Saturday, August 29, 2009

Wordzzle 78

Raven can tell you all you need to know at the Raven's Nest.

The Ten Word Challenge: records, impulsive, really cool, bread crumbs, angels, Sponge Bob, magical moment, back and forth, suffering, good fences make good neighbors

The mini challenge: side effects are generally mild, clingy, rooster, samples, curiosity

This Week's Episode: Answers

Kuwait, west of the Al Burgan oilfield. The bunker had been used by the Kuwaiti forces to fight the Iraqi invasion, then as a command post for American troops during the aftermath. It had sat empty for years till just a few days ago. The trip by truck, car or ambulance to the bunker from the airfield at Al Magwa was several hours through the desert. There had been much travel back and forth in the last few days. Any oil field workers that might have noted the activity could have only thought that the trucks were headed to the frontier for work at the border because they knew better than most that good fences make good neighbors.

Charlotte awoke in a sitting position. She was fastened at the wrists and ankles to a cold metal chair. Her attire was a thin cotton robe open at the front. Attached to her nipples were alligator clamps that had wires running to a small metal box with colored lights and dials. The air smelled musty but very dry. The room she was in was windowless and dark. A man who appeared Turkish or mid-eastern was speaking to her. "The side effects are generally mild if you answer promptly and truthfully" he stated. "Where am I" Charlotte asked. Instantly she felt a terrifying shock in her breasts. She screamed in pain and horror till the shock stopped.

"We are not here to satisfy your curiosity" the man said sternly. "That was one of what can be many and various samples of your continued suffering if you fail to follow my directions implicitly" he added. "Nod your head if you understand me" he commanded. Charlotte nodded her head as instructed. "There are no angels here" he continued, "but there will come a magical moment when you tell me all." Looking at Charlotte intensely her interrogator asked "Tell me your name?"

Washington, D.C. the Hoover building. "Special" special agent Rodgers had spent two months looking into the finances, investments and businesses of the deceased Charles Hollingsworth. The records that he reviewed told of a massive interstate real estate fraud encompassing California, Arizona, Nevada and not surprisingly, Florida. This operation was clearly not the result of impulsive risk taking, but rather cold calculated financial action. The ex-con- artist turned FBI agent respected the art and artifice necessary to pull off a scam worth billions. The really cool part was that he had found it and figured it out. Perhaps his next office would have a window. After all, no one but him had been able to follow the financial bread crumbs that lead to the Liplin/Hollingsworth partnership and in doing so had uncovered the largest real estate fraud in the history of not only the United States, but the entire world.

Laughlin Nevada, the airport. The man in the Hawaiian shirt stepped off the little twin prop commuter from Phoenix. His appearance was nondescript by design. No one would remember him. He'd received a call for a job on Monday morning
while shopping for a Sponge Bob Square Pants lunch box for his 6 year old son. He ex-wife had given him a shopping list of back to school needs and he knew enough not to disappoint her or the boy. Even a contract killer feared some things and an ex-wife was one of them. He'd listened intently to the instructions and raised his eyebrows when the caller mentioned the fee. With the amount of money he would get from the completion of the job he could buy his son a whole classroom.

Laughlin Nevada, the McCool's condo. Jean slipped into a clingy teddy, the kind that Thomas had told her for years that he loved to see her in. Their plans were to watch a good movie with dinner and wine, and then she would invite the horny old rooster to take advantage of her. It never took much asking. But that was actually one of his good points.


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Wordzzle 77 - A pair will do

Double your understanding of Wordzzle by visiting the Raven's Nest.

The Ten Word Challenge: blind panic, apartment, fleas, soap operas, Cajun cooking, free and easy, legal, sangria, public school, new

The mini challenge: class, calendar, keeping secrets, boring, fashion

This Week's Episode: Let's Make a Deal

Charlotte received two unexpected pieces of bad news on Monday morning.

The first was contained in a small article on page 5 of the L.A. Times. It concerned a fatal two car accident on Getty Center Drive in which the occupants of the smaller vehicle ( a Honda Civic) walked away unscathed and the driver of the much larger SUV was killed. Charlotte couldn't believe the luck of the McCools or the incompetence of the hired help. Obviously the people she had hired (who came with references and were highly recommended) were not of a class necessary to take out a retired cop and his wife. She would have to resort to other more expensive means.

