Monday, October 22, 2018

Death of a stranger...

I woke up this morning to the news that one of my longtime Facebook friends died yesterday.  I didn't actually know this man at all.  I became friends with him maybe ten years ago because we both played Mafia Wars.  In those days, you had to be friends with people in your Mafia, so I ended up friending total strangers.

Most of those people are now no longer friends, but I did keep a couple of them around.  One is a very nice lady from Missouri who plays violin and was once in the Army.  One is a woman who lives in North Carolina and is of Dutch descent.  She has dyslexia, so despite the fact that she's very intelligent, her posts are often written in a way that make me want to break out a red pen.  Another was this guy named Brian, who lived in Ohio and was a very successful businessman before he got cancer.

I didn't know Brian offline at all, and I rarely commented on his posts.  I didn't even know him from another online entity, which is where I picked up a lot of friends I don't know offline.  I don't know that Brian ever commented on my posts, either.  I kept him as a friend, though, because he was an unusually inspirational person.  Most days, he would post uplifting status updates or comment on current events.  Sometimes he'd post pictures, which were sometimes kind of sad because I could easily see how healthy he once was and how sick he had become.  He was ill with cancer the whole time we were "friends", so that was at least ten years of significant suffering for him.  But he always kept an upbeat attitude and his love for his friends and family was obvious.  He wrote beautiful, insightful posts that provided food for thought.  I could also tell he was a fighter with a strong will to live.

This morning, I'm reading some of the many comments people have left for Brian.  It really makes me realize that you never know who you'll touch.  Brian touched so many people that he never had the opportunity to meet in person.  It's really amazing to think about it.

Sometimes, I feel kind of sad because I feel like I haven't amounted to a lot.  I'm at least halfway through my life and yet I have yet to pass milestones that most people do.  I never had children and never held a job that offered legitimate benefits.  You might say I have a bad attitude at times.  I don't know if that's just my personality or it's a simple facet of clinical depression and anxiety.  Depression has an awful way of distorting the way a person sees the world.

Every once in awhile, I get reminded that I have affected people in a positive way.  For instance, a couple of days ago, I wrote a very successful blog post about places near Stuttgart that we're glad we visited.  I know that at least a couple of people will visit places they might not have known about if they hadn't read my post.  That will give them memories that will last a lifetime.  In that way, yes, I had an effect.  There are definite ripple effects for most anything a person does.  My life hasn't been that conventional, but I can't say I didn't have an effect.  Even if I've only affected Bill, that's still something, right?  Everyone touches someone in some way.  Even shit makes the flowers grow.

I didn't know Brian, but he touched my life.  I know he struggled for a long time and was very ill, but I also know that many people will miss him.  I'll miss his uplifting posts on Facebook and his unique world view.  You might also say that his example is one reason why I keep writing.  I will write even when people give me negative feedback.  I will write even when what I communicate is negative or depressing.  I'll write, because even though there are people in the world who dislike me or hate what I do, there will be someone out there who will "get it".  Besides that, writing helps keep me from going crazy.  In a few weeks, things will probably get legitimately crazy for at least the rest of 2018.

This morning, I discovered that the fancy house we looked at last weekend got rented.  I'm not surprised. It was a nice house and I noticed the landlord came down 200 euros a month on his asking price.  I would have wanted it more if it had been in a less busy and less crowded neighborhood.  Unfortunately, I think it would have driven me nuts to live there, as great as the kitchen was and as intrigued as I was by the washlet toilet the landlord installed.  I'm not sure I want to have a landlord installed washlet, anyway.  Who knows whose and how many assholes have been cleaned with that thing?  But I think the noise in the neighborhood would have been problematic.

It wasn't meant to be...  I'll try to stay upbeat, though.  We'll find a place somewhere.  Besides, in December, I scored us tickets to see the Scottish Music Parade in Wiesbaden...  I'll be sticking around for that!

It's my wedding march... I just teared up listening to this.

Anyway... Godspeed to Brian.  May peace be with his many friends and family members who knew him well and will miss him.  I didn't know him, but he touched my life.  His work is done now and his suffering is over.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Good people will show you the way out of Hell...

I've been meaning to write this post for a couple of weeks now.  It's about a topic Bill and I have been discussing, regarding his younger daughter who now speaks to him after many years of silence.

Last weekend, while we were in Wiesbaden enjoying a nice Italian meal, we started talking about Bill's younger daughter.  Bill recently decided to open a 529 college fund for his grandson, who recently turned one year old.  He hasn't seen his daughter in person since 2004, and she was extremely alienated until 2017.  But now they talk somewhat regularly on Skype and they email.  Bill missed out on being able to help his children when they were in college; consequently, it's been more of a struggle for them than it needed to be.

Bill's ex wife has a way of punishing the people in her life when they don't conform to her whims.  Younger daughter decided to go out west for college.  Ex did what she could to make her pay for that choice.  She refused to help her daughter out financially, and the young lady had to turn to her church for assistance.  I don't like Mormonism at all, but I am very grateful to the good people in the LDS church who helped Catherine escape her mother's clutches when Bill and I couldn't.  It was because of church people that Catherine managed to get out on her own, which was what she really needed to do.

I predicted a long time ago that Catherine would be one who wouldn't stick around and tolerate her mother's abuse.  I only met her once, but it wasn't hard to see that she has a mind of her own and is very strong willed.  Sure enough, she told Bill that she couldn't tolerate being at home beyond age 18.  She went to Provo with nothing but the clothes on her back.  It was much the same way for Bill when he returned to full time active duty with the Army.  He decided to come back in after a four year break.  Ex didn't support his decision to reclaim a good job with benefits and better pay, so he wound up in a very cheap apartment with the barest minimum of provisions.  She let him go with nothing more than the clothes on his back.  He was still living that way two years later, when we met in person for the first time.

For so long, I have been extremely angry at Bill's daughters.  On one level, I understood why they were so alienated and hateful.  They were fed a lot of lies and were misled by fractured facts.  On another level, I did not understand how they could be so hateful to Bill, who is truly a wonderful man who simply couldn't stand living with his ex wife anymore.  What's more, she divorced him-- he didn't divorce her.  And then she punished him for his decision.  I saw the children as weapons she used to hurt him and other people, and I resented her for it.  I also resented the children, as much as I tried to tell myself they couldn't help themselves.  I expected them to be smarter.

Since Bill has been talking to his daughter, I think she's been learning a lot of truths.  I wonder how it must feel for her to know that this very kind, generous, above board man was kept away from her and her sister for so many years.  Although my instincts for so long were to be cold and resistant, I've come to realize that the best thing to do is be kind to Bill's daughters and show them empathy.

I haven't spoken to Catherine yet.  If I do, I will be upfront with her and tell her that for a very long time, I was beyond pissed off at her and her sister.  I will also tell her that I felt very justified in feeling the way I did.  It was based on their behavior and what I knew at the time.  However, I also realize that her mother has a very nasty way of triangulating people.  She acts as a conduit to information and diverts the truth until it looks different than it is.  Consequently, people become divided based on faulty information filtered through Bill's ex wife.  Once the people involved share notes, the truth becomes obvious.

Bill is a naturally good, kind person.  He loves his daughters and always has, so it's not a problem for him to offer his grandson a college fund, especially now that he can easily afford it.  He would have happily helped his daughters more if they had been in contact with him and treated him with the most basic level of respect.  As it is now, Catherine is seeing what she missed out on... and that is going to be very damaging to her relationship with her mother.  From what I understand, that relationship is already a bit sour.  Ex expects total devotion and loyalty, but she won't reciprocate.  Other people are mere objects or extensions of her.  When they don't perform properly, she casts them out and expects everyone else in her sphere to do the same.  She's already gotten Catherine's sisters to harass her for leaving the nest and living her own life outside of Ex's control.

