Tales of the Baroness, Part V: “Danger, Will Robinson!”

Written in my off hours whilst working from home during the COVID-19 zombie apocalypse. The following is the fifth in a series of stories about the baroness. These stories are true as she remembers them.

This 1960s style of dress is what the baroness wore on her show, perhaps even shorter.

By the time she was six, Baroness Alba vonBeavis was famous enough to attract many fans (to this day she still gets fan letters and autograph requests–an autographed photo of her on eBay ranges from a few bucks to hundreds, depending on the show and scene) … and a few obsessed creeps. She feels that the usual wardrobe dress was too short for a six year old.

“Two girls in my neighborhood asked me to go with them to a man’s house. They said he had candy,” she said. “When I got there and went inside, they both left me there by myself and closed the door behind them. I was in there alone with a middle-aged man.”

Jodie Foster as FBI agent Clarice Starling explores Buffalo Bill’s house in “Silence of the Lambs.” As a child actors, Jodie and the baroness worked together at CBS.

The scene as described by the baroness is reminiscent of character Buffalo Bill’s house in “Silence of the Lambs;” shades drawn, dimly lit, musty and dank-smelling. There was a man in the front room with bowls of candy awaiting the next Gretel. Her deflectors had already gone up before he asked her to remove her clothing.

“As he walked toward me, I opened the front door and ran away. I told my mother about what had happened, and she called the police,” she said. “The LAPD checked it out and took him in. They said he was a known child molester.”

A few years later, as her brother became popular through teenie magazines such as “Tiger Beat,” the siblings added a German Shepherd to the family for protection following death threats. One of the kooks wasn’t just writing letters in the days before the internet; he stalked them until the LAPD pulled him over to find rope, duct tape and other kidnapping accessories in the trunk of his car.

Popstar brother of the baroness, henceforth to be referred to as the Earl, as in the Earl of Lemongrab from “Adventure Time.”

The date of the following is unclear, but it was in the early 1970s: the baroness went on an audition at the old Twentieth Century Fox Studios in Century City, Los Angeles, while her brother waited outside. Her mom was with her, inside an office on the second floor, when a single-engine airplane crashed into the building, hitting the floor below them. A fire ensued. “The pilot had suffered a massive heart attack and died,” the baroness recalls. The crash happened when most of the employees in the building were at lunch, and the pilot was the only fatality. Her brother (from this point on I’ll refer to her infamous brother as the Earl)  witnessed the crash and freaked out, thinking his mother and sister were on the first floor. It could’ve been a tragic story instead of a near miss.

Edward James Olmos as Roberto Gonzales, S.H.I.E.L.D. leader and damn fine actor.

I’ve never been one to gush over celebrities, and I’ve met a few over the years. One I did meet, do respect and had a brief conversation with in Honolulu is Edward James Olmos. I respect him for his theatrical chops and civic-minded philanthropic works in Los Angeles. Olmos was in town for Hawaii’s first sci-fi autograph show. He’d recently done a season of “Agents of Shield” after the successful run of “Battlestar Galactica.” I volunteered to work the event and got to meet a few of the stars, including offering dining suggestions to Gates “Dr. Crusher” McFadden, whom Olmos good-naturedly razzed while she was on stage.  After controlling the line of fans for Olmos, Erin “Wilma Deering” Gray of “Buck Rogers” and Avenger Samuel Thomas “Falcon” Wilson, Olmos took a selfie with me–I don’t do selfies, but he took my phone and grinned as we both shook out our long hair. The only other selfie ever taken of yours truly was by a dental hygienist in Sindelfingen, Germany. 

This is the modest little concession stand in our island’s 1930s theater where the baroness spotted Billy Zane a few feet in ahead of us. Photo by Patrick von Sychowski, Celluloid Junkie.

Celebrities frequented our small tourist city. Regulars included Barbara Streisand, Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn. To their credit, they just act like every other tourist and the locals don’t bother them much. If I was asked a question, I’d answer it, but I never asked for autographs or photos. I just treat them like everyone else.

One I didn’t gush over, not because of any dislike of him or his work, is Billy Zane. Around 1999, the baroness and I were standing in the concession line at our island’s only theater, a handsome, round, 1930s art deco building with a big Page organ that plays before the movie on Fridays, Saturdays and for the annual silent film festival. The baroness was getting her popcorn fix (I literally smell the burnt microwave popcorn nuked by the baroness as I write this. She belongs in Popcorn Anonymous) when the following took place:

“You see him?” whispered the baroness, nodding at a man about five customers in front of us. “That’s Billy Zane.”

The character actor you can trust in, Burt Mustin, circa 1961, in an episode of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents.”

I glanced up the line and didn’t place him. I’d have recognized the late character actor Burt Mustin before Billy Zane, who was at the peak of his career then. Despite his many credits, his name was unfamiliar to me. If she’d said he was the traveling actor in “Tombstone” or the bad guy in “Titanic,”  I would’ve recognized him.

“Who?” I whispered back, still searching.

“Billy Zane,” she repeated a little louder. I didn’t see anyone I recognized. He’d shaved his head and was wearing a tweed ivy cap. He was blending.

“Who?” I asked again.

“Billy Zane.” She was now loud enough for the line to hear.

“Who?” I was sounding like an owl and it annoyed the baroness enough to raise her voice to repeat his name a fourth time. By now he was watching us, bemused. “I don’t know who you’re talking about.”

Billy Zane (not to be confused with Burt Mustin). At the time of our encounter, “Titanic” was still the top grossing film of all time.

“Billy Zane! Billy Zane!” she shouted, pointing at him. “He was only in the top grossing movie of all time!” When the baroness uses what we soldiers call a command voice, everyone stands-to.

“I’ve never heard of the dude!” I shouted back.

Zane stared at us a moment as other’s from our small town recognized him. He pulled his cap a little lower and turned back for his movie snacks. After the film, which I think was “Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star,” Zane made a point of coming up to me to ask directions back to his hotel. He didn’t need to. It’s quite hard to get lost in a town as small as ours, plus his hotel had his last name for its first name (no relation, but he probably chose it for that reason). I was mildly embarrassed and politely gave him directions, and that was the end of our encounter.

As her child stardom fades farther back in the mists of time, the baroness is occasionally asked to appear on television. She was flying to London for an A&E documentary, but forgot her passport and called me in desperation from Munich International (a very nice airport that doesn’t rip off travelers, by the way) to race at warp speed through the snow from our home in the Bavarian Alps. I arrived in my slippers after putting petal to the metal on the Autobahn. It was only due to her flight being delayed by bad weather that she made it to Heathrow in time for the interview.

She did another interview about her stardom on Waikiki Beach around 2014. WGN Chicago was visiting Hawaii and somehow tracked her down. It certainly wasn’t her agent on Oahu, who has earned 15 percent of zilch for her efforts, although the baroness auditioned for “Lost” a time or two. It was one of her most relaxed interviews, done without a hint of danger beyond the gnarly traffic of the H-1. A diligent search of YouTube will reveal it.

A good farewell picture to close out this tale. That’s 11 year old Paul Petersen with the cast of “The Donna Reed Show.” Petersen founded a group called “A Minor Consideration” to look out for child actors.

