Thursday, May 29, 2014

Fun has more blondes: Marilyn Monroe and more movie blondes of the fifties

For a time in the fifties Marilyn Monroe was the blonde bombshell of the movies. So it was no surprise when producers threw out casting nets for another Monroe. Not so easy, was it? There were women who had the attributes, right down to the peroxide roots, who were soon pushing their chests out for photographers. As I recall, except for Bardot, none of the women whose pictures I’m showing today ever had that star turn that Marilyn did. And Lord knows they tried. But they tended to be known for their boobs and not their brains. Those boobs, plus sexy, smouldering looks and pouty lips may look great on a movie screen, but in the end they are no substitute for talent.

These are women who competed (if anyone could compete) with Marilyn for sex goddess.

Joi Lansing was a devout Mormon girl from Utah who got into movies and television by showing her heavenly features. I used to see her on The Bob Cummings Show and also Love That Bob, also starring Cummings.

 Diana Dors was very sexy and had the Marilyn look down.

I can say the same for Mamie Van Doren.

Jayne Mansfield had success as an actress, model and singer, but was more notorious for appearing at occasions where she spilled out of her dress. In this famous picture Sophia Loren checks out the competition.

Maybe nowadays Jayne Mansfield is just as famous for being the mother of actress Mariska Hargitay (Law and Order: SVU).

Brigitte Bardot appeared in steamy French films. I remember Bardot well. I clipped her pictures out of newspapers and magazines and kept them under a rug in my closet...until my mother found them, that is.

Trying to replace the reigning blonde goddess of tinseltown was an impossible task, as it turned out.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Woman bites son’s penis, mistakes it for penis of alleged rapist

You have to believe this story because no one could make it up. It's too strange.

On Friday, May 13, 2014, Efrey Guzman was found not guilty of assault, including biting the penis of a 20-year-old man, and attempted rape of the man’s mother. A jury in a Salt Lake courtroom turned him free after hearing a very bizarre story during the course of a 5-day trial.

In August, 2012, Mr Guzman, who is a branch president of the LDS Church, approached the home of a family in order to offer help. The family, emigrants from Haiti, had been through a very disturbing experience. In May, 2012, the family’s 13-year-old daughter was groped by a family friend whom the family could not describe to police beyond his name, Frank. Guzman was mistaken for Frank when he came to the family’s door some months later. The woman who answered knocked Guzman unconscious with an umbrella, then proceeded to bite him up and down his body.

Guzman’s defense attorney, Bel-Ami de Montreaux said, “There was a 911 tape where the girl was screaming to 911, ‘We have him; we’re not going to let him go. Hurry up! I know my mama, she’s going to kill him,’” de Montreaux said. “President Guzman left that day covered in bite marks even a pit bull could not administer to a human being.”

  Photo of girl biting corndog for illustration purposes only.

The story the mad mama told was quite different. She claimed Guzman came to her door crazed with desire to get at the 13-year-old. He pushed the mother up against the wall, tried to kiss her, tore her shirt and fondled her breast. While she was fighting him off she called for her son, who came out dressed only in boxer shorts. She said Guzman bit the boy’s penis.

Mr de Montreaux explained, “Our contention is in the process of biting the crap out of him, after they knocked him unconscious when he opened the door, the woman, thinking she was biting [Guzman’s] penis, ended up biting her son’s penis. That’s what happened. That’s what the jury believed. They came back in two hours with a not-guilty verdict on all counts.” The mother defended her story, although she admitted biting Guzman “only after what had allegedly been done to her son.”

“I bit him on his face after I saw [my son’s] injury,” she claimed last year. “I was punching him and biting him, and when his hand was on my breast I bit his arm, and I would do it again, too!”

Guzman, who had been released from his job as a branch president when the accusations were made, hopes to get his old job back. My hope is if he does the LDS Church will remove the responsibility for that family.

Like I said, you can’t make this stuff up.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Marilyn Monroe photo scam

In the fifties the United States Post Office was charged with protecting the morals of the nation by prosecuting pornographers who sent their wares through the U.S. Mail.

Seems strange today in an era when, with a few clicks of a mouse and an Internet connection, anyone can access more porn that anyone in the fifties could see in their lifetime. But it was a serious offense to be sending dirty pictures through the mail. Even advertising sexy pictures for sale, and then sending non-porno pics to someone who paid for them was a crime. It was fraud and misrepresentation. A good porn producer was stymied at every turn.

At one time in this country it could cost an actress her career to be photographed in the nude and have the pictures distributed. That is what made the famous Marilyn Monroe calendar so unique. The picture was taken before Monroe became a movie star. What it did was enhance her as being a sexual person. Quoting Marilyn when asked if she had anything on during the photo session she is reported to have said, "I had the radio on." Or how she also (allegedly) said she liked to avoid the sun because she "wanted to feel blonde all over." Wow. Hot stuff! Just bound to corrupt a young person’s morals, no doubt.

