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 David, 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 David! Uncle David!”  More about Skilleto’s secret identity another time, plus I’ll write more about Bumbler in a future story; today’s story is about Skilletto and his mom.

About 20 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, racially diverse, with a mixture of Hispanics, Europeans, Blacks, Asians and Caucasians. 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 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. The two met at a church function.

A natural storyteller, Toastmaster, stand-up comic and athlete, Skilletto  coaches girls 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 David 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 unashamedly worked for years in Las Vegas as a prostitute, supplementing her income by being on the dole with multiple children out of wedlock. She is a very sweet woman 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 the wisenheimer Stinky for this part.

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.

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

Stinky backed off, only to start telling other guests arriving about how high Skilletto could kick. The 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 and backed off.

Skilletto tells a story about a time when he incurred the wrath of his otherwise gentle, Bible-quoting 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 pointed out.

“I fucked up!”

There’s a certain 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.

MommieDearestBook

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

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.

monk

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.

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“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.

buffy

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 fiercest Chihuahua, ever, barks loudest

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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

Don’t tread on me … except on designated paths

    

Arising from the molten rock, Goddess Pele assumes humanoid form to confront her human tespassers

Arising from the molten rock, Goddess Pele assumes humanoid form to confront her human trespassers. Do they look like vulcanologists to you? (Google Images)

Story transcribed by Benjamin Grimm
from an exclusive talk-story with Madame Pele

Grimm

Grimm

               Mortals from around the world come to admire my beauty, and that’s okay … until they cross the line and get burnt.

                Every year, visitors to the island of Hawaii are injured when they break rules created to keep them safe. Every so often, some humans take the last outrigger from the realm of the living to my realm of immortals long before their time. Between 1992 and 2002, 40 souls took that outrigger, and 45 more suffered serious injury.

                They go off of designated roads and trails of my home, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, to suffer cuts, bruises, burns and broken bones when they tread on a thin bubble of sharp aa or smooth pahoehoe lava beds. Hey, just because I’m cool doesn’t mean you can walk all over me.

                Some bypass barricades put in place to keep them safe from steam vents; others, who don’t find my waters sufficiently warm enough, take to the boiling sea to witness the awesome fury of molten rock billowing under the surface. My reaction to that usually leaves them steamed or hard boiled.

It is prudent counsel to heed a goddess when she tells you to stop.

It is prudent counsel to heed a goddess when she tells you to stop. (Google Images)

                If that doesn’t foment respect, remember I produce what islanders call vog, the toxic fumes that can cause illness. The trade winds usually cause vog to drift away from Hawaii, but it can be lethal when concentrated.

                Park rangers and cultural guides will warn you not to do that, just as they’ll give you fair warning not take what is mine, even a pebble, or face my wrath. Those who do eventually repent and return that which they took, and I grant them grace … but those who trespass across my fields or into my caldera are asking for a Darwin Award. I’ve been in constant eruption since January 1983.

One of the homes destroyed in Kappapana Village. (Google Images)

One of the homes destroyed in Kappapana Village. (Google Images)

In 1992, I burned Kapapana Village completely off the map and eight residences in nearby Kapa’ahu, both built in the red zone (lava flow danger zone.)

                If I have the power to create acres of new land and devour buildings, what makes you think I won’t take action when you ignore the polyglot of warning signs and dare intrude into my fields?

Worshipped by native Hawaiians, Pele Lani is depicted as beautiful yet deadly ... don't cross her!

Worshipped by native Hawaiians, Pele Lani is depicted as beautiful yet deadly … don’t cross her! (Google Images)

                I’m not saying you have to worship me. The Hawaiian people consider my realm, which includes the largest active volcano on Earth, sacred. Their worship for me, who created their islands, is enough. And I’m a powerful goddess who respects warriors so long as they respect me. In fact, military and DOD civilians are welcome to see my majesty from the safety and comfort of Kilauea Military Camp, one of a only a few lodgings actually within the 330,000 acre national park.

HawaiiMapDETAIL3

KMC has been around for decades and it is yours to visit. You can safely hike miles of designated trails or hike my 14,000 tall peak. You can tour lava tubes and see flora and fauna unique to my park.

                I cannot say the same for those who get too close without an invitation. If you respect my privacy and follow the national park safety rules, you’ll say “Aloha” with a smile and warm memories.

                However, if you dare go hiking or swimming where rangers and common sense say you shouldn’t, don’t be surprised if things get warmer than you expected.

Mahalo,

Pele Lani

(Editor’s note: The author intends no disrespect to those Kamaʻāina who pay homage to the ancient Hawaiian gods, and channeled Madame Pele for the sole purpose of promoting safety on her lands for military personnel stationed in the 50th state. Also, the author’s pen name was chosen due to his volcanic-looking face and physique, and doesn’t actually say things like “It’s clobberin’ time!”)