There’s one more interview of note that the baroness declined. Out of the blue in 2005, she received a call at work from Fox “News” to be interviewed on Bill O’Reilly’s show. She paused before asking “How did you get my number?”

Her number had been passed to Billo’s producers by former child star Paul Petersen, best known as a pre-Tiger Beat heartthrob and as character Jeff Stone on “The Donna Reed Show.”

“Hell, no! I can’t stand that guy,” she declared, then she slammed down the phone.

Automobile adventures with Alba and the baroness talks politics with Howard Stern and Susan “Cindy Brady” Olsen–yeah, that Brady Buncher–in the next installment. Plus she talks about Hollywood friends Allison “Nellie” Arngrim and Melissa “Laura” Gilbert from “Little House on the Prairie” and a day out with Brooke Shields. 

Tales of the Baroness, Part Four: Adventures in Ireland

By Baron Hans vonBeavis
Man of a thousand stories

Written in my off hours whilst working from home during the COVID-19 zombie apocalypse. The following is the fourth in a series of stories about the baroness. These stories are true as she remembers them.

The baroness has always had an affinity for Ireland. She claims a very Norwegian lineage and her heredity test revealed no Irish blood. Curiously, it revealed no Norwegian blood, either, and 1 percent Kurdish, despite a century of empirical evidence showing her descendants on both sides came from towns a few miles apart in northern Norway.

Caisleán Uí Bhriain, or O’Brien’s Castle, is a 14th Century ruin on the highest point of Inis Oirr. During Tedfest IV, a giant teacup was placed on the castle wall in honor of Pauline McLynn’s character Mrs. Doyle.

I’m a list-writing planner and knew Ireland had recently banned smoking in bars and restaurants. In 2009, I arranged a 2010 visit to attend Tedfest IV on Inis Oirr (Innisheer), one of the small, rocky islands off the coast of Galway. Tedfest is an ongoing celebration of the late 90s British Channel 4 TV series “Father Ted.” The show has brilliant comedy writing and timing. I got the scripts to inspire my work, which I’ll detail later in a tragic love story I’ll call “The Lady in Green.”

The cast of "Father Ted." Truly some great comedy writing.Tedfest IV turned out to be another Frye Festival. It bilked a few hundred rubes like me with promises of events that turned out to be as cheesy as the $65 ham & cheese sandwich ripoff at Disneyworld. One of the featured events was a Chinese luncheon at the wreck of the MV Plassey, the ship featured in the opening credits of Father Ted. The lunch consisted of cheap-ass ramen; drinks were extra. The best thing about Tedfest IV was making many new Irish and international friends with a common bond. We were the only Americans present. Everyone was dressed as characters from the show; those dressed as priests and nuns were referred to as Father or Sister.

The MV Plassey rests on the shore of Inis Oirr (Inisheer) Island after a powerful storm threw it high aground. It wrecked on March 8, 1960. The ship is rapidly deteriorating.

While still on the island, the baroness and I clambered aboard the rusted hulk to explore. It has many jagged metal edges from years of being pounded by the surf on the rocky shoreline. Since our visit, the ship was again lifted and moved further inland by another fierce storm. It’s days are numbered. I’ve studied passenger shipwrecks since I was in college, being a member then of the Titanic Historical Society. A commercial ship, the Plassey carried cargo instead of people. Still, it reminded me of the wreck of the La Jenelle outside of Port Hueneme, California. By the time we disembarked, we were covered in orange rust.

A more recent photo of the Plassey, probably taken in 2016.

Through my early planning, we’d flown from Munich to Dublin to Galway and were booked for one euro each for a bus back to Dublin. But then a Festivus Miracle occurred. Much like the baroness’ birthday card detailed in Chapter 3 of her stories, I reached out months ahead to Hollywood legend Maureen O’Hara for an audience. Late in the planning, the Queen of Ireland offered to join us for dinner in Glengarriff, a lovely town in southwest Ireland. I had to rent a car and, for the first time in my life, drive on the left side of the road. I drove on the wrong side twice, briefly, even though the car had a big red warning sign on the driver’s visor reminding tourists how to drive in Ireland.

The baroness got her audience with her favorite actress due to her working for O’Hara’s brother, producer Charles B. Fitzsimons. During a visit to his office when he was interviewing child actors for parts, the baroness saw a photo of O’Hara on his wall.

A publicity still of Maureen O’Hara, circa 1950.

“Maureen O’Hara is my favorite actress,” the 8 year old baroness said. “Do you know her?”

“I should,” Fitzsimons replied with a smile. “She’s my sister.”

The baroness got the part and others, and is friends to this day with Fitzsimon’s son.

It took us a full day to drive to Glengarriff along Ireland’s western coast and we made it easily without benefit of a GPS. Fortunately, the hotel we’d booked housed the restaurant O’Hara suggested, so we simply freshened up and ordered a couple of pints while we waited.

There was a stir in the restaurant by the staff and guests at her entrance. O’Hara was 90 in 2010, and walked with a cane. I went to the door and offered her my arm, escorting her to our table. Although she looked great and much younger than her years, her assistant insisted we take no photos. I’d already filled my Nikon’s memory card with 500 photos from the previous days in Ireland, plus I didn’t want to make any waves. This dinner was for the baroness, not me.

The queen and the baroness had a grand conversation as O’Hara regaled us with stories about her many movies with John Wayne and other actors from Hollywood’s Golden Age. She told a story about costarring with Rex Harrison in the 1947 film “The Foxes of Harrow,” describing Harrison as crude and unpleasant to work with. As she told it:

“I hear you don’t like the English,” Harrison said during a stroll between takes.

“I like the English. I don’t like you,” she replied.

O’Hara whispers to John Wayne in the closing scene of “The Quiet Man.” Whatever she said was a secret between her and Wayne.

She spoke at length about the baroness’ favorite film, “The Quiet Man,” filmed in Cong. At the end of the film, she whispers something into Wayne’s ear that made him smile. To her dying day, she kept it a secret.

Natalie Wood is hugged by O’Hara in the Christmas classic, “Miracle on 34th Street.”

There were only two awkward moments, both involving me. The first was during a discussion of the Christmas classic, “Miracle on 34th Street,”  also filmed in 1947. Natalie Wood was the child star in that one (I later met her sister, Lana, who played Plenty O’Toole in the James Bond flick “Diamonds are Forever.”)

“You worked with Natalie Wood in Miracle,” I commented.

The queen became rigid, and with full Hollywood diva engaged, she snapped: “I did nothing of the sort. She worked with me!” I begged her forgiveness and she relented.

The other moment was when her American assistant began dissing President Barack Obama and singing the praises of rightwing clown Glenn Beck, then on Pravda … er, Fox. The baroness became most concerned, squeezing my leg hard under the table, for she and I both loathe that Vicks Vaporub waste of skin as well as the other Fox propagandists. I’m outspoken when it comes to how awful Fox is.

“So what do you think? Isn’t he marvelous?” the assistant asked, leaning into me like Judge Reinhold in the close-talker episode of Seinfeld. “He speaks for America.”

“Don’t do it!” mouthed the baroness, squeezing harder.

Although the American Forces Network ran his feltercarb where I was stationed, I pretended that I’d never heard of the guy and the moment passed. Before O’Hara passed, there was controversy that ended up in court over the assistant’s handling of her affairs.

