Sunday, March 30, 2008

Out Of The Prison And Over The Shark

First there was Prison Break Season One-Escape From Fox River
Next came Prison Break Season Two-Manhunt
This was followed by Prison Break Season Three-Escape From Sona
Now comes word that the fourth season might well go down in television history as Prison Break Season Four-Jumping The Shark

Yes, Sarah Wayne Callies, who was killed by way of decapitation in episode three of Season Three, her bloody head delivered to Lincoln Burrows in a box-oh, strike that, it turns out this WASNT REALLY HER HEAD AFTER ALL.

Yeah, Sarah is still alive. The MiSa fans have prevailed. The shows producers give some credit to the fans for the ultimate decision, but at the same time try to claim they had this in mind the whole time.

Yeeeeahh, right.

Let's see now, here's the latest story of Callies return to the show. Compare that to this article in which was explained the original decision to kill her off.

I would offer the MiSa nuts some grudging congratulations, but it's kind of hard to congratulate what might turn out to be success at ruining the best dramatic series on network television.

So, MiSa, what's next on the agenda? Maybe Theodore "T-Bag" Bagwell should find God by way of Sister Mary Francis and change his evil ways and become a "good guy". Hey, what about that Gretchen? She's too pretty a woman to be so evil. Maybe she should find love and change her evil ways. Maybe her and Mahone would be good together. No, strike that, Mahone should get back with his wife and kid, if not you'll probably scream at the television.

Hey, by all means, don't stop with Prison Break. Why not exert your influence on other shows? Hey, maybe if Dexter Morgan would finally get some real therapy he would change and make a positive contribution to society instead of being a miserable vigilante serial killer.

But, whatever you decide to do next, you can at least congratulate yourselves on this victory-

Prison Break has now officially become Bones.

Cincinnati Shits On The West End

CityLink gets its way. The Cincinnati social services agency has prevailed in the courts, and so will soon turn a former slaughterhouse on the West End of Cincinnati into what basically amounts to a warehouse for the downtrodden and dispossessed. Here is the key point, copied from the Enquirer article.

"West End residents don’t want the social services mall, believing the neighborhood already has enough charities and that Citylink never talked with the neighborhood about its plans".

Of course the West End residents have never been on a par with the denizens of Indian Hills, so evidently their input is not considered necessary or warranted.

Of course for the most part what this will amount to is actually not so much as a warehouse for the poor as a clearing house for city funds to be funneled from one bureaucrat to another as dollar after dollar disappears down what I promise will turn into just another rat hole. In the meantime, West End residents will be faced with declining property values, and stuck in an area that will be overrun by drug addicts, alcoholics, whores, bandits, muggers, rapists, and killers.

The ones that will really get the short end of the stick will be the truly legitimate poor who will find themselves surrounded by vermin on three sides-

*The dregs of society who will keep them down to their level and victimize them in every way they can.

*The neighborhood residents who after all have no way of distinguishing them from the vermin majority.

*The poverty pimps who will be in charge of the project and who will, as always, have no impetus to actually help anyone out of poverty, for the simple fact that the more people that are mired there, the more funds these leeches can drain from the city-in other words, the taxpayers.

Does anyone really believe the courts would rule in favor of such a project in an area like, for example, the aforementioned Indian Hills? If so, here's a little reality tip for you. People in Indian Hills have just a tad more influence than the ones on 8th and State.

Hat Tip to Blogging Isn't Cool

Friday, March 28, 2008

The LA Times And Tupac Shakur-Just The Facts, Please

The Los Angeles Times must be following in the footsteps of Dan Rather. They ended up having to investigate one of their own stories, and then ended up apologizing for the story, but not until after The Smoking Gun blew the whole story wide open.

Now, I can't seem to find a link to the story in question, so I guess that's the end of that story. Only the real story would seem to be not the fake story given by con man Paul Sabatino, in which he accused rap impresario Sean "Diddy" Combs of instigating an assault and robbery of West Coast rapper Tupac Shakur, who was then later murdered.

No, the story here seems to be that the Times ignored all the warning signs that the story, based on forged documents-which should have been easy to spot-was an obvious scam. Why did they do it? Was the initial reporter that easily fooled? Was his editors that lax in their judgment?

The LA Times is obviously now to be considered on a par with the National Enquirer. The hell with the facts, as long as the story makes a big splash and conceivably wins a Polk or Peabody Award and raises subscription rates.

In the meantime, they also have an opportunity to put the screws to the LAPD, some officers of which the Times-by no means newcomers to this story-have long alleged was actually involved in the murder of Shakur, which resulted in the seeming retribution murder of Sean Combs protege and East Coast rapper Christopher Wallace, "Notorious B.I.G", a noted rival to Shakur who was himself accused of complicity in Shakur's murder.

Confused? That would be understandable. Both murders, which occurred a decade ago, will probably never be solved. That's because alleged newspapers like the Times are more vested in muddying up the works and creating controversy than taking the time to discover the real facts and running the risk of the truth being far more mundane than is good for their subscription rates. They may have in so doing interfered in the initial police investigation. In fact, the Times has been so muddied by it's past association with this case, some of their own staff have even been accused of complicity themselves.

I am no fan of Sean Combs. I consider him an arrogant ass, maybe a bit of a prick at that. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if he was not in some way responsible for the death of Shakur, a rapper whom in fact I liked. It wouldn't surprise me if Suge Knight, the head of the West Coast based Death Row Records, was behind the retribution (if that's what it was) murder of Wallace, another rapper whom I also liked.

What most people don't realize is that, at one time, Wallace and Shakur actually worked together. That is not to say they were bosom buddies, of course, but I wonder if this whole West Coat-East Coast rivalry thing is another example of overblown media hype, just another promotional gimmick.

True, these people are actual gangsters. Biggie Smalls was engaged in cocaine trafficking even after he started recording for Combs (who to his credit made Wallace cease when he discovered it). Shakur as well had a shady past.

But was this rivalry for real? If so, was it really that big a deal? Shit, rap was a big business in the nineties. It still is. There is plenty of room to play in that sandbox. There was plenty of room then.

Of course, somebody murdered these artists, and it was an obvious conspiracy. A reading of the details behind the murder of Wallace in particular reads like a classic case of a gangland hit.

One can theorize all day long and conceivably come close to the truth, but without verifiable proof, it is no more valid than someone writing a story or movie script "ripped from today's headlines". In the Times case, this at least was more like a rip off in the day's headlines. It's one thing to offer what may or may not be a valid theory and identify it as such. It is something else yet again to write fiction and pass it off as fact in a newspaper.

Maybe the LA Times should adopt a new header. I would suggest something along the lines of "all resemblance to any persons living or dead is coincidental."

Some Things Never Change-SOme Things Never Should

Here's a good one. According to some Buddhist monks who decided to crash a press conference in Lhasa, Tibet, all is not as well as the occupying Chinese would want the world to believe. In fact, if you read or saw a recent interview with a Buddhist monk claiming that all was well and good in Tibet between the Tibetans and the Chinese, chances are what you were reading/watching/listening to was, in actuality, a Chinese fake, an agent just pretending to be a Buddhist monk.

China needs to get the fuck out of Tibet and, for that matter, so does everybody else. Tibet is best served by allowing them to remain as they will always be anyway-a window to the past. They are not cut out for either Chinese style communism or for Western style Democracy or capitalism. They do not have the resources that would make them a vital part of any world economy, and are better off as insulated as possible. The Chinese interests in Tibet is mainly strategic, couple with a sense of national pride at the prospect of being the major Asian military and, potentially, economic power. They want hegemony over all of Asia, including little neighboring Tibet.

To this end, they have arranged for the Olympic torch to be carried through Tibet, presumably through the streets of Lhasa. In the meantime, they accuse the Dalai lama of inciting violence in the course of the recent protests.

The Dalai lama denies this. Ironically enough, he claims that most of the beleaguered monks of Tibet are probably communists themselves. He expresses no desire for the Chinese to leave the region. He wants simple autonomy. The idea that he is a threat to the Chinese is as laughable as the idea among westerners that he is some beacon of hope. He is neither.

The major villains here are quite simply the western powers, those nations who have kowtowed to China for the last thirty years, beginning with the shameful removal from the UN General Assembly of the delegation from Taiwan, at China's insistence. Rarely since that time have the Chinese been faced with more than token criticism or opposition.

The UN Olympic Committee should never have awarded the Chinese the honor of hosting the Olympics. Nevertheless, this is far from a surprise. The UN Olympic Committee are hardly bastions of freedom and human rights. Neither are the Western nations, when you get right down to it.

China will never be anything other than what it ever was, a country ruled by a brutal and totalitarian regime, by whatever stripe it portrays itself. One billion, three hundred million people is a lot of mouths to feed, and requires strict control over the means of production, especially agrarian production. China will always be an agrarian based culture and economy. They have no other option with such a large population. Any technological advances will be limited, as will increases in affluence. There will indeed be a growing but limited middle class. However, you will never see a large movement away from the farm to the cities and factory jobs in China like you saw here sixty to eighty years ago. The controls needed to feed and sustain them preclude such mass migrations, and precludes as well the likelihood of any large scale social or political advancements.

Therefore, any ideas that China will advance politically is a big pipe dream. They are what they are, and that's the way they will stay, whether their economy is capitalist or communist or some vague fusion of the two. We should understand this, but not reward it, particularly when they cross the line as they have done in Tibet.

