Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Things that go 'bump'...

Maybe it's just the high fever with which I've been wrestling for the past several days, but I must admit to being kinda freaked out by this photo/audio/video collection of ghostly goings-on. I'm not, normally. Freaked out, that is. Lord knows I've seen and heard more than enough inexplicable things firsthand in my life (and a remarkable upswing in the past year or two, oddly) to carry me through; you'd think I'd be used to it. But...not necessarily.

I happened across the above-linked site quite by chance, as it was mentioned in a thread on the gossip blog to which I occasionally contribute (OH NO THEY DIDN'T), and being that it's past 3 a.m. and I'm alone, in the dark, I thought it would surely be the best time to prove to myself, once again, that I don't get creeped out by such things.

Hmm. Perhaps not. I've turned my TV back on now...although, as you'll see if you watch the video, that might not be much in the way of salvation.

Hauntings. I'm sure there's a statistic out there that would tell us what percentage of the western population is skeptical versus those who believe in the possibility. What I can say for certain is that I have a lot of friends who have no doubt whatsoever that there are things we can't explain. I can also say that I've spent my life cocking my head to one side, bemused, at some seriously weird stuff. Would I call myself a believer? No. Which is strange, I realize, because the weird occurrences to which I've been witness are things I don't even question. But I'm still reluctant to lump myself in with those whack jobs on the W Network who spend nights in abandoned psych wards, running around like fools and screaming whenever their tacky night vision cameras pick up so much as a shadow.

Still, though...it's ignorant to think we - the living, breathing, current versions of us - are the only way to exist. Isn't it?

Have you ever had an experience you can't wave away via logic?

An awful lot of legitimate research has gone into communication with the afterlife. It's not all just silly shows like "Dead Famous" or "Most Haunted". To be fair, a lot of reputable institutions have poured years and bazillions of dollars into figuring out why certain photos turn out strangely (that's a great site, by the way - quite the collection), or whether there's anything substantive behind the phenomenon known as EVP.

Is it live? Is it Memorex?

Who can say for sure?

All I know, right now, is that even as a grown-up, I'm not immune to the chills inspired by the likes of that video at 3 a.m., and I'm not quite sure why.

Interested in more folks' stories? Check out the Hauntings Community @ LiveJournal. At least that way I'll know I'm not the only one awake in the middle of the night, listening a little too carefully to every creak of every floorboard.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Annual Christmas Phone Meme!

I'm reposting this from my LJ after several successful years of hilarity. The only difference is that, because this is public and searchable, I shan't be posting my number right here for the world to see. Instead, if you'd like it (or want to direct me to yours), leave a comment here with your email address (or email me), and we'll do it that way. Also: For those who are able to see my Facebook contact info, you'll find the proper number there!

Now to the post, then...

Guess what time it is?

It's time for the

Annual Christmas voicemail meme!

Get out your phones!

Spread holiday cheer with your PHONE!Spread holiday cheer with your PHONE!Spread holiday cheer with your PHONE!Spread holiday cheer with your PHONE!Spread holiday cheer with your PHONE!Spread holiday cheer with your PHONE!Spread holiday cheer with your PHONE!Spread holiday cheer with your PHONE!Spread holiday cheer with your PHONE!

Spread holiday cheer with your PHONE!Spread holiday cheer with your PHONE!Spread holiday cheer with your PHONE!Spread holiday cheer with your PHONE!Spread holiday cheer with your PHONE!

Spread holiday cheer with your PHONE!Spread holiday cheer with your PHONE!Spread holiday cheer with your PHONE!Spread holiday cheer with your PHONE!

I don't remember who started this, but we've had so much fun with it over the past few years, I thought I'd open myself up to it again. So many of us hardly get to talk these days, and what could be more festive than a message from a friend??


  • post your phone number in your blog/on Facebook so your friends can call and leave goofy messages (you can identify yourself, or, as a number of you have done in the past, you can mess with the recipient's head by being anonymous and simply leaving hints about who you are). A lot of you already have your numbers posted in your contact info, so just throw it into a note for friends to see!
  • make sure you don't answer your phone - this is for MESSAGES, not conversations, seeing as everyone's busy at this time of year & probably can't sit still long enough to have long (and expensive!) chats with half of their friends list!
  • if there's a good time at which to call you, specify it in your post (say, 8 p.m.-11 p.m. in your time zone, or all day Christmas Day, etc.), so people know when they'll get your voicemail/when there's no risk of waking anyone up/etc.
  • make sure you check out your friends' blogs/Facebook notes etc. for other willing victims and call them too! Sing carols, tell jokes, ramble incessantly... Whatever you want to say or do, do it!