The queen autographed photos for us and the baroness’ DVD of The Quiet Man. She chose one of her sexy publicity stills for me and a more demure one for the baroness.

One final anecdote about Father Ted and the 2015 trip to Ireland when we visited Cong, ticking another box on the baroness’ bucket list. On that visit, I didn’t have to drive. Instead, “Sister” Niamh, whom we’d met at Tedfest, drove us to the estate used for the opening credits and exterior shots of the show. Homeowner Cheryl McCormack showed us around, served high tea and let us use props from the show to take photos. For the record, Baroness vonBeavis’ favorite episode of Ted is “Speed 3,” while mine is “Are you right there, Father Ted?”

A side note about AFN and Fox: for years I’ve been tilting at windmills to get AFN to stop broadcasting so much Fox Propaganda … er, “news.” If one digs hard enough, he/she will find acerbic pleas on Crooks and Liars written by yours truly to cut back or eliminate that drivel. The last time I checked, Fox had the most “news” time on AFN radio and television. I recall it being 50 percent, with other shows from real networks making up the rest. American service members don’t need the likes of fathead and BFF to the orange sphincter, Hannity the Manatee, indoctrinating young warriors to his 1984 thinkspeak misinformation. And I’m still waiting for that jerk of all trades to fulfill his promise to be waterboarded to prove it ain’t torture.

(In part five, the young baroness escapes a child molester and an airplane crash, receives death threats against her and her popstar brother, schools me in front of a star of the biggest grossing film of all time, and does a Chicago TV interview in Waikiki.)

The only beatdown for ‘The Diffuser’

Written during my off time whist working at home during the Covid-19 zombie apocalypse. These true stories are to the best of my recollection.

Gong Yoo as “The Lonely, Shining Goblin,” 2016. The Diffuser’s hero kit looked less Korean and more like Antonio Banderas’ “Zorro.”

“The Diffuser” was the greatest warrior of our secret band of heroes. Skilletto, aka Uncle Skilletto, isn’t really my uncle. The baroness and I call him that because Sophibee, the daughter of his superhero sister, “The Bumbler,” lived with us for a spell when we were roommates during Sophibee’s terrible twos. Whenever Sophibee wanted his attention, she’d holler “Uncle Skilletto! Uncle Skilletto!”  More about Skilleto’s secret identity another time, plus I’ll write more about Bumbler in a future story; today’s tale is about Skilletto and his mom.

About 25 years ago, Skilletto and I had apartments in what many on our island called the ghetto. It was inexpensive housing in an expensive California city, with a racially diverse mixture of citizens, and Mexican and European immigrants. The folks in town, even the poor ones who didn’t live in that large complex, looked down on our hillside community. A mutual acquaintance who, before going to jail for embezzling money from the tourist hotel he worked at, asked us if we wanted to be roommates in the pricey condo he rented. The dude was low on funds, in divorce proceedings shortly after his soon-to-be ex had their baby … seems he was doinking his cousin, an attractive woman I dated once before that news broke; the gene pool on the island is quite shallow and there aren’t a lot of eligible partners to choose from.

Skilletto is a mixture of German-American and pure Korean, conceived after his father, an avid martial artist, was stationed with the Air Force during a tour of duty in the ROK. His mother was a classical Korean dancer. I think the two met at a church function.

A natural storyteller, Toastmaster, stand-up comic and athlete, Skilletto  coaches girls varsity basketball at the only high school on the island. He works as a city parks and recreation leader, a suitable job for his talents. Prior to that, he earned an income for about 20 years as a popular massage therapist in a chiropractor’s office. He’d tell us horror stories about his job, from clients with poor hygiene to clients who asked him for a happy ending. He is handsome and was much sought after in our small city, being very physically fit and a formidable mixed martial artist with assorted belts.

As his students reached 21 and hit the clubs, Skilletto’s life got awkward as his former students hit on him. This is Alexia Fast as Sandy and Tom Cruise as Reacher in “Jack Reacher.” Photo from Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions.

For a catch like him, it got awkward when his former students got old enough to legally drink and came on to him in the local clubs. He was in his mid-20s and I my early 30s when we met and became epic friends, so much so that he was best man at my wedding and I flew halfway around the world to attend his marriage on the Big Island.

A painting of his mother from her dancing days hung over the fireplace. She was young and very beautiful when she posed for the portrait. Uncle Skilletto got his good looks from her.  Bumbler, a single mom, had more of her dad’s features; she was frequently chatted up by the town’s hopeful menfolk. She and I flirted a bit, but she was hung-up for too long on Sophibee’s dickhead father, a violent loser who got kicked out of Marine Corps basic for being … well, a dickhead. That dude ruined more hook-up chances Bumbler had with some righteous guys. Eventually she got a good job on the mainland and works as an aesthetician, with clients such as Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin.

For the record, they have an older, full Korean half-sister who  worked for years in Las Vegas as an escort. She is a very sweet lady and is worth a full story another time.

Once, when Skilletto was waiting outside a seafood restaurant overlooking the harbor for the owner of the clinic where he did massage, a local wisenheimer started verbally jabbing at him, trying to get him to demonstrate martial arts moves Skilletto posted on YouTube showing him leaping skyward to kick an apple skewered at the end of an uplifted sword. We’ll call him Stinky.

A martial artist kicks an apple from the end of a sword. Skilletto performed the same feat for the students at the high school where he coached boys junior and girls varsity basketball.

“Can you kick that hanging plant?” Stinky asked. “Huh? Can you, can you?”

Dressed for dinner, Skilletto ignored him.

“Can you kick as high as that lamp post?” Stinky persisted. “Can you kick me in the head?”

“Stinky, I’m not going to kick anyone tonight,” Skilletto sighed. “I’m just waiting for Dr. Adam. Go find someone else to bother.”

Stinky backed off, continuing to tell arriving guests about how high Skilletto could kick. Our hero kept his eyes on the seagulls circling over the harbor, paying Stinky no heed.

“This is Skilletto, and he can kick your head off.”

This went on for a few minutes until Stinky finally got under Skilletto’s thick hide when he said: “This is Skilletto, Dr. Adam’s minion, and he can kick your head off!” Stinky said.

At that point, Skilletto gave the dude serious stink eye and said “Yeah, I can kick you in the head.”

Stinky stood down.

Skilletto tells a story about a time when he incurred the wrath of his otherwise gentle, Bible-thumping mother. While she normally didn’t cuss, there was one time when she was giving her son advice on marriage.

“Don’t marry blondie,” she said, heavily accented. “Marry Korean girl, not White girl. Blondie no good for you.”

“But mom, you married a White guy!” he argued.

“I fucked up!”

There’s shock value when one isn’t known to swear. That is the only story he ever told about his mother dropping an F-bomb. He was even more surprised to learn just how good she was at Korean martial arts when he came home from high school and she chastised him for some minor offense. She was standing at the sink, washing dishes, when he blurted out: “Mom, that’s bullshit!”

This photo of a woman in a traditional Korean hanbok is reminiscent of the painting above the hearth.

