A pop star profile by Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

What comes to mind when I say “rock star” or “pop star?”  Do you think of your favorite singers?  Do you hear their music in your head?  Can you sing along with their songs?  Have you gone to their concerts?  What if I was to say that I am not talking about stars of the past, just stars of today?  Now who do you think of?

Perhaps Justin Bieber and all the little “beliebers” come to mind.  Perhaps you think of Miley Cyrus and the strange antics that have surrounded her career.  Lady Gaga with all of her wild outfits might be the next image in your head.  There are plenty of stars that stand out as much for their behavior or arrests as they do for their music.

So what about qualities?  Humanitarian efforts are probably not among the list.  Self promotion might be at the top.  Self gratification might seem like a top quality of many.  Don’t you wonder how underage stars take an entourage to a night club and then get drunk?  Who finds it OK to condone the drinking, drag racing and egg throwing?

By DavidArchuletaLover101 (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 ]
Don’t get me wrong, I think there are plenty of good new rock and pop performers out there trying to do their best without making fools of themselves.  So what do you do when you get near the top?  Perhaps you put out You Tube “vlogs.”  Maybe you get a Tumblr, Twitter and facebook account.  You can do lots of radio interviews and public appearances.  If you’re a young guy, you can even date Taylor Swift.  She likes young guys.  Or you can stun the public and do something totally different.

As a teenager, David Archuleta made a name for himself on Season Seven of American Idol.  His pleasant personality and angelic voice captured the imagination of the viewers and the final episode went down to the battle of the two Davids, with David Cook.  While the more versatile rocker David Cook seemed the odds on favorite in the final weeks, the cute teenager from Utah was quietly impressing everyone, including the not easily impressed Simon Cowell.

If you watched the above, you saw the entire panel praise Archuleta, with Cowell saying after this performance, “You’re the one to beat.”  In the final night of singing, reviewers would tell you Archuleta was clearly the better performer.  The public, however, went with the rocker who showed great musical skills and was the best on many of the shows.  Archuleta received 44 percent of the over 97 million votes cast (an Idol record).  It was an emotional ending with Cook grabbing Archuleta and keeping him in the spotlight.  It was an Idol finish at its best.

From there Archuleta went on to make records, go on tours, make public appearances. He appeared on a PBS Christmas special, made a separate Christmas album and built a fan base like many other young stars.  He filmed a mini series in the Philippines and recorded traditional songs.  Then one night he told a sold out performance in Salt Lake City, “I would like to make a special announcement: that I have chosen to serve a full-time mission.”  It was not going to be one where he would be doing photo ops and promotional work.  He was going to really do missionary work.  So he left for Chile.

As you can imagine, it was a bit of a conflict for the popular young member of the Mormon Church.  Of course, he was encouraged to stay.  He was told he was doing a lot of good here.  He had a very positive public imagine.  His appearance with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s Christmas show was very successful.  They had more ticket requests than ever before.  He could travel the world giving performances.  Indeed he made many international appearances.  It was not enough.

“I needed to do something that has nothing to do with me,” he later explained.  While his fans (Archie’s Army) and website released whatever they could, David was doing what he wanted to do.  Occasionally, a video of David would pop up on his You Tube channel, not much more than David saying Merry Christmas or some other greeting.  Meanwhile, he walked the dusty back roads of San Vincente, praying, studying and helping strangers.  It was not the life of a pop star.

David returned home after two years away.  He felt blessed to have helped others.  He visited, he preached and he sang, feeling more comfortable in song than in his Spanish language skills.  He learned more about life than any pop star on tour will ever know.  When you think of pop star qualities, you would not typically think of those his vocal coach used to describe David: “purity and wholesomeness.”

“When I went on my mission, it kind of gave me a step away from everything, and I was able to grow up a little bit, on my own, without everyone watching me,” Archuleta said recently.  David is now 27.  He has moved to Nashville and concentrates on making music that is meaningful to him.  He may not have the huge pop star success he might have had, but is still a big concert draw.  Now he is not looking for pop hits as much as songs that are more adult, more important, more David.

