Friday, May 29, 2015

Among the Ten Thousand Things: A Book Review

White People Problems
Julia Pierpont is a graduate of the NYU Creative Writing Program.

That is all you need to know. It explains a great deal.

She was a Rona Jaffee Foundation Graduate Fellow. She was a Stein Fellow. She has won awards for her writing. So she must be a brilliant writer, yes? Literary agents went looking for her.

AMONG THE TEN THOUSAND THINGS is her work of debut fiction. The prose is, indeed, very pretty. The sentences are well crafted. The paragraphs sing with the rhythm of syllables and pauses.

Agent Elyse Cheney sold the book to Random House (which provided the review copy in use here) for six figures. Clearly the publishing industry expects big things from Julia Pierpont.

What is the novel about?

The blurbs will tell you it is the story of a marriage falling apart. As a reader, I will tell you it is a narrative of New York City whingers. Ah Christ, the angst and the mental suffering. Everyone in the novel is so in tune to themselves that a reader cannot like them. Unless you are part of the New York City whinging crowd, in which case you'll find their portrayals brilliant.

Did I mention that the prose is lovely? It's a beautifully written novel.

The problem comes in the entertainment factor. There isn't much storytelling to speak of.

So we have Deb and Jack and their two teenage cartoon children. He's a serial adulterer and she's a failed ballerina who found herself up the stick and Jack did the right thing. The children do and say what stereotypical teens do and say. They're as self-centered as their parents, and equally dull.

Jack's latest piece on the side sends Deb a litany of sexting and assorted emails and the daughter reads it and then the son and then Deb and then Jack's art installation goes bad and the marriage is just falling apart. Then we get to the middle of the novel and the author shifts to "too cute by half" mode with a series of staccato sentences that reveal the fates of the characters.

Well, so, no need to read the rest when you know what's going to happen and when the daughter runs away from home you know she'll be found because the author told us earlier so you flip through to see if anything important happens but it doesn't. The whinging carries on to the end.

You read a book and wonder how such shite gets published. The publishers are pursuing students of creative writing who write about people like those in the publishing industry, characters that the publishing industry can relate to. The rest of us, the common readers, are supposed to see the brilliance, or be considered Philistines who don't know good literature when it smacks them in the face.

So I must be a knuckle-dragging Neanderthal because I found nothing to like about this novel. The writing is there. But it isn't enough to make a full-length novel. Tell me a story.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Another Reason To Dislike Football

For the good of what? The game?
They call it soccer in America, to distinguish the sport from their version of mayhem, and it is growing in popularity. Suburban children can be seen swarming pitches in every well-heeled community, kicking the old football around.

Now the soccer-despising among us will have further reason to kick the sport itself around.

What's sauce for the Olympic committee is apparently good for the footballers as well. The culture of bribery that formed the backbone of the group that was charged with finding venues for Olympic games has infected football's governing body as well. Police in Switzerland raided the offices of the Federation Internationale de Football Association and arrested several of the group's officials. Police in the US staged a raid on FIFA offices there as well, arresting a few important people on charges of corruption.

So it seems that you aren't the only one wondering how the World Cup match was awarded to a country like Qatar, where the climate in summer is less than ideal for an outdoor sport, and where the matches played always in the peak of summer were miraculously rescheduled to a cooler time of year in the Arabian desert.

You want your sports honest and free of bribery. It's supposed to be a skills contest, with the best team coming out the winner.

Like the Olympics, the World Cup site is coveted for the tourism it brings, and when a country wants something bad enough it will offer a little cash incentive. Our sports officials are supposed to be above that sort of thing. Judging by the raid on FIFA offices, they are not. According to the indictment, the officials not only were down in the gutter, but they had the audacity to ask for illegal payments.

The raid came as the FIFA officials gathered for their meeting in Zurich. It's that time of the sports schedule, when FIFA's president is to be elected, and if you're going to nab an international crime ring, it's easier to gather them up at a gathering. Those arrested in Switzerland are to be sent on to America to face trial for crimes that the Federal Bureau of Investigation alleges were conducted over a span of decades.

So if you despise soccer, you have even more reason to hate the sport that is played all over the world but not so much in America where it is seen as a game suitable for children or girls, but not real men.