She stiffened. The plates clattered into the sink. She slowly turned and assumed an attack position. With sound effects worthy of Bruce Lee, she came at him with punches, jabs and roundhouse kicks. Skilletto was already an accomplished tournament black belt then, and he blocked, blocked and blocked, slowly retreating from the kitchen; after all, a good young man never hits his mother. Once in the hall, he turned and ran into the bathroom, locking the door behind him.

“Heeeyah!” mom cried as she took the door off of its hinges with one mighty kick.

Skilletto fell back from the door into the tub and covered up, accepting the rain of blows until his mother was satisfied she’d made her point.

This was the only “fight” he ever lost.

(In the next Diffuser adventure, the hero tells horror stories about his experiences as a massage therapist, when we were attacked by a Chinese warrior princess, and how he watched, bemused, as my mouth wrote checks my skills couldn’t pay.)

Tales of the Baroness, Part Three

By Baron Hans vonBeavis
Man of a thousand stories

Written in my off hours whilst working from home during the COVID-19 zombie apocalypse. The following is the third in a series of stories about the baroness. These stories are true as she remembers them.

As a child, the baroness didn’t go to school like most kids. Growing up on the CBS Studio City (she calls it CBS Radford) lot in the southeastern San Fernando Valley, California, she attended elementary school classes between takes. Being overly smart and preconscious, she questioned her teachers about a variety of subjects.

Since she started at four years of age when she did her first movie, she’d learned camera left, camera right, which is backwards to we mortals. For her, left was right and visa versa. To this day, I channel my previous life as a soldier when I ask her to move to the right, she moves to the left, and the NCO in me says: “Your other right.”

When she was studying math at an early age, she had a problem that frustrated her and approached the teacher.

“I don’t get this problem. Why do I have to learn math, anyway,” the baroness asked with royal innocence.

“Because someday you’ll have to balance your checkbook,” the teacher answered.

“I’m a movie star,” she said after a pause. “Why would I have to balance a checkbook when I have an accountant?”

Little did she know at that tender age that Hollywood loves most actors for 15 minutes before it turns its back on them, and that she would, indeed, need to balance her own checkbook. Many years later, a fan sent her a coffee cup with a drawing of a bored waiter with a pained expression and the caption “An actor’s life for me.” Kinda sums it up.

This is the downtown set at CBS Studio Center where the baroness and Tracie Savage were rehearsing a scene in a taxi when Brian Keith passed by on his way to the commissary. Photo by Rob of robonlocation.com.

This is the downtown set at CBS Studio Center where the baroness and Tracie Savage were rehearsing a taxicab scene when Brian Keith passed by on his way to the studio commissary. The baroness frequently visited Anissa Jones and Johnny Whitaker on the “Family Affair” set . Photo by Rob of robonlocation.com.

Her imperious nature and attitude of certainty were developed early. She was five or six, rehearsing a scene on an outdoor street set, when actor Brian Keith walked by and said howdy. He was filming his own show on a nearby CBS sound stage and was on a break between takes. Child actors Anissa Jones and Johnny Whitaker on his show were friends with the baroness; years later, Johnny was our house guest and performed the part of a gumshoe in a live broadcast of our OG radio program. Our small radio troupe was performing at a nightclub once favored by the likes of John Wayne. Being radio, everyone changed voices to play multiple parts, to include the baroness playing the part of a thug named Frenchy in a low, gravely voice that made the audience guffaw. It was a visual thing, being that she’s quite petite. After that, Johnny and the rest of us successfully played it for laughs. Great show.

“Hey kiddo, how ya doin’?” Keith asked in a friendly tone. He was a famously nice guy.

Instead of simply responding in kind, she was ticked that he’d broken her concentration.

“Mr. Keith, I am rehearsing,” she declared.

Her fellow actors and the crew were shocked, shocked I tell you! to hear her speak to a big star of movies and television like that.

Keith took it all in stride. He raised his hands in surrender.

“No, no, she’s right,” he said gently. “She’s rehearsing.” With that, he continued on his way.

A publicity still of Brian Keith as Uncle Bill, Anissa Jones as Buffy, and Johnny Whitaker as Jody from the show “Family Affair.” Anyone who ever was a soldier should know Jody cadences.

The baroness’ (ahem, cough-cough) interesting way of looking at life continued. Decades later, when she was approaching her quinquagenarian moment in life, we flew to Los Angeles from Honolulu to attend a memorial service for a friend, a retired L.A. County Sheriff’s Department sergeant. Coincidentally, she’d been asked to sign autographs at “The Hollywood Show,” an event beginning the next day at the Westin Los Angeles Airport Hotel. That particular autograph signing show is the only time I ever accompanied her to one of those. I call it my “honey wagon” husband audition.

No, not that kind of honey wagon.

The event featured a bunch of actors who had performed in James Bond movies and science fiction productions. The late Robert Conrad was the featured actor.

Fans seeking autographed photos and selfies visited her table, chatted with her, then moved on to their next celebrity. I’m not one who seeks out autographs, but I did get to meet a few of them.

Half a year before that, I began circulating birthday cards around the world to her friends and family. By the time her birthday arrived, the cards were laden with good wishes in multiple languages.

Tracie Savage from a scene with the baroness, circa 1971.  She was with the baroness when Brian Keith walked up to say howdy. Tracie is better known for her work as a Los Angeles news reporter.

The evening of her birthday was a Saturday. During the day, I met some of the actor and/or producer friend’s of the baroness, and chatted with many more actors, especially from sci-fi, during the day. I invited some of them to help celebrate her birthday in the hotel bar. One of them she knew well was Max “Jethro Bodine” Baer, who was signing autographs earlier along with Donna “Ellie Mae Clampett” Douglas. Another (whom she didn’t know but who I thought was pretty cool) was Richard “Jaws” Kiel, who I met that day at breakfast before the ballroom doors opened. Giant Kiel was cruising about in a mobility chair at that point in his life. Both he and Baer were briefly at the gathering, stopping by on their way to dinner. Other guests included Alba’s TV family cast members; Tracie Savage, a fellow child star turned reporter who testified in the O.J. Simpson trial; a few lovely ladies from various Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton James Bond movies–I’m pretty sure the lovely Carolin Munro was one of the guests, as she introduced herself as the helicopter pilot shooting at Bond in “The Spy Who Loved Me;” a gossip reporter; twin sisters Erin and Diane Murphy who both played Tabitha on “Bewitched;” her buddy Victoria Meyerink, a sweet former child star Elvis sang to in “Speedway;” and other lifelong former child star friends. The bar tab was astronomical, but it was her birthday and an opportunity to celebrate it with her TV and movie friends.

The King croons to Victoria Meyerink in the film “Speedway.” Victoria was dubbed “America’s Pint-sized Sweetheart” back in the day.

There’s a photo of the baroness with Melissa Gilbert of “Little House on the Prairie” fame, taken at Alba’s sweet 16 birthday party, that shows them reacting to something off-camera. Judging from their facial expressions, Alba and Melissa didn’t approve of whatever was happening. History was about to repeat itself.

At the Kodak moment during the birthday party when she opened her gifts and cards, she found the cards I’d painstakingly sent around the globe for dozens of autographs. The baroness made a similar face to the one from her 16th birthday, looked at me, and in front of the assembled guests her takeaway was:

“You told everyone I’m 50!”

Yes, I had. But just before that, the beautiful Tina Cole arrived at the party, sashayed into the center of it, looked around and hollered: “Where’s the birthday girl? She’s turning 50!”

