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Friday, July 31, 2009

Nobody Likes Veeblefester

Born Loser 07-31-09
Echo Point still hasn't installed a guard rail I see.

There's been a lot of cussing the comics lately from Dolly wondering what #@X*& means to Beetle Bailey with it's untypeable "swearicons". I wonder if it's coincidence or a trend right now. Maybe the comic creators have finally snapped or maybe this just proves that all the comics are done by the same machine and it's hole-punch card need replacing.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

#200: What About Brian? Year Four

I've been doing this Internet-thingy since June of 2006 now and I'm pretty sure I'm not going to stop any time soon. As long as I have five minutes in my day, I'll be posting something in a blog. I start posting my blog on MySpace and I enjoyed doing it but it got too juvenile. I thus deleted my blog and moved to LiveJournal which only lasted about a year or so before I began blogging here.

So I am entering my fourth year. 2006 was a turning point for me. 2006 was one of the worst years I have ever had for a few reasons but I persevered and I am stronger for it and as 2009, which was a decent year except for a couple of things, comes to an end I look forward to what 2010 has to offer.

I will be getting married in October and that will be something new that I will have to deal with at first but I think living with Audrey for the last (almost) year has kind of softened the blow getting married would've have made. I am incredibly looking forward to introducing her as my wife though. Meeting Audrey came after being deeply hurt by another girl I had made plans on marrying. I'm glad that didn't come to fruition because Lord only knows where we would all be by now. I know me and the other woman would have a child by now, though so I'm sort of glad I dodged that bullet. Unfortunately I do think she would be cheating on me sort of like she did when we were together.

One of the major things I'm going to try to do (job status pending) is get my short stories written along with Wilbur and Kolak and 87 so I can start submitting those to publishers. I am about halfway done with Wilbur and Kolak but have only scraped the surface of the research needed for 87 but I'll get it done. Someday. It's the short stories that upset me because I want to write because there's no way that I can expand them into a book and a feel like I need to write them because I like short stories and want to publish a short story collection after I get my final book published but for some reason I just can't force myself to write them as easily. I write everything out long hand in pencil in a notebook and then convert to Microsoft Word before online publishing it. I know that seems like kind of a weird way to do it but this way I can do some minor editing before trying to send if off somewhere.

When I wrote my novel, Harter Union, I wrote it out long hand, edited it, rewrote, edited it again and while I was typing it, did more editing. That's just the way I write I guess and I part of me hopes it doesn't change because I do like the feel of the pencil as it glides across the paper. Plus, it gives me a chance to show off the original version and show just how much was taken out and added.

And so, after 200 entries under "The Point of Beginning", I am going on hiatus. I don't know when POB will be back but I'm sure it will be. It's been around since 2006 and I don't quit that easily. "Losers Are Made, Not Born" will still be around, "Stull Chronicles" should have another entry in the near future, the Story Series returns in September and I am still looking for people who want to create new features for Watch This Space.

Until next time, I remain...
~Brian

The Comic Makes Me Sad

Born Loser 07-30-09
I remember all my first dates. It's all part of being a decent guy (who doesn't really go on many dates). 2000, after work went to see "O Brother, Where Art Thou" but missed the first fifteen minutes. 2001, double date to go see "Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles". 2002, skipped out on work to eat at Schlotzsky's. 2003, a nice dinner and then we were supposed to see a movie ("Gothika") but instead went driving around. 2004, we had lunch at Chili's. 2006, we had a nice fancy dinner at Teller's in Downtown Lawrence. 2008, it was snowing and we didn't really know what to do so we finally settled on Yello Sub. And those are just the dates that led to an actual relationship.

I'm kind of hoping that the joke is related to old age and the horrible memory old people are supposed to have and not a commentary on how the Thornapples now have a loveless marriage.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Who Do You Think Gladys Is Talking To?

Born Loser 07-29-09
Now, this comic strip completely contradicts Sunday's strip where the Thornapples couldn't afford one and had to take a vacation in their driveway. And what's more, Brutus is going to pay for gas to Florida.

I thought gas was too damn expensive in the comic strip world still. I know the Sunday strip was done months in advance of this one but you'd think Chip would remember what strips he had done.

Still looking to add a couple new features to "Watch This Space". Just send me an email and I'll get you set up. It can be comics related or not.

The Carroll A. Deering

The Carroll A. Deering was built in Maine in 1919 as a cargo ship. It was a five-masted commercial schooner set to go to Rio De Janeiro when it mysteriously wound up aground on Cape Hatteras, North Carolina in 1921.

On August 19, 1920, the ship was ready to set sail from Norfolk, Virginia to Rio De Janeiro with a cargo of coal. On August 22nd, the Deering left Newport News with William H. Merritt as captain and his son, Sewall, as first mate. Merritt soon fell ill and he and his son were left at Lewes, Delaware and Captain W. B. Wormell was hired to replace Merritt. Charles B. McLellan was hired as first mate and the ship once again set sail for Rio on September 8, 1920, arrived and delivered it's cargo without incident.

Captain Wormell apparently complained to another captain in the area about his crew, save for one--the engineer, Herbert Bates. The Deering left Rio on December 2nd and stopped for supplies in Barbados where First Mate McLellan got drunk and complained about Captain Wormell--specifically having to do all the navigation due to the aging captain's eyesight. He even openly threatened the captain to himself and was arrested. On January 9, 1921, Captain Wormell forgave McLellan and bailed him out of jail and set sail again.

The ship was next sighted by the Cape Lookout Lightship in North Carolina on January 28, 1921, when the vessel hailed the lightship. The lightship's keeper, Captain Jacobson, reported that a thin man with reddish hair and a foreign accent told him the vessel had lost its anchors. He noticed that the crew seemed to be "milling around" on the fore deck of the ship, an area where they were usually not allowed.

On January 31, 1921, the Deering was sighted run aground on Diamond Shoals, an area off the coast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, that has long been notorious for its reputation as a common site of shipwrecks. The ship was not boarded until February 4, and it became clear that the ship had been completely abandoned. The ship's log and navigation equipment were gone, as were the crew's personal effects and the ship's two lifeboats.

The U.S. Government launched an extensive investigation into the disappearance of the crew of the Deering. On April 11, 1921, a man named Christopher Columbus Gray claimed to have found a message in a bottle floating in the waters of Buxton Beach, North Carolina; he swiftly turned it over to the authorities. The text of the message goes as follows:
DEERING CAPTURED BY OIL BURNING BOAT SOMETHING LIKE CHASER. TAKING OFF EVERYTHING HANDCUFFING CREW. CREW HIDING ALL OVER SHIP NO CHANCE TO MAKE ESCAPE. FINDER PLEASE NOTIFY HEADQUARTERS DEERING.

The handwriting in the letter was matched to that of the ship's engineer Bates by the widow of Captain Wormell, and the bottle was proven to have been manufactured in Brazil. Yet this caused some controversy—if a crew member did manage to get hold of paper, pen, and bottle and write a letter, why would he request that the company be notified, as opposed to the police or Coast Guard?

The following theories were considered by the U.S. Government in its investigation:
  • Piracy: It was believed that a group of pirates were responsible for the disappearances; however, no real evidence of this theory emerged.
  • Communist Piracy: During an FBI raid, agents found papers that supposedly called on members of the organization to seize American ships and sail them to Russia. Though it is an intriguing suggestion, no definitive proof that any of these activities were actually carried out has surfaced.
  • Rum Runners: A similar theory to the above speculates that a group of liquor smugglers working out of the Bahamas stole the ship to use as a rum-running vessel. This theory is believable and certainly plausible, but as with the above, no definitive proof has ever been found.
  • Mutiny: Wormell's known conflict with his first mate and derisive comments towards his crew while in Rio De Janeiro suggested that something may have been amiss between the captain and his men on the voyage. Captain Jacobson at Cape Lookout certainly thought it odd; the man who hailed his vessel was definitely not Captain Wormell, and he was not an officer by all accounts. Discontent with the captain could certainly have caused a mutiny of the crew, but once again, nothing definitive has ever been proven.
It has also been suggested that since this ship sailed through the area known as the Bermuda Triangle, that explains the crew's disappearance.

The investigation remained largely fruitless, but it did take an interesting turn when Christopher Columbus Gray admitted the letter he had recovered had been forged. When an Italian inquiry into the disappearance of the vessel Monte San Michele revealed that there indeed had been heavy hurricanes in the vicinity, most of the conspiracy theories were dropped and mutiny was generally accepted as the answer to the riddle. The investigation finally wound down in late 1922 without an official ruling on the fate of the Deering. No explanation for the disappearance of the crew of the Carroll A. Deering was ever officially verified, though all of the genuine evidence seems to point to mutiny.


Suggest a story for "The Stull Chronicles". Just send a suggestion and I'll look it up and research it.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Special Commentary: What the Hell Is Going On In "Crankshaft"?

I don't read Crankshaft very often. Really only when Josh or the DCR mention it. As we all know, no one can be happy in Tom Batiuk's universe. Someone must get sick and die. I just read all the strips between July 20th and 25th and don't know what the hell is going on.

We start out with a very chipper nurse about to wheel who we are led to believe is Crankshaft to a baseball game. Between the two panels we get a view of a childhood (?) Crankshaft going to a baseball game.


The 21st is no better. A depressing look at Crankshaft being wheeled out of the nursing home. If there's anything that makes me laugh it's the care of old people in nursing homes. I thought that maybe Crankshaft jumped forward like Funky Winkerbean did which got me thinking that if that was the truth, then we are in for some really crappy storylines. Week long strips of Crankshaft sexually harassing his weekday nurse (who I'll name Myrna), Crankshaft complaining to anyone who'll listen the staff is stealing from him and wheelchair races? You betcha!