Sources include: “David Archuleta,” The Salt Lake Tribune, November 17, 2017,

“I would like to make a special announcement: that I’ve chosen to serve a full-time mission.”
“I would like to make a special announcement: that I’ve chosen to serve a full-time mission.”
“I would like to make a special announcement: that I’ve chosen to serve a full-time mission.”


My grandparents, parents and I have crossed paths over the years with some famous people. I grew up hearing stories about people I had heard about in the news and in the popular culture.

For example, at one point, in the early 1900’s, my grandmother lived in a tenement building in the Jewish section of the lower east side of New York City. A cousin of hers lived in the same building. This cousin had a piano. The cousin also had a neighbor whose son was a talented pianist. The problem was that the neighbor didn’t have a piano. So the son, Georgie, would go to my cousin’s apartment to practice piano. Often people gathered at the cousin’s to listen to Georgie play. He was that good. My grandmother went often. Georgie’s full name was George Gershwin.

George Gershwin

In the late 1930’s and early1940’s, my mother pursued a career in the theater in New York City. She studied acting at the Actor’s Studio with people like Karl Malden, Susan Strasberg, Stella Adler, Buddy Epson, Gypsy Rose Lee and her good friend, Judy Holliday. The actors hung out with each other at night, often performing for each other. Many famous comedy routines, like Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks’ “2000 Year Old Man” were created and honed at these parties.

My mom particularly remembers watching Zero Mostel, in person, in a living room, perfect his famous imitation of a percolator. He also did imitations of other household appliances. It’s a hilarious bit and I was thrilled to get to see it performed on television after hearing about it from my mom.

Zero Mostel

Judy Holliday was originally Judy Tuvim and my mom was Ethel Tumen. Judy changed her last name to Holliday and mom took Diana Charles as her stage name. Both girls were asked to come to Hollywood for a screen test. Both were told that they had to lose ten pounds because the camera made you look heavier. So to celebrate the test and mourn the diet, they went out for a last malted together. Soon after, my mom got rheumatic fever and was an invalid for two years. After that, she had to give up dancing, tennis and acting. Judy went on to a stellar theater and movie career until her untimely death at 46 of breast cancer.

Judy Holliday

Gypsy Rose Lee was the stripper that the musical “Gypsy” was based on. She was a passionate progressive politically and got my mother involved in protesting on behalf of the nascent labor union movement. One day, when they were picketing for the unions, a fight broke out near them and the police moved in. Gypsy got mom out before people started getting arrested.

Gypsy Rose Lee

Stella Adler was a theater actress who later became a famous acting teacher in New York. She was very well-known within the theater community. I have two quotes from her that are worth repeating. At one point, she was giving my mother advice on how to dress to make an entrance and get attention. She told Mom to “Make sure that you wear the dress and the dress doesn’t wear you!” Great advice for anyone, in any era.

The other Stella Adler quote requires a little explanation. For a time, the Yiddish Theater in New York was dominated by two Jewish families, the Adlers (Stella’s family) and the Abramsons (my family). A famous Adler had an infamous affair with an equally famous Abramson. So when Stella was asked how she knew my mother, she replied, “We’re related by bed!”

Stella Adler

In 1948, Alger Hiss was accused of being a Soviet spy. His indictment and trial was a huge story. Hiss vehemently protested his innocence for the rest of his life and many people believed that he took the fall in order to protect someone else. His case also catapulted an unknown Congressman named Richard Nixon to national fame.

Alger Hiss was my father’s patient. So my father knew the true story – he was protecting his son, who actually was an agent for the Soviets. The son wrote a damning piece of correspondence on his father’s typewriter, and this document became the lynchpin in the State’s case against his father. I checked Wikipedia and this is still considered to be an unsolved mystery, although historians are now tending to believe in Hiss’s guilt.