(In part four, Baroness vonBeavis visits “Craggy Island” for Tedfest, boards the MV Plassey shipwreck, dines with Her Hollywood Highness Maureen O’Hara in Glengarriff, and takes high tea in the “Parochial House” used for the TV show “Father Ted.)

Brother number 3, the ammosexual

An ammosexual as drawn by David Horsey, Los Angeles Times.

Written during my off time whist working at home during the Covid-19 zombie apocalypse. 

Jungle Jim, the third of my father’s sons and next after me in the line of royal ascension, will admit to your face that he’s an asshole. At least he’s honest about that.

For the record, I have five brothers. Had, I should say. The oldest, a half-brother from my mom’s first marriage, lived and died violently. Number 4, the best of us in terms of being a decent person, father and martial artist, died of cancer shortly after he’d just risen to a corner office with the City of Los Angeles. The numeric sequence is based on my father’s five sons.

Like George Foreman’s poor kids, all of us were given the same first name; four of us have the same middle initial, which led to some interesting problems before the world went digital. For example, the pre-internet TRW credit report had me married to #4’s wife, the criminal record of #5 and the street address of #3. None of us call each other by our first name; Hans is my middle name. Only my third grade teacher, who is worth a story himself for being the wrong kind of person to teach young kids, and the government, insisted on calling me by my first name. To their dying days, our parents never explained why we had the same name, opting instead to tell a joke.

A truck driver protesting in Washington, D.C. Horn honking could be heard during the Rose Garden presser. The protest wasn’t about loving the orange guy, as he said, but were part of an ongoing nationwide protest about how little they’re paid during Covid-19, among other issues. Photo by Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images/Pool

(The orange sphincter was on the tube as I began writing this over the weekend.  I kept stopping to swear at him as he riffed on reopening trade, schools, etc. I had no words other than cursing for how stupid he sounds. As he struggled to read his prepared remarks, truckers near the Rose Garden were honking for what orangy claimed to be “love”  for him. But it wasn’t a cheap theatrical stunt of cultish support. Instead, big surprise; it turns out douchebag was just telling another lie. The truckers were protesting a lack of federal assistance as their income for shipping goods across America plummets. The disruption continued through the presser as a line of speakers paid homage with the usual stomach-churning obligatory praise to dumbass as swayed like a bored 5 year old off to stage left, the only one NOT wearing a mask. If it weren’t for the whisky and soda, I’d have flung objects at the telly. The baroness came into the room to see who I was swearing at during the orange sphincter’s cabinet meeting yesterday, May 19. As retired Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honore would say, he is stuck on stupid.)

Number 3 is a red-hatted gun nut. If he bothered to vote, it was for Herr Twitler. He’s an incurious, racist, high school graduate (allegedly) who never traveled abroad to my knowledge, although he may have gone to Mexico once, who makes his own bullets and likes to share rightwing hate memes on Facebook. And since we aren’t FB buddies, he sends that crap directly to me. I don’t respond directly. During a heated political discussing in his home during the Clinton administration, he threw me out, calling me a commie and other names because I espoused progressive solutions to gun control. I’ve always found that to be interesting, as I was still in the Army and am the only one of us who served the country in uniform.

The Nel-Spot 007  Co2 powered marking gun, once used by farmers and surveyors. Like my Army TA-50 on display at the Panzer Museum in Munster, Germany (that’s field equipment for you non-soldiers), it is considered vintage.

Back then, I was classified as sharpshooter on the M-16. I was never an expert shot, but I did qualify as expert with grenades from years of experience throwing rocks. Plus, if you’ve ever handled a grenade, you want to throw it as accurately and as far away from yourself as possible. Unlike the fake president, I have respect for grenades. If I had one now, my television would be in grave danger. I used to practice kendo and was okay using edged weapons. On my motorcycle adventures and to this day, I only carry a legal, utilitarian buck knife, never a firearm. In the early days of paintball, I got the original weapon, a Nelson spot marker with oil-based paint that ruined my ripstop jungle fatigues and beret. Unlike #3, I’ve never owned nor felt the need to own a gun, let alone an arsenal.

My replies to my ammosexual younger brother, a former city waste disposal truck driver who can’t drive any more and was lucky not to be fired after a couple of DUIs, were textbook references to the Dunning-Kruger Effect or quotes from wiser men than moi. He couldn’t get the bat off of his shoulder when I replied like that. I reckon it’s because he couldn’t understand what the hell I was trying to tell him–that he’s too stupid to realize that he’s too stupid, thus the way he acts and votes.

Ivar the Boneless, not Jungle Jim the Ammosexual, as seen in the show “Vikings.” A quick note about #4 and Vikings: he introduced me to the show while I visited him in the hospital as he was dying from cancer. Another story for another time.

Any attempt to reason with him about sensible gun laws is wasted oxygen. He was a NRA member for a time, but he’s too cheap to give them welfare. Appealing to him with reason was like trying to get Ivar the Boneless to listen. Being brothers is less important than being a member of Cheeto Mussolini’s cult. Because of his viewpoint, it’s like I lost another brother.


That saddens me more than he’ll ever know.


News I use and other media

Written in my off hours whilst working from home during the COVID-19 zombie apocalypse.

My name is Hans, and I’m a newsaholic.

Actor William Conrad during his radio days, circa 1952. I’ll write more about the baroness’ interaction with him when she appeared on his TV show “Cannon.”

Decades ago I got my first transistor AM radio. Sometimes I’d listen to music, but mostly I kept it tuned to Los Angeles news radio station KNX 1070. On Sunday evenings, KNX broadcast old radio shows such as The Shadow; Fibber McGee & Molly; Gunsmoke (the baroness has a story about working with William Conrad, the star of that show); Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar; and more, introducing me to pre-television entertainment my parents and grandparents listened to. That red and white brick of a radio fired my imagination. It was the news that hooked me. A few years later, I bought a radio that had shortwave frequencies beyond AM and FM.

My dad, an aerospace engineer, worked on the Saturn V engine, and later on the F-14 Tomcat. When I was in elementary school, the rockets were tested five miles away, rattling the earth and sending a huge plume of fire deflected into the sky.

My mom was a local newspaper reporter and my first writing mentor. We had a small library with a bookmobile in our Southern California town, and she encouraged my siblings and I to get library cards. I still have my embossed, original card, which the baroness thinks is just more packrat junk, like my Eastern Airlines salt and pepper packets in commemoration of the first time I flew on an airliner from Los Angeles to Army basic training at Fort Lost in the Woods, MO.  I read a handful of comic books, especially Marvel, when Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were introducing many of the characters of what young’uns know today as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I didn’t get much of my aerospace engineer dad’s math and mechanical capability, a story for another time about growing up with the Saturn V engine.

For online reading, I surf Google News for the daily headlines; some of them I subscribe to or otherwise financially support; I read The Guardian, BBC, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. I like the Washington Post most for political reporting. I also read ThinkPress, Salon, Quartz, For blogs, I’m a big fan of Tengrain’s humorous take on the news at Mock, Paper, Scissors; I know more about baby goats from reading his copy than I ever did, and his palate cleansers are a salve for concentrated news intake. Crooks and Liars is a site I contribute ameros to when John Amato asks for donations, and I particularly admire the writing of Karoli Kuns. I was an early fan of News Hounds because I cannot abide by Fox (and now that upstart rightwing nutjob sycophant OAN) propaganda, but I don’t know how Ellen and her team endure that incessant toxic waste.

