Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Responsibility part 2

My faith in my fellow Utahns is restored. Just when I thought I'd read the last of the stories on female teachers taking advantage of young boys I found this story in my local Salt Lake City newspaper for October 28. A 31-year-old woman, Andrea L. Billingsley,* a teacher aide at a middle school, was arrested for having sex with two 15-year-old boys, "forcible sexual abuse, forcible sodomy and dealing pornography to minors." The boys were part of an in-school suspension behavior problems unit. The boys told some of their buddies and now the teacher is in deep trouble. Way to go, Andrea! You're more proof that we are the home of gals who are hard up for hardons. Guys, move here. The older women are just lusting to get your young stuff.

After I wrote the other day about taking responsibility for one's actions, even if they result in the death of others, I was reminded by my wife of something that happened some years ago. I had nearly forgotten these events from more than a decade ago:

Susie was a secretary in one of our schools. She was well-liked by her female coworkers and loved by the men. She was in her late twenties, a mom with a couple of kids. She was cute, petite and vivacious. She was perfect for meeting the public and she was smart. She had her difficult job down pat. Being smart at her job didn't protect her from Principal R., a known womanizer who had been passed from school to school because of his problems keeping his hands off female employees. By transferring him to Susie's school the school district was essentially putting Susie in harm's way.

It wasn't long before there was a buzz about Principal R. and Susie. With him it usually didn't take much time once he had identified his target and zeroed in. He was a short man, balding, but handsome, athletic, trim and oozing rakish charm.

No one knows exactly what happened but one day Susie announced she was quitting. I'd heard about her and Principal R. and figured it might have something to do with that. When she told me she was leaving she said, "I want to spend more time with my husband and kids." Aha. The old "want to spend more time with my family" excuse! Right, you're having an affair, and your husband has found out. It's causing problems and you want out and away from your lover so you can save your marriage. Gotcha.

Susie went to work at the same Post Office where her husband worked, so they were able to wangle concurrent schedules and commuted together. She had been gone for several months when we got some terrible news. There had been a freeway crash and Susie was dead. She had been thrown under the dashboard and killed.

Here's the responsibility part: Since we assume Principal R. was the reason that Susie left her job at the school district, is she dead because of it? Does Principal R. bear any responsibility once she leaves his employ and he's no longer in her life? There just aren't enough facts for me to tell. At some point Principal R. was transferred to the district office so they could keep an eye on him. A couple of years later he was allowed to "retire," and the Superintendent, who had allowed Principal R.'s blatant sexual harassment followed him into "retirement" sometime later. The Board of Education might not have factored Susie's death into the equation, but at least they figured they'd had enough of Principal R. and the culture of moving sexual harassers from place to place rather than removing them.

I wonder now if he thinks about Susie at all whether he feels any responsibility, moral or otherwise, for Susie's death. At least he bears some moral responsibility for using the schools as his personal hunting preserve, bagging trophies in just about every place he worked.

In another story, Anne, also a secretary, also died in a hideous fashion. She was friends with another secretary, C.G. Anne and C.G. liked to drink. Anne went to C.G.'s house, which was west of the city, by the Great Salt Lake. At that time there had been flooding and the lake had overflowed, including areas between state highways near the lake. Anne and C.G. drank wine, and then Anne left after dark to drive home. She dropped off the face of the earth. C.G. was the last person to see her. A week later Anne's car, with her body inside, was found in a barrow pit filled with water. In her inebriated state, at night, she drove right into the water and drowned.

If C.G. let her drive in an intoxicated state then C.G. bears some responsibility. I know that C.G. felt responsible because she said so to her friends and coworkers. Legally she wasn't held to account for the death, but morally she was at least partially accountable. Full responsibility is mitigated for me because Anne was also a part-time bartender, who should have known if she was drunk or at least impaired, and waited to sober up before heading home. Anne was not supposed to serve drinks to intoxicated customers. If she did and that customer died or killed someone else because of impairment by alcohol then under the law Anne would have been held accountable. C.G. doesn't get off scot free but she shouldn't take all of it on herself, either.

In these situations where the unexpected occurs because of something we did we seldom think of the ramifications or extrapolate on the larger picture of what our actions bring about. As long as the police don't come and get us or we don't get sued then we figure we're in the clear. Legally, perhaps. Morally, probably not.