The second bit of bad news was at first very troubling till she learned the reason for the situation. She'd gotten a call on Monday morning from a representative of Prince Akim telling her the Prince and Princess had unfortunately been called back to Saudi Arabia due to a family emergency. She was unable to get any more from the assistant, as he was paid well for keeping secrets about the royal family. He did tell her she would hear from the Prince later in the day. While waiting for the call she did some detective work of her own and found out the Prince's favorite granddaughter had been in an auto accident in Europe. The royal couple had flown out immediately to oversee her care and bring her back to Saudi Arabia.

By the time the Prince's call came in the afternoon Charlotte had finished all the boring details involved in rescheduling the contract signing. In her typical almost OCD fashion she'd prepared, she thought, for any outcome short of canceling the deal. In this she was to be surprised once again, but this time somewhat pleasantly so. The Prince apologized profusely for the delay, told her about his granddaughter and suggested she fly to the Mid-East at his expense on his official jet to sign the deal and take care of the legal matters necessary to conclude the contract signing in his country. He hinted that there might be the occasion for a quick introduction to his Uncle the King while she was there.

Charlotte demurred at first, telling the Prince she would need to look at her calendar for the coming week and get right back to him. In truth she knew of no impediment to going, but didn't want to sound too anxious. Charlotte took a half an hour to adjust to this new turn of events; thinking her life at times seemed like the soap operas her long dead mother so loved. "What was the point Mom?" she wondered. "While you were watching "Days of Our Lives", I was being gang raped in my High School" she continued. "Now my life is more real and exciting than anything those boobs that produced your favorite show could have thought of" she finished to herself. This would be the inverse of the old saw he father had used when telling her to be careful of her friends in school. "If you lie down with dogs you'll surely get fleas" he quoted to her. Well, it looked like Charlotte was going to hobnob with Kings and Queens instead, didn't it? The faux Ms. Vignoire called the Prince back and said she'd been able to reschedule her commitments for the week and would be delighted. The Prince gave her instructions to meet the plane that afternoon at LAX.

"She's coming to us" the Prince said to his wife. The Princess looked at the note Jean had passed her and the e-mail she'd received concerning the attempt on the McCool's lives. "We will find out who this woman really is, won't we dear?" she asked. "Yes beloved, our friends in Kuwait will see to that" he answered.

Martin/Mike and Jane disembarked at LAX. The flight from Manaus had been long but uneventful. Both were glad to be back in the US and yet doubtful of their safety and security in their home country. Sgt Johnson met them at the gate. He'd been surprised to hear from Martin, amazed at what he had to say and then delighted to learn who his companion Jane was and the relationship to his suspect Constance/Connie/Charlotte. As they walked away from the gate and looked out at the tarmac the Royal Saudi plane got their attention. The group watched a striking redhead board the jet. Martin and Jane just looked at each other and laughed.

"Well we won't be running from her in a blind panic for a while will we?" Martin asked. "Not if that jet is going home we won't" Jane smiled back. Johnson had watched with the pair and asked them what they had seen. They explained that the woman who they'd witnessed boarding the airplane was the one who had been looking for Jane and the very same woman that Martin saw at Hollingsworth's house. Johnson couldn't believe it. If what the couple thought was true, his prime suspect was this very minute leaving the country for parts unknown.

Sgt Johnson pulled out his cell phone and dialed the tower. He identified himself and asked for the flight plan of the Royal Saudi aircraft. He thanked the tower and rung off. Then he called the McCool's. When Thomas answered Johnson asked "Any reason the Prince is taking our suspect to Kuwait?" he asked. "Not quite sure about that" McCool answered, "but we received a request for the DNA map of Constance Lawler from the Saudi authorities this morning" he answered. "The captain called me before we boarded for the flight back to Laughlin" he finished. Johnson hung up with McCool and then turned back to Martin and Jane. "Let's get you two to our West Coast headquarters and take your statements" he said. While they made their way to the waiting Suburban he wondered if he would see his suspect again.

Dan and Carla picked up the McCools at the Laughlin airport. The four went back to Thomas and Jean's rented Condo (really nothing more than an apartment) and settled in for updating each other on events in the case. Though they'd been in contact by phone and e-mail all along it was always better to talk face to face when brain storming about murder, evidence, motives and the like.

Thomas made Sangria to go with the Cajun cooking the group had decided on, though his public school upbringing made him think beer would have been sufficient. It mattered little to him because the lifestyle that Jean and he lived was very free and easy. The conversation turned to the latest news. the group discussed Johnson's finding Martin and Jane, the attempt on the McCool's and the sudden departure of Charlotte Vignoire on the Saudi jet. There was no consensus on what that meant and until the Prince contacted them it was out of their hands.

