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Words with Friends, An Idiot’s Guide, Part 6: Trolling for celebrities

Celebrity Words with Friends enthusiast, Alec Baldwin

I’m not sure what your process is for coming up with things to write about, but I tend to write about what I know. Or what I pretend to know. Or what I feel the need to rant incessantly about which I may or may not know.

But almost without fail, when I begin this process saying to myself, “You know what would be a really stupid thing to write about?”, it’s blog fodder gold and the beginning of a never-ending series. Such was the case when I decided to write about my adventures with a little iPhone app called Words with Friends.

Not since I wrote about my encounters with the Pornographic Cheese Butler at my local grocery store has my penchant for being completely ridiculous been so well received. If you’re new here, or have somehow missed the first five parts of this series, you can find them here:

Words with friends, An Idiot’s Guide

Words with friends, An Idiot’s Guide, Part 2

Words with friends, An Idiot’s Guide, Part 3: Strategery

Words with friends, An Idiot’s Guide, Part 4: More words that shouldn’t be

Words with Friends, An Idiot’s Guide Part 5: Know your opponent

Trust me when I tell you, “An Idiot’s Guide” is an apt title. Here’s a brief excerpt from my first post where I explain my complete frustration and utter confusion with this game:

After much nagging from a few online friends, I decided to download a free Words with Friends app onto my iPhone a few months ago. Of course, having never played Scrabble before, I had no clue what to do. In retrospect, I suppose I could have googled “How to play words with friends”, but that would have been entirely too obvious and logical.

Instead, I would open the app every few days and stare at it. I started a few games, but it kept telling me something about an invalid tile placement or some such nonsense. I’m sure whomever I was attempting to play with assumed a toddler had gotten hold of their mother’s cell phone, and if anyone who doesn’t read this blog asks, that’s the story I’m going with.

Now, before you Scrabble/Words with Friends experts roll your eyes at me (some of you probably already are), let me explain how I interpreted this game screen.

  • The Star — Yeah. No idea what that was about. I didn’t realize your first word had to have one of the letters on that star. As a matter of fact, I thought one of the objects was to AVOID the star. (Welcome to my brain.)
  • DL, TL, DW, TW, et. al. — As some of you may know, I’m not a big fan of acronyms, so my brain does not seek them out. Imagine my frustration when I would make a great word like hanDLe, or DWight or TWeet and it refused me. Stupid game…

I was very likely the worst Words with Friends player ever to download the app. But it’s been several months and many games since my initiation into the world of online pseudo-Scrabble, and like those tobacco company ad executives were fond of saying in order to encourage women to smoke cigarettes,

“I’ve come a long way, baby!”

So much so, that lately I’ve been challenged by several new opponents. Some of them I know personally or through social media, but the vast majority are complete strangers. A couple of folks even mentioned reading my Idiot’s Guides. Several would send me a text during the game which simply said “Hi”, which I thought was a little weird, but whatever. One of my new opponents sent me a game text which said, “Nice move, Dish!”. I immediately texted him back, “Do I know you?”, because that was my nickname in high school, but no one calls me that anymore. His answer surprised me:

SNORT! I wonder how many people playing Words with Friends with Katdish or Katdish10 (I have 2 accounts because I forgot I had the first one) think they’re playing someone famous.

Come to think of it, I do share a name with a famous celebrity mother. I actually used to get Google Alerts for Kathy Richards, but I unsubscribed because I really don’t care what Paris Hilton’s mother did last weekend, nor do I want to play Words with Friends with her, but again. Whatever.

If you ARE playing Words with Friends with me under the assumption that you are playing someone famous, I’m sorry to disappoint you. Good luck in the future with your quest for brushes with greatness. Maybe Snookie plays Words with Friends…

Romanticizing Addiction, Part 1

I’ve thought a lot about the death of Whitney Houston this week. I’ve struggled with it. I want to share more of my thoughts about that in a subsequent post, but before I do that, I wanted to share a portion of an interview I watched this morning. I’m not going to mention who the participants are because we’ve become such a polarized society that I fear if I told you who the two men were, you would make up your mind about the content of the interview and the validity of their arguments based upon your personal feelings about them. Both can be polarizing figures.

Guest: Whitney Houston wanted to kill herself. Nobody takes drugs for that long if they want to stay on the planet. The hard truth is that some people will always want to destroy themselves and there’s nothing society can do about it.

Host: Addiction is a disease. And if you are suffering from a disease you can’t make the choice. You have no choice.

Guest: Well then they don’t believe in free will, and I don’t believe anyone is a slave to addiction. I do believe it’s a disease. It’s a mental disease, but you have free will and you can get through the disease, as millions of people have chosen to do. It’s a lot of free will. You don’t have free will when you get lung cancer. You do have free will when you’re a crack addict. But, it’s very difficult. My point is that there are self destructive people, and that society does not grapple with them. We, the media looked the other way on Whitney Houston. Everyone knew she was a drug addict for decades.