*Scroll down and look at the picture of the other female sex offender, Arielle Beck. Doesn't she look like Billingsley? Even the same initials. The major difference is that Beck had sex with an underage girl.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Teacher's sextracurricular activities

Ah, for the days when I knew my teacher was interested in my academic progress, and not what was in my pants!

I asked a question a few months ago, whether it was my imagination or whether there was more sexual contact between teachers and students in my home state of Utah. There seemed to be because of some high-profile cases that came out of the blue, all of them involving female teachers with young male students. At the time I surmised it could be because those stories were more unusual than the "typical" male teacher-female student sex cases.

It turns out I am partially right in my assessment of more sex in Utah schools, at least statistically. A copyrighted article in The Salt Lake Tribune for Sunday, October 25, 2009, confirms that of all the 50 states Utah has the highest percentage of teachers lose their licenses for reasons relating to sex. A pie-chart is shown, titled "Why Utah teachers lost their licenses, 1992-2009." Drug-related charges accounted for 11.1%, other offenses, including theft were 22.2% (hmmm, exactly double that of the drug offenses), and a whopping 66.7% were for sexual misconduct, including pornography.

Some reasons are given: better reporting, more victims come forward, less "sweeping under the rug," etc. The cases may even be underrreported. I'll bet there are some teachers who have officially lost their licenses for other reasons when the root cause is a sex problem because they took some sort of deal with their human resources director.

In 32 1/2 years working for a large school district I never saw any sexual misconduct. I visited 32 schools a day which meant I was in and out pretty fast. Occasionally I'd hear a story about someone, but mostly I heard about teachers' sex problems like everyone else, when I read about them in the newspaper.

Kindly and helpful...or dirty old man?

There might be other reasons that would be hard to pin down, but since speculation is free I'll give you my free analysis:

Since Utah is 60% Latter-day Saints (Mormon), there are a lot of contacts, even at school, that take on a religious overtone. Like the infamous cases of predatory Catholic priests and victimized children, some Utah children may be victimized because they are obedient. I don't believe LDS people as a rule are any more sex offenders than any other group, but the LDS church is made up of a lay clergy, not paid, who work at everyday jobs. That includes teachers. Sometimes in Utah the line between religious and secular authority gets blurred. It's been proven over and over again some Mormon people in Utah are overly trusting of people they perceive as sharing their faith. Some faithful people get conned out of their money by fellow Mormons, and I'm sure some young people get conned out of their innocence, too.

For many years I think there was a "don't ask don't tell" policy that went on in schools, where trusted teachers, even if suspected, weren't confronted with inappropriate relationships. When I noticed the times changing was in the early 1980s when a teacher of the year was taken out of his classroom and arrested for having sex with a boy of 11. The idea that an adult would have sex--or want to have sex--with children was foreign to me. I was naïve, but then when everyone seemed to catch on there was a national wave of hysteria which resulted in innocent people being accused of molesting children. That's a whole other topic, but it made any school district employees, like me, very aware of how they acted around children.

The sad truth is that if people are sexually attracted to underage children then they go where they can be with them. That would include scouting, church youth activities, or teaching. What better way for a pedophile to find them than to be around a whole group of potential victims? It doesn't mean that every person who works in those fields is a pedophile, it just means that pedophiles would find that line of work attractive. I'm guessing that nationwide, or even worldwide, adults in positions of trust having sex with children may be one of the least reported crimes.

One startling bit of information popped out at me from the aforementioned newspaper article. Quoting the article: "Criminal screenings are far from foolproof, as many offenders escape notice and have otherwise clean histories," said Victor Vieth, executive director of the National Child Protection Training Center in Winona, Minn.

"One study looked at the histories of 561 sex offenders and found they accounted for 195,000 victims," he said. "you could sexually abuse hundreds, even thousands of children and have only a 3 percent chance of being caught."

If that statistic is true, then people looking for victims would have a 97% chance of not getting caught, which makes the cases that do come to our attention rare. Maybe it's led us to believe the problem isn't pervasive or as big as it really is.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


A story in my local newspaper today has me thinking of responsibility and how some acts have totally unforeseen consequences.

