Friday, April 19, 2013

Happy Birthday Ashley Judd!

Ashley Addresses Ohio delegates to Democratic National Convention September 4th 2012

Picture Legend
1. Ms Ashley
2. Ashley as a small, female infant. You can just tell she's going to turn into a real "Wildcat" later on (Sorry, I couldn't stop myself)
3. With Mama and sis
4. As Ensign Robin Lefler on STNG, her first acting job in front of the camera where had to kiss that brat Wesley, the lucky bastard
5. In "Ruby in Paradise" Gets the lead part in her 2nd film
6. In "Heat,"... the movie, I'm not saying she's... never mind
7. As Norma Jean in "Norma Jean & Marilyn"
8. "Kiss the Girls" First time with Morgan Freeman
9. In Double Jeopardy" with Tommy Lee Jones
10. Dancing with Salma Hayek in "Frida"
11. In "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" playing two roles, both of them the same character (Huuh?).
12. In "High Crimes" with that crazy Morgan Freeman again
13. About to do something she may later regret in "Bug," directed by William (Billy Boy) Friedkin, of "The Exorcist" fame
14. Standing in the rain in "Helen"
15. With Dwight in "Tooth Fairy," based on a true story I'm told
16. Kicking spy ass in "Missing"
17. Posing at the premier of "Olympus Has Fallen"
18. Hockey enthusiast
19. Basketball enthusiast
20. Professional Sack Race enthusiast
21. "DRC [Democratic Republic of the Congo] has one of the very highest fertility, child and maternal mortality rates in world. We must help communities break cycles of poverty and violence or else these girls will soon be rape victims (if they aren't already) and/or mothers."
22. Bono getting some sugar
23. Kentucky Wildcat mascot "Scratch" getting some
24. Mira Sorvino getting some
25. Archbishop Desmond Tutu getting some
26. Freaking Morgan Freeman again... and you know what he's getting... yeah, some
27. Ashley and Buttercup (or Buttermilk, depending on what source is used. Must be one of those southern names)
28. Lovely Ashley Judd

   It is my great pleasure and honor to give a great big happy birthday shout out to one of my very favorite actresses, and political and human rights activists, Ms Ashley Judd!
   Usually when we do these birthday celebrations I go on and on about that person's life and professional and personal history, or story, whichever you prefer. Because Ashley is the kind and gracious person that she is, she has helped out by providing that information for me via her official website, which can be found right here:
   I just wish other birthday celebrants would be as considerate as Ashley has been. It would certainly save me a lot of work.
   Here's what her website has to say (this must have been written some time ago and some aspects are not current. I'll attempt to bring you up to date later):