Day 3's hi-larious strip is interrupted by Crankshaft apparently taking his own daughters to a baseball game although Crankshaft looks more like a guy who's going to lure them into a van than a father wanting to spend time with his kids. "Who needs baseball? I have hot dogs and cracker jacks in my gray, windowless van."


With Day 4 I am now convinced that Tom Batiuk cares more about Funky Winkerbean and that Chuck Ayers is just in it for money. But we do get a close-up of 85-90 year old Crankshaft which I am sure everyone desperately needed.


And then, with the week coming to an end, we have to quickly wrap everything up. It starts raining so the game is called and the nurse returns to wheel Crankshaft back to the home. In this middle panel today we get a look at Crankshaft complaining about his home team and apparently about to eat a peanut whole.


Then, in case you didn't really believe that was Crankshaft, the nurse calls him "Mr. Crankshaft" and then wheels the old man back across the street to the nursing home. Meanwhile back in the present, Crankshaft is angry because the game was called--which is exactly what he wanted in the previous strip! So does this week long diatribe of old person sadness actually mean something or is it a testimony to the fact that Ed Crankshaft loves baseball?

But now we are back in the present-day and there is no mention of the previous week's worth of stories (*shakes fist* "Batiuk!!!!"), only Crankshaft gardening. On the plus side, once again the 'Shaft is about to die.
Crankshaft 07-27-09

I like being outdoors with nature too but because of that I've gotten numerous mosquito bites, tick bites and a bite from a bee-fly thing that left a tiny, but itchy welt.

However, methinks Crankshaft will be saved by Rose's dog.
Crankshaft 07-28-09

I just wonder: "Will the dog die?" Seeing that it's Tom Batiuk's universe, I don't give the dog much hope.

Brutus Is Sinister

Born Loser 07-28-09
I've never noticed before. Is Brutus left-handed? If he is then that would probably mean that Chip is left-handed.

I did some quick searching and discovered something. Brutus is left-handed. I'm glad we settled that now we can get back to more important things like making fun of the way Brutus is holding his hands or Veeblefester's vest.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Bad Day at Work #4,871

Born Loser 07-27-09
Maybe Veeblefester's mood swings are a sign of bigger problems. Problems at home, money problems, troubles performing in bed. Maybe The Veeblefester Corporation is secretly receiving bailout money it can in no way, repay. Oh, the life of a tycoon is a harsh mistress.

I think what Veeblefester needs is some Stimutacs.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Worst Vacation Ever

Born Loser 07-26-09
Why are people still complaining about the price of gas. Last year I wouldn't have considered a vacation because gas was $4+ a gallon (around here anyway, I know it was nearly $5 in other places) but now that gas has pretty much leveled out at about $2.30 or so (here anyway) I feel pretty good about buying gas and actually going somewhere.

I'm glad this strip doesn't mention the word "stay-cation". I hate that word. It needs to die. And what's with Wilberforce in the sixth panel? He suddenly looked shocked about something. Probably because his father just admitted that they are all just one paycheck away from sleeping the park gazebo.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Why Does Hattie Wear That Stuff?

Born Loser 07-25-09
Somehow I doubt that Hattie has tried yoga. What kid actually does yoga? It may be cute to copy your mom when she's doing hers but not when you actually do it on your own. On a completely different, yet strangely similar topic, I hate yogurt and wasn't really a huge fan of Yoda either.

Thank you go out to our advertisers, followers and members of the Facebook group. Now for something fun, I'm looking to add two or three new features if anyone is interested in becoming a contributor. You'd be able to create your own idea and it can be comic related or not. I only ask that it be at least weekly. Let me know if you are interested.

POtW: The Old Iron Works Building

I believe this was the old iron works building located at 6th & New Hampshire Street in Lawrence. Either way, the building is currently not being used and there were once talks of demolishing the building and putting up a hotel. Thankfully, that fell through. I think the building was built in the 1890s but I'm not sure and I am unable to find any relevant history online at this time.
Old Iron Works Building
Something I really liked about this building was located above the top floor windows. If you look closely, there are tiny sunflowers painted above the windows.
Close-Up of Iron Works Building

Friday, July 24, 2009

Brutus Fights Back--Or He Should

Born Loser 07-24-09
"Listen you conceited, pompous son of a bitch. I'm paying you $220 an hour to help me with my many problems by listening to me and help figure out why I consider myself a born loser. Now enough with the insulting jokes, listen to me and help! And while you're at it: shave off that stupid beard!"

Thursday, July 23, 2009

No. 3: The Born Loser X

Chapter 1
Brutus Thornapple sat at a workbench in his basement. The radio softly played a Mozart composition. Brutus like Mozart because it could be simultaneously cheerful and depressing depending on the piece. He softly hummed along. His wife, Gladys, was in the kitchen, either eating, making something to eat or getting ready to make something to eat. He wasn’t sure but figured it was one of those. Brutus was currently working on a scale model city. It was a hobby he had picked up a few years ago and had so far created three. Brutus had created a history for all of his cities and these little towns were more of a pride and joy to him than his own family right now.

Brutus was born 45 years ago and had barely been out of the town he was born in. He blended into the background all through elementary school, junior high and high school. In college, Brutus started coming out of his shell and began dating and having fun. He lived off-campus in a house with six other guys and there was a party just about every night. When Brutus graduated he was able to obtain a job at Dickens, Jarndyce & Veeblefester, a company that was considered up-and-coming in the world of tea cozies. Brutus had a chance to make his mark in the world.

Five years into his career at DJ&V, Brutus met Gladys Gargle. Gladys was an attractive, tall, yet slightly husky young woman with long blond hair. They dated for nearly three years before Brutus worked up the courage to propose. By then, DJ&V had been restructured and Rancid Veeblefester became the new CEO and renamed the company The Veeblefester Corporation. Brutus had risen in the ranks enough to become Veeblefester’s number three man but it was there his promotions stalled.

A couple years after Brutus and Gladys married, their son, Wilberforce, was born. Wilberforce was Gladys’ pride and joy but Brutus didn’t feel right being a father. It wasn’t until Wilberforce was around four that Brutus started acting more like a dad than a father. And even though they were finally a family, Brutus wasn’t happy. Money was a problem and even though Brutus made good money with Veeblefester, there was never enough. It was true that money can’t buy happiness but it can put up a decent down payment.

“Brutus?” Gladys’ shrill voice pierced the quiet coolness of the basement as she yelled down from the kitchen. “Would spaghetti be okay for dinner?”

Brutus sighed. “Yes,” he reached over and turned off the radio.

“Why don’t you go ahead and tell Wilberforce that dinner will be ready soon. You two can go get cleaned up.”

“Mm-hmm,” Brutus mumbled and scooted his stool away from the workbench. He took one last look at his city and slowly made his way up the stairs to the kitchen.




Rancid Veeblefester has lived in the Baymont Hotel for six months, ever since his wife, Lividea, had thrown him out of their house of 25 years. At the time a pre-nup never even entered his mind but now he wished he’d consulted a lawyer before going through with the wedding. But he was young and impetuous at the time and was willing to take a chance and until last year, it had been a decent mistake. Currently, Veeblefester had the best lawyers working around the clock to either make divorcing him impossible and costly or not make it worth her while.

He stood up and looked out of the window and into the city of Cleveland. He had worked too long and hard and had grown too accustomed to his lifestyle to hand it over to some second-rate whore. Thoughts were racing through his mind and then his lips curled into a smile. “Dead women can’t file divorce papers…” he whispered.

Then he went to work on figuring out how to do it.




Chapter 2
Veeblefester called Brutus into his office shortly after ten. “Thornapple,” Veeblefester began, “you’ve worked here a long time, moving up in the ranks despite your lack of intelligence, mediocre work and basic stupidity.”

Brutus seemed hurt but in his mind, admitted that it was true. “I’m sorry, chief. In my defense I do try as hard as I can.”

Veeblefester exhaled slowly but audibly. “Unfortunately, yes. You do. But I’m going to offer you the position of executive vice president.”

“Sir, I don’t understand. First you berate me then you offer me a promotion. What’s going on?”

“Well Thornapple, I’m going to make you a serious offer. Job security, all the money you could want and a chance to do something good in the world. I want you to kill my wife.”

Brutus was not taken aback nor was he scared to curious. He took it in and dissected it. “Lividea?” Brutus made sure.

“Yes.”

“I’m still confused, chief. Last I knew you and Lividea were happily married.”

“Things are not always what they seem, Thornapple. It hasn’t been long since the love fell out of our marriage but needless to say, it’s over and is coming to an end. I’ve been using lawyers to keep Lividea at bay but only they can do so much. The next step is this,” Veeblefester explained.

“But why me? I’m not exactly the killer type.”

“The mere fact you are still standing here sort of says otherwise,” Veeblefester said. “I also chose you because you have the most to gain and the least to lose.”

“But I have a wife and a kid to think about…”

“I’ve met your wife and seen your son, Thornapple. Most to gain. Least to lose.”




While at dinner, Brutus thought about Veeblefester’s offer. They had gone over it and determined how it would work and happen and then Veeblefester gave Brutus 24 hours to make his decision. Brutus ate in silence while Gladys and Wilberforce dominated the conversation.

“So how was school today, Wilberforce?” Gladys asked between taking two bites of mashed potatoes.

“It was fine. Hurricane Hattie called the teacher a name and was sent to the principal’s office. But it was a word that no one had heard before so we all spent the rest of the day saying it. The teacher about had a stroke,” Wilberforce laughed.

“Wilberforce,” Gladys chided, “you need to treat teachers with respect. It’s hard work what they do.”

“Sorry, Mom.”

“And Brutus, how was work?” she asked.

“Oh, same old stuff,” Brutus lied. “However, ol’ Veeblefester did offer me the position of executive vice president.”

“Really? Oh, Brutus, that’s wonderful!” Gladys exclaimed.

“He gave me 24 hours to decide whether or not I want the position. If I take it, we’ll be set for life…but I would have to do unscrupulous things to keep it.”

