State Fair Blues

30 Mar

Howdy Folks!

They say everything is bigger in Texas and in this case I believe they (whoever “they” may be) just may be right.  This week the local BillBraggBigTexbuzz has been all about the dismissal of Bill Bragg, the man who has voiced the larger than life mascot of the State Fair of Texas for the last 11 years.  Some are upset about the way that his boss, Sue Gooding, did the deed, letting him know that they would not be renewing his contract via email, some are upset that this “unofficial mascot” was fired at all.  Petitions are flying around and I am sure the in boxes at the State Fair offices are being inundated with hate mail.

Big Tex originated in Kearns, Texas as the worlds largest Santa, a way to draw in holiday shoppers to the small North Texas town.  In 1952, Tex made his first appearance at the State Fair, an annual “county fair” that draws in hundreds of thousands of visitors to the Dallas area every October, when he was purchased by the Fair president, R.L. Thornton, who commissioned an artist to turn Santa into the iconic cowboy.

Why would the State Fair make such a potentially disastrous blunder as this?  It seems that Mr. Bragg is in violation of his contract with the Fair.  Apparently he liked to tell people that he was the voice of the 52 foot cowboy and he liked to tell them publicly.  He was known to be approached by children at the fair who would ask to have their picture taken with him, he would make speaking engagements with big named charities like the American Cancer Society, where, presumably, they would introduce him as the voice of Big Tex.  Just generally making a nuisance of himself (I hope everyone can pick on my sarcasm here)

So, the State Fair officials made a decision to not renew his contract because he wouldn’t follow their rules.  If this had been 50 years ago the Fair officials would recognize this for what it is, good publicity.  Mr. Bragg is not misrepresenting the Fair, he is not taking business away from the Fair, he is not making money by presenting himself as the voice of the beloved mascot, if anything he is bringing joy to children and fans of the icon by posing for pictures, he is bringing good press to the Fair by making charity appearances for well-known and reputable charities, in my opinion, he is a marketing dream.

So, why would the State Fair officials make such a bad PR move as this?  No one knows for sure, Fair officials are keeping pretty closed mouth about this one.  This leaves one to speculate that maybe this might have something to do with the fire that destroyed Big Tex at the end of the 2012 season.  Talk was for a while after that Big Tex would come back bigger and better than before but that he wouldn’t be the Tex that everyone remembered.  They have diversified Tex in recent years, growing up, Tex only spoke English but in recent years they have made him bilingual and during the fair you could hear Tex exclaim, “Hola Amigos!”  This led many people to wonder if the new Tex would look just a little darker than he had in years past.  Fair officials have denied this claim.

There have only been five men to speak for the giant over the last 60 years or so, Mr. Bragg took over in 2002, everyday during fair season, he would make his way to the booth to welcome visitors and make important announcements.  I have to wonder if, in this age of computers and technology, they haven’t figured out a way to digitally make Tex speak, surely saving the Fair thousands of dollars into the future since a computer won’t charge any residual money and would never break a contract.  Officials would be making a tremendous mistake by doing this, but I doubt that they care about that.

Whatever the reason and outcome, one thing is for sure, State Fair officials have started a firestorm of controversy.  They got publicity, but I don’t think it was the kind they bargained for.

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Just Another Small Town Friday Night

23 Mar

Ah, high school, the glory days of your youth.  We have all been there, that feeling of being invincible, like nothing bad will ever happen to you.  unfortunately, a group of teens from a small town in eastern Ohio have found out the hard way that everyone has a kryptonite.

This last week in Steubenville, Ohio the rape trial ended for two of the Big Red football team; a group of boys who it seems were kings in the small mill town near the Ohio River.  Seventeen year old Trent Mays and sixteen year old Ma’lik Richmond were convicted to at least one year in a juvenile correction center with a possibility of having that sentence extended until they are 21 upon the recommendation of state child services, Mays was also sentenced to an additional year for the distribution of child pornography, they must register with the state as sex offenders for the remainder of their long lives.  All of this stemming from the 2012 rape of a sixteen year old West Virginia girl who had come across the river, as it would seem she had done many times in the past, to party with the local teen heroes of the Steubenville High School football team.