Last night, as we were enjoying a very beautiful five star meal at Stuttgart's Airport (seriously), I once again remarked how much cheaper I am compared to Ex.  Yes, it's true that my husband paid for most of my student loans.  It's true that I contribute little to the money flow.  However, with me, Bill is free to do what he does best.  He has a job that he does well and enjoys and lives in a country he loves.  He's rewarded with a good salary, some of which I invest.  We are now essentially debt free.  When Bill lived with his ex wife, he shopped for clothes at garage sales, ate meals prepared out of boxes, and experienced both bankruptcy and foreclosure.  He lived in a money pit house he couldn't afford in a town where he couldn't find adequate work.  His ex wife spent any surplus money on Disney plates, Swiss Colony snacks, depression glass, medical bills, and trips to the nearest LDS temple.  She would forego paying the mortgage or the credit card bills for these things.

Bill said that when he was married to his first wife, he was frequently left with a few dollars in the checking account before each new paycheck.  Ex insisted on handling the finances and she was not good at the job.  Confronting her would lead to a massive meltdown, so he went along with it.  I know Bill very well, though, and I know that having these debts weighed heavily on him.  He enjoys fine experiences, but not at the cost of being broke.  Ex had the attitude that she had to have everything right away.  I was willing to take time to build up to the sweet life.  For now, we're able to enjoy it with little problem and we have enough leftover to help Bill's grandson have a better life.

I share this story, not because I want to gloat.  I share it because I know there are other people out there who are in the situation we were once in, years ago.  When I met Bill, we were both broke.  He had horrible credit cards with extremely high annual percentage rates.  I remember being horrified that one card charged over 20% interest on purchases.  I suppose he was lucky he even qualified, given his financial challenges of before.  Bill now has an excellent credit rating that is almost as high as mine is, and I've never missed a bill.

I write this story to show that if you stay with someone who drags you down and convinces you that you're nothing, you can't move on to a better life.  Abusive people are like dead weight.  You can't flourish when you're stuck with them.  They will not think twice about ruining your quality of life.

I promise that if Bill had stayed with his ex wife, he'd probably still be struggling financially.  He'd also be constantly browbeaten and told what a loser he is.  He would definitely not be making a six figure salary and, even if he were, he would not have the freedom to spend it on things he cares about, like education for his grandson or a wonderful gourmet meal.  Bill didn't have to help me with my loans, but that's the kind of man he is.  I will do my best to make sure the rest of his life is as comfortable as it can be.

The prettiest dish from last night.  Hard to believe it's goose liver.

Last night, I watched Bill's face light up as he enjoyed exotic flavors and beautiful, aesthetic presentations of high quality food.  He would not be able to have that experience in his first marriage because not only would he not have been able to afford it, his ex wife would not have wanted to go to such a place.  She's uncomfortable in fine dining environments.  Not being comfortable in fine restaurants is not what makes the Ex a bad person, though.  What makes her a bad person is that she would deny her husband the chance to enjoy what he loves.  What makes her a worse person is that after the relationship breaks up, she would do her best to destroy her ex husband's happiness for the rest of his life, even at the detriment of her own children's well-being and happiness.

Catherine is now seeing that her mother is a liar who cares only about her own interests.  If she's smart, she won't fall back into her mother's cesspool of bullshit.  She will let good people help her and leave that shit behind, where it belongs.  Catherine can have a great life... so can her siblings.  They just have to find and trust people who can and are willing to help them.  And there are so many out there who will.  That includes Bill and me.  The only price to be paid is basic respect and decency.  We don't ask for any other currency or loyalty.  That's what makes us better than Ex.  I have a feeling that Catherine will soon learn that.  It might make her angry at first, but then I hope she'll realize what she now has in her life again and she won't squander it anymore.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

YouTuber thinks Lynzy Lab's song is a lot of bollocks....

This morning, I found this video by a YouTuber named ABitofBritt.  She has a lot to say about Lynzy Lab's viral song, "A Scary Time For Boys".  I have linked to Lab's song in another blog post and you can easily find it yourself if you Google, but if you haven't heard it, you can also hear it dissected in Britt's video.

Britt appears to be a conservative who thinks we need to "vote out the Democrats"...

When I first started listening to Britt's video, I was tempted to shut it off and ignore what she had to say. But then I decided to hear her out.  I've been known to find feminists annoying myself, mainly because I agree that some of them can be a little too hysterical about the women's movement.  I do know firsthand that sometimes women lie about sexual assault.  I also agree that everyone-- male or female-- is entitled to due process, particularly when it comes to accusations that could put a person in prison.

I'm kind of glad I listened to Britt's thoughts on the whole "Scary Time For Boys" song.  She does make some good points and she's clearly intelligent, and mostly reasonable about how she expresses her comments.  For example, all of the things Lab sings that she "can't do" because she's female, I will agree with Britt that she probably could do and suffer no ill effect most of the time.  However, Britt does acknowledge that it's more risky for a woman to do a lot of those things than it is for a man to do them.  Yes, it's a bad idea to leave your drink unattended, regardless if you're male or female.  But the stakes are higher for women, at least statistically speaking.  And yes, there are some parts of the city no male or female should never venture to alone.  But statistically, it's riskier if a woman goes to a dark alley than it is for a man.

I think Lab's song resonated with me because it takes on Donald Trump's comment that it's a "very scary time in America for men."  Trump was referring to the fact that Brett Kavanaugh's appointment to the Supreme Court was being challenged by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who claims that when she and Kavanaugh were teenagers, he and a friend drunkenly sexually assaulted her at a party.  She did not report the assault at the time it happened, back in the early 1980s.  As Kavanaugh's past was scrutinized, other unsavory facts about his past began to surface.  Kavanaugh was soon depicted as a beer swilling frat boy with high powered political connections.  I know I was particularly disgusted when I saw that Kavanaugh was a member of a group called Renate Alumnius, which indicated that he was among a group of guys who'd had sex with a girl named Renate Schroeder.  As all of this information came out, support for him in the Supreme Court diminished to even less than what it originally was, especially when Kavanaugh didn't own up to his past or take any responsibility for what was clearly documented boorish behavior.

Now... let's think about this for a minute.  As I sit here typing this, Kavanaugh is now a confirmed Supreme Court justice.  Sure, a lot of people still think he's a violent drunk who hurts women, but he still got his plum job.  He's not sitting in a prison cell.  He's not unemployed or in the middle of a nasty divorce in the wake of this stuff that's come to light.  As far as I can tell, Kavanaugh wasn't really harmed by Ford's accusations.  He's now a very powerful man who has friends in high (or low, depending on your viewpoint) places.  He's always going to have a job.  His appointment to the Supreme Court is for the rest of his life.  Were Kavanaugh's feelings hurt by Ford's accusations?  Possibly.  I have no idea what kind of person Brett Kavanaugh really is.  However, regardless of Ford's accusations, Brett Kavanaugh is now a Supreme Court justice.  So it's not such a "scary time" for Kavanaugh, is it?

Then there's Brock Turner.  There he was, a star swimmer at Stanford University.  He got caught in the act of sexually assaulting a very intoxicated woman behind a Dumpster.  Is he sitting in prison right now?  Nope.  He got six months for his crime and he didn't even serve the whole six months!  And recently, he's been in the news because he tried to get his sexual assault conviction overturned (and thank God he failed).  This man was actually caught in the act of assaulting an unconscious woman, and yet he doesn't think he should be labeled as a sex offender.  Here he is, a reasonably attractive, young, privileged white man who blew off his education at Stanford University and the sterling future it promised... all because he couldn't help assaulting an unconscious young woman.  Not such a scary time for Brock either, is it?

Ditto for dickhead Donald Trump, who despite openly and proudly acknowledging that he sexually harasses women, still managed to become President of the United States of America!  Donald Trump is now arguably the most powerful man on Earth!  Lots of women love him, despite the fact that he's an obnoxious, idiotic, molesting asshole of the first order.  And yet he still has the audacity to complain about how "scary" it is for men today.  Seriously?  It's ludicrous nonsense.  That's why I liked the lyrical content of Lynzy Lab's song, although as a musical person, I must admit that the melody is a bit old hat; and, as a woman, I've never felt like I couldn't do all of the things she claims I can't do because I'm female.

Britt appears to be a young woman who sympathizes with conservatives.  When I was her age, I identified as a conservative, too.  At the time, I thought my thinking was fair and logical.  I once bought into a lot of the stuff she's selling, so I get it.  As I've gotten older, my thinking has changed, because my mind has been opened to other perspectives.  I think people tend to either become more liberal or conservative as they age.  Experience tends to alter a person's world view, particularly if they are intelligent and reasonable.