As for Tibet, again, they should be left alone. I have an idea that if you gave your average Tibetan the means and opportunity to change things for the better, the most he would do is migrate to another country. Over some extended period of time, he would either return, or he would stay and (a) stay mired in his Tibetan culture, or (b) adopt the culture of his new adopted homeland. If he stayed here, he would in time conceivably marry and then have children, who would take a good long look at him and follow the completely opposite route. If his father was Americanized, he would eventually develop a deep longing for the ancient culture of his heritage. If his father stayed true to that culture, however, he wouldn't be able to get away from it or him quickly enough.

In any event, whatever changes our speculative Tibetan immigrant family went through, one thing would never change in a million years-Tibet. I've heard people explain they need to merely be educated. Well, the Chinese are trying that, it seems, in fact they do this through what is called "reeducation camps". The Western version is no different in overall intent, it just has more of a smiley face, touchy-feely vibe.

Why does anyone care enough to try to change them? Who are they hurting? What if they don't want input, from us or anybody else? What if they listened politely, and told us they aren't interested? Would that be good enough? Somehow I doubt it.

I am consistent in my views regarding Tibet. I am just as opposed to the prospect of Capitalists running roughshod over the country trying to coerce the people into Western style Democracy as I am opposed to the Communists doing what amounts in the long run to pretty much the exact same damn thing.

For any country or politician to insist that it matters what political system a geopolitically insignificant country like Tibet has is nothing but grandstanding at best. It matters to no one but them, so they should be left alone. For that matter, so should everybody else.

Kentucky-No Chaos Allowed

Kentucky has 9,000 new Democratic voters, formerly Republicans who re-registered. That equals 9,000 Democratic voters who will not be allowed to vote in Kentucky's Democratic presidential primary. Rush Limbaugh's Operation Chaos, therefore, will not be a factor here, but on the other hand, Hillary is expected to win the state anyway, so it doesn't matter.

Pennsylvania is a different story. Some polls have her leading Obama by someting like 49 to 39 percent of respondents. On the other hand, popular Democratic Senator Bob Casey is now touring Pennsylvania by bus, campaigning with and for Obama. This could make a big difference. It could at least result in a closer margin of victory for Hillary.

Operation Chaos is alleged to be responsible for Hillary's win in Texas, and possibly increased her margin of victory in Ohio. My question is, why? I thought Limbaugh was dead set against John McCain. Is he assuming Hillary would be easier to beat, or harder to beat?

One thing is for certain. In this crazed election year, the two major political parties are engaged in a game of political Hearts-the lower score wins.

It's a long-term consequence. If McCane wins, he is going to face a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress. By the time the next two years are over with, the voters are probably going to be so frustrated and angry, they will for the most part vote Democratic, thereby giving Democrats an even larger majority in both houses of Congress.

If either Hillary or Obama wins, the reverse holds true. After two years of Democratic style monopoly of power under the Democratic White House and Democratic controlled Congress, the people will in 2010 vote overwhelmingly Republican. The Republicans might conceivably take back one or both houses of Congress.

This is a tried and true trend that has rarely faltered. Bush was the first to buck the trend, in 2002-the first President to do so since FDR almost seventy years earlier. 2002, however, was a rare exception, not the rule. In almost all cases, the party of the President almost always loses seats in Congress during an off-year election.

In 2010, under even a best case scenario, you can look for this trend to continue. The people will have many and valid reasons to turn the rascals out. Higher than ever gas prices coupled with higher than ever gasoline taxes, an out-of-control border situation, and continuing chaos in the Middle East and murky at best overall foreign policy problems, all in the context of increased taxes and a troubled economy replete with yet more job losses, higher prices and interest rates, etc. These are all possible scenarios. You could see just some of this, or all of it.

The worse thing is, it doesn't really matter this year that much who wins the presidency. McCain has promised to lead like a Democrat in the worse possible ways. When he promises to lead like a Republican, it's just as bad. It's almost like he decided to pick the worse aspects of both parties and throw out what good is in either. The only fusion of the two parties comes with his stance on the Iraq War and the War on Terror. There, he seems intent on actually melding the worse of the two parties into one abominable whole.

Whether McCain wins, or the Democratic candidate, it will unfortunately only matter when it comes time for that 2010 mid-term election. Then, that Presidents party will be the one to pay the price. It will more than likely be a big one.

Operation Chaos might conceivably extend years into the future. The people playing this game now might well be the ones who will be the sorriest for it.

Get Taken For A Ride On TheThe Bullshit Express

I once worked out a story, though I never developed it, where a third party presidential candidate, running a satirical campaign, holds a lottery drawing. The winner will receive the rather dubious honor of becoming his vice-presidential running mate. Announcement of the raffle increases his poll numbers to the point that he is suddenly running neck-and-neck in the polls with the two major party candidates. The very unpopular incumbent president, who realizes the insurgent candidate is clinically insane, drops out of the race for the good of the country. The winning raffle ticket is held by a retired steel-worker and high school drop-out. The story ends with the president sitting alone in the Oval Office, watching the proceedings on national television, muttering for him to "play that flute now, you son-of-a-bitch". (the insurgent candidate spends most of the time during campaign appearances playing the flute and engaging in stream-of-consciousness monologues).

I never developed it because it struck me as too far-fetched in my opinion even for a satire. I once suggested the idea to Jonathon Sharkey, on the grounds it might actually be a good way to get free publicity for his own presidential run, and might even be able to help him pull one or two percent of the vote.

Even Jonathon Sharkey didn't take the idea seriously.

Now, over the course of the last two days I have learned:

*Barak Obama is holding a raffle. The winner gets a free diner with the candidate.

*John McCain is holding a raffle. The winner gets a free ride and chance to converse with McCain on the "Straight Talk Express".

*Hillary Clinton is holding a raffle. The winner gets a free seat in the VIP section of Madison Square Garden for an Elton John concert. John is apparently holding a fund-raising concert for Clinton.

Of course, the raffles require a campaign contribution. In at least two cases, the contribution must come before the 31st of March. One of these, McCain's, requires a contribution of at least fifty-dollars.

Don't be surprised if Bill ends up on stage at the Elton John concert, playing the sax. John might well be tempted to try his hand at the upright organ.

We are all getting fucked.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Senor Boooosh Ees Probably Peesed Off

Hooray for the Supremes. Fuck George W. Bush. Screw the International Court of "Justice". To hell with People For The American Way. You have to love their reasoning. They worry that this ruling might further erode our standing in the world and, to beat it all, our "individual rights". (Evidently our rights to sit back and watch our 14-16 year old daughters raped, tortured for an hour, and ultimately murdered by criminal thugs like Jose E. Medellin).

Medellin, the 33 year old Mexican national convicted of this crime, was not afforded the advice of the Mexican consulate, so Mexico appealed to the ICW (known by most of us as the World Court) and Bush directed the Texas courts to take another look at the case. This was appealed, resulting in the ruling against Bush.

The ICW would have decided as it did due to their objection to the death penalty, regardless of the facts of the case. Luckily, so far they don't get a vote in our internal affairs, and hopefully never will. Evidently, the so-called Vienna convention is not binding on US law, though it might be in federal cases, assuming the US government is a signatory.

Luckily, this was not a federal case, so it seems Texas is not bound by the treaty, nor is any other state. Ah, the joys of Federalism. I think we should keep it.

Even John Paul Stevens voted with the 6-3 majority opinion on this one, which should be enough to tell you the internationalists didn't have a leg to stand on-not even a peg leg. He kind of watered it down by strongly urging Texas to re-open the case on it's own initiative, but stressed that Bush had no authority to make them do so, which was the major reason for the appeal before the court.

The arrogance of the Mexican government is beyond belief. As unpopular as they are here you would think they would steer clear of this one and let justice take it's course. If they had a clue they would offer to send the rope to hang the bastard with.

As for Bush, my question is, did he mistakenly think Medellin was one of his old friends from his coke snorting days? Hey dumbass, I think that was a different set of Medellins!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Twisted Titty Toddlers

There are certain aspects to human life that serve as valuable reminders that we are, after all, animals. Sleeping, urinating, defecating, having sex-even eating is an animalistic act. We try to pretty them up and attach rules and regulations to these things in order to spiritualize or “civilize” them. We are taught from an early age to observe the proper “table manners”, and in some cases these can be quite extravagant, from certain ways to hold silverware, to what kind of silverware to use for what dish, on down to the proper side of the plates or bowls the silverware should be placed, and even certain rules regarding posture at the table. We say grace before meals, and rules of polite conversation are also observed.

Despite all this, we engage in the same acts all animals engage in. This is why we consider bad table manners boorish, we look upon the excreting of bodily waste as “nasty”. Even expelling gases, from whichever end, we look upon as an embarrassment.

The entire cycle of human life, beginning with actual birth, on through death, consists of various acts of animal behavior. We humans pretty it up, or hide it all together. Along come the Lactivists-women who insist on engaging in the animal act of nursing their young animals in public. Other examples of such women can be found here, as well as here. It embarrasses many, who frown upon it, in reality not due to any sexual connotation, as many suppose, but deep down, we view it negatively as further potential proof that Darwin may have been right after all.

