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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

THE STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL aired 37 years ago tonight

It was on this night in 1978 that The Star Wars Holiday Special - arguably the WORST two-hours of television in history - aired on CBS.

Y'all won't buh-LEEEVE what is going on here.

So in honor of this misauspicious occasion and thanks to some poor tortured soul on YouTube, here it is (absent some music for copyright purposes):

It's all here: Chewbacca's son Lumpy, Mark Hamill's make-up overkill, Princess Leia's singing, Boba Fett's first-ever appearance (the special's one redeeming feature), Harvey Korman, Bea Arthur (?!), lots of unused B footage from A New Hope, what can only be described as a porno machine... and about twenty-seven minutes of incomprehensible Wookiee grunting.

One viewing and you'll see why George Lucas has said he would take a sledgehammer to every copy if he could.  But what about you?  Can you endure to the end?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

"When the skies of November turn gloomy..."

Forty years ago tonight. Here's the post that I composed on this evening in 2005.  But YouTube wasn't as pervasive as it is today.

So here is Gordon Lightfoot's forever haunting ballad, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald".

The tradition will continue today.  The church bell at Mariner's Church will ring thirty times: one for each man on the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald, and once more in memory of all who have perished on the Great Lakes.

As I wrote ten years ago tonight: Here's to a good ship and crew.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The state of things


It's been awhile.  Maybe the longest that I've gone between making posts.  I'm making this one because a lot of readers have asked if I was okay (alive, semi-comatose, joined the French Foreign Legion or what have you).  Neither have I been active on Facebook and that led to family insisting that I make some indication there that I was still among the living.

So many of you are asking how things are.  And things have come to a point where I'm more than compelled to offer up an answer.

So here it is:

Things are not okay.

Some very bad things have happened in my life.  If there is any aspect of it that can be named, chances are it has happened.  Including some physical situations which are rather considerable.  I have had to take time to address these.

So far as the book goes: it's on indefinite hiatus, for a few reasons.  Among them, I have reached a place where I cannot write past a certain block and it requires some things falling into place to break through that.  Things which, I doubt will ever happen.  I can't see past it.  I was able to surpass an earlier, similar block but this one has proven to be much worse.  So for now, the book is stalled and I would give anything to get past that.

I don't know what else to say at this juncture, apart from asking that you keep me in your thoughts.  I am past the point of being at the end of the rope.  Thing are now at the shreds of the end of the rope.  My own prayers haven't worked.  Maybe those of others will.

Wishing you all well.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

"Almost there."

"Almost there..."

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Two weeks in Hell

I debated whether to make this post.  No wait, scratch that: I debated whether to make any post ever again on this blog.

In the midst of the madness, a lot of thoughts raced through my mind.  One of them was to give up this blog.  Wondering what was the point of it.  Wondering what was the point of anything.  So faced with the stark meaninglessness of life in this pale shell.  All was vanity, with no redeeming grace.

It's actually been worse than that, these past two weeks.

A lot of things have happened: issues which warrant action that I am unable to take.  Crushed hopes (on more than one front).  Frustrations.

I don't care to relate on these pages the full scope of what these have meant to me.  Maybe God will yet show me that He is listening to me.  That is all that I have to say in that regard.

But since I've made it a mission to document what it is that I go through in the way of manic-depression, it becomes my duty to chronicle these past two weeks regarding that realm.

To put it mildly: I've been in Hell.  Or at least as close to it as can be had in this quarter of the realms of being.

Suicidal ideations.  To some extent, they persist.  For more than two weeks my thoughts have been overwhelmed with the desire to be dead.  Because in death there is no more hurt, no more grief.

It really began three weeks ago.  My medications had begun to lose their potency (a risk with any medication but especially with the treatment of mental illness).  My doctor moved me off of a drug I had been on for six years, and substituted that with another: an antidepressant that is very well known and has been used by millions of people since it first hit the market.

It would take a week or so for the full effects to be felt, but it didn't take that long for the benefits to be apparent.  And for a few brief days I enjoyed some serenity of being.

But then, about two and a half weeks ago, my thoughts began coming completely unhinged.  Became very dark.  Very troubled.

Very loaded with despair.

I began to experience a pain which even in all the time since before I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, has been excruciating more than any other.  It was an overwhelming desire to be dead.  To be beyond pain.  To never again have all of these hurts.

I prayed for death.  I begged God to let me die, if He was listening at all.

The only reason why I didn't go into the hospital is because the thoughts didn't deviate into full-blown actively plotting to do myself in.