Britt is right that sometimes feminists go a little too far.  And, I will absolutely agree that sometimes men end up with the short end of the stick because of the feminist mantra that we must "believe all women".  I know that not all women are believable or reliable.  Having a vagina does not automatically make someone more gentle, more reasonable, or even physically weaker than someone who has a penis.  Assholes come in all shapes, sexes, sizes, genders, colors, and creeds.

But as far as people like Trump, Turner, and Kavanaugh complaining about how "scary" and unfair life is for men?  Well, that's just a bunch of bollocks!  And that idea is what a lot of women-- particularly older and wiser women-- are reacting to.  That's why Lynzy Lab's song went viral, not because it's a stroke of musical genius or even because the words are "so spot on".  It's ridiculous that high powered white people like Trump and Kavanaugh are bitching about how "scary" life is for men.  It simply isn't true.

I hope Britt wakes up and smells the "covfefe" soon...

Friday, October 19, 2018

Toni Fratto and Kody Cree Patten...

I was inspired by my recent reintroduction to Netflix yesterday and wound up spending a few hours binge watching a show called Deadly Women.  I had seen it before, although the cases presented in the shows I watched yesterday were new to me.  It always kind of amuses me that the narrators they use on shows about salacious crimes involving murder always sound like they're oversexed or something.  They also have "experts" who comment.  One woman who is consistently featured on the shows has striking blue eyes and dark hair.  She is a former FBI profiler.  But she always sounds like she's scandalized by some of the stories she analyzes.

The dramatized segment of Deadly Women featuring Toni Fratto's story.

So anyway, one of the episodes I watched involved a young Mormon woman from Nevada named Toni Fratto.  Fratto's religion wasn't mentioned in the episode, but apparently, she was a very devout believer and Patten eventually converted to Mormonism so they could eventually marry in the temple.  Patten even moved into Fratto's family's house after a particularly nasty fight with his father.  Fratto's family evidently felt they could help straighten out Patten and keep an eye on their daughter, who had informed them that she intended to marry Patten.

I found out about Fratto's faith when I got curious and looked her up online.  The British tabloid Daily Mail ran a story about Fratto's sensational crime.  In April 2012, when they were both 19 years old, Fratto and her boyfriend, Kody Cree Patten, were sentenced to prison for murdering Patten's friend, 16 year old Micaela "Mickey" Costanzo.  Fratto and Patten brutally murdered Costanzo on March 3, 2011.

As I was watching this show about Fratto and Patten, I was reminded of a somewhat similar situation that occurred in the 1990s.  In 1995, David Graham and Diane Zamora were a Texas high school power couple with plans to attend military service academies and embark on high powered military careers.  But then the two of them decided to commit murder one night.  They killed 16 year old Adrianne Jones because Diane was extremely jealous of the pretty teen.  She thought Adrianne was a romantic rival, particularly since David had told Diane that he'd has sex with Adrianne.  When Diane found out that her boyfriend had cheated, she became enraged and felt compelled to kill Adrianne.  She asked David to carry out the task and sadly, he obliged.

Fratto's case was somewhat similar, except she and Patten weren't necessarily a "power couple" in the making.  Patten was apparently a troublemaker, while Fratto had led a fairly quiet life.  On the show, she was described and portrayed as "homely".  Patten had grown up with Costanzo; she was one of his "buddies".  According to Deadly Women, Fratto had become irrationally jealous of Mickey Costanzo.  

Although Patten's and Costanzo's relationship had been platonic, Fratto was extremely insecure about the attention Patten paid to his friend, who was pretty, athletic, and described as "promising".  Mickey Costanzo also had a boyfriend, though Fratto was convinced that she was going to ruin her relationship with Patten.  Despite Costanzo's promises that she wasn't interested in Patten romantically, Fratto refused to believe her and continued to insult and threaten the girl.  Fratto had  repeatedly confronted Costanzo, telling her to "stay away" from her man, Kody Patten.  Costanzo then decided she wanted nothing more to do with Patten, which apparently enraged him.  

And yet, even though she was repeatedly harassing Costanzo about her friendship with Patten, Fratto had never been in trouble with the law.  She had no criminal record when she and Patten kidnapped Costanzo, took her to the desert, beat her over the head with a shovel, and buried her in a shallow grave. 

While Diane Zamora appears to have masterminded Adrianne Jones' murder and David Graham had simply gone along with the idea, I think in this case, it was more Patten who got the idea to kill than Fratto.  It appears that Patten got a charge out of playing on Fratto's insecurities.  He would deliberately set up situations that he knew would upset Fratto and cause her to react.  Patten had a history of being a troublemaker, while Fratto was more of a "sheep"-- this was actually how her attorney described her.  Given what I know about Mormonism, I can see where that tendency would originate.  

I even remember in 2014, watching BYU TV and hearing a Relief Society president giving a talk during that year's spring General Conference.  She was telling a disturbing anecdote about a farmer who had to train one of his ewes not to stray.  The ewe would wander off from the herd by herself.  So he tied the ewe to a stake until she learned not to stray.  Then, once he freed her from the stake, the farmer had to coax her to move around again.  The ewe had become submissive and compliant, and the Relief Society president's message was that church members needed to be taught the same lesson. 

With messages like that coming from a place of authority, I can see why Fratto might have been talked into helping her boyfriend commit murder.  That's not to say that I think all Mormons are "sheep".  It's more to say that the religion does train people to be followers.  I think in some cases, women are especially conditioned to follow the direction of their men.  Fratto apparently didn't have a lot of experience with men and, for whatever reason, really thought she loved Patten.  Later, she said that Patten had abused and controlled her throughout their relationship and she feared that if she didn't help Patten kill Costanzo, she would be murdered herself.  So she sat on Costanzo's legs and helped hold her down while Patten slit the teen's throat.

To Fratto's credit, she did eventually come forward to confess what she'd done.  It was small comfort to Costanzo's mother, who pleaded with the court to hand down a maximum sentence.  Frankly, I can't blame Mickey Costanzo's mother for being so angry about the senseless and tragic murder of her child.  

Fratto was eventually convicted of second-degree murder with a deadly weapon.  She was sentenced to life in prison with the chance of parole after 18 years.  Since she was 19 when she was convicted, it's possible that Fratto could be out of prison before she turns 40.  As of August 2018, Toni Fratto was in Florence McClure Women's Correctional Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Patten pleaded guilty to first degree murder and was sentenced to life without parole.  He is at Ely State Prison in White Pine County, Nevada.    

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Never Let Me Go...

It's not so often that I watch movies these days, though sometimes I will search Netflix for something to kill a couple of hours.  Yesterday, I stumbled across a 2010 film called Never Let Me Go.  This British movie, which stars Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightly, and Andrew Garfield, is based on a 2005 Japanese novel by the same name which was written by Kazuo Ishiguro.  The plot is very dystopian, which fits right in with my recent attraction to The Handmaid's Tale.

As the film begins, we see a couple of captions explaining that medical science has progressed to the point at which people can live beyond 100 years.  All of the maladies that plagued previous generations have been vanquished and humans are enjoying a level of health they never had in the past.  

Then we see young woman who introduces herself as Kathy H.  She's looking through a window at a young man on an operating table as she explains that she's been a "carer" for nine years.  She says she's good at her job and prevents agitation in her patients.  The expression on her face is one of deep concern as the young man on the operating table looks at her.  Then, suddenly, it's 1978 and Kathy is at an idyllic looking boarding school with many other children, all dressed in drab gray.  They sing an opening hymn before assembly.

A matronly looking woman addresses the children and admonishes them about how important it is that they keep themselves healthy.  She says three spent cigarettes were found and that even though smoking is not healthy for anyone, it's especially a bad habit for these special children, who have never left the grounds of their school.  The woman then tells the children that Miss Emily will be collecting art samples from the children.  The best ones will go in her special gallery.

Kathy has two friends, Ruth and Tommy.  Kathy likes Tommy and he likes her, although he has a very short temper.  The two of them grow up, never venturing beyond the gates of their school.  Children who have left the grounds uniformly end up dead.  Tommy and Ruth ended up a couple, which guts Kathy.  

