Thursday, July 19, 2018

Ninja Your Way Into Gratitude

Given that life has turned into a surreal world even David Lynch couldn't conceive, I really have no business being so damn excited about my new blender purchase. What I mean by that is I sometimes feel guilty when I'm happy. Because:

My old Ninja finally died sometime in the middle of last night. Therefore I could not make my frothy breakfast. I resorted to putting my potions in a cup and shook really hard. Not the same. But it gave me the energy I needed to go one of my all-time favorite stores, Bed Bath and Beyond.

I hadn't been there in a while, actually, the last time I attempted to go, everything went south because some crazy lady going 80 mph decided not to stop at a red light just as I was turning left. It's such a crazy story you can read it here under Halle Berry. This is why we all have insurance because of assholes.

Speaking of assholes that blow through red lights, here is a video from last week I took while out for a stroll.

Yeah, this guy had his entire family, including a baby, in his car, and maybe he was thinking, fuck that red light, the soccer game is on, then he smashed into this lovely old lady. I hope she is okay. We carefully pulled her out of the passenger side. She seemed fine, but off to the hospital because weird ongoings happen to your body the day after a car accident. Out of earshot of the police, I said to the driver, channeling my mother: "Shame on you, risking your entire family! A small child no less! You could've killed them all and this poor elderly woman.  For shame!! Slow the fuck down moron. Red means STOP!"

What passes for "normal people" lately:

I'm certain my admonishing him will have ZERO impact on his future driving skills but it sure made me feel good. Since there were so many witnesses maybe he will lose his license. I know they don't do this in the US, but it ought to be a law-- channeling my father. If you run a red in Germany, for example, you lose your license for life! But they get the autobahn! Fair trade.

Back to the blender. Here's the thing. I use this baby for everything. Not just my incredible shakes and smoothies --

(How awesome am I that I made that? ^ ^ ^ )

--which I began making after this interloper crashed one of my bbq's.  But Cesario changed my life. And apparently, many others read here -- nutrition. 

I use it to make everything free-banana bread, sugarless cookies, Gochuchang sauces, Pomme purees, lentil nut butter, coral worm dips, giraffe weevil floats, metallic eyeshadows. It's endless. I hate cooking so if all that is required is dumping the ingredients into this sucker, a pinch of witchery then watching it whirl, my entire family is seriously indebted to me.

Given they all have different food plans... lactose intolerant, gluten intolerant, meat intolerant and just generally intolerant of my cooking, it's opened up a magic door. They will eat what I make, as long as I use this blender. My daughters believe since I use the Ninja to create food, I had no involvement, therefore eat they shall! Better still, they make their own damn food. Because it requires so little effort, not one snapchat story or Tana Mongeau video will go unmissed.

Look, the world has gone mad, mad! It's been so severely tilted I lost all my bearings and food is one of the few constants I find comforting. Until I see this happen to the madman---

--I really need my blender. The level of gratitude I have for Ninja, which then leads to a mental compilation of many things I am grateful for, is immeasurable. I take it when I travel, even if just the valley because what if I get stuck there?

Other tricks of the Ninja ----and unbeknownst to anyone, I can also toss about say, Chia seeds, Flax,  Maca, Tumeric, Smart Paste.  They never know and never will because they will never read anything I write. So it's win-win.

I used to laugh at parents that "snuck" spinach in their kid's pasta sauce. First of all, gross. But you can easily drop a tablespoon of green powder into an apple shake.

I should mention I bought a super cheap one, on sale, this thing of beauty. Why on sale? Because a newer version is out. They do exactly the same thing. Plus I can't stand all those buttons, dials and instructions. Jesus.

This young cute boy was helping me and I saw one for $17.00. A Kitchenaid.

Me: OMG! Look! It's so retro. I had that in college. How cute is that!!
Boy: Oh, that doesn't work very well. I wouldn't get that.
Me: It's vintage!  I'm having all these incredible college memories. I can't believe you still sell it.
Boy: No one buys those. It's really cheap and bad.
Me: Stop putting it down! I want a new salesperson.

I'll leave you with this. I'm not full-on Paleo, but this website is great for ideas on mixing and matching all things smoothie.

Since my gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free banana bread is gone in two days, I've upped my game. Onto Zucchini, shredded cauliflower, chocolate chip, cranberry, any berry, guess the berry bread.

Until I have my beach house, and the horse is out of the hospital (thank you comic genius John Mulaney) this definitely helps get me through, and as a bonus, the family is getting healthy without their permission.

Rhonda Talbot on life, family, children, politics, food, comfort, health, smoothies, blenders, John Mulaney, gratitude.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

How House Cats Get Super Glued

Every morning I wake up in a state of shock. I'm still here? The world has still gone mad? And also I feel kind of crazy. Wait... this shit is still going on? That lunatic is still in office? And this is still my life? I'm still raising kids? It's been 28 years? Does it ever end? NO!

How do I know? Because some teenage girl is asking me to do something. At 7:30 a.m.! After a few seconds, I realized, oh, yes, that's my daughter, Audrey, this is my bed, I have to get up and start life.