So there you have it. Ask for my number. Call me. I shan't be around my phone at all on Xmas Eve day or night, nor on Christmas Day, and there's no danger of it disturbing anyone, so you can call any time today, all night tonight (yes, even 4 a.m.), or tomorrow, if you like. It's open 24/7. And no, it's not my cell phone, because we all know that's been ALWAYS buggy.

Now have at it! Most of you already know I have the world's best outgoing message. And I'll check in on my comments and emails later to see who among you have done the same...'cos if you post this, I WILL CALL. [/Field Of Dreams moment]


(If you consider a call from me a "prize". HAH. But I take requests, and I may sing, or recite verses. I'm like a box o' chocolates, folks. And, apparently, so are you - I get the weirdest calls from you guys... They amuse me so. Some of them are still saved from two years ago, even!)

Happy holidays, everyone!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Freaky Friday - Serial killers galore! (NSFW)

In honour of my friend Helena, who I finally got to meet while she was in Toronto (visiting allll the way from Australia, no less!) this week, I thought I'd do a little morbid-yet-entertaining list. Everyone needs something a little bit warped to start the weekend off right, yes? Helena shares my twisted fascination with all things forensic, which turned a lot of heads while we were out for dinner (reading a book about serial killing) and later at her hostel (when we were approached by another traveller who just had to hear our conversation about sociopaths a bit more closely!). For that reason, then, I present to you...

Top 10 Unknown Serial Killers

(courtesy of AskMen.Com; it's a bit disturbing that it's filed under "Entertainment"...)

A word of warning: much of this may be NSFW (Not Safe For Work), so consider yourselves told! It's not full of graphic photos, sure, but it is deranged. Only the strong of stomach and the demented of mind should proceed.

  • 10) Gilles de Rais: The Sadistic Aristocrat - Despite a staggering 80 to 600 body count, the man regarded by many as the prototype of today’s serial killer barely cracks the top 10. This is because historical records are unreliable and Gilles de Rais’ murderous statistics cannot be proven.

    De Rais was a wealthy and powerful 15th century French nobleman who once fought side by side with Joan of Arc. De Rais had a sick obsession with young boys and preferred victims who resembled himself as a child. The Sadistic Aristocrat, as he came to be known, lured blond-haired, blue-eyed peasant boys to his stately home where he and a few assumed accomplices raped, tortured and mutilated them. In 1440, the ecclesiastical court in Nantes hanged the monster before torching his body -- just to be on the safe side

    Seriously psychotic: De Rais would sit on the stomach of his dying victim and pleasure himself.

  • 9) Carl Panzram: Rage Personified - Many serial killers often rely on charm to seduce their victims into their clutches, but very few had Panzram’s qualities: a sense of humor and a sense -- albeit sparse -- of some regret. Panzram’s commitment to mayhem was as disturbing as it was frank and unapologetic. After being sentenced to death for killing a man in prison, he threatened to kill anyone who tried to have his verdict overturned.

    In his autobiography, Panzram: A Journal of Murder, he employed a matter-of-fact tone in confessing to 21 murders and the rape of 1,000 boys, adding: “For all these things I am not the least bit sorry.” However, Panzram did express regret for one thing: being born. Since childhood, he considered himself so incessantly angry that he called himself Rage Personified.

    Seriously psychotic: After raping and killing a boy Panzram claimed: "His brains were coming out of his ears when I left him. I am not sorry. My conscience doesn’t bother me. I sleep sound and have sweet dreams.”

  • 8) Bender Family: The Bloody Benders - Be it ever so humble, the Kansas shack that the Benders called home in 1872 was still a busy, inviting place open to the public as an inn for weary travelers. Wealthy-looking guests were always seated at the head of their modest dinner table, conveniently placed in front of a hanging canvas. John Bender’s beautiful and charming daughter Kate was effective bait and often told the guests their fortunes as her father, sneaking behind the large curtain, prepared to slam a hammer into their heads. Later, The Bloody Benders would strip the body of all valuables and bury the remains in their orchard.

    This family affair functioned with great efficiency for approximately one year before people caught on. However, it is said that the Bender clan got away and never actually faced justice. In fact, the family became almost mythical, and stories of various members popping up all over the U.S. persisted for many years.

    Seriously psychotic: As if a hammer in the skull weren’t enough, John Bender slit his victim’s throats for good measure.

  • 7) Hélène Jegado: The Pious Poisoner - Jegado, a domestic servant in 19th century France, must have been an impatient woman: If someone irked her, she didn’t give them many opportunities to apologize.

