Daytime TV: It’s all so awkward!

Covid and a misstep landed me in the hospital with a broken ankle.

I have been home recovering from Covid and a broken ankle that required surgery for over a month now. I’m not used to shuffling from bed to chair and back again as the main events of my day, but I’m unable to walk and so that’s simply the way it is now and will be for a few more months.

That said, there are aspects of my current existence that have taken me by surprise. The biggest being Daytime TV. I have rarely glimpsed this slice of life, aside from streaming newscasts and weekend football games. But that’s not what I’m talking about. It’s the endless array of “talk shows” that blare at me in strange and awkward ways.

Many of these programs have big panels of participants, which are almost exclusively women. (Why is that?) Sometimes six hosts share their thoughts, occasionally all at the same time. As a former news anchor, I find all that talking over one another jarring, but that’s not what bothers me the most. It’s the topics they discuss that have me reaching for the remote.

Shows like The View are a perfect example of daytime programing.

“If your boyfriend has cheated on you consistently over the years, should you stay with your man?”

Now, in my mind, this should be a very short segment: No!

“Serial plastic surgery. Can you have too much?”

Yes! When your skin is as tight as a Barbie doll’s and you constantly look surprised, maybe you should break up with your surgeon.

Some shows focus breathlessly on what “famous” folks are doing in their personal lives. Who was seen stepping out on their spouse. Who wore a designer outfit worth mocking. Who got a horrible haircut and had the “courage” to go out in public. I should mention here that I rarely know who these celebrities are. That either means I’m old and out of touch or the people under discussion are of the D-list variety. As I read the paper and watch various news shows daily, I’m going with the latter.

I do find some of these guests unintentionally hilarious. Actors or musicians few have ever heard of droning on about the “importance of my craft” and how “It’s so difficult be famous.” Oh, the paparazzi! The horror!

Are those real people spilling their guts out to Dr. Phil and a TV audience?

And let’s not forget shows like Dr. Phil who never met a familial car-wreck he didn’t drool over like a hungry hyena. How do they get these miserable people in front of a TV camera and a live audience? What type of person wants to plop themselves into a seat on stage where they will mostly be ridiculed for being dopes? I am truly baffled here. Sometimes, I think they must be actors. Actually, that’s far easier to believe than the alternative: that they are real people with big problems who think sharing them on national TV will solve their issues. Really?

I was also surprised to see that soap operas are still in favor. I tried to picture who might actually tune into these vapid tales of overdressed, bored-looking, mostly upper-crust people, none of whom are happy with their partners, jobs, homes, or families. Mommies, maybe, who are folding yet another basket of laundry and wondering where the romance in their lives skedaddled to. That many of the characters seem good-looking and financially well-off is a stumper. Are their lives really all that dreary?

TV legend Walter Cronkite would rotate in his grave if he knew what is being passed off today as news.

As you might expect, I constantly flip through the stations, hoping something palatable will appear unexpectedly. To stop my brain from turning to mush, I check the news, but the local shows routinely let me down. I used to teach my students that the definition of a news story was something of interest to the general public and an event that was relatively rare. Alternately, fluff pieces—kitties rescued from a drain pipe, babies dressed up in sports-themed clothing, dog-costume contests—were once reserved for the very end of the broadcast, a time-filler to make it to the break. But today, these stories appear at regular intervals throughout the “news”. Why? Are they afraid real news will frighten viewers off? Have station consultants determined that the average viewer is not smart enough to understand real news?

Or perhaps members of the viewing public are simply not interested in knowing what’s really happening in the world. And maybe that’s the answer as to why Daytime TV flourishes. It’s an escape from everything even remotely real. A diversion from why life didn’t turn out the way we’d hoped. Cotton candy for the brain: sickly sweet and sticky, stifling our ability to think clearly.

So, I’m turning off the TV now. There must be something better to do.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is the-castle_front-cover-1.jpg

Ancient ruins, haunted memories, and a ruthless criminal combine with a touch of mystic presence in this taut mystery about a crime we all must address.

THE CASTLE

Anne Montgomery

Contemporary Women’s Fiction/Suspense

TouchPoint Press

September 13, 2021

Maggie, a National Park Ranger of Native American descent, is back at The Castle—a six-hundred-year-old pueblo carved into a limestone cliff in Arizona’s Verde Valley. Maggie, who suffers from depression, has been through several traumas: the gang rape she suffered while in the Coast Guard, the sudden death of her ten-year-old son, and a suicide attempt.

One evening, she chases a young Native American boy through the park and gasps as he climbs the face of The Castle cliff and disappears into the pueblo. When searchers find no child, Maggie’s friends believe she’s suffering from depression-induced hallucinations.

Maggie has several men in her life. The baker, newcomer Jim Casey, who always greets her with a warm smile and pink boxes filled with sweet delicacies. Brett Collins, a scuba diver who is doing scientific studies in Montezuma Well, a dangerous cylindrical depression that houses strange creatures found nowhere else on Earth. Dave, an amiable waiter with whom she’s had a one-night stand, and her new boss Glen.