Alger Hiss

The musician, Artie Shaw, was another famous patient of my father’s. One of Shaw’s claims to fame was that he was married to Ava Gardner after she divorced Frank Sinatra.

Artie Shaw

I’m sure my father told us many of Shaw’s fascinating stories about Hollywood in its heyday. But the only one I remember is purely prurient gossip. Artie Shaw told my father that one of the reasons Ava Gardner left Sinatra after a short-lived marriage, was that Sinatra was not very good in bed. He apparently had trouble getting and maintaining erections and Ava Gardner had no patience for less than stellar performance in the bedroom.

Artie Shaw and Ava Gardner

Another Hollywood connection my parents had was their friendship with a movie and theater producer named Henry Weinstein. He was apparently one of the few people in Hollywood who could work effectively with and ‘handle’ Marilyn Monroe. He was the producer of the movie she was working on at the time of her death, “Something’s Got To Give”.

Marilyn was in a very bad place emotionally when she was working on this movie. To make a bad situation worse, her regular therapist and 24/7 hand holder was out-of-town on vacation for several weeks. Even Henry was having trouble with Marilyn. She would show up to the set late, if at all. She had trouble remembering her lines and required an obscene number of takes for every scene. She required constant TLC to get her through the day.

Henry Weinstein and Marilyn Monroe

Henry was getting desperate. He called my mom, who was a psychologist, and pleaded with her to come out to LA to help Marilyn. My mom refused because she believed that Marilyn was beyond out-patient help.

Marilyn had also recently been banned from seeing anyone in the Kennedy clan. She was feeling isolated, rejected and alone. Henry said that she sought solace in an affair with the script girl on the set. This was her last relationship. Henry had to fire Marilyn from the movie for excessive absenteeism a few weeks before her death.

Henry’s wife, Irena, was staying with us in Connecticut when Marilyn died in August of 1962. Irena got a call from Henry telling her of Marilyn’s death before the news was reported on TV or in the press. The press kept trying to reach Irena at our house in the hopes of getting more information about Marilyn. So we had to say ‘No Comment’ to multiple callers from the news media.

Henry and Marilyn

My own brush with fame came before the person became famous. There was a Black scholarship kid in my high school class named Gil Scott Heron. He was a bright, charming and talented young man who went on to become a well-known soul,d jazz poet, and musician. He was also considered the godfather of rap, specializing in political and social topics.

But when I knew him, he was a mature and rather worldly teenager. He started hanging out with me at school and often called on the phone to talk. One day, in our senior year, he asked me out. I really liked him but I turned him down. This is going to sound silly, but I only wanted to date Jewish boys. So I turned him down, not because he was Black, but because he wasn’t Jewish. So ironic and clearly my loss.

Gil Scott Heron

I also went to elementary and high school with Jeffrey Katzenberg, the studio executive and film producer. His older sister was my good friend for several years and we all took the same bus to school. Jeffrey was the one kid who always made the whole bus wait for him. He was always late or he would forget something and would have to go back upstairs to get it. Everyone on the bus hated him. He obviously had ADD or ADHD as a kid. He still has it as an adult and I’ve read that his staff have to go to great lengths to work around it.

Jeffrey Katzenberg

My parents were good friends with the mother and step dad of “Saturday Night Live’s” Chevy Chase. I went out on one terrible date with Chevy Chase’s brother and was in therapy with his step father for a while. I was shocked to read Chevy’s autobiography and find out that the gentle, quiet step father who I knew as a friend and a therapist, was actually a brutal, autocratic, abusive sadist! You never know what goes on behind closed doors.

Chevy Chase

My parents were also old friends with the author, Howard Fast and I went out a few times with his son as well. That son went on to marry Erica Jong, for whatever that’s worth!

Howard Fast’s most famous book

So these are some of my family’s brushes with fame. Most of them are pretty minor, but the stories were cherished by the family and retold often. They are part of the family lore. So they get a blog of their own.


