Friday, January 30, 2015

Honeymoon Suite

This is chapter 35 of The Matriarchy, a serial fiction novel on FITK

“Today’s goal: total bliss, or a suitable facsimile of same.”

Mary’s comment came out of the blue as Mary and Sean were heading Southeast on Iowa 76. Sean was driving.

“Our mission impossible?” said Sean.

“When expressed as a postulate, it sounds kind of insane. What constitutes unmitigated pleasure?” said Mary, “Is it a state achievable to a discerning mind, or does bliss require the loss of mind, i.e., the loss of self?”

“Some people think of love as a state of having lost their mind,” replied Sean, “Which begs the question: if ‘love’ was ruled by the head and not the ‘heart’, how long would it take humanity to become extinct?”

“Some cultures already are headed that way. But there is no shortage of new people. Animal instincts can only be overcome by intense civilization,” Mary said, “My animal instincts are insisting that we stop: I have to pee.”

“There’s a National Monument ahead; it has a visitor center. Can civilization dominate your animal instincts for a few more minutes?” Sean said, “The place has the evocative name of Effigy Mounds.”

“That would be fine. I could use a little stroll among the effigies.”

The visitor headquarters was nearly empty. While Mary used the facilities, Sean browsed the exhibits. When Mary returned, they paid the fee and began to walk the path up a large hill to where the mounds had been constructed over a thousand years ago.  It was a challenging hike, taking almost a half an hour to reach the top. The mounds themselves were low and not very large. They were formed in stylized shapes of animals and birds.

“Sensing anything here?” asked Sean.

“Only echoes,” said Mary, “This is an old place. I am picking up on a sense of community, of people working together—as if this was the setting for an ancient mystery play.  Perhaps, when I’ve finished my ‘initiation’, I’ll be able to fully comprehend the experience. It is a peaceful place, though. I don’t sense any underlying sadness.” After a few minutes of wandering between the mounds Mary said: “I’ve seen enough, let’s go back to the car.”

Once they entered Wisconsin the land opened up and the scenery was, at times, spectacular. Mary was quiet—enthralled—during the rest of the trip. It was after five by the time they entered the town of Mineral Point. Sean had pulled up in front of The Brewery Creek Inn.

“We’ve arrived. Our secret honeymoon destination,” said Sean.

“A brewpub?” Mary said, giving Sean a quizzical look. “I’m not doing much drinking these days.”

“This is where we check in, not where we’re staying," said Sean, “Are you ready to begin your lifetime of marital bliss?”

“The premarital bliss has worked out OK so far, so I guess that I’m in,” said Mary, “Put your ring on.”

Inside, the Pub was filling up, but the bartender took a break from serving to sign them in. He exchanged the usual pleasantries with the couple:

“First time in Mineral Point?”

“I'm picking up a weird vibe from this guy,” thought Mary, “Keep it formal.”

“Yes,” said Sean.

“You’ve booked The Miner’s Cabin: Continental Breakfast, the fridge is stocked, just let me know if there’s anything you’ll be needing.” The bartender eyed Mary surreptitiously.  You’ll be here Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, right?”

“Yes. That’s right,” Sean said.

“Checkout is at 11. There is a parking spot on the north side of the cabin. The cabin is unlocked. The keys are on the kitchen counter.”

Back in the car, Sean exchanged thoughts with Mary.

“Did you figure out where that guy was coming from?” thought Sean.

“It might have been some repressed racism,” thought Mary.

“Or he was jealous of me. You don’t need a ring to see your ‘aura.’ Pregnancy suits you,” thought Sean.

“Tell me about my aura when I’m puking,” thought Mary. “But thanks for the compliment.”

“The cabin is a couple of blocks away,“ thought Sean, “I’m taking off the ring. Distracted driving, y’know. Worse than texting.”

What kind of place is this?” said Mary, as she gazed at the stone facades of the old buildings which lining the street.

“This was a mining ‘boom town’ in the 1830s,” said Sean, “We’ll be staying in one of the oldest houses.”