0312_Steubenville_screen_grab-592x369The media and people surrounding the case would have you believe that this fateful night in August this young girl fell victim to the unwanted advances of Mays and Richmond after having entirely too much to drink for a 40-year-old man, let alone a sixteen year old girl.  Photos were taken and shared via social media of this girl’s limp body being “carried” by the defendants and witness accounts tell of the girl violently vomiting outside of another players house earlier in the evening before the defendants were seen groping and fondling the girl in the back of a car while another person video taped the incident.  The girl’s mother is quoted as saying “The adults need to take responsibility guide these children” while giving a statement to CNN’s Poppy Harlow and I whole heartedly agree, the only problem with her statement is that she is one of the parents that needs to take some responsibility.

As a rape survivor, I of all people understand what this girl is probably going through.  She has the upside of the alcohol impairment that fogs her memory since she was not even aware that anything was amiss until she started seeing the comments and photos on social media, I on the other hand have a vivid memory of that night, one that took many years to not haunt my dreams at night.  No woman asks to be raped and no man has the right to say to himself or his friends that her words say no but her actions say yes.  No one should ever have to feel violated because of the clothes they wear and the way they walk or talk, the look that they give someone or for just simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

These boys were all old enough to understand right from wrong, old enough to understand that just because she didn’t fight and scream no that she was in no way able to consent to what was happening, old enough to understand that passing around photos of a half-naked or naked teenage girl was not only legally wrong but morally wrong.Their friends that night are guilty of complacency, seeing the events and doing nothing about it, not stopping the boys from assaulting this girl and also of seeing that she was impaired and not calling a sober friend or parent to come take her to safety.  The citizens of Steubenville (and of any number of hundreds, maybe even thousands, of small towns just like it) were guilty of turning a blind eye to the “youthful indiscretions” of the Big Red players and their friends, guilty of providing an atmosphere that encouraged this behavior and enabling them to become the hellions that they had become.  The parents (like so many parents these days) were guilty of failing to see that their job, first and foremost, is that of parent to these children, because, at the end of the day, they are still simply children; they lack the perspective to see the consequences to their actions that an adult has.  They were guilty of mock ignorance, assuming that their “angels” would never do anything wrong.  Guilty of placating their children, allowing them to run amuck and failing to give them structure and a foundation of discipline.  They were all guilty of arrogance, thinking they were above the law, above authority, that this would never happen to them.  Yes, guilt can even be placed at the feet of the victim and her parents here and that , I think, is what frustrates me most about this situation, this “taking responsibility” quote from the victim’s mother.  Why does it simply fall to the boys parents to take responsibility for their actions?  Does she think she is above reproach here?  Where is her responsibility for knowing where her sixteen year old daughter was and not knowing that she was across state lines drunk and incapable of making that call.  This, I think, is the ultimate arrogance of all.

Pride goeth before the fall and there may be more fall to come in this case as the district attorney investigates the loose ends I expect to find a string of people who should all be held accountable for the blatant narcissistic behavior of the fallen heroes and its likely that none of them will have any real justice.  Immunity has already been granted to the witness to the crime, the boys who saw and said nothing.  There is no crime in feigned ignorance and arrogance, at most the stores and bars that supplied the alcohol to the teens may face fines and in the grand scheme of things that is a small triumph in a case where so many were guilty and the lives of a generation were altered in the click of a camera.

What’s a Girl to do?

2 Mar

The other day, while on Yahoo checking my email, a trending topic caught my attention.  “Toy Sex Change” it screamed from the right hand corner of the screen.  I had to click it.  To my surprise the story was not about a doll that looked more like Ken than Barbie but about Lego’s.

Lego beautifulLego’s, those wonderful building blocks of creativity from your childhood.  They honed your fine motor skills while allowing  your imagination to bloom with eclectic buildings and birds of prey.  Go into any toy department now and you will discover that these are no longer your parents Lego’s.  Now days there are Lego’s marketed to all types of genre, Star Wars fans, Lord of the Rings fans, Cars fans and now there is even an option marketed specifically to little girls, Lego Friends.