Audrey: Mom, wake up. I've covered in bug bites. Or fleas.
Me: What? Who? Do I have to get up?
Audrey: It's pretty bad. I have bites everywhere. Maybe you should look at them.
Me: No, that's okay. Just try not to sweat today.
Audrey: Oh, and I used all the Calamine lotion so can you get some more?

My head was back under the pillow. How is this a thing? She's an indoor cat. I hate fleas. Fuck fleas.

Before I even attempt life, I have to have coffee. Stumbling down the hall zombie mom fashion, suddenly feeling all itchy, I'm sure I was grumbling under my breath, "If one person says good morning I will stab them."

I was pissed off and on a mission. All I wanted to do is put that flea repeller on the cat. It must be done immediately. I boil water for the coffee then open the junk drawer. This particular drawer is actually very organized. There are a few handy tools like a peen hammer and the cat crap.

I yank the cap of the tube, scoop up Socks and slather it all over the back of her neck. One crisis solved.  I know I will have to wash/boil all the bedding, but coffee, paper, and a pathetic attempt at meditating and then maybe.

I notice the cat is squealing but I figure that's normal. But then Socks gives me this death glare.

I notice my fingers have a sticky substance on them. Gross. I try to wash off the cat back poison and it won't come off. Weird. For a second I thought it might make a good facial mask.

The cat is still howling. My daughter is now getting upset. The cat is going berserk.

Audrey:  What is wrong with Socks? She's jumping all over. Why is her fur so hard?
Me: I put that flee stuff on her back. That's a normal reaction.

This daughter never trusts anything I say, so she checked the organized junk drawer.

Audrey: Mom, it's super glue. OMG! She's going to die!

Just then her twin (Evelyn) rambles out of her bedroom. This girl is usually long gone by now, off in her carpool. I rarely see her in the morning because she's gone before I wake up.

Ev: Mom, I overslept and missed the carpool.


Ev: It happens. Can you drive me? Also, fill my lunch card.

Me: No! I'm having my coffee and need to calm down. Everyone leave me alone.

Meanwhile, Audrey has been Googling "what happens when a cat gets superglued?" Apparently, there are tons of websites, examples, it must happen a lot.

Audrey: Mom, Socks could die! It's toxic. Dad!! Mom maybe killed Socks!

Normally their father is already gone, but for some reason he overslept! I didn't even notice him.

Dad enters. "Why is Evelyn here?"

Me: Okay okay I superglued the cat and Evelyn missed the carpool. Can you quick drive her to school and drop the cat off at the vet.

Dad is a calm presence and also knows I'm the worst kind of morning person so he treads lightly like this is no big deal. Maybe he once glued a cat. He checked the packaging.

Dad: Yep. Super glue. I can't believe this doesn't happen more often. They look exactly the same.
Me: See!  The tubes look exactly the same!

Audrey: No they don't! You are just both blind. Put your glasses on. Oh my god!
Me: Well, they should make the print bigger!
Dad: I can barely make it out with my glasses on.
Me: See! Also, that's the flea repellent drawer, not the glue drawer.

Ev: Well, the fleas are probably dead in that one hard spot.

I'm still in denial about even needing glasses. I wear reading glasses. But I don't put them on when I wake up. I take them off after I'm done reading for the night, then collect them around 8:00 the next morning after everyone is gone and I can read the paper.  Who puts their glasses on first thing?

Nobody! And that's how cats get glued.

Anyway, I'm sure Socks is fine, getting a lovely bath and shave. Meanwhile, I'm getting the hell out of here before the kids get home.

Rhonda Talbot weighing in on parenting, cats, sleep deprivation, sight deprivation, teenage girls, superglue, mornings, life.

PostScript - Socks is home, fine, washed, happy... and has a little bald spot. Plus, bonus, she was incredibly happy to see me. I thought she'd be mad but she's a good sport.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

What Does Raising Teenage Girls Have To Do With Dylan O'Brien?

Apparently Everything. He is Everything. But who knew? First, I had to figure out who he was. There was a popular TV show Teen Wolf, then other stuff, then a movie franchise concerning running through complex mazes, which I thought was a form of parkour.  But I see this and get it. Every teen girls poster dream boy.

Or at least twin E and her group. I guess Dylan would be to the equivalent crush I had on Neil Young when I was 14.

Okay, now that the girls are rapidly approaching 15, I need to figure a few things out.

So I thought I'd read a quick "How to Raise Teen Girls" post to make sure I'm still on top of things. After Googling, I settle on the first one on the search bar.

The thing is parents never know if they are doing a good job. If they boast having a strong handle on parenting skills, they are lying. But love to them. Perfect parenting does not exist. Imperfect parenting is the best we can hope for.

This post is about girls because that is what I'm raising at the moment. I'm sure these strategies can be applied to boys, I think.

I already raised a boy, and sort of forgot how I did this so I recently asked him. He really deserves his own post, but for time management, he's a tech engineer computer science type working up in Seattle. He has lots of other interests from playing drums to competing in Mario Smash Bro contests and everything in between. He was super fun to raise, but also I was super young. I even enjoyed Disneyland back then. Not so much, now.