The Miner’s cabin was deceptively large. From the street, it appeared to be the size of a single car garage. The front room was comfortably furnished with overstuffed chairs and a sofa. A pair of filled bookshelves flanked a fireplace; the walls were tastefully decorated with what appeared to be original art.  An open doorway led to a series of additions: a kitchen, a bedroom, and a small bath. The kitchen had a fireplace as well. On one of its walls was a mysterious black door, flanked by two carved kitchen chairs.

“That door, with those chairs, looks like a metaphor for our marriage: one chair is you, one is me, and the black door symbolizes what lies ahead for us,” said Mary.

“I can see that,” said Sean, “Shall I open it?”

“Do you think it wise?” said Mary, smiling, “I think the bedroom door holds the key to our immediate future.”

“Of course,” said Sean, “Rings on or off?”

Mary stared deeply into Sean’s eyes.

“On,” she said.


By Professor Batty

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Too Many Steves

   1950 was the year that the boy's name Steven, Stephen or Steve reached its highest popularity in the US. Eighteen years later, out of 189 total boys names, my high school graduating class had a total of 18 Steves ! It was common to have three or more Steves in a single classroom, it would be rare if there wasn't at least one.  IRL I'm a Stephen; I used to obsess about it, mentally linking my name to famous Stephens, now it hardly matters. Another Steve from my high school class runs what I call "The A.V. Club": an every-other-month meeting where six to 10 of us get together and conduct elevated discourses on The Great Ideas of Western Civilization, or something to that effect. There have been as many as four Steves at that table; an astounding ratio. We joke that there has to be at least two to make a quorum. The Steve who organizes the club meetings also runs the class reunions and keeps tab of vital statistics. Whenever a classmate passes away he sends out emails with a link to the obit. A Steve showed up in one of these communications the other day, we lost one in college, and another a couple of years ago. Not so many Steves now—I should be thankful, it could have been me..

   The surviving Steve's could chip in a few bucks and buy some appropriate Steve related memorabilia, last Steve standing takes all—a comedy record by Steve Allen, the biography of Steve Jobs, a travel DVD from Rick Steves and, dare I say, a Stevie Nicks solo album?

By Professor Batty

Comments: 3 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Reading Between the Lines

Dear M—,

I read your eloquent post today, the one explaining your recent hiatus. I’ve always admired your site and how you kept it fresh for so many years. It has been a continued inspiration. I can’t count the number of posts I’ve made emulating the style and content of yours. Your other work—your short stories and your novel—have inspired me even further. They were the nudge which turned the Flippist ‘key’ enough to open the door to my own long-form writing; something I’ve been meaning to do since I was a child.

When you stopped posting last fall, I knew there were reasons behind it. I’m beginning to think that there are infinite reasons for stopping a blog but not many rational ones for continuing one. That said, emotions and the longings of the heart are never rational. It’s the ‘real-life’ storyteller's dilemma: always trying to relate a narrative which one only sees a small part of, with ever-changing plot lines, told to a world of indifference and incomprehension. In your post you crystallized the only real reason to continue: it is a calling.
“ …sometimes you are called to do something that you may not even enjoy all the time, but that compels you in both internal and external ways to take part in… ”
I couldn’t have said it any better myself. You mentioned that you had receded from all forms of social media, that I can understand. The ‘noise’ you referred to is the flip side of being interconnected. Not a malevolent force but, rather, a dumb colossus that roams the web, crushing subtlety and beauty under its mass of inanity and commerce.

Of course, it is different now, different than it was at the time you started you endeavor. I can’t imagine living the way you must, among a throng of strangers, in great numbers, overwhelming what is basically just a small city. My early visits to your town, in the off-season, were to a place that has now changed in many ways. But the moments I remember and cherish most were those of quiet and gentle interactions with the people, the people who have always made your city such a special place. I may not return, but those days and nights I spent there will never leave me, as long as my memory persists.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 3 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Edwin’s Story

This is chapter 34 of The Matriarchy, a serial fiction novel on FITK

The group returned to the Carroll farm. Mary thought that Edwin seemed apprehensive; that he was hiding his feelings behind a forced smile. She was surprised, however, at Tina’s cheerful disposition.  After they were all in the house, Mary excused herself to change clothes and Tina went into the kitchen to make some coffee.