“Like what? Transfer money to an illegal account? Bulldoze a rainforest? Close down a nursing home?”

“Kind of the last two,” Brutus said.

“I say take it, Brutus. You can grow a conscious later. Short of physically killing anyone, you should take the position. You deserve it,” Gladys said.

Brutus sighed, still wondering what he should do.




That night, Brutus wandered the house thinking of the pros and cons. Any con he could think of, Veeblefester had already put to rest. He continued to pace and finally ended up in the basement where his model city was.

The next day, Brutus confidently marched into Veeblefester’s office and accepted the executive VP position and the hit on Lividea Veeblefester.




Chapter 3
The most expensive thing Rancid Veeblefester ever spent on his wife was their home. After that the next most expensive thing was her funeral. Veeblefester did a masterful job of mourning and was able to convey convincingly that despite the divorce proceedings, he still loved Lividea with all of his heart.

The police, after their initial suspicions, ruled the killing as a botched robbery and a coincidence. Brutus was made executive vice president of The Veeblefester Corporation and things were looking great. The first three months were wonderful and Brutus and Gladys rekindled their marriage.

Veeblefester never returned to his house—he wasn’t sure why. He stayed at the hotel and brooded. His life became filled with work until he woke up one morning and could barely move due to a dizzy spell. He lied in bed for almost an hour, terrified to move. Finally, he attempted to pull himself up and reached for anything he could use to steady himself.

The longer he stood the better his balance got and he walked over to the phone. He dialed and waited. “Hello, Thornapple? Can you come to the hotel and pick me up? I don’t feel well and don’t trust myself to drive.”




Veeblefester felt a lot better when he and Brutus arrived at the office. “Thornapple?”

“Yes, chief?” Brutus answered.

“How have you been doing these last couple of months?” Brutus seemed stunned at Veeblefester’s actual attempt at niceties.

“It’s been good. We’ve started paying off some debts and we took a short family vacation—Washington, D.C.—started buying brand name soda pop and in two months Gladys and I are going on our second honeymoon. To England!” Brutus seemed practically giddy.

“That’s nice, Thornapple,” Veeblefester said. “That’s nice.”

Veeblefester’s dizzy spells got worse. The day before Brutus’ vacation, Brutus found Veeblefester laying slumped on the floor of his office.

“Chief? What’s wrong?” Brutus cried.

“I…Can you take me home, Thornapple?” Veeblefester looked up at Brutus’ face but only saw a blurred visage instead.

Veeblefester couldn’t sleep. His left arm was numb and tingling. He didn’t need a doctor to tell him what was going on. Veeblefester shuffled his way to the desk in his hotel room.

He got out a piece of paper and began writing. He wrote as best he could but he couldn’t see the words. And he only knew vaguely where the paper was. He signed the paper with his usual flourish signature and attempted to stand up.

Suddenly, it was as if he were fine. Veeblefester’s sight went dark, his pupils dilated, his irises got cloudy. His arm stopped tingling. “He had the most to gain…” Veeblefester croaked as his knees buckled. “…I had the most to lose.”

And Veeblefester landed back on the chair and his body crumpled onto the desk and the letter. The letter carried, besides the fancy signature, only eight words but they were the most powerful words Rancid Veeblefester ever wrote: “I hired Brutus Thornapple to kill my wife.”









The Born Loser characters created by Art Sansom. Comic strip by Chip Sansom, distributed by United Feature Syndicate, New York City.

Yecch!

Born Loser 07-23-09
I don't mind liver but I'm not a huge fan of onions. I believe my mom really likes liver and onions.

I've often wondered how certain things wound up together also and who thought that it would be a good idea. And I do believe Brutus is right about the liver and onions complementing each other. The texture and flavor of each food combine to create a dish that nearly anyone can enjoy.

But why is Brutus standing there like a royal guard towering over his son while he eats a food he's not fond of?

#199: Progress Takes Away...

I'm reading John Steinbeck's East of Eden for about the five or sixth time now. It's my favorite book and Steinbeck is my favorite. I love reading the book because in my opinion it's the closest thing to the Great American Novel (although I know that privilege goes to dozens of other books). Every time I read it, I come across something new. I have a lot of favorite books (some you can see on my profile and in my Facebook) but I think there are a lot of books out there that are wonderful even if they are not my favorite.

I took a trip down south the Baldwin the other day. The state is building a new highway between Lawrence and Ottawa and the construction has entered Douglas County. Just about every house on the east side of the highway has been demolished, an old schoolhouse which has stood since about 1925 was finally torn down, the Zarco gas station has been torn down and the Baldwin Junction--which was a halfway point between Ottawa and Lawrence about five miles west of Baldwin, is now just a pasture of dirt and bulldozers. One of my friends had a house right along the highway and it was one of the first houses demolished for the construction. I know the construction is worse as you get closer to Franklin County because the highway is almost completed there.

I went to Baldwin to take some pictures of the Prairie City townsite, the John Baldwin Mill site, the Santa Fe Trail Park and the Harmony Schoolhouse. I arrived to discover that the John Baldwin Mill site sign had been taken down so there was really no point to take the picture. I was upset that the sign was gone. The redwood sign was one of 17 redwood signs erected to mark various historic locations around Baldwin. Today, only eight remain. I began trying to get pictures of the signs after the Blacksmith Shop sign was knocked down and the Prairie City sign was knocked down during a storm.

I know things change and that they have to change but all the change I saw today was a bit too much. I just wanted to come home, sit down and read. Here are some pictures of the signs and other things around Baldwin.


This is the best picture of the Pleasant Grove School that I have. As you can see the building looked like it would've caved in at any moment anyway. I was shocked they let it stand like that for as long as they did.


This is the Santa Fe Well located along Washington Street in Baldwin. The well was dug in the 1850s and still give water to this day. The wall and roof were added in the 1960s during a restoration project.


This sign marks the southern border of the former town of Palmyra. This sign remains despite all the construction that has surrounded it for the last twenty years.


This old sign marks the Dow Cemetery where Charles Dow, victim of the first murder in Kansas, was buried before being moved to Oakwood Cemetery in Baldwin. It is estimated that between 50 and 75 people were buried here. During a project in 1939-40, only three stones were found; in 1987, none.


These are the posts to the Blacksmith Shop sign. The sign marked the location of one of three blacksmith shops in Palmyra.

Until next time, I remain...
~Brian

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Bird-Watching With Brutus

Born Loser 07-22-09
Um...what?

Unlike yesterday I have a problem with today's strip. I'd much rather see Hattie say "Pervert" than "Nosy", I'm disturbed that Brutus has to wear a boy scout uniform just to go bird watching and I'm also worried that there's a 100-year flood going on behind them.

Delaware Affections #1.3

Adam had just gotten done with his gym class and using his third period to help out the gym teacher. The next class was all girls and they all came downstairs, talking and giggling. Holly was in that class and was talking to Becky. Adam didn't pay attention to them, he just continued to organize the equipment locker.

"Hey, Parker," shouted the teacher. "Can you bring me 22 vests--11 blue and 11 red?"

Adam nodded and grabbed the see-through vests used to differentiate the teams. He loaded them up in his arms and began carrying them to the gym.

The locker rooms were designed so that you had to walk into the room to see anything but as Adam walked by, he caught a glimpse of a girl just finishing putting on her sports bra. Adam stopped to look at the girl's small chest in her gray bra. He glanced up at her smile and face and smiled himself. Adam took a last look at he breasts and took the vests to the gym.

Back in the locker room, Holly pulled a white shirt on and she, Becky and a small group of other girls headed for the gym.




Mitch came back from lunch and saw a man sitting slumped in one of his waiting room chairs. "Oh my. Who's this?" he asked Stella.

"I don't know. He wanted to see a doctor and didn't mind waiting," Stella chuckled softly. "He must've fell asleep."

"Excuse me, sir?" Mitch gently shook the old man. He did not respond. "Sir!" Mitch shouted and shook harder. Mitch stooped and looked for breathing then placed a couple fingers on the man's carotid artery. "Stella? He's dead."




"The Dead Man of Wrigley"
"What's going on here?" Mayor Floresch barged into Mitch's office.

"Nothing is going on here. We have a dead man in the waiting room and we're waiting for the paramedics," Mitch explained.

"A dead man?" Mayor Floresch looked at the man. "You didn't kill him did you?" she asked Mitch.

"No!" he replied angrily.

"Did she?" Mayor Floresch motioned to Stella. "I never thought something like that would happen again. Boy, was I naive."

"I didn't kill him!" Stella said.

"Well, who is he?" Mayor Floresch asked.

"We don't know. He doesn't have any identification and there's no out of town car outside so he must've walked here. From somewhere," Mitch said. "Where are the paramedics? I called them twenty minutes ago."

"They should be here in another fifteen minutes," Mayor Floresch said.

"Why does it take so long?" Mitch argued.

"Wrigley is a small town, Dr. Barton," Mayor Floresch began. "It doesn't have it's own emergency services."

"Oh, right. But if they are coming from Ocean View or Bethany Beach they should still be here by now."

"Our paramedics come from Georgetown," Stella said.

"Georgetown? Where's that?"

"It's the Sussex County Seat. It's about 35-40 miles that way," Stella pointed to the northwest.

"Wish I would've known that! I could've just pronounced him dead myself and just called the coroner," Mitch complained.

"Should've. The coroner comes from Wilmington," Stella revealed.

"Why?" Mitch asked.

"I love Wrigley, Dr. Barton and it deserves the best!" Mayor Floresch said.

"But not at the expense of people's lives," Mitch argued.

"That's why we have a doctor. If someone needs immediate medical attention then you are called," Mayor Floresch revealed.

"I really should've read that contract better," Mitch sighed. He looked back over at the dead man. "If he's not from Wrigley, I wonder where he's from. You didn't see anyone drop him off or anything?" he asked Stella.