Now the governing body has shown that there is another game being run in addition to FIFA's namesake sport. It's a game played by adults, and it is an international game with high stakes but a comfortable pay-out for the winners.

And as the un-arrested officials gather to elect their president, and decide if the man who led FIFA through all those years of bribery, extortion and money-laundering, is deserving of a fifth term. Authorities have pointed out that Sepp Blatter, the king of football, has not been arrested or charged with any wrongdoing, but the seeds of doubt have been sown.

He'll just have to buy his votes if he's keen to keep his lofty position.

Which should not be difficult. It's a way of life for those who control the sport of football.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Sherlock Holmes: The Light And The Legal Fury

A slight trick of copyright law
Thou shalt not put Sherlock Holmes in a comfortable chair if the narration makes mention of lighting or a guest's discomfort.

That about sums up the latest legal fury around the estate of Arthur Conan Doyle.

Isn't Sherlock Holmes now in the public domain, you ask as you pause in your writing, the fanfic piece nearly complete and images of dollar signs dancing in your head. The copyright expired long ago and anyone can use the Holmes character. It's perfectly legal to write a short story or a full-length novel with Sherlock Holmes solving a case.

To an extent that is true, but lawsuits filed by the descendants of Mr. Doyle have carved out a little block of Holmes-ian details that were published late enough to still fall under copyright law. You may write a Sherlock Holmes story if you wish, but you have to watch what you have Mr. Holmes say or do.

Filmmaker Miramax is discovering the headaches of this splitting of hairs issue. The Doyle estate has sued them for copyright infringement because they have made a movie based on a novel that features Sherlock Holmes in retirement, called out to solve another case.

Sorry, the estate's lawyer says, but that story contains 1923-1927 material you've lifted and you owe us money for the right to use our property.

The novel on which this upcoming film is based was published in 2005, but only now that the book has gone to film has the estate given notice. They are suing author Mitch Cullin, as well as Penguin Random House. The publisher is already dealing with lawsuits filed by those who felt defrauded by the Penguin's Author Solutions branch, so the legal department is really earning its keep these days.

As it turns out, Arthur Conan Doyle did not write about the retired Sherlock Holmes until the 1920s. Like any author, he added various elements to the character to make Sherlock Holmes move with the times, and those elements if included in a new work using Holmes would fall under the copyright law.

Mitch Cullin's version of Holmes is the retiree, which the estate admits is fine because Holmes was retired in stories that have fallen out of copyright. What Mr. Cullin did that brought on the heat was to set a scene based on a description written by Doyle in the 1920's, in which Holmes sits in a chair and puts his guest in a chair opposite, where the light shines full on the guest's face and obscures Holmes. In both Doyle's version and Cullin's version. the guest is rendered somewhat speechless. The passages sited in the lawsuit are so similar, in fact, that it's bordering on plagiarism.

The estate wants their cut of the profits from both book sales and movie box office receipts. No need to pull the film or the book. What benefit to anyone in that case? Just send the check and we'll bestow the official Arthur Conan Doyle stamp of approval after the fact.

Sherlock Holmes is still a popular fictional character, and still draws movie-goers into the theaters. With Ian McKellin in the starring role, it's sure to be a blockbuster hit. Miramax wouldn't want to pass that up if they can come to a reasonable agreement. After all, they've already spent a lot of money to make the film in the first place. A few more dollars won't hurt. As long as the estate doesn't get greedy.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Publishing In The Prehistoric Era

We used to do it that way. Long ago, when computer technology was not as advanced as it is today. Like some single cells organizing themselves in the primordial ooze, that's what it was. You wrote a book and you made the rounds of the literary agents, hoping to get published but getting nothing but rejections.

The chances were good that your book did not fit into the particular slot that publishers thought needed filling, so you put the manuscript away and wrote another one. You did that again and again, using your computer for its word processing capabilities because there wasn't much Internet back then. Things were still evolving, and the database of literary agents was in its infancy. You'd be hard-pressed to find a list of publishers willing to accept manuscripts not sent by literary agents.

There were rogue elements that arose back in those days. Some saw an opportunity to be tapped. All those manuscripts, written by all those authors who wanted to see their book in print. Sure there's a sucker born every minute and out of the morass came Author Solutions.