“Tina said that you spent a lot of time with my grand-uncle Henry,” said Sean, “Let’s go out to his workshop, you could tell me about working with him when you were young.”

 Edwin brightened at the suggestion of leaving the house. “Ya, that’s a good idea.”

“We’ll be out in the workshop!” Sean yelled to Tina.

Henry’s workshop was an addition, just a shed that had been tacked onto the far end of the barn. Everything was covered in dust—even some of Henry’s old work clothes were still hanging on the wall.

“It’s just junk now… ” said Edwin, as he looked around the room, “… nobody wants rusty old tools. Decorators used to buy this kind of stuff—in the seventies and eighties. I sold a lot of it to people from Chicago, but not so much anymore. Young people don’t want to look at old things.” He picked up a large clamp with wooden jaws. The worm gear was a mass of rust and the wood had turned gray and split. “If this was in decent shape it might fetch forty dollars, or it might not. I’ve had a couple of nice ones in my store for years: no takers.”

“Henry was Emily’s brother.  Did they get along?” said Sean.

“Oh, Henry would get mad at her sometimes, mad at the way Emily would come home and then leave again. But he didn’t stay mad. He could never understand what Emily was going through but he did say that she got her wildness from their mother. Her mother was from gypsy stock, from what I've heard. His father had met her in New York, in the eighteen-nineties. Brought her, and her mother, Emily’s grandmother, out here, out to Iowa. Henry told me that he took after his father while Emily was a lot like her mother.”

“What do you think happened to Emily?”

“I… ” Edwin stopped talking and shook his head.

“There you two are,” said Mary, who had just walked into the barn, “I hope I’m not interrupting.”

“We were talking about Emily,” said Sean, as he put his hand into his pocket and slipped the wedding ring on his finger, “I asked him what had happened to Emily but he doesn’t want to talk about it,” thought Sean.

“Let me talk to him, alone,” thought Mary, “and let me have your ring,” she thought, taking it from his finger.

“I’ll see how Tina's doing with the coffee,” Sean said, and turned to go.

Mary could see that Edwin was agitated: “I’m sorry, it was my idea to ask you about Emily. Sean didn’t mean to upset you.”

“No, it’s OK, I’m alright,” said Edwin, “I will tell you what I saw, what I saw through Emily's foresight.”

“With the rings?” asked Mary, “You used the rings with Emily?”

“Yes. We used them. She wanted to let me know what she could see—so that her secrets wouldn’t be lost. That’s why, when you came into the shop for the first time, I gave you the book.  I had seen you before, you see, in Emily's visions. She gave me the rings and the book because she already knew that she might not come back. She had seen her own future.”

“Edwin, would you put this ring on?” said Mary, handing him Sean’s band. “I want to know everything, I think it might be easier this way.”

“No. I’m too old. It takes a lot out of a person, it could kill me. I won’t do it again,” Edwin said, “It’s yours to use with Sean. It’s good, now that you’re married. It will bind you together, but be careful in the way you use them.”

“Did you ever go too far when you used the ring with Emily?”

“Once, when we were making love. That was going too far,” he said, “It spoiled me, it spoiled my relations with women, that is. How could I date the silly girls around here when I had been to paradise?”

Edwin’s candor took Mary by surprise. There was an awkward pause until Mary spoke:

“Thank you for talking about this, Edwin. I appreciate it. I’m just trying to understand. Let’s go inside, the coffee is ready.”

The foursome sat around the kitchen table drinking coffee. Edwin had calmed down and was even exchanging words with Tina, asking her about her moving sale, and how she’d take to living in the assisted living facility.

“I’m sick of living alone,” said Tina, “I could use some assisting.”

“I’ve thought about giving up the shop, too,” said Edwin, “I should sell the building and dump all the junk I’ve collected.”