I’ll read the New York Times despite its own style. The formality of its style is quaint to the point of distraction. I use the AP Stylebook for work.

I used to regularly read The Huffington Post, but scaled way back a couple of years ago when they got into a side-boob fetish. There’s no shortage of websites with that kind of content. I was just looking for news. These days, I’ll read news links to HP, but I don’t go directly to the site anymore.

For TV news, I watch mostly CNN International at my office (currently my dining room table as I work from home) and avoid other departments’ televisions with Fox or OAN blaring. CNN International has very repetitive vignettes and commercials between segments (the commercials for African telecommunications company Glo are the best, using a mix of humor and examples of Wakanda-esque tech to pitch its products), so I’ll switch over to the BBC. Being overseas, our English language programming is limited, but we do get channels from New York, Chicago and Miami. No California or Hawaii channels, sad to say.

“Adventure Time, c’mon, grab your friends. We’re going to very distant lands with Jake the Dog and Finn the Human. The fun never ends; it’s Adventure Time!”

If I oversaturate on news, there’s another NYC channel for older views where I get my “Sanford and Son” fix, plus staying up way too late, too often, to watch “Adventure Time” on the Cartoon Network (thanks a lot, Netflix, for only having the first six seasons, minus season four, and making me wait until 0:45 a.m. for what you don’t offer overseas).

I follow wire services, too. I read Associated Press, Reuters and similar sources.

Alec Baldwin is Putin us on with his Russian maggot hat.

During the Covid-19 time, I’ve avoided writing about politics and instead tell other stories such as this one and the ones about Baroness Alba vonBeavis. Tengrain, Karoli and others already do a good job for political wonks, and don’t have the time to write a daily blog with my work writing. I compare writing about what I wish versus my job to Nathanial Hawthorne’s The Custom House observation about creativity withering if writers don’t write. I’ll close with a paragraph from Hawthorne.

“Meanwhile, there I was, a Surveyor of the Revenue and, so far as I have been able to understand, as good a Surveyor as need be. A man of thought, fancy, and sensibility (had he ten times the Surveyor’s proportion of those qualities), may, at any time, be a man of affairs, if he will only choose to give himself the trouble. My fellow-officers, and the merchants and sea-captains with whom my official duties brought me into any manner of connection, viewed me in no other light, and probably knew me in no other character. None of them, I presume, had ever read a page of my inditing, or would have cared a fig the more for me if they had read them all; nor would it have mended the matter, in the least, had those same unprofitable pages been written with a pen like that of Burns or of Chaucer, each of whom was a Custom-House officer in his day, as well as I. It is a good lesson–though it may often be a hard one–for a man who has dreamed of literary fame, and of making for himself a rank among the world’s dignitaries by such means, to step aside out of the narrow circle in which his claims are recognized and to find how utterly devoid of significance, beyond that circle, is all that he achieves, and all he aims at. I know not that I especially needed the lesson, either in the way of warning or rebuke; but at any rate, I learned it thoroughly: nor, it gives me pleasure to reflect, did the truth, as it came home to my perception, ever cost me a pang, or require to be thrown off in a sigh. In the way of literary talk, it is true, the Naval Officer–an excellent fellow, who came into the office with me, and went out only a little later–would often engage me in a discussion about one or the other of his favourite topics, Napoleon or Shakespeare. The Collector’s junior clerk, too a young gentleman who, it was whispered occasionally covered a sheet of Uncle Sam’s letter paper with what (at the distance of a few yards) looked very much like poetry–used now and then to speak to me of books, as matters with which I might possibly be conversant. This was my all of lettered intercourse; and it was quite sufficient for my necessities.”



Tales of the Baroness, Part Two


By Baron Hans vonBeavis
Man of a thousand stories

Written in my off hours whilst working from home during the COVID-19 zombie apocalypse. The following is the second in a series of stories about the baroness. These stories are true as she remembers them.


Baroness Alba vonBeavis has many Hollywood anecdotes and adventures from her time as a child star. For as long as I’ve known her, she’s declared she’s going to write an autobiography, then vacillates between telling the truth and dropping names or not. She fears the autobiography will turn out like “Mommy Dearest.” Fortunately for me, she never reads my work, so I’m telling some of her stories here until I get caught. The following is a couple of them …

The baroness got a nice New York Times review performing in a western with a legend of Hollywood’s golden years, an Oscar winner who was in a bit of a slump before he got back firmly in the film industry saddle with some epic movies. Years later, he invited her backstage following a speaking event in Texas. The star remembered her and some specific scenes they’d done together. The baroness recalls that he saved her from injury or worse when they were rehearsing a scene in which she had to leap on to the caboose of a moving train from the platform–she made the jump but missed the handrail, wind-milling backwards and about to fall between train and tracks. He caught her in his arms, something many a lady wished for during his long career. One more thing about that film worth noting is a William Tell scene where the bad guy shoots a cup off of her head using a blank round and an electrically detonated cup made of breakaway glass. It damaged her hearing, which has deteriorated exponentially over her life.

the-road-to-hollywoodAt the time she became famous, Baroness Alba vonBeavis’ mother was an ingénue who submitted to the casting couch as a means to her success. The baroness was gaining traction as a child actress on many popular TV shows and a few movies like the aforementioned western, giving her mother access to movie stars and producers. She had some famous and influential boyfriends whom, according to the baroness, mommy believed was the way to stardom. And I mean really bigtime names. She even got a starring role title in a movie where she had no lines and her character was killed in the first few minutes of the film (that film also was the first on-camera role for the baroness, who wasn’t credited, had no lines and her character was gakked at the same time as her mom bought her cinematic bullet). Mom did get a few bigger role, such as a low-budget 1970s drive-in horror flick, where she appears in the nip. Now in her mid-80s, she was quite a looker back in the day.

One of mom’s on again-off-again boyfriends was Burt Reynolds. I can’t speak to whether or not Reynolds actually had feelings for her mom, as their relationship took place somewhere between Dinah Shore and Loni Anderson, but she thought he was a pathway to Hollywood success. During that time, mom combed Alba’s every script for find a part for herself.


Burt Reynold’s infamous pose for the April 1972 issue of Cosmopolitan.

The baroness is a hugger. At the height of her mom’s relationship with Reynolds, she approached Reynolds from behind as he sat on the sofa and gave him a hug, resting her chin on the top of his head. Reynold’s didn’t mind and accepted the little girl’s embrace. It wasn’t until later that she discovered what she calls “shoe polish” all over her neck and chin. Whatever Reynolds was using to cover his bald spot had been smudged onto her.

At some point, mommy dearest figured out that Reynolds wasn’t really into her and bravely sent the baroness over to his house to return whatever gifts he’d given them, along with his boyfriend pink slip. His butler received the gifts and that was the end of it.