Me: On a scale 1-10, how did I do in raising you, or subtext "How do you rate me as a mom?"
H:  Eleven.

See, he knows if he had said, say eight, I would have kept him on the phone. "Why? What did I do so wrong? Did I forget something? I never lost you in the park! ... ad nauseum." He knows how to stay ahead of the people crazy curve; so there's that. He'll sometimes tag me on one of these.

Big ups.

Anyway, back to the teenage girl twins.  Might I just say, I'm delighted they are healthy and they are doing just fine? By that I mean, my own personal philosophy regarding children is to keep them safe, alive and try to create a world where they can have a better life than you. Or as Diane Ladd so eloquently said:

Let them stand on your shoulders so they can see further than you did.

Pretty simple. Yet this requires an extraordinary amount of sacrifice because you are no longer the priority. Your kids are. And my belief is if you're incapable of lifting your kids up to your own possible detriment, in every possible manner, then reconsider having them. For the love of god, don't have kids because you think they will keep you young. Addressed here. 

Back to article:

It would be irresponsible of me to move forward until we address the obvious;  they are the first generation of kids growing up where "gun drills" have replaced the more innocuous "fire" drills.

This is something we parents can't actually comprehend, but when talking to kids, YES, they are highly anxious. In case anyone is wondering.

But this is only one small part of their forever increasing anxiety. Forget the normal teen angst, social issues, hormonal insanity and educational pressure, this added layer also has to wedge itself into their developing brains and somehow they have to be okay with it.

In any case, let's see how I'm doing.

Here are the suggestions to best raise teenage girls.

REMAIN CALM  --  The idea being when they freak out over something or say something "crazy" don't react. In fact, the article suggests, count to five. -- Okay, will do. As in this has never happened.

First, I could not think of one time my kid said something so whacky I blew a gasket, started foaming at the mouth and then set my hair on fire.  Plus, for me, I'm already super chill. I wish sometimes I could get more amped, about anything, but no. I must like being calm. Even when I'm upset. Okay, I'm basically water.

Like all kids, they occasionally complain and with good reason; the insane piles of homework or a  difficult teacher or some jackass at school that interrupts class all the time. If they didn't I'd be concerned. Also, I happen to agree with the girls. I hate homework. I really do. All that busy nonsense when they could be working on their own interests, or cleaning my house. Plus, I have no love for the apathetic teacher or the class clown with fire ants in his/her/they pants. So vent away.

Nothing these two girls say I would interpret as "crazy," an overused word that's lost all meaning.

I was raised in real crazy. We were not concerned with homework, we were concerned with when the eviction notice was about to arrive or what sister would overdose on heroin that day. Yet my mother did not react. She was always calm. When my 16-year old sister said she was moving to Florida with her Hells Angel boyfriend, my mother yelled: "Wear a helmet!" When my other sister suggested she wanted work at a bank so she could steal money,  my mother said: "What a great idea. Why didn't I think of that!"

To date, the most outrageous statement my girls recently uttered was probably:  "I've never seen a cloud shaped exactly like an elephant. I'm calling bullshit."

Whatever the goings on, I retreat to my sanctuary; my beloved bedroom filled with soft pillows, clean lines, and perfection. This is my personal space and everyone knows it, so they only enter when they consider their situation a true emergency. Like, "I'm starving!"

LET HER SOLVE HER OWN PROBLEM:   Yeah, no pushback on that one. For example, go make your own dinner. As if I don't have enough of my own problems to solve!

These two rarely ask for my advice. They might ask for some help, as in, "Could you collate these 11,500 pages for me?" or "Can you spell check this 450-page poem and don't change one word, thanks."  I'm basically their assistant that does busy work we all hate to do. Including me. But I love them, so I do their busy work.

The last time I offered advice, one of the girls was upset about a friend who was ''beefing" her. (what?) Of course, I want to make her feel better, so I go on about how girls are so immature, clearly, she's giving you the cold shoulder because she's jealous or something along those lines.

E: "No, she's pissed because I stole her phone and threw it in the trash at school, as a joke but now it's gone. Also, she's British! This is beyond anything you can help with!" This daughter has a predilection for British folks, but also loves all peoples;  mixed peoples with various combinations of Asian, African-American and Santorini Greeks but with a British accent.

Her "dream" guy, the one she'll consider dating when she's in college, is a racial collage, a pinboard of sorts.  Equal parts Asian, African-American, a bit Italian and this splash of ancient Greek. And of course, the British accent.

I thought these fellows looked interesting, but a funny thing happened when I put all of that info into the Google. I came up with this guy, Laurence Coke. I mean, come on! How cute is he?

In carpool today, I was telling the girls I was in search of a mixed race teen boy for my blog and I came across this guy. They were "shook." (Again, what?) Then screamed and laughed.

"Mom, how did you find him?! He's so-and-so's cousin! You met him at their BBQ! He came up on Google? OMG!"