    From 1833 to 1841, at least 36 people -- the vast majority of them employers or boarders who had the poor judgment to reprimand her -- wound up dead from arsenic poisoning. Because of her devout and sincere nature, authorities routinely ruled The Pious Poisoner out as a suspect. In 1851, when she hastily declared her innocence without actually being accused, The Pious Poisoner was arrested and convicted of at least three murders. A year later, Jegado’s neck met the guillotine.

    Seriously psychotic: Jegado’s first victims included a priest and her own sister.

  • 6) Andrei Chikatilo: The Rostov Ripper - Poor little Andrei Chikatilo; his mother beat him every time he wet the bed, but it’s hard to blame her when you consider that she had to share the bed with him. The Rostov Ripper’s killing spree began in 1978 with the murder of a 9-year-old girl and continued unabated through 52 more victims across 12 brutal years. The Soviet government did their part by covering up the crimes they considered embarrassing and preventing parents from taking protective measures for their children. When word finally did get out, locals feared a werewolf was on the loose.

    Finally caught in 1990, Chikatilo spent the duration of his trial locked in a cage for his own safety. After receiving 52 death sentences he addressed the court, placing much of the blame for his crimes on the shoulders of the Soviet Regime. On February 15, 1994, The Rostov Ripper’s death penalty was fulfilled with a bullet behind his right ear.

    Seriously psychotic: Chikatilo ejaculated while stabbing his first victim, making him realize just how aroused he was by the prospect of murder -- hence the 12-year killing spree.

    Ehch's note: I actually do know all about Chikatilo; I've seen his Biography courtesy of A&E many, many times. If you ever come across the show, watch it - the guy's eyes will haunt you forever.

  • 5) Gerard John Schaefer: The Florida Sex Beast - By definition, serial killers are loathsome folks, but Gerard John Schaefer was just downright despicable. As a boy, Schaefer’s hobbies included killing animals, wearing panties and peeping through windows. Despite his strange childhood activities, he eventually became a Florida cop. While on patrol, The Florida Sex Beast used his badge to abduct two teenage girls, but they escaped before he could rape and murder them. Claiming he was trying to teach the girls not to hitchhike he called his sergeant to say he’d done “something foolish.” Schaefer was fired and arrested, but while out on bail he raped and killed two other teenage girls. Police put the two incidents together and Schaefer was given two life sentences.

    A search of Schaefer’s home -- which he shared with his mom -- found evidence linking him to the disappearance of at least eight other girls. Ultimately, authorities believed they could tie him to as much as 30 murders, but Schaefer maintained his innocence. In prison, he kept busy filing frivolous lawsuits; he even tried to sue a writer for suggesting he was fat. As a former cop, a sex offender and a jailhouse snitch, it should come as no surprise that The Florida Sex Beast was stabbed to death in prison.

    Seriously psychotic: Committing the “ultimate betrayal” by using the badge is about as low as you can go.

  • 4) Elizabeth Báthory: The Bloody Lady of Cachtice - The Bloody Lady of Cachtice, a sadistic 16th century countess, is still the most infamous serial killer in the history of Hungary and Slovakia. Inside her own Hungarian castle, Elizabeth Báthory functioned with virtual impunity. She lured peasant girls to work as maids and enticed the daughters of lower nobility with lessons on etiquette, snaring her victims under false pretenses.

    With the help of a handful of accomplices, Báthory enjoyed starving, freezing, and torturing her victims. The Bloody Lady racked up a significant body count -- estimated to be from 36 to as many as 200. The majority of her accomplices were put to death, but Báthory’s wealth and influence earned her the 16th century’s version of aristocratic house arrest: imprisonment in her own castle.

    Seriously psychotic: Elizabeth Báthory’s favorite pastime included burning, biting and mutilating the genitalia of her victims.

    Ehch's note: You can't call yourself an "amateur expert" on murder (or vampires!) without knowing the name - and proclivities - of The Countess. This list must be for amateur amateurs only. [/forensic snobbery]

  • 3) Friedrich (Fritz) Haarmann: The Butcher from Hanover - Fritz Haarmann, an unassuming and sympathetic-looking man, used his friendly manner to serve him well as both a police informant and a sexual sadist. Over six years he murdered at least 24 vagrants and male prostitutes -- killings he considered an act of love. Haarman only wanted to bring peace to his victims. It all came to an end when the discarded skulls of his victims began washing up on the shore of the river Leine.

    The Butcher from Hanover had a strict preference for boys he found handsome. In fact, in 1925, while in prison awaiting his execution (by beheading), he was shown a photo of a missing boy whom the police believed Haarmann had killed. After one look at the ugly boy’s picture he scoffed at the idea of killing such an ungainly kid.