We'll publish your book, they said. And you'd have to buy boxes and boxes of your opus, to sell yourself. There was no getting the book on Amazon. Amazon was just a little thing back then, and most people bought their books in a store.

We'll help you get your books in those stores, they said. For a price. We'll help you market your book, and here is a list of paid services we offer that will lead to best-seller status. We're just like those major publishers who won't even glance at your manuscript. We'll help you. For a price.

While vanity publishers like Author Solutions expanded, so too did the Internet. Writers could search for publishers, and they could find information from those who knew about publishing and what constituted a scam. It was the end for some of those old dinosaur vanity presses. Authors were getting wise, and taking advantage of an evolving technology.

Information became readily available, and at the same time, the publishing industry shifted. A writer didn't need Author Solutions. Amazon was offering a platform to create a book from a manuscript, and the book would appear on sale at The revolution of digital publishing altered the landscape yet again. If you wanted to publish your manuscript that fit a smaller niche ignored by the major publishers, you could do so at Amazon or or Smashwords.You could market your book on Facebook, Twitter, a blog or Internet advertising.

You could search for scams and complaints cited by authors who had tried Author Solutions and felt that they had been deceived. Warnings appeared, but those warnings came too late for some.

Even with all that available, there were those who did not have Google skills or did not think they could do it on their own. Those who believed the marketing and trusted that Author Solutions was a real publisher, not just some vanity press. They came to see that the services offered did not meet expectations. A law suit was filed against Author Solutions, citing deceptive practices and fraud.

The suit has worked its way through the American legal system, while Author Solutions has worked its way up the evolutionary ladder. It is now a subsidiary of Penguin Random House, a respectable publisher that picked up the vanity press as a way to get a toehold in the burgeoning self-publishing industry.

Penguin Random House wanted an evolved platform for self-publishing. They ended up with all the evolutionary detritus that clung to Author Solutions from its prehistoric past.

Attorneys for the Penguin are planning to show Judge Denise Cote that Author Solutions was not doing anything deceptive and it's just a bunch of disgruntled authors whose expectations were unrealistic and it wasn't Author Solutions' fault. There's no pattern, which is required to demonstrate deception as corporate policy.

The plaintiffs are seeking to make the suit a class-action undertaking, gathering a group of victims together under a single umbrella to show the pattern of misleading behavior.

The wheels of justice continue to turn slowly, while technology races ahead. Fewer authors will be ensnared by Author Solutions because there is so much information available about potential scams, dissatisfied customers, and other complaints about the expensive services. It's not all that difficult to develop an alternative plan based on advice that is readily available in countless forums dedicated to those who want to publish their words.

Authors can be forewarned these days. If they fall for the promises of Author Solutions, they have only themselves to blame. Which is what Penguin Random House's legal team would like the judge to consider before she decides if the plaintiffs have a legitimate case.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Writing Prompt: Aquatic

It looks like a lovely little cottage, doesn't it? A humble abode, with a bright red door. The front garden could be populated with children playing, or you could imagine a gathering of friends.

What inspiration do you draw from this photograph?

Let's throw in another picture of this same house, and see where your imagination takes you.

Not what you expected?

AirBnB is now legal in London, and a couple of architects designed this floating house to draw attention to the modern version of holiday accommodations. The cottage on a raft is floating up and down the Thames, and as you can imagine it is drawing a great deal of attention. It isn't every day that you see a houseboat this elaborate. And you could rent it, if you had an urge to see London as Anne Boleyn might have seen it for the last time.

A house floating downstream might suggest some sort of catastrophic flood, lifting a whole house and carrying it away. There is something of a children's story in this picture as well, a sort of magical journey in a floating house.

You have the pictures. Now it's your turn to write those thousand words. Or more, if inspiration strikes.

If you aren't much of a writer, you could just navigate over to London's AirBnB site and book a stay at someone's home. Who knows, but you might find a little inspiration abroad, poking around in a stranger's things. There might be a travel writer in you, if you find the right inspiration.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Finding A Pattern In Book Sales

Two new books have risen to the top of the bestseller list, and the titles demonstrate a clear pattern.

Kim Kardashian is a celebrity, a person famous for doing nothing except being famous. Her book is a collection of pictures that she took of herself, but rather than call her book "Selfies", the publisher decided that "Selfish" was more clever.