Generally, I don’t have a problem with this, but many more radical Lactivists are determined to manufacture controversy. They might insist, for example, that department store dressing rooms be available for those who would prefer to nurse their babies in private. They might even go so far as to complain to company or corporate headquarters if their requests are not granted, regardless of whether the dressing rooms are needed at the time by-oh, say, actual shoppers wanting to use them to try on clothing?

Suddenly, when they see an excuse and an opportunity to make waves, it becomes important to nurse their baby animals in private, where ordinarily they seem to delight, in some cases, in sticking their breasts out while sitting next to you on a public bus. From their general demeanor, you might not know whether they are daring you to look at them or away from them. Sometimes I wonder if they've actually decided.

They also tend to be advocates of natural childbirth, and staunchly oppose any use of pain relief. The real kicker to me, however, is the insistence by many that they should never wean their children. The child should wean itself-or, put more succinctly, let him stop on his own initiative, when he's damn good and ready, and not one second before. Therefore, you have the potential of school-age children still attached to its mother’s milk. WTF?

Earth to Lactivist mothers. If you believe in engaging in natural child-rearing, then you should get it, that weaning is as much a part of natural child-raising as breast feeding itself it. The individual mother will know when the time is right, just like any other animal will know. For an activist group to disparage a mother who decides that time is right, and now, is just more human pretension, no better or worse than looking upon sex as a “sin”, or upon belching as “impolite”.

Besides, the whole idea that all this is healthy for your little animals is a dubious proposition at best. Part of being a human animal is learning self-control and discipline. It’s hard to impart that lesson when your three year old insists on sucking on your boobs in a booth at the local Arby’s, right then and right there-and you let him. It’s hard to draw boundaries and expect your child to adhere to them when you and he act in this manner-particularly when you allow and even encourage it on up to the age of conceivably eight or nine.

Now, if you want to let your little ones suck your breast in front of me, I don’t care that much. It’s nothing I particularly care to watch, but at the same time, viewing the act itself doesn’t necessarily offend me. But if you do decide to draw the line somewhere at some point, I can pretty much promise you your little beast will be no more maladjusted by your weaning him than your average house cat.


As aggravated as I got over the television writer’s strike a few months ago, it had some positive impact. In order to have more to offer viewers than game and reality shows, one network, CBS, took the unprecedented move lately of filling its Sunday night time slot with reruns of the first season of the critically acclaimed Showtime series Dexter.

WOW!! So this is why people pay extra for Showtime and HBO. And to think, on CBS you are watching an edited version. Even so, some television watchdog groups, such as the so-called Parents Television Council, are upset over the move, complaining that Dexter is not the type of show that should air over commercial network television. They have even threatened boycotts of advertisers. I hope they shriek a little bit louder, so more people will watch the show and I can watch a few more seasons.

Their complaints are understandable, viewed strictly from their perspective. The main character, Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall), is a serial killer-quite a prolific one. Yet, he is the, shall we say, anti-hero of the show. He works for the police, as a blood spatter specialist. His sister also works as a detective, though she doesn’t have a clue that Dexter is responsible for many of the murders he is supposedly helping to investigate.

Dexter’s victims are not good people. Many of them are also serial killers. Some of them are worse than others. Dexter’s first victim, a priest, was a child killer. Another one was an alcoholic guilty of multiple counts of vehicular homicide. Yet another was a nurse who conducted mercy killings of deathbed patients.

Why does he do it? What makes him tick? Well, at the age of three, he witnessed the brutal murder of his own mother, and he and his sister was taken in and adopted by a veteran police officer. This cop realized Dexter had severe problems, but instead of arranging for therapy, he trained him to redirect his murderous impulses to target those who deserved to die.

Make no mistake, Dexter is not a conflicted individual. He has no guilt hang-ups as to the rightness or wrongness of his actions. He is as cold and calculating as any serial killer you might imagine. He is literally a man without a conscience, or for that matter, anything resembling normal human emotions or empathy. Yet, his adoptive father, the cop, trained him as well in how to portray human emotions, how to act like a “normal” human being, and how to pretend to relate to others.

He even has a girlfriend, though his feelings for her are also fake. He even set up her abusive boyfriend, resulting in a prison sentence for him, so he could move in with her and her two children. This idyllic setting provides Dexter with what he hopes is the perfect cover, but there are those who view him with a great deal of suspicion, among them one of the main detectives who work with him.

I won’t say anymore except, if you like gripping drama, you should watch this show. It’s almost made me appreciate the writer’s strike. Hell, maybe if we’re lucky they’ll have another one, then we all might get a chance to watch reruns of Deadwood, or The Wire.

It might even induce network television to start actually making more shows of this quality on their own initiative.

Speaking of which, my personal favorite, Prison Break, has just been renewed by Fox for a fourth season. Yay!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Queen Esther-The Goddess Of Purim

Preparing Herself to Meet King Ahasuerus (Theodore Chasseriau, 1841)
By now, anybody who has delved even superficially into the origins of Easter has probably come across explanations as to how Easter, the day Christ arose from the dead three days from the day of his crucifixion on Good Friday, came to be celebrated by the Catholic Church. Although on the surface the Christian holiday seems to coincide with the Jewish holy days of Passover, it would seem as though the Catholic Church incorporated a good many former pagan elements into their version, apparently on the grounds of phasing the population into acceptance of the new faith by adhering to customs with which they were familiar and comfortable, and to which they were attached by generations of tradition. Thus we have such things as Easter egg hunts and gifts of candy which would seem to hearken back to some ancient fertility festival. The name Easter, of course, is said to derive from an ancient goddess named Oestre-a pagan fertility goddess.

Many modern day pagan religions, especially WIcca, now recognized the day of Oestre as occurring on the day of the Vernal Equinox-the first day of Spring-and is considered one of the eight sacred Sabbats that make up the Wheel Of The Year.

On the day of Oestre, the Goddess presents herself to the young God, who is filled with passion and desire for the beautiful Goddess with whom he is destined to mate. This of course is a symbolic representation of the full blown and newly returned fertility of the earth at the onset of spring.

This would seem to have little to do with the resurrection of Christ, and for that matter, with the sacred Holy Day of the Jewish Passover. However, there is another sacred day of the Jewish calendar, which takes place in the month of Adar, which seems to amount to what is actually the original Jewish version of what must have at one time been a widespread fertility festival that crossed many cultures and regions.

The Jewish Festival of Purim may in fact have been that original Jewish version of that ancient pagan fertility festival. Just as the Jews had their versions of the Great Flood stories then current in Babylonian and various other ancient mythologies, so too did they have their own version of the Goddess of Fertility-a Queen they named Esther, whose story is to be found in the Old Testament Book of Esther, the book on which the festival of Purim is based.

In their version, the Persian King Ahasuerus rejects his former queen, Vashti, because she refuses to appear naked at a banquet in order to show off her beauty. Vashti, of late a heroine to some elements of the feminist movement, was divorced, and either killed or exiled, depending on which theological school of thought you choose to believe. The original Biblical account is unclear on the matter, which leads me to believe this was a slam at the original fertility goddess, a way of saying that she was unsatisfactory and disappointing. After a period of searching for a replacement, the King settled on Esther, who was, unknown to him, an orphaned Jewess whose cousin Mordecai was her adopted father.

It doesn't take much imagination to see the connection between the name Esther to Oestre, which in fact is probably a Western European, probably Celtic, form of the Babylonian Ishtar. Her cousin Mordecai is likewise a form of the Babylonian God Marduk. In this version, Marduk, or Mordecai, had previously informed the King of a plot against his life, whereupon the plotters were apprehended and executed. Later, Haman, an adviser to the King, is incensed when Mordecai fails to pay him due honors, and sets about a plot to kill all the Jews within Persia. Haman hates all the Jews anyway, and especially despises Mordecai who, as a Benjamite, is a descendant of King Saul, who was responsible for the murder of his own ancestor, Agag King of the Amalekites. King Ahasuerus agrees to Hamans request, and when Mordecai gets wind of the plot, in desperation he turns to Esther for help.

Yet, Esther has a problem. The King has not sent for her since their original wedding night, and she fears if she approaches him without being summonsed by him she will fall from favor as did Vashti earlier. Seeing no other recourse, she summons her courage and approaches the King, and requests a banquet. She requests a second banquet the following night, and during the course of that first night, Ahasuerus is unable to sleep, and calls for his attendants to read to him from his archives in order to help him sleep. During the reading, he is reminded of the promise of a reward he previously promised to Mordecai for the earlier help in defeating the plot against his life. The following day, at the second banquet, he asks Haman what he would suggest as a reward for his most honored subject. Thinking Ahasuerus referred to himself, he suggested parading the honored subject on horseback with public honors. When Haman learned Mordecai was to be the recipient he was incensed.

Ahasuerus then had Haman killed on the same gallows he originally intended for Mordecai. Unfortunately, a peculiarity of Persian law decreed that no royal edict could be reversed or overturned, even by the same king who issued the edict. Therefore, the Jews were still legally bound to be executed by the pogrom Ahasuerus had ordered at the instigation of Haman. However, Ahasuerus gave the Jews permission to arm themselves and thus defend themselves from any attack, which they did. The attempted genocide that Haman's vengeful sons attempted to carry out resulted in all their deaths and the deaths of most of their followers.