I've written several times about teachers having sex with students, specifically female teachers on male students. The story today was about the sentencing of a female teacher who had sex with a 14-year-old female student in Moab, Utah. In 2003 the teacher, Arielle Beck, was convicted and sent to prison. After four years the conviction was overturned. During her trial the judge had improperly asked her prosecution questions. Rather than submit to another trial Beck pleaded out without specifically admitting guilt, was given a year's probation and a spot on the state's sex offender list.

But there's more. The family of the girl who was the victim of the teacher believes the wrong Beck inflicted reached far beyond just the sex abuse. Two years after the sex acts the girl, Kelly Sowell, hanged herself. Her suicide was as a result of harassment by fellow students who believed the teacher was innocent and that the girl had lied.

Not only that, in a macabre twist, the girl's two older brothers, Kevin and Cleve, also committed suicide. The mother of all three, Sherilyn Sowell, said the suicides were a result of the sex abuse committed by the teacher. She is quoted as saying, "If [Beck] had not done the crime in the first place, we believe Kelly would still be here, and so would Kevin, and so would Cleve . . .I don't think justice was truly served on Arielle."

There is a point where responsibility, even as the result of a crime, is non-prosecutable. Kelly Sowell's suicide was indirectly linked to the abuse by Beck, but she might not have killed herself had she not been harassed by her classmates. Where do those students fit in as far as responsibility goes? As for the brothers killing themselves, it seems bizarre that those suicides would be directly linked to their sister's abuse. There are many factors that go into suicide, and killing one's self is such an extreme reaction that it seems far beyond that one event. How would Beck, the original perpetrator, be responsible for those third party suicides? And how could any prosecutor prove it?

The mother has her grief. This is a family touched by terrible tragedy. Earlier this year Mrs. Sowell's husband was killed in a car accident that hurt her and her 13-year-old daughter, but was unrelated to the original crime. She also has her anger, assigning responsibility for the injuries inflicted on her and her family. Mrs. Sowell is right when she says that Beck held a position of trust and as a teacher had extra responsibility. I don't disagree with that. I'd give the teacher some responsibility for the girl's suicide, if only because her actions led to other actions that preceded the suicide. The suicides of the boys, as tragic as those events are, just can't be laid directly on the teacher's shoulders. Somewhere along the path that led to their deaths the boys took their own turn.

At the core of it is the teacher who violated her special position and used it for her own purposes. She took some responsibility when she took a plea. The other actions she is not legally responsible for, but has a moral responsibility. Unfortunately, morals are something that are difficult to legislate, and it would be hard to prove that anyone committed suicide as a direct result of Arielle Beck's actions. The law is better off leaving it alone. How Beck, who is now 30, deals with it as her life progresses will be the important thing. Will she say to herself, "I had illicit sex with an underage girl but I'm not responsible for the deaths of three people," or will she say, "My having illicit sex set in motion a series of events that caused the deaths of three people."

Friday, October 23, 2009

Babbling Brooke

Poor Brooke Hundley. She fell for him, you know. Ass over teakettle, as the quaint expression goes.

The "him" she fell for was Steve Phillips, a major league baseball analyst for ESPN, the sports network. We keep getting these stories, as if it's new to have married people having affairs, or falling in love with someone other than their spouse. It's so old a story that we wonder why we keep being reminded of the foibles of others, but in this case, like the case of David Letterman before it, it's about sexual relationships with subordinates from work.

In the case of Phillips and his paramour, Brooke, there was a considerable age difference: he is 46, she 22. At her age she just can't have had the emotional experience to understand what was going on. At his age, old enough to be her father, he knew, but took advantage of her youth and naïvete. Shame on him.

Phillips thought he'd ended the affair but Brooke cyberstalked him. Phillips's wife filed for divorce after reportedly finding Brooke Hundley on her doorstep with a letter detailing the affair. Smart wife. Apparently this isn't the first time for Phillips. He was general manager of the New York Mets and in 1998 had an affair which ended up in a sexual harassment lawsuit.

But back to poor Brooke, who just happened to fall for the oldest line in the book: "I'm trapped in a loveless marriage," but of course he "stayed in the marriage for the sake of the children." Apparently Brooke, not being wise in the ways of middle-aged lotharios, took the guy at his word. Someday she'll look in a mirror at herself and yell, "Fool! Sucker! He said he loved you! It was all about the sex and you fell for it!"