    Seriously psychotic: Haarmann insisted he was “driven by beauty and sensuality.” Instead of letting a young boy’s allure bring him to tears, he would bite his victim’s Adam’s apple and chew through their throat.

  • 2) Karl Denke: The Ziębice Cannibal - Everyone knew and seemed to like Karl Denke. He was a good Christian who played the organ at church. Denke supported himself with a small business selling a variety of goods door to door, from leather belts and shoelaces to boneless pork. He was held in such high regard that he was known affectionately as Papa Denke. But this was all before he jumped off the deep end.

    In December of 1924, a man stumbled into police headquarters claiming Denke had attacked him with an axe. Although police initially found this impossible to believe, Denke was arrested and put in jail. As authorities went to search his home, he committed suicide. This should have been their first clue to Ziebice Cannibal’s murderous history.

    The body count, composed mostly of beggars and journeymen extended the courtesy of a place to stay, reached anywhere from 20 to 40.

    Seriously psychotic: Inside Danke’s home authorities found belts and snaps made of human skin, shoelaces made from human hair and jars of pickled human flesh -- his famous “boneless pork.”

  • 1) Javed Iqbal: The Boy Hunter - Hailing from Punjab, Pakistan, Javed Iqbal could well be one of the most detested men in history. Iqbal went to great lengths to surround himself with young boys. He opened video arcades, schools, aquariums, and gyms. He also married the older sister of one boy to keep him close by, and he married off his own sister to another boy to keep him close by. Iqbal was arrested a number of times on charges of sodomy, but his father’s money always got him off.

    In his eventual confession, The Boy Hunter claimed to have killed 100 boys in only five months, preferring to drug, rape, strangle, then chop them into pieces. Iqbal would then either store the bodies in a vat of acid near his house or dump them into the sewer.

    When the judge sentenced Iqbal to death in 2000, it was suggested that he be strangled in front of the victims’ families, his body chopped to bits and finally, stored in a vat of acid just as he’d done to his victims. Officially, he committed suicide while in prison, but an autopsy suggested he may have been murdered. It was irrelevant to his family who refused to collect his remains, claiming that he had died to them the day he confessed.

    Seriously psychotic: The Boy Hunter was said to have declared in his confession: “I am not ashamed of my actions... I have no regrets. I killed 100 children… It cost me 120 rupees ($2 USD) to erase each victim.”

So! There's your cheery Friday morning list! You'll notice, too, that where possible I added a link to each of the killers' names, so you can further pursue their sordid stories on Wikipedia. Because I know there are some of you who are just as revolted and yet hopelessly fascinated by this stuff as I am.

And no, you can't see my Serial Killer Trading Card collection.

(If it makes it easier to think I'm kidding, please do feel free.)

TGIF, eh?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Time to gloat: Celebs without makeup 2008

This was (and possibly still is) meant to be a post at Oh No They Didn't!, but while LiveJournal is down, you guys can ogle at the astonishing pics yourselves. (In both a good and a bad way, depending on which celeb you're ogling.) I'm hoping this will make up for the distinct lack of levity in my previous post about sexual harassment (many, many thanks to those who passed that entry around, or posted it on your own blogs, Facebook profiles, and emailed me or commented in my LJ with your responses - you're all very kind, and very brave); I need to offset that with some fluff here and there, lest I depress you all to bits.

Without further ado, then... (I should add that the commentary is NOT MINE.)

Bare (or almost) faced stars

Most of these celebs are just as beautiful without the red carpet spackle.

Admit it: sometimes it's nice to see that the glamourous ladies that have paraded across our screens and magazine covers in 2008 aren't all they're cracked up to be. Here we have a collection of 13 of those gorgeous women sans cover-up; which ones will still stand up as true untouched beauties??

Isla Fisher
Isla is seen here 'au naturel' with her little one in a park. We think she looks great with or without make up. (credit: Most Wanted Pictures)

Jennifer Garner
Jennifer is seen here on a day out with her adorable daughter. It looks like she didn’t feel the need to put on any make up, and we agree. She looks good without it. (credit: Most Wanted Pictures)

Kate Moss
It looks like the years of being an international supermodel are starting to wear on Kate, but even though she's not wearing any make up, she still looks half decent. (credit: Most Wanted Pictures)

Kim Kardashian
This curvacious lady has gotten back into her routine, and she is seen here leaving the salon after getting a mani and pedi. This is what you call a natural beauty. (credit: Most Wanted Pictures)

Heidi Klum
This supermodel looks good in and out of the ads, whether she's wearing make up or not. Heidi is one good looking momma. (credit: INF)