“I would bet that a dealer would be glad to take your stock,” said Sean, “Your stock is a lot better than the usual stuff you see in antique stores.”

“That may well be,” said Edwin, “I could really use a change in scenery as well.”

“Edwin, you don’t have to be a stranger, you know,” said Tina, “We could get together for coffee, sometimes.”

“Sean, will you come upstairs, I want some help in packing,” said Mary, as she gave him a little kick under the table.

“Tina, Edwin, would you excuse us?” said Sean. “We’ll be back down in a little while and can take you back into town when we leave.”

“Take your time, children,” said Tina, “Take your time.”


By Professor Batty

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Sofia's World

   I've been on a bit of a film jag lately, I've used the time to fill in my knowledge of one of the most unique (and somewhat controversial) modern film directors, Sofia Coppola. Her 1999 debut feature, The Virgin Suicides, was praised while her next film, Lost in Translation, won an Oscar for her original screenplay. Her later films were not as well received, in 2006 Marie Antoinette had mixed reviews. I thought that Jason Schwartzman was miscast as Louis XVI and the modern soundtrack was disconnected from the sumptuous visuals.

   These early films share a theme of young women trying to find their own place in the world, a world which would rather define it for them. There are never any easy answers in Sofia's films and some people feel that there aren't any endings either. This was especially true in her 2010 feature Somewhere, in which a bored and dissolute B-list celebrity halfheartedly tries to connect with his teen-aged daughter. It is probably Sofia's most personal film, reflecting she experienced growing up in the shadow of her father, Francis Ford Coppola.

   In 2013 The Bling Ring was quite a different film. Based on the true story of a group of teens who would burglarize celebrities' homes by using social and entertainment media to figure out when they could break-in. Extremely well done, with a great performance by Emma Watson, but the emptiness of the characters may leave the viewer with a bitter aftertaste.

   I enjoyed all of these films, but be aware they are not plot-driven. If you need a strong story arc and a satisfying resolution you will find these movies boring and dull. But Sofia's vision is consistent, and all of them will spur further discussion. 

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Naked Lunch

This is chapter 33 of The Matriarchy, a serial fiction novel on FITK

The wedding party left the courthouse and walked the two blocks to the Hotel Winneshiek. Although the restaurant was nearly empty, there were still a few hotel patrons lingering over breakfast. The maitre ’d gestured that they could sit wherever they cared to. After they sat down, a young woman in a chic black dress walked over to their table.

“Hello, my name is Shelley, I’ll be your server today. The lunch menu won’t be in effect until eleven,” she said, “Can I get you started with a beverage?”

“I’d like a glass of orange juice please,” Tina said, “Edwin?”

“Just water for me,” he said.

“I'd like some juice as well, ” said Mary, “Sean here will have coffee; cream, no sugar.”

“I’ll have those right up. Will you be staying for lunch?”

“Yes, yes indeed. Shelley, would you be so kind as to take our picture?” asked Sean, handing her his phone.

“I’ll be glad to. Did you just get married?” said Shelley, eying Mary’s dress.

“Yes,” Mary said, smiling.

After the server took pictures and left, Sean looked at Mary and said: “You read my mind."

“Yes I did, and you should be able to read mine as well,” Mary thought.

Sean sat up with a start upon the realization that he was aware of Mary’s thoughts.

“I can. How is this possible?” he thought.

“The rings… ” thought Mary, holding her left hand up to her face, “… more of Emily's magic. I also know what you were thinking about that server’s legs.”

“This is going to be an interesting meal,”  thought Sean.

“A naked lunch,“ thought Mary, “Don’t worry, Sean, I always knew when you were thinking about other women.”

“Excuse me for asking,” said Edwin, “But are you two going on a honeymoon?”

“Yes, although that’s Sean's little secret,” said Mary, “We’re leaving this afternoon for parts unknown,” Mary noticed that Sean had discreetly removed his wedding band when Edwin asked about the honeymoon, “I hope he knows what he’s doing.”

“It’s been hard, keeping it a secret,” Sean said, giving Mary an impish glance, “But I’m sure Mary will like it. We’ll be back Sunday, to finish up helping Tina with the house.”