One of these men is a serial rapist and Maggie is his next target.

In a thrilling and terrifying denouement, Maggie faces her rapist and conquers her worst fears once and for all.

REVIEW COPIES OF THE CASTLE AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

Also available on NetGalley

Contact: Chelsea Pieper, Publicity Manager, Media Liaison

Review/interview requests: media@touchpointpress.com

Get your copy here

Stop blaming Facebook for what’s wrong with your kids

Maybe, this time, we should leave Facebook alone.

Facebook is in trouble, once again. This time the social media giant is being blamed for hurting the self-esteem of young girls by allowing them to see posts including beautiful people—you know, those glamorous and perfectly proportioned folks who are so very different from most of us.

Here’s the thing. While I understand that popular social media sites are programmed to make us click until our fingers fall off, can we really blame Mark Zuckerberg and his buddies for making teenage girls feel inadequate? In my humble opinion, no, we cannot.

Perhaps the greatest depression-inducing product ever created was the Barbie doll.

First let’s hop into the Wayback Machine. In 1959, the Mattel Toy Company unleashed a doll that was, well, perfect. Her dress size, even before such a thing actually appeared on a label, was 0. Her measurements stacked up—and you may take that term literally—to 35-22-32. Classic top-heavy hourglass with an oh-so-tiny waist and long, perfect legs with feet made only for high heels, because flats would never do for a girl like her.

When I was first handed that bubble-headed blonde Barbie, I was a heavy-set elementary school kid, built like an over-stuffed sausage.  As a fifth-grader, my dress size exceeded 14, so I was shoved through the doors of Lane Bryant’s, the first department store to cater to plus-size women and girls. My mother was appalled by my physique and told anyone who would listen that I wasn’t fat because of her. She fed me salad with no dressing and baked fish and policed my every move in the kitchen. No, my round shape was NOT HER FAULT!

My mother gave me a Barbie to show me what I was supposed to look like. As an overweight kid, the message was loud and clear.

I do believe my mom gave me that Barbie to give me an example of what I should look like.  I remember peeling the clothes off that piece of plastic perfection and studying that breast-waist-hip ratio from every possible angle. After glancing at my naked self in the mirror, it took me an instant to realize that Barbie and I just weren’t going to be friends. I tossed her aside, called my dog, and went to play in the woods.

Barbie, no doubt, had millions of young girls scrutinizing her curves and making unhappy comparisons to their own bodies. So, where was the hue and cry for our self-esteem? How come no one asked if I was depressed comparing myself to a hunk of top-heavy plastic?  The doll, which  generated gross sales of 1.35 billion dollars in 2020 alone, is today said to be the best-selling toy of all time. Imagine then the number of adolescent girls affected by all those curves over the last seventy-odd years.

I know what you’re thinking. “Geez, Anne, what does this have to do with Facebook and Instagram and all those other social media sites that are upsetting our children?”

Parents, it’s your responsibilty to monitor what your kids do.

Well, I’m saying we should place the blame where it’s due. And that is squarely on the shoulders of parents. It’s Mom and Dad who should make some rules. No cellphone or tablet that has the capacity to go online until kids are 16. Check the social media sites your children are frequenting and shut them down if they’re offensive or disturbing. Keep an eye out for bullying behaviors, overuse of filters, and creeps who are probably not what they’re pretending to be. Then, set an example. Talk to your kids without having your hand on your phone and one eye on the screen. Let them see that electronics are not the center of the universe. And above all talk to your kids about everything so you can nip dangerous behaviors in the bud.

As a former teacher of twenty years, I hope you understand that adults in the classroom are doing their best to deal with personal issues kids face, but we are not their parents. You are. So stop blaming Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. Be the adult in the room. Lay down some rules and stick to them.

Your child’s well-being depends on it.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is the-castle_front-cover-1.jpg

Ancient ruins, haunted memories, and a ruthless criminal combine with a touch of mystic presence in this taut mystery about a crime we all must address.

THE CASTLE

Anne Montgomery

Contemporary Women’s Fiction/Suspense

TouchPoint Press

September 13, 2021

Maggie, a National Park Ranger of Native American descent, is back at The Castle—a six-hundred-year-old pueblo carved into a limestone cliff in Arizona’s Verde Valley. Maggie, who suffers from depression, has been through several traumas: the gang rape she suffered while in the Coast Guard, the sudden death of her ten-year-old son, and a suicide attempt.

One evening, she chases a young Native American boy through the park and gasps as he climbs the face of The Castle cliff and disappears into the pueblo. When searchers find no child, Maggie’s friends believe she’s suffering from depression-induced hallucinations.

