The Atomic Blonde

Actress, Singer, Pinup Girl, Celebrity look-alike, Reenactor

40 Years Later: Heroes’ Homecoming

VIetnam Banner Proof

We want YOU to join us in Fayetteville, GA on 9/28/13 to give the Vietnam Veterans the homecoming they should’ve received 40 years ago. Here’s what we need:

~ Vietnam Veterans: If you’re a Vietnam veteran, we’d love to have you be in the parade regardless of where you now call home. (We do, however, need to know you’re coming.)

~ Friends, Family, and flag-waving Patriots to line the streets.

~ Floats. Individuals, businesses, organizations, and other groups are invited to have a car or a float in the parade. There’s no charge to enter a float, so complete the application and email it to the address on the form. (Veterans who would like to be in the parade need to complete and send in an application, too. We need a head count so we can be sure to have enough vehicles to offer every veteran a ride.)

~ Buy wristbands to help pay the expenses. If you’d like to sell some, that would be really fantastic.

~ Make a donation to help pay expenses.

~ Volunteer. We need all kinds of help from ushers to publicity.

~ Become a part of the community by “liking” our Facebook page and say you’re coming on our Facebook event page. You can also help us get the word out by sharing both pages with your Facebook friends.

~ Help us spread the word. Tell Vietnam veterans, tell everybody you see. Let’s line the streets and give these men and women the homecoming they deserve.

For more information, go here.

Epiphany

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I haven’t written on this blog in forever. I don’t consider myself a writer. My mother is a formidable writer. It’s really not my thing.

For someone who is a talker, I do a remarkably bad job expressing myself well. I also don’t think that most people will find what I say interesting – that’s not me hanging myself on the cross, just an observation. Most blogs seem to offer some profound insight and/or helpful advice on things. This is me just rambling, but I feel very drawn to writing this. Even if no one reads it, these words need to be said.

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As most of you know, I had a little scare in February. The truth is I hadn’t been doing well for some time – mentally or physically. After going to the ER and being told that I just needed to calm down and it was all in my head AGAIN, they found a large growth on my thyroid. This growth was unlike most – it grew down in my chest instead of out in my neck -, and it was both pressing my trachea against my ribs and wrapping around my vocal chords.

I thought I was just getting old, letting myself go, and losing my voice and breath support. I also at times thought I was losing my mind with depression and panic attacks that just wouldn’t go.

After the most hellish beginning of the year, which included this scare as well as a huge betrayal by some people I considered my friends, I think I’m finally getting the messages the universe is trying to send me. One of the big ones is to get rid of toxic people and relationships, and I have already started on that. That’s a whole other post, and it’s going to be an ongoing battle.

The one that’s ringing true this week started when I was speaking to some new friends (who I am VERY fortunate to have met – you know who you are) the other night about how when I don’t perform in some outlet – whether it be playing the piano at 3 AM in my house, being on stage, singing a song to some veterans, etc. – I feel like a part of me is missing.

Tonight I saw “Jersey Boys”. First of all, it’s wonderful music that I grew up with (Mom and Dad’s station), but a few things really resounded with me. First and foremost, there’s the fact that after suffering a severe loss and being as low as he could possibly get, it was the music that finally brought Frankie Valli back to life. Second, it’s when he is asked when the best times were. His reply? When they were just 4 guys under a lamppost discovering their sound and making some beautiful music.

That’s really what it’s about, folks. Do I want to get paid as a performer? Absolutely. Do I deserve to get paid? You bet. I have the training, the talent, the experience, etc., but at what point does it just become about the art?

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In April, a month after my surgery and when I had been told I might never sing again, I was singing “White Cliffs of Dover” in front of several hundred people, including veterans at the Dixie Wing’s annual WWII Days. Was it my best performance? No, but it was quite possibly the most beautiful 4 minutes in my life.

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That, along with singing “More Than A Name on the Wall” at 40 Years Later: A Heroes’ Homecoming (a “welcome home” event for Vietnam veterans I helped put together in 2013) are the two most bittersweet, beautiful moments of my life. Was I paid for either? Nope.

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I also had an amazing talented cast packed full of professional entertainers who stepped up and put on the best camp show I think we’ve ever had. Not only that, but they danced with the veterans, they got teared up when they spoke to them, they GOT IT. And most of them will be back next year with bells on. Thank you.

I’m fortunate that I do often get paid to travel the country and do this. It’s the best job in the world. However, when all is said and done, it’s not about the money. It’s not about being paid. It’s about art. It’s about being a part of something truly beautiful. It’s about the tears in those veterans’ eyes. It’s about the tears in mine when I heard a voice come out that I was convinced I’d never hear again. It’s about sharing the stage with the most talented people I know.