What a bizarre coincidence. In any case, my daughter was rightfully mortified, as she is by everything I do. But her friend liked that I was writing this article. She is the sweetest.

When it comes to boys, again, they will solve their own problems. We aren't there yet.

I retreat to my room.

COMPLIMENT REGULARLY:  --  As opposed to what? Criticizing them? Passive aggressive needling? Also, I think it's a mistake to compliment your kids all the time. They grow up thinking that shit is real.

If I told my daughters how pretty there were, how smart they are, how amazing they perform at everything, they would go into the world so ill prepared that the first critical remark might send them into a clinical depression.

Instead what I do is evaluate their progress, and praise that, or not. I also might compliment a certain way they handled a situation or how they carried a difficult school project all the way through. When I do complement their appearance, it's with extreme caution. This is an area, particularly for girls, filled subterfuge.

I once suggested, "Maybe you should stop brushing your hair so much. I love the curls, you flatten them." Well, what she hears is --  You think I don't know how to take care of myself? You think I'm not taking pride in what I do? You think my hair is ugly? THEN: "Well I hate curls. Plus it's my hair and I'll do what I want. Don't comment on my hair. Ever."

I retreat to my room.

TAKE THEM SERIOUSLY:  That is, when they have an issue, don't just say, "Oh, it's high school, it will pass, it won't mean a thing in a few years. The most popular girl, also the main cheerleader and homecoming queen now pole dances at a strip club."

Okay, I would never say that and have never heard other mothers say it. Just no. It's some sort of weird parenting throwback go-to. Who wrote this thing? Plus, who would say this to their daughters?!

If there is a super popular girl at school who also runs the Latin club, is the star of the drama club and excels at everything, good for her! As long as she's enjoying this and not doing it to please some helicopter parent, good-for-her.

Of course, I take my daughters seriously. Do I care if those pants at Buffalo Exchange are no longer available? Hell no. But the girls do. They also both know this is not of import to say, me. Or anyone else, not their age. But I do have a car. This is where I come in handy. We'll find those damn repurposed pants if it takes all day.

Believe it or not, every pair is different ^ ^ ^. How do I know this? Because she tried them all on while I deleted 5000 emails on my phone. Five hours later, she "accepted" one, albeit not her first choice, then later slashed them with a razor blade. When I was 14, I had exactly two pairs of jeans. They had holes, not by design.  Hanging around in vintage warehouses all day with my daughter is love. That is love!

By the way, there was nothing in this article about trick questions. Which is what I get, more than actual conversation. Just yesterday my daughter asked, in a long, drawn-out whistful way,

"Mom, didn't you just love being a teenager?"

Okay, this is fraught with all of it, trip wires, hidden explosives, poison darts and flat out trickery. If I say, oh sure I loved it; she will think there is something wrong with her because she was probably hating her life at the moment, which is why she lobbed that at me. If I say, it sucked, she will no longer trust anything I ever have to say.

So, I answer like this: "I must admit, I've loved all my years.  Teens, 20's, 30's  40's and after that, I stopped rating."

Then I retreat to my room.

LISTEN MORE:   Okay, now I'm just getting pissed off. All I do is listen. Not because I'm so incredible and patient but because when they are in a chatty mood, they never stop talking. They invade my private space and talk and talk and talk. Until they figure out what the hell they are going to do. If I go to my office and shut the door, they come in and talk.

If I put up a sign that says I'm working, they come in and talk. If I teach them boundaries about that, that's ignored because it's considered urgent talk.

I don't listen to validate or affirm her feelings, I listen because I'm trapped. But by the very nature of listening, I am validating their feelings. But I must admit, I do enjoy their trips into chatty-ville.  There is no better way to learn about your daughter than to be on the receiving end of a long-winded rant. Or an epic observation about well, anything.

Unless... Unless... their conversation-at-me takes a deep dive into uncomfortable waters, like,

"I'm not as smart as my friends in MATH."

Well, then I break all the above rules.

I fly off the handle, say crazy shit, throw dishes, try to solve the problem by figuring out which horrible girl said this to my beloved daughter, or was it one of the evil nun teachers?

In which case I email that pest and ask ---

"What's up? You want my daughter to go into the world and think she's stupid at math? Where is your female empowerment!"-- Then I resort to complimenting the daughter. ---"You're a goddamn genius. A goddamn genius! The rest of the world is stupid. Give me the math problem, I will figure it out myself. Then I will get that kid expelled and the teacher fired. This math is insane! Who can do this?"

After my red rage rant-a-thon, having not listened at all to the girls, they lead me to my room, tell me it's no big deal, and also none of my business.  "Take it easy, Mom, calm down, we'll work it out. Why don't you watch one of those Sandra Bullock comedies you like. Where she's super mean but then becomes super nice."  Which is pretty much all of her romantic comedies but I do love them.

After I'm calm, but kids. ^ ^ ^

I retreat to my room.

Here is the thing. When in doubt.