In a letter, now made public, Brooke tells Phillips' wife about the affair in an offhandedly soft porn manner: "We text all day at work and talk via hotel phones on the road. The texts have always been mostly about the sxual side of our relationship and I have some saved if you ever want to see them, basically stuff like when we'll meet up next, what we want to do to each other physically and how we feel about each other."

Ouch. How'd you like to read something like that about your spouse? Then Brooke tells her what her husband has been saying about her: ". . . you married him in Michigan right after college and while he's glad you decided to stay at home, he enjoys being with me because I have more of a passion and drive to really do something with my life. And that you're making him go back to mass and therapy despite the fact that he doesn't believe it will save your marriage, but he doesn't want to lose his kids."

Brooke tries to soften the blow: "I'm not telling you all of this to hurt you in any way, but simply to show you that I am a real person in his life and that I care deeply about his happiness." Down in the paragraph she says, "I may only be 22, but I'm not stupid, and I hope you can understand we never wanted you to find out about us in this way."

Of course not...she wanted the wife to find out about her when her husband went to her for a divorce. Brooke seems to think the woman won't take it at her word that she's having an affair, or maybe she's intuitive enough to know that when cornered, Steve could always tell the wife, "She's delusional! She's lying! I've never slept with her, I promise, honey!" So Brooke ends the note with a physical description: ". . .you can see I'm not lying and to top it off Steve has a big birthmark on his crotch right above his penis and one on his left inner thigh, so you know I'm not being fake."

This cringe-inducing letter is being made public because it's been introduced as part of the divorce action. No wonder Phillips is on leave of absence from his job. If I knew the world was aware of a big birthmark above my penis I'd probably go into seclusion, too.

Poor Brooke, who fell for his bullshit, poor Mrs. Phillips, who had to put up with her cheating husband and his childish mistress coming out, and shame on Steve Phillips who used his gift of gab to get some young stuff into bed and now is paying a big, big price. He's become a distraction to ESPN, and will probably be fired. In today's world there is more of a sensitivity to this sort of thing. In JFK's era bosses and important men could boff all the underlings they wanted and everyone turned a blind eye and deaf ear to the goings-on, but now is a time of sensitivity to such matters. Just ask John Edwards or Mark Sanford, not to mention David Letterman, what happens when an affair is exposed.

Girls, stop being so damn dumb.

Guys, stop using their dumbness to get in their pants.

All of you take cold showers.

His baby, she wrote her a letter. The infamous mistress-to-wife missive:

Monday, October 19, 2009

Come to me, Penélope

Reading the article on Penélope Cruz in the November issue of Vanity Fair makes me think how much of our own destiny we create. Cruz was born with the beauty, but willed herself to become a movie star. She even came to Hollywood and learned English to further her career. How many American movie stars would do the reverse? Not many, if any.

Cruz saw a film by Pedro Almodóvar when she was 15, deciding then that being an actress would be her career path. She lied about her age so she could do the sexy scenes in her first film.

The author of the Vanity Fair piece, Ingrid Sischy, wrote that Cruz has "a bit of a schnoz," which, if Penélope was baffled when she read that word, I will translate. Penny, baby, it means she thinks you have a big nose. Far from being a "schnoz," which she so cattily calls it, I think Cruz's nose gives her face great character.

It doesn't surprise me to read that Cruz and Sophia Loren became friends. They are twins of circumstance, both being noticed initially because of their looks, and then being respected for their talent.

Penélope's makeup is of the Gina Lollabridgida/Sophia Loren school, with its strong emphasis on the eyes. (Leading our own eyes away from "the schnoz"...?)

I've written before about my favorite American movie star, Amy Adams, and Penélope Cruz may be the polar opposite in looks, dark Spanish to Adams' Northern Euro origins. But they both have the ability to take over the screen when they walk into a scene.

These pictures, lifted from, are gorgeous. My initial reaction to seeing them was, "Mamma mia!" The photography by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott is nothing short of genius. They had a lot to work with, but they really brought out a lot of what makes Penélope Cruz so special. I especially love the stocking pics, guys! Good show, there. "Mamma mia!" indeed.