Carla stated "Boy I'd like to be a fly on the wall in that jet". They discussed the matter some more and all wondered what was happening in the Saudi airplane.

Charlotte knew exactly what was going on. The crew had been instructed to treat her as royalty. She was the only passenger and every need was to be met. She reviewed the menu for dinner and chose the caviar, lamb, and a vintage wine. The meal had been excellent though after eating she felt somewhat ill. She felt almost as though she was airsick. She found the airsick bag in front of her seat just in time as she vomited violently into the bag. The attendant rushed to her aid taking the offending bag at once.

Tamir al Satar was doing well playing a royal Saudi flight attendant. In spite of ten years in the Saudi Secret service and 5 before that in the army special ops branch, he was always up for the royal family's special assignments. This had been one of the easiest. Just make the lady puke into a bag, put the contents in a special machine or more what looked like a series of highly miniaturized lab machines at the rear of the plane and set the equipment to send the results to the kingdom. This he had accomplished with ease. He awaited the outcome of the tests.

The pilot of the aircraft in question was wondering why he'd been assigned this flight. The plane had been worked on all Sunday and part of Monday morning to modify the rear compartment. He was told it was testing equipment and that a subject would be brought aboard. Little else was known to him other than 1/2 of his flight crew was now Saudi Secret service. Well, the pay was good and he'd spent two wonderful days in the land of the infidel doing what all the faithful did when they came to America; namely everything they couldn't do at home. In a little while he would hear if he was to continue to Kuwait or divert to Riyadh. It could get interesting from there on in.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Health Care Reform and the Biggest Lie

Maybe you've heard the old people raging against the government getting involved in their health care. In almost all cases these are of course seniors on Medicare. One wonders what these poor souls think the source of their medical services might be if not the government.

Still, we are treated to countless videos of seniors yelling at their representatives. I actually would like to yell at my representatives as well. But not so much about health care as other things, but that's for a different post. The masses have been infused with industry lobbyists propaganda of all sorts concerning the evils of health care reform.

Some interesting lies being told concern mandating end of life counseling, with the idea of putting old folks out of their misery sooner thereby saving the government money.

Here's a short video from Rachel Maddow on one of the lobbyist's bigger lies.

Along with this is Sarah Palin's death panel fantasy she concocted for use with special needs folks. What Horse Puckey.

But the biggest lie of all is that the government can't do anything right and we ought to fear it. Let's remember we rely on the government for all (100 %) of our essential services in one fashion or the other. The government taxes us and then spends the money on schools, roads, armies, medical research, and on and on. It's because of our government's actions that we have the lifestyle and standard of living we enjoy today. If not for government intervention and oversight the wealthy would have most of us living in hovels like any other third world country.

Our government plays an important though flawed role in standing between the greed and rapaciousness of outright capitalism and the bodies that feed the beast. If you think otherwise you would be advised to think again. The recent bank bailouts should be a signal as to what power and influence money has in our way of life. The banks will be healthy and thriving long before the rest of us come back from this recent recession. Why do you suppose that is?

So,back to the big lies and the Biggest Lie: No, the government will not convene panels to tell you when to die and the government will most certainly not do any worse with health care than the medical and insurance industry. In fact, if we are fortunate enough to have a government option, it should force some competition from insurers and providers alike. We might actually get a favorable result.

Food for thought for the reform naysayers and ammunition for the supporters.
Good Luck!


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Factually Deficient Republican Outrage

I've known for some time that Faux News rots your brain. Now there is actually proof.

Here it is. Nuff said:

Seems it's easy to be wrong when you move too far right.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Yea, what he said!

You have most likely been hearing lately about the proposed health care reform bills and the outright batshit crazy rightwingnutters commentary.

Like many, I am appalled at the misrepresentations and outright lies used by the insurance industry lobbyists and their dupes on TeeVee and at the rallies.

Today, thanks to links at Eschaton, I found the following two articles from the Washington Monthly. The really interesting thing about them is that they contain e-mails from Bruce Bartlett, a veteran of the Reagan and Bush senior administrations as the basis for the articles.

If you want to know how things got this crazy, how the rhetoric got so out of hand and why there is little if any intelligent discussion on matters political these days, then check out the following two articles.