Reading the story about these little bundles of pink and purple girlishness I was a little inspired.   Not only did these little dolls offer girls an option of backgrounds and screens (a departure from the standard beach bikini backgrounds of the typical Barbie) by allowing them to pick careers for their dolls like Vet or pilot but the doll itself is more proportionate and looks more like a real person without being over the top risqué like the Bratz dolls were.  I was so inspired that I shared the story on the Facebook page of a Fat Acceptance group I am a member of thinking that it would be received openly and as happily as I had been

Boy was I wrong….

It seems that I have been hiding under a big boulder and its name was gender.  No one seemed to get my excitement at the doll and that it opens little girls up to not being restricted to the confines of a Barbie with its unrealistic expectations; instead they were up in arms that Lego’s had introduced this line of toy that was gender restrictive by telling girls that they should like pink and purple and being girlie, playing dress up and house instead of building skyscrapers and malformed aircraft.  They scolded me in a way telling me that the dolls should be like all the other standard Lego dolls.   Someone even included a link to a YouTube video that features an attractive young women clad in a hot pink sweatshirt who traces the history of Lego and how they have consistently dismissed girls in their standard, run of the mill Lego sets and insisted that they would rather imagine and role play in a sea of pastel and home making fantasy.

Now, I remember my childhood.  I was a tom boy.  In fact, until recently, pink was my least favorite color in the spectrum.  Sure I had Barbie and My Little Pony and Strawberry Shortcake dolls to play with, but I also had GI Joe and He-Man and Transformers to play with.  I also had Lincoln Logs and Lego’s that were among some of my favorite toys to play with.  Never wanting a Ken doll (I guess even at 5 I suspected Ken was a little to fruity for Barbie with his kerchief, lol) I always chose to pair Barbie with GI Joe and they played in houses comprised of Lincoln Logs and Lego’s.  Gender roles never entered my mind as a young child, I dreamed of becoming a lawyer or a teacher or even President when I was little, at one point even dreaming of being a famous singer.  I wasn’t into science or I would probably have dreamed of being a doctor too.

At first I was really perturbed that my point was taken so far out of context, I mean, after all, my excitement was that they built this playland for girls with a doll that looked more realistic than a Barbie doll does but then I realized that, to some degree, they were right.  Lego has exclusively dismissed girls for the last 30 some odd years marketing their play sets to boys.  Now they have segregated the girls from the boys while enforcing to boys that they should be aggressive and combative and reiterating to girls that they are dainty and should be home minded.

I am not a feminist by any stretch of the imagination, in fact, I was horrified when the government recently lifted the ban on women in combat.  I personally don’t think that women can do ANYTHING and to be honest, even if they could I don’t think they should.  But, I certainly think that there is a lack of gender neutral toys that encourage both girls and boys to create and imagine and Lego’s is the perfect platform for that imagination.  Do I think they should get rid of the Friends play sets?  No and I don’t think they should get rid of the boys playsets either, what I do think they should do is focus more on their Creator Collection which is more a throw back of bygone days and enhance this with a variety of occupations that anyone could be drawn to, like Vet or Chef or Police.

This will allow EVERYONE to “Just Imagine”

Its a Small Wonder…

2 Mar

I know I shouldn’t judge and being a survivor I shouldn’t be saying what I am I am fixing to say but its the common sense side of me that compels me to share this rant today.

dance momsWhy is it when we have little girls we sign them up for all these dance classes and pageants that all require them to dress and present themselves as much older than they really are?  Every week as the weekend approaches I find my Facebook feed cluttered with images of friends and their little girls in uniform for whatever competition that they have that weekend and most of them (although they are mostly around the 6-12 age range) all look like they are ready to work the main stage at Willie’s House of Babes.

When did it become a prerequisite to youth activities for young girls to do their hair and make up and dress like they are preparing to be sluts?  I mean, most of us, if we saw a women our own age (33 for me) dressed like this with the heavy make up would begin automatically looking for the pimp hiding around the corner for his cut of the cash so why is it OK to send our daughters out of the house like this for dance competitions?