As a result, the events of this story are celebrated every year in the festival of Purim. The festival includes a period of fasting which is followed by feasting, the giving of charity to the poor, and gifts of food to friends and relatives. There is also a rather odd and unusual rule that strongly encourages a period of drunkenness for the men, though it is generally discouraged for the women. It is actually quite a festive holiday, much in keeping with what is usually to be found in a festival revolving around rites of fertility. It is possibly the most joyous of all the Jewish holy days, filed with much frivolity and merry-making. Even the traditional noisemaking to drown out the sounds of the name of Haman is conducted in an overall attitude of fun and general frivolity.

How much of it is historical? Probably little if any of it. There are many elements that point to this being a Jewish version of the old fertility rites current in the region at the time. When Vashti, the original fertility goddess of the old festival, falls out of favor, it takes how long for Ahasuerus to find a suitable replacement in the form of Esther? Exactly twelve months-just in time, it would seem, for the next annual festival.

And, although Esther is obviously favored in the eyes of the King-he chose her from among twelve other competing participants-he yet sends her to the harem where he keeps her isolated, and never calls for her until she seeks his aid in the matter of Mordecai and Haman-one might assume with some validity about the time of the next annual festival.

When she does approach him, it almost perfectly presents the image of the beautiful Goddess appearing before the love stricken King, vying for his favors. Only in the Jewish version of the fertility festival, there is more at stake here than an invocation to hasten the earth's renewed fertility. The survival of the whole Jewish nation is at stake. So therefore you have a fertility festival dedicated to invoking the continuing increased abundance and security of the Jewish people.

Of course, some might take issue with that interpretation, and with the identification of two Jewish heroes of antiquity being identified as in reality two pagan deities. Be that as it may, I am hardly the first to notice the similarity of the Book of Esther to pagan traditions. I will close here with the words of Martin Luther himself, pertaining to his observations of the Book of Esther, the Biblical book on which the festival of Purim is based-

"The book of Esther I toss into the Elbe. I am such an enemy to the book of Esther that I wish it did not exist, for it Judaizes too much and has in it a great deal of heathenish naughtiness".

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Radu-Chapter XXXIX (A Novel by Patrick Kelley)

Links to previous Chapters are listed at end of this Chapter.
Radu-Chapter XXXIX (A Novel by Patrick Kelley)
9 pages approximate
Khoska was highly disturbed by the last communication he received from Phelps, who seemed to have disappeared, a fact that did not bode well. No one seemed to have heard from him or otherwise had any clue as to his whereabouts. His old boss at the Baltimore Enquirer, Mr. Dietrich, had no idea where he could be, but seemed inordinately concerned for his safety, pleading with Khoska to keep him informed.

Khoska had no idea how to proceed with the news he received in a large manila envelope, which contained many disturbing photos. One revealed four individuals standing outside what Khoska was almost certain was the old Krovell mortuary. One of them was almost certainly the Baltimore detective, James Berry, in the company of a young girl Khoska was almost equally certain was the young girl who recently disappeared from the care of his youngest daughter. Yet, that girl returned after an absence of weeks, seemingly unharmed. His daughter’s current welfare was an all together different matter. At any rate, the picture did not reveal sufficient detail as to insure a proper identification of the girl. There was not even a slight view of her face or profile.

As for the other two, they looked to be of frightful countenance, particularly the man. Khoska prevailed upon Dietrich to assist him, and the tabloid editor did so by enlarging the photos. Khoska was horrified at what he saw. The woman looked to be a walking corpse in at least an intermediate though seemingly stalled stage of decomposition. As for the man, he seemed, to all intents and purposes, a mummified and yet obviously reanimated entity, who, though alive and so seemingly immortal, could not obscure his true age, which would seem more accurately measured not in decades, but in centuries.

“I know who that man is,” Dietrich observed. “That’s James Berry, a decorated veteran of the force. He’s been relieved from duty, according to what I’ve heard, pending some kind of internal police investigation, though I have no idea what it’s about. I do know he’s in the hospital right now. Unfortunately, he’s in quarantine, so he can’t be of any help. Even if he wanted to, from what I hear, he’s near death. As for these other people-well, your guess is as good as mine as to who they are. It’s just too bad Phelps wasn’t able to get a good shot of the girl’s face.”

The old man seemed not so much agitated as worried, probably over Phelps and the potential danger he might be in, assuming he was even yet alive.

“So, anyway, what’s all this other stuff?”

“It’s a list of mostly major cities, here and around the world. There are more than three hundred of them all together, yet there is no discernible connection to them other than their inclusion on this list. There is no indication as to the reason for the list at all. I was curious as to whether this might have something to do with the current epidemics that plaque so many areas of the country.”

Dietrich looked at Khoska with a growing sense of dread.

“Surely you don’t think this is some kind of conspiracy,” he said. “Who would be behind such a thing? What would be the purpose behind it?”

“I think there is more to it than that,” Khoska said. “I honestly believe that is merely the beginning. In fact, I have a strong feeling that this is merely a diversion. Of course, at our advanced ages, the diversion could be a merciful one, compared to what I feel is coming.”

“Well, I just got my check-up, and I have a medical plan for all the employees here. So far, no one has suffered anything out of the ordinary. Still, it looks bad, and it can always get worse. ‘Behold, a pale horse, and the name of he who rode upon him was Death, and Hell followed with him.’ I used to be an altar boy, back in another, happier time. I’ve been thinking about that passage a lot these days.”

“I’ve been thinking about it for the last forty years,” Khoska replied. “I always thought I would be prepared. Believe me, you can never be prepared when it really finally happens.”

“You don’t think-this is it, do you?”

“I don’t know,” Khoska replied grimly, but his inner concern was palpable. He avoided mention of his son, though aware that Dietrich had to have been aware of the relationship. The other pictures had Dietrich’s attention focused to great extent on the man who Phelps seemed to have photographed at various angles, and in other settings. Outside of what looked to be the Romanian Embassy in Washington. Outside of what looked to be a Goth nightclub, judging from the looks of a number of exiting patrons, though in an undetermined locale. There was another outside of a large office skyscraper, conversing with what looked to be a passing prostitute, who smiled eagerly while engaging him in conversation.

“This is incredible, but you know something? I do not think this is the way he looks-not in real life. Judging from the casual nature of the conversations in these pictures, the relaxed nature of his companions, even the general reactions of passers-by in the photos, it is as though there is nothing whatsoever out of the ordinary about him. Even these Goth kids should have some kind of reaction out of somebody that seems to look actually this horrible. Yet, there is nothing. The prostitute, if that’s what she is, seems to regard him as though he were just another potential client. I think this might be Washington as well, and”-

Cruiser suddenly stopped in mid-sentence, as he peered closely at the photograph.

“My God, this picture was just taken two weeks ago,” he said. “Phelps has been missing for twice that long. He’s alive. Why in the hell doesn’t he contact me-or somebody? You would think he would at least have written some kind of explanatory note when he sent you these pictures.”

“Maybe he didn’t have time,” Khoska volunteered, though relieved at the realization that Phelps was possibly yet alive and enjoying relative freedom of movement. “Possibly, he had to move fast and”-

“But he had time to take pictures, and a camera to take them with? That makes even less sense. Unless-he’s working on a big story and is afraid I might blow his cover. That’s it-he’s afraid I’ll come looking for him. That can only mean he is in real danger, even if he’s convinced whoever he’s with that he’s one of them, for now.”

“Or maybe he really is with them, and these pictures are meant to point away from the truth, not towards it?”

Dietrich paused to consider Khoska’s observation as-to the old Priests annoyance-he lit up a cigar.

“Aren’t those things likely to lower you resistance to disease?” he inquired. “Also, are they not illegal in public buildings such as this?”

“Phelps would never do that,” he said, ignoring Khoska’s complaint as he lowered himself to his chair, still pondering the photos. “These pictures were probably taken with a small hand held camera. He might have even purchased it while out on some errand, and then disposed of it.

“You know, I think this prostitute is the same one that was murdered a couple of weeks ago. A DC cop found her in an alley with her throat slashed open, almost completely drained of all her blood. A similar murder occurred in Washington outside the Romanian embassy, and a Gothic nightclub on the outskirts of Georgetown. I bet this is the same club. It almost looks like Phelps is following this guy, keeping tabs on him, whoever he is.”

“His name is Marlowe Krovell,” Khoska said. “The picture of him with Berry is outside the family’s old mortuary. I am almost positive it’s him. I think I know who the woman is as well, but I do not even want to think about that right now. That other picture I showed you, of Grace Rodescu-do you know anything about that, or where it was taken?”

“Yes, it was a house in Georgetown. It belongs to a lobbyist and minor diplomat by the name of Edward Akito. He’s a real scary individual, but shadowy. What his role in all this is I can’t even begin to guess at. His wife died a few years back from an advanced case of what amounts to a form of Mad Cow disease. There were rumors in some circles that it was the result of cannibalism-in particular, that she contracted the disease by eating the brains of infants.

“I ran a story on it, and was going to do a series, but then I was almost forced to print a retraction. Akito was intent on bringing a lawsuit, and in the meantime informed me that his wife spent a considerable amount of time in England during a period of outbreaks of the illness. She in fact traveled the world on a consistent basis. I dropped the story and never heard form him again.”

“Where exactly did you hear this?” Khoska asked, growing more alarmed by the minute.

“Grace,” he said. “She gave me no explanations, only that she had a very reliable source, but that she was unable to share it with me. To tell you the truth, I had the distinct impression that she herself was the source. Still, I could get nothing out of her, and when the story was dropped, she seemed-well, almost relieved. It was all very strange, even unsettling. Now, here she is, visiting his home. I don’t know what to make of it.”