“Hey, Rube!” is a slang phrase most commonly used in the United States by circus and traveling carnival workers (“carnies“), with origins in the middle 19th century. It is a rallying call, or a cry for help, used by carnies in a fight with outsiders.

In the early days of circuses in America (c. 1800–1860), it was very common for carnies to get into fights with the locals as they traveled from town to town. Circuses were rowdy, loud, and often lewd affairs, where country people could gather, blow off steam, and voice political views. Mark Twain’s classic description of a circus and other shows in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn provides illustration. It was a rare show that did not include at least some violence, and this often involved the members of the circus.

When a carnie was attacked or in trouble, he would yell “Hey, Rube!” and all carnies in earshot would rush to his aid. Circus pioneer and legendary clown Dan Rice called it “a terrible cry, as no other expression in the language does, that a fierce deadly fight is on, that men who are far away from home must band together in a struggle that means life or death to them.”

‘Hey, Rube!’ remains the safety phrase used by modern theatrical performers to alert security of a violent audience member, especially in environments where entertainers face large numbers of drunken patrons. (Wikipedia)

I remember this from growing up. It was the cry of the circus people, calling all their friends and co-workers to come join the battle. It was the circus and carnival people against the rest of the world. I think there are at least two movies and who knows how many books using this as their name. The circuses are almost all gone now. The realization of the cruelties against animals and sometimes humans in carnivals and circuses eventually doomed them. It makes me sad because I loved the flyers — the trapeze artists — and the high-wire people. I loved the glitter and the tents and that scent of strange creatures.

Jimmy Stewart (clown) and Charlton Heston in “The Greatest Show On Earth”

After I realized the ugly underpinnings of these shows, I couldn’t attend them any more. Neither — apparently — could a lot of other people, hence the closing.

Nonetheless, I think I’m allowed to miss the excitement of the circus, the something unique and special that an arriving circus brought to town. And then, we can all watch a nice, cleaned-up version of the story in “The Greatest Show On Earth.”

You just can’t go wrong with Charlton Heston.


Scientific studies now exist that defend
Stress as something good which we need to extend
Our productive lives,  as we get on in years.
So perhaps we should fuel, not conquer our fears
And dwell on what is scary in the world today
So we can keep our minds sharp and dotage at bay.

That’s easier today than it was in the past
Thanks to round-the-clock, in your face, varied and vast
News media, that seem to excel at frightening
(But not at their job – informing and enlightening!)

Illustration: Bangor Daily Tribune

Whenever we search for what we used to call “news”,
Major world events and leaders’ well-reasoned views,
The depths of human depravity appear
In bold print before our eyes or loudly in our ear.
We get endless non-reporting, in-depth and detail,
Of the endless ways in which the conscience can derail

A killer with a torture device collection,
A kidnapper with a sex slave ring connection,
A pervert who goes way beyond weird and bizarre,
A psycho who hoards, God knows what, in his car!

The news keeps us knee-deep in sickos and creeps,
Who are out there for real, not just made up for sweeps!
We’ve been programmed to be on our guard all the time
So we don’t end up being a statistic of crime.
Instead of relating with trust and with ease
We assume those we meet have a mental disease.
You’ve made everyone in the country paranoid;
We’ve all got PTSD now, according to Freud!

Then there are reports that are billed as “public service”
Which really just want to make sure that we’re nervous
About things in our house that can kill our pet,
Diseases we never heard of we’re at risk to get,
Some food or drink we give our grandkids every day
That’s been reported to sicken or kill in some way,
The “fluke” accidents that seem to daily kill and maim,
The fear we’ll die with a Darwin Award in our name.
“Petty” you may say – but the message is clear –
Vigilance is a must to live out the year.