This kind of passive aggressive acceptance of what should give you a moment’s pause is what tells our daughters that its OK to dress like a slut to get attention from people (regardless of if it is positive or negative) and puts our daughters in a place where they leave themselves open to the wrong kind of attention.  Now, I know, maybe more than most, that we should all be able to walk down Main St. in the middle of rush hour traffic buck ass naked and not have to worry about that “wrong” attention, that a man should be able to control his urges and desires to know that just because I have my boobs on display does not mean that I am asking to be raped, but sadly enough, we all know that this is not the case and now we have a generation of girls who dress for attention and don’t stop to think of the consequences of what that dress may mean.

Not just that, but we are also teaching them that what matters is, not their (fill in the blank) ability, but how physically appealing they are.  Could they not achieve the same outcome in their dance competitions with an age appropriate costume that covers everything adequately and a little bit of lip gloss?  Why is it so important that they have so much make up on and a skimpy costume that is just a little too revealing for most grown strippers, let alone a 12-year-old girl.

Parents! WAKE UP!! This is not acceptable at any age but especially not your grade school daughters! Demand that the attire be age appropriate or withdraw your child from the class and find one that is! Self respect is a wonderful thing to teach your children and it starts when you respect yourself enough to stand up for them!

25 Feb

Its with a heavy heart that I share this fellow FA bloggers story in hopes that it may save even one life

First, Do No Harm

Mod note: It is with great sadness that I’m posting the following story. For those of us who know richie79 from Big Fat Blog, this will be devastating news. I’m so sorry for your loss, Richie.

My name is Rich; I may be better known to some of you as richie79 of the UK who used to post prolifically on Big Fat Blog and elsewhere in the Fatosphere for many years. I wanted to share my dear wife Heather’s story and felt this was maybe the best place to do it.

I met ‘sweetheather86’ online in 2005 through a plus-size dating website. I’ve always had a preference for bigger women and at the time was in a bad place following the failure of a previous long-term relationship. Heather and I hit it off almost immediately despite her being in the US and almost 7 years younger than I. Looking forward…

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Whatever became of the Goose and the Gander?

23 Feb

Yesterday, while at work, I got into a conversation with my co-worker (a debate was more like it).

As usual my first task when I came in that morning was to check the news feed on yahoo and see what was going on in the world and I spotted a story about how the number 1 deadbeat dad had been caught and was being brought to justice.  Just like with any story it was the reader comments that frustrated me more than the story and this one was no exception.  It seems that this dad had racked up 1.2 million dollars in back child support and penalties and interest…..all in only 11 years time.  The comments this time seemed almost to err on the side of some common sense; most seemed to be from fathers who had been on the short end of the stick when it comes to child support and custody but there was one that caught my attention, a father who had been paying $700/wk until he was able to petition the courts for custody due to the mothers drug habit and then the courts ordered the mom to pay $41/mo which she did exactly twice.  Several readers made the connection that he was paying $2800/mo in support and, rightly so, that it doesn’t cost $2800/mo to raise a child.  But one woman took it upon herself to show her ass,

“I’m sorry have you tried raising a kid these days. I have two kids from my ex husband and i can guarantee you that after all the cost are added up by the time they turn 18 it will well exceed 1.2 million. you have to factor in clothing, cost of living in an apt or house, food, school activities, after school activities, not to mention college costs….”

This was when all hell broke loose in the office because my co-worker (who is a “single” mother of 2 – she has been living with her long-term boyfriend for the last 4 years, one of which doesn’t pay his support order and the other has recently petitioned the courts for custody) agreed with this woman.  Now, my future hubby is the father of 2 kids from previous relationships; his current order of support for both kids, when paid in full from each weeks payroll, leaves him exactly $125/wk.  Now, in all fairness, he does have back support that he owes and is trying to pay this amount off and there is an arrears amount factored into this weekly payment, but be that as it may, nobody can support himself on $125/wk and the courts will not revisit the matter, they will only tell him that he needs to find a better job or find a part-time job to work (which is hard to do with the job he currently works) but he is making the attempt which, granted, is more than some do.  I won’t go into how the child support/family courts system is so totally backwards, behind the times, screwed up in this blog, this is not the time or the place; I will save these for a future blog.  What I will go into is the sense of entitlement that we as a society feel we are due. entitlementprograms