When Khoska left the Examiner’s office building, he first intended to stop at Johns Hopkins to see Phillip. Yet, his son was still in a coma, so he saw no need to do so. He was not likely to learn anything of value, nor was it possible for him to see Detective Berry-which would not be advisable at any rate, in Berry’s condition. Nevertheless, he did stop at Doctor McCann’s office to pick up some penicillin and some other immune boosters, though McCann advised him to use them sparingly.

“Overuse can induce tolerance, which would make them worthless,” he explained. Take them every three or four days, and rotate them, and you should be fine. Take them in different mixtures and quantities when you do take them.”

Khoska promised him he would do so, and then questioned him about Doctor Chou.

“How well do you really know him?”

“Not well, to tell you the truth. He is a better than average physician, but I never refer anyone to him, because I always suspected he was a bit of a boozer. He has changed a lot since the murder of his daughter a few months ago. He seems to have grown far more intense since he managed to get this crazy appointment to direct this new experimental program. No one seems to know anything about it, but many people are outraged that a mere general practitioner should take precedence over what should reportedly be the domain of specialists. It’s all so very mysterious, it’s really hard to fathom. Yet, he seems dedicated enough-one might even call him driven.

“I’ve also heard rumors to the effect that his wife has either left him, or something else mysterious has happened involving her, but no one knows anything. She used to be a real estate agent, but suddenly she seems to have disappeared.”

“Well, he is mysterious enough, all right,” Khoska replied. “He was one of my son’s attending physicians at one point, yet he would never return my calls. I attempted to contact him several times, all to no avail. I have spoken to no one but nurses, who seem limited in the information they can provide me. Chou’s involvement was, however, temporary. Phillip is now apparently under the care of a different physician, but damned if I know who it is. It’s almost as though no one seems to know, or is willing to tell me if they do.”

McCann seemed very disturbed at this revelation, and promised he would look into it.

“I wanted you to be his physician,” Khoska stated.

“That is very kind of you, but I’m afraid it’s as much out of my league as it would be for Chou. Your son’s injuries are of a profound nature. I would imagine he is under the care of a neurosurgeon. I’ll tell you what, hold on for a minute, and I’ll see what I can find out.”

McCann placed a call that the hospital switchboard forwarded to the Hospital Administration, and from there to a person with whom McCann seemed on cordial terms. He found himself in the position now to have to accept an invitation to some event headed by the Baltimore Philharmonic. He affirmed his calendar was clear on the date in question and, rolling his eyes, answered that he would be delighted to attend.

After what seemed an interminably prolonged period of casual conversation, McCann inquired about the status of Phillip Khoska. He seemed mystified by the time he hung up the phone.

“Frederick Sherman,” he said. “That’s odd. Sherman is a heart specialist. That makes no sense whatsoever. Did your son have any cardiovascular problems prior to his present admission?”

“Not that I am aware of, but you have to understand, me and Phillip have not been on speaking terms for several years now.”

“That is extraordinary,” McCann continued. “Someone would have had to request him, I would think, and it would have to be approved by the hospital administration. Of course, he is the head physician over your son’s case, but surely not the only one. I am certain a neurosurgeon is involved somewhere down the line, but it is still most peculiar.”

“That name sounds familiar, but I certainly never requested him. Perhaps his current wife did, but I would not know why she would do that. As far as I know, her chief concern is getting as much money as she can before the government gets it all. I am of the opinion that Phillip could be put in the care of a veterinarian for all she cares.”

By the time Aleksandre returned to The Church of The Blessed Sacrament, he found Michael on his way out of the basement.

“What are you doing down there?”

“I think we have rats,” he replied. “I almost never got to sleep last night. Every time I would doze off, I heard the sounds of scurrying through the vents from the basement. I saw no sign of anything, but just the same, I set some traps, and some poison.”

“You should be with Agnes,” Khoska said with an admonishing tone. “How is she doing?”

“There is no difference,” he replied. “She babbles, when she says anything at all. She insists the children are possessed and intend to kill her. When I tell her they have been taken to another orphanage, in another state, it seems to not make the slightest difference. She just looks herself in the mirror, and insists she is dying. Other than that, she does nothing but cry. I wonder when I shall have to start force-feeding her. She barely eats as it is. I think we should have her committed, speaking honestly.”

“Two days ago you were dead set against such an idea,” Khoska reminded him.

“I didn’t want to face the reality of her condition,” Michael replied. “I hoped with prayer and our attention she would pull out of it. I can see now that there is little hope of that.”

“Little hope of what?”

They turned at the sound of Agnes, looking weak and pale, dressed in her nightclothes, standing now in the doorway that led from the church to the attached apartments and offices.

“Agnes, you should not be out of bed,” Khoska warned her. “You are too weak.”

“Tell me the truth father,” she said. “How do I really look? I know I am marked for death, and it shall come soon. I can see it in my face, and in my eyes. Can you not see it?”

“The devil is attacking you, Agnes,” Khoska replied. “He is trying to make you believe that. You are confused and afraid, and your despair shows in your features. Believe me, there is no look of death on your face. That is something that is entirely in your mind.”

“Why are you lying to me?” she demanded. Michael stood there, his anxiety palpable, as he and Khoska watched as she withdrew a mirror from the pocket of her robe. She held it to her face. She cried profusely.

“My skin is rotting away from my face, right before my eyes,” she said. “Please stop trying to humor me, father. I can plainly see what is happening. I have failed God, and I have failed the children. I have allowed them to be infected with a Satanic evil, because I was lacking in faith. Now, God has deserted me. I never cease praying, and yet my prayers fall on deaf ears.”

She suddenly stopped, and began looking around her as though reacting to sounds that she alone could hear.

“Do you hear that? It is the children. They are laughing, waiting for their chance to tear into my like before, only it is not truly them, but the demons that have taken possession of them due to my failure.”

“Agnes, the children are not here!” Khoska almost shouted as he struggled to control his patience and temper. “You are right to recognize the influence of Satan, but you are very wrong when you say God has deserted you. When you start to believe that, you are truly defeated. You must get hold of yourself.”

“Excellent advice, dear brother-for us all, I might add,” came the voice from the front of the church. Khoska turned as though a strong wind had forced upon the doors of the church, while Michael just stared in confusion at the new arrival.

“Who are you?” he asked. Agnes remained standing, though slumped over, seemingly unaware of the entrance of the elder man and equally aged woman who stood by his side. Both of them smiled toward their wary guests.

“He is your uncle,” Khoska replied. “His name is Martin Krovell, and I assume the woman with him is his wife Louise. What exactly are you doing here?”

“Are you serious?” Michael asked as the man approached, while Nancy remained near the door.

“Well, so this is Michael,” the man said. “What a pleasant surprise. Why, I should know you anywhere.”

“Michael, please take Agnes back to her room, and no matter what you hear or no matter what happens, remain there with her until I join you there.”

Michael took Agnes by the arm and gently led her toward the doorway to the back of the church that led to the living quarters. She uttered no word in protest as Michael removed the mirror from her hand and led away.

“It is very nice meeting you, young man,” the old woman called out from the front. “I do hope your sister will be well. There is too much sadness and despair in the world as it is.”

“Thank you,” Michael replied, obviously still stunned by the unexpected visit, while Khoska stood there and fumed at the audacity of such brazen arrogance.

“I have been so looking forward to meeting you, brother-in-law,” the old woman chimed. “It is too bad we can not for now have more time to be acquainted, but perhaps we shall one day make amends, under far more pleasant circumstances.”

“I find that unlikely,” Khoska said. “Rest assured that I am not in the least bit impressed or deceived by you and your husband’s pleasantries. I am all too aware of your true natures as well as the reason for your presence here. Speak your piece and then leave here, as quickly as possible.”

“We are merely here to do the Lord’s work, my brother,” Martin replied. “It is he who led us here, you know.”

“I think your Lord has left the stench of sulfur on you. I have no time for this foolishness. I warn you, say what you have to say at once, or else I will”-

‘Oh, very well, Aleksandre. Louise, if you would be so kind as to leave my brother and myself alone for a few minutes? You may wait out in the car if you wish. I should not be too long. Perhaps while you wait you can work one of those new crossword puzzle books you insisted I buy on the way over here.”

“It’s too dark, Martin, but that’s all right. I will listen to some music. Better yet, I will just entertain myself by humming some tunes in my head, something pleasant like Camp Town Races. That way I will not run the car battery while I wait. I am sure you two brothers have much to discuss.”

“It won’t take long, believe me,” Khoska hissed as the old woman left the church.

“Really, Aleksandre, if anyone should be upset at the other, it is I who should be so at you. After all, it was almost fifty yeas ago today when I first approached you with a request to assist me in learning the whereabouts of my mother, whom I never suspected at the time was also your own. You either knew this or you soon discovered it, and yet you never saw fit to tell me the truth. You deprived me of the chance to spend even a small amount of time with her before she finally died. I never knew her.”