Selfish. Self-obsessed. It sounds like a promotion for Peter Schweizer's book "Clinton Cash". If you've seen him being interviewed, you'd realize that selfishness lies at the heart of his premise.

Is there a pattern developing here? Are book buyers intrigued by selfishness in prominent members of our society?

Mr. Schweizer has been doing plenty of book promoting, while Ms. Kardashian has no need to promote her book. Her platform is larger than her hind quarters, and fans of her family's reality series are already well aware of the book. Come to think of it, Mr. Schweizer has a nice little platform, but it was constructed by conservative-leaning media and those who don't much like Hilary Clinton. That's a fairly substantial number of planks right there.

Readers want to know all about the Clintons and their foundation, how they manage to live so lavishly after coming up from nothing, and so the Schweizer book becomes a bestseller. The Kardashian book being a collection of pictures, it's clear that there's no interest in reading among that particular demographic, but a picture is worth thousands of words and provide visual access into the Kardashian world.

Don't you wonder where all the Kardashian Kash comes from? And you're very curious about the source of the Clintons' wealth.

Politics and entertainment are often intertwined. Some will tell you that politics is the celebrity industry for the unattractive, a submission to a level of egotism. You wouldn't say that former President Clinton is a shrinking violet, avoiding the cameras. Kim Kardashian is followed by cameras constantly. Is there any difference?

The difference is, one book's subject is not involved in politics while the other is.

There is something about people with money that intrigues, and that fascination is what drives book sales. "Clinton Cash" outsold "Selfish" by a wide margin, so there is hope for our society.

When a celebrity photo shoot sells more copies than an examination of finances and potential conflicts of interest, you'll know that Armageddon is just around the corner.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

What You Know, Who You Know And Who Sent You

Do you like 'Chicago Fire'? Can you spot the mob influence in all those scenes that are filmed entirely in Chicago?


Once upon a time, Oprah had a studio in the city so that she could have a place to put on a (talk) show, and her presence revitalized a neighborhood that was more than rundown until the Big O attracted hordes of ladies who lunch. Local political tops took notice. Urban renewal is always a good thing, especially if it brings in people from out of town who spend money and pay entertainment taxes and parking fees and such.

The State of Illinois, like so many other states, has an office dedicated to enticing Hollywood to come and film in the state, with an emphasis on the city of Chicago. Tax incentives are always popular, and Chicago has been known to provide some funding as further incentive to directors looking for new scenery to serve as backdrops.

What was missing was a big sound stage where sets could be built. It was one thing for big-name stars to be seen dining in Chicago restaurants, but they came and went in a few days. The interiors had to be shot elsewhere. Having to move a lot of equipment around becomes a logistics issue because it costs money to load, unload, set up and take down those semi-loads of stuff. If you could go to Toronto and angle the camera so it sort of looked like Chicago, and you had a place in Toronto to film the rest of the movie, and you were still getting incentives to boost your profit margin, why not just take your movie to Canada and skip Chicago altogether?

Nick Mirkopoulos owned a studio in Toronto, which doesn't look at all like Chicago to Chicagoans. He decided to build a studio in Chicago, sold the idea to local officials, and they kicked in with taxpayer funding to get the project up and running. If you build it, the tourists will come to watch movies being made and they have to eat lunch, right?
Operation Family Secrets: Mob bosses dropping names

He selected a small bank to handle his local financial affairs. The bank's board includes four eminent Chicagoans whose names came up during the trials of five Chicago mob bosses. Not that the four were ever charged with anything. Nobody could prove the allegations that the bank was used as a conduit to channel bribe money to crooked cops, or that one of those four eminent Chicagoans took part in a firebombing meant to intimidate a business owner into cooperating with the Outfit.

Cinespace and its owners have contributed to the campaigns of local elected officials, the same elected officials who voted in the tax breaks and incentives for Cinespace.

Chicago Studio City, in the other hand, has not matched the level of funding.

So it comes as no surprise that they are also not getting the business that flows to Cinespace.

Chicago Studio City has sued the State of Illinois, alleging the sort of shenanigans that is typical of Chicago political greed. The suit claims that their rival Cinespace is getting all kinds of taxpayer funds because the unions are exerting their influence. In Chicago, that means the Outfit is leaning on the pols in their pockets so that the mob bosses can line theirs. In short, Chicago Studio City is getting cut out of the action by a newcomer with power, and they don't like it. They want the playing field leveled so they have a chance to at least bid on projects that are handed to Cinespace with a nod and a wink.