The Pennance has not been paid part 1

The Pennance has not been paid part 2

Happy Monday


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Wordzzle 76 - Is Thirteen always unlucky?

Go by the Raven's Nest and test your luck with the dos and don'ts of Wordzzling.

The Ten Word Challenge: superlative, flea market, falling leaves, disinformation, who was that masked man?, keeping kids out of trouble, I'm a believer, bonnet in the attic, staff, generation

The mini challenge: deep in the forest, government, charming, heirlooms, flabbergasted

This week's Episode: A Bumpy Road

Thomas and Jean pulled out of the parking lot and headed back towards the 405. Jean told McCool how charming the Princess had been and how glad she was that they had met as private citizens without the government officials that normally supervised royal encounters. "It just felt like two women of the same generation but different cultural backgrounds finding common ground" she said by way of explanation. "It was nice to talk to a modern Muslim woman without all the prejudice and disinformation the media likes to spread about the culture differences" she continued.

She finished by jokingly commenting that she was flabbergasted that the Princess had not once referred to her (Jean) as an infidel during the whole time they spoke together. "They're probably a lot more modern in some ways than we are baby" Thomas smiled back. "Look at the two of them; they're billionaires, philanthropists, and grandparents, all the while running around the globe starting and maintaining charitable projects and good works at an amazing pace" he added. "I bet the majority of their staff makes more than the president of the United States" he quipped. "And their new project in L.A. called "Art on the Down Low" ought to help in keeping kids out of trouble in the projects" he finished.

While Jean and Thomas had been having this lively conversation, Thomas had been keeping his eye on a black Escalade that had followed them out of the parking lot. What had started to trouble him was that every time he changed lanes the Escalade changed with him. He'd mentioned none of this to Jean as of yet. He still thought it might just be someone wanting to make good time like he was on the fairly busy Saturday night freeway. Perhaps one of the attendees at the opening was in a rush to get home and tell their kids about some heirlooms or superlative bronze statues they'd seen tonight.

Well he knew that was BS, didn't he? He reached down and snugged his seatbelt while telling Jean to do the same to hers. "Look's like we've got company and I'm thinking you might really be on to something with the Vignoire woman" he stated. "If I were them I'd make my move when we exit" he remarked. "Just bump us in the left rear quarter and send us into the wall" he finished.

The exit was coming up, but Thomas stayed one lane over towards the center. There was a good chance that whoever was following them didn't know where they were staying so his plan was to continue on down the freeway and then double back when they lost the tail. When the time came to exit he'd make a quick move from the second lane and get off the 405 before the Escalade could make the last minute turn. They'd been running 72, so Thomas slowly picked up to about 80 mph. He looked to the GPS they'd just bought at the Mesa Flea Market the week before and saw what exits were coming up. About two miles down was a nice cloverleaf he could use to get headed back in the direction of the motel.

The pursuing SUV must have suspected something because he sped up within two car lengths of the McCool's Civic and stayed in the far right lane. Thomas picked his way through the evening traffic and put some distance between the two vehicles. This forced the Escalade to move into the center lane to catch him. The exit came up quick with the little Honda doing right at 100mph. Thomas waited till the last instant then sent the car rushing up the curving exit ramp. He used the curve and the steep incline to bleed off speed and didn't touch the brakes.

The Escalade slammed on the breaks and actually backed up a hundred feet or so on the shoulder to make the turn. The Black behemoth caught the McCool's car in the center of the cloverleaf. Thomas let the driver draw a bead on him then swerved at the last minute. The SUV skidded along the concrete wall and ruined that marvelous Caddy paint job. Thomas knew he couldn't outrun the Escalade, but felt he might possibly outmaneuver it. It would be the only way to save their lives. There was now no doubt the big Caddy SUV intended to ram their car.

"Baby, I don't think these people like us" he sarcastically remarked. "I'm a believer" Jean replied. She caught a glimpse of the driver during their last miss and he seemed determined. "They look like pros from what I can tell" she commented. "Didn't see a weapon in the passenger's hand" Jean added. "Must want it to look like an accident" Thomas shot back as he downshifted into 4th and the little 4 cylinder engine hit 7000 rpm. "Now would be a good time to call 911" he continued as he swerved again to make the Escalade miss.