A new teacher named Miss Lucy wonders why the children just blindly accept the stories they hear.  She doesn't seem to know about the school or its purpose, but she's kind and loving to the children... until the day she tells them their real reason for being.  These children are all clones and the whole reason they were born is to donate organs to other people.  They will donate two, three, or even four times before their lives will end... while they are still young.  But they are told that if they can prove they've found love, they will be given a few years together.

In 1985, the children have turned 18 and are left to their own devices.  They're even allowed to take day trips.  It's then that Tommy, Ruth, and Kathy become more aware of their love triangle and what it might mean for them in the future, which stops in 1994.

I am going to stop writing at this point, because I think this is a film worth seeing... and if I explain the whole plot, there would be no reason to watch this movie.  I'm glad I watched it, for the story left me thinking.  I told Bill about it last night and he agrees that it's just the kind of movie he adores.

A trailer for Never Let Me Go.

Another trailer for Never Let Me Go...

This movie is very poignant and a bit depressing, but ultimately kind of a beautiful story.  I probably should spend more time watching foreign films on Netflix.  I've found some good ones there.

Meanwhile, I continue to keep looking for a new place to live, which is stressing me out a bit.  I know it will eventually be okay, but the process of moving is such a huge pain in the ass.  I take heart in knowing that in a few months, this process will be a memory.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Naked sailors at Busch Gardens, shooting your loved ones over potato chips, and guys who get framed by knife wielding ghosts...

They say the truth is often stranger than fiction.  I guess if you are a police officer, you run into that truism fairly often.  I read three bizarre stories about crimes that happened in the area where I grew up-- though not actually in my hometown.

The first case comes courtesy of hilarious Military Times reporter, J.D. Simkins, who also recently brought us that funny story about the Air Force Colonel who got drunk and belligerent at a Boy George concert.  I've noticed that Simkins has a writing style I could easily follow.  He finds the humor in things that may or may not be that funny.  Maybe things aren't so funny right now for 21 year old sailor, Adrian Gilbert Cardenas, who paid a visit last Friday to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia.  Cardenas is currently assigned to the aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush, a funny factoid given what "bush" is a euphemism for sometimes.  

Cardenas' visit to Busch Gardens came to a dramatic end when he took off all of his clothes and ran naked through the parking lot.  The drunken sailor was trying to break into cars, some of which were occupied, and only stopped his escapade when he was surrounded by witnesses to the bizarre scene.  Things got worse for Cardenas when the police arrived.  He tried to fight the spectators, then made a dash for freedom before he got hit with a taser.  Because he was drunk, officers first took Cardenas to a hospital, then booked him for felony assault of an officer, indecent exposure, intentional damage and obstruction of justice.  He's now out on bond.

I worked at Busch Gardens for four summers.  My sisters also worked there, so I spent a lot of carefree childhood days roaming the park when it was still owned by Anheuser-Busch.  I saw some strange things at Busch Gardens, but never anything as odd as what was described in the news article, which was also accompanied by video.  How strange!  

Right after I read about the drunken sailor with a penchant for nudity, I encountered the equally bizarre story of Michael Autonberry, a 59 year old Louisiana man who summoned the police, claiming he had been stabbed in the head.  When the cops arrived, Autonberry was shouting at people who weren't there.  Officers also noted that Autonberry did not have any visible wounds, but they did see a gram of methamphetamine sitting in plain sight on the man's nightstand.  

Autonberry was then arrested and charged with possession of a controlled dangerous substance and giving a false police report.  Autonberry claims that the drugs were planted by a ghost or intruders, whom he says he saw climbing out of a neighbor's window.  Not surprisingly, police also determined that bit of the story is also false.  As of yesterday, Autonberry was still in jail in lieu of a $5,000 bond.  

And finally, there's the most tragic yet funny tale of them all... the man who shot his cousin over salt and vinegar potato chips.  Actually, on the surface, as funny as this sounds, I really do think it's sad.  Imagine trying to kill a family member over your snacks.  How ridiculous.

19 year old Ryan Langdale of Colleton County in South Carolina turned himself in to deputies last Wednesday and is being held on charges of attempted murder, possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, and obstruction of justice.  Evidently, on September 29th, police were called to the home where Mr. Langdale's cousin had been shot.  Both Langdale and his cousin told the police that the wound was self-inflicted while the 17 year old cousin was cleaning the rifle and it went off.  

The cousin was taken into surgery where surgeons worked to repair his life threatening injuries.  As he began to recover from his wound, the young man changed his story about how he got shot.  Apparently, Mr. Langdale had told his cousin he would shoot him if he ate Langdale's salt and vinegar potato chips.  Although the cousin said he never touched Langdale's chips, Langdale reportedly shot him anyway.  Langdale also allegedly exchanged the weapon that was used to shoot the cousin for the hunting rifle that was presented to investigators.  

The police then obtained a search warrant and searched Langdale's home, where they were able to locate the gun that was used in the shooting.  They arrested Langdale and he now sits behind bars in lieu of $55,000 bail.  

I will admit that some of my relatives are annoying, but I can't say I'd go to prison over anything they've said or done.  I'm sure there was something else at play when Langdale decided to use his gun to solve his issues.  How tragic.  Langdale's life is definitely going to be altered after this little mishap.

Having lived in South Carolina for three years, I can see how this might have happened.  There are some truly gun happy people down there.  And maybe I shouldn't laugh about a guy being seriously injured over snack food.  On the other hand, if I don't laugh, I might cry.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Who doesn't like Oreos?

We had a nice couple of days in Wiesbaden.  The city of Wiesbaden is very beautiful, as is nearby Mainz.  I was a little dismayed by how built up the area is-- what I saw of it, anyway.  It looks like an area that has had very recent growth, which means the infrastructure hasn't quite caught up.  I was reminded of Chapel Hill, North Carolina back in the 90s, when everyone was moving to what used to be a small town.  We visited a couple of houses, which I wrote about on my travel blog, and ate some really good food.  I'm looking forward to having access to more international cuisine.  It seemed like Wiesbaden alone offered more choices than Stuttgart does.  We also noticed that people seemed somewhat more laid back there.

It was good to take a couple of days off from writing, too.  I decided to leave my laptop at home, because I figured we wouldn't have time for me to write.  I was correct in that we were pretty busy.  Our hotel room was very small and not all that inspiring, so even if I had brought the laptop, I doubt I would have felt like writing.  Sometimes, one needs to recharge, anyway.

Yesterday, as Bill was driving us down the Autobahn, I read about Harry and Meghan's new addition, due in the spring of 2019.  I didn't actually see Princess Eugenie's wedding, since I don't get TV.  I did read about it and it sounds like it was a good time.  Meghan wore a large blue coat, which is a departure from her usual style.  Still, since I didn't watch the wedding, it didn't occur to me that Meghan might be pregnant.  I mean, I'm not surprised, but I also wasn't really wondering one way or the other.

So anyway, as we were coming back from Wiesbaden, I read about the pregnancy and shared it, with the comment "Awwww..."  I am genuinely happy for Harry and Meghan.  I'm sure the baby will be a much loved and gorgeous addition to the Royals.  But then I made the mistake of reading the comments.  Most people had kind things to say, but there were a few who posted that they don't care. I always wonder why people who don't care about something take the time to post that instead of continuing to scroll.

And then, I saw it...

Yes... someone went there.

I remember the first time I ever heard the slang expression "Oreo" when describing a mixed black/white couple.  It was in the 1980s and I was a teenager.  A friend and I were at the Virginia State Fair and she was telling me about how some guy she knew had referred to a mixed couple that way.  Obviously, it's a racist slang term, although according to Urban Dictionary, it has another connotation other than describing a pair of black and white people who are dating.  I didn't realize this, but apparently some black people use the term "Oreo" as a way to denigrate other black people who behave in a way they consider "too white".

I had no idea...  I thought it was just about mixed raced couples or someone with mixed parentage.