Shelley returned with their beverages.

“It’s been so nice to have them here, they’ve been so helpful, and now, having this wedding,” said Tina, “And having Emily… involved, it has been quite a week. I’ve always thought that there needed to be some answers to my mother’s disappearance and now, with Mary’s help, I think that we may finally have a resolution.”

Mary suddenly became quite still. A sensation of coldness enveloped her. Sean put his ring back on his finger. He couldn’t sense what Mary was thinking, however, and when she opened her mouth and began to speak it was not Mary, but the voice of another:

“Dearly beloved, we are here to celebrate the union of this man and woman,” said Emily, “And to celebrate the continuation of The Matriarchy. A toast to the young couple, a toast to the old couple, and a toast to the baby girl who will usher in the new age.”

Mary regained her composure. A nervous shiver ran through the other members of the group as they sat in silence. Finally, Edwin spoke:

“A toast it is then!” he said, raising his water glass, "To Mary and Sean!”

“And to Edwin and Tina!” said Sean, raising his coffee. Tina and Edwin blushed.

“And to the baby!” said Tina, lifting her juice glass. “Evidently Emily knows that it’s a girl.”

“And to Emily,” said Mary, “A toast to Emily, and to The Matriarchy.”

Sally O’Donnell tried Molly Berenson’s number again. She was just about to hang up when a woman’s voice answered:

“Who is it?” said the voice on the phone.

“Hello, my name is Sally O’Donnell, is this Molly?”

The phone clicked and the line went dead. Sally realized that she would have to try another approach.

“Edwin, tell me, do you have any more of Emily’s effects?” said Mary, as they were eating, “And that curious shop of yours, is it really a business?”

“The shop? I have to have something to do with my time. I do sell some things occasionally. To pay for the heat,” he said, “As far as Emily’s effects are concerned, you have it all.”

“Edwin,” began Tina, “Why don’t you come out to the farm with us, to look over Emily’s things, you can talk to Mary about Emily there.”

“Yes do come, we’re not leaving until three,” said Sean, “That will give us plenty of time to talk.”

“I need to get out of this dress and pack a few things, but there will have plenty of time,” said Mary, “I need to get Edwin up in Emily’s studio. There’s more to that story than what I’ve been told,” thought Mary.

“Be gentle with him, he’s an old man,” thought Sean.

“I think that he and Emily have worn these rings together. He’s still hiding something.”


By Professor Batty

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Jóhann Jóhannsson

Jóhann performing with Apparat Organ Quartet, Reykjavík, 2006

   Congrats to my favorite Icelandic film composer, who won the Golden Globe for best original score for the film The Theory of Everything. I've been a big fan of his for a long time: I've seen him perform numerous times, both in Iceland and Minnesota. I've also enjoyed several of his CD's, orchestral works as well as electronica from Apparat Organ Quartet and even pop music from Unun. I probably enjoy his music from the stage play Englabörn the most. Any of the titles listed at the links are great.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 4 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Frankie Lee

Clown Lounge, The Turf Club, Saint Paul Minnesota, January 4, 2015

   Frankie Lee is a Minnesota based singer-songwriter. We go back together a long way—all the way you could say. I was working sound for a band in the Seventies, a blue-eyed soul group which had some success. Frankie Lee's dad was in the group, the guys in the band were tight, most had grown up together and when we started our families Frankie Lee spent a lot of time with our boys.  Frankie was a regular kid; his only unusual early childhood trait was his habit of slipping out of his clothes.

   But kids grow up and as he did Frankie took to walking in his late father's musical footsteps. I went to see him perform a few days ago, in a strange little place in Saint Paul. He had a good turnout—his band was tight, they were a group of people who had played together a lot. They started out with a ripping rendition of John Lennon's Don't Let Me Down. The somewhat awkward layout of the club made it hard to see the performers but it was a cool scene, nonetheless.