   Ashley Tyler Judd [named after Ashland, Kentucky], nee Ciminella, is an at least 10th generation Eastern Kentuckian. She lives in Tennessee and Kentucky, and loves spending time in Scotland with her family. She is also a direct descendent of Pilgrim mother and father Mary and William Brewster, who, after years of religious persecution helped organize and then sailed on the Mayflower.
   A celebrated and acclaimed actor, she has starred in 20 films, both box office hits and independent treasures, and on Broadway. She is presently starring in Missing, a new drama for ABC that will premiere in 2012. Set in Europe, Missing is about Becca Winstone, a dedicated mother who walked away from a dangerous career in the CIA, only to be drawn back into that world when her only child mysteriously disappears. It is a role in which Judd’s fans will love her, that of a strong, vulnerable, smart, determined, and empathetic American women. Her many film titles include, Ruby in Paradise, her debut, which won the Sundance Film Festival’s Grand Jury prize, Double Jeopardy, Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood, and De-Lovely. She has focused on meaningful roles in critically acclaimed indies in recent years, turning in unforgettable performances in Come Early Morning and Bug. Her work also includes family favorites, such as Simon Birch and the recent smash, Tooth Fairy. She just wrapped Flypaper, a bank heist drama/comedy, with a gifted ensemble cast that includes Patrick Dempsy, Tim Blake Nelson, Matt Ryan, and Jeffery Tambour. On Broadway, she has played the role of Madge in the Pulitzer prize winning play, Picnic, and the iconic Maggie the Cat, in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. She has been nominated for Golden Globes and Emmys, and has won a variety of critical awards. She is currently developing projects which deal with themes about which she is passionate, such as mountain top removal coal mining and the role of faith and spiritual practice in a troubled world.
   Ashley is a dedicated humanitarian. Her work as an advocate and activist dates to her undergraduate years at the University of Kentucky. At present, she serves on the Board of Directors of Population Services International, Defenders of Wildlife, and Shaker Village. She has traveled, literally, around the world, visiting grassroots programs that focus on poverty alleviation, public health, human rights, and social justice. Entrusted with the sacred stories shared with her by the vulnerable, and often exploited yet remarkably resilient populations to whom she has dedicated much of her life, Ashley then speaks truth to power, carrying the message of empowerment and equality to heads of state, donors, the private sector, and the media. A small sampling of her advocacy work includes: Giving the keynote address on the modern slave trade to the 2008 General Assembly of the United Nations, testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the urgent need to prevent the spread of HIV to girls and women, speaking to the National Press Club, appearing on major news programs, and filming 3 documentaries seen by over a billion people worldwide. She has served as an expert panelist/moderator at conferences such as the Clinton Global Initiative, the Women Deliver Conference, the International AIDS conference, and the Global Business Coalition to stop HIV, TB, and Malaria, and the National Press Club.
   Additionally, she actively supports a number of organizations, ranging from Women for Women International, Women Thrive Worldwide, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Planned Parenthood, NARAL, Tennessee Refugee and Immigration Reform Committee. Her 2010 advocacy includes the DREAM Act, International Violence Against Women Act, the anti FGM bill, amongst others.
   A sought after public speaker, Ashley addressed the National Press Club 9 June 2010, this time regarding the rape of Appalachia, mountain top removal coal mining. In the past month, her Op Eds on subjects ranging from MTR to the urgent need for modern family planning in the developing world have been published in paper and electronic media.
   Ashley is married to Dario Franchitti, a 2 time Indy Racing League and 2 time Indy 500 champion. The couple, in addition to their farm in Tennessee, make their home in Franchitti’s native Scotland. They have a variety of beloved pets, the best known of whom are perhaps their dogs, Buttermilk and Shug, who have often been photographed with the couple.
   Ashley is a graduate of the University of Kentucky. She completed a major in French, and minors in Anthropology, Art History, Theater, and Women’s Studies. She also graduated from UK’s Honor’s Program. In 2009, she fulfilled her dream of going to graduate school. The Thursday prior to her husband winning the Indy 500 again, she graduated from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government with an MPA. Amongst other achievements at Harvard, she was awarded the Dean’s Scholar Award for her work in the Harvard Law class, Gender Violence: Law and Social Justice.
   In 2006, Ashley attended an intensive in patient treatment program at Shades of Hope to begin to meaningfully heal from unresolved childhood grief that manifests as depression and codependency. She rejoices in a recovering way of life and sharing her experience, strength, and hope. “I had no idea there was help for someone like me, without an identifiable addiction or dependency. It is thus very important to me to speak without shame and stigma about depression, codependency and adult child issues, because I have now been taught we are only as sick as our secrets. Because someone carried the message of recovery to me, and helped me begin to learn about family systems and how affected I was by other people’s addictions of various kinds, I have learned that I, too, can recover! Who knew?! It is a wonderful, miraculous thing!”    
   Although Shades of Hope specializes in the treatment of eating disorders, the Center can be an appropriate [outlet] for those without disordered eating patterns.
   Raised protestant and grounded in an inclusive Christian faith that honors and respects all backgrounds, Ashley has a strong spiritual practice that includes Passage Meditation.  Her past times include listening to bluegrass music, playing running charades, hiking, supporting her husband’s racing, cooking (especially traditional, regional southern food) gardening (she planted 2 bio diverse, heirloom orchards in 2008) and reading.

