Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Nellie Oleson

I bet there are more than a few of you out there who not only watched "Little House on the Prairie" but you really, really liked the show. You did not miss it. You cried from time to time. You laughed a lot and you hated Nellie Oleson and her mother. Nellie and Mrs. Oleson are two of the most evil people on television. Just when you think they are going to be nice to the Ingalls family, they turn nasty. It was a seething hatred. Just look at the book cover from Alison Arngrim's book and the feeling will come flooding back to you in an instant. I knew about this book for a while but I did not pick it up until recently. I picked it up during a sale on Amazon.com a few days ago and tore through it in hours. I really like the show and wanted to know more about her. It seems for some reason that I know about the other stars but not her.
This is a great book. It was full of the little insider bits you want about the show but the real meat of the book is about her rise to infamy. She was part of a show business family with a more famous than her brother. I did not know that. She starred in other things before Little House. I did not know that. She is a funny stand up comedienne. I did know that. She fought hard for the rights of the sick when the AIDS crisis was the hottest topic in the world. I did not know that. She fought courageously for the rights of abused children and made real changes to laws around the country. I did not know that. She had a very abusive childhood and the fact that she has not pulled a "Lohan" or Charlie Sheen is remarkable. The stories she tells about her brother are spine chilling. She clearly had enough pain and anger to drawn on for her portrayal of the ultimate villain in one of the most wholesome shows of all time.
I normally do not like biographies (even though I read quite a few of them) because I end up disliking the person a bit. This is one of those rare instances where I grew to admire someone. Arngrim has every right to be a difficult member of society but she chose not to dwell on her past. She moves forward with a calm determination and recognition of the blessings she has received. She seems like the most honest and down to earth celebrity. It makes me wish she had the chance to play a nicer role. Maybe there is time for a renaissance so she can be known for something other than Nellie. But I somehow don't think that legacy bothers her at all.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Sleepwalk With Me

One of my favorite comedians is Mike Birbiglia. Over the past two years he has performed a play about this book and filmed a movie about the play which was based on this book. If you have heard his stand-up routine you will recognize some of these stories. That does not mean they are not still funny and touching. The focus of the books it two fold. He talks about his battles with a sleep disorder and the dangers of having that problem while being a road comic. It is also about coming to grips with a pending marriage. Maybe it is really about him growing into an adult. Regardless it is very funny at times. My wife purchased this book from his website for me as a gift. It came with the movie and both are autographed so if you want to borrow it I will need it back. The movie is on Netflix and is well worth your time. It is under 90 minutes. He also has a great stand-up set that I have listened to many times. I like his delivery and his style. To give you a taste of his relaxed comic touch, check out the embedded video below.