Thanks to the media we are also aware
Of all the stupidity and ignorance out there.
Not just IN the world, but running it as well
(Running it into the ground and straight to hell)!
Instead of dealing with the problems we must solve
Leaders argue if man “appeared” or “evolved”.
Rational and civil debate has been hijacked
By arguments whether a fact is, in fact, a fact.
“Discussion” is now defined as “loud, angry yelling”
And there’s little hope of the hostilities quelling.
It feels like we’re devolving back to the cave
Or rapidly digging a species sized grave.
That’s because there are no longer systems in place
To keep PEOPLE from destroying the human race!

It may be true that we won’t lose our edge if the press
Artificially elevates our levels of stress.
But the more we’re exposed to greed and insanity,
Selfishness, prejudice, lying, inanity,
The less we care about our brains getting stronger
And our bodies thriving so we can live longer.

The bombardment of negativity we endure
Has left us conflicted, hopeless and unsure –
Do we really WANT to keep senility at bay?
Or just let our minds slip peacefully away?
Being connected and well-informed these days
Creates angst and despair in so many ways!
We often think,” Why bother getting out of bed?
Long life is a croc! We’d be better off dead”!


Why do I remember the name of my fourth grade teacher but can’t remember the name of the new neighbor I’m meeting for the third time this month?

Why do I fall asleep during my favorite TV show but at bedtime my brain won’t shut off for a second?

Why can I rationally know that I can handle something but I still get a knot in my stomach whenever I have to do it? (For me it’s driving around an airport).

Why is it that after I promise not to tell anyone “something”, that “something” keeps popping into my head even when I’m talking to people to whom the “something” would mean nothing?

Why do I get upset with people for doing something I know that I do too? (Like interrupting).

Why do I get totally obsessed with binge watching a TV show but never about writing a novel or working at a soup kitchen?

Why do I keep collecting recipes in a giant folder when I know I’ll never use them? (When I do try a new recipe I go online because who has the time to sort through that giant folder?)

Folders with the recipes I’ve collected over the years

Why can I look for something for 10 minutes and not find it but my husband finds it immediately – where I know I’ve already looked?

Why can I grapple with a problem and fail to find a solution, but hours later, when I’m doing something totally unrelated, the answer just pops into my head?

Why can I “zone out” while driving (you know, you suddenly find yourself way down the road and don’t remember getting there) yet I don’t drive off the road or into the car in front of me?

Why does my snoring husband insist he was “wide awake” when I poked him but you only snore when you are fully asleep?

Why is it that when I learn about a disease or syndrome, suddenly everyone I know knows someone who has it?

Why can I get sick but when I go to see the doctor, my symptoms disappear?

Why can I get a 1960’s song stuck in my head for days but not a single password has ever stayed in my brain for that long?




I’m not a big game person. I don’t play video games. I don’t play a lot of games on my computer or phone. I like a few word puzzles and Shanghai (a form of Mahjong). But my all time favorite is the card game, Solitaire.

I play Solitaire on my phone for long periods of time, despite my ADD. I find it very soothing and absorbing. I think that’s because card games are a cherished memory from my past.

I used to play Gin Rummy all the time with my grandparents, starting when I was six or seven. Often we had a foursome with my Mom or with Grandma’s best friend and cousin, ‘Aunt’ Esther. With four of us playing, we teamed up and each team would pool their points. My grandparents scored in some odd way involving XX’s in boxes, which I never figured out. So I was never allowed to keep score.

Grandma, me and Esther when I was four

Grandma regularly accused Grandpa of cheating. I think she was right, but he was also a very good player. He could remember every card every opponent took and threw out. He turned that skill into a major strategy, playing defense as well as offense. I never played on that level. To me it was just a fun game of chance. I just picked cards and figured out how best I could fit them into my hand.

My grandparents playing cards

I remember all those hours playing cards at the kitchen table. Grandma would bring me something wonderful to eat when we stopped for a break. This is one of those memories that deserve a Hallmark card to commemorate it.