Rhonda Talbot weighing in on teenagers, girls, motherhood, parenting, emotions, love wins, Happy Birthday.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Michael Apted Sexual Assault: My Story

Below is my original story of how I was sexually assaulted by Michael Apted.  I was told it would be attached to The Wrap article but it was omitted.  I feel my story disappeared and The Wrap story emerged, driven by the defense of the perpetrator.  I’ve come to understand that media outlets get bullied and threatened by the Marty Singers’ long before they take it to publication.  Thus, I feel my story was hijacked or, perhaps more accurately, sidelined, and became the story of why they won’t publish this story.  And so, here it is:


To Michael Apted                   

After years in this business and having lived my share of sexual harassment I struggled with the idea of coming forward until I read Michael Apted’s interview with Variety addressing the subject.

The risk of speaking out, of being judged, evaluated and maligned is not something I would ever invite. But the dishonesty of remaining silent outweighs whatever consequences might befall me.

Going forward, I will address Mr. Apted directly.

In the Variety interview, November 18, 2017, where you were asked about the current state of affairs regarding the sexual harassment “scandal.” 

The suggestions and opinions you offered as to why and how to deal with sexual harassment seemed woefully deficient.

-- It seems to be hysterical at the moment and it seems to be flooding at you all the time. Clearly, there were serious goings-on, and there was some bad behavior. But I think it will settle down.

-- once we are through the first blood of it — you know, everybody is hysterical about it now and rightly so – there has to be a pattern of behavior that is civilized and proper and not ridiculous. --
The way I read this, you were suggesting women are being "hysterical," in a movement that needs to “settle down,” that this “flood” will pass.  Yes, there had been some “bad behavior,” even “ridiculous,” but once the dust settles, men will become civilized and proper in the conduct.

I found this profoundly disturbing. Mainly because it suggests that this is simply a phase that will pass.

Rather than a suitable remedy, it seemed like you were offering familiar rhetoric, suggesting basic standards on how men ought to behave but having no expectation they ever will.

My hope is this movement won’t settle down, but rather continue to gain momentum, to create a real pushback to sexual harassment that will have a lasting impact.

Further, this is not the “first blood of it” whatever you had meant by that-- sexual misconduct in Hollywood has been raging since the dawn of cinema.  It’s just the first time women are speaking out and men are facing actual consequences.

You are a three-term President of the DGA, a governor of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences [the Oscars], one of the most prolific directors of your generation, and an admirable advocate for female-driven films (Coal Miner’s Daughter, Gorillas in the Mist, Blink, Enough, Nell.)

The powerful positions that you occupy endow you with the ability to nudge the industry forward by implementing policies that can make a huge difference in changing the present culture of misogyny and eradicating predators.

While reading your interview, I was jolted back to the time when you indeed sexually assaulted me in Paris.

So, setting aside my ambivalence and trepidation, I will share our story.

We first met in 1985 at a birthday party for the journalist Ann Louise Bardach in Beverly Hills. I was in my mid-twenties. You somehow got my phone number and asked me out to lunch.  I thought this was business related since you knew I was the lead acquisition executive for several European production companies (Gaumont, Tobis, and Retitalia) at that time; and my job was to find American-based film projects to develop, produce and finance.

I had been meeting with a lot of filmmakers and had a list of those I thought would be ideal.  You were on that list.  I was a huge fan of your 7-Up documentaries, not to mention Coal Miner’s Daughter.  Better still, your being British was an extra boon because my European colleagues, who also held you in high regard, thought you might be receptive to directing features for them.  You were considered a big “get” by my employers.

Our first lunch was pleasant enough and you were kind and funny; we talked a lot about ourselves but very little about my work-related intentions.  I figured this was okay for preliminary get-to-know-you lunch.  I remember the restaurant, an elegant, trendy lunch spot upstairs from an art gallery on La Brea Boulevard.  There were possibly five tables, and one was always reserved for you.  I think the place was called 170; very chic, and I remember feeling mortified by my absence of style. What I lacked in expensive clothing, I tried to make up with humor and intelligence.

A week or so later, you called for another lunch, same place, this time I tried to fashion a better look. You suggested picking me up because you were near my apartment. I agreed.

However, during the meal, I could tell you had a romantic interest in me and I started to feel uneasy and the lunch began to feel like a date.  I remained friendly and just wanted the lunch to end on a good note.  I wanted to be careful not to hurt your feelings for fear you would cut off any contact with me.  Again, I was hoping to develop films with you for my employers.  That was my job.

The drive home was palpably uncomfortable.  I remember literally sitting on my hands, with muscles tensed up.  I knew what was coming.  You stopped the car in front of my apartment and lurched at me and despite my resisting; you managed to maneuver your tongue into my mouth.

I shoved you off and explained I had no romantic interest in you - and then quickly and amazingly apologized for doing so.  I apologized for not letting you force-kiss me!  I felt guilty for not being the available, flirty girl you wanted me to be and for possibly hurting your feelings.

Further, I felt the need to apologize because of your stature in the community. You were older, wiser, and I was still learning how to navigate Hollywood.  But most importantly I didn’t want you to be angry with me.