Anyway... I was a little ashamed of myself because the rotating Oreo gif in the comments made me laugh.  The person who posted it was obviously trolling.  He posted that gif more than one time, too.  Although calling someone an Oreo is potentially kind of offensive, it's also not the worst racist term I've ever heard.  Who doesn't like Oreos?  They're sweet and chocolatey and go with a lot of things.  But there was something about the rotating cookie that struck me as funny, even if it wouldn't occur to me to refer to anyone that way myself.

On my post about Harry and Meghan, a friend commented that she gets to laugh, since she is herself an "Oreo".  Her mother is white and her father is black.  She says she now thinks of herself as more of a latte macchiato.  In my opinion, biracial people are usually very exotic looking and striking.  Meghan is herself biracial and I think she's very beautiful.  I'm sure Harry and Meghan will have an adorable baby and that dash of color will be quite becoming to the royal gene pool.  

Maybe Princess Eugenie will also get pregnant, so her mum can be a gran.  I saw another article about how Eugenie's mother, Sarah Ferguson, posted several Tweets about Eugenie's wedding and nothing about the baby announcement.  Could it be that she's annoyed that Harry and Meghan broke the news so soon after the wedding?  I don't know... but based on the blue coat Meghan was wearing, my guess is that they couldn't keep it a secret for much longer.  People can be weird about weddings and childbirth, anyway.  My ex friend did her best to hide her engagement from her ex boyfriend and her pregnancy from me.  That's partly why she's now my "ex" friend.  

Moving on...     

My recent dabbling in creative writing gave me a new idea for a blog.  I don't know if I'll actually do this or not, since I don't always feel like writing stories.  This concept just popped into my head as a way to do some venting without upsetting people who know me and happen to read my blog.  Maybe I'll start a blog called "Based on a True Story" and use it simply for creative expression.  The posts would be fictionalized accounts of things that impress, annoy, or upset me.  It could also be a place for me to put my music parodies and other posts that people don't seem to care that much about.  I could say this blog for my commentary on daily life.

I could probably have some real fun with a "creative" blog and keep the fiction and music posts out of this blog, for those who don't care about them.  I can't say "Based on a True Story" would have a lot of readers, but it would probably be more constructive in the long run and cause me less grief...  I don't know.  If I do it, I'll probably wait until after our big move.  It's possible that my fiction would be more interesting than my usual thoughts on life.  I used to write a lot more fiction when I was younger and Bill was an early fan...  So who knows?  I do enjoy coming up with entertaining stories, though.  I like writing dialogue, especially.  It would also give me something else to do with my time.

So that about does it for today...  We're having a pre-move inspection by the moving company this afternoon.  Shit's about to get real.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Coming back today...

Got a lot to write about.

Wrote six posts on my travel blog, so I will get back to this blog tomorrow.  I need to chill out.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Gone hunting...

For houses, that is...  Will probably be a light weekend for writing.

Friday, October 12, 2018

A review of Stasiland: Stories From Behind the Berlin Wall

Those who read this blog regularly probably know that I'm getting old.  I was born in 1972 and grew up when the Soviet Union and all of its satellite nations were still in existence.  I remember very distinctly writing a report about a divided Germany when I was in the sixth grade.  At the time, I had no idea that Germany was split into two.  I think I may have even chosen to write about Germany because I had a fellow military brat friend who was born in Landstuhl.  Germany had seemed exotic to me, since I was born in boring old Hampton, Virginia, just about an hour from where we were attending school.

I remember learning about East and West Germany and how East Germany, aka the German Democratic Republic, was a communist state.  It was my first introduction to the concept of totalitarian regimes.  As I grew older, I became more and more fascinated by the Iron Curtain and how Russia was pretty much keeping millions of people separated from the rest of the world behind fortified borders guarded by dogs and men with weapons. I'd watch the Olympics and see athletes from those forbidden countries excelling in sports and bringing home medals.  But unlike athletes from the so-called "free world", they weren't necessarily allowed to make a lot of money off of their athletic prowess.

Most interesting to me was the concept of East and West Berlin.  The city of Berlin, which I visited for the first time last December, was once split by a massive wall, built in 1961 and torn down in 1989.  The way was full of booby traps and was watched over by guard dogs and men with machine guns.  Anyone who tried to escape could be killed or arrested and sent to prison.  The western side of Berlin was as western as the rest of West Germany was.  The eastern side, hidden from the west, was a communist "paradise" that many people wanted to escape.

I don't remember where I saw it, but I was recently reading something-- an article or maybe even a book-- that mentioned Anna Funder's excellent 2003 book, Stasiland: Stories From Behind the Berlin Wall.  (ETA: It was mentioned in Jon Ronson's book, So You've Been Publicly Shamed, which I recently read and reviewed.)  Although the book has been out for years and won major awards, including Britain's Baillie Gifford Prize for non-fiction, somehow I missed hearing about it until just recently.  I just finished reading Funder's book this morning and I'm still kind of blown away by the stories within it.

Funder, an Australian who speaks German, was working at a television station in Berlin in the 1990s when she became interested in the Stasi, East Germany's brutal ministry of state security.  Her co-workers, who were not from the East, maintained that "Ossis" (a nickname for East Germans) were weak and stupid because they tolerated the regime.  Funder was curious enough to find out for herself what happened.  She placed an ad in a newspaper, asking for members of the defunct Stasi to speak to her about their experiences.  The end result is a marvelous book that offers a glimpse into what must have been both a stifling and terrifying existence.

Funder learned that the Stasi pried into everyone's lives.  They had people all over East Germany, ordinary folks, who were tasked with informing on their neighbors.  It was a nation of 17 million people, but those people were all spying on each other-- as many as one in every six and a half people was either a pair or unpaid spy for the Stasi.  Former Stasi men were surprisingly willing to divulge what went on during East Germany's heyday.  Some of the stories are funny, some are shocking, and some are heartbreaking.  Most are exciting in one way or another.

Funder writes of one man who, when he was 21 years old, was tasked with painting the line where the Berlin Wall would eventually go.  Because he was illegitimate, he was especially primed for work in the Stasi and he rose to somewhat high ranks until things went awry.  The man eventually lost his job and, temporarily, his marriage to a woman of whom the Stasi did not approve.  On his last day in his office, he stole a plastic plate that was hanging on the office wall.  It commemorated a third prize entry in a contest and was cheap and tawdry, but its absence was noted.  Years later, the man was on television and the plate was spotted by former Stasi men, who came to retrieve it.  The story that follows is both hilarious in its example just how anal retentive Germans can be and horrifying that they scrutinized everything so closely, even years later.

Funder writes of an ordinary woman whose son was born breech and, in the process of his difficult birth, ruptured his diaphragm.  He failed to thrive and was vomiting blood every time he tried to eat.  The physicians in East Berlin were unable to determine what was wrong with him and he was starting to die.  Doctors in West Berlin were able to save him before the Wall was erected, but he was basically trapped there for five years while his parents remained in the East.  For the crime of trying to escape to the west to see their son, the parents were arrested and sent to a terrifying prison for a couple of years where inmates were tortured and interrogated.  All this because they wanted to see their son, who was trapped in a hospital in West Germany.  When they finally saw him again, he was five years old and had no concept of what parents are.

The Stasi thought nothing of meddling in anyone's private affairs and they had files on everyone.  Anyone who wanted to achieve any kind of success or notoriety had to do so with the state's blessing.  And all success came at a price.  The Stasi would force friends and family members to betray each other.  Those who didn't comply would pay dearly.  Funder writes about how she visited Gedenkstaette Berlin-Hohenschoenhausen, a museum that used to be a Soviet run East German prison in Berlin.  I'm putting it on my short list of places to see if and when we visit Berlin again.

I was seventeen years old when the GDR ceased to exist.  Bill was actually living in Germany at the time and has guarded the German border with the Czech Republic.  In 1995, I moved to Armenia, which is a former Soviet Republic.  I grew up with this reality and am fascinated by it, even though it all fell apart between 1989 and 1991.  Weirdly enough, it doesn't seem like it was that long ago, although I've now lived over half my life without the Iron Curtain.  It seems crazy to me that I have adult friends who have no memory of that time.  I remember so well the threat of communism and how everyone used to talk about the "red button" that would lead to nuclear war with Russia.  I suppose that button is still a threat, but now the enemies are more complex.