“Yes, perhaps that was wrong of me,” Khoska replied, “but it was my mother’s wishes that none of your family, including you, should know of her whereabouts. I had no choice in the matter. Judging from what I since learned about the Krovell branch of the family, I do not find it at all hard to understand why she felt that way. Your father brutalized her during her brief time with her, before she married my own father and now”-

“Aleksandre, you don’t understand. I do, and perfectly. I forgive you-not that there is truly anything to forgive. It is not my intention to dredge up past indiscretions and misunderstandings. Whether you like me or not, that is irrelevant. The fact is, whether you care to admit it or not, we are brothers-half brothers only, true enough, but brothers nevertheless. As such, I would feel derelict in my duties were I not to give you the opportunity to return to the one true faith of our ancestors, and to turn away from this blasphemous heresy which you now practice.”

Aleksandre trembled in rage and in shock when he heard this. For a brief moment, he was speechless, but managed quickly to regain his composure.

“Are you insane?” he demanded. “I know what you believe. You are the one who practices the heresy that is of the most abominable nature-that which involves devouring innocent flesh and blood. Your forebears took the truth of the gospel of our Lord and perverted it into a sacrament for demons. The Gospels even warned of practices such as you engage in, and denounced them clearly as of the Wicked One. The first ones who followed your vile practices were the ones Nero and other Roman emperors used to excuse the persecutions of all Christians, on the grounds of sexual perversions and cannibalism.

“When they were denounced by the true Christians, they were forced to leave, and took their vile, unholy practices with them to Dacia, where they spread them amongst the backwards pagans of that region. Even there, they were eventually denounced, and had to go underground, where they continued in small, secret enclaves throughout the centuries.

“I have known of your existence for years, though I never truly understood, until recently, that you were involved. It never occurred to me that this was the reason our mother wanted nothing to do with you. She was too ashamed to tell me the truth.”

Khoska stopped briefly, and could see the twinkle had gone out of his brothers eyes, leaving behind a barely hidden and yet smoldering rage. Yet, there was a hint of sadness there that could not help but move Khoska.

“Martin, it is not too late. I know you are not entirely responsible. Your father gave you over, as he was before you, to a reprobate mind. You were born and bred to this evil. Perhaps it is to a point understandable that you would think it is normal-perhaps even sacred. Nevertheless, although I cannot prove it, I think you are responsible for the deaths of my daughter-in-law and my grandchildren and their families. I think that”-

He stopped as it occurred to him that suddenly, Martin Krovell could no longer look him in the eyes.

“You killed Jonathon, didn’t you?” he asked. “You and that gypsy whore that you call your wife, waiting for you out there. Of course, how could I not have figured it out?”

Khoska was now beside himself with grief and rage, as Martin finally met his accusatory eyes.

“You don’t understand, Aleksandre,” he said. “All things happen for a reason. The end of the age is upon us. Did you truly believe that everything was all love and light, and that heaven waits only for those who do what the world in its wicked imagination supposes is good and holy? I know that you do not see it, nor do you want to see it, but it is your gospel that is the perverted one.

“The true Gospel of Christ follows his instructions to remember the sacrifice of his body and blood. In this world, the shedding of innocent blood is always required in order for the angel of death to pass over. No longer is it sufficient to kill a dumb animal and spread its blood over your door. That ended with the murder of our Lord.

“Nothing less than the powerful blood of the innocent is sufficient to turn back God’s wrath. What you think of as a sin you do so in carnal human terms. The heaven of God is eternal. Those innocent babes are now out of harms way of this evil world. They sit beside the throne of God, and wait our arrival, in blissful happiness.

“God’s will be done, dear brother,” Martin concluded. “Not man’s will, but God’s will be done.”

Khoska trembled now in rage. He was right. The man standing before him preaching this vile blasphemy inside his own church was responsible for the murder of his daughter-in-law and his grandchildren, along with their wives and a girlfriend, and even his young great grandchildren, going so far as to devour the flesh and blood of one of them-a mere infant. Suddenly, he glanced down at the Eucharistic table, and saw the black handled blade-the athame that once belonged to the repentant Joseph Karinsky. What was it doing here? Joseph’s knapsack also lay on the floor, its contents scattered. He did not stop to wonder why. He picked up the large ceremonial sword and glared menacingly at his brother as he fought back tears.

‘I should kill you now,” he declared. He raised the sword above his head as he advanced but, to his surprise, Martin sunk down to the floor on his knees and bowed his head-and prayed in hushed, whispered tones. This enraged Khoska even more, and he raised the sword to strike, but he hesitated.

“Do it,” Martin Krovell said. “I have seen too many years of this world’s wickedness. I am ready to leave it. I only ask that you have mercy towards my wife. Tell her that I love her, and allow her to leave here in peace. You may give any excuse you wish for my death. Tell the police that you killed me in the midst of a struggle, in which I physically assaulted you. I am sure they will find it relatively easy to believe you, brother. It so happens I am being sought by them even now for questioning in the murder of Grant. Do what you feel you must.”

Khoska lowered the blade as his stomach churned. He turned and gagged, finding it an effort to keep from throwing up.

“Get the hell out of here, Martin,” he said. “Take your gypsy wife and never return here. The next time I see you, I promise you I will kill you and her as well. You had best leave at once before I change my mind and do it now. What I have learned this night would make me more than justified.”

Martin rose, but slowly, as he kept his eyes peeled towards his half-brother. Then, he saw the athame. He smiled.

“Goodbye, Aleksandre. We will never see each other again-until the Day of Judgment.”

Every fiber of his being urged Khoska to plunge the athame into the back of his evil half-brother, but he could not bring himself to follow through with these impulses. Even though he told himself it would serve not only the cause of justice but might well prevent other atrocities, he watched, almost paralyzed with inner conflict, as Martin Krovell walked slowly out the door, not so much as turning his back as he spoke not one more word.

Khoska collapsed to the floor and broke down in uncontrollable sobs. He wished he had the courage to plunge the athame into his abdomen. What was he to do now? He had never taken a human life though he had been responsible for an attempt years earlier on the life of Grace Rodescu. He could invent justifications for such actions, although the fault there was as much with him as with her. Now, when he had the perfect opportunity to end the life of someone whose very existence was an abomination to all that was holy, he had not the strength to do it. Never had he felt such despair. He pulled himself off the floor. He now even avoided looking at the icons that adorned his small, simple church. He could feel their eyes looking down on him in judgment, and even mockery.

Then, he remembered the knapsack. Why was it here? It should be down in the basement. He reasoned that Michael must have brought them up here when he was down there earlier. Yet, why would he do that? Why did he scatter them about in this manner? He peered inside the knapsack, noting that few of Joseph’s late possessions, consisting mostly of items of clothing, remained within, being mostly scattered about on the floor at the sacristy table.

There were CDs, including two by what he learned was a Goth Metal band by the name of The Mocktones. Included in the picture on the cover was Sierra Lawson. There were other items as well, such as a used black candle, the prior use of which Khoska tried to avoid thinking about. There were also pictures, both group and individual ones, of Joseph and Sierra and all their friends, including Spiral Lamont, with whom Khoska had been very briefly acquainted. A girl with a shaved head and a tattoo on her face meant to resemble the supposed moustache and goatee many imagine sported by Satan. Joseph told him her name was Sherry Adams, called “Larceny”. A young girl named Debbie Leighton, nicknamed “Spanky”, whom Joseph confessed aided and abetted them all in the brutal murder of her own parents. A young man named Milo Richmond, who was a drug dealer as well as a heavy drug user himself. A heavy-set and muscular young man named George Dodd, called “Rhino”, whom Joseph described as mildly retarded, and extremely temperamental, yet at the same time “good hearted.”

Khoska shook his head in wonder at the irony of that assessment when he remembered how Joseph in almost the same breath related to him how Dodd joined in the live cannibalism of what turned out to be his own infant son. This was at the instigation of the one who was supposed to be his girlfriend within the group-the strikingly beautiful and yet malignantly evil girl named Raven Randall. Khoska looked upon her picture within the group, and another one taken with Joseph, and then he realized-one of the pictures was gone, the one picture taken of Raven alone, standing in front of a fountain in nothing but a tank top and a thong, an arrogantly seductive smile upon her face.

He found himself wondering if Michael took the picture for his own purposes, so abruptly as to leave the other items of the knapsack abandoned and scattered upon the floor. He remembered how Michael had a teenage habit at one time of engaging in masturbation, and now he wondered if he had ever actually stopped this disgusting habit. Surely he would not involve himself with such unseemly practices now of all times. He found himself forgetting whether this was actually Michael or his late twin Jonathon. No, it was Michael, he decided. He realized, however, that there certainly must be another explanation. He almost felt foolish.

Then, he heard a groan from above him, and the sound of footsteps, lumbering on the floor as they drew closer to him, from the direction of the basement. He looked up quickly to see the horrible looking woman who looked literally like walking death, and yet who seemed so familiar.

“Those-Arrrrre-Miiiiiiine,” she told him as he hurriedly pulled himself to his knees while looking at the photo, then back at the figure. He was right. It was she. She held the picture of herself in her right hand, but now loosed her hold on it. He watched as it dropped with a slant to the floor as she glared at him in pure malice.

“Joooo-Seph,” she continued as Khoska stared at her in open-mouthed terror. “Wheeeer-Is-He?”

She spat out each drawn out syllable as though not in complete control of her physical or mental faculties, and Khoska realized what he was dealing with.

“What-are you-doing here?” he asked as he found himself losing control of his own faculties. He was choking in terror, but found it impossible to move as the dead woman advanced a few inches closer.

“Jaaaaamesssss-Beeerrrry-seennt-meee!” she spoke louder.