You assured me things were fine and to not to worry about our friendship or any work-related business.  By then, it seemed perfectly clear this would not be a romance and that you had understood that, yet wanted to remain friends. I even said something like, “You’ll be like an uncle.”

But I guess in your mind I just needed more prodding. This is what you told me a few months later when we both happened to be in Paris at the same time.

Not only that, we were both staying at the same place, the Hotel Raphael.

I was there because I had business meetings with Gaumont to discuss various American screenwriters and directors we wanted to work with. My colleague at Gaumont was Pierre-Ange LePogam and we were developing strategies to secure high-end talent based in the U.S.

You were in Paris having something to do with shooting rehearsal footage of The Rolling Stones (*) for a documentary you were making or intended to make.

I remember this was May of 1985(**) because I had wandered into a theater and watched tres Hommes et un couffin, a film I thought was ideal for an American remake.  I contacted the producer Jean-Francois Lepetit and we met the next morning to hammer out rudimentary ideas that would lead this to Disney.  I remember making a joke about a title change, Three Men and a Cradle? That would never work.

Later that day, I bumped into you in the hotel lobby. I was relieved to see you.  Being on my own in a foreign city, there was a comfort in knowing someone I considered a friend was nearby.  Two professionals with business in Paris.

That afternoon or maybe the next you invited me to accompany you to a theater while you shot footage.  It sounded fun, I went along and it was a fun.  I also felt you fully understood our relationship was platonic.  You were a perfect gentleman and treated me like a peer, a colleague, without any hint of flirtation or romance.

When we got back to the hotel, you suggested I come to your room and look at some stills of the band.  The feeling between us was pleasantly cordial and again, professional. Not at any time did I feel threatened or scared of you. We were both sober, it was still rather early in the evening and I was young and naïve enough to simply believe you wanted my opinion on the Stones (***) photographs.

Writing this now, it seems entirely crazy, my agreeing to go to your hotel room to look at pictures!  But the truth is I felt completely safe and thought nothing of it.

You were my friend, Michael, my older, avuncular friend, a man I planned to do business with.

Once inside your room, you offered me a Perrier. We sat on the sofa and started to look through a book of photographs.  Then you moved closer to me and tried to kiss me.  I was so deflated.  Really?  Again?  I resisted but you kept at it, finally pinning me against the sofa.

I kept telling you no, pleading for you to get off of me.  I squirmed away, stood up to leave and before I was done collecting my handbag you had stripped off all your clothes, your 6-feet 2-inch (****) naked body standing between the door and me.  I was horrified.

You kept saying over and over that I was the kind of girl that needed prodding, how I really wanted to have sex with you but had been conditioned by the Catholic Church to resist sex.  You said, “I know you good girls.  Deep inside you want this and just need to be taken.”

With that you grabbed me and threw me on the bed face down slamming your naked body against mine, running your hands up my thighs and under my skirt.  I kept resisting, and you insisted I relax.  Holding me against my will, your voice grew louder, angrier, your grip more forceful; your breathing heavier and hot on the side of my face.  I was paralyzed with fear.  I didn’t know what to do.

It occurred to me to just let it happen.  Get it over with. All I could think was, my friend, Michael Apted is about to sexually assault me.  I was holding back tears as you flattened against me, your full weight pressing on me. As I struggled under your weight, you flipped me over.

Out of some sheer survival instinct, I kneed you near the groin area hard enough to where your body shifted off mine, giving me the room to jump and run. 

Even as I flew out the door, you chased me into the hall, naked, calling after me, “Stop resisting! Stop resisting!”

When I got to my room, I bolted it locked, then sobbed.  I felt ill and sad and lost. What had I done for you to think this was okay? I did nothing to suggest I had any sexual interest in you. I really thought we were past that.

Then I blamed myself.  First, what kind of idiot was I to think you were my safe buddy? Then, I thought, maybe you were right; perhaps I was too uptight- maybe I was a prude.  Why couldn’t I be an insouciant girl that just goes with the flow?  Or did you do this because I was simply a “nobody?” Maybe I mattered not at all.

I was heartbroken and confused.

Never once did it occur to me to report this incident to the police. First, I was alone in Paris, and could barely speak the language.  Second, I was in your hotel room and had been out with you that day. I certainly didn’t want a scandal to come out of my first transcontinental business trip.

Further, I didn’t want to lose whatever potential work relationship might remain between us. That was still my priority. Looking back, I wish the grown-up me could have helped that girl.

Eventually, I found that place inside me where I could bury this, forget it, set my feelings aside and pretend it never happened.  I would only tell my closest girlfriends. I thought that would be all the “therapy” I would need.

Back in Los Angeles, I truly believed that if I told anyone of authority I would lose my job.  I would be seen as a problem, as ineffective, possibly incompetent.  I had to toughen up.  I needed this job and still had a lot of plans, goals, and dreams.  I was just starting my career. I told myself that this is Hollywood; let it go. And I did. 

