children here.

I forget, what did the banksters at Citigroup and Goldman Sachs get?

Anita McLemore, meanwhile, lied to feed her children, gave back every penny of her "fraud" when she got caught, and is now going to do three years in prison. Explain that, Eric Holder!

Here’s another thing that boggles my mind: You get busted for drugs in this country, and it turns out you can make yourself ineligible to receive food stamps.

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Running Scared: Herman Cain Cancels Interview With NH Newspaper (Video)

First the newly camera-shy sexual harasser Herman Cain insisted that his interview with New Hampshire's Union Leader "not be videotaped." The folks at the newspaper said okay. Then Herman Cain realized that the newspaper would find other ways to report that he is all ego and no brain, so Cain then demanded that the hour-long interview be cut to 20 minutes. The newspaper said no. Petrified Cain canceled the interview. [via]

Like I said, Herman Cain is running scared.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hillary Laughs At Half-Naked Streaker (Video)

Hillary's Hawaiian Surprise via Daily Mail

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Occupy Seattle: Pregnant Woman & Elderly Woman Pepper Sprayed by Police

Among the peaceful protesters pepper-sprayed by police at OCCUPY Seattle were a pregnant 19-year-old and an 84-year-old activist:

SEATTLE - A downtown march and rally in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement turned briefly chaotic as police scattered a crowd of rowdy protesters — including a pregnant 19-year-old and an 84-year-old activist — with blasts of pepper spray.

The Occupy Seattle movement released a written statement late Tuesday expressing support for "a 4-foot 10-inch, 84-year-old woman, a priest and a pregnant woman who as of this writing is still in the hospital."

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Portraits of 99 From Occupy Wall Street (Photos)

Faces, and Voices, From Zuccotti Park

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Scandalous Women around the Blogosphere

Just a quick round up of some links relating to various Scandalous Women.

Historian Tracy Borman, whose new book Matilda: Queen of the Conqueror, was published by Jonathan Cape on 1 September, has a great podcast over at BBC History Magazine about Matilda. Borman is one of the History Chicks, along with Alison Weir, Kate Williams, and Sarah Gristwood, who lecture in the UK.  How I long to be included in that group!

At History Today, there is a great article about Louis XV's mistress Madame de Pompadour, entitled Madame de Pompadour: The Other Cheek, detailing some of the obscene and irreverent 18th-century drawings targetting the royal mistress.  Thanks to Kathrynn Dennis of The History Hoydens for finding the article.  I would love to read a historical fiction novel from the POV of Madame de Pompadour.

Robert K. Massie, whose new biography of Catherine the Great, just came out this month has an interesting article over at The Wall Street Journal entitled: Catherine the Great's Lessons for Despots.

Speaking of women in power, TIME magazine had a nice cover story on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Was Jane Austen murdered? That's what crime novelist Lindsay Ashford wants to know.

Another fascinating article on the Bronte Sisters.  Why has no one filmed a miniseries or a film about the sisters? I had heard rumors that Michelle Williams was involved in a project but there's nothing on Internet Movie Database.  I, personally, think that James McAvoy would make an interesting Branwell Bronte, and I would definitely cast Cary Mulligan as either Charlotte or Anne. Given the interest in remaking Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights ad nauseum, you would think a film about the sisters would be a slam dunk.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Elizabeth Hasselbeck Grills Bill Maher (Video)

I thought it was remarkably out of character when Bill Maher said something almost positive about women on Real Time Friday night. Apparently Maher was prepping for his upcoming appearance on The View:

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Scalia and Thomas Prove SCOTUS Is Corrupt

Not only do Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas not bother to hide their extremely partisan points of view, they are actually keynote speakers at "a dinner thrown by health care law challengers."

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Scandalous Women on Film: Iron Lady Trailer

I can't tell you how excited I am to see this movie. Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher? How could this movie go wrong.  Have a look at the brand new trailer of upcoming biopic movie ‘The Iron Lady’ based on Margaret Thatcher, the UK first female Prime Minister. The film focuseson Thatcher's charismatic political persona and her personal vulnerability as a woman. Meryl Streep recently shared that it took a lot out of her to don the role, but it was a privilege to play Margaret Thatcher.

The movie is directed by Phyllida Lloyd and besides Meryl Streep, the movie features Jim Broadbent, Richard E. Grant, Harry Lloyd, Roger Allam, Anthony Head and Olive Colman. The movie hits the US  on December 30, 2011 and on January 6, 2012 in the UK.  I think that it is a given that Streep will earn yet another Oscar nomination, but she has stiff competition in Glenn Close who plays a woman who disguises herself as a man in Albert Dobbs.

This is a banner fall for films about Scandalous Women.  Along with Iron Lady and Albert Dobbs, new films include Keira Knightly (who is in everything) as Sabina Spielrein in A Dangerous Method, Madonna's new film about the abdicaiton W.E., and Michelle Williams channeling Marilyn Monroe.

Which one of these films are people particularly looking forward to? I can't wait to see A Dangerous Method and W.E.

Herman Cain Supports Unions, Heh, & Is Very Confused About Libya (Video)

Herman Cain makes Rick Perry look intelligent. Now Cain says he supports collective bargaining. There go the rest of his poll numbers. Herman Cain has no clue about the basic principles required by his right-wing party. Nor has he a clue about foreign policy or even the front page news.

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Cainwreck: Ex-boyfriend of Sharon Bialek Talks About Cain's Sexual Misconduct

Sharon Bialek's ex boyfriend held a press conference today and confirmed that Bialek told him about Cain's inappropriate sexual behavior after her meeting with him in the 90's. Cain has plummeted to 3rd place in the polls ("Cain’s support among women has dropped from 28 percent to 15 percent") which is why he brought his wife forward to play like a good Stepford Wife. Cain was never going to be president but there's still time for the creep to try a stint at being an honest person:

In a statement read to reporters in Shreveport, La., Zuckerman says Bialek went to dinner with Cain in Washington and returned "upset. She said Mr. Cain had touched her in an inappropriate manner."

Zuckerman was joined at the news conference by lawyer Gloria Allred, who represents Bialek. The doctor, who described himself as a Republican, said he came forward to "aid the public in evaluating the statements previously made by Mr. Cain and Ms. Bialek."

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Gloria Cain Stands By Her Man

Yet another wife tells the world that she's the last to know.

Gloria Cain says Herman Cain "totally respects women."

Never mind the many charges of sexual harassment, Gloria Cain has obviously not been paying attention to Herman Cain's blatant disrespect for women as demonstrated during the last 2 weeks of his insensitive and sexist campaign.

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