Khoiska could tell the woman seemed angry and frustrated. Yet, she did not breathe as she spoke. She seemed to have to suction air into her throat in order to form her words. Though her eyes were void of any sign of life or intelligence, they seemed to focus on him with a deadly intensity, while her nostrils flared in vivid reaction to his scent. Khoska knew that the person who now stood before him was more than just a simple reanimated corpse. She was in fact little more than a wild animal with the memories of a former human life. This was a walking corpse that once contained a tortured human soul but now held no soul at all-at least not one that any could accurately describe as human.

She suctioned more air into her dead, rigid lungs and held it there as she stepped closer at a deceptively quick pace for one with such a stiff and awkward gait. Her nostrils flared wildly as her eyes focused on the shadowy figure before her. He backed up slightly whereupon she moved closer and opened her mouth, her protruding tongue lashing at the air as her yellowed teeth flashed in angry hunger. Then, she pounced. Khoska, without thinking, plunged the athame deep inside her abdomen, twisting as he withdrew it, and then aimed at her heart. She roared not so much in pain as in surprise, as Khoska, looking upon the blade and saw dried gore but no blood. Raven’s eyes now came into greater focus, but Khoska backed up quickly, toward the baptismal font which set off to the side of the wall. He scooped up a handful and threw it at her as he admonished her in the name of The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit. Raven screamed in terror when she felt the water touch her, but it merely enraged her more. She was soon at Khoska’s throat, lifting him up as he flailed wildly and impotently with the athame. Raven growled, and then threw him halfway across the room. Khoska landed on his lack on top of one of the middle pews and screamed in agony. Before Raven could reach him, he dropped down onto the floor and slid down under the pews.

As he scampered with unusual speed under them and toward the door, he could hear Raven growling now like an angry bear as she with seemingly little effort ripped each pew from the floor and flung it to the side. Khoska’s heart was pounding in his chest as the crazed dead woman finally ripped off the pew from above where he now lay collapsed and exhausted. She stood over him-laughing a demonically evil and shrill laugh as she bent down over him. She bared her fangs and seemed ready to sink them seep into Khoska’s thigh, when suddenly she reared up with a roar. Khoska then caught sight of the athame that protruded from her chest. She backed up in pain and terror as she looked around at the sight of Michael. It was then that Khoska saw the flames.

“Father, you have to get away now,” Michael said. Raven now stumbled around from the mortal wound of the athame, which Michael had plunged through her heart. He now grabbed up a burning altar cloth and flung it at the creature, which roared at him in horror. She tried vainly to throw off the burning cloth as the flames engulfed her clothing. Khoska made his way toward the door, while Michael ran back toward the office. Khoska turned and watched as Michael returned with a fire extinguished, and as Raven now seemed a flaming mass, screaming pitifully.

After he extinguished the flames in the church, Michael spread the foam in a circle around where the reanimated corpse yet burned, now silently, her screams of despair finally silenced. Khoska pulled himself painfully toward where Michael stood grimly surveying the horribly stinking and yet burning corpse.

“Put it out, Michael,” he said. “She is finished. If she keeps burning, it is likely to burn through to the basement ceiling.”

Michael just stood there, grimly surveying the body as the flames now seemed to die down on their own. Soon, there was nothing left but a smoldering mass that barely looked human.

“Would you like to explain to me exactly who she was?” Michael demanded. “What’s next, father? What else will we have to contend with before this is all over with?”

Khoska’s eyes now burnt from the smoke that now inundated the fire-damaged church, and was now as thick as the sickening odor of long-dead human remains, and he stumbled in exhaustion toward the front door. The smoke billowed out as he stood at the doorway. Looking around, he saw the black vulture, which perched on a lower branch of the old elm tree to the right of the front yard. It glared at him with its black eyes focused as through him, but then flew away as Michael joined him on the front porch.

“Father, we cannot deal with this on our own,” Michael Khoska said. “We need help. This is too much for either or both of us. We were very lucky this time.”

“Agnes,” Khoska suddenly whispered in hoarse realization.

“What about her?” Michael asked in dread.

At that exact instant, they both heard the blood-curdling scream emanating from inside the church from the back. Khoska dropped down suddenly to his knees in defeat. At that moment, he knew his worse fears were realized.

Previous Installments-
Part One
Prologue and Chapters I-X
Part Two
Chapter XI
Chapter XII
Chapter XIII
Chapter XIV
Chapter XV
Chapter XVI
Chapter XVII
Chapter XVIII
Chapter XIX
Chapter XX
Chapter XXI
Chapter XXII
Chapter XXIII
Chapter XXIV
Chapter XXV
Chapter XXVI
Chapter XXVII
Chapter XXVIII
Chapter XXIX
Chapter XXX
Chapter XXXI
Chapter XXXII
Chapter XXXIII
Chapter XXXIV
Chapter XXXV
Chapter XXXVI
Chapter XXXVII

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Obama's Kennedy Speech

Although it was never billed as such, Barak Obama's latest speech addressing the Reverend Wright controversy followed in the footsteps of Mitt Romney in giving his version of the reassuring Kennedy speech. Kennedy, of course, gave the original speech during the 1960 election season in order to reassure voters that, though he considered himself a devout Catholic, he would run the presidency according to the laws and the Constitution of the United States-not according to the dictates of the Pope or the Vatican. The speech was hailed as a success.

When Mitt Romney repeated his own particular version, it too was hailed as a good speech, though it was, as we now know, not nearly as successful. At the very least, though it might have reassured potential voters as to his determined independence as a Mormon regarding governmental affairs, it certainly did not win him enough support to make a difference.

Barak Obama has got a serious problem. White Americans concerns are understandable, if not entirely fair. He tried to address those concerns, and only time will tell if he was ultimately successful. Make no mistake about it. This speech and this controversy is as much about religious dogma, faith, and fervor, as the Kennedy and Romney concerns before it.

There is a very real thread running through American black churches of which the Reverend Wright is just one strand, albeit now a more noticeable one than most. He is by no means out of the ordinary. Actually, you might compare him to a run in a woman's pantyhose. It just sticks out more noticeably than the rest of the garment, but in actuality it is a part of the whole that would ordinarily be indistinguishable.

Obama's job now is to convince Americans that he can run the presidency fairly and even handedly, without favoritism toward one group over another, despite the fact that he is a seemingly devout adherent to a faith that would give most white Americans cause for concern. That is the task he set out to perform in this speech, but I'm not so sure he accomplished what he obviously set out to do.

For one thing, the bit about the white grandmother was a bit over the top. Any old person would feel intimidated passing a group of black men on the street. Hell, I'm not an old person, and I feel intimidated under certain circumstances. If they are a group of black teenagers I find myself wishing for a grenade on the grounds that if it's necessary I'll take them all out with me. This is not racial prejudice or bigotry. This is familiarity with the national news. Also, sad to say, personal experience has a bit to do with it.

It is also disingenuous at best for him to insist that he does not believe at least somewhat the same as the Reverend White believes. How could he not? Unfortunately, whether white Americans want to face this reality or not, Obama, like myself, has news and history to back him up, to at least some degree.

But, just as I might well be advised to get over my angst at passing multiple blacks on the street, Obama and his fellow worshipers would be equally well-advised to get over the past. It's time for us all to move on. You don't do that by engaging in subterfuge and denial.

Of course, he is in a bit of a jam. He can't come across as an angry black man running for the presidency of the United States determined to make right the injustices of the past. He has to put himself across as a man who is, in fact, bi-racial, and who wants to heal the divisions caused by those injustices of the past. At the same time, he has to show he can walk and chew gum at the same time by proving that he can look at the myriads of problems that face the US and approach them evenly and fairly when race is involved, and avoid injecting race into them when race is not involved.

I want to be clear about something. I am not an Obama supporter. I can think of many reasons to vote against him. In fact, I can think of quite a few damn good reasons to vote against him. I'm just not so sure this is one of the reasons. Unfortunately, I seriously doubt he has given much of a reason to dissuade the concerns of those who have them.

As for the "Not God Bless America, No No, God Damn America" bit, I think the religious rhetoric is over the top on both sides. I've heard this same kind of stuff from Falwell, from Robertson, and a few others who insist that God either has or will damn America because of first one thing or another. The exact same white Christians who are most concerned about Reverend Wright and Obama's affiliation with him are, as we speak, doing their damndest to encourage all out war between Israel and its Middle Eastern neighbors in order to hurry Armageddon and the Second Coming of Christ. Most of these folks, by the way, tend to vote Republican, if they vote at all.

Many of them seem to forget that John McCain publicly sought reconciliation and support from the Reverend Jerry Falwell, not too long before Falwell died, despite the fact that Falwell blamed the attacks of 9/11 on secular humanists, gays, feminists, pagans, etc., who, according to Falwell, "helped make this happen". The litany of sins and sinners responsible was mind-numbing, and the Reverend Pat Robertson, who stood beside him at the lectern, offered no disagreement. Robertson, in fact, applauded the incapacitation of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, saying God punished him with a stroke for trying to give a part of the "Holy Land" to the Palestinians-land that Robertson insists God intends Israel to have.

We have listened with baited breath at how God sent Hurricane Katrina to destroy the wicked city of New Orleans and how, evidently to make sure he got the point across, he made a little side trip to the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. He seems to have been somewhat pissed at the gambling and other apparent debaucheries going on there at the time.