Stasiland is very well-written and researched, and it really held my attention.  I was sorry when I finished it because it's probably one of the best books I've read in a long time.  Funder really got to know the people involved and kept in touch with some of her subjects.  Reading her account of East Germany makes me want to spend some time there and, perhaps, see some museums.  If this is a subject that interests you, I would highly recommend Funder's book.  It's very intriguing.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Melania Trump calls for "hard" evidence when it comes to sexual assault...

Just as I was about turn out the light last night, I read an article about Melania Trump's views on sexual assault.  In a sit-down interview with ABC News, Mrs. Trump said:

"If you accuse (someone) of something, show the evidence,"

She said "we really need to have "hard evidence". Heh heh heh... she said "hard".  

What the fuck do you call THIS, Melania?  Sounds like "hard" evidence to me.

I can't help but shake my head in disbelief, not because I necessarily disagree that there should be evidence if someone is accused of sexual assault, but because she's married to the biggest pervert of all.  I mean, Donald Trump was caught on tape making disgusting comments about what he does to women.  It's part of a court record during his first divorce that he raped his first ex wife.  Later, Ivana Trump said that she didn't want to refer to what Trump did to her as rape, but the description of what happened sure the hell sounded like a forced sexual assault to me.  

Sounds like rape to me...  *shrug*

Listen... I totally understand that some men have been falsely accused of sexual assault and rape.  As a matter of fact, I've written about at least two cases that I can think of off the top of my head.  I am also married to a very decent man whose ex wife lied about being abused by him.  I do know that sometimes people lie and assholes come in all shapes, sizes, sexes, and genders.  But for Melania Trump to be talking about sexual assault and insisting on "hard evidence", when she's married to one of the worst offenders, is the height of hypocrisy.  Honestly, I feel like I've fallen into the Twilight Zone with the Trumps.  I know a lot of politicians are sleazy, but this couple really takes the cake.

I know there's recently been a rash of powerful men being taken down over sexual misconduct allegations.  Just off the top of my head, I can think of a few: Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, Larry Nassar, Matt Lauer, and the list goes on...  I can see that a lot of men are scared that they might end up in trouble over what some woman says about their behavior.  It really can happen, even to the best of men.  My husband's ex wife tried to convince his own mother that he's a pervert who hates women.  After almost sixteen years of marriage, I know that's not true.  In fact, I'd say based on actual physical evidence, in her case, the opposite is true-- she assaulted and abused him.

But I also know that as a woman who has experienced sexual assault (although thankfully not rape), it's not such an easy thing to come forward.  And sometimes the assault can't be proven, even if it did happen.  Case in point, when I visited Istanbul in 1996, I was sexually harassed twice in the space of two hours by two different men.  The first man was at the bus station, where my friend and I were waiting to catch a bus to Sofia, Bulgaria.  This man I encountered very brazenly reached out and squeezed one of my breasts.  I proceeded to punch him.

Not two hours later, I was changing clothes in a bathroom that I couldn't lock and another man, who had seen me go in there, barged in and told me I was "sexy" and asked "wouldn't I like to go with him?"  I screamed at him and he, rather comically, took off in fear.  As we waited in the salon, I fumed and he kept gesturing at me to keep quiet, even though I wanted to strangle him.  That was just two incidents on that one trip with my friend.  Others occurred, but for the sake of brevity, I'm not going to write about them in this post.  We were both harassed a lot, though not in a way that would produce  the "hard evidence" Mrs. Trump thinks all victims should provide before they say anything about it.

That's just one period in my lifetime.  There were certainly others, though they happened years ago.  These days, I don't get harassed much.  It might be because I'm old and fat and no longer attractive to most men, or it might be because I have Bill with me most of the time.  But yeah, I can think of a number of times I've been touched by men who had no permission to touch me.  I can think of plenty of situations in which some guy took the liberty of making an indecent proposal to me.  More often than not, they were very offended when I turned them down.  Those situations were upsetting to me and they DID happen, but they didn't always leave any "hard evidence".    

I remember being at a party once with my cousin, who was a lot more willing to engage sexually than I was, and she was in a car with some guy, steaming up the windows.  I was left in the house, talking to the guy's very drunk father, who expected me to accompany him to his house where we would wait for them alone.  This guy, who had gone to high school with one of my UNCLES, called me a BITCH when I said "no."  What would have happened to me if I had gone with him?  For one thing, he was drunk as hell, so we might have died in a car crash.  For another thing, he was so drunk he probably would have either passed out or would have been unable to perform (not that I was sexually active at the time, anyway).  But he felt just fine about calling me a bitch because I wasn't interested in fucking him while I waited for my cousin to finish fucking this guy's son.  And yet... he didn't lay a hand on me, so there was no "hard evidence".  That doesn't mean it wasn't traumatic for me to experience that.

I remember being in my late 20s, working at a country club in South Carolina, covered head to toe with black pants and a long sleeved white shirt.  I was picking up linens in the linen closet and one of the club members followed me into the closet and tried to corner me for a little groping and kissing.  I was absolutely terrified and horrified, although thankfully I got away from me.  He didn't leave any evidence of what he did, but he did do it... and not just to me, but to other women working there, including girls still in high school and my boss, who was in her sixties.  

I have seen so many comments from people who declare that parents simply need to teach their sons to be "gentlemen".  I'm sure plenty of parents, moms in particular, have tried to do that.  Some of them are failing at that job, though, and some mothers are clearly blinded by their love for their offspring.  I have run into plenty of men who presented themselves as "gentlemen" and then turned out to be total pigs when it came to what they thought was their right to access my body.  And my body isn't even particularly "hot" and never has been...  I shudder to think what life must be like for Lynzy Lab, the woman in this viral video that appeared a couple of days ago...

She's really young, cute, smart, and musically talented.  Her song makes a lot of sense.  And yet, I wonder how many men watched this and thought about what they'd like to do to her...

This shit happens ALL the time to women.  It's not a bad thing that women are getting sick of being treated that way and are speaking up about it.  Will there always be "hard evidence"?  No, but that doesn't negate the victim's right to say something and be believed.  Now... when it comes to criminal prosecution; then yes, I do think that there should be solid evidence provided before a man goes to prison.  As awful as rape is, I do agree that it must be reported at the time it happens if the perpetrator is to be punished in a criminal court of law.  But I also understand that reporting rape is very difficult.  It is for women, and it is for men, too.  And ladies, I have news for you... it's not just men who sexually assault men.  This I know for an unfortunate fact.

As for Brett Kavanaugh-- the newest Supreme Court Justice-- I do think that that he probably did assault Christine Blasey Ford.  It happened when they were teenagers.  For all I know, he might have evolved since then... I would hope he has.  I wouldn't have wanted to see him go to prison today for what happened back then, since there truly can't be any real proof today that it happened.  However, there is a lot of credible evidence that Kavanaugh isn't really suited to be a judge, let alone a Supreme Court justice, just as scumbags like Donald Trump should not be president.  And, lest anyone bring up Bill Clinton, I will agree that he's also a scumbag and probably wasn't worthy of being president, either, even if-- in my opinion-- he did do a much better job than Trump is doing.  Unfortunately, it seems like in order to rise to any power in the United States, one must also have a very strong sex drive and the need for sexual conquests.

My point is, it's time these types of people stopped being rewarded for their criminal behavior by coming into positions of power.  I'm not saying I want to see an evolution of even more political correctness running amok.  I do agree that evidence and proof are necessary things, particularly when it comes to convicting someone and sending them to prison.  But it's not right for Mrs. Trump, who is married to a man who has been repeatedly proven to be a molesting creep, to be preaching to us about  the need for "hard evidence".  She needs to put her money where her mouth is and stop being such a hypocrite... but I suspect that if she did that, she might end up with less money.  And that's probably what concerns her more than seeing that women are treated with more dignity and respect.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Mr. Yuk gets a treatment he'll never forget...

Let's see where my warped imagination takes me...  This story is pure fictional nonsense, pulled straight from the bowels of my mind.  It took about an hour to write this and it probably shows.