For 8 years, I was Artistic Director of The Twilight Theatre. It was both a wonderful and exhausting time. Each of those years I directed and/or music directed 4+ shows (most with Twilight, some with other theatres). Truth be told, there were times I really resented it. It’s hard to sit in the audience when your soul is on the stage and in the music, and at times I thought I was giving up the best performing years of my life.

I know I was a very tough director and probably didn’t inspire a lot of love in some of my cast members. It’s because I take all of this very seriously. The theatre, the music – it’s my religion. I hope I gave those cast members the experience I’m talking about – the true joy and freedom that comes from being a part of something beautiful.

This is all to say that I’m going to make this an important part of my life again. I have to. It’s better than any medicine I can take. When you’re an artist – a true artist -, your art is just as important as breathing. If you’re not pursuing it in one fashion or another, a piece of your soul is missing.

I’m going to take any chance I can to perform, and yes, I’m going to get paid, but I’m not going to be above doing some things for the pure joy of it. I have some things in the works, and as usual I have a ton of ideas. It’s time for me to get off my butt and get back to it. I hope a lot of you will be a part of this journey in one way or another, and I thank you in advance for your encouragement and help as I start over, mend some old scars, and find my voice again.

Thanks for “listening”.

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A vocal clip

I am currently recovering from a thyroidectomy – more on that later -, but had promised I would post a clip of me singing.

Here you go, folks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWATJQGqHUQ

I will also be re-vamping the website. I’ve just had some other things on my plate, as you can probably imagine. I’m looking forward to getting back on the horse in the upcoming weeks.

Ladies – they just don’t make them like this any more…

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How amazing is this? I found this today in an antiques store. It’s from a 1939 Ladies Home Journal.

How incredible these ladies were! And how sad it is that women today (and I’m including myself in this) don’t put as much emphasis on taking good care of themselves.

I mean… Can you imagine spending “three hours daily of rigorous self-care”? I feel like such a slob!

And I AM going to do better. I’m starting tomorrow, in fact.

Now for the text that’s in this ad. How do you score?

WHAT IS YOUR BEAUTY SCORE? Here is your spring examination paper… play fair

1. Do you always give yourself a careful mirror checkup before you leave the house to be sure details are right: no slip showing, no crooked stocking seams, and so on?

2. Have you ever had compliments on your perfume, hair-do, teeth?

3. Do you brush your hair thoroughly every day?

4. Do you weigh yourself at least once a week?

5. Have you ever stuck to a diet (without cheating!) for at least a week?

6. Can you carry a book on your head across a room, walking naturally?

7. Would you be willing to have your friends examine a “close-up” of your complexion?

8. How many of the following items do you possess? Check carefully, please.
Nail polish. Antiperspirant. Hand soap. Eye lotion. Dentifrice. Hand lotion. Depilatory. Mouth wash. Deodorant. Bath scent (oil or salts). Face-cleansing preparation (oil or cream or lotion).
Bath or talcum powder. Cold cream (for softening skin).

9. And how many of these preparations can you check off?
Shampoo. Eye shadow. Lipstick. Face powder. Rouge. Mascara. Perfume. Nail brush. Cleansing tissues. Stiff hairbrush. Powder foundation. Skin tonic or astringent.

10. Do you average eight hours’ rest a night?

11. Are your feet and legs as well groomed as your hands and arms?

12. Do you have a fruit dessert at least once a day?

13. Do you change your fingernail polish as soon as it has become chipped? Have you tried a new shade of polish within the last month?

14. Do you take the same care in applying your daily make-up as you do before a party?

15. Do you always cleanse your face carefully before going to bed?

16. Do you brush your teeth at least twice daily?

17. Do you average half an hour out of the twenty-four in self care? (Bathing, brushing hair, applying make-up, manicuring, taking special exercises, and so on.)

18. Have you ever been told to modify your speaking voice?

19. Do you have a feeling of physical relief when you take off your shoes, your corsets?

20. If a smartly dressed friend walked in on you right this minute would you feel like apologizing for your own appearance? If so, what would bother you most? Your hair? Your hands? Your clothes?

SCORING: Each question counts five. The answers to Nos. 1 to 17, inclusive, should be in the affirmative, so that every “yes” to these gives you a plus five. In questions 8 and 9, if you can check ten items in each list, give yourself five for each question; otherwise deduct half a point for each missing item. Nos. 18, 19, and 20 should be answered with “No” to score five points each.