 Feel corrupted by looking at this famous calendar picture? It is so corrupting that this particular 1954 calendar went for £298 in an auction by Bonham’s.

Exposed magazine was another of the fifties rags (begun by Confidential) that exploited the public desire to read about scandals and the ongoing peccadillos and dalliances of their favorite movie stars. Nowadays with the Internet and cable television we can check up 24/7 on what stars are doing what with whom. But in those days it was necessary to put it in print and put it on the newsstand for the public to see.

Things are so wide open right now it is smart for a young actress to show it all in order to get attention. Want to see Lindsay Lohan nude, from a Playboy photo shoot impersonating Marilyn? Go here.* What was once scandalous behavior that could have scuttled a career is now de rigueur.

The article, reproduced below from Exposed Vol. 1 No. 1, from 1955, uses the famous Marilyn calendar as a hook for a story about a couple of con men who were soliciting suckers to send them money for hot photos of Marilyn. Their approach, sending a handwritten letter purportedly from Marilyn, offering a variety of photos for only $7.00, is incredible on its face. Marilyn Monroe was a top movie star. Why would she need $7.00 for a handful of photos of herself, and why did she write to you to offer them for sale? But the suckers, as suckers do, lined up and sent their 7 bucks. It was up to the Postal authorities to run down the crooks.

In reminds me of a very low-tech version of those infamous e-mails from Nigeria, people unknown to you who want you to share in a $5,000,000 fortune, and all you have to do is send the e-mailer $5,000. I don’t know why anyone would be dumb enough to bite on such an obvious fraud, but they did, and still do. As con men like the ones described in this story well know, the world is full of suckers.

*Just a note to explain that the blog I am directing you to may be gone by the time you go to access it. It was posted on December 14, 2011, and is still up as I write this (May 18, 2014), but if you click on the link and draw a blank, well, sorry about that. It has been removed through none of my doing. You really missed out!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

…are we reading the last chapter for Barnes & Noble?

The rumor has it that Barnes & Noble will be no more after 2014. The stores will be closed, employees laid off, and the company that was the cause of small American bookstores being driven to extinction will join its former rivals.

Like many a casualty of technology, B&N was a company that ran just a bit slow in catching up with the changing habits of consumers., which for several years operated in the red until it became the go-to shopping experience, has changed the business of shopping for books, or most anything else, for that matter.

I was a part-time bookstore employee for four years in the late seventies-early eighties in a full-service store that started as a head shop. Our customers treated the store as if it were almost a holy place. I know from personal experience how much bookstores mean for their loyal customers.

I was shocked when Cody’s Books in Berkeley, California, went out of business in 2008. That was a bellwether, because like the store where I worked, Cody’s was more than a bookstore. It was an institution, and world famous. A chill wind blew across the bookselling landscape when that happened. When bookstores started to have problems in a changing retail world the locally owned bookstores were the first to feel the effects.

I think my own experience with the chain booksellers is shared by other customers. I found that certain titles were discounted, but most of the books I wanted were not.

And I didn’t realize I was in on this trend early on: In 1998 I saw the book, Wondrous Strange, The Wyeth Tradition, featuring the art of the Wyeth family, at Barnes & Noble, but balked at the $45 price. I got an idea to check it on and see if I could get it cheaper. I could and did. That deadly action, multiplied thousands and maybe hundreds of thousands or even millions of times over the past few years by other B&N and Borders customers is what has sunk traditional bricks and mortar bookstores. 

The success story begat other online businesses that lured shopping dollars away from walk-in stores with high overheads.

As a society I wonder how much of this we will be able to absorb until everyone just stays home and buys everything they need online until the whole retail industry becomes a ghost town of empty stores and unemployed store clerks.

I look back on the pre-Internet era with a newfound sense of nostalgia. Christmas shopping was never fun for me, in fact I hated it. But it was a diversion during the season to do actual shopping in actual stores. Especially bookstores like several local booksellers that have since closed their doors, B. Dalton, a bookseller now gone, if I was at a mall. In that season I was around people with a common purpose. There was a feeling in the air, the completion of a yearly ritual, done the same way it had been done for generations. How wondrous strange I feel for admitting that.

It is a lot more convenient to just sit at home or the office and with a few strokes of a keyboard complete one’s Christmas shopping, (and a hell of a lot safer than charging into Walmart at midnight on Black Friday with hundreds of bargain-seekers). But it is a tragedy for those businesses that have fallen as a result of changing buying habits of their former customers, and a loss for a decades-old way of life for shoppers.