At home, my mom and I played Solitaire and Double Solitaire, which is a competitive game of Solitaire. In Double Solitaire, each person plays their own hand but all the players pool the cards they put up and build on, numerically, by suit. It’s a very fast paced game. You’re competing for who will get their cards into the suit piles first. The person with the most cards in the suit piles, wins. Sometimes everyone wins and you end up with all the players’ decks mixed together in suit piles in the center of the table. That was always a thrill!

Me and Mom when I was about fifteen

My mom and I had very spirited games. But the most fun was when we got the housekeeper and the cook (it was a different time) to play with us. Four people playing the game is only slightly organized chaos. We would yell and scream and throw cards around in a frenzy! We all had such fun!

I’ve carried my card traditions over into the next generation through my daughter, Sarah. Sarah loved to play gin with me and my mom. We also inducted her, at an early age, into our wild world of Double Solitaire. She’s 33 now and still plays. She recently found two decks of cards we used to use when we played with my mom in Sarah’s youth. We loved those cards, which is why I kept them all these years. Seeing them brought back such wonderful memories!

Sarah, Mom and me when Sarah was thirteen

So I think my love of online card games is due to my fond memories of card games past. I played different games with different family members. But the warm glow of love and good times pervades all these card related vignettes from my childhood, my adult life and my daughter’s life.

Sarah and me a few years ago



My husband is a sweet and gentle man. He is not aggressive and doesn’t have a violent bone in his body. Yet he spends hours a day watching violence on TV, in movies and actively participating in it with video games. What is going on? His appetite for onscreen blood and gore is unfathomable and unsettling to me.

He says that it’s all make believe, that none of it is real. But my problem is that to me, it’s all way too realistic. I have no tolerance whatsoever for any kind of on screen blood and guts. I can’t even watch realistic operating room scenes on my TV medical shows. The sight of someone getting an injection makes me cringe, let alone someone being sliced and diced, even by a pretend doctor. I am a total wuss.

I may have become more sensitive as I get older. Or maybe it’s just that the entertainment industry has taken onscreen violence to another level. It’s more extreme and more gruesome these days. It’s also more graphic and much more realistic looking.

Onscreen violence used to be more suggested and less in your face. When someone got shot or hit on the head, they just fell down and maybe bled a little. Now, wounds are gaping, flesh is torn, internal organs are everywhere and blood is all over everything.

I can’t handle it. I could deal with pretending that someone’s hand was cut off. But in a recent episode of my favorite show, “Outlander”, the cutting off of the hand looked so real I almost lost my dinner. This is true everywhere in the mainstream now, not just on the military, underworld, superhero or shoot ‘em up shows.

There is so much fighting and brutality on TV and in movies. People seem to be more inhuman to each other, and also more creative in their violence. Torture is portrayed, again realistically, all the time. People don’t just shoot each other or stab each other, they use more inventive and sicker ways to inflict pain and suffering.

The world is portrayed these days as a much more brutal place. Man’s inhumanity to man is front and center and perverse sadists are everywhere you look. Many shows are very dark. They are dark in theme as well as lighting. I can tolerate some, like “The Blacklist” and “Blindspot”. But some, like “Gotham” are over the line for me. They portray the underside of life, the worst of the worst. The public’s appetite for darkness, crime and just plain meanness seems boundless.

Close to half the shows my husband watches on TV, he has to watch without me. I can’t stomach them. If I did try to watch them, I think I’d be depressed and anxious all the time. I know there is horrible stuff going on out there. But I can’t focus on it or wallow in it. I can’t even bear to read stories about cruelty to animals or children. If I think about it, I become obsessed with awful images and I literally feel sick.

I need to spend most of my time dealing with the normal and the positive. I get enough angst from reading and watching the news. I don’t need to add to that by watching sadism and butchery as entertainment. There is enough crazy and destructive going on in the government, I don’t need to watch pretend craziness and destruction on television in my down time.

Please let me keep some of my illusions about people having common sense and caring about each other. If I can’t keep some of these fantasies alive, I don’t think I’ll ever make it out of bed.