By Louise Paine Benjamin
Beauty Editor of the Journal

The charming ladies on this page all took this test, and filled out their papers conscientiously – just as we hope you have done. They came through with flying colors. But naturally! For they are a hand-picked group of “honor students,” chosen for their grace and wit and beauty. High scores are to be expected of them, since they have national reputations to maintain, whereas most of us are content to glimmer gently in our own small circles.

However, that is no excuse for settling back complacently. There is work to be done!

If your score is 85 to 100, you are already doing an excellent job and are to be congratulated. Even under 80, you may still be “passing fair.” But if you have slipped below 60, take heed, before you…

(And that’s where this page ends. Guess we can each fill in the blank how we see fit).

The ladies pictured are from bottom left up:

Helen Claire – 97 per cent – keeps her Southern charm at top form for her role in Kiss the Boys Good-bye but doesn’t use nail polish.

Vera Zorina – 85 per cent – the dancing star of I Married an Angel, gets enough exercise to keep slim, but she makes up with extra care for special occasions only.

Margaret Halsey – 78 per cent – gifted author of With Malice Toward Some. Passing fair and more than passing witty – her coiffure is an “un-do”, apples and oranges her preferred beauty treatment.

Lily Pons – 100 per cent – earns her perfect score by hard work; three hours daily of rigorous self-care and a strict diet for health, and to keep her weight up. She abhors crooked stocking seams and slips that show.

Mary Pickford – 87 per cent – sometimes neglects a final mirror checkup, worries a bit about clothes, but gives skin and hair extra care.

Sticks and Stones

Sticks and stones

“I’m not a victim.”

“I don’t want to be a victim.”

“Being a victim gives them all the power.”

“I’m sick of everyone playing the victim card and not taking responsibility for their own lives and actions.”

All of these words run thru my mind this morning as I write this post. They make me not want to write it, but I know I have to. This is one that won’t go away. One that is always with me. One that I can’t shake no matter what I do. One that keeps presenting itself in my life, even today. There’s no escaping it.

I hope it will spark a conversation among my friends. I am fortunate to have friends of all ages who can hopefully shed some light on this. I even have some Facebook “friends” who witnessed these events or were even on the giving side, so to speak. I hope you will all chime in. Maybe someone will have some answers or insight I haven’t thought of.

I guess some background is in order. I was always the brain when I was growing up and was far from the beauty. I was a very awkward, short, mousy girl – very much the ugly duckling. I had glasses, but wouldn’t wear them because people made fun.

As long as I can remember, people were making fun. Today there is a little bit more of a spotlight on bullying because of school shootings. Back then, it was just as prevalent – if not more so -, but not much was done about it.

I guess some amount of bullying and teasing is to be expected with growing up. That’s not the type of bullying I’m talking about. I’m talking about the type when an entire class or group joins together.

Let me give you some examples. These are far from all of them, but will give you an idea of what I’m talking about. I will limit myself to 4, although there are far more of them.

1. When I was about to enter the sixth grade, my parents decided we should move to a small town. We began school at a private school that only had one class for each grade. Before long, it started. I was the butt of pranks, called names, set up on false dates – you name it. I even remember a boy who said he really wanted to “date” me – whatever that is in 6th grade -, but he was embarrassed to be seen with me. He said he really liked me and would be my boyfriend in secret, but no one could know. He had another girlfriend that was his “public” girlfriend.

I went home from school everyday and went straight to my bedroom to cry. I was miserable. The teachers wouldn’t do anything. I remember one of them even telling me it was to be suspected with kids our age. They acted like it was no big deal.

When Mom and Dad decided enough was enough and moved us back home, the kids in my class had a celebration. By then, it was the entire class against me. They would come up to me and ask me if I was coming back next year. When I said “no”, they would jump up and down and yell “Yes!” and the whole class would scream and clap. The teacher just sat there silent.

2. That summer I went to camp. My best friend from my old school was there and told all of the girls in the cabin (a good 30+ group) what had happened to me at my new school. At first they were sympathetic. Then it started again. I don’t want to go into everything that was done and said, but it resulted in me begging my parents to pick me up early from camp and the camp counselors and staff having to have a meeting with the entire cabin telling them to leave me alone.

3. After a year home in my old school, where everything had changed of course, the folks decided my brother and I should attend private school. What an adjustment it was! I went directly into honors algebra having never taken pre-algebra. I worked my behind off to get a C, when I had always received A’s in public school. However, some things didn’t change.

The bullying continued, although it did abate a bit. It was certainly more manageable than having the entire class in on it. However, the worst part was that two teachers got in on the act – two teachers in the arts. That’s right – the arts, my world. These were two people who, of all people, should have been encouraging me.