Jean did just that and made sure the occupants of the pursuers’ vehicle saw what she was doing. This backfired by only motivating the driver to hit their car sooner. The two vehicles exited the roundabout headed back out the 405 and Thomas up shifted into 5th at 90 mph. He could literally hear the engine screaming as he watched the TAC hit 7500 rpm, well above the little engines red line. He had speed shifted into top gear and gained a second or two on the Caddy. It was enough for him to gain a few car lengths and put some other cars in between the SUV and their car. With the 911 call in and cops on the way, the occupants of the Escalade had to know their time was running out, didn't they? It was this thought that kept him moving the little car up the freeway and away from the black SUV.

The Caddy driver was not having it though. He charged through traffic and muscled cars out his way as he moved towards Thomas and Jean. McCool watched the progress in the rear view mirror and made a decision. He went almost past the exit, then braked hard, downshifted into 4th and screamed off the 405 back onto Getty Center Drive. Only this time they were doing over 80. The sturdy little Civic made the corner and held on. Right then the Escalade charged into the exit but was carrying too much speed. It lifted off the two outside wheels and looked as though it might roll. The driver brought in back down just in time and headed straight at the McCool's Honda.

Seeing he couldn't avoid a collision, McCool braked just enough to let the oncoming Escalade slip by to the outside. There was a terrible grinding sound as the two vehicles scraped against each other and then the Escalade was by the Honda. McCool downshifted and poured on the gas. They hit the Escalade in the right rear. This pushed the Escalade past the point of stability once again and this time the driver couldn't get it back down. The huge SUV rolled over and flipped down the ramp managing to clip the front of the Civic with one tire. It was enough to put the Honda into the wall at over 70 mph. Then it all went black.

Thomas and Jean woke up in their car with the airbags deployed and feeling like they'd just been beaten up. Jean looked over at Thomas and asked "Who was that masked man". Thomas felt around his body for broken bones and missing pieces before grinning and replying. The detritus from the collision and resulting crashes continued to flutter down like falling leaves for several minutes after the incident and what he intended to say was that someone must certainly have put a bee in someone's bonnet to cause such quick and brutal attention, but it came out sorta sounding like someone had a bonnet in the attic or something.

Jean looked at him then with some concern till he grinned again and said "Well shit, they wrecked our little Honda pretty damn good didn't they?"

At this point a fireman and a paramedic helped the pair out of their car and onto the back end an ambulance. While they were being checked out the investigating officer came over and asked if they had called in on 911. "I did officer, after the SUV attempted to hit us the first time" Jean spoke up. "Well you won't be troubled with them any more tonight" he explained, "We've got one deceased and the other with serious head trauma headed to county medical with a police escort." "The SUV and the men have no papers or any forms of ID, even the plates are bogus" he finished. "Got any idea why these guys where after you?" he said as he looked at Thomas.

"We're civilian consultants investigating some murders in Laughlin, Nevada" Thomas said. "It's possible it has something to do with a missing suspect" he finished.

Thomas and Jean and the cop finished their conversation as the couple was given a clean bill of health by the medics. The air bags and luck and Thomas's driving had combined to make what looked nearly fatal into an accident from which they walked away. The just one year old Civic was another matter. It had extensive frame and body damage. The little car's useful life was at an end.

Thomas made a call on his cell for a rental, then called into Laughlin PD and reported on the accident. After that he called Sgt Johnson in D.C. and left a message.

From what he'd learned tonight there may have been something wrong with the DNA test of Charlotte Vignoire or some other issue that caused the attempt on their lives. Unless it could have been the Prince, someone on his staff or an entirely unknown person, it just didn't make sense any other way. Somewhere deep in the forest of all the clues and facts concerning this case he knew there must be some other way to link Charlotte and the killings.


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Wordzzle 75 - Cheaper by the Dozen?

You can get a baker's dozen worth of info on Wordzzling at the Raven's Nest.

The Ten Word Challenge: reluctant, sacrilege, territory, humiliating, master of ceremonies, gesture, dirty deed, crumbling, thaw, token

The mini challenge: official portrait, personal bank account, shoulder bone, unbearable, widow

This Week's Episode: Communication Breakdown

The Amazonia Grande made its way upriver through the territory of ancient jungles tribes. Martin/Mike had given Jane a small figurine from the last village they'd visited as a token of his affection. Jane wasn't quite sure what to make of the rotund and obviously pregnant wooden carving, but thanked him for the gesture. She was pretty sure he knew she was past the age of having babies now and just enjoyed the "dirty deed" for the sheer pleasure and sexual release.

She asked him about the figure as they walked through the crumbling ruins of a long lost Amazonian civilization and was relieved to learn that he just liked the color and facial expression of the statue.

