Monday, June 6, 2016

Pheaturing Laura Ingalls

Hello, welcome to the Phile for a Monday. How are you? I'm okay, in a bit of a pain still, and peeing so much blood it looks like I am peering cranberry juice. Man, it's nasty outside here in Central Florida. Anyway... Last week, the entire Internet became rightly enraged when an elite athlete at Stanford University was convicted of raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster and then given an extraordinarily lenient sentence because, to quote the judge, a longer sentence would "have a severe impact on him." Before his son's sentencing on Thursday, the father of the 20-year-old rapist wrote a letter to the judge in the case saying prison would be too harsh a punishment. Specifically, too harsh because the assault only lasted 20 minutes. A letter by the father, Dan Turner, was posted to Twitter by a law professor at Stanford University, according to Jezebel. As a reminder, the "20 minutes of action" he was referring to was when his swim star son, Brock Allen Turner, raped a woman behind a dumpster. Putting aside the incredibly poor choice of the word "action" right now, as though his son's event was a cut scene from Superbad, focus instead on this bizarre concern with the time table. Does he think punishments should be served up based on how long the assault took? It's almost as if his father thinks a rape doesn't count unless it lasts as long as an episode of "Law & Order: SVU." Who cares how long the crime took? If Brock had taken the victim behind the dumpster and shot and killed her with a gun instead, it would have been .2 seconds of action. By the father's sentencing math, his son would already be home with time served. Don't be so surprised your son managed to ruin a woman's life so quickly, Dan A. Turner. He was a swim star, you used to be proud of him getting a lot done in a short amount. In under 10 minutes your son can swim 1000 yards. How long do you think a rape should take? The rest of the letter is almost equally appalling. Here he says people should go easy on him because he's never raped anyone before, as if the first one is free. "He has no prior criminal history and has never been violent to anyone." What is this, rape me once, shame on you? How about this obnoxious passage about how the rape conviction has ruined his son's ability to enjoy steak? "I was always excited to buy him a big ribeye steak to grill... now he barely consumes food and eats only to exist." Basically, his dad is very upset that his son is getting any punishment at all for raping a woman. “He will never be his happy go lucky self with that easy going personality and welcoming smile,” his dad laments. “His every waking minute is consumed with worry, anxiety, fear, and depression.” It almost sounds as if his son was the actual victim of his crime. You want to really see the negative effects of your son's actions, Dan? Every time you feel bad that your son don't like steak no more, read this powerful statement by his victim. Judge Aaron Persky, who gave Turner a slap on the wrist rather than an actual sentence, is up for re-election this year.
Fourteen-year-old Corey Maison made a video about being bullied that was shared by The BULLY Project on Facebook on June 3rd, where it's been viewed over a million times. In her video, Corey tells the story (via notecards) of growing up transgender and being tormented mercilessly by students at her school, who told her she should kill herself since no one liked her anyway. Kids just say the darnedest horrifying things, don't they? Corey's parents were understanding and involved enough in her life that they took her out of public school and homeschooled her, until she felt ready to go back. They found a small school with a supportive principal who let her use the girls' locker room and bathroom (suck it, Stacey Dash), and now she works with a therapist who's helping her transition from someone born physically male into a teenage girl. She even plays on the girls' soccer team. Corey says she was inspired by Jazz Jennings, the 15-year-old trans teenager who had her own TV show on TLC called "I Am Jazz," and who recently wrote a memoir called "Being Jazz." She claims the day she took her first dose of female hormones was the happiest day of her life. Corey made the video because she wanted to share her story with other kids being bullied, assuring them that no matter how bad things may feel, it can and does get better. Maybe not for Stacey Dash, though.
Mark Zuckerberg, certified tech genius worth 51.4 billion dollars, was hacked because he has a ridiculously stupid password. The coding prodigy who (according to The Social Network, at least) scored perfectly on his SATs, protected his Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest profiles with the word "dadada." No capitals, no numbers, no special characters. Just "dadada," according to a boast by the hackers reported by Yahoo! Finance. It could either be a reference to Dada, the post-World War I absurdist art movement, or "Dada," a common baby term for dad. Either way, it's a pretty dumb choice for password. Apparently, the password was stolen among 100 million others by hackers in 2012 and leaked last month. The Zuck was hacked by a group that calls itself "Ourmine," and claimed to just be conducting a "test," asking the Z-man to hit them up. It's kind of nice to know that even a billionaire genius is susceptible to stupidity. Maybe he would know how dumb "dadada" is had he not dropped out of Harvard.
On May 9th, a five-year-old North Carolina girl named Ainsley made princess history when she attended "Princess Week" at her dance school dressed as a hot dog. Because hot dogs are princesses, too. While all the other little girls at Holly Springs School of Dance came dressed as their favorite Disney princesses, Ainsley came dressed as her favorite tube-shaped food. Dance teachers Sarah Nativi and Grayson Lamontagne tweeted pictures of Ainsley in her costume, because they thought it was so funny and cute, but they didn't expect the pictures to blow up like they did (Lamontagne's tweet has been retweeted over 8,000 times by this afternoon). Nativi told BuzzFeed News, "[Ainsley] loves princesses, but she wanted to be original and wear a hot dog costume instead. She wore a princess costume underneath it and said she was a princess on the inside!" Nice! See, everyone can be a princess where it really counts... on the inside. After the pictures of his dancing hot dog daughter went viral and she started trending on Tumblr and Twitter, Ainsley's dad Brandon Turner tweeted that it was all his daughter's idea to dress as a hot dog, which just shows the caliber of young ladies this nation is raising. After all, it's 2016, and women can be anything they want... even hot dogs.