Friday, May 09, 2014


Dr Aldin (not her real name) is a client of my wife, Sally. Sally has a pet sitting business, and when she travels Dr.Aldin uses her to take care of her two large dogs and a couple of cats.

Dr Aldin is a very important person. She works for a large local hospital chain, and she is the boss of 2,500 other doctors. So obviously she is a good administrator because her employer has given her quite a responsibility. The doctor’s house is in a very nice part of town, but it is not ostentatious. It sits on a residential street in an upscale neighborhood of similar houses.

Dr Aldin is particular. When she was being interviewed for the job, Dr Aldin told Sally her previous pet sitter had been a teenage girl who had stayed there with her boyfriend (not approved by the doc), and when the doctor got home saw the young couple had rearranged her furniture. Sally promised she would not do the same.

Sally’s philosophy on pet sitting is much like the Hippocratic Oath taken by physicians, “First do no harm.” She treads lightly in the homes of her clients. (For the record, I do not go in the homes of her clients unless there is an emergency.) While being allowed to cook, watch television and sleep in someone’s home, she takes her job seriously and doesn’t change anything. She cleans up after herself and always leaves the place looking as good, or better, than when she got there. It’s why she has repeat customers who know to book her months in advance.

As to the doctor being particular, she had left on her flight the first time Sally got to her home to begin her duties. Dr Aldin told her the key would be in a fake rock at a designated spot. Sally pet sat her dogs for several days. Sally’s procedure is to find out exactly when a client will be returning, then leave the premises a couple of hours before that time. She leaves her bill and a stamped, self-addressed envelope for the convenience of the customer. Sally left the key in the fake rock after making sure everything in the house was as she found it when she arrived. Dr Aldin got home after Sally’s first visit and texted her that Sally had put the fake rock back upside down. Horrors. Sally made a mental note: for Dr Aldin replace things in an exact manner.

Dr Aldin’s dogs are both fairly old. They are given a specific diet and a specific amount of food. But Sally is a kind-hearted soul who likes animals to be happy, and in her mind the way an animal is kept happy is to be given treats. Dr Aldin came home from one trip and noticed Sally had used a bit too much of the food. So the next time Sally pet sat in her house Dr Aldin had all of the food in sealed bags carefully marked so she would only give them that amount at feeding time. Without saying anything she had signaled her disapproval. Sally got the implication.

But this last incident really sealed my own feeling that Dr Aldin has obsessive-compulsive disorder. While staying in the doctor's house Sally uses the guest room with adjoining bathroom. She found out quickly there was a trick with the shower handle, and she had to figure out how to adjust it for hot water. Other than that she describes it as a nice bathroom with a spa.

The reason Dr Aldin called Sally was because Sally had arranged, with the doctor’s approval, to have a substitute stay with the dogs since Sally would be out of town. Sally had gone through some listings on a local website and contacted a young woman, a college student, who was looking for pet sitting jobs to earn some money. Sally felt good about her and said she could direct some jobs her way. It was that young woman who subbed for Sally at Dr Aldin’s house.

The doctor called Sally, no text messaging this time, to tell her that the young woman had used the doctor’s bathroom, and Dr Aldin found black hairs in her shower drain!  To further compound the sins of the student, when the doctor went into her back yard she found piles of poop, which showed her the dogs had not been walked.

Sally did a masterful job of soothing the doctor by pointing out that the young woman probably had trouble with the guest room shower. The doctor admitted the shower handle was a problem. Sally also said the map that the doctor provides for an exact route to walk the dogs (yes, she has a map), is confusing, especially to someone who has never been in that area before. Yes, the doctor admitted, it would be confusing. Sally convinced the doctor to give the substitute a break.

In thinking about it and getting to the end of this long story, I believe that in the doctor’s case what seems like a case of OCD is what has driven her to the great heights in her profession. She has managed to handle it in a positive way. All of us have a bit of OCD in us, some more than others. To some it is so debilitating that they spend hours doing things like washing their hands (not bad for a surgeon, just hurry it up, doc, the anesthesia is wearing off) or rattling doorknobs to make sure they are locked. In Dr Aldin’s case she is very meticulous, and I’m sure what Sally sees is indicative of how the doctor conducts her professional career. She has exacting standards. That would be good for her superiors. Details are important in a hospital setting. Paying close attention would be a plus in keeping the business running smooth.

I imagine she micro-manages, also. That would be hard on the employees who work in her office. I can’t imagine how hard she must be on secretaries, for instance. I wonder if she has a lot of turnover in her personal staff.