In Chicago, it's all about who you know, and the owners of Cinespace have made sure that they know the most important people to be known. Campaign donations open a lot of doors, and the more you give, the wider the door opening. It's all about who sent you, and if nobody sent you, well, you're standing on the outside looking in, barred from entry.

Chicago Studio City is being run out of business by corruption. It isn't the first victim. It won't be the last. A federal lawsuit won't help their cause, because the federal judge is nobody when it comes to power politics in one of the most corrupt states in the union.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

It Wasn't My Poor Driving That Caused The Accident

Isn't that exactly what every driver involved in a crash would say?

You don't even need to Google that one. The dogs in the street know the usual excuse given after a couple of motorized vehicles come together in ways not intended by the manufacturer.

So when you read about the driverless Google cars being involved in numerous collisions, you won't be at all surprised that Google is saying its car did not cause all those collisions.

Where is there room for a backseat driver?
The driverless car is not at fault. It's the other driver, not paying attention or texting or applying lipstick. You've seen them, those other drivers, all careless and reading the newspaper that they've opened across the steering wheel so they can be up to date on all the latest celebrity gossip. The driverless car isn't doing any of that. It's just driving from Point A to Point B as programmed.

According to Chris Urmson's post on the Google-mobile, it's the drivers in traditional modes of transportation who cause the accidents by striking the Google car from the rear at places where cars are supposed to come to a complete halt. Like those intersections where signs are posted, stating "Stop". Sometimes drivers are so distracted by their morning coffee or a cat video on their smartphone that they don't notice the driverless car in front of them obeying all traffic regulations and actually stopping.

If you are in the lead car in that sort of situation, you might have a split second available to move your own car forward and avoid a collision from the rear. Time things right and the fool trailing behind you, the one who doesn't know what "Stop" means, is more likely to get T-boned by the car that is driven by someone who thought it was their turn to proceed through the intersection. But it won't be your car getting damaged, so there's a small glimmer of good news for you.

The driverless car cannot react to abrupt changes in human behavior that defy expectations of a computer programme.

And there you have the best reason given for developing the driverless car. People make mistakes. Stupid, dangerous mistakes. They get distracted. God help us but they get drunk and think they're fine before turning the key in the ignition and heading for home.

Human eyes do not see all that well in the dark, which results in people, especially the older set, entering motorways on the wrong side.

It's a problem with tourists of any age who cannot seem to fully accept that the Irish and English drive on the left side of the road, so when you're out motoring around the Ring of Kerry and the road narrows, you don't want to veer right to avoid that farmer barreling towards you.

Technology could save lives, at least in Mr. Urmson's opinion. He's involved in developing the driverless car, so he'd say that of course.

All those accidents? Those were the fault of the other drivers. His machine doesn't do foolish things or make mistakes that leave the other driver wondering if the person who smashed into them is brain-dead or high.

But what happens if this technology gets adopted and we still have collisions? We'll be blaming the other computer for crashing, I suppose.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

A Reason To Master The Irish Language

How did it happen? How did Irish men come to be riding the top of the league tables of sexy men?

The old Carlsberg beer ad might explain some of it. There's something magical about the Irish language. Magical, and nearly impossible to learn after years of schooling, but you might think differently about those lessons now that you stand a chance with the ladies thanks to your Irishness.

The survey says it all. When it comes to dating, American women prefer Irish men.

Sure they're all mad.

Men raised in a country where sex is almost illegal are considered the sexiest? Maybe if you're not considering the actual, physical sex when it comes to being sexy. If it's only a question of appearances, or first impressions, that's another matter.

Your average American single female could very well be swept up in the dark eyes of the swarthy black Irishman. They seem to like Colin Farrell's looks, with all the black hair and black eyes. Some are drawn to the ginger sort, or the fair set with their blue or grey eyes and sandy hair.

Irish men being raised to be afraid of scheming women and sex in general will likely appear rather shy on first meeting, and there's a certain air of vulnerability to a man who stumbles about like his tongue is tied in knots in the presence of a female.