Recently, Brittni Darras, a Colorado Springs schoolteacher had one of her students attempt suicide recently, and she responded by writing her a letter outlining how special she was. Then this teacher decided to write a similar,personalized letter to each of the more than 100 students she teaches in order to remind them all how special they are. You probably don't normally go to this here Phile blog to get some tears jerked out of you but, screw it, a gorilla is dead, the national mood is low as hell, so let's talk about a heartwarming instance of human goodness. Here's Brittni Darras in her own words in this Facebook post from May 24th... "Two months ago was the first time I cried during parent/teacher conferences. A mom of a student who I have taught for two years showed up at my table with a list of her daughter’s teachers. Each one had 'yes' or 'no' written next to it. My name had a 'yes' next to it, so she proceeded to explain to me the reason for her daughter’s extended absence. Her daughter- a friendly, intelligent, beautiful, driven, young woman- not only planned to commit suicide, but was in the act of doing so when the police got a Safe 2 Tell report, broke in, and stopped her. She had deleted her social media accounts and left goodbye letters; she was ready to leave the world. As her mom sat across from me, we both had tears streaming down our faces. Feeling helpless, I asked if I could write my student a letter to be delivered to her at the hospital; she said her daughter would love that. My student got the letter; her mom said that her daughter cried, turned to her mom and said, 'How could somebody say such nice things about me? I didn’t think anybody would miss me if I was gone.' It made me realize that I was way too close to losing another student to suicide. I spent the next 2 months writing cards to every one of my students- over 100 of them- telling each one what is special and unique about them. Suicide is growing to be more and more common, and I can’t help but to think that it’s a direct result of the pressure we put on these kids- to be successful, to fit in, to be the best in their class/sport/etc. We need to remember that each human being is unique, and that is what makes them special. Instead of trying to change it, we need to embrace it, because together, we can make a difference, and we can save lives!‪#‎suicideawareness."‬ Did this sweet story help you momentarily forget how garbage nearly everything else is? Good.
So, I'm wearing my Minions t-shirt and it reminded me who the original villain was supposed to be instead of Gru.

Hahaha. Well, it's hurricane season so I thought I'll help everybody out with some info. Check it out...

You're welcome. Well, just so you know, here's the projected path of this tropical storm...

Yep, tropical storm Colin...

Alright, I need a Star Wars joke here... the scene where Princess Leia first met Vader was supposed to be a little be different.

Hahaha. Just a little bit different. Okay, it's prom season I think. In England we didn't have prom, but if we did this might've been me...

His girlfriend is from Canada and also invisible. Alright, so, as you know I live in Florida and some crazy things happen in Florida that happen no where else. That's why I have a pheature called...

Chris Tarantino from Rochester, NY was just your regular, ordinary average FEMA contractor on a business trip when he found himself at the center of a "spider tornado," two words that really shouldn't go together unless as the title of a movie on the Sy Fy channel. Tarantino was in Fort Myers, Florida (aka America's Australia) on Thursday to teach the state's emergency workers about social media for disaster response and recovery. So at least he has some experience with disasters and social media. WARNING: ARACHNOPHOBICS STOP READING NOW. Tarantino had just returned to his Hertz rental car after lunch when he reached into the backseat for his backpack and noticed that said backseat had turned into a horror movie. He told "Fort Meyers News-Press," "It wasn’t until I looked a few times that I realized the gravity of the situation. It was like a spider tornado hit the front seat. I’m just glad they didn’t decide to hatch while I was driving, or else I’d be dead."​ He had planned on driving the car back to Hertz to exchange it for another one when he realized that Spider Central was right near the gas pedal. The spiders were too small for him to get pictures of, but he said it looked like the seat was "crawling." So maybe no on the driving it back to the rental place. Tarantino (which, it must be noted, is not far from "tarantula") took to Twitter to share his nightmare/beg for help. But all's well that ends well (except for the wee baby spiders that were just struggling to make it in an inhospitable world)... Tarantino called on his emergency response skills to get him through his ordeal. Hopefully the rest of his trip's weather involved a lot fewer spiders. Although, it is Florida.