My coworker explained to me that she doesn’t feel comfortable letting her children just play in the neighborhood, riding their bikes to friends homes or up to the rec center (from the looks of a lot of neighborhoods she must be the only person who is uncomfortable with this notion since the streets are littered with children who are just running a muck doing as they wish and in a lot of cases breaking the law, but again, this is a topic for another time).  So, she places her children in dance and karate and soccer to give them something to do after school.  Now, I have no problem with these kinds of activities and while I grew up my entire life and was never once a member of a scout troop or a team or class and I was just fine, but I know I would have liked to have been in a dance class or soccer but at the end of the day, these are not a necessity, they are a want and as long as the child’s needs are being met, that is ultimately what is important.   School activities, after school activities, college cost, none of these things are even promised to a child who has two parents who stay married their entire life so why are they suddenly, not only promised, but guaranteed to a child whose parents divorce along the way?

Another story on yahoo spoke of how the DMV in North Carolina plans on marking future drivers license with a pink bar and the phrase “NO LAWFUL STATUS”  and distributing these to illegal immigrants who are here under Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.  Lots of people are up in arms that this will be akin to the big scarlet A on their records.  The glorious ACLU has taken issue with the program saying,

“North Carolina should not be making it harder for aspiring citizens to integrate and contribute to our communities by branding them with a second-class driver’s license.”

My coworker took issue with this story since she is an immigrant (although she is here legally).  She agreed with one of people interviewed in the article that said, “”We just want to be able to get a job and drive to work…”  My coworker proceeded to tell me how she was working here when she was 14, using her mothers name and papers to get a job since she was not legally old enough to work, so that she could help her father and older sister and brother support their family of 10.  She told me that her mother would take her paycheck each week and she would only get $50 most weeks with the rest going to help pay bills.  I wanted to tell her that if her parents hadn’t had more children than they could afford to care for she wouldn’t have had to do that and while I applaud her parents for not taking government aid like most would have, I still have to revisit the having more children than you can afford issue.    But, at the end of the day if they are here illegally and they didn’t come through the proper channels, then they are not due any special privileges, especially when they are more of a drain on the system then they ever contribute towards it.

Even in my own personal life I am subjected to people who feel that sense of entitlement.  Last night my honey and I went to the local VFW post to have a few drinks and sing some karaoke with some friends.  Now, if you have not been to a VFW recently, it is an organization that is welcome to anybody and during the daytime hours most of them have a section that is open to family events or post events that members might be inclined to bring their children to but, in the end, most are set up and function as a bar serving alcohol with pool tables and slot machines.  The people there after a certain hour are typically going to largely be drinking and trying to have a good time.  But this Friday night, just minutes before 10pm, there entered a group of adults, maybe 5 or 6, along with 6 young boys ranging in age from maybe 6 to 11.  They sauntered in and found a table where the boys noisily cut up with each other while the “parents” found their way to the bar and got their beers.  This group, boys included, signed up to sing and as the parents made their way back to the table, these boys bombarded the KJ (think a DJ only he does karaoke)  with song requests and questions which at times was so much that the show paused so he could handle the inundation of these children who should, at that hour, have been in bed.  Then the parents allowed the boys to run around the dance floor or sit on the stage in groups waiting for their turn while other singers were trying to enjoy their time.  Only once did I witness one of the adults attempt to corral their kids, making them leave the stage till it was their turn.  I’m not sure who missed the memo that a bar is not an appropriate place for a child, especially after a certain time of night, but why should my good time be restricted because you want to come out but couldn’t find a babysitter?

Entitlement!

Why does everyone think that the world should bend to their whims or wants?  You are not guaranteed everything your heart desires in this world and it is absurd for you to think that you should.  From welfare moms to soccer moms there is not one person who at some point or another has not thought that someone owed them something but the difference is that most level-headed people seem to understand that you have to work hard to get what you need in this life and that you have to work even harder to get what you want.  Yet somewhere along the way society got that backwards and now most people think you have to work hard for the things you want and that it is someone else responsibility to provide them with the things they need.  It doesn’t work that way folks and it shouldn’t.