Be aware, men of Ireland. American women are wandering over to to find the sexiest men abroad, and they like their beefcake Irish. They look for company when traveling, and if you can show how Irish you are, they just might approach you and save you the stress of speaking to a pretty girl you haven't known since childhood.

If they hear you speaking Irish to your mates, they'll know you're the one. The sexy nationality, all Colin Farrell-y and Jamie Dornan-esque.

Just don't think you can look like Brendan Gleeson and see the same results. The language will only take you so far.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Spinster: A Book Review

SPINSTER could also have been titled WHITE GIRL PROBLEMS, ENGLISH MAJOR EDITION. As I read of Kate Bolick's inner turmoil over the dilemma of marriage or singlehood, I wanted to look at the author's photo on the back cover to see if she was in reality a person I know well. But alas, my review copy was provided by the publisher's "Blogging For Books" program and there was no cover available.

Ms. Bolick is another English major with a penchant for writing, a dreamer who wants to live independently in New York City and write full-time. Her memoir is essentially her analysis of other women with the same dream who went before her, and the book contains plenty of the author's research into the lives of such literary lights as Edith Wharton and others known only to English majors.

That some of them ended up destitute and alone provides the author with food for thought, adding to her concerns over the desired lifestyle choice. Must we all pair up for comfort in our old age, or can good friends provide all the emotional support we will need? Are women allowed to be people, as in individual entities, like men?

The history lesson is not quite as interesting as Ms. Bolick's personal experiences, for some reason, but that may be due to the fact that many of her role models lived in a very different era than our own. Then again, the author's rapture about the writing life is not new to me, having heard the same enthusiasms from a friend for years. That could be Leanne, I kept thinking as I read the memoir. The writing workshops, the editing jobs, the freelancing, all with eyes on the ultimate prize.

The author uses the book to justify her life choice, which is to remain unmarried, but still have a great social life, plenty of casual sex, and the financial means to pay rent on an apartment in the most expensive city in the nation. No children to steal away time from literary pursuits. No husband making demands on the writer's time. Is it any surprise that her circle of friends consists of others like herself? They share the same problems that would not trouble single women in banking or finance. The spinster issue that Ms. Bolick addresses is one that she examines through her writer's lens, without venturing beyond the limited territory of her personal experiences.

SPINSTER is a New York publishing industry story that will resonate with all those other English majors like Kate Bolick who flock to the city with the same dream and the same worry about making the wrong choice as the biological clock ticks down. For those of a more practical bent, who would never consider English as a major because you went to college to prepare for a real career, the discussion of White Girl Problems can be surprisingly entertaining. 

And I know just the friend who would love to receive a copy of this book for her birthday. SPINSTER could be Leanne's biography, relocated to the Midwest. Now she can know that she is not alone in her alone-ness.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Sex On The Beach: More Than A Cocktail

If you are planning a sun holiday to Florida, you should understand that not every beach is like Miami Beach. The west coast is remarkably different in temperament than the east coast. What is tolerated on one side of the state will get you arrested on the other.

Things like topless sunbathing are heavily frowned upon when you venture west. Miami Beach is a destination for well-heeled world travelers who are looking for a party atmosphere, and because other countries permit bare breasts ocean side, the practice is generally ignored. Not so if you choose to sample the greater Clearwater-St. Petersburg region.

Cocaine traffickers who frequent Miami Beach might assume that the atmosphere they are accustomed to is the norm throughout the state, but Jose Caballero discovered that the Tampa Bay area is quite close-minded when it comes to things like having sex in the middle of a crowd of beach-goers.

The area in Florida near Tampa is teeming with retirees from Massachusetts. You're likely to rub against Irish Catholics and descendants of Irish immigrants who made good and saved enough money to enjoy the warmth of Florida in their old age. They don't like the Miami area because it's too crowded, too congested, too noisy and too full of Cubans. They flock to their own territory, and preserve the Catholic ethos among the natives who tend to be staunch members of the Bible Belt club.
Did you bring a towel? I thought you brought a towel.

So when Mr. Caballero was struck by a powerful wave of testosterone, he turned to his girlfriend for relief. He was aroused by the salt air, perhaps, and could not wait to get back to a hotel room. "Elissa, mi amor, let's do it here," he might have whispered in her ear, and in front of a three-year-old child and said child's granny, along with many, many other witnesses, the couple had sex. Twice. Without any cover-up to at least try to hide what they were doing.