It's kinda hard, but if you spot it let me know. Okay, so, did you hear about the whole Captain America being a member of Hydra in the comics? I don't know what to think of it, but I thought I'll invite an old friend to the Phile to come on and give his opinion. So, please welcome back to the Phile... Jim Mello, in a pheature called...

My initial post wasn't directed at the quality of the idea, or individual taste, but at the extreme reactions by people who are obviously not familiar with comics exacerbating something to death threat level without narrative or historical context. I feel like the people reacting the hardest to Nick Spencer's "Captain America #1" don't read a lot/any comics and/or are under the impression Superman is still dead. Guys... Look, I would never tell you HOW to feel about these characters. I have very strong reactions as well to certain things as well. However, these characters are closing in on 100 years old. I've been reading comics for a little over a decade and I am ALREADY tired of the same old white bread stories being told over and over again. I love when creators take chances and take characters and new directions. Sometimes, I completely disagree with that direction and sometimes it works for me. Ultimately, comics are cyclical... Steve Rogers will be the regular Steve Rogers again and this will turn out to have been some tampering of the cosmic cube. He came back from being U.S. Agent and NOMAD. He came back from being old. He came back from the ice. He will come back from this. We have no idea where this is going and until he starts spouting racial epithets in his book and espousing hate doctrine, I'm willing to give it the benefit of the doubt narratively and ignore it until it goes that far.

A pharmacy is a store where the guy who sells you Adderall picks up his prescription.

Today's pheatured guest the author of "F#@k Skinny: How I Quit Dieting & Found My Health." the 48th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club. Please welcome to the Phile... Laura Ingalls.

Me: Laura! Hello, welcome to the Phile.

Laura: Hi, Jason.

Me: Alright, for some reason you are one of many people I used to work with at Disney (Innoventions to be specific) I interviewed here who wrote a book. We'll talk about that in a minute. How did you first come to Disney?

Laura: I graduated from Syracuse University with a BFA in Musical Theater. After graduation, I worked for a few years as a professional actress in the DC/Baltimore area before moving to Orlando and auditioning at Disney in 2005. My sister had been a Disney Cast Member for years in characters and she had an open room at her apartment and invited me to move down. I needed a change of pace so I took the opportunity. At my first audition I was called back for the World Showcase Players and my audition was put on video tape because there were no open contracts at the time. I took a job working at Full Sail University, but I wanted to be able to go into the parks with my sister and her friends so I started working at Innoventions on the weekends so I could become a cast member. A year later, a contract became available with the World Showcase Players and I was offered the job I’d originally been called back for. I took it!

Me: When did you realize you wanted to really start getting healthy and helping people?

Laura: During my years as part of the World Showcase Players and at Lights Motors Action, I also worked as a karaoke DJ at the Swan and Dolphin hotel and at several other resorts around Orlando, and was part of the cast at Capone’s. I had time between shows each day to study, so I decided to go back to school to study nutrition and exercise. Learning about my own health had changed my life in so many ways and I wanted to be able to help other people in the same way.

Me: Why did you leave Florida, Laura?

Laura: By 2012 I was ready to make a career change. I’d done everything I wanted to do as an actress in the 10 years I did it professionally and I wanted to pursue health and wellness full-time. The job market in Orlando was not strong, so I decided to move back home to Massachusetts. I landed a job first as a personal trainer and then as a Wellness Program Manager and health coach. This year, I left that job and started my own business offering workshops, retreats, and health coaching for women who are sick of yo-yo dieting, tired of feeling frustrated with their bodies, and are ready to discover how to eat, exercise, and live in a way that makes them feel healthy, confident, and sexy.

Me: Okay, you do a lot of marathon running, Laura. How many marathons have you ran?

Laura: When I was still living in Orlando, a number of my friends were runners. They encouraged me to get into running and by 2010 I decided to run a marathon with Team In Training and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Since then I have run 7 marathons for myself and have coached teams through Team In Training for many more.

Me: Anybody that does that I think is crazy.

Laura: It is crazy, but probably not for the reasons you think. Running is challenging, but very rewarding, especially when you do it for a charitable cause. Once you get into training, your body adapts to be able to handle running so many miles. It’s amazing what the human body is capable of. When the going gets tough I always think of the people I am helping with fundraising and running and that helps so much to keep me going.

Me: Why do you think Disney is so popular with their marathons?

Laura: Some of my favorite races are those put on by Disney. I have run many of them, including the Goofy and Dopey challenges. I’ve even gone out to Disneyland to run in their half marathon with Meredith Jones, also from Innoventions. We had a blast! That’s why I think races and running are so popular, not just at Disney, but everywhere. Running teams, running friends, and running communities tend to be very positive places filled with positive people. People who are go-getters. Who are active and exciting. Who love to say yes to new experiences and adventures. My best friends are people I’ve met through running and my life is much better, in all aspects, because of it.