Alba’s French Joke

432px-Tour_Eiffel_Wikimedia_Commons_(cropped)The baroness has always loved the French language. I took her to Paris, her first time, around 2008. Ever since then, she says “Tour Eiffel” like a Parisian. Unlike her friend and peer Brooke Shields (Shields’ mother encouraged their friendship when both were tweens, arguing Brooke needed to have Hollywood friends who were normal, drug-free kids), who earned a degree in Romance Languages , she never put in the dedicated scholastic effort necessary to actually speak fluent French, but she did learn enough phrases to get by. When she was a teen, she took a conversational French class. The teacher told a joke–in English–that she’s repeated over the years whenever she gets the opportunity. Here it is:

poodle“A little American mutt was walking through a park in Paris where he met two fru-fru French poodles. The first poodle said ‘My name is Fifi–that’s spelled F-I-F_I.’ The second poodle said ‘My name is Mimi–that’s spelled M-I-M-I.’

‘Hello, ladies,’ the mutt said. ‘My name is Fido. That’s P-H-Y-D-E-U-X.'”

(In part three, the baroness debates a teacher about a child star needing to learn math, lectures actor Brian Keith on the set of her show, and has a surprising response to a birthday card at a party in Los Angeles that included her TV family, Bond girls and Cmdr. Bond’s nemesis character Jaws, a witness from the OJ Simpson trail, Jethro Bodine and the biggest bar tab I’ve ever paid.)

Tales of the Baroness, Part One

Hollywoodland_Sign.jpgBy Baron Hans vonBeavis
Written in my off hours whilst working from home during the COVID-19 zombie apocalypse.

Every memorable baron has a baroness with superpowers at his side. The following is the first in a series of stories about her. These stories are true as she remembers them.

As I begin to write, my phone plays the ringtone I chose for her: “The World is Not Enough” by Garbage. She gives me a turn-by-turn description of her route as she drives from where she works as an essential worker during these interesting times (in both literal and apocryphal-Chinese meanings). I can visualize where she is, within a military compound somewhere in Europe. It’s a brief interruption, something that writers know well when they’re in composition mode. I recover and continue …

Before her long run on TV and in movies as a child star, the baroness has a bunch of set stories she liked to tell from her earliest days. Kinda like Vaudeville, she had 19 minutes of material that she repeats, so I’ve heard ‘em a lot. Here’s one:

Tricks are for kids

Baroness Alba vonBeavis says that when she was two, she and her young actress mom, at the time pretty and still married to her father while both pursued parts in the industry, were visiting friends somewhere in Hollywood. The adults kicked back in the living room and the kids were playing in another room.

All of the keiki were getting along well. The baroness has never mentioned the ages of the others or how many there were, but she tells it like they were a half-dozen boys and girls about the same age.


A fastidious man who needs no introduction, ’cause it’s in the photo.

The baroness is a bit like the character Monk, in that she notices little things that bug her; slightly open closets or drawers, askew pictures on the wall, if someone’s coffee cup isn’t centered on the mandatory coaster; she’ll rearrange other people’s desks in subtle ways such as aligning the pen and paper block of notes.

When the first child was asked to go into the living room, it was no big deal. Maybe the grownups had mundane intentions. After a few minutes, the first kid was returned to the room and a second child summoned. She noticed and continued playing with the others.

When it happened a third time, her deflector shields went up.

At her tender age, with bit actor and stuntman father and actress mother, mixing with peers, she figured out that the children were being called into the living room to perform some cutesy bit that they knew. It wasn’t anything fancy, no Hamlet or anything like that. It was more like toddlers reciting the alphabet or naming the colors in an eight-count box of crayons.

Finally it was her turn. The baroness was called to perform.

“Alba, count to three in Spanish,” her mother said as the adults quieted down while the curtain rose.

She crossed her arms in a sign of defiance like Black Panther.


“Wakanda forever!” Chadwick Boseman demonstrates how superheroes like the baroness cross their arms in defiance.

“No,” she declared.

The adults swirled their cocktails and snickered. This was a different show.

“Come on. Count to three in Spanish,” her mother tried again, her face darkening in a mix of embarrassment and irritation. “You know how to do it.”

The baroness scowled with the ferocity only a little girl fresh out of diapers can.


Actress Anissa Jones on Family Affair.”Jones was a contemporary child actress at the same time as the baroness, filming at the same time at CBS Studio Center. The baroness’ brother, later to become famous and then infamous, did an episode of Family Affair. RIP, Buffy.

“No,” she repeated, standing her ground.

The other parents were enjoying it and mom was starting to get mad.

“We practiced this. You know how to do it, remember,” tried mom, exasperation growing and her tone sharpening. “Now I want you to do it just like you did at home.”

The baroness shook her head with a slight smile. A Mighty Mouse, sans opera.

“Say uno, dos, tres!” snapped mom.

“Very good,” said the baroness. She curtsied to the other parent’s applause and returned to playing with the other children.

In the part two, the baroness tells her joke about learning to speak French and a secret about Burt Reynolds. 


The Tale of Two R2s 

By Baron Hans vonBeavis
Man of a Thousand Stories


Photo by Bay Area R2 Builders, makers of fine droids.

Going back to elementary school, I’ve known a few folks with the initials R.R. Since the election of the orange President Biff Tannen, I’ve had a falling out with two of them. Both were what I considered good friends; one of them was a best friend from high school.


T x 2, not to be confused with “Terminator 2”; blotchy, orangy, bad-haired orangutans. Photo by CNN Politics

Mind you, there are more people in my life than just the R2 units.  I’ve lost other lifetime friendships with due to Biff. One of the non-R2s, a retired Air Force NCO in his mid-60s who guarded nukes his entire military career, suffered economically post-USAF, and moved in with his mom a couple of years ago, pretty much blamed President Barack Obama and all the rest of we “libtards” for his woes.

The same goes for family. My younger brother, Number Three (there were six of us and we all got the same first name—a story for another time—so we frequently refer to each other by the number of our birth order), is an ardent NRA supporter who never served in the military and once kicked me out of his house because I, a veteran, argued that images-1.jpegimages-2.jpeg

military weapons have no place in American society – sacrilege in his casa! And I cannot have a discussion with my wife’s uncle; the first time I met him, he assumed because I was a soldier that I agreed with that big, fat, lying liar Limbaugh. He moved from California to Arkansas, where his newest, bestest redneck buddies likely view him with a jaundiced eye because of his second wife, a lovely, gentle Taiwanese lady who has been an American since the early 1970s and still speaks English with a strong Chinese accent. He and I just can’t talk anymore, although he still forwards me rightwing internet memes that I delete without comment.  To quote a Chinese proverb (or fortune cookie): It is often better not to see an insult than to avenge one.

imagesBecause they continue to double-down on supporting the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue regardless of his antics, I can no longer pretend that BS about agreeing to disagree. I don’t argue for the sake of argument. I enjoy spirited debate, but when the best response I hear in return to a given point is the either the “Al Bundy Defense,” (simply denigrating one’s opponent, as in saying “Well, you’re a chicken!” or far worse) or the Fox News defense (“I know you are but what am I?”)

I must leave those friends and family behind like drowning victims who frantically and unintentionally try to drown their rescuers; I must remain calm and carry on. It is not what I wish, but if I cannot overcome willful ignorance, I must go forward like the soldier I once was … without them.