I’m not going to name names or even departments (and I ask that any of my friends who respond to this please don’t name names either), but one of these teachers liked to make fun of me in front of the whole class. I remember one time when this person made fun of how I did my hair, and everyone laughed. After that, everyone made fun of my hair.

The other teacher (again, in the arts) made me cry practically every day and told me I had no talent and I’d never amount to anything. Again, this was in front of EVERYONE, including a lot of parents, and nothing was done.

4. Most recently, I was bullied by an adult female who told me and others that because of my job in the theatre (which I founded and run by the way) that I should not be able to go out locally. I should only be able to drive an hour away where people don’t know me. I was also told by this person that because I am a busty person I should wear high necklines and turtlenecks at all times because it distracts men.

Since when do we, as women, become responsible for protecting men from their own thoughts?! But that is a whole other blog. It’s coming, believe me.

Having said all of these negative things, I do want to stress that I have had incredibly positive people in my life as well. We have a tendency to focus on the negative and indeed there are many choices for me on this subject, but I did have many positive teachers in my life. I even remember 2 fellow high school students who stood up for me. It took a lot of courage, but they did and I will never forget it.

My questions to anyone reading this…

1. Why? Sure, we can use the raging hormones excuse, but that certainly doesn’t apply to the teachers. What really makes people do this?

2. Is it too late for apologies? I certainly don’t think so. There’s one person I sure wish I could apologize to. It’s the only time I remember turning the tables and becoming the bully, and I feel absolutely horrible for doing that.

3. What can be done? Will anything work? I can tell you what won’t work – ignoring them and violence. I was brought up in the “ignore them and they will go away” theory, which I will NOT be teaching my kids. For those of you with kids, what are you teaching them?

4. Is there something that draws this back to you and makes it a continuing issue in one’s life? Why does it keep presenting itself in mine, even when I’ve changed and am no longer quiet about it?

I often wonder if the bullying is why I have depression issues. I will wake up sad sometimes and not know why. It’s to the point of being crippling at times. It’s hard to believe that I was a baby and toddler who always woke up smiling, and now I dread mornings more than anything.

I see pictures of me from school or family events where I should be happy, but at best I have a forced smile. As much as I love doing pinup work, I am still learning to like having my picture taken. I hate looking at pictures of myself because there are some where I can still see that deep hurt coming thru.

I know it’s why I have male friends instead of female friends, and that in itself creates more problems. I can’t tell you how many times I hear, “She’s only hanging out with the guys because she’s trying to pick one up or get attention”. Unfortunately, there are also other accusations that I won’t repeat here, none of which are true.

I hate to say it, but I hear it from men and women. It’s mostly women, but I do hear it from the occasional man. What’s wrong with saying “She’s friends with men because they don’t stab her in the back” or “She’s friends with men because they call it like it is and don’t play games”?

And that brings up another question… Why do women treat each other like this? That’s one I will never understand either. I don’t think we all need to sit around the campfire and sing “Kumbaya”, but just show enough respect to your gender to not cut each other down, ladies!

Lots of questions. And yes, I’m rambling. I don’t think anyone will understand how hard it was for me to write this or even pose the questions, but I hope some of you will give me your opinion on this. It’s something I feel very strongly about and I would love to do something about, even if it’s just preventing someone else from going thru it.

“She was a woman in control in a time when it wasn’t considered proper.”

That’s what Kathleen Freeman once said of Lucille Ball.

I am about to run off for a wonderful trip to DC and the Battleship NJ event, but I couldn’t leave without acknowledging Lucille Ball’s birthday.

Happy birthday, Lucy!

Unfortunately, I am running out the door, but I did find this great blog about Lucy last night. Take a second to go over and learn some more about this wonderful lady.

http://www.humblepievintage.com/2012/03/lady-of-week_21.html

And here is one of my favorite things I found. Wasn’t she a hottie? WOW.

Lucille Ball

“Wounded girls are the prettiest girls…”

At least that’s what I think. “Pretty” isn’t even the right word. It’s not enough. Neither is “beautiful”.

Today is the 50th anniversary of Marilyn Monroe’s death. I’m reading a book that includes a lot of information about her relationship with Betty Grable. I’m fortunate enough to get to portray both of these formidable ladies.

But today is Marilyn’s day. More on that later. I wish I had words to describe how much I admire this lady – not because of her glamour or sex appeal, although those were certainly admirable -, but because she was who she was and made no bones about it.