With that out of the way she was free to enjoy the remainder of the trip up to Manaus. At that point they would have to make a decision on what to do and where to go, next.

Martin fought with himself concerning his feelings for Jane and dreaded the humiliating possibility that she wouldn't feel the same way as he did. It would be unbearable if she didn't love him as he had so unfailingly come to love her. It was for this reason that he had been reluctant to discuss their plans after Manaus. For her part, Jane had taken his timidity as a lack of concern or a cavalier attitude towards her and their future together. "I'll know when we get to Manaus" she thought to herself.

Four thousand miles away in L.A. Thomas and Jean were pulling their Honda Civic into the Getty parking lot. They had parked in the new off street parking garage and walked down two flights of stairs to street level. They crossed over Getty Center Drive to enter at the front of the spectacular structure. It was interesting to see the number of classic cars parked in the VIP spaces, including a vintage Packard with the now infamous "widow maker" doors that opened in the reverse direction. The couple had arrived early to allow time to view some of the other exhibits and then meet with the Prince Akim and the Princess before the opening of the newest exhibition, the French Bronzes.

Most of those attending this event this evening had personal bank accounts with balances in the 9 digit area. In spite of being dressed in their formal finery, (for Thomas a rented Tux and for Jean a shimmering evening gown she'd purchased for their last cruise) the couple felt a bit overwhelmed by the raw opulence of their surroundings and the attendees. They passed through galleries featuring the official portraits of the kings of industry and government before making their way to the conference room that had been reserved for the meeting with the Prince.

The Prince's personal secretary greeted them at the door and invited them into the room. There the Prince and Princess introduced themselves. The Princess gently took Jean aside and they spent the time getting to know one another. To Jean's great surprise she found the princess to be a very modern woman indeed and they enjoyed each other's tales of children, grandchildren and husbands.

Thomas wasted no time in getting to the point of the meeting. "Prince Akim, you are aware of the connections between your losses with the company backed by the now deceased Charles Hollingsworth and the woman known to you as Connie Liplin, correct?" "Yes, I met the woman one time at a meeting in L.A." the Prince replied. "We believe this woman is not only party to real estate fraud on an enormous scale, but also a serial killer" Thomas added. The Prince's eyebrows rose just slightly and he smiled fleetingly at the news. McCool sensed that a thaw in the somewhat cool reception he'd been given had taken place.

In the next half hour McCool gave the Prince all he could concerning the investigation, the evidence and the inability to find Liplin. He even went so far as to mention the Prince's soon-to-be partner, Charlotte Vignoire. This gave the Prince some pause. Thomas assured the Prince that with the results of the DNA test it would be physically impossible for the two women to be the same person. They concluded their meeting and the Prince was unable to add anything helpful to Thomas's inquiry.

At this point the master of ceremonies was calling people into the main gallery for the opening. The Prince and Princess along with various other donors and dignitaries took seats that flanked the massive podium. Thomas and Jean spotted Charlotte seated just a few seats away from the royal couple. The program included thanks to the donors, (Charlotte had given a million dollars and used her family name to help secure the exhibition of some of the French Bronzes) a special thanks to the Prince and Princess, and a hat tip to the Hollywood crowd that was fully represented there as well.

Jean knew it was artistic sacrilege, but she found Warren Beatty much more interesting than French statures. One fascinating though totally unrelated observation she made this night was that Kiera Knightly seemed to be held together by skin and her shoulder bones. At least in the dress she wore to this event it seemed that way. She kept the thought to herself till she and Thomas had time together after the show.

Shortly before leaving she excused herself from the group, including the Prince and Princess who'd stopped by to say goodbye, and went to the ladies room. Jean entered through the luxurious sitting area into the restroom proper and picked a stall. She'd just finished up when she heard someone come in. As she left the stall and started around the corner she spied Charlotte leaning over the sink and cussing in a very un-French fashion. "Goddamn this frigging contact" she heard muttered, as a dull hazel colored contact slipped down the drain. It almost sounded like a Jersey accent, though in truth it was just one short expletive ridden phrase.

Jean eased back so she could peak around the corner without being seen. She watched as Charlotte removed a bottle with a contact in it and put it in. In the edge of the mirror she caught a glimpse of a startlingly emerald green eye before the contact covered it up. At the same time she thought she might have been seen now by Charlotte. She reached back into the stall, flushed again and let the stall door slam before coming around the corner. At the sink she washed her hands quickly and exited the restroom. Jean wasn't sure if Charlotte had seen her or not. On a hunch she stopped by one of the tables and scribbled a short note. This note she put in the Princess's hand as they said goodbye and exited the museum.