But it doesn’t really work that way. The internalized shame haunts you like an unwanted ghost, visiting at the most unexpected times. It never goes away. It still haunts me- decades later.  And herein lies the inequity of it all, how this one incident exemplified the obvious but normalized imbalance of power.

You apparently thought nothing of it because a few months later back in L.A. (*****) you invited me to watch Maurice Jarre’s score a film you were completing, Gorillas in the Mist.  

I remember reminding you on the phone I had no interest in anything romantic.  I also told you I had a boyfriend for extra measure. “Oh! Well, that it explains everything.  You should’ve just told me that a long time ago.”  Really?  That’s all I needed to do?  I wish I had known. Was this a secret man “code?” Or were you just joking? I honestly still do not know.

But I do know you never apologized for your reprehensible behavior back in Paris. Ever.  And I didn’t have enough self-value to approach the subject.

Although hesitant, to keep a potential work relationship alive, I agreed to go see Maurice Jarre.  There would be many people in the studio.  The afternoon turned out well.  I did enjoy watching the orchestra, and you were charming and friendly.

Nonetheless, as you towered over me behind the glass wall while viewing the orchestra, you started sending sexual signals by brushing up a little too close, and then actually touching me…eventually resting your hand on my lower back. 

Finally, I understood we could never have any kind of relationship.  I was simply your sexual target.  I felt demoralized, again, and then flashed back to Paris.  Then I felt sick.  And I feel sick writing this – an ongoing corrosion of the soul.  My spirit had been scarred, my integrity sullied and my person violated.

Now that working together was off the table, I had no way of explaining this to my companies.  This awful pressure of wanting to deliver something of great substance for my job combined with my having to essentially sell myself out was an impossible puzzle to solve.  Even after the incident in Paris I briefly weighed the prospect of sleeping with you just to further our business relationship and possibly make a film together.  This very thought compounded the shame. That is not who I am. Even knowing this, the shame persists.

I thanked you and left.  I didn’t want to chance a hug, a handshake or any physical contact. I so wish I could go back in time and decline your offer of seeing the concert, and then going to your hotel room. I had no idea the effect this would have on me, would still have on me.  Most likely, you didn’t either. It probably never occurred to you that your behavior would have a lasting, harmful effect on me.

Over the years I would see you at various film festivals and social events.  You were always kind but there was this unspoken discomfort between us.  Usually, I tried to avoid you.  We seemed to run into each other less and less.  I stopped watching your films unless I had to for business reasons.

As my career evolved, my duties became larger.  I ran the L.A. office for some of the largest film entities in Europe, (Pathe, Canal Plus, Telepool, RTD) developing, packaging, and buying American films.  One of my employers acquired one of your films, Nell, (another strong, female character.)  I remember at the screening of Nell I caught sight of you and thought; I bet he didn’t try to sexually assault Jodie Foster.

A few years later while channel flipping at home, I came across your film Enough; a film about a physically abused woman (Jennifer Lopez) who is unable to find safety or justice from the police, so she takes matters into her own hands and kills her abuser; a very satisfying film.  And I wondered how was it you chose that project; a female revenge story.

Michael, it’s important for you to know that this is not about retribution.  Because of the many courageous women sharing their stories people are listening. Finally.

Along with the onslaught of constant sexual harassment accounts, those of us who were assaulted become triggered to such a degree, it’s as though the event occurred last week.

There is an emotional whiplash that takes place: guilt, shame, fear, self-blame, and helplessness-the internalized trauma reinforced again and again.

This is the first opportunity I felt supported enough to speak my truth.

I also struggled with how this would affect you, your family, and your legacy.

But at what point do I stand up for myself? Honor myself?

Then, there are my daughters to consider.  I certainly do not want any possible exposure this would bring, but at the same time, I don’t want them going into a world where they are conditioned to accept that women are inferior to men; that their voices won’t matter under any circumstances. 

You have a genuine opportunity to be part of the solution. It starts with owning what you did to me - and anyone else who shares my misfortune.  It starts there.

My story, like countless others, illustrates the extreme pressure women are put under when dealing with men in powerful positions: this constant sexual undercurrent thwarting one’s efforts to create something that mattered, to forge a career.

After this incident, I approached many business opportunities with a sense of dread.

After years of battling misogyny, one’s confidence and sense of self-worth slowly erode until trying to achieve anything at all seems pointless. 

My intention is not to harm your reputation but rather to suggest using your position to keep moving the narrative forward for women. Please help end the tremendous imbalance of power as well as the general disrespect for women that exists in our industry.

If by my speaking out helps achieve this end, if only in small part, then perhaps there will be a sense of resolution for myself as well. Finally.

Rhonda Talbot

(*) Per your lawyer Marty Singer, it turns out that you were shooting a Sting documentary. The Stones were also in Paris, and possibly in the studio at the time. Here is my truth. At the time, I was nonplussed about either band, so my recollection of whom you were shooting is irrelevant.

(**) I realize now this happened end May 1985 because I went to Paris directly after Cannes Film Festival that year.

(***) Possibly Sting photographs.

(****) Apparently you are not 6'2", but given you were towering over me, it’s easy to imagine overestimating your height.