It was an unseasonably cool, fall afternoon at San Francisco Memorial Hospital.  The year was 1982.  Dr. John McIntyre, otherwise known as Trapper, was looking dashing in his surgical scrubs, having just removed Clayton Farlow's appendix.  He was feeling pumped up, because he'd just told Farlow to go to bed and stay there.  It gave Trapper a rush to tell people what to do, especially guys who were taller and more famous than he was.

Farlow was lying in bed, groaning because the incision where his appendix had been removed was a little itchy.  But because Trapper was both authoritarian and a little kinky, he'd had Farlow's wrists tied to the bedrails.  It was only because Farlow was just coming out of the anesthesia and might try to monkey with the tubes and such.

"Don't worry, Kid," Trapper had told him as he tenderly adjusted Farlow's oxygen mask, "we'll untie your wrists when you have your wits more about you.  I'll be back later."

Farlow grimaced as he watched his sexy doctor prance away.  Farlow wasn't into men sexually, but he'd been in show business longer than Trapper had and learned to appreciate the beauty in everything and everyone.  Besides, whatever drugs Trapper had given him were wonderful, even if his incision was a little itchy.

For all of his fame on Broadway and primetime television, Farlow had not managed to score a private room.  Lying in the bed next to his was a guy popularly known as Mr. Yuk.  His name was actually Brett, though, and he was quite the whiny brat.  Farlow cast a disapproving look at the young man-- all of seventeen years old-- lying in his hospital bed looking really disgruntled and bored.  He looked like this...

Farlow wanted to ask Brett why he was so yucky.  The boy had a constant scowl on his face, like he smelled something disgusting or had just walked in on his parents having sex.  But the oxygen mask prevented Farlow from saying anything intelligible and he was embarrassed about his wrists being restrained.  So Farlow remained curious while Brett clicked the remote control on the boxy TV, trying to find something interesting to watch.  He finally stopped on a channel featuring a certain female collie named Lassie.

"Yeah..." Brett snarled.  "This is more like it.  I like watching bitches on TV."

Good entertainment for the sick...

Farlow rolled his eyes as he recognized familiar faces...  There was Mickey Rooney, Pernell Roberts, who looked a whole lot like Trapper, James Stewart, Alice Faye, and music by his old friends, Pat Boone and daughter, Debby.  Good old fashioned, wholesome, kid friendly entertainment!  It was just what the doctor ordered!

"I really could use a beer." Brett snarled to himself.  "Fuck being stuck in the hospital.  This place sucks!"

Just then, a pretty nurse named Kelli came into the room.  She was all smiles and had a figure that could stop traffic!  Her hair was as big as her smile was, and Brett could see that her starched white nurse's uniform was just a little shorter than it should have been.  Casting his eyes downward, he could see the nurse's adorable knees covered by her white tights.  He looked at her shoes.  They were sensible nurse's shoes, showing that the woman was just as intelligent as she was sexy.

"Hello Mr. Farlow." Kelli chirped as she checked his vital signs.  She moved like a dancer, her catlike grace surprisingly apparent as she moved about the tight quarters, cleverly keeping her sweet ass away from Brett's reach.  "You're looking much better today." she said, checking his temperature. "Your fever is almost gone!  Trapper will be happy to hear this!  Yea!"

Farlow looked hopefully at his wrists, but the nurse didn't seem to notice his distress.  Instead, she adjusted the oxygen mask one last time and turned her attention to Mr. Yuk, aka Brett the brat.

"How are we feeling?" Nurse Kelli asked as she recorded Brett's blood pressure.

"This place sucks.  I have so many calendars I need to update.  I need to get back to school.  I'm missing so many keggers it's not funny." Brett whined.  "I'm being held against my will."

"I'm sure you'll be out of here before you know it." the nurse said.  "You know, once you're eighteen, you can check yourself out whenever you want.  For now, we have to wait for the doctor and your parents to say it's okay."

Kelli turned away from Brett, who then took the opportunity to pinch her ass.

"Ouch!" Kelli yelped.  "I see why they call you Mr. Yuk now!" she scolded as Brett's face turned into that familiar scowl.  "You really are a naughty boy.  We'll have to see what we can do about that."

"Stop trying to impugn my character." Brett snapped.

"I'll be back later." Kelli promised.  "Enjoy the movie."

With a heavy sigh, Brett turned his attention back to Lassie and her young master, on the run from Pernell Roberts' evil character, Jameson.  He was about to start singing along with Pat Boone when Trapper barged into the room.  He started checking Farlow and then untied the man's wrists.

"You seem 'with it' now." Trapper said as he patted his patient on the head, patronizingly.

Farlow eagerly reached up and pulled the mask off his face.  "Can we get rid of this damned thing too?  It feels like a gag." he complained.

Trapper frowned a bit, looked concerned, and said, "Well, not so fast... let's not rush things...  You're going to be in here for a week.  What's your hurry?"

He glanced up at the television and saw Pernell Roberts chasing Lassie, calling her Heatherbelle.  "Man, I hope that guy gets his dog back." Trapper said under his breath.

Trapper moved over to Brett, who was looking really disagreeable.  "Fuck this place." Brett muttered.  "I just want a motherfuckin' beer."

"Now now, young man..." Trapper said.  "Take it easy.  You're in a hospital.  Time to rest.  Let Kelli take care of you."

"Tell her to bring me a beer... and pizza.  This hospital food sucks." Brett said with a scowl.

"Young man, your attitude could use some adjusting.  Perhaps it's time I prescribed a treatment to help you with your problem." Trapper suggested.

"Fuck that, and fuck you.  I need to get out of here and on with my life.  I have social ladders to climb and women to plumb." Brett hissed.

"You really don't get it, do you?" Trapper asked incredulously.  "You don't realize you've entered another dimension."

"The only other dimension I want to enter is a beer and nurse Kelli's vagina." Brett snapped.

"I see..." Trapper said, his voice steady.  "Well that makes me think you really do need treatment for your problem.  I may have to introduce you to another doctor... a woman who really knows your mind."

"I don't need that.  I just want to party." Brett said.  "Why is that so hard to understand?  And why do I have to stay in this Godforsaken place?  My home is on the East Coast, with all the other snot nosed brats."

"I see.  Well, I think it would do you some good to talk to Dr. Ford." Trapper said.  "She's a maverick in her field, but I think she can straighten you out... maybe get that yucky look off your face."

"I don't want to talk to her." Brett sniveled.

"Okay... well then maybe Nurse Kelli can give you an enema to help kill the bug up your ass." Trapper suggested.  "You seem a bit constipated."

"Hmmmph." Brett huffed, sullenly turning his eyes back to the TV.

Farlow was watching this scene with interest, although he really needed to pee.  He somehow found the energy to ask Trapper for help going to the bathroom.

"Sure pal." Trapper said.  "Usually, I'd let the nurses handle this, but I can see you're a man's man."  The bearded, distinguished doctor came over and helped Farlow out of bed.  He was grateful Nurse Kelli had already removed the man's catheter.  They went into the bathroom and Farlow let out a long and very loud stream of piss that reverberated throughout the semi-private room.

"For God's sake!" Brett complained.  "Do you have to be so loud?  You sound like a horse peeing on a rock!"

"Sorry... I really had to pee." Farlow apologized.

"Well do you have to be so fucking loud?" Brett scowled.  "No fucking class!"

Farlow gave Trapper a grateful look as he rolled his eyes.

"That kid is such a brat." Trapper said sympathetically.  "Sorry you have to share quarters with him."

"No worries... I once shared a house with six brothers." Farlow said.  "And they were all horny because they were looking for wives."

"I think that's Brett's problem, too.  He's a spoiled, horny, little bastard." Trapper said.  "And he's also a drunk.  He needs a good spanking to teach him some manners.  I'm tempted to let Nurse Kelli practice some procedures on him, but he'd probably enjoy that too much."

"I've never seen anyone scowl so much." Farlow admitted as he washed his hands.  "He really is very unpleasant indeed."

"Nurse Kelli will fix him... with help from Dr. Ford." Trapper promised as he walked his patient back to bed.

Farlow was safely tucked into bed, where he nodded off.  He was right in the middle of a pleasant dream in which he was at Southfork Ranch, making mad passionate love with Miss Ellie, when he was awakened by a blood curdling scream.

"GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME!" Brett was screaming.  He had climbed out of bed and was cornered by a couple of beefy orderlies who were holding a straitjacket.

"Now, now, Mr. Yuk..." one of the orderlies soothed.  Farlow blinked his eyes and realized the head orderly was a very muscular woman.  She was flanked by two huge guys who looked like they could be linebackers for the Dallas Cowboys.  Behind her was Nurse Kelli with a syringe at the ready.  A cameraman stood in the corner, filming everything.  It looked just like a dramatic scene on Trapper John, M.D.

"Get away from me!  I haven't given you CONSENT!" Brett fumed.

The head orderly advanced at her patient, and with one swift move, pinned him to the bed.  He shrieked in fear as another orderly placed his hand over the young man's mouth and the other orderly efficiently wrapped him up in the straitjacket.  Nurse Kelli then gave him an injection that rendered him more compliant.

"Wha..." Brett stammered. "What are..."

"Shhh..." Nurse Kelli said, her Pepsodent smile radiating across her pretty features.  "It's just part of your treatment.  Dr. Ford will be with you in a moment.  Just got to wait for you to relax a bit.  That way it won't hurt as much."

The orderlies tucked their patient into bed, put up the siderails, and left the room while Nurse Kelli stood by, monitoring the young man with the Mr. Yuk scowl.

"This would go so much better if you'd just cooperate." Nurse Kelli said.  "Take your medicine like a good boy."

"Fucking bitch!" the young man shrieked.  "I'll get you for this."

"Right... I'm sure you will.  Just relax.  Dr. Ford will see you at her convenience." Nurse Kelli said.  "If you're lucky, she won't make you wait for what's coming to you."

Brett scowled again as he glared at the nurse.  Her chirpy demeanor and perfect smile were pissing him off even more as he struggled against the rough canvas of the straitjacket.  Farlow glanced over at the spectacle, suddenly glad his own medical bondage scene had been short lived.

A minute later, the door opened and there stood a middle aged blonde woman in a very stylish business suit.  She wore glasses and sensible heels as she strode over to her unruly patient.

"Hello Dr. Ford." Nurse Kelli said, her voice rich with admiration.

"Nurse..." the doctor said.  "So this is the patient.  He's permanently scowling, isn't he?  Needs a little help with his attitude..."

"Yes, I think so.  I've heard you can do amazing things with the mind." Nurse Kelli gushed.  "I would love to study under you..."

Brett and Farlow both looked at the attractive psychologist and thought the same thing.  But Farlow was smart enough to keep his mouth shut and Brett was too busy scowling to make his feelings known.

"You know..." Dr. Ford said.  "I don't think I'm going to be able to reach him with just simple conversation.  I think it's time we forced him to watch something other than Lassie."  She nodded at the television.  "Change the channel... Lifetime should do it.  A nice long marathon of movies about women who have been sexually harassed and date raped ought to be a good start."

Nurse Kelli's eyes widened.  "Do I get to stay in the room and supervise him?" she breathed.

"I'm not opposed to it." Dr. Ford shrugged.  "That's just the beginning... we'll start with Lifetime TV, then move on to Dr. Phil.  Then a steady diet of Kathie Lee Gifford..."

"What?!" Brett shouted.  "I've never even heard of these things!"

"Lucky for you, I'm from the future." Dr. Ford said.  "You're going to get a headstart on the 1990s and the 2000s.  Then I'll go back to the future."

"Why?" Brett asked plaintively.

"Because big things are in store for you... and if you don't get straightened out now, you will fuck up a lot of lives." Dr. Ford said, smoothing her blonde hair.

"I don't have time for this." Brett sneered.

"We'll see that you make time.  And if you're difficult about it, I can think of some very fun ways to make you comply." Dr. Ford said.  "Don't try me, young man."

Brett sighed heavily.  "Yes Ma'am...  Let the re-education begin."

"I'm sure you'll be good and ready for the future after a few Lifetime movies.  Every man should watch them so they can learn proper respect." Dr. Ford said.


An erotic story involving Pernell Roberts, Howard Keel, and Mr. Yuk...

I'm sure I could find any number of outrageous news stories to rant about today.  I will probably do just that in a little while.  It's just that I've noticed my blog is not as much fun as it has been in the past.  I've been dealing with a little depression and anxiety lately, which has had a noticeable effect on my writing.

Yesterday, I had a random idea of writing a fiction story about the late actor, Pernell Roberts.  I know him best from his years as Trapper John, M.D., but other people remember him from Bonanza.  I remember he also starred in a Lassie movie back in 1978.  In that film, he played a bad guy.

Sexy Pernell Roberts... there was a time when my dad could sing sort of like this.  I can appreciate it now, but didn't so much when I was growing up.  Pernell Roberts had a lovely singing voice, though.  Many people thought my dad had a lovely voice, too.  He probably did and I just didn't like it because of our fucked up father/daughter relationship.  Oh... and the fact that he wasn't trained.

I think Mr. Roberts is on my mind because I somehow wound up subscribed to a YouTube channel honoring him.  Someone uploaded a bunch of episodes of Trapper John, M.D. and I started watching them last night because Bill is in Italy.  He'll be back tonight-- it was just a one night trip-- but I'll still be alone until after bedtime.  Maybe I'll watch more Trapper John, M.D., or maybe I'll make music.  Who knows?  Or maybe I'll spend the day writing silly stories for those who enjoy my warped sense of humor.

Anyway, I noticed that a number of female commenters on the YouTube videos were saying they thought Pernell Roberts was "sexy".  I have to admit, now that I am myself middle aged, I agree that he was rather sexy in those days.  Of course, Trapper John was a typically strong male character on the TV show.  He was authoritarian, particularly with his female patients.  Some women are turned on by a strong man who tells them to get in bed and stay there.  Actor Gregory Harrison, who played hospital Lothario Gonzo Gates, was probably there for the younger crowd.  Both of them were such caring dudes... and so skilled as they saved their patients from whatever devastating malady they had while romancing them under the sheets.

Then, as I started thinking about Pernell Roberts, I remembered the late actor Howard Keel and how he always reminded me of a horse peeing on a rock.  I mean, he was really tall and probably made a lot of noise because of the length his whiz had to drop.  I remember seeing him in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, which was filmed in the 1950s, when he was young and studly.  But as a child of the 70s and 80s, I remember him best when he was on Dallas, playing Clayton Farlow.  Maybe it was because all of the horses they used on that show and the fact that I've spent a lot of time around horses and know what they sound like when they pee... especially the geldings.

Damn... I would love to have a horse that did this!  Cleaning up horse pee is no fun, especially when it's hot outside.

The guy who officiated at my wedding, then a Presbyterian minister and now a Certified Nurse's Aide and Catholic, asked me if my erotic story involving Pernell Roberts would involve surgical instruments or horses.  And that just made me think of Howard Keel peeing on a rock again.

Oh my God... speaking of piss.  This is probably one of the most cornball pop songs of the 1980s.  What in the hell possessed Howard Keel to sing this over any one of the classic standards he did in his prime?  

So then, just as I was gathering ideas about other things I could put in my erotic story, I caught this clip from 1988, starring the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.  Front and center is current Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader Director, Kelli Finglass, back when she was in her prime and still on the squad...

I was about 16 when they did this.  Look at that hair!  And those shorts look almost like granny panties compared to what they wear today.  My hair was never quite that big.  For the record, I prefer Kelli's hair the lovely shade of red it is now.  Frosted, frizzy blonde doesn't flatter her.

Finally, someone shared this picture of Brett Kavanaugh, who will always be a glorified frat boy to me...  

And I was reminded of this...  I wonder if Kavanaugh has ever made this face before having sex with someone.  I wonder if anyone has ever made this face before having sex with him...

Wow... they could be brothers.

Maybe I should write a story involving all of these people.  It wouldn't even have to be erotic.  I could probably have some fun with it, kill some time, and stay out of trouble.  I do have a very strange mind sometimes, especially when I'm bored.

My latest book is about the East German police, so it's probably just as well if I write some fiction or something, before I start having nightmares about the Stasi.  Shit... I might as well do it.