   It is always a bittersweet occasion to see the kids of my old band mates perform. Especially so in Frankie's case, he looks a lot like his late father. He's moved on though, taking his own path. Best of luck Frankie, sorry I didn't stay to the end. I could make a lame excuse, perhaps about being too old to stay out late, but really it was just a matter of too many memories.

Frankie Lee will be appearing every Sunday in January at The Turf Club.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Friday, January 09, 2015

With This Ring…

This is chapter 32 of The Matriarchy, a serial fiction novel on FITK

“I’ll be with you in a minute,” shouted Edwin from his office after Mary, Sean, and Tina had entered his curio shop. A few minutes later he walked out, “My, Mary, you look stunning in that dress! Hello, Tina, you are looking fine today as well.”

“Hello, Edwin,” said Tina, curtly, “Come along now, it’s almost ten.  And what have you there, in your hand?”

“I was wondering if you have need of some wedding rings,” Edwin said, opening a small box. “Emily gave them to me for safekeeping before she left.”

The rings were unadorned; one was larger than the other. Mary looked closely at the smaller one and tried it on.

“It fits, and it goes perfectly with Emily’s grandmother’s ring,” Mary said, holding her hand up. “Sean, how does the other one fit?”

“It’s a little loose, but should be fine. I hadn’t thought of getting a band. What can I give you for these?”

“You can give me what I paid for them—nothing. I’m thinking that Emily would want you two to have them.” said Edwin.

The courthouse was a short walk from Edwin’s shop. Once inside, they found the Judge’s office. His secretary greeted them.

“You can go in now,” she said, motioning toward the door of the Judge’s chambers. “He’s expecting you.”

The judge was older than Mary had expected and possessed a gravitas suitable to the occasion. Mary could tell by his smile that he knew both Tina and Edwin, as well as their histories. He shook hands with everybody. After exchanging pleasantries and giving the couple copies of their vows, he positioned the group and began:

“Welcome to family and friends. We are here to participate in a wedding. By this act, we unite Sean Carroll and Mary Robinson as husband and wife. What we do today is done in conformity with the laws of the state of Iowa, and in the tradition of all places and times. Sean and Mary, you stand before me having requested that I marry you to each other. Do you both do this of your own free will, with no pressure upon you from other persons?”

 Mary, looking at Sean, thought about how they had come to be together—almost effortlessly—as natural as any relationship could be. Sean, looking at Mary, was struck with an awareness of the totality her being; his love for her was almost overwhelming.

“We do.”

“Do any of the witnesses know of any reason why we may not legally continue with this wedding?”

Tina glanced quickly at Edwin and, seeing him looking at her, quickly looked away.

“Edwin is a decent enough man, even though he has gotten a bit dotty, no worse than the rest of us, I suppose," she thought.

Edwin had been looking at Tina since they entered the chambers. He thought: "Tina still looks pretty good for her age, better than most of them. Of course, most of them are dead."

“We do not,” said Tina and Edwin, reading from their script.

“Then let us continue. Sean, if it is your desire to become the husband of Mary, then repeat after me: I, Sean, take you, Mary, to be my wife. In this moment, I promise before these witnesses to love you and care for you all of our days. I accept you with your faults and your strengths, even as I offer myself with my faults and strengths. I promise to support you when you need support and to turn to you when I need support. I choose you as the one with whom I will spend my life.”

As Sean recited his vows, he thought that whoever wrote them had a good idea of makes a relationship work. Mary had already supported and cared for him far beyond what he could have imagined when he first met her.

“I, Mary, take you, Sean, to be my husband. In this moment, I promise before these witnesses to love you and care for you all of our days. I accept you with your faults and your strengths, even as I offer myself with my faults and strengths. I promise to support you when you need support and to turn to you when I need support. I choose you as the one with whom I will spend my life.”

As Mary read the vows she thought of Sean's selflessness in his support of her, in her business, and now in this dual adventure: Her pregnancy and Emily’s appearances. “Is Emily going to become a pregnancy complication?” she thought.

“Sean and Mary, you have shared promises in our presence. Do you have a token or symbol which you wish to exchange?”

“We do.”