   Ashley and I have a great deal in common besides being stupendously good looking. We both like to read for instance. That's one thing. I have a garden too. I like to cook. Made some spaghetti yesterday in fact. Gonna make me a ham and cheese sandwich later tonight. I support my girlfriend's crochet. Hiking I can do without. Shark wrangling on the other hand is much more to my liking, and I prefer Twister to Charades... other than that we could be twins.
   As a matter of fact Ashley was born within walking distance of where I was living when I was attending what was then called Junior High School. She was born in Granada Hills, California, and I lived down the street in Northridge. A true southern girl, Granada Hills is actually further south on the globe than where she lives now in Tennessee.
   Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev visited Granada Hills in 1959. Isn't that interesting (notice I haven't used a question mark).
   I'll tell you this about Ashley... she was born at a very early age. That I know for damn sure.
   Her mom spirited Ashley away from California in 1973 to her native Kentucky, where Ashley would spend the majority of her childhood.
   Her mom, Naomi, by the way became a big time country music star during the 1980's, along with Ashley's older half sister, Wynonna. They were known, oddly enough, as The Judds,  with 23 hit singles on the Billboard Hot Country Singles (now Hot Country Songs) charts, including 14 number ones. That's pretty cool.
   It's said that Ashley attended 12 schools before college.  
   Big deal. I ditched 58 days out of a 90 day semester in the 11th grade and still passed.
   As most girls do, she tried out modeling in Japan briefly while ditching school. She attended the University of Kentucky in Kentucky, majoring in French, and minoring in anthropology, art history, theater and women's studies.
   I myself have studied women.
   I'm still doing that.
   But this isn't about me, now is it? Let's get back on track shall we.
   Ashley spent a semester studying in France as part of her major and is fluent in that language.
   She left college a few credits shy of graduating in 1990, when she decided to drive 1,793.5 miles from Memphis cross-country to pursue an acting career here in Los Angeles. She was 22 at the time.
   While studying the Sanford Meisner technique of acting at the Playhouse West, in Los Angeles, Ashley worked as a waitress at the Ivy restaurant at 113 N Robertson Blvd, right next to Ceders Sinai Medical Center where I donate blood on occasion, and where Patrick Stewart (Capt Picard) loiters late at night.
   They can't get rid of him.
   After about a year or so she got her first work as a professional actress on my favorite television show, "Star Trek, the Next Generation." She was in two episodes, "Darmok," about the Enterprise encountering some aliens with speech impediments, and "The Game," concerning addiction. Off hand I don't remember the first episode, and in it's description nothing is mentioned of her character (at least on Wikipedia), but I do remember "The Game," and her character, although I didn't realize it was Ashley when it first aired or since. I'll eventually see them both again, and then I'll say to myself, "Oh yes... That's Ashley Judd... what a cutie (that's just the way I am)!"
   She also secured a recurring role in the television series "Sisters," which starred Swoosie Kurtz and Sela Ward, among others. She also got a small role in her first feature film, "Kuffs," staring Christian Slater. She turned down a larger role because that would have required some nudity. "My mother worked too hard for me to take my clothes off in my first movie," she famously said.    
   Next, Sweet Pea (one of her nicknames) worked for and got the lead (not just the female lead, but the lead) role in her second feature film, "Ruby in Paradise," a character study, which is just the most perfectest kind of movie for an actress who just starting out... if it works.
   It did. Ashley was a hit. It won the 1993 Grand Jury Prize for Drama at the Sundance Film Festival. Roger Ebert picked it as one of his Top Ten Films for the year. It also won an Independent Spirit Award for Ash (another nickname) as Best Female Lead, and it was nominated for the Grand Prix of the Belgian Syndicate of Cinema Critics. Ashley won the Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Most Promising Actress, and was nominated for both the National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress, and the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress.
   Not too shabby for a girl who used to make ten bucks a day cleaning The Judds tour bus.
   And the rest is pretty much history (the photo montage above lists in chronological order some of my favorite films that Ashley has appeared in), or at least the history that Ashley's website provides, except for a couple of more things.
   I think I first became aware of Ashley in Michael Mann's classic crime drama, "Heat," which I first saw while traveling up north near Edwards Air Force Base with my lovely girlfriend Julie, who I still love very, very much (she may read this). She played Val Kilmer's girlfriend, and I said to myself, "Boy, she looks familiar." I don't know why. I haven't seen Ruby. Maybe it was the STNG role, but probably not. However, I soon found her again starring in movies like "Kiss the Girls," and "Double  Jeopardy," (she replaced Jodie Foster for the part) and by then it was like she had always been around.
   Anyway, her ex-husband has won  three Indianapolis 500 races now, the only person to do so. And I say ex because the couple decided to separate last January after eleven years of marriage. They had no children, Ashley saying "It's unconscionable to breed, with the number of children who are starving to death in impoverished countries."
   Ashley turned down the role of Catwoman in  2004's "Catwoman"  so she could star as "Maggie" in Tennessee Williams' "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" on Broadway. A very good call in and of itself. Besides the role certainly didn't do Halle Berry any good.
   Ash (I like to call her Ash... and Sweet Pea) is an etymologist, which is a person who studies the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time. As a sort of writer I should be interested in that too, but who has the time? I certainly don't.
   Ashley and I like to bake chocolate chip cookies as a means to relieve stress, the difference between me and her being I actually eat them.
   And one more thing.
   Check out this clip produced by our good friend Cenk Uygur  of The Young Turks:
   Yes, our lovely Ashley was considering stepping into the fray, hoping to unseat the  House Minority Leader, Mitch "Turtle Boy" McConnell, who once said that the Republicans priority must be to deny President Obama a second term in office (how's that working out for ya Mitch?), not to run the country more efficiently or better the lives of the American people (which, by the way includes his own constituents) but to pursue purely partisan politics.
   Ashley won't say this (at least in public), but I have no problem... Mitch McConnell is a slimy, bought and paid for, asshole, and I'm being reserved and displaying great restraint when I say this.
   But I don't wish to spoil Ashley's birthday celebration by mentioning slimy assholes like Mitch, other than to point out this example of McConnell's slimy assholishness:
   Remember, Ashley hadn't even made the decision to run yet, but McConnell and his minions were so frightened by sweet little Ashley that they thought they had to resort to these slimy assholish tactics.
   Breaking news, Mitch McConnell votes NO on the gun background check bill voted down in the Senate Wednesday, thereby keeping it easy for criminals and the mentally ill, like Mitch McConnell, to get guns. The country as a whole is pretty pissed off that this bill failed, but does Mitch care? Why no, of course not, or else he would have voted for it, not against it. Here's his Facebook responce to the bill's defeat:
   What a slimy asshole! No wonder he has one of the lowest approval ratings in Congress. Check out why the bombing in Boston is our own fault:
   I think Ashley would have had a good chance of winning if she had chosen to run, but she decided not to, and I respect her decision. Last month she issued this statement which was posted on her website:

Thank You

   Over the past several months, I’ve been deeply moved by the resiliency, grace, and spirit of the many Kentuckians I’ve been honored to encounter as I’ve traveled our great state. After hearing your voices and stories – your dreams for your families and the many hurts you’ve experienced – it’s profoundly clear Kentucky needs leaders in Washington who will fight for your interests. And it’s time Kentucky had an alternative to the cynical politics and self-serving tactics of Mitch McConnell.
   It would be the greatest honor of my life to be entrusted as a public servant to our beloved Kentucky. Perhaps someday I will be. However, with the help of my pastors and mentors, I have thoughtfully and prayerfully concluded that I won’t run for the United States Senate at this time.
   I have never been intimidated by the prospect of serving Kentucky – and I remain unafraid of the Washington insider political machine that has controlled this Senate seat for three decades.
   My chief concern in reaching this decision has only been the possibility that it disappoints folks. I’ve been blown away by the incredible encouragement, support, and confidence I’ve received, and I thank everyone who has reached out from our 120 counties and around our nation to offer their talents and time. I am humbled by the many supporters who have shown they are ready to work, organize, fight, and pray for a just economic future for Kentucky. I am especially grateful to four generations of my family for their endless understanding for my passion for service. Thanks Mom, for wanting to turn the carport into a field office – and for working on campaign slogans. And thanks, Dad, for being such a good listener at kitchen cabinet meetings, and making sure I was always clear on the “next action steps!”
   While I will not be taking to the campaign trail at this time, I continue to be energized by so many unforgettable declarations from Kentuckians, which have kept me awake many nights:

"I want business to come to Kentucky, not because my children are the cheapest labor they can find, but because they are the most educated work force they can find."

"It’s finally Kentucky’s turn to lead the nation."

"We can create a just economic transition, but not with a Senator whose tenure has seen 1% of population go from controlling 3% of the wealth to 27% of the wealth."

"We have so much hope, and we need a leader whose vision for us and our children is as big as our potential."

   I am more resolved than ever that this kind of politics as usual – and the egregious abuses that have become all too common in the public space – must end. It will be my pleasure to support the eventual candidate with all my energy. That’s what it will take from each of us to return this Senate seat to those to whom it rightfully belongs: the people of Kentucky.
   Thank you again for your kindnesses and support. It has moved and blessed me.

   I'm kind of glad that Ashley will not now have to soil herself in the mud that makes up the political world that is Washington D.C.
   But she would have made a hell of a senator. With her in the Senate, along with the likes of Barbara Boxer and Liz Warren, well it would have given a great big Hope Shot right up my wazoo (and my wazoo could surely use it right now).
   Anyway, all of us here at Joyce's Take love Ashley, and wish her and her friends and family continued good fortune and health, and of course, a very happy birthday.
   Happy Birthday Ashley!

Ashley on Press Pass discusses child marriage, and other issues with David Gregory

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