Host: You said in your column, “The media has no bleeping clue how to cover the death of Whitney Houston. That’s because she was slowly dying for years and many in the press simply averted their eyes.” Guest, I have seen dozens of stories over the years detailing the addiction, the erratic behavior, the denial of the addiction on the part of Whitney Houston.

Guest: They were sensationalized to exploit the woman’s condition, not try and help her. When’s the last time you saw a public service announcement from a famous person–a singer, an actor–to the American public to say, “You know, you don’t want to be like Whitney Houston. Don’t be like Elvis. Don’t be like Janis Joplin.” When’s the last time you saw that? They don’t exist. Do you know what we do in the media? We wink-wink it. We Snoop Dog it. We Willie Nelson it. “Hey, oh yeah. They’re stoned. That’s fine.” And what message does that send? “It’s okay.” It’s not okay.

Host: I think it’s apples and oranges you’re comparing. On the one hand, the media did detail her troubles and highlighted it…

Guest: They exploited it.

Host:…but at the same time I would agree that they celebrated her talent and stardom.

Guest: Name me one media commentator outside of myself who said, “Hey Whitney, you’d better knock it off or you’re going to be in the ground.” Name me one.

Host: Maybe people don’t come out and say it like you do because that’s the style of your show, but by covering her behavior, and detailing her actions…

Guest: They exploited her.

Host: …over the years. In a way, that’s shining a very bright light on it.

Guest: If everyone in the show business community had said to Whitney Houston, “Hey. You’re gonna kill yourself…”

Host: But that’s different. Are journalists supposed to be in a position of conducting intervention?

Guest: They’re supposed to be in the business of telling the truth. And the truth is, if you get into hard drugs you can go at any time.

Host: And by showing her behavior over the years, didn’t we shine the light on that?

Guest: No. Because it wasn’t put in any kind of judgemental capacity at all. It was like a sideshow.

Host: (incredulous) Do you think she was cast in a positive light over the past 15 years?

Guest: It wasn’t positive, it was, “Oh look at this. Now she’s going to rehab.” It wasn’t, “Hey Whitney, knock it off.” It wasn’t that. It’s never been that. Ever.

Host: Let’s move on because you and I could argue for hours.

Guest: That’s right. And I’d always be right.

Host: On the subject of the flags flying at half staff in New Jersey on Saturday, the day she’s laid to rest. Governor Christie has called for that. Is that the right idea?

Guest: Yes. I think we should respect the life and talent of Whitney Houston. I said a prayer when I heard she died. This isn’t a personal thing, it’s a preventative thing. And I want society and the media to tell the truth about drug and alcohol addiction. It’s hell. It’s a horror. Let’s stop exploiting it and start explaining it.

So what do you think? Do you think our view of celebrity addiction and addiction in general is flawed?

I’ll post more on this topic tomorrow.

"You have a Nice Voice"

The title of this blog post is one of those “inside joke” kind of things. It’s not that I don’t want you in on the joke, but the story behind it is not mine, and if I retold it I could never do it justice. Maybe I’ll have Jeff guest blog on here someday and tell the story.

If I were to say to you, “Name the top 10 most distinctive voices you have ever heard.” Who would come to mind? I know the first on my list would be my mom. I know, I know, almost everyone can recognize their mom’s voice, but seriously — my mom has been in this country for over 50 years and her Japanese accent is still so thick you could cut it with a finely crafted Ginsu knife. (Don’t tell her I said that, by the way.)

There are celebrities that have voices that we immediately recognize: Ronald Reagan, Aretha Franklin, Mr. T, Jimmy Stewart, Homer Simpson, Ben Stein, Rod Stewart, Jerry Seinfeld, Jesse Jackson. Among some of the more annoying celebrity voices I would include: Fran Drescher, Jeff Foxworthy, Rosanne Barr, Joan Rivers, Woody Allen, top 40 radio station announcers, that obnoxious redhead on “The View” (Joyce something or other), pretty much anyone on “The View” past or present.

What’s my point? Awhile back some of my chatty blogger gal pals were discussing what they thought each other’s voices might sound like. Pretty much all of us said “loud” (shocking, I know). I’ve been told that I have a distinctive voice, not a pleasant voice mind you, a distinctive one. As a matter of fact, a couple of months ago I ran into someone I haven’t seen since high school (more than 20 years ago). I didn’t recognize them at first but they knew me right away; not by my face, but by my voice.

While I was writing a post for my sadly neglected other blog Stuff I Painted, I came across a short video clip with my voice on it. Click on the link to hear my voice. It’s like butta, I tell you. Like butta!

UDATE: By a show of hands, how many of you went to my other site and immediately clicked on the video without reading the blog post? Sherri, did I see your hand up? Come on, higher now. I can barely see you there standing behind your couch.