"He walked in by himself from down the block. I only saw him pass by the window and then open the door. Nothing else."

"He could be a local," Mayor Floresch began. "If he has no identification then maybe he figured he didn't need it. He didn't have an appointment or anything?"

"Nope. A walk-in," Stella answered. "Wonder how he died."

"I would assume a heart condition. Maybe an anerysm," Mitch said. "I think I hear a siren." Mitch stepped out and saw an ambulance tooling down Ocean Street.

Within moments, the paramedics declared the man dead and got on the phone with the coronor. Mayor Floresch almost had them call Wilmington but Mitch stopped her and they called Georgetown.

"Do we have a name for this guy?" one of the medics asked.

Mitch shook his head. "No."

"All right. We'll load John Doe into the ambulance and we'll take him to Georgetown," another medic said.

"You will find out who he is and find his family right?" Stella asked.

"Of course," the medic smiled and they began wheeling the man out of the office.




Toward the end of school, in a science class, Laurie cautiously approached Ralph who was quietly doing his homework for the day. "Hey, Ralph?"

Ralph finished writing his sentence and looked up. "Hey, Laurie. What's up?"

"I was wondering if you could help me get a job at the grocery store," Laurie said. Ralph's mom, Eve, owned the only grocery store in town. Ocean View had the next closest store. "I'd be very appreciative. I'd be willing to do anything. I just need the extra money."

"I can't guarantee anything but I'll definately ask my mom. It'd be kind of nice working with a friend instead of the people I currently work with," Ralph said.

"Oh, thank you, Ralph. I appreciate it."

Elsewhere in the school, Adam was slowly approaching Holly who was startled when he cleared his throat to speak.

"Sorry," Adam said. "I didn't mean to startle you."

Holly turned toward him and blushed. "That's okay. I really don't mind," Holly's eyes seemed to involuntarily move down to Adam's crotch and she had to force herself to look at his face. "What do you want?"

Adam cleared his throat again. "I was wondering if you would want to go out with me this weekend."

"I would love that," Holly said. "To tell you the truth I was kind of hoping you'd ask me out."

"Really?" Adam asked. "Why?"

Holly blushed even more. "Let's just say I saw something that set you apart from the rest," and she glanced back down at his pants.

To be continued
Delaware Affections returns in December with six new issues.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

It's Official: Brutus Just Peed.

Born Loser 07-21-09
Hmm, that looks like it'll be expensive to fix plus you'd have to pay to get the water damage out of the house and more than likely redo the entire carpet so I would definitely shop around for a cheap plumber.

I have to admit that I love Brutus' facial expressions in today's strip. From the weird "cheek eyes" in panel one to his "yeah, I guess it is a little moist in here" look in the third panel. However, that is the worst drawn water I've ever seen in a comic strip.

Monday, July 20, 2009

#198: Chain Letter

Greeting, I am a teacher; recently a retired attorney friend of mine sent me a letter relating a very interesting experience, which I would like to share with you. I'll just quote his letter, for the contents are simple.

"A few years ago, a man came to me with a letter. He asked me to verify the fact that this was legal to do. I told him I would review and get back to him. When I first read the letter my client brought me, I thought it was some sort "off the wall" idea to make money. A week and a half later, we met in my office to discuss the issue. I told him the letter he originally brought me was not 100% legal. My client then asked me to alter it to make it legal. I asked him to make one small change in the letter.

I was still curious about the letter, so he explained to me how it works. I thought it seemed like a long shot. I decided against participating, but before my client left, I asked him to keep me updated on the results. About 2 months later, he called me to tell me he had received over $800,000 in cash. I didn't believe him, so I asked him for a copy of the letter. I followed the instructions exactly, mailed 200 letters, and sure enough, the money stated [sic] coming in. It started slowly at first, but after about three weeks, I was getting more mail than I could open in a day. After about three months, the money stopped coming in. I kept precise records of the earnings and in the end, it totaled $978,493.00!! I could hardly believe it. I met with my friend for lunch to find out exactly how it worked. He told me there were quite a few similar letters around, but this one was different, because there six names at the end of the letter, not five like some others. This fact alone results in your name being in far more returns. The other fact was the help I gave him, making sure the whole thing was legal, since no one want to take the risk of doing something illegal.

By now, you are surely curious to know what a small change to make, if you sent a letter like this one out, in order for it to be legal, you must actually sell something to receive the dollars in return. So when you send a dollar to each of the names on the list, you include these words: 'PLEASE PUT ME ON YOUR MAILING LIST", and include your name and address. This is key to the program. The service you will receive for the dollar you send to the six people on the following page is that your name will be put on their mailing list.

At the time I first got this idea, I was earning a good living as a layer [sic]. But everyone in the legal profession will tell you there is a lot of stress that comes with the job. I told myself, if things work out; I would retire from my practice and play golf. I decided to try the letters again, but this time I sent out 500 copies. Three months later, I had totaled $2,341,178.00.

Here are a few reasons a person might give for not trying the program:
*Some people think they can never make a lot of money with anything this simple
*Some are afraid they will be ridiculed for trying.
*Some dream of large sums of money, but do nothing to actually achieve it.
*Some are just plain lazy.
*Some are afraid of losing their investment. They think this program is designed to beat them out of a few dollars.

The system works, if you just try it! But you must follow the directions EXACTLY, and in less than three months, you will receive $800,000.00 GUARANTEED.

Keep what you are doing to yourself for a while. Many will tell you it won't work and will try to talk you our of your dreams. Please let me know of you success after it works.

Hoping for a Lot of Hits from Twilight Fans

Born Loser 07-20-09
Chip must have been feeling really lazy when he drew this strip. Also it may interest you to know that what Brutus and Wilberforce are actually seeing is the first visible crescent of the Moon after the Moon was in it's new moon stage.

It's interesting to note that the term new moon was first used for the crescent and the term dark moon was used for when the moon was between the Earth and the Sun (what we now call new moon).

I also find it hard to believe that Wilberforce has never heard of or seen a new moon before.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Saturday, July 18, 2009

POtW: Lakeview Lake

I had a difficult time deciding what picture to put up. I kind of what to put up something different and more unusual. I'm going to have to go out sometime next week and find something weird to take a picture of.

Anyway, today's picture of of Lakeview Lake and the road that runs in the middle of it. Lakeview Lake is an oxbow lake created when the Kansas River changed it's course. Lakeview used to be a popular resort until about the 1930s. The road, known as County Road 7, cuts through the middle of the lake and has no guardrails or anything and after a good rain the lake can come right up to the top of the road.
Lakeview Lake

Brutus-Hattie Angry Stare Down

Born Loser 07-18-09
Brutus must still be angry about that answering machine calling him yesterday.

It also looks like we're going to get a Brutus/Hattie smackdown! Also, just because you're older than me doesn't qualify you for respect. You may have earned other people's respect but you have yet to earn mine.

I blame Brutus' hat.

Picture of the Week up sometime this evening.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Walter Cronkite 1916-2009

Walter Cronkite, CBS news anchor and most trusted man in America has passed away at the age of 92. I mainly know Cronkite as a long-winded old man who kept stumbling over his words on Larry King Live but I still have a strong respect for him. They don't make them like him anymore.

tRWA: Mycena rorida

Mycena rorida is a species of mushroom also known as the dripping bonnet. Aside from the stalk having a slimy coat on it, this mushroom can also be bioluminescent. I love mushrooms, both to eat and look at. I think mushrooms look cool when they grow in your yard and you rip the head off. I love the picture they have of this mushroom, too. What I find interesting is that in the characteristics box they have the edibility down as "unknown". Unknown? You do know how you can find out right?

That's right. Tests.

>Beep!< Yeah, Your Answering Machine Called Me....

I was going through some of my old comic strip blog links and notice that there are a lot of them where no posts anymore. Late 2007 into 2008 seems to be where most of them end. More than likely the people doing them just got overwhelmed with real life and quit posting or even started another blog unrelated to the comic strip one and now focus more time on that one. Only one that I can find has come to an end because the comic strip ended. Crap Every Time, a blog which made fun of the comic panel "They'll Do It Every Time" was honestly the blog that got me wanting me to start my own blog (my original choice was "Beetle Bailey", how would that've done?). She even has a small list of other comic strip related blogs in her sidebar and I went through, looking at them to see what's still going on.

The Amazing Spider-Blog, ended in October 2008 but moved to Meekrat.
Marmaduke Explained, ended in April 2009 but moved to 29-95.com.
Plugwatch 200X, ended in February 2008.
Reynard Noir: The Seedy Underworld of Slylock Fox, ended in November 2008.
The Silent Penultimate Panel Watch, ended in July 2007.
Comics Remixed, ended in April 2009 after Universal Press threatened legal action.
Going Antisane with Gasoline Alley, ended in July 2008.
Love Is...Explained, ended in June 2008.

I know there are others out there but these are the ones that seemed to last the longest and wasn't just the brainchild of a drunk college student. It's gotten to the point where, aside from The Comics Curmudgeon, sites doing more than just your average comic snarking will be the ones that are still around. That's one reason I began doing other stuff besides LAMNB because if I had to have one blog for that, another for the Point of Beginning and another for my Story Series, I'd go crazy and one of them would have to end.

I also seem to notice that some comic blogs don't update regularly anymore, maybe once a week or twice a week and that's too bad but I completely understand. I'm sure after the summer is over, I'll have to start cutting back but I promised a summer of new entries and I'm going to stand by that. Anyway, I think someone needs to bring back "The Seedy Underworld of Slylock Fox" (hey, bring it here!). Posting the Slylock Fox comic with short detective noir fiction would be cool. I read it.