I don’t know, perhaps I was born about 60 years to late.  Perhaps the sexual revolution of the 60’s and the mass drug usage ruined what few brain cells people had left.  I’m not sure the reason why people have forgotten the common sense teachings of their forefathers but, I do think, perhaps, a return to the pre-woodstock line of thought might do this great land of ours a tremendous favor.

You Can’t Be Your Kids Friend! Stop Trying!

12 Feb

tp-houseLast week a Tarrant County Texas court decided to indict Colleyville mother Tara Mauney on a criminal mischief charge.  Last summer Mauney was accused of leading a group of teenagers in a “prank” gone bad on a neighboring house.  What should have been a harmless episode of toilet papering a neighborhood house went awry when profanity was laced across the facade of the house in permanent marker and raw chicken parts were left in the mailbox.  $6000 worth of damage later, Mauney claims she was at home asleep when her daughter and some of her friends snuck out of the house and pulled the prank; however the courts see otherwise.  Chief in the prosecution’s evidence was store surveillance of Ms. Mauney purchasing a large amount of toilet paper at a local store earlier in the evening of the attack.  I’m not sure when buying toilet paper in bulk became a crime and even if she knew that the girls intended on TP ing the house did she know about any of the other vandalism?

But at the heart of this issue is the reader comments from the story.  There seem to be a pretty even mix of people who feel that the mom is being wrongly convicted and people who feel that the mom is guilty (even if for no other reason than the fact that she buys her TP in bulk).  I don’t really know if she was there or encouraged it or was really at home in bed asleep, nor do I really care.  But this makes me think of all the people who have kids who are trying so hard to be their friend instead of their parent.

I tried to comment on the story but for some reason I couldn’t get my comment to post.  But, if  I could have, my reply would have gone something like this;

I once had a neighbor who had that “But they are just kids” mentality all the while allowing her kids to play soccer in the front yard (even though they had a large, empty back yard). This meant that when the kids would kick the ball it would hit our cars and leave dents all over them.  My mom was notorious for telling her, “they are only kids until you teach them better!”  Its true though, you can’t blame a kid who thinks its ok to throw a fit in the middle of a store or fast food joint because they don’t know any better, they think this is ok behaviour since no one has bothered to teach them differently.  I used to get so irritated at kids who would run around and act a fool or throw fits or just in general be a brat but then I realized, they don’t know any better and I really should be upset with mom and dad for not taking the time to teach them better.

Too many times parents are concerned with their kids liking them or wanting their kids to be their friend thinking that if they are friends that their kid will tell them secrets and things that are going on in their life.  News flash people, you were not put on this earth to be your kids friend and by being the “cool” mom you are not guaranteeing that your kid is going to tell  you a damn thing about their life.  Teenagers are secretive, moody little beings whose prime goal is to irritate you.

Now, growing up, my parents gave me a healthy dose of scare and it ensured that I kept my butt out of trouble.  Sure, I lied to my mom about the theater that me and my date were going to or which of my friends would be at the mall with me but I was taught (and had the fear of God instilled in me) to know better than to allow myself to be in a position that was going to get me into real trouble.  If my date got a little too fresh or my friends decided to do something stupid that I knew better than to be a part of I would find the closest pay phone and call my mom.  The lecture that I would get for lying was much better than the one I would have gotten from my dad on the way home from the police station.  My parents were not concerned with being my friend, in fact they couldn’t have cared less if I even liked them because they knew that their job as a parent was to raise me to become a productive member of society with some common sense.  As a result of which (even though I wouldn’t have admitted it to them at the time) I respected them that much more and now that I am an adult my mom and I are pretty good friends and I feel like I can talk to her about anything and usually do.  Don’t get me wrong, I am still her child and she does annoy me sometimes but I still know that it is coming from a place of love and concern.

This isn’t just about teenagers either, you have got to start this stuff early, raise your child up with a healthy fear and respect and they will continue on this path.  Look, you can’t be a parent and a friend at the same time, it’s a conflict of interest and will result in you being walked all over and your kid getting away with murder which eventually they won’t get away with it and then you really will be wishing that you had been their parent and not their friend.  Do yourself a favor and take the higher road and be a parent, you kid will (eventually) thank you for it!