Mischa Barton
Mischa looks calm and relaxed as she heads out for her day. We like to think that no make up works for her. (credit: INF)

Uma Thurman
Uma is looking just like a normal mom hanging out with her son. Even though she's known for her killer good looks, Uma still looks great without make up. (credit: Most Wanted Pictures)

Jessica Biel
Jessica gave a speech in Las Vegas to support Barack Obama in his presidential campaign. If she can go in front of millions of people with little to no make up on and still look stunning, then we say all the power to her! (credit: Most Wanted Pictures)

Jessica Alba
Jessica was spotted heading to dinner with a pal and looking oh so comfortable in her natural look. This beauty doesn’t need to think twice when she decided not to wear make up, she looks great either way. (credit: Most Wanted Pictures)

Marcia Cross
This desperate house wife looks just about the same with or without make up on. In her case, going au naturel isn't a crime. (credit: Most Wanted Pictures)

Leann Rimes
Leann looks just smitten here, as she's seen leaving a medical building with her hubby. We think Leann is one of few that can pull of this look and still look fabulous while doing so. (credit: Most Wanted Pictures)

Kate Hudson
Kate is seen here at LAX en route to London, and looking a bit stressed. Maybe she should get some sleep on that flight so at least she can look more refreshed despite her lack of makeup. (credit: Most Wanted Pictures)

Madonna is looking a little worn out and her age is starting show, with lack of make up. Maybe it's just her fast paced world tour taking a bigger toll on her than expected? (credit: Devaney/WireImage)

Saved the scariest for last!! And yep, they were right: I do feel better, and I enjoyed a gloat or two, as I hope readers/fellow ONTDers have. A Kardashian being called a natural beauty?!? Um...no. But damn you, JAlba. DAMN YOU.

[ cosmetics-free source ]

Sunday, November 23, 2008

On sexual harassment. And worse.

I don't update this thing for a month, and then I come back with this? Yes, you have permission to scowl at me for this. But it's timely. It's not my place to go into the details of why, but I'll give a very brief overview:

A friend of mine has a daughter who is...let's leave it at "middle-school age". I adore my friend, and I adore her daughter; I love how strong my friend is, how opinionated she can be without treading on others, and she's clearly passing that same inner and outer strength along to her young lady. But I don't think it's just my affection for them that has me so outraged over what happened to this girl a few days ago. It makes it worse, yeah, but I think I'd probably be sickened by any permutation of this. And I expect you will be, too, which is why I'm writing about it.

This girl - who we'll just call A. - went to school, as usual. While waiting for the bus to arrive at her usual stop at the end of the day, a few of her classmates - boys - approached her and started doing that thing that all adolescent boys do. You know, whatever the modern day equivalent to pigtails in the inkwell would be. Teasing, kidding around, kinda being jerks, but...whatever. It's all part of the experience of entering teenage-dom, right?

Right. Until the tone of it all changed and turned into something that no adult woman should have to tolerate, much less a girl, no matter how strong and smart she is. A girl just waiting at a bus stop, like any other day, in broad daylight, with other kids around. Lascivious remarks, graphic objectification, all culminating in actual physical contact that, while she wasn't harmed in a bodily sense, was way over the line of what any boy (or girl) should ever be allowed to do to a classmate.

Because I haven't yet gotten permission, as it were, to write this about A., I'm trying to refrain from going into too many details, which I know will make it hard to convey the horror of it...but I can draw a parallel for you between A.'s experience and something that happened to me when I was a few years older than her.

When I was about 16, I had a boyfriend. He and I got together when I was 15 and he was 17, and we were together into university. In our high school, there was nobody who didn't know we were a couple, and I think that probably insulated me from a lot of things that other guys might have chosen to visit upon me. But there was one guy friend who, out of nowhere, opened my eyes to the unpleasantness that can mark male-female relationships. He was a friend of my boyfriend, too, so it never struck any of us as weird that I would occasionally talk to him on the phone at night, after school, before bed, about class projects or pieces of music we were studying or our respective relationships.

But one night was different. One night, in the midst of him trying to explain how to get an A+ on my paper about A Tale Of Two Cities, he just changed the subject completely and started asking totally inappropriate questions about my physical relationship with my boyfriend. I deflected for as long as I could, and then he switched tactics. He asked me if I "ever got [my]self off". I think I laughed, either out of surprise or because I thought he had to be kidding. This wasn't something we'd ever so much as hinted at discussing before, and it sure as hell wasn't something I was up for talking about - with him or with anyone!

So I said the first thing that came to mind. I snorted indignantly and said, "Why? Do YOU?"

To which he responded, "What do you think I've being doing ever since we got on the phone?"