“Sean, give your token to Mary and repeat these words:”

"I, Sean Allen Carroll, give you, Mary Wilma Robinson, this ring as a constant reminder of the promises we exchanged today. As you receive it, receive my promise of faithfulness to you.”

Sean placed the ring on Mary's finger. It might have been the light, but he thought he could see a faint aura around the band as it settled into place.

“Mary, give your token to Sean and repeat these words:”

"I, Mary Wilma Robinson, give you, Sean Allen Carroll, this ring as a constant reminder of the promises we exchanged today. As you receive this ring, receive my promise of faithfulness to you.”

Mary could sense Sean's overall aura brighten as she placed the ring on his finger. She definitely saw an aura form around his wedding band, “These are no ordinary rings,” she thought.

“Sean and Mary, you have exchanged your promises and given and received tokens in my presence. By these acts, you have become husband and wife. According to the laws of the state of Iowa, I hereby pronounce you are husband and wife. You may seal your promise with a kiss.”

As Sean and Mary embraced, Edwin gently clasped Tina’s hand.

Tina did not pull it away.


By Professor Batty

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Good Ol’ Freda

Of all the movies I’ve seen about The Beatles (collectively and individually), Good Ol’ Freda is by far the most honest and human. Freda Kelly was a seventeen-year-old woman working as a typist when she, through an unlikely chain of events, became the groups” secretary and head of the Official Beatles Fan Club, a position she held longer than The Beatles were a band. Motherless, and with a stern and much older father, Freda soon became part of the “Beatles family”, with very close relationships to the Starkeys (“Richie's” mum and dad), the Harrisons, as well as Paul’s father and stepmother. Her no-nonsense style and absolute commitment to The Beatles, both professionally and privately, is a welcome respite from all those sordid show-biz insider tell-all stories. It also gives glimpses of The Beatles when they weren’t in the limelight and of the unique relationships she had with each of them. It is filled with many never before seen photos and has a great soundtrack.

She had never cashed in on her fame (she was still working full time when she was seventy) and most of her memorabilia had been donated to charity auctions years ago. She still retained many of her most personal items; the sequence in which she digs them out of the attic is one of the most touching parts of the movie.

Intensely private (her own daughter said that 95% of the film was news to her), she came to the realization that most of the people involved in the story were already gone, and it was a case of "now or never." It was directed by Ryan White, the son of a family friend who grew up knowing her, but had no idea of her role in the Beatles story. He has created an extremely personal and unassuming film; in an interview ‘extra’ it is obvious how much affection and respect he has for Freda. Available at the link and on Netflix.

Highest recommendation.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 3 

Tuesday, January 06, 2015


Evil Clowns, unknown artist, collection of The Clown Lounge. Scariest picture I could find.

The weaver just got hit with an email malware virus. The attack works like this:

The email is FROM SOMEONE SHE KNEW, the innocuous message it contained was about "seasons greetings" with a link.


Opening it will send the message to everyone on your contact list.

It may corrupt your contacts.

It will cause everyone who receives it to suffer the same fate.

Some recipients (i.e. financial advisors) have then been asked for a transfer of funds.

Follow-up emails will say "Important Information" or something similar in the header, evidently in a 'phishing' scheme of some sort.

The emails originate in Seri Kembangan, Selangor, Malaysia and are sent via Google Chrome.

Once again, DON'T OPEN THE LINK!

As much as I hate to say it, but it has come to this: Never open any link in an email, even if it is from someone you know, unless it is something you are expecting, and even then be careful.

I didn't open it, so any of you who receive emails from me on occasion should be OK.


By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Monday, January 05, 2015

Endless Summer

Coney Island, circa 1961, photographer unknown

   So fine and young and living in an endless summer.

   Except that the summer did end, of course it did.

   Yet somehow lives on in this discarded snapshot.

   Does the sun still warm the sand? Yes it does.

   Does the surf still kiss the shore? Yes it does.

   Does that girl still exist? Oh yes, yes she does.

   There she is—waiting for you.