Okay, enough rambling. Onto today's strip.
Born Loser 07-17-09
Ha ha. Isn't that cute? Brutus is yelling at a machine. Okay, has anything like this ever happened before? I want to say it can happen but is not very likely. When I used to work in a call center we had weird stuff happen to our phones all the time but an answering machine never called us.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Yeah, Torture--That'll Make Dieting Go Easier

Born Loser 07-16-09
All right, let's get one thing straight. Dieting doesn't have to be torture anymore. You know longer have to force yourself to eat bland, flavorless rice cakes. There are better foods out there for you to snack on. Buy some organic food or just eat less. I mean look at that cake, it's as big as Brutus' head. That's not natural. There's better ways to diet and lose weight out there now. Do some of those.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Next Strip: Palm Reader

Born Loser 07-15-09
I saw the words "crystal ball" and immediately wanted to vomit. I did roll my eyes though. I'd believe a fortune cookie before I'd believe a fortune teller.

I've only known one person to go to a fortune teller and the woman was fairly accurate. My friend was told that she would be a young mother and sure enough, she got pregnant at age 20. Now I know an unwed pregnancy isn't anything amazing but still, you have to stop and think about that. I just don't want to pay the $40 for a twenty minute session.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I Didn't Say "Thank You"

Born Loser 07-14-09
Veeblefester has just revealed himself to be the Almighty.

If Veeblefester is God then that kind of explains why the world has been kind of falling apart over the last nine years....

Monday, July 13, 2009

#197: Two Warnings and a Ticket

I was pretty lame when it came to skipping school. I didn't watch TV, I didn't hang out with friends who were doing the same. I mainly just stayed home and either did nothing or wrote. Again, I was pretty lame.

I don't honestly know what I was thinking half the time I did skip school. My mom sometimes got home before school let out so I had to go somewhere and wait out the last thirty, sixty minutes. One time I hid in our storage closet, another time I hid out back in the bushes and another time I hid in my bedroom closet. I obviously didn't think things through as how am I supposed to come in the front door when my mom is right there in the front room? Well, needless to say I accomplished it. Not my proudest moment but it happened ten years ago and I'm over it.

So I got my first ticket three miles from the Kansas border in Colorado. I was going "83 in a 70" according to the officer but he gave me a ticket for driving in the left lane (which apparently you can't do) and he asked me if I saw all the signs along the interstate. Now, I love road and street signs. I look at all of them as I drive down the road and I never saw a sign saying I couldn't drive in the left lane. Now that doesn't excuse what I did but if there are no signs, don't lie to me and say there are just because I'm a "hick from Kansas". So anyway, Kit Carson County, Colorado was able to get $60 from me. And it remains my only ticket (and smudge on my driving record).

I have gotten several warnings though. The first was complete idiocy on my part. I was in an older car and got behind a car pulling a boat while going up a hill. I turned to look so I could get in the other lane, put on my turn signal and began merging. Unfortunately, I guess I didn't see that deputy sheriff's car in my blind spot, even though I did look, and ended up almost running him off the road. Noticing this, I immediately pulled over because I figured I'd have to sooner or later anyway. The officer seemed to have good spirits about it and asked me what I was doing. I told him that I was trying to get around that boat so I could get up the hill. He asked if my car would stall and roll backwards or something. I said "Maybe. This car is a piece of crap." He chuckled and just gave me a warning.

The next warning was given while I was driving to work at about 11:30 at night. I was on a country road outside of Lawrence heading to work and came upon these railroad tracks and slowed down to go over them. The speed limit on the road is 30 but you had to go over those at a minimum of 20 or you'd bottom out. So I slowed down, went over the tracks, and then sped up. A quarter mile ahead, there was a sheriff who, as I passed, began turning around. It took him two tries to accomplish this and he proceeded to chase me down. I pulled over and this deputy said I was "going a little fast over railroad tracks". O...kay. You were more of a quarter mile away from the tracks and even if I wasn't going 20 like I was, there was no way you could get over those tracks going faster than 30 and not damage your car. So I answered "I don't think I was but okay" and he asked me where I was going. There's a strip club a mile or so down the road and a lot of people have meth labs along the river between Lawrence and Eudora but I said "I'm going to work" "Where do you work?" "Pearson" and I held up the badge for my job we had to have. "Kind of late to be working. What do you do?" Kind of late? You're working! "I work for 1-800-Medicare. It's a 24 hour call center." He must've believed me because he just gave me a warning but he did follow me to Pearson and watched me pull into the parking lot. I was ten minutes late to work, too.

Until next time, I remain...
~Brian

Who Wants to Marry a Thornapple?

Born Loser 07-13-09
No. The problem with reality shows is that they are getting stupider. They are no longer based in the flimsy "reality" early reality shows were set in. Nowadays reality shows have more writers then most sitcoms and more drama then most dramas.

I hate reality shows. I didn't mind when it was all survive on an island or lose weight with other like-minded fat people but the ones out today are stupid and I will be so glad when people stop watching them and they go away. This annoying television fad has already lasted for ten years (it began in 1999, 1992 if you want to count "The Real World" but I don't) and as a self-taught Professor of Television Programs, that's well more than the average of most other television fads.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Blackwater? Try Veeblefester

Hey, as of the publishing of Delaware Affections this afternoon, Watch This Space has had 600 posts. Onward to 1,000!

Born Loser 07-12-09
I saw this insult coming with panel six but thought an insult was coming with panel two.

What kind of tea cozy company needs a foreman? I'm beginning to think that Veeblefester's business does more than make tea cozies. I'm pretty sure they take other jobs they aren't legally able to do. Maybe construction jobs or jobs normally taken by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Which may explain why the economic crisis hasn't hit the Veeblefester corporation very hard yet.

Delaware Affections #1.2

Wrigley High School was a massive high school built on the southeastern part of the city overlooking the highway and the beach. The high school was bigger than the town needed but it was built ready for growth. The school was helmed by Principal Allan Kenstroke. Kenstroke had been an educator for 17 years and principal of this school for three years.

Principal Kenstroke stood in the doorway, watching the students come in. He spotted Rodney Barton heading in and grabbed him by the shoulder. "Come with me, please."

Rodney sat in Principal Kenstroke's office. They stared at each other for nearly a minute until Rodney finally spoke. "Why did you drag me in here?"

"I read your transcript from your last school."

"Those things really exist?" Rodney jokingly laughed.

"You have a problem with authority, a control problem and possible anger issues. I hope none of that comes out while you are at my school," Principal Kenstroke said.

"I think it's really nice that you drag me in here, single me out and treat me like I'm different," Rodney said. "Did they teach ya that in principal school?"

Principal Kenstroke smiled and lowered his head. "Mr. Barton. Rodney..."

"Mr. Barton."

Principal Kenstroke glared. "You got away with doing that stuff at your old school," he placed a hand on Rodney's file on his desk. "You will not here at Wrigley."

The two glared angrily at each other.




Holly's first class was a health class with Mrs. Litteer. Class hadn't started yet and the students were trickling in. Holly was watching them all come in. A guy came in wearing a sports shirt and shorts. He was talking to another guy who was slightly taller. Suddenly, the guy pulled down the front of his shorts and pulled out his penis.

Holly's eyes grew wide and she blushed but she did not look away as he pulled at it then readjusted it and fixed his shorts. He sat a couple seats behind Holly in a different row. Mrs. Litteer came into the classroom and sat behind her desk then the bell rang. Holly smiled as she began to think about what she could do with that boy's penis.




"First Day of School"
Mitch arrived at his office to find it unlocked with a group of people sitting in the waiting room and a woman sitting behind a desk.

"What's going on here?" he asked.

"They're waiting for the doctor, duh!" the woman said.

"All right. How'd they--and you--get in here?" Mitch asked.

"I have a key," she showed him.

"Who are you?"

"I'm Stella--the assistant."

"Assistant? What assistant?"

"I was the previous doctor's assistant too. It was my job for the last six years," Stella explained.

"That's really nice but I don't need an assistant," Mitch said.

"I was hired by the mayor," Stella revealed.

"Oh, I see," Mitch looked at the patients in the waiting room. "And what are all of you doing here? I don't open for another twenty minutes."

"Mayor Floresch wants you to open at eight," Stella said.

"No. I open at 9:30. I always open at 9:30!" Mitch demanded. "Hold on a sec," Mitch huffed and went to his office and grabbed the phone and dialed.

"Mayor Floresch's office," answered the secretary.

"This is Dr. Barton and I want to speak to Mayor Floresch!"

"Just a moment," and the line went silent.

"Dr. Barton, how's your first day at work?" Mayor Floresch asked.

"Well, I have a waiting room full of people and an assistant," Mitch said.

"Patients already? That's good," Mayor Floresch said. "How's Stella doing? She's one of the best!"

"I don't want an assistant! Also, I don't open until 9:30!"

"No," Mayor Floresch began, "you open at eight. That office always opens at eight."

"Not anymore. And again, I don't need an assistant so I'm going to let Stella go. I'll pay her for the hour and a half she will work but that's all."

"Stella stays," Mayor Floresch said.

"Why?" Mitch demanded. "I don't need her! It's a waste of money!"

"Stella...stays..." she said again.

Mitch sighed exasperatingly. "Fine. But I open at 9:30, got it?" and he hung up. Mitch paced his office a couple of times then went back out to the waiting room. He began counting and pointing to the people sitting down. "1...2...3...4...5...6...7...8. If anyone else shows up, we are closed until 9:30!" and Mitch locked the door. "Number one!" he shouted.




Rodney seemed attached to Cat's hip just about all morning. It was their final class before lunch and Rodney and Cat were sitting in the back corner of the classroom along with Ralph. The class was a current events class and the teacher, Mr. Helms, didn't seem to notice or care that they were talking and chuckling in the back when they should've been researching newspaper headlines.

"So I thought we could go to the beach. We could have a picnic or something. I've never been to a beach--Well, not a good beach. I've been to the beach along Lake Erie," Rodney said.