(*****) I’m shocked to realize this was three years later and not a few months because when you put your hand on my back, time was compressed and I was taken right back to that moment when I ran out of that room in Paris.

Here is the article: The Wrap 


Saturday, February 3, 2018

My Downward Insulin Spiral to Near Death!

Not too long ago, I had a BBQ gathering, stuffing my face, making jokes, while getting into the spirit of the upcoming outdoor Karaoke contest. Then seemingly out of nowhere, a lovely fellow whom I had never met must have overheard me say, "Ugh, I feel so bloated," as I chomped into another burger.

Here is what I heard:

"Well, that's because you're on a downward insulin spiral! You're about to become a major diabetic. Chances are you'll have to have your gallbladder removed! Then develop liver cancer! Say hello to the Grim Reaper. He's standing beside you!"

This lovely man, Cesario Tio, probably did not say anything like that, but that's what I heard. First, why is this stranger talking about my gallbladder? Also, do I really need a gallbladder?

To save you trouble, readers, yes you need it.  You want to keep this thing happy. If you care, you can see more here --

Nonetheless, who was he to tell me anything about my life? He was about to get an earful.

Most likely he said, 'Maybe you feel bloated because of all the refined sugars you consume.'

I looked at Cesario, who is incredibly fit, runs marathons, and is devoted to clean eating/living otherwise known as Paleo. In addition, he's very kind, helpful, incredibly educated on all matters of food and he's entrepreneurial. He just wants people to understand what they eat is actually very important. More on Cesario here
But I knew nothing of this person so I thought he was judging me, and insulting me and I was furious. 
"Well, Mr. Paleo guy, I happen to eat very wisely. This little BBQ is a one-off. So I had a burger. And pie. And cookies. But I don't drink, I exercise and I eat healthily."
"What do you eat for breakfast?"
Who was this guy? Now my girlfriends are leaning in, seeing how I'll handle this nutrition-freak interloper.
"I'll have you know I eat a trough of plain yogurt, covered with oatmeal, sunflower butter and a pile of fresh fruit. And some almonds. And coffee." 

I was waiting to be congratulated on my excellent food choices but:
"Then what do you do? For activity after breakfast?"
"Activity after breakfast? All the action happened before breakfast, kids, carpool, possibly stopping for gas. After I eat, I write. For hours." 
Technically that's true, but often there is more sitting and staring than actual writing. Still, how was this Cesario's business?!
"So after consuming over 150 grams of sugar and probably 2000 calories, you sit down for hours?"
A trick question, this menace of a man.
I went into some red rage and stalked off into my kitchen. One of my gal pals, Sydney, followed.
Me: "What the actual fuck? Who invited that guy? Fuck Paleo!"
Sydney: "He has some serious issues. Why is he attacking your breakfast? It sounds great by the way and super healthy."
Me: "Right? And I didn't even mention that I drink five glasses of whole milk a day. Not to mention bread. Loads of bread. Am I getting a gut?"
I was pulling on my excess stomach material.
Sydney: "Oh for god's sake, no. That's just baby fat leftover from the twins."
Me: "They're 14. I can't keep using that excuse."

We dissected this poor guy, conjuring up some imaginary life he had with other Paleoites as they ate root vegetables then ran uphill for 500 miles. Pathetic!

Sydney and I went back and forth, putting down the entire Paleo concept, community and decided Cesario was simply stuck in a cult.

The night ended up being really fun, lots of bad singing, dancing, and more pie.

The next morning I was still angry. Out of sheer spite, I made a "green" protein shake, something I found off a Paleo website. I have to say it was delicious. Then for lunch, no bread, just chicken. For dinner, fish, yams, and spinach.

I did this day after day until I forgot why. Suddenly I was off of dairy, white bread, most bread actually, and sugar, save a few gummy bears. And I felt amazing. My pants started to fall off, my stomach shrank, everything shrank. I had more energy than I had had in years. 
Like this but not me: And I don't have an earring in my belly.

I learned a lot about myself that night. 1) I'm can be overly sensitive to anything. 2) I can create entire scenarios about people to suit my own perceptions of who I need them to be. 3) I can be a dismissive bitch. 
Okay, so none of this is new. I've been working on improving myself since birth. It's a slow process.
But like so much in life, we only see what we want to see, and that's not a great thing. At least for me. Deep down, I knew my food plan was lacking, but I just didn't want to hear it. So thank you, Cesario, for having the 'gall' to call me out. It changed my life. This one small BBQ inspired me to learn about food, find new ways to consume food and live a healthier life. Because I'm now practicing better eating habits, so are my kids. It's a win for everyone. 

An interesting anecdote -- In the Chinese language, gallbladder 膽 -- is associated with courage, boldness, bravery, heroism and apparently is where you make your best decisions. Where you chart your life's actual path! Who knew?
Still on course to that big white beach house that awaits me.

Rhonda Talbot weighing in on health, diet, Paleo, BBQ, random men, inspiration, gallbladders, beach houses and the kitchen sink.