The Prince's Rolls stopped at the front door and picked up the royal couple. Thomas and Jean strolled down the sidewalk towards the crossing to the parking garage. "Thomas, you won't believe what I saw and heard in the ladies room" she began. By the time they got to their car she had related the incident and the note she'd given the Princess. "I know you might have wanted to think about that, but I liked her and didn't want her and her husband to get involved with a potential serial killer" she explained. "Well just because she wears colored contacts and swears when she drops one down the sink doesn't make her Connie Liplin" he remarked. "At least she's been warned" Jean answered. "OK baby, I know you did what you thought was right, lets head back to the hotel" he finished.

Charlotte stopped in an alcove and made two phone calls. The first was to her chauffeur to bring the car to the front entrance and the second was one that she had hoped not to have to make. "It was just as well" she thought to herself, "there were much more important things to focus on than paranoia. "This was a problem easily solved."


Friday, August 7, 2009

Our Outstandingly Gullible Electorate

It seems that no day passes now when I don't read about or see a video of some group of right wingnuttia disrupting a town hall meeting on health care. It's obvious that they don't really care about discourse, I get that. What is painful, disgusting and very disappointing is how many are seniors who should know better.

The practice of astro-turfing has been perfected by so-called conservative groups and aided and abetted by the likes of Glenn Beck, Lou Dobbs and of course old EL RUSHBO. What get's me is how many folks buy into it. The most ironic of these instances is the old folks telling their representatives not to let the government mess with their medicare. Who do they think is administering it? It is confounding to say the least.

After watching a couple of these town halls I have lost faith in a good portion of our people and a great portion of our seniors. I have personal experience with this as well since we live in a retirement community. Old people can be as dumb, as uninformed and as nasty as any young punk you've ever met. Add to this several decades of racism, bigotry and ignorance, and the outcome is disturbing. I've seen it first hand in our community, so the events in the town halls should not come as a surprise I suppose.

Still. I am ashamed of and pissed off at my generation that seems so easily lead down the garden path by what to me are blowhards, fanatics and charlatans. Faux News, in the person of Rupert Murdoch, has had a very detrimental effect on our country and our civil discourse. Instead of objective reporting, fact based editorializing and views from both sides, a large group of our population is willingly subjecting itself to outright rabble rousing 24/7. It's pathetic to watch what should be otherwise dignified and respected seniors turned into rabble.

So let's get set for more pictures of e-mail and television political evangelist inspired shouting matches at the town halls. After all that's what the insurance companies, big pharma and the politicians that take their money want. The less logic, common sense and facts that are discussed the better for them. Because anyone with half a brain that sees how much money is diverted to non-patient expenditure in our health care system would understand there has to be a better way. And that same person would do their very best to inform themselves and push their representatives to act in the country's best interest and not in the interest of the health care industry.

What is most galling of all, is that the folks out there screwing up even having a discussion already have health care through an employer or the VA or yes, the government in the form of medicare and medicaid. So somehow these morons get the time and energy to come out and shout incoherences at officials and the debate ( a much needed one) about smart health care reform is silenced.

If we let these pushers of fear and animosity win this fight then this country is no better off than when we had Bush for a president. Think back a minute will ya? We voted that guy's party out of the white house, out of the Congress and out of the Senate. Are we going to see the victories in the form of tangible results. With the banking industry reaping profits, foreclosures increasing, jobs continuing to be cut, a failure to bring some form of equity to our health care system would be intolerable.

I'm hoping that the vast silent majority of people are more intelligent, thoughtful and forward thinking than the right wing throwbacks currently driving the media focus on health care. If not, the inequities already being reinforced by the bank bailouts will work their way into the very being of our citizens.

I wonder what all the screwballs will think when their premiums rise another 25% and their so-called co-insurance goes up to $15,000.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sunday Funnies

Bill Maher tells it like it is on the most recent ignorance issue, the Obama birth certificate. Only Bill, in brutal yet hilarious fashion, can take it to the idiot right in such good fashion. Read the comics in your Sunday paper and then enjoy this:

Have a great week.