"Well, I was thinking," Cat began, "that since you have all that planned anyway, we could go see a movie then all meet up at the Replay."

Rodney contemplated that idea. "Wrigley has a movie theatre?"

"It just has two screens. It was built in 1912 or something like that," Ralph said.

"Mr. History over there is right," Cat said. "It does have only two screens. One usually plays a family movie and the other a good movie."

"Except for that one time they showed Failure to Launch," Ralph noted.

"Okay, I'm convinced. Movie and then the Replay," Rodney said.

Across the room, sitting in the front, Cassandra Jurgens turned behind her to her friend Jodie Malene but glanced at Rodney as she did.

"Hey. Who's the new guy?" she asked Jodie.

"I think his name is Rodney or something."

"Not that bad. I need to get him away from Cat though," Cassandra schemed.

Jodie looked back to Cat and Rodney, sighed and shook her head. "Why? Just go over and talk to him. I swear, why do high school girls like you always have to scheme to get the guy? Just talk to him!" Jodie said.

"But if I did that, my storyline would be over..." Cassandra smiled.




At lunch, Holly was sitting with Becky, Ali and Erin. They were telling each other of their day so far until Holly spotted the guy from health class.

"Hey, hey! Who is he? Who is that guy?" she pointed at the guy.

They all turned around to look but Erin answered. "Adam Parker."

"Why?" asked Ali.

Holly leaned in close, "Because in health class today, I saw his dick," she said.

"What? Are you serious? You are so lucky!" Becky gushed.

"What did it look like? I bet it was big," Erin guessed.

Holly curled her forefinger onto the tip of her thumb and smiled wide, showing her teeth. "Other than this, it looks like a normal...thing."

"Wow! You are kind of like a god to me now," Ali said. "What did you think when you saw it?"

"I think...I wanted to touch it..." Holly blushed.

"Holly, you tramp," Becky said.

"You should go for it. I've heard Adam will do it with just about anyone," Erin said.

"Yeah, that would make it all the more special," Holly said. "I don't know. I don't know if my first time should be with someone like Adam Parker. Kind of seems like that'd be rushing it."

"It's better to just get it over with. I lost my virginity three years ago and never looked back," Erin revealed. "What about you two? Are you also glad you lost it early?"

Becky and Ali looked at each other. "We're still virgins..." Becky revealed.

"But that summer, we made a pact..."




Rodney and Cat had gotten their seats at the theatre. "I'm gonna go get an Icee. Do you want anything?" he asked her.

"Just a small Icee, please," she responded.

Rodney got up and went back to the lobby and got in line. Cassandra and her older sister Linda got in line right behind him. "Hi, Rodney," Cassandra said, sweetly. "What movie are you seeing?"

Rodney turned around, confused, and looked at Cassandra. "Uh, not the one with Renee Zellweger," he chuckled.

"Me neither. Are you here with someone or...?" she asked.

"I'm with Cat Kessler," he answered. "And you are?"

Cassandra seemed slightly taken aback that he didn't know her. "Cassandra Jurgens. We have Current Events together."

"Oh yeah. I remember you now," Rodney said.

"Are you and Cat dating exclusively or is this just a school thing?" Cassandra asked.

"We haven't talked about it but I think this is just a school thing at the moment."

"Well then, would you want to try having a school thing with me later this week?" Cassandra asked bluntly.

Rodney laughed. "Why don't we see how it goes with Cat first and I'll get back to you," he said.

"Okay. Enjoy the movie, Rodney." Cassandra and Linda stepped out of the line.

"There! Happy now?" Linda suddenly spoke. "Can we go sit down now? Our movie's about to start."

"Okay, okay. I've done what I came to do," Cassandra said.

Next:
Rodney and Cat begin dating; Holly catches the eye of Adam; a man dies in Mitch's waiting room and Laurie comes to Ralph for help.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

POtW: The Flint Hills

Today's picture is of the Flint Hills in Wabaunsee County, Kansas taken from the Skyline-Snokomo Scenic Road between Alma and Paxico.
Flint Hills of Wabaunsee County

People Hate the Family Circus

My local paper actually mentioned comic strip snarking yesterday. While the article mainly focused on "The Family Circus", they mentioned the classic Dysfunctional Family Circus. I chimed in during the comments to post some other great links. Check it out.

For kicks, here is today's Family Circus:
Family Circus 07-11-09
Not much going on here. Jeffy's just being stupid again which is ironic since Jeffy actually does the strip now with his father (the now 102-year-old Bil Keane). I think Jeff just likes seeing himself in the paper which is why he uses Jeffy a lot which is unfortunate because then it waters down the supposed "cuteness" of the actual character and just makes him look stupid.

Born Loser 07-11-09
Well, we almost get to see Kewpie in today's strip.

I hate when dogs bark at nothing. It's like they are just barking to let you know they are there. I don't like it when dogs bark anyway, it's just annoying and usually pointless and stupid. Like Jeffy.

I think Brutus could've phrased this better so as not to make Wilberforce look stupid. "The dog is just barking at will, anymore"? Really? That's how you'd phrase that. Not: "The dog is just barking at nothing now." Or: "That dog will bark at anything." Even "Wilberforce, get my gun" would've been sufficient.

Friday, July 10, 2009

No. 2: Virgin Mari


Chapter One
Mari Atkinson moaned loudly as she laid on top of David Logan and the two made love. Both were breathing heavily and Mari was soaked in sweat. David’s hands were wrapped around the slats of the headboard and Mari’s were wrapped around his.

“Oh! Ah! I’m…I’m coming,” Mari gasped.

David let go of the headboard, hugged Mari and rolled over so that he was on top of her. He slammed into her several more times as both of their orgasms mounted. Mari let out a breathy scream as she felt David ejaculate inside her. The two laid in bed to hug and kiss. Mari gasped as David withdrew.

“Now I am going to be late for work,” Mari said as she looked into David’s dark brown eyes.

“What can I say? You drive me wild,” David growled and the two kissed again.

Mari pulled away. “Okay, enough of the clich├ęs. I seriously need to get ready for work.”

David rolled off of Mari and she got out of bed. Mari was a short woman with an average build but her shoulder-length blond hair and teal blue eyes complemented the adorable features of her face. Mari was a publicist for some of the most well-known stars in New York City and she was good at balancing work, friends and a highly active private life. As Mari washed the sweat and odor off of her body, David put this clothes on, wrote a quick good-bye note and left Mari’s apartment.

Mari got out of the shower and went into the bedroom, wrapped in a towel. Her hair was wet and stringy. She read the note David left and promptly dropped it into the wastebasket. She began humming and finished getting ready for work.




When Mari finally got to work, she was immediately greeted by Renee Waterston and Daniel Supiero, two of her assistants. Renee was a plain girl with mousy brown hair and freckles dotting her face. David was a wide-eyed young man who had the hopes of getting one of Mari’s clients in the next few months.

“It’s about time you got here,” Renee said. “We tried calling your house and your cell phone and you answered neither.”

“Well, I didn’t answer my home phone because I was driving and my cell phone was off. Why? What’s so important?” Mari asked.

“The meeting was moved. You have approximately twenty minutes to get from here to 107th Street!” Renee panicked.

“Relax. It’s a routine meeting,” Mari got a casual smile on her face. “Danny, get over to wherever the meeting is going to be and hold down the fort. Renee and I will get there as soon as possible,” Mari calmly ordered. Danny nodded and took off.

“What are we going to do?” Renee asked.

“We, my friend, are going to get me some cappuccino and a paper—I forgot to grab my Washington Post today,” Mari tapped Renee on the head with the New York Times she held in her hand.

“But we need to get to that meeting, Mari,” Renee urged.

“Danny can cover for me and if they refuse to wait then Danny can make the deal. I trust him and it’ll be good practice for him,” Mari was perfectly calm while Renee was wringing her hands together and nervously moving her eyes around the room.

Mari and Renee stood at the counter waiting for her hazelnut cappuccino. Renee continued nervously looking at her watch while Mari calmly looked around the coffee shop and hummed. As she looked around her eyes met with a guy in one of the other lines. They smiled at each other and the waitress handed Mari her coffee.

“Good! Finally! Now we can go!” Renee said.

“Wait. I see something else I want,” and Mari went over to the guy she saw.

“Aargh!” Renee moaned.

Mari walked up to the guy who was still standing in line. “Hi,” she said with a big smile.

“Hi,” he replied back with a similar smile.

Mari pulled out one of her business cards and handed it to him. “I’m Mari Atkinson and was hoping we could get together for an…intimate meeting, you know?”

“That sounds really nice. I think I’d enjoy that,” he accepted the card and took a quick look at it. “I’m Justin Loeb, a photographer for New York magazine. Sorry, I don’t have business cards.”

“That’s okay. Give me a call later this afternoon and we’ll coordinate our plans,” Mari added a wink to the end of the sentence. “I’ll see you later Justin.”

She turned and joined back up with Renee. “What is wrong with you?” Renee screamed.

“I am a healthy young woman, Renee and sometimes you got to grab the bull by the horns…or in this case, penis,” Mari smiled as she and Renee left the coffee shop.





Chapter Two
Jessica Clark was the closest thing to a rival Mari had at the agency. Jessica was a very beautiful woman with curly red hair, full lips, hazel eyes and a body that wouldn’t quit. Danny had been attracted to her since the day they met. Danny, Renee and Jessica sat together in the lounge in the bottom floor of the agency.

“So Mari’s not handling that client anymore?” Jessica asked.

“Nope. He specifically requested me as his publicist,” Danny answered. “But don’t cry for Mari, she still has plenty of work.”

“Well, congratulations Danny. I’m glad you’re getting out from under the shadow of that slut. Unlike some people,” Jessica looked at Renee.

“I like working for Mari,’ Renee defended. “And she’s not a slut.”

“Oh whatever. Whore then,” Jessica shrugged. “Speaking of Mari, where is she?”