I have had bosses with obsessive-compulsive disorder. They can drive you crazy. But if someone can channel OCD into something constructive then it can be a valuable asset to an administrator. I take medication for my own OCD, but many people don’t. If they can live with it and make it pay for them, good. For me it was a hindrance, but for Sally’s client I believe it has put her at the very top of her profession.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

False consensus: the witness

On January 30, 2014 near Lehi, Utah, an all-too familiar tragedy played out with guns and death. It began when Utah County Deputy Sheriff Cory Wride pulled over a Toyota Tundra pick-up truck driven by 17-year-old Meagan Grunwald. With her in the truck was her boyfriend, 27-year-old José Angel Garcia-Jauregui. When Wride was in his patrol car checking out information that Garcia-Jauregui had given him, the man parted the rear window of the truck and fired 7 shots. Two went through the officer’s windshield and killed him. Grunwald drove the truck during a police chase in which another officer, Utah County sheriff's Deputy Greg Sherwood, was wounded by a bullet also fired by Garcia-Jauregui. The couple ditched the truck and carjacked a car.

A trio for tragedy: the victim, the underage girl, the murderer

The getaway vehicle was stopped by spike strips on Interstate 15, and the couple attempted to run. Garcia-Jauregui was shot; he died the next day. Grunwald was arrested, and later charged as an adult on a variety of criminal charges, including aggravated murder, three counts of felony discharge of a firearm, two counts of criminal mischief, aggravated robbery...and the list goes on to include possession of methamphetamine.

Meagan Grunwald is represented by defense attorney Dean Zabriskie, who told reporters after an April 17, 2014 hearing that Grunwald is a victim who will testify that her boyfriend, Garcia-Jauregui, forced her to run from police. “Her choices were reduced to either comply or give up her own life,” Zabriskie said.

But there was a civilian witness, who with his family drove up just after the shooting of the perpetrator, and he disputes the defense attorney’s account that she was an unwilling participant. In a copyrighted story from the Salt Lake Tribune reporter Jessica Miller tells Clarken’s version:
“[Jim] Clarken said he felt that any claim that the girl was being held against her will by Garcia-Jauregui was ‘absolute bulls--t’ compared to what he saw.

“‘She was very distraught that he had been killed,’ Clarken said. ‘If I was being held against my will, I’m not going to shed a single tear [for the captor]. That didn’t wash with me at all.’” [Emphasis mine.]
Clarken described driving up on a scene that he was unable to immediately comprehend. Suspects running around, police in action, gunshots, and watching a young girl reacting to her lover just having been killed.

From the descriptions it was a terrible experience for everyone involved.  I also believe that Clarken has what is called the False Consensus Syndrome. His statement, “If I was being held against my will, I’m not going to shed a single tear,” was my tip-off to a very human, but very flawed way of judging someone else’s reaction to a traumatic event.

Brian Mullen, whom I quote from his abstract for his paper on the subject, writes:
“False consensus refers to an egocentric bias that occurs when people estimate consensus for their own behaviors. Specifically, the false consensus hypothesis holds that people who engage in a given behavior will estimate that behavior to be more common than it is estimated to be by people who engage in alternative behaviors.”
The article describes Clarken as having a concealed carry permit. He says he pulled out his gun because he thought he might have to defend his family. He is an adult male with children. He watched the behavior of a 17-year-old female who just watched a man die. How can he put himself in her place? He knew exactly zero about the situation until he was inside it, so any posturing he is doing now is him projecting how he thinks he would react under a similar circumstance. Whether he would or not I don’t know. I hope Mr. Clarken never finds out how he would react under those circumstances.

I believe the girl was in love with the man, or thought she was. They lived with her parents, and planned to be married when she turned 18. Garcia-Jauragui was a man with a criminal history who had spent time in prison. I think he was directing her actions, and even if she feared for her life or was terrified during the ordeal she likely still had feelings for him. Anyone heard of teenagers having unformed brains? How about Stockholm syndrome? (There are a lot of females, some a lot older than 17, who fit into that category.)

How many times have you watched someone interview a jury after a major trial, and heard one or more jurors say, “I didn’t see any emotion from the defendant, and I thought that was suspicious.” Or if they did see emotion, maybe they saw it as a put-on, an acting job for the jury. A juror might think the defendant is not acting the way the juror supposes he should.

In those cases no matter what a defendant did would be dissatisfying to someone on the jury. I hope I’m never put in that position, either as a juror or a defendant. Especially not as a defendant.

I'm not trying to diminish the memory of a slain police officer. By all accounts Deputy Wride was an excellent officer, husband and father. He died doing his job. Taken by surprise, he had no chance against a cowardly attack. The killing of a police officer creates a lot of emotion for the public. There are heart-rending moments on television news showing a widow and children at memorial services. His killer is also dead, yet it is not enough justice for the public. They demand that someone be punished as payment for the murder, even if it is the sole survivor, an immature 17-year-old girl.