We live in a world of video cameras in every phone and wouldn't you know it but someone filmed the second escapade. The video became evidence in court, and the grandmother testified against the loving couple. She had to explain what those two people were doing to the three-year-old, you see, and if there's one thing a grandmother doesn't want to explain to her granddaughter, it's sex.

Because Mr. Caballero was recently released from prison after serving time, he stands to face a much harsher sentence. Recidivism will do that to a man. He might be saying good-bye to Elissa for fifteen years, although with time off for good behavior, they could be fondling one another in seven to eight years.

He could have avoided the harsher sentence by accepting a guilty plea and a plea bargain, but in his brilliance he thought his lawyer had the best defense. The video, and the witnesses, didn't see any actual penetration, so maybe he was just going through the motions. Like a lap dance, but in a prone position?

The jury was made up of local people with a different sense of morality than that one might encounter in Miami Beach. They came, they saw, and they returned a conviction in as much time as it took to fill out the jury forms and walk back into the courtroom.

Now Jose and Elissa are on the sex offenders register, which means they must check in with local authorities wherever they go. Their names will be featured in an online database so their neighbors can be informed of the presence of perverts. If Elissa had any desire to enter a profession where she deals with children, she'll be hard-pressed to get beyond that sex offender label, but there's money to be made tending bar and the tips are good so all is not lost.

And no one cares if their cocaine supplier is a sex pervert, either, so Mr. Caballero can find employment once he gets out of jail.

Monday, May 04, 2015

In The Dark, All Cats Are Fifty Shades Of Grey

Benjamin Franklin once advised a young man to consider the older woman as a desirable sex partner. He offered plenty of reasons, all reflecting the tenor of the times.

What of that older woman, however, in these modern times? Where can she go to find one of those younger men who see relevance in old Ben Franklin's logic?

They go to Zoosk, apparently. That is where the lovely Sylvie, a French woman of forty years, hooked up with the handsome Anthony Laroche. At least he was handsome in the picture he posted along with his particulars. She wanted sex, no strings attached, and if you can share a bed with a good-lucking stud, it's all the more enjoyable.

Top off the hook-up with a dollop of Fifty Shades shenanigans and it's the perfect evening for those without a significant other to provide the desired physical release.

As it turned out, Mr. Laroche was a bit of a fabulist. A complete and total liar, a fraud, to be exact.

What you see is not what you get (Reality, Left and Fantasy, Right)
The date for sex with hints of bondage began at his flat, where Sylvie was told to put on a blindfold. Such fun! The lights were off when she entered the bedroom, and even though Sylvie wanted to feast her eyes on the chiseled features of her lover, Anthony refused. Darkness was required, and he was the master, so no lights to illuminate the scene.

The deed was done under cover of darkness, but Sylvie would not be deterred. She turned on the lights and there was Anthony in all his glory. All of his bald, paunchy, 68-year-old glory.

You can just hear her spewing, can't you.

She filed charges against him, possibly for impersonating a male model but more likely for tricking her into a sexual encounter that was not at all what she expected. Unlike Mr. Franklin's belief as expressed to his young interlocutor, Sylvie was not the least bit grateful.

Neither is she alone.

The so-called Anthony Laroche, not his real name, has been at this game for quite some time, and had complaints lodged against him several years ago, all with the same counts of fraudulent seduction. He had exchanged numerous e-mails and texts with women, who in return sexted him. The portfolio may include as many as 200 ladies who wanted to experience copulation with someone who did not look at all like the man who made sweet, sweet love.

As for Anthony, he denies that he committed rape, which is what French authorities have charged him with. The women consented, you see, and if they did not demand to see the product before making a purchase, well, it's caveat emptor out there in cyberspace. Prosecutors counter with the technicalities of rape law, in that the women were not informed beforehand that they were not going to get the young man whose photo they so admired. Trickery is not acceptable, and it is not up to the buyer to ask questions she would not know to ask after the seller has created a misleading image.

Present the desired image, and then hide the fact that you are not that person, so you can have sex with a variety of women of a certain age without the bother of dinner, flowers, or the rudiments of courtship. Across France, indeed across all of Europe, hundreds of old men are asking the same question. Why didn't I think of that?