“She had a date with a guy she met this morning,” Renee said.

“I retract my ‘whore’ statement against the little slut,” Jessica smiled.

Renee shook her head, got up and headed to the bathroom. Danny made sure she was gone before he scooted closer to Jessica. “Jessica? I was wondering if, as kind of a congratulatory event, you’d like to go out and have dinner with me,”

“I don’t think that would be very wise because now that you have your own client, we are now rivals and that may be a conflict of interest. Besides you might beholden me to some expectations that I just can’t fulfill,” she glanced at her watch, uncrossed her legs and stood up. “I have to go. See you tomorrow, Danny. Say good-bye to Renee for me.”

Jessica left and Danny sat alone for awhile as he waited for Renee to return. “Jessica return?” asked Renee.

“Yeah. I’m gonna bag her someday,” Danny convinced himself. “What do you think Mari’s doing?”

“From what I remember, his name is Justin and he’s a photographer,” Renee said.

“At least one of us is getting lucky tonight,” Danny sighed.




Mari unlocked the door to her apartment and invited Justin in. He gasped when he saw Mari’s spacious apartment overlooking Central Park. “Oh my God, you live in a palace!” he exclaimed. “I live in a water-stained apartment above a bar.”

“I’ve been blessed,” Mari said. “It’s bigger than I need but I wanted something overlooking the park. I’m gonna get comfortable. Feel free to turn on the TV or something.”

Mari went into her bedroom and Justin went to the doors leading to the balcony. He walked out and looked out over the park. He looked down at Fifth Avenue. Mari came up behind him and wrapped her arms around his waist.

“Enjoying the view?” she asked. “On clear, quiet nights you can actually hear and see the rapes and murders.”

“This has been a great night, Mari. There’s something about you…”

“Something about Mari, that’s very original,” Mari smiled.

“Ssh. You know what I mean. You’re different from any girl I’ve met,” Justin bent down and they kissed.

“Let me show you the bedroom,” Mari whispered.




Chapter Three
Mari and Renee were in her office discussing new promos requested for a perfume named after one of their clients. “None of these is even remotely what our client want to be portrayed as,” Mari said.

“She signed off on this stupid endeavor and now it’s going to hurt her career,” Renee said looking between two ad pages. “How was your date with the coffee shop guy?” she asked.

“Justin? It was amazing. He was so nice and charming unlike the others who are nice but losers or wonderful but jerks. Justin was a nice medium. I think I’ll be seeing more of him,” Mari smiled.

“It’ll be nice finally seeing you settle down,” Renee said.

“Who said anything about settling down?” Mari smiled bigger.

Danny came into Mari’s office. “Guys, come look at my office.” The three walked down a hallway, turning several corners until finally coming to Danny’s new office that smelled of mothballs. Fans were set up to air out the room faster. “They assure me that the smell will go away.”

The office was big but not as big as Mari’s. It was also located far away from any known life. “It’s really nice Danny and I know you earned it,” Mari said.

“And in addition to the client I stole from you, I’m getting three others and a shared one with Jessica,” Danny said.

“Ah, Jessica. Late night talking over possible promotions, dinners together and finally, the moment you’ve been…” Mari gasped passionately and slowly exhaled, “…waiting for.”

“I appreciate your faith in me but somehow I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Danny said.

“Mari Atkinson?” asked a booming voice coming from behind them.

“Yes?” Mari turned around and saw a tall, handsome man in a suit with dark brown wavy hair standing behind her. Mari was halted by his attractiveness.

“Someone told me I’d find you down here. I’m your new assistant Chase Ruccollo,” Chase introduced.

“You’re hot,” Mari said quietly. “Well, it’ll be good working with you. You seem to be an upstanding, hard-working, attractive young man,” Mari said and shook Chase’s hand. “I look forward to working with you.”

“And I, you Mari Atkinson. I’m gonna go get set up in my cubicle,” Chase pointed behind him, smiled and walked away.

“Ooh, he was cute,” Renee said.

“And he’s all mine,” Mari smiled.




Jessica and Danny sat in her office and were arguing over how to handle their shared client. “Look, Daniel, I’ve been doing this a lot longer than you so I think I know what the people are looking for from us,” she demanded.

“But it’s all the same old stuff. We have a chance to do something really intriguing with this client…”

“As long as they agree with it,” Jessica interrupted Danny.

“Yes, yes. Of course. Look, at least hear me out. Listen to what I have to offer, if you like it we’ll run it by the client, if she doesn’t like it, I’ll shut up about the old procedure.”

Jessica sat still and looked between Danny and a small stack of papers on her desk. She took a deep breath and nodded her head. “Okay. All right I will hear you out. What do you have to offer?”

“Dates,” Danny said.

“Dates? You honestly think that’s original? Dates with who?”

“Anyone. Guys, girls—make the press confused. The paparazzi will be all over her. ‘Is she straight? Gay? Both?’ She may get some negative PR for looking like a whore but that’s when we’ll up the virginal aspect,” Danny explained. “Do you like it?”

“No, I don’t,” Jessica said honestly. “But I think we should try it. Run it by her.”

“Great. I’ll call her agent and set up an appointment for tomorrow,” Danny smiled and left Jessica’s office.




Chase was thrusting hard into Mari as her short screams of pleasure rang through Chase’s bedroom. Mari had a hard time holding onto Chase’s back so her nails dragged down his back every so often. His hands caressed her breasts and fingered her brown nipples as she moaned and positioned herself to take even more of him. She came and Chase ejaculated inside her. He rested on top of her for a few minutes before pulling out and rolling off of Mari.

“I’ll be right back,” Mari kissed Chase and got off the bed to go to the bathroom. When she came back she climbed back into bed next to Chase and covered up. They snuggled together and fell asleep. Mari awoke in the middle of the night and licked her lips. “Gotta pee,” she groaned.

She closed the door of the bathroom and sat down on the toilet. She began urinating in the complete darkness of the bathroom and Mari rested her head on her hand.

“Mari?”

Mari’s head jerked up and she looked up into the darkness. “What?” she replied.

“You need to stop,” said the voice.

“Chase?” Mari smiled a little and reached for the light switch.

“I want you to stop having sex,” the voice now had an ominous tone to it. “It’s going to kill you.”

“What are you talking about? Having sex makes me feel good and it makes the other person feel good,” Mari justified.

“The next time you have sex Mari, you will die.”

Mari finally got the light on and looked around the empty, silent bathroom. She wiped, washed her hands and rejoined Chase in bed. Chase was still sound asleep. Mari stared off into space from bed as the mysterious voice saying ‘you will die’ echoed through her brain.




Chapter Four
Mari and Renee stood in the airport terminal at JFK. Renee carried one suitcase while Mari held another. “I still don’t understand why you’re doing this,” Renee said.

“I really don’t either but it’s something I should do. Besides, it gets me away from the city and into the glorious wilderness of New Hampshire,” Mari took the suitcase from Renee. “I’ll see you in two weeks. I left instructions about the clients on my desk. I’ll see you later.” Mari turned and headed for the gate with Renee waving behind her.

Renee went back to the office and was approached by Chase outside of Mari’s office. “I heard Mari’s taking a couple weeks off. What’s the problem?” he asked.

“Nothing’s wrong. Mari just needed a vacation. She has a very high demand job,” Renee said.

“Okay. You need me for anything?”

“Yeah. Mari wants you to handle this client,” Renee handed Chase a folder containing ad promos and 8x10” glossies of a beautiful Egyptian woman. “She should be fairly easy to handle. Good luck.”

Chase took the folder and left the office. Danny immediately came in. “Seriously, what’s the story on Mari’s vacation?” he asked.

“Shut the door and sit down. She’s really embarrassed about it but after she slept with Chase, she started hearing voices,” Renee began.

Danny gasped. “That’s the first sign of syphilis!” he said.

“No, it’s not. Mari doesn’t have an STD. Mari went on a Virginal Expedition. It’s a wilderness retreat where women go to learn to stop having sex. When they leave the retreat, they can leave as born-again virgins. That’s what Mari went for,” Renee explained.

“Mari wants to be a virgin again? And she’s doing it from a ‘whores anonymous’-type retreat?” Danny asked.

“In layman’s terms…” Renee sighed. “Don’t say anything to anyone about it because she is really embarrassed about it.”

“I understand. I’m embarrassed just hearing about it. I have to go. I gotta meet Jessica and one of our clients for lunch so I’ll see you later,” Danny got up and opened the door to the office. “Ha! Born-again virgin. Classic Mari,” he laughed.




Danny and Jessica sat across from Alessandria Kinski, a raven-haired beauty from Brazil. Her olive skin glowed in the dimly lit restaurant. “The reason for this lunch is to go over an idea we…I came up with to get more publicity,” Danny said. Danny leaned forward, glanced at Jessica and cleared his throat. “How would you feel about dating other women?”

Alessandria was silent and took a while to absorb Danny’s question. “But I am not a homosexual,” Alessandria sounded confused.

“We know and we don’t want you to be homosexual,” Danny convinced.

“Yeah,” Jessica began, “we want you to be bisexual.”

“What is bisexual?” Alessandria asked.

“It’s where you like both men and women,” Danny explained. “The plan is to show you out with both men and women. The press will go wild trying to figure out if you’re gay or not.”

“But I’m not gay,” Alessandria said.

“We know but this will be wonderful publicity for you,” Danny reassured.

“If you want to go through with it,” Jessica said. “If you don’t want to do this we can always work out something else.”

Without hesitation Alessandria nodded. “Okay, I’ll do it. Just tell me what to do.”

“Come to our office tomorrow and we’ll get you all set up,” Danny said. “Until then, enjoy the lunch and have a quality rest of the day.”

As Jessica and Danny left the restaurant, Jessica looked at Danny. “You perked up there at the end,” she said.

“I get to coach a very attractive and beautiful woman to be a lesbian. I finally have a purpose in life.”