Me: Alright, let's talk about your book "F#@ Skinny." When did you get the idea to write a book? 

Laura: I knew about 10 years ago that I wanted to write a book. I had an “ah hah” moment that beauty at attraction was more diverse and nuanced than most magazines, movies, and TV shows would have us think it is. The more I learned about nutrition, the more I realized that the goal to be “skinny” didn’t make people healthier, sexier, or feel very good about themselves. And for my friends who were naturally skinny, it didn’t necessarily guarantee that they were healthy or happy, either. I started to put my thoughts and philosophy into words, but wasn’t quite ready to write a book until about 4 years ago. The book went through many iterations before landing on the one that I actually published.

Me: Has any moron called it "F Hasttag At K Skinny"? Haha. I bet someone will. Where did the title come from?

Laura: The title of the book, “F#@k Skinny” came from an experience I had at a weekend long training workshop back in 2008 through a company called “Exuberant Animal.” Exuberant Animal focuses on functional movement in the modern world. The concepts were not only brilliant and very relevant, I also had more fun than I’d ever had in my life - while exercising! I asked the creator of Exuberant Animal, Frank Forencich, why he had to self-publish his own books, as I thought his material was utter genius and could change the world. He told me that there were a lot of publishers who were interested in his work, but they asked him to rewrite his books to be all about weight loss and “put a sexy person on the cover,” otherwise they couldn’t publish him. So rather than compromise his values and his work, he self-published. When he told this story, I got so upset! I slammed my hand down on the table and declared, “Fuck skinny!” It was so stupid that this man’s incredible work needed to be framed in a way to sell weight loss to people in order to be seen as having value by a publishing company.

Me: So, tell the readers what the book is about.

Laura: “F#@k Skinny: How I Quit Dieting & Found My Health” is about the difference between being healthy and being skinny. It explains why idealizing “skinny” as the perfect and preferable body type hurts the health of all body types, skinny, obese, and in between. In it, I share stories from my own life to help the reader follow along with how adopting this philosophy changed my health and my self-confidence for the better and how they can use it change their own lives, too.

Me: Why is the title censored?

Laura: The only reason it is “censored” is so that it could one day be featured in a book shop without being flagged for inappropriate content. I think it also indicates a sense of playfulness and humor, which is how it is meant!

Me: So, with this book and everything do you think you're fat? If so, you're fucking crazy. I think you're pretty fit.

Laura: Thank you. On most days, I don’t think I’m fat, but that self-perception has been a life-long journey. It is very hard to not compare your own body to the types of bodies the media tells us are “sexy.” I don’t look like what you see in a magazine. I’m a runner and I don’t look like what people expect a runner to look like. I’m not perfect, I’m not skinny, and I’m not a magazine model. But that’s fine with me! I just want to be healthy and work hard every day to own my own beauty.

Me: Do you do a lot of exercising?

Laura: I am extremely active. I love to run, cycle, and swim and do those activities regularly. I also workout with a group called “The November Project.” We meet three days a week, rain, snow, or sunshine, to do workouts using the city as our "playground.”

Me: What do you do in this November Project?

Laura: November Project workouts involve a lot of push-ups, burpees, sprinting, sit-ups, planks, squats, box jumps, running up stairs and hills, sweaty hugs, and high fives. The workouts begin with the leader asking the group, “You all good?” and the group responding with, “Fuck yeah!” So, obviously, I fit right in.

Me: You said you used to DJ... do you still do that? 

Laura: I do still DJ on occasion. I DJ at workouts for The November Project on the last Wednesday of every month at Harvard Stadium. I also do weddings, race events, and fundraisers for people in my network. These days I take gigs when I feel like I will have fun at them. It is no longer my main source of income.

Me: So, what's next for you? Are you planning on writing another book?

Laura: I will definitely write another book in the future. It will be a “part 2” to my first book, but I’d like to dive deeper into running my own business before I tackle another book. Right now, I am focused on developing workshops, giving talks, and hosting retreats for my health coaching business.

Me: Where can anybody find you online, Laira?

Laura: People can find me online at and on Twitter and Instagram at @forgetskinny. I will also be coaching runners over the summer and fall for the Chicago Marathon and the Marine Corps Marathon through Team in Training.

Me: I didn't mention where your book is available... so where can anyone get it?

Laura: My book is available in paperback and on Kindle at

Me: Laura, thanks so much for being on the Phile. Please come back again soon, and visit here in Orlando. Take care.

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Jim Mello and Laura Ingalls. The Phile will be back next Sunday with Phile Alum Holly Elle. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. And be safe out there, it's pouring in Central Florida.

Not if it pleases me. No, you can't stop me, not if it pleases me. - Graham Parker

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