Since I can’t get any of them to acknowledge that Biff is an embarrassment for America across the globe and doesn’t have their best interests at heart, this column is dedicated to them. And since I didn’t want to be the jerk in the final conversations with the R2s, I’ll just write about them and how our communications ended.


Ninja One’s bike and namesake.

The Tale of R2-1
R2-1 was one of my two best friends during high school (the other was T2 … a different T2, again not in the Schwartzenegger mold), later known as Ninja One for his choice of motorcycle). The three of us met in 10th grade taking German language and band classes together. I had many reasons to be a close friend to R2-1. He had a dry sense of humor, enjoyed going on adventures on Los Angeles freeways after we got our licenses, and didn’t have a mean bone in his body—then. He later beat me out for marching band drum major and did a great job.

R2-1 came to California from Canada in his youth. His father immigrated from a German-speaking part of the Ukraine, and since his dad, an elementary school principal, spoke fluent Hoch Deutsch, R2-1 did well in that class. He was also a better musician than I was;


“Pollyanna” image courtesy of Disney

I struggled to read music before I got it down.  If I was a Boy Scout who never drank or swore until after I was in the Army a spell, he was a Pollyanna Goodytwoshoes. For example, when the movie “Carrie” came out, R2-1, Ninja One and I went to go see it until R2-1 saw that it was rated R. We were 17 and could see it, but his morality governor compelled him to sit in the car for two hours while Ninja One and I were in the theater.

His family was evangelical Republicans, but he never tried to foist his religion on me. His younger sister was slim and graceful with a beautiful thick mane of red hair … she was one of the many girls I fell in love with during high school. I shared a couple of holiday meals with them and felt close to the whole family.

UnknownPolitically, R2-1 tried to convince me of his conservative views to no avail. Like my wife’s uncle who loves him some Limbaugh, R2-1 gave me a copy of one of the fat ass’ books after I joined the Army. I tried to read it just to better understand my friend, but I don’t think I made it a quarter of the way through the double-spaced screed (and that reminds me of a joke I’ve told for years: What’s the difference between Rush Limbaugh and the Hindenburg? One is a flaming Nazi gasbag; the other is a dirigible.) I later countered by giving him a copy of Al Franken’s book about Limbaugh, “Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot.” R2-1 immediately gave it back to me without even cracking it. Like his religion, he couldn’t entertain a narrative that countered the one he wanted to believe. Never mind that Limbaugh is a douche.

We kept in touch and wrote a lot while I was stationed overseas. We put new stamps on the same envelope and reused it until the USPS refused to accept it any more—I still have that envelope. In the mid-1980s, I visited him while he was doing evangelical missionary stuff in Wakayama City, Japan.


Wakayama, Japan

I brought him ingredients to make Mexican food and we feasted like happy gringos. Again, he imposed no religious views upon me and didn’t browbeat me when I came back from Kyoto after getting drunk at a sushi bar with a senior Japanese policeman whose only English was “John F. Kennedy, number one!” I still have photos from that happy trip.

R2-1 got his pilot’s license and eventually became a copilot for the late Continental Airlines (he now flies for United). He taught me how to fly and we once flew from Burbank in the San Fernando Valley to Palo Alto in the San Francisco Bay area, my longest flight in a Cessna. He married and had two kids.

As the years went by, we were less in touch except for the occasional birthday or Xmas card. We sent each other interesting postcards; he sent cutout photos of the heads of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. I think I sent him a Bill Clinton head postcard. Eventually the creek dried up and we moved our separate ways in life.

I don’t engage in Facebook except for work, where I’m obliged to use social media. In 2016, I found him there and sent him an out-of-the-blue howdy. What I didn’t know was that his wife shares his Facebook page and was responding. Eventually he replied himself and gave me his address in Atlanta, hub city to his airline. I sent him postcards from my travels and our friendship seemed to rekindle … until the orange sphincter

Cheeto Mussolini and his forefather.

came into power, thanks to Facebook, a few million ignorant voters and Russian interference. I was pretty tame in my inquiries; he became more and more agitated that I’d point out the problematic administration, often sending him links to what Cheeto Mussolini calls fake news.

He didn’t answer when I questioned how evangelicals remained in lockstep with that schmuck. After the incident with the Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia, I again asked how he could put his faith in “both sides” bozo. He replied with a rant about how the antifa were far worse. I’d said nothing about them and my last words written to him were: “R2-1, I don’t know what to say.” He responded that he sometimes rants like an old man, but again went to defending Annoying Orange by attacking the counter protesters.


The great Dr. Zaius, missed from the internets.

To date, I haven’t responded. I am sadden by the loss of a good friend. I cannot reconcile R2-1’s support for such an obviously bad orangutan (with apologies to Dr. Zaius).

The Tale of R2-2
I was working in Germany in 2007 when I met R2-2. Like my wife’s uncle, he was on his second spouse, a wonderful Korean lady who is like a beloved princess. Although born a Californian, his family moved to the Midwest when he was a kid. Somewhere during his upbringing in a red state he adopted the rightwing philosophical viewpoint. He, too, became an evangelical.

Some of the grace I give R2-2 is based on his Army service. He retired as a Military Police NCO after courting his second wife while serving in the ROK. R2-2 works for the government as an antiterrorism officer. We enjoyed chugging a few liters of good Bavarian beer together. Like R2-1, R2-2 doesn’t proselytize but turns from sunny to stormy when he talks politics. He once baited me just before a staff meeting, singing the praises of truly crooked Gov. Rick Scott of Florida. Scott had recently been elected, and I’d read up on his antics destroying the healthcare of Middle America. As R2-2 blathered on, it got heated and I referred to Scott by a colorful metaphor involving a sexual act on a part of the male anatomy.


We let that pass and we continued to work and drink together. I’d join him for perimeter sweeps of the garrison compound, picking up trash and noting deficiencies in the fence line. It wasn’t my job, but it got me out of the office on nice days. When we both PCSed in different directions, we stayed in contact.

And then Twitler happened. The sensitivity of Comrade Stupid (h/t to Tengrain) as topic put a chill on our friendship. Politics was off the table for discussion. Then he emailed me regarding a recent story in Stars and Stripes about how federal employees will now be taxed for the cost of their PCS relocation costs. Both of us are working in different countries in Europe. He said he’d written his congressman, and I wrote back “You know who is responsible for that, right?” He didn’t and asked who was.

“The tax cut for rich people was pushed through Congress by Speaker of the House Rep. Paul Ryan (R), House Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R), and signed by the POTUS.”

That was the last I heard from him. Maybe he’ll change his view based on how his wallet is affected, and pigs might fly, but I doubt it.


The politics of vonBeavis
Democrats care about people. Republicans care about people with money. The current occupant of the White House will sign most anything the GOP puts in front of him, and those bills are to benefit of the one percent.

When a Democrat does wrong, he gets canned, pronto. When a Republican does wrong, he gets a show on Fox News or becomes the new head of the NRA.


The fiercest Chihuahua, ever, barks loudest


This gallery contains 11 photos.

By Hans vonBeavis Senior North Korean analyst/train spotter There’s something gruesome, yet fascinating, about North Korea, something akin to watching The Walking Dead or NASCAR accidents. It’s probably why professional freak Dennis Rodman likes Kim Jong Un, the untested, pasty, 30-year-old leader who doesn’t yet have … Continue reading