Chapter Five
Meredith, New Hampshire was a small town in Belknap County along the coast of Lake Winnipesaukee. The first two hours of the women’s retreat was spent being introduced to everyone. Mari couldn’t help but laugh because most of the women there were about to get married and wanted to be virgins for their husbands. Before the evening circle gathering, Mari went up to the bar and stood next to a middle-aged, tall, blond woman. “I didn’t know this place was going to make me vomit,” Mari chuckled.

“Whatever helps you sleep at night—go for it,” the lady said. “Why are you here?”

“You may think this is crazy but I heard a voice telling me that if I had sex one more time, I would die,” Mari said.

“Oh, yeah,” the woman suddenly clutched the underside of her left breast, “this boob said if I had sex once more, she’d leave. The right one doesn’t care but I don’t even like it when they go on vacation.” Mari looked at her with her eyebrow raised. “Hi, I’m Meredith Ewels.”

“Mari Atkinson. My boobs don’t talk.”




Later, gathered around a bonfire, the head counselor was explaining what the next two weeks would be about. “Now we’re not going to be going through this alone. We are going to have sponsors to help us through any rough periods of our abstinence,” the counselor said.

“Sponsor? I signed up for a revirginization camp, not A.A.,” Mari whispered to Meredith.

“Don’t worry. I’ll be your sponsor. It’ll be fun,” Meredith said.

“Not too much fun, I hope. That’s what brought me here.”

“Your sponsor will be there for you if you ever have any urges. For most of you, this will be easy, but for some…”

“Me!” Mari interrupted, raising her hand.

“Yes,” the counselor smiled uneasily, “for some of you this will be difficult.”

“I do love the cock!” Mari said gruffly.

“Now before we go to dinner, I want you to sit with your sponsor and talk about what made you decide to become a reborn virgin and describe what you will now look for, when you want to lose your virginity…again,” the counselor smiled.

Mari and Meredith sat down on the grass and looked at each other. “So why are you really here Meredith?” Mari asked.

“I’ve never had a proper sexual relationship. I lost my virginity when I was fifteen to an uncle I only saw once. Since then, my relationships have been horrible because I’m a neurotic in bed. Unless I am in control, I am what one boyfriend called a ‘dead-fuck’, and I cry if I feel them come inside me so I make the guy pull out. I’m just hoping this puts me one step closer to keeping a relationship—especially a sexual one,” Meredith explained.

“Wow. And I’m here just because I’m a huge slut. I’m sorry Meredith,” Mari apologized.

“Don’t be. This is just one more step to a hopefully normal life,” Meredith smiled.

“Well I’ll be here for you. Where do you live?”

“New York. Along the East River.”

“Me too. Only I live on Fifth Avenue across from Central Park.”

“Wow! What do you do for a living?”

“I am a public relations representative for celebrities,” Mari said.

“Okay, now I think you’re lying,” Meredith laughed.




Chapter Six
Danny tossed the tabloid magazine onto the desk in front of Alessandria. She picked it up and looked at the small picture of her and lesbian singer Donna Corday holding hands.

“We couldn’t knock Angelia Jolie’s lips off the cover,” Danny admitted, “but we got you on the cover.”

“I had a really good time, too. Donna is an interesting person. We’ll have to do it again sometime.”

“Guaranteed but for now you’ll be seen with a man and you will have to kiss him so the questions can start then you’ll have to do it all over again with Donna,” Danny explained.

“No problem,” Alessandria said.

Danny smiled big. “You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?”

“A little bit, yes,” Alessandria giggled.

“Whatever. You have a photo shoot at the Kaplan Building so get on over there and we’ll talk tomorrow about your man date,” Danny escorted Alessandria to the door and led her out into the hallway. Jessica came up behind him and watched Alessandria depart. “Do you think if I recruited her as a lesbian, I could get the mini-fridge?” Danny asked.

“What?”

“Nothing. So is Alessandria man-date all set up?”

“Yep. Tomorrow night she’ll be out with that new country singer. You know, the guy who always wears the hat,” Jessica said. “Do you like her?”

“Alessandria? At first I thought it’d be great but I like her as a friend, nothing more. Why? Do you?” Danny jokingly asked.

“Kinda,” Jessica shrugged.

“What? But you’re straight!”

Jessica just shrugged again.




Renee and Mari drove from JFK Airport through the crowded New York streets. Mari was regaling Renee of stories from revirginization camp and of Meredith.

“I’m glad you had a good time,” Renee said.

“Yep, I met some great people, made a new friend and the best thing about it,” Mari smiled, “is I’m not at all one bit horny.”

“Well that’s why you went. However when you get back, you have both Justin and Chase vying for your heart so you’ll have to figure out what to do with them.”

“Well, they will just have to understand that this is important to me and they have to wait until I’m married. I’m a new Mari Atkinson, Renee.”

“Either way, I’m glad you’re back because I am not cut out for the PR life. Danny had to help me,” Renee confessed.

“Do you want to come to dinner with me and Meredith? I want to introduce my friends to her.”

“Yeah, I’ll be there…”




Chapter Seven
“Why are you leaving early?” Renee asked Mari. Mari had been home for nearly a month and everything had reverted back to normal for everyone. Mari had started seriously dating Justin but remained good friends with Chase.

“I’ve just been feeling a little under the weather the last week or so,” Mari said.

“You probably got Lyme disease from being up in the woods with ticks,” said Danny.

“I wasn’t bitten by a tick, Danny,” Mari sighed. “While I’m gone I want you two to work together on Eric Throckmorton…”

“What the hell kind of name is that?” Danny interrupted.

“That’s actually what you’ll be helping with. He wants to change his name and wants a listen of suggestions.”

“We can do that. Hope everything’s okay with you, Mari. See you tomorrow,” Renee said. Mari waved and smiled sickly as she left her office. “We’ll meet at my place. What do you like to drink?”

“Dark beer. Pretty much anything dark beer.”

“Okay, I’ll pick up some beverages and we’ll meet at my place at eight.”

“I’ll be there. I have to go meet Jessica and Alessandria so I’ll see you later.”

Danny left the office and went to Jessica’s office where she and Alessandria were seated. “You’re a little late Danny but better late than never. Our ‘straight lesbian’ campaign is putting Alessandria on the front page but now it’s seeming more like a gimmick so Alessandria has agreed to enter into a long-term relationship,” Jessica began.

“I don’t want anyone entering into a relationship just for the sake of stardom. I can’t condone this,” Danny said.

“Don’t worry. It is a mutual relationship and I am relieving myself from her PR duties. You are going to completely in charge of Alessandria’s public relations,” Jessica said.

“Why?” Danny questioned.

“Because Jessica is my girlfriend and she felt it would be a conflict of interest,” Alessandria said.

Danny was silent as he looked back and forth at Jessica and Alessandria then left the office.




Renee sat on the edge of her bed naked with her face in her hands. Danny came into the bedroom only in boxers and carrying two bottles of water.

“Here’s some water. Are you okay?” Danny sat down next to Renee and put his arm around her.

“Yeah, I’m fine. I just…I haven’t had sex since I was in college and I honestly thought I would never have sex again until I found my true love,” Renee said.

“I understand. Look, I’m sorry if I…But I don’t regret it. You were so wonderful and beautiful. I would do you again in a heartbeat.”

Renee looked up at Danny and smiled. “Thank you. We came here to work so maybe we should. You put some pants on and set up the dining room table. I’ll get dressed and meet you out there.”

Shortly, Danny and Renee were sitting on her couch, drinking some dark beer and listening to the radio while a portfolio lay on the coffee table. “This is not how I pictured my life.”

“What do you mean? You seem to have it pretty good. I wouldn’t be complaining,” Danny said.

“Compared to the woman I work with, I’m grotesque. I’ve only had sex two times—eight years apart—and I am not really happy with my job,” Renee admitted.

“Okay, first of all, you are extremely attractive and if you are really unhappy working there, quit. I’ll miss you and so will Mari but we can still hang out together,” Danny said. “Look, my life didn’t come out the way I wanted. After five years I finally got my own clients; I have turned down offers from beautiful women because of my infatuation with Jessica and now I may have begun the end of a good friendship.”

“What do you mean? It was just sex and I’m not going to let a trivial thing like sex get in the way of our friendship,” Renee chuckled.

“Making love to you felt so right. I don’t think I could ever go back to just being friends,” Danny stated.

“Then what are we gonna do?” Renee asked. Danny leaned into Renee, they closed their eyes and kissed.




Chapter Eight
Mari entered her office with a wry smile on her face. Renee was sorting files in Mari’s cabinets. “Hello, Renee. How’s everything going?”

“Better than I expected,” Renee brushed her hair behind her ear and Mari noticed that Renee’s hair was down and not pulled back into a ponytail like usual.

“Running late this morning?”

“A little. I had a long night,” Renee smiled.

“Oh, yeah. Danny was over,” Mari said nonchalantly.

“How’d you know?” Renee turned.

“I’m the one who made you work on that client, remember?” Mari said. “What’s wrong with you?”

“Danny and I slept together last night…”

“Oh my God! Renee got some!” Mari got closer to her friend. “Did you come?”

“That’s not the point, Mari but good God yes! We decided to start dating and just see where it goes but enough about me. How did your doctor’s appointment go?”

“I’m pregnant.” Mari said.

Renee and Mari both shrieked and hugged each other. “How far along are you?”

“Only about a month.”

“Who’s the father?”

Mari shrugged.

“You don’t know who the father is?”

“It’s either David, Justin or Chase. I’ve called them and I’m gonna tell them tonight. Neither one is gonna love the idea,” Mari said.

“So you’re gonna keep it?”

“Of course!”

“I just thought of something. You’re pregnant but you’re a born-again virgin so does that make you the virgin Mari?” Renee then busted out laughing.

Mari rolled her eyes and left the office.