In the article Woody Allen, who wrote and directed Cruz's Oscar-winning Vicky Cristina Barcelona is quoted as saying, "I don't like to look at Penélope directly. It is too overwhelming." Luckily, the rest of us don't have that same problem.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Mysteries wrapped in enigmas

The past couple of days I watched some DVDs I borrowed from my local public library. Despite the different subject matter all three were essentially mysteries, and all ended without resolution. In the past that was a strict no-no. The thinking was that a mystery had to be solved or the audience would be unsatisfied. Actually, it's the other way around. If you leave the audience wondering then they have more fun making up their own ending.

Black Christmas was made in '73 and sank at the box office. It was released later to television as Silent Night Deadly Night, and over time attained cult status. Why? Because it predated by half a decade other movies with the same theme, like John Carpenter's Halloween. Movie fans love this kind of thing because it's the sort of trivia they can haul out at a party, make themselves sound hip. "Did you know that the first slasher movie was a little known Canadian film from 1973 called Black Christmas? It was directed by Bob Clark, who went on to make Porky's..." Yep, I can hear them now at a party. I should know. I'm one of them.

At the end of the movie Detective John Saxon thinks he's got the killer, but the killer is still out there. Boo! So who is the killer? We don't know.

The movie, when viewed in context of what movies followed, is fairly standard fare. Sorority girls have a killer in the house who is murdering them. Olivia Hussey, who was Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, plays the lead. Margot ("Lois Lane") Kidder is a second lead, even though John Saxon is listed as "star". Saxon doesn't show up until late in the story, after all the buildup.

Kidder is easily 10 years older than she should be to play a sorority girl, and probably should have played the house mom instead. Hussey said, in an interview included with the DVD, that she was given the opportunity to make the movie, go to Canada and leave her new baby for a month. What? Leave your newborn? And you admitted it? Here's your Mom-of-the-Year Award, Olivia!

Black Christmas is good for its genre, creepy and effective for its time, even innovative compared to its imitators. It's not a great film like the cult film fans claim, but it is well made and gets a high mark from me for its creative use of electronic filtering and voice alteration for the killer's voice over the telephone, and the POV shots, which were made with a special harness for the camera operator. Only the killer's hands are shown, and they are the hands of the real-life cameraman.

I've written about Cloverfield before. It's a monster movie told in a POV fashion through a video camera. I tried not to think of the moving camera, and it was easier on television. Some people got motion sickness in the theater, so beware. At the end of the movie we still don't know where the monster came from, why he rampaged New York City, or why the hell the movie is called Cloverfield, the worst name ever for a monster movie. The ending is left open, just like its inspiration, the events of 9/11, were resolved after the fact. In the movie the guy hauling around the video camera, Hud, speculates on the monster: maybe it came from a trench in the ocean, maybe it came from outer space, maybe it's something to do with the government! The others shush him. They have more important things to worry about. At the end the main character, Rob, speaks into the camera saying that if someone is watching the tape they know more about what happened than he does, even though he's in the middle of the action. In the 1950s monster movies invariably had a scientist who stopped the film dead with some sort of boring explanation of why a giant gila monster/scorpion/lizard/ants, blah-blah-blah, have appeared. As an audience we don't really care. The producers thought we cared, which is why they included those types of explanations. We just want to see the monster, please. Send the scientist home, we don't care why the monster is there, we just want to see him stomp people and cars. The Bourne Identity is the third film I watched. It was the first of a trilogy from Robert Ludlum, involving a CIA killer with amnesia, Jason Bourne, played by Matt Damon. The reason for all of the goings-on and incredible action sequences is resolved at the end of the trilogy, but the end of The Bourne Identity the mystery is left open. There is a resolution of sorts, as Jason gets back together with Marie, whom he met under less than ideal circumstances, but who was drawn into his dangerous life. At first it was against her will and then she went willingly. Isn't that just like a woman? Falling for the wrong guy? So all three movies had in common that we really didn't know what had caused the havoc we had just spent a couple of hours watching. For me that's OK; I had some good endings made up in my head. For Black Christmas the killer was the guy with a 35-mm helmet-cam. In Cloverfield the monster was Godzilla's love child with Mothra...or Gamera...or whoever else it was Godzilla had the hots for, and in The Bourne Identity it was hardly a mystery at all. It was a secret government program that created Bourne. When in doubt always go to the government card. It's always the government who is the source of all things sinister, all things dangerous. We know that from dozens of movies and TV shows over the past 30 years. It's the stuff of which paranoia is made.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Happy birthday, Barry McGuire and Don Stevenson

Barry McGuire celebrates his 74th birthday today. He was a principal artist with the popular folkies, The New Christy Minstrels. You can see him in this 1963 clip, the big blond guy standing between the girl with the brunette beehive and the other girl wearing the blonde football helmet.