She was a genuine person and spoke her mind. Unfortunately, she let too many people influence her work and her decisions – at least that’s my opinion. Other than that, she had no problem letting the world know that she was abused as a child, telling people she didn’t wear underwear because she didn’t like panty lines, flaunting her sex appeal/figure but not letting people looking down on her get to her, and most of all just being herself and making no apologies about it.

The older I get, the more I respect people like her. I want more truly genuine people in my life. I like flawed people – people who know their flaws and admit them, people who don’t play games, people who aren’t afraid to speak from their hearts, souls, and minds, people who always let me know where I stand with them, people who accept themselves and me for who we are, warts and all.

It sounds so simple, but those are the friends I am looking for… The people who are true and genuine human beings. Those people are beautiful, and I’m very fortunate to have quite a few of them in my circle of friends.

And today, I can’t help but think of all of my favorite Marilyn quotes. By far, my fave is “Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.”

But here are some more…

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For Those in Peril on the Seas

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Sadly, today marks the 67th anniversary of one of the worst disasters in the history of the US Navy, the sinking of the USS Indianapolis. It was a tragedy and the greatest loss of life at sea the Navy has ever had to endure.

On July 30, 1945, a Japanese sub torpedoed the Indianapolis in the Philippine Sea. The Indianapolis sank in mere minutes. Of a crew of 1,196, approximately 300 went down with the ship. The remaining men, numbering at around 900, were left to fend for themselves in shark-infested waters. Of that number, only 316 men survived.

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Today, take a moment to read a survivor’s account of this tragedy and remember these brave men that were lost.

Happy birthday to the “It Girl”!

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Alright, so this is going up a little late, but better late than never! Couldn’t choose just one quote, so had to include three.

“Even now I can’t trust life. It did too many awful things to me as a kid.”

“A sex symbol is a heavy load to carry when one is tired, hurt and bewildered.”

“We had individuality. We did as we pleased. We stayed up late. We dressed the way we wanted. I used to whiz down Sunset Boulevard in my open Kissel, with several red Chow dogs to match my hair. Today, they’re sensible and end up with better health. But we had more fun.”

Happy birthday, Clara Bow!

Honor Between Adversaries

This was sent to me via email today, and I couldn’t resist sharing. What a moving story! I hope it touches you as it did me.

“Honor Between Adversaries”

Look carefully at the B-17 and note how shot up it is – one engine dead, tail, horizontal stabilizer and nose shot up. It was ready to fall out of the sky. (This is a painting done by an artist from the description of both pilots many years later.) Then realize that there is a German ME-109 fighter flying next to it. Now read the story below.

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Charlie Brown was a B-17 Flying Fortress pilot with the 379th Bomber Group at Kimbolton , England . His B-17 was called ‘Ye Old Pub’ and was in a terrible state, having been hit by flak and fighters. The compass was damaged and they were flying deeper over enemy territory instead of heading home to Kimbolton.

After flying the B-17 over an enemy airfield, a German pilot named Franz Stigler was ordered to take off and shoot down the B-17. When he got near the B-17, he could not believe his eyes. In his words, he ‘had never seen a plane in such a bad state, the tail and rear section was severely damaged, and the tail gunner wounded, the top gunner was all over the top of the fuselage. The nose was smashed and there were holes everywhere.

Despite having ammunition, Franz flew to the side of the B-17 and looked at Charlie Brown, the pilot. Brown was scared and struggling to control his damaged and blood-stained plane.

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Aware that they had no idea where they were going, Franz waved at Charlie to turn 180 degrees. Franz escorted and guided the stricken plane to, and slightly over, the North Sea towards England. He then saluted Charlie Brown and turned away, back to Europe. When Franz landed he told the CO that the plane had been shot down over the sea, and never told the truth to anybody. Charlie Brown and the remains of his crew told all at their briefing, but were ordered never to talk about it.

More than 40 years later, Charlie Brown wanted to find the Luftwaffe pilot who saved the crew. After years of research, Franz was found. He had never talked about the incident, not even at post-war reunions.
They met in the USA at a 379th Bomber Group reunion, together with 25 people who are alive now – all because Franz never fired his guns that day.

When asked why he didn’t shoot them down, Stigler later said, “I didn’t have the heart to finish those brave men. I flew beside them for a long time. They were trying desperately to get home and I was going to let them do that. I could not have shot at them. It would have been the same as shooting at a man in a parachute”.

Both men died in 2008.

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(L-R) German Ace Franz Stigler, artist ErnieBoyett, and B-17 pilot Charlie Brown

This is a true story.

http://www.snopes.com/military/charliebrown.asp