I think I'll take a moment to let the feeling of revulsion I still feel, sixteen years later, pass.

I hung up. We never talked on the phone again, and whenever I had to see him, at school or at parties or at music functions, I would dodge him as best I could. On a couple of occasions I had to come right out and tell him that I was ending my association with him. There was even an incident, later, where a group of us were walking back toward our high school on a lunch break, and he took it upon himself to smack me in the back of the head several times for no apparent reason (bear in mind that he was 18 by now); that resulted in my boyfriend grabbing him by the throat and holding him up against the chalkboard in our music room, threatening to kill him if he ever came near me again. The freezing-out process eventually led to him engaging in some really distressing stalker-type behaviour, including one night when he drove to my house in the worst imaginable blizzard to deliver my Christmas gift, and even as I hid in the living room, out of sight, with my boyfriend (who by now wanted to kill the guy), and let my father try to convince the scary bastard that I wasn't home, he wouldn't let up. He just wanted to come in for a minute; he just wanted to leave the box on the kitchen counter; he just wanted to leave a note; he just, he just, he just... My father finally made him go, back out into that hellish weather at 10 p.m. on a weeknight, and if I remember correctly, I turned to my boyfriend and started to cry, asking him, "What did I do to make him think this was okay?"

People who know me know that I'm no shrinking violet. If there's a "type" who would normally blame themselves for not reacting strongly enough to something, or for "letting" someone do or say things to them without punishing them immediately and painfully, I have never been that type. But that was probably the first glimpse I got into the other side, the dark side, where a girl realizes that she's not necessarily as prepared or equipped or defensive enough to deal with the things an arrogant, entitled, sick bastard will visit upon her when he gets the chance.

Many of you know that I have, unfortunately, come up against worse incidents since that high school situation. And in me turning to my family and friends for support and advice, I learned just how many of you, too, have stories that vary in detail but that all end in the same feeling of anger and helplessness and fear. We're all women who thought we should have reacted differently, that we ought to have visited bodily harm on the swine who thought they could take whatever they wanted from us, and we've all had moments when we beat ourselves up for not doing what we should have done. We all know that's just not right - that turning these things into our own fault is salt in our own wounds, and is simply wrong - but we do it anyway. We spend days, weeks or years asking why we didn't break the guy's nose or take him to court or even avoid whatever situation we found ourselves in, and it's a waste of energy. It's not our fault that there are people out there who'll wait for you to be vulnerable, even for a second,and then move in for the kill...whatever form it takes.

Of course, I can say this, but as some of you - those closest to the ordeal I suffered in April - well know, I've done exactly the same thing. I've run the gamut of self-blame and am still caught in the "it could have been worse; it could have been rape" cycle of thought. I know I shouldn't do that to myself, but it creeps in sometimes, all the same.

Back to A., then. She's younger now than I was then, and what she dealt with a few days ago was, in many ways, creepier than my Phone Call From Hell. She had to hear things like that from boys who were right there, physically, in front of her. And brava to her, because she did everything right, and with any luck those boys won't be bothering anyone again anytime soon. But my reason for writing this is simply to express my disgust and horror at what little girls are apparently having to deal with from their peers. Hell, I was freaked out by my situation at the age of 16, when I had a built-in protection system in the form of a football-player boyfriend; I simply cannot imagine how I'd have felt, going back to school the next day, had I been a few years younger or less insulated. How I'd have dealt with it had it been more than one creep, and was instead a group of friends who thought it was okay to say vile things to me and lay their hands on me. I'm so proud of A. for having her head on so straight; she's dealt with this beautifully, and I applaud her and her parents for just taking care of business and getting on with it. Here I am, days later, still furious and horrified on her behalf. Less than half my age, and the girl has more poise than I do.

So what stands to be gained from typing all of this? I don't know. Awareness, maybe, that these incidents are happening earlier and earlier in young people's lives. Commiseration, perhaps, among those of us who've had to deal with someone harassing or assaulting us, treating us like their own personal playground while we freeze up inside and are left with scars that probably never fully fade. Another friend of mine was brave enough to share her experiences with sexual assault in her blog some time ago, and I remember turning to her for advice and comfort when I had my demoralizing experience - first with the assailant, then with the police - this past spring. I guess my writing this is my way of saying that I hope I can do for someone else what that friend, and others, did for me in the sleepless nights that followed my assault.

And in all of this there is a young lady who's now been introduced to one of the most unsavoury parts of human nature, at such an early age, and she's dealing with it. It bothers me that we can't protect anyone from this sort of thing, because it's so...ubiquitous. Kids can't even just be kids anymore. They instead get smacked in the face - or the backside, if you will - with things nobody should have to confront, least of all a fledgling teenager who should still believe in respect and harmless crushes and pigtails in the inkwell.