Saturday, August 1, 2009

Wordzzle 74 - Eleven is O' so lucky

It's a lucky break for you that all the details and wherewithals on this wordzzle business is available at the Raven's Nest

The 10 Word Challenge: fair warning, hormones, journalism, philanthropist, burgeoning, running the bulls, saturation, tossed in the towel, whine, indelicate details
The mini: hard labor, lurid, quick fix, sizable contributions, trumpet

In case you haven't noticed, this is an ongoing story named the "Laughlin Series". Previous episodes are available at the sidebar.

This week's Episode: California Dreaming

Thomas had given Jean fair warning to not comment on the traffic on Interstate 10. The couple had experienced varying degrees of difficulty on the oft clogged interstate into L.A. on previous occasions and McCool preferred that Jean not tempt the fates. As it turned out they didn't get into the mess of L.A. freeway traffic till Riverside. At that point the mass of elevated figure eights, exits and entrances onto and off of other freeways hit its saturation point. Another more inpatient person would have tossed in the towel and took a surface street towards downtown L.A., but Thomas knew better.

The one thing he'd learned in his years in law enforcement was that big cities, (all big cities) have districts and neighborhoods you don't go into unless you know what you're doing. He was pretty sure that beyond finding their hotel and going to the opening at the Getty, they were clueless. So; no cutting through the hood in search of a shortcut. What the unwary traveler might think of as a quick fix could turn out to a very bad idea. The constant down shifting and up shifting might be construed by some as hard labor, but the wary investigator took it all in stride and refused to whine about the conditions.

Instead, he engaged Jean in conversation concerning the case. The lurid facts of the murders and the indelicate details of the massive frauds committed had allowed the team to fix on a suspect. Indeed it was clear to all that Constance/Connie was the killer. There was ample evidence showing her involvement in the Orange county real estate scam as well. What no one had been able to find out was the new identity and whereabouts of the now law enforcement proclaimed "Queen of Disguise". "Do you suppose she'll ever be found now?" Jean asked. "It all depends" McCool responded. "If she has gone to some country that does not extradite to the U.S. we won't be able to apprehend her even if we find her." "She's been more than one step ahead of us for a long time." "It would be stupid or arrogant to not disappear" he finished.

"What do you think the Prince can add to our knowledge of her?" Jean continued. "I'm not sure, but just meeting him ought to be worth the trip" Thomas answered. The pair went on to discuss the Prince's background. It was rumored he was quite the philanthropist and had made sizeable contributions to the Getty prior to the real estate collapse. Still, the prince had attempted to maintain a low profile, in spite of the need for good press on the Saudis after the recent oil price manipulation and gouging. It seemed it just wasn't in the Prince to trumpet his charitable giving. What was really interesting in Thomas's opinion was the amount of charitable work Prince Akim had done in ""the Kingdom." It appeared that both the Prince and Princess were heavily involved with the migrant workers, their living conditions, wages and health care. This alone made the Prince the most progressive member of the royal family and something of an outcast or black sheep.

"Now how did you find that out?" Jean quizzed Thomas. "Well, I had Paul pull the FBI file and give me the highlights" he answered. "You'll be interested to know he only has one wife and they have grandkids." "Kind of old for a prince isn't he" she laughed. "It's a huge family with burgeoning responsibilities and fortunes" McCool said seriously. "The prince is one of 22 and if you include the king’s extended family it gets into the hundreds."

Thomas went on to explain that the King, the prince's uncle, was old but had brothers and sons that were in line for the crown when he died. The Prince would be a prince all his life. When the young Akim went to Oxford he took a summer in Europe where he experienced running with the bulls at Pamplona, the beauty of the Greek Islands and its inhabitants and anything else that pleased him. "From the summary that Paul gave me it seems the young Prince might have let hormones run wild for a couple of summers" McCool continued. The result was a rash of stories in the London rags (those standards of journalism) that put the prince in a very bad light indeed.

By this time they'd made it onto the 405 and found their exit for the Holiday Inn Express. Thomas was pretty sure that the Prince and Princess would not be occupying any rooms in this inn. No doubt the Saudis had a secure estate in the Hollywood Hills for family members.

Charlotte boarded her Gulfstream in Manaus and they lifted off for L.A. She would get into town a few hours before the opening, make an appearance, glad-hand the Prince and prepare for Monday's contract signing. It wouldn't be long before her plan bore fruit. If all went well she would be one of the ten wealthiest people in the world and the wealthiest woman. She was sorry to have missed her opportunity to find Jane, but that would come soon enough. After all, how could one simple nurse from South Dakota escape detection from the richest woman in the world?