You can write a book on this stuff. Yeah, a good many Republicans have decried such rhetoric, to their credit. By the same token, a good many others have not, and have even voiced agreement with it. In any event, they should not pretend that Wright is anything out of the ordinary. The only real difference would amount to a disagreement, not as to whether God Damns America, but why God Damns America.

Unfortunately for Obama, the people he has to convince are not the ones in the other camp, who are unlikely to vote for him at any rate (though he might have convinced some of them that have been loathe at the idea of voting for McCain to hold their nose and do so). The main people he has to convince are those who would just as soon religion was kept in the background and our political leaders concentrate on the very real issues the country faces. As it is now, though, they must wonder if Obama shares to at least some degree his former Reverend's beliefs.

At the same time, he has to walk a thin line. He can't run his campaign on the defensive about this issue, nor can he afford to take time away from concentrating on those issues of most concern to the voters who can make or break a candidacy. Yet, he can't by any means imagine that, with this one speech, he can ignore the problem from here on out.

If he doesn't face this problem squarely and convincingly-and fast-then if he does manage to win the Democratic nomination (which now is by no means a sure thing) then by the time Election Day arrives, independent voters will run to McCane in droves.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Guest Blogger On The Obama-Reverend Wright Controversy

From time to time, I like to feature guest bloggers here in order to give what you might call a “fair and balanced” perspective to the issues of the day. It was not too many months ago, in fact, that one my favorite guest bloggers, the great Riley Flubs, opined as to The Minneapolis Bridge Disaster.

It took a few days for my keyboard to be sufficiently disinfected, and I almost decided to forgo any further such experiments.

However, from time to time, certain issues arise that cry out for input from other sources than just my self. With this is mind, it is now my pleasure to introduce a man who is a local pastor of one of my neighborhood Baptist Churches. This man lives, breathes, eats, and sleeps the word of God.

We have all heard the news of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright and his firebrand rhetoric, which some would insist is anti-American. According to Reverend Wright, 9/11 and other such terrorist incidents are God’s punishments on America for the many wrongdoings we have perpetrated against our own people-particularly black people-and around the world. Obama has since disavowed the reverend’s statements and removed him from his advisory committee.

This is not enough, however, to many observers. They insist that Obama knew of the Reverend Wright’s attitudes years in advance. According to them, Obama must agree to at least some degree, and they wonder what, if such a person becomes President, this would portend for the nation.

With this in mind, and to offer his perspective on the controversial matter, I now therefore proudly present to you-the great Reverend Billy Joe Belcher.

Disclaimer-As usual, this guest editorial blog post does not necessarily reflect the views of The Pagan Temple. That being said, I now introduce that great man of God-Reverend Belcher.


Good evening, Brothers And Sisters and fellow Americans. When I was invited to guest blog on The Pagan Temple, I prayed long and hard before deciding to accept the invitation. I decided that this might be an avenue whereby which I might save not only the soul of the wretched sinner who owns this decrepit and hedonistic blog, but I might as well reach out to the poor lost souls who, in their spiritual blindness, are drawn here like hogs to slop. I prayed to God for guidance and protection then as I made my way over here.

Believe me when I tell you that God has a dark sense of humor. Although The Pagan Temple assures me that the woman at the top of this blog is not my daughter, I am not wholly convinced, despite his reassurances that, as he puts it, he does not even see a similarity, except for maybe the hair. Yeah, we will see how much Patrick laughs at the Last Judgment. It is coming, my friend, and I doubt that you will be amused.

Nor will such sinful scum as Barak Obama, nor that False Prophet, the so-called Reverend Jeremiah Wright, who falsely claims that, as he puts, we should not say “God Bless America”, but instead, “God Damn America”.

According to this bankrupt perversion of the Holy Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ, God has cursed America by way of Islamic terrorism because of the death, destruction, starvation, greed, and suffering that the United States has, according to Wright, spread throughout the world. It is only fair to assume that Obama, by extension, believes this evil Satanic inspired philosophy. Such a person has no business running for the Presidency of The United States. Moreover, no right thinking person, especially no right thinking Christian, should give him the time of day, let alone vote for him or support him.

What Obama and Wright are doing is partaking of a devil-instigated campaign of deceit meant to destroy the souls of the faithful in order to deliver them from the path and the faith of All-Mighty God, and to the depths of hell.

I repeat-God does not hate nor does he damn America for what we have done around the world.

*America has turned from God, and has taken his Holy Word out of the public square, and out of the classroom.


*America has encouraged the gay lifestyle and the homosexual agenda, upholding their so-called “civil rights”, and in some cases have even gone so far as to encourage or promote the concept of gay marriage and “civil unions”, while encouraging so-called “tolerance” in our public schools towards the sin of homosexuality.


*America has become a nation obsessed with leisure, gambling, sex, and other hedonistic pursuits. God has given us fair warning by sending Hurricane Katrina to destroy the wretchedly sinful city of New Orleans, and the Gulf Coast region of Mississippi, which has lately turned into a haven for gamblers. Yet, America refuses to see the truth and to turn from their sins.


*Perhaps worse of all, American has brazenly and defiantly attacked the sanctity of life itself by allowing the legalization of abortion, a process by which millions of innocent babies are slaughtered in the wombs of their mothers, with their mother’s permission and even encouragement, in a manner that makes the Jewish Holocaust look minor by comparison.


I could give many other examples, such as the teaching of evolution and the overall attitude of secular humanism upheld by our out-of-control liberal dominated courts. I could also point to our culture of decadence, such as is predominant in our movies, music, television, books, the internet, and video games. However, I am sure you get the point by now.

Not people like The Pagan Temple though. Ooooohh, nooooo-when he proofread my post a few minutes ago, he sarcastically suggested it was a good thing irony could not be transformed into piles of rocks.

Well, even if that were possible, it would do you no good, Patrick. I will have you know that my family and I loves and fears God, and, thanks to our faith in the precious Blood of Christ, our house is shatterproof!

Praise the Lord!

Friday, March 14, 2008

In Politics, Truth Is Heresy.

Why are the statements of Geraldine Ferraro considered controversial? The reactions to them are in fact far more questionable and worrisome. They are in fact proof positive that, insofar as most politicians and pundits are concerned, the American people are dunces whom they should shield from what is the obvious truth. I expect Jack Nicholson to pop up on the screen any minute now wagging a finger in a new Hillary campaign ad admonishing us that we can’t handle the truth. The fact is this is exactly how people such as Keith Olbermann think.

Is there any question that if Obama were white, he would not have won the Mississippi primary with close to ninety percent of the black vote, against Hillary Clinton, the wife of who is (or was) arguably the most popular white politician among the black voting populace in at least recent memory ? The way I see it, the truth of Ferraro’s statement is not even open for debate.

Where she made her mistake, perhaps, was in not expanding on her remarks and putting them in some context. The dirty secret not being discussed involves percentages. Black Democrats are voting for Obama in far greater percentages than are white Democrats, while far more blacks cite race as the reason for their support than do whites as the reason for their opposition. This does not look good to some, and to many is even an embarrassment. Many of the old school liberal Democrats like to cite racism as a phenomenon mostly expressed by whites. Therefore, Ferraro was trudging on dangerous ground perhaps bordering on political heresy, and had to be reined in before she went that extra mile.

Of course, Obama being black is not the only reason he is doing so well among black voters. Were he to expound the philosophy of Walter Williams, or Clarence Thomas, or perhaps even Bill Cosby, he certainly wouldn’t do nearly as good as he has done up until now amongst those same black voters.

Nevertheless, they would damn sure notice him, wouldn’t they now? That is the key. Obama being black has been the draw, but it has not clinched the deal. His being black has attracted noticed, and gained him attention, but his words and ideals are what have induced his listeners to cast the votes. This holds true not only amongst his black supporters, but also with the considerable number of whites who support him as well. A white politician would not have gained the notice. Ask Joe Biden. Ask Chris Dodd. Ask Elliot Richardson. Neither of these gentlemen is secret Klan members I am sure.

Hell, ask Hillary Clinton, wife of “the first black president.”

The second factor has been the accusations, fairly or not, that the Clinton campaign has itself been playing the race card. The backlash has been very real, if somewhat stage-managed.

Ferraro, unlike perhaps the Clintons, is right to be incensed at the accusations of racism in her words. She was right to complain about the heavy-handed tactics of some of Obama’s followers and supporters in leveling these absurd charges at her. She was also right to leave the Clinton campaign, when Hillary offered no more than the most tepid of responses, one that did not even contain a defense of her. As she left, she did so with a parting shot.

Yes, Obama is qualified to be President of The United States, she said.

Incidentally, Ferraro should know what she is talking about. She knows full well she would never have been chosen as Walter Mondale’s running mate in 1984 were it not for two factors-

*Mondale and his advisors considered her admirably suited, qualified for the job, and capable of taking over the presidency in the event of the death of Mondale.

*She was a female politician.

In fact, this was practically a selling point. Does anyone imagine for one second that if Hillary, under ordinary circumstances, were to pick a black running mate-Obama or anybody else-that it would not also be touted as an example of the inclusiveness of the Democratic Party and it’s representative Presidential ticket? Did it totally escape Al Gore’s notice in 2000 that Joe Liebermann was an observant Jew, or was that just an irrelevant yet happy coincidence?

The Democratic Party has been engaged in positive racism and feel-good sexist politics for the last third of a century at least. Why should they be so outraged whenever anybody points out the obvious?