It's heartbreaking.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Celebrities, for better or worse.

Last night on DramaRama there was a slide show of a whole lot of before-and-after pictures, each featuring a current A-List celebrity. It's safe to say that most of these superstars have made MAJOR improvements to their looks over the years, but seeing these pics side by side makes it a whole lot more obvious just who has had what done in their plastic surgeon's office! Here's hoping this blog doesn't cut off any of the photos, so you can see them in all their spectacular...glory? Horror? Guess it depends on which one you're looking at. Check out these nightmarish flashbacks to see who's gone under the knife (and who should go back for more):


WOLL SMOTH WILL SMITH (1990 and now)

DEMI MOORE (1984 and now)

BRAD PITT (1988 and now)

ANGELINA JOLIE (1991 and earlier this year)

KEANU REEVES (1989 and now)

TERI HATCHER (1993 and now)

LEONARDO DiCAPRIO (1993 and now)

HALLE BERRY (1992 and now)

JOHNNY DEPP (1988 and now)

JENNIFER ANISTON (1990 and now)

GEORGE CLOONEY (1990 and now)

NICOLE KIDMAN (1983 and now)

So who on this list looks like they haven't had some serious work done?? (Maybe Johnny; all he had to do was give up the drugs.)

There's your fluffy Wednesday edition of Ehch's Blatherings! We're halfway through the week... STAY STRONG.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Monday linkspam, my lovelies!

Another week begins (and this one marks the start of Charmaine's new job, so everyone should wish her luck!). In order to help us all get through it, then, I've opted to bring to you a collection of your favourite kind of linkspam: LISTS. This lot was easy to compile, since they all presented themselves to me once I'd posted that horrifying article on The 50 Worst Movie Sex Scenes on Facebook. (I just knew we'd see "Monster's Ball" [NOT SAFE FOR WORK!!!] on there; my god, I had to look away, and I was alone when I saw it). So give thanks to Nerve.Com for the following collection that should provide you at least an hour of amusement... (Be warned, as usual, that there's a 99% chance that most of this is NSFW. Just because it's Char's first day doesn't mean it should be anyone's LAST at their job, just for reading my blog. I do have some conscience. Sort of.)

  • The Top 20 Viral Videos of 2007 - I see that the featured one is that lovely Miss America "a lot of kids don't have maps!!" clip; having not yet looked at the rest, I can only imagine...

  • The 20 Hottest Music Videos Of All Time - am I seriously the only one who finds Fiona Apple's "Criminal" more disturbing and repulsive than sexy?? I fail to see what an emaciated young woman crawling around in her underwear is meant to offer us by way of...well, anything. Actually, this list is, in my opinion, TERRIBLE. Aside from Shakira, Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears and David Bowie (and who'd have thought I'd ever name them in the same sentence??), the rest of these choices are a complete miss. I mean...Rick James? Seriously?? And "Hot For Teacher" is just asinine. Bad song, bad video, lousy band. And NOT HOT. I think I need to do my own list (and make 25 of them Nine Inch Nails videos...).

  • The 50 Best Date Movies - there are some seriously weird choices here ("Donnie Darko"??? On a DATE??), but everyone knows that "Say Anything..." is gonna make this list. How many of the 50 are you willing to admit you saw? (I'm still counting.) Extra points for putting "Heathers" on the list, but...I'm not sure what kind of date that would make for. More bonus points for the brilliant "Me And You And Everyone We Know"!

  • The 40 Best Celebrity Rumours Ever - because some people still think that Richard Gere has a special place in his...heart...for his gerbil, and that Marilyn Manson got his start on Mr. Belvedere. Sigh.

  • America's Top 10 Political Sex Scandals - how timely! I can't wait for someone to catch Obama doing something that isn't as patently dull as everything he's said and done so far.
  • The 50 Greatest Comedy Sketches Of All Time - yeah, it's probably just me, but I think Christopher Walken's most recent appearance on SNL, in which he plays a gardener with a fear of plants ("I always knew it would be the ferns!"), should have made this list.

  • The 50 Greatest Commercial Parodies Of All Time - self-explanatory. Some commercials are just so easy to spoof.

Now get on with your blue Monday, folks. (I'm blue because I SHOULD BE IN FREAKIN' WALES INSTEAD OF HERE, but that's another story.) I hope everyone still has their jobs after that whole bad sex scene list. I for one am still shuddering (and for the first time am glad my office doesn't have 'net access).

Sunday, October 19, 2008

NaNoWriMo: psyched up, or psyched out?