Shedding his jacket and tie, and growing his hair a couple of inches, Barry showed up again a couple of years later with his biggest hit, "Eve of Destruction." To me "Eve" is a musical equivalent of the little longhaired guy in the cartoons, carrying a signboard that says, "Repent! The end is near!" McGuire tapped a nerve with his song, though, and it caused a lot of talk, even an answer song, "Dawn of Correction." If my math is correct by the time Barry recorded "Eve" he was 30, that magic age beyond which he could not be trusted by the Baby Boomer generation.

There was a comment on the YouTube message board about what Barry's packing in those tight pants. Whew. That thing alone could cause some "Eve" some destruction.

Moby Grape was a band plagued by all the problems a band can have. Personalities, drugs, management. I'm surprised they got as much good music out as they did. 8:05 is my favorite of the songs from the first album, and our birthday boy, Don Stevenson, who was a drummer/singer and songwriter and is 67 today, cowrote this melodic and haunting song.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Money for nothing, and the complaints are free

A cold and my quarterly depression have flattened me the past couple of weeks.

At least I didn't have swine flu, but colds are bad enough. As for the depression, I've lived with it for so long sometimes I don't notice how depressed I am unless I stand back and look at myself. And when I say quarterly, changes of seasons seem to have something to do with my brain chemistry. It's unscientific, I know, but I can just about chart my depressive episodes by what time of year it is, and whether we're in a transition from one season to the next.

Aren't I supposed to be happy when it goes from winter to spring, or spring to summer, or summer to fall? I guess not. It's the way I am and when it happens I just have to ride it out.

But then, my problems are really minor. If anyone would have the right to be depressed it would be President Obama (neat segué there, eh?)

The poor guy inherited the worst economy since the Great Depression, two wars, one of them started by his predecessor and his cronies for their own reasons, and now Obama owns all of it, the economy, wars, Guantanamo, everything! And he's not only being blamed because after nine months in office the recession isn't over and everyone back to work, or for his stand on health care, but he's being criticized for getting the Nobel Peace Prize, as if he ran a campaign to get it.

One humorist said recently that Obama got the prize for "not being George Bush." The editorial cartoonist, Pat Bagley, picked up on that.

But of course Barack Obama can't do anything right, can he? When you've got the hydra-headed right-wing pundits going after him every minute on radio you're really sabotaging everything the guy tries to do.

I'm astounded that people can actually earn a living by bitching, kvetching, complaining and doomsaying. I checked around to see what they earn. They don't do too bad. The main Cassandra of the bunch, Rush Limbaugh, is practically the figurehead for these conservative jaw-jackers. His annual salary is estimated to be $38 million.

Down the food chain of yammering yahoos are Glenn Beck, whose business earns about $23 million a year, Sean Hannity, at an estimated $14 million a year, and at the bottom, the mealy-mouthed Bill O'Reilly, who makes a paltry $4 to $9 million a year (estimated). I think Bill O'Reilly should be given food stamps or public assistance for being paid so little. Next to Rush he's a nobody. Well, next to anybody he's a nobody, but in earning power he's nowhere in the league of Rush Limbaugh.

So on the other side of the aisle we have the liberal Keith Olbermann who makes an estimated $7.5 million a year. I don't know if you add in his duties as a sports commentator, too. Except for the gang at MSNBC I really can't think of too many famous left-wingers, not like our famous right-wingers, who've been at it for a longer time. But I'll bet the total salaries for all of the liberal radio and TV commentators wouldn't add up to Rush Limbaugh's annual salary.

I'd like to make a few million a year by complaining. No wonder I'm depressed. I've been doing it all my life for free.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Sox appeal

My wife, Sally, fashion plate that she is, showed me what she was wearing to work.