Maggie has several men in her life. The baker, newcomer Jim Casey, who always greets her with a warm smile and pink boxes filled with sweet delicacies. Brett Collins, a scuba diver who is doing scientific studies in Montezuma Well, a dangerous cylindrical depression that houses strange creatures found nowhere else on Earth. Dave, an amiable waiter with whom she’s had a one-night stand, and her new boss Glen.

One of these men is a serial rapist and Maggie is his next target.

In a thrilling and terrifying denouement, Maggie faces her rapist and conquers her worst fears once and for all.

REVIEW COPIES OF THE CASTLE AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

Also available on NetGalley

Contact: Chelsea Pieper, Publicity Manager, Media Liaison

Review/interview requests: media@touchpointpress.com

Get your copy here

Obituaries: Why don’t we tell the truth?

My 96-year old mother has been reading multiple papers daily for decades. She reads everything and never fails to always peruse the obituaries, a habit I had never acquired, until recently.

So, let me say that I find obits strange. First, no one is ever bad once they’re dead. I like truth and I think it’s fair to point out that someone was a horse’s ass in life. I mean, why not? Who are we protecting? The person, after all, is dead. They’re not sitting at the breakfast table scanning the obituaries to see what others think of them. So, wouldn’t telling the truth about Uncle Bob—he was a miserable, cheating alcoholic who beat his wife and terrorized his family—be therapeutic? But we never do that. History tells us that the idea that one shouldn’t denigrate the dead goes back almost 2000 years, but curiously there is no explanation as to why.

I do find it interesting how many ways people say someone died: He moved on, went to heaven on the wings of angels, was called home, left this earthly plane, passed peacefully, though that one always has me asking how they knew the deceased settled easily into death. Maybe he was raging against the dying of the light, after all.  

I realize that family members of the deceased are often tasked with writing obituaries. According to Legacy.com, “Writing an obituary can feel daunting. You may feel overwhelmed by the responsibility of writing about a loved one who has died. Or you may worry that you’ll forget important facts or that the obituary won’t fully capture your loved one’s life. This is one reason why many families begin preparing the obituary in advance.” 

I like that idea, and so, apparently, does my mother. She has penned her own obit and I’m sure wants no revisions from the family. (As those who know Mary Anne can attest, she’s not one to be trifled with.) That said, my recent brush with Covid had me considering what my own obit might say. As a former journalist—one from olden times when reporters would never consider picking sides—I offer the truth.

Obituary

Anne Butler Montgomery

Anne had a fabulously interesting life where things didn’t always go as planned. Sometimes she succeeded. Sometimes she failed, periodically in spectacular fashion. She was driven and stubborn and opinionated. (The latter of which she blamed on her mother.) She tried to do the right thing when facing important decisions, though sometimes the right thing remained elusive. She could be awfully sarcastic and was surprised when she became a teacher to learn that sarcasm was not appropriate where children were concerned. No, she wasn’t always nice, but in later years she worked hard to improve her sweetness factor. She loved music, wild places, rocks, officiating sports, and animals of all kinds. She relished food, wine, good company, books, and movies. Anne wishes that you hoist an adult libation in her honor whenever you choose. And she would appreciate it if her friends and loved ones would sprinkle her ashes wherever they see fit. If that’s in the kitty litter, so be it.

So, let’s start a trend. Let’s tell the truth about ourselves and ask others to do the same. With that in mind, what would you say about you?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is the-castle_front-cover-1.jpg

Ancient ruins, haunted memories, and a ruthless criminal combine with a touch of mystic presence in this taut mystery about a crime we all must address.

THE CASTLE

Anne Montgomery

Contemporary Women’s Fiction/Suspense

TouchPoint Press

September 13, 2021

Maggie, a National Park Ranger of Native American descent, is back at The Castle—a six-hundred-year-old pueblo carved into a limestone cliff in Arizona’s Verde Valley. Maggie, who suffers from depression, has been through several traumas: the gang rape she suffered while in the Coast Guard, the sudden death of her ten-year-old son, and a suicide attempt.

One evening, she chases a young Native American boy through the park and gasps as he climbs the face of The Castle cliff and disappears into the pueblo. When searchers find no child, Maggie’s friends believe she’s suffering from depression-induced hallucinations.

Maggie has several men in her life. The baker, newcomer Jim Casey, who always greets her with a warm smile and pink boxes filled with sweet delicacies. Brett Collins, a scuba diver who is doing scientific studies in Montezuma Well, a dangerous cylindrical depression that houses strange creatures found nowhere else on Earth. Dave, an amiable waiter with whom she’s had a one-night stand, and her new boss Glen.

One of these men is a serial rapist and Maggie is his next target.

In a thrilling and terrifying denouement, Maggie faces her rapist and conquers her worst fears once and for all.

REVIEW COPIES OF THE CASTLE AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

Also available on NetGalley

Contact: Chelsea Pieper, Publicity Manager, Media Liaison

Review/interview requests: media@touchpointpress.com

Get your copy here