   Waiting for your return, your return to the endless summer

   In a world made of silver and paper and dreams.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Friday, January 02, 2015

Bedroom Conversations

This is chapter 31 of The Matriarchy, a serial fiction novel on FITK

Later that night, in bed, Sean and Mary were talking.

“The question is, are you really ready to marry a witch?” said Mary. “It isn’t too late to back out.”

“The question is, are you ready to marry into a family with this history?” Sean said.

“I would think that that is a valid question for almost all couples, although in your case I think that the witch part is more pressing issue than any concern I may have about your relatives,” Mary said.

“Do you consider yourself a witch?” asked Sean, “How do you define the word?”

“It’s becoming obvious that my experiences in the last few days are a form of ritual initiation through revelation,” said Mary, “Whatever term one might use, the result is indistinguishable from what would commonly be referred to as witchcraft. I’d prefer not to call it that—it is such a loaded term—and still a pejorative for most people. I’m sorting through a lot of this stuff. What I’ve come up with so far is this: I’m in a special situation, even though it is obvious that what I’m going through has happened many times in the past and will continue to happen. Historically, I don’t have to tell you what happened to witches in the past. I think that now I am in a position to go much further in spreading the acknowledgment of this advanced state of human awareness, hopefully without having to become a martyr.”

“Why is this important?” asked Sean.

“The ecological crises of the modern world demand a profound change in the collective psyche.  With the new interconnected world, via the internet, there is an unprecedented opportunity to effect great changes in a very short time, even though the forces against such a change are formidable and ruthless,” said Mary, “We have to restore the world to a healthy balance; our Mother is dying.”

After a pause, Sean said: “Okay. That makes sense to me. You’ll need a good data wrangler, I’m at your service. I can give you a great recommendation from my previous employer.”

“I’ll run it by HR,” said Mary, smiling, “I take that as a yes, that you’re still up for  the wedding?”

“We’ll get married at ten, have a luncheon with Tina and Edwin, and then depart for three nights of marital bliss,” said Sean, “I told Tina that we would be back Sunday afternoon. After that, we’ll return to your plan for world domination.”

“After our honeymoon,” began Mary, “And when I finish with the remaining portals, we’ll head back to Seattle. There will be a lot for us to do there: wrapping up any loose ends from the ADR sale, deciphering Emily’s books, dealing with Roger Ramsen, and getting ready for the baby. I don’t even have a doctor.”

“Have you told your stepmother yet?” said Sean.

“No, but I’ve been thinking about it. I need to talk to her—find out more about my background—find out where I came from. I have a feeling that it may be very important.”

Þora Maria Sigmundsdóttir woke to the sound of her son’s laughter over the baby monitor. Although it was four in the morning, the Icelandic sunlight was already peeking around the edges of the dark shade on the window. “Jæja,” she muttered. The longer days were welcome but they were definitely a problem when it came to toddlers getting up early. “At least young Vilhjálmur Stefán is happy,” she thought, donning her robe and slippers to check in on the tot. Entering his room, she saw that he was standing in his crib, holding on to the rail with one hand and waving the other as he bounced up and down. She thought:  “He’ll have to get a youth bed soon; he’ll be climbing out of the crib any day now.” She watched him for a few moments until she figured out what he was laughing at.  A stuffed toy puffin, hovering near the child's crib, was floating about the room—following the motions of where the boy was pointing.

“Vilhjálmur!” she said.

The child turned his head to look at her and the bird tumbled to the floor. Þora picked him up and held him, looking into his eyes.

“Hvers konar skepna ertu?” she said.

Vilhjálmur laughed.

Although Mary had been asleep for some time, Sean was still wide awake. Propping his head in his hand, he watched Mary sleeping, the faint glow of the yard light was just bright enough to enable him to discern her facial features. He thought that she was dreaming;  he could see her eyes moving rapidly under their eyelids. She began to smile and, as her grin grew larger, she opened her lips and made a laughing sound; garbled but unmistakable. The sound made Sean smile and he lowered his head and closed his eyes.

“Things are going to be alright,” he thought, “Everything will be alright.”

In a minute he was asleep.


By Professor Batty

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