"This is what Stacy and Clinton say is smart. I have on a pencil skirt, my jacket is drawn in at the waist, I have on heels and no stockings."

Stacy London and and Clinton Kelly are the male/female hosts of the cable-TV program, What Not To Wear, which is Sally's favorite show of all time.

"Why no stockings?" I asked, the legman in me coming out.

"Well, tights would be OK, but not pantyhose. They're out."

"Oh, well," I said. "If they're out," mocking her a bit.

Sally left, having made her point, but leaving me to ponder. Why would a fashion accoutrement, i.e., nylon pantyhose, suddenly go out? Sally's glad. For her, it's because she hates pantyhose. Personally, I hate them too, because they eliminated the old stocking tops and garters (suspenders to you in the civilized British-English speaking world) of my youth.

I guess the word that nylons are out didn't get to Calvin Klein's lingerie division. This is from an ad in a recent Vanity Fair magazine.

Looking at some of these pictures, legs look just the same then as now. The technology of stocking manufacturing has changed, but legs still look good when they're adorned.

When I was a horny teenager in the early 1960s I thought it was a lucky day when I got to see stocking tops. There is a hint of the forbidden there. That's why they've been so prominent as a sex symbol since women started wearing them.

I told the story once of my friend Paul and I circling a street on our bicycles, waiting to see our neighbor lady get out of her car. She wore tight skirts and one day she got out, her skirt rode up and showed her stockings and garters. Paul let out a loud wolf whistle. "Well, I guess," she said laughing, tugging her skirt back down to her knees.

At that moment I knew there was a god in his heaven, smiling down on me.

Don't get me wrong. I've got nothing against bare legs. If you've got the legs to show then baby, flaunt 'em!

There are some legs better not left bare, but that even stockings don't help.

Note: I took these pictures off various websites, but neglected to write down which ones. If you see a picture from your website here, thank you very much and leave a comment telling us where it came from.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Testosterone terrors

Last Monday I thought I was reading the same story in my newspaper four different times. These are all local tragedies from Salt Lake City and surrounding areas. Times are tough out there, and it seems to bring out the worst in some guys. Whatever triggered these bozos they made sure that their women and kids had to suffer.

The headline read, "Man charged with terrorizing woman for 3 days." A man suspected his wife of an affair so he bound her, kept her locked in the house for three days while he beat her and choked her, telling her it was "time to instill some fear into her," and "make her suffer." He then held a 10-pound barbell over her two-year-old boy's head, saying "Tell me the truth or I'll take him out. I know it will hurt you if I take him out." After three days of this abuse he left to get a gun so he could come back to shoot her and her son. She got away and reported him. Like, he expected her to hang around to get killed? Police found this brave guy cowering at his mother's house and arrested him. He was charged with two first-degree felony counts of aggravated kidnapping, two third-degree felony counts of aggravated assault, third-degree felony commission of domestic violence in the presence of a child and interruption of a communication device, a class B misdemeanor. His mother was charged with obstructing justice, a second-degree felony.

Our second fine specimen of manhood choked his girlfriend and told her, "You're going to watch yourself die." He grabbed her by her hair and threw her on the couch, all while her two-year-daughter watched. He choked the woman until the two-year-old screamed. He was booked into jail on charges of aggravated assault and commission of domestic violence in the presence of a child.

The third case of testosterone fury is of a 32-year-old man, angry with his girlfriend, who while driving punched her repeatedly in the face. He then choked her into unconsciousness and when she woke up he told her he was driving her to a town 30 miles west of Salt Lake City, "to kill her." After a few more punches he eventually drove her home to Salt Lake City, where he was arrested and charged with third-degree felony assault and unlawful detention, a misdemeanor.

Another yo-yo who thought his wife was having an affair shot her three times in the face in front of their 11-year-old daughter. He will appear in court on first, second and third-degree charges. The wife was still alive at the time of the news story.

Ladies, in spite of this litany of man at his worst, my hometown is not full of murderers, face-punchers, hair-pullers, chokers and shooters. But apparently we have a few, and for a few days there was a bizarre explosion of domestic violence in my area. It's sometimes blamed on the bad economy, but there is never an excuse for brutality, no matter the economic conditions.