12 more days, folks. Here's my profile, should you wish to add me to your WB list. Who's doing it with me this year? And who's volunteering to be on the Super-Secret LJ Filter to read as I go?? SPEAK NOW, OR FOREVER HOLD YOUR PIECE. Er...peace. (And I reserve the right to restrict entry, damnit!!)

For those who are new to the whole idea of NaNo and are wondering what I'm on about, this is the explanation. Simple and sweet, yes? Suuuuuure it is. Until you actually TRY IT. Write a novel in a month? 50,000 words? It sounds so easy, especially for someone like me, who must blog three times that much in any given 30 day span. But last year, my first "win" (you're a "winner" if you successfully produce 50,000 original words between November 1st and 30th; I crashed and burned in 2005 and '06, but I found my groove in '07 and am proud to display my little "winner!" badge wherever I can) was HARD WON. It was emotionally exhausting, often frustrating as hell, and my inner editor was screaming at some of the horrors that came forth as I attacked the project I named May December. But oh, the satisfaction of having that huge stack of paper at the end... And who knows? Maybe, with a LOT of editing, the finished product wouldn't be completely heinous.

Oops! How'd that get there?? *whistling innocently*

I want my old crew back this year, and I want at least a couple of new recruits, too. It's a bonding experience. And it can be ever so cathartic. JOIN ME.

The gauntlet's been thrown. I want as many fellow sufferers as I can get along with me for the ride. Last year, many of you guys helped kick my ass into finally winning it on my third try, so I expect the same this time around! (As we get closer to 11:59 p.m. on October 31st, you'll likely notice I'll have written a note on Facebook and tagged all of my past cohorts; who among you are coming back for more? Maybe calling you out publicly will give you the shove you need...)

I kind of want to shriek, "WORDS IS MY BUSINESS!!" but only a couple of you (Meli & Shell) would know why. So I won't.

I look forward to reading whatever comes out of your quills or pops up on your screens. I'm actually quite psyched about it this year, because an idea I abandoned two years ago has now formed much more fully in my wee brain, and I hope it'll turn out well. (And no, that doesn't mean that I've abandoned May December - I know there are a few of you who are still seething about how I left that off last November, and I do promise I'll finish it...possibly making a return to it in December, while the creative juices are still flowing trickling! You will find out what the deal is with Bronwyn...and that's only the beginning.)

So, newbies, get out of your comfort zone! TRY IT. It's liberating. And I know a lot of you can write, but choose not to. Now's your chance.

I'll leave off with the intro to last year's project (since it would be cheating for me to start on this year's novel early), and I await your comments saying you're bending to my will and committing yourself to the exquisite torture that only NaNoWriMo can bring.


It wasn't supposed to be like this.

I'm sitting on the edge of his bed, holding one of the many bottles of god-knows-what I found laying about on his bathroom counter, in the nightstand drawers, anywhere I could think he would hide his stash. One bottle in hand, probably another thirty laying willy-nilly around this house. I used to love this house. Now look what it had become. It was his place of death, and within an hour or so, it'd probably be mine, too.

I'll write until it's illegible. That'll be my cue, the sign from above - or wherever - to lay back on this bed and wait for the end to come. I always pictured it being more dramatic than this. Or at the very least more poetic. Maybe it says something about me that I pictured this at all. Doesn't matter know, I suppose.

I read the prescription label. Figures. Valium. One of his two favourites. That's not to say he didn't dally in many other substances, but he certainly did favour his Valium and codeine. In retrospect, I find this almost amusing, really. All things considered, with the access he had as a doctor to anything he could have wanted, why would he choose such lightweight drugs? If you're going to have a hardcore addiction, you could, at the very least, take my path: Xanax and morphine.

It's a bit eerie, knowing that he's downstairs. Just lying there, face-down on the kitchen floor. I can actually smell the coppery tinge to the air up here. I'd be more unnerved, probably, had I not just swallowed a handful of the little yellow pills in this little orange bottle. I guess a few hundred milligrams of Valium can take the sting out of anything, even knowing that your ex is dead in the kitchen, and that you were the one who drove him to end it.

Between what I manage to write now, and what I kept as record in my journals for the past two years, I should be able to leave a complete picture for everyone. I feel like I owe the people I love an actual story. A beginning, middle and end to this ill-fated affair they all warned me against. After so much criticism from my English professors about my style, or lack thereof, and their irritation with the storyteller way I had with my diary, I finally found some use for it: The grandest suicide note in history. That's what I owe them. Don't sleep with the boss, they said. Well, they were right, I was wrong, but now the least I could do was tell them what lead me from being full of hope to being...well...dead.