But I think that I did try to commit suicide.  I'm not sure.  I just wanted to be numb to it all, without a care as to how I achieved it.  I took an overload of the medication.  It did nothing.  Nothing at all.

I was desperate to die and I couldn't even do that much.

This is what I've had to go through for the past two weeks.  A never-wavering longing to die.

I still want it.  I still want to die.  Some moments anyway.  That's just the medication, which under my doctor's supervision I stopped five days ago.  It's still in my system.  In the meantime I'm about to begin a new medication.

This had better work.  I want it to.  People aren't meant to live like this.  Living, just to want to die.

I want to hope again.  Hope that there is some life still ahead of me, despite manic-depression.

I pray that God will give me some indication that He really is watching over me.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Rest in peace James Horner

It was as many feared when the news came that the airplane he owned had crashed: James Horner, one of the most acclaimed composers in film history, died last night.

AliensStar Trek II: The Wrath of KhanBraveheartApollo 13TitanicAvatar.  GloryField of Dreams...

And so much other work too.  His score for Krull is a classic example of the Eighties-era fantasy genre.  If I don't mention his music for The Rocketeer, somebody is going to jump flunky for it.  Animation fans will remember that he scored An American Tail.

Since the first of his works that I can remember listening to was his score for the second Star Trek movie, here now is the complete composition for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.  Fittingly heroic and triumphant, in remembrance of a life just as much so.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Here's a photo of a Dachshund family

My favorite breed...

Maybe if Tammy the Pup will stand still long enough, I can get her to pose for a picture that sweet :-)

Photo credit goes to @TheDoxieteers (Cindy, Pepsi and Misty) on Instagram.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

"We're gonna need a bigger boat."

Happy anniversary to Jaws.  The original blockbuster that set the scene for every big summer movie to come.  Released 40 years ago today.

Reconsidering Hobbits

When he came to visit in early April, my longtime friend/collaborator/partner in crime "Weird" Ed Woody gave me a birthday present.  It was The Lord of the Rings, Extended Edition on Blu-ray.  It's been sitting unopened on my shelf ever since, 'cuz I haven't really availed myself of its beauty (I hadn't actually watched any of it by that point but having seen the DVD version I could readily imagine how splendorous the Blu-ray would be).

Yesterday I finally cracked it open from the shrink wrap.  I was working on the book and needed something for background noise.  So I popped in Disc 1 of The Fellowship of the Ring.  Every now and then I'd turn to look at the screen and be astounded at the beauty of the film, but mostly I was just listening to it for inspiration as I stared at MS Word open before me.

It wasn't long before the movie was at Bilbo's birthday party.  I've always loved this scene ("I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve").  And then Bilbo slyly puts on the Ring and vanishes and forevermore becomes a Shire legend.

Then we see him in his home, and Gandalf is asking him about "this ring of yours".  Bilbo had intended to part with it, to bequeath it to Frodo.  But he finds that he cannot abandon it.  His eyes look at it lustfully in a way they never have before.  He holds it greedily in his fingers, calling it his "precious", just as Gollum did so many decades earlier.  We see that Bilbo is attached to the Ring.  That he cannot make himself lose his grasp of it, no matter what it is costing him in terms of his spiritual health (his earlier comment about feeling like he's butter scraped over too much bread).

It was like J.R.R. Tolkien was communicating something personally to me, through Peter Jackson's adaptation of his masterpiece.

Because I, too, have had the One Ring.  I have had many such rings throughout the course of my life.  And each one, I have held onto beyond any real sense.  What can I say?  It's one of my character flaws: I have a hard time letting go of things... and especially the past.  And that is what they have collectively been: the One Ring in my possession, but really possessing me.  Keeping me stalled.  Holding me down.  Seizing my mind and my spirit and to an extent my soul.

Like Gollum and the Ring, I both love and hate these things.  I am too enamored by them.

But in the end, we see Bilbo do something that as Gandalf says in the book, is the only time in the Ring's long history that someone has done such a thing: Bilbo lets the Ring drop from the palm of his hand and onto the floor.  He lets go of the Ring.  He lets go of the thing that has held him in its grasp ever since he found it (or was found by it) in Gollum's cave.  He surrenders his control of the Ring and in doing so, he forces the Ring to surrender its control over him.

It hit me hard.  It was Tolkien telling me that I have a ring of my own, and it is destroying me.  I have my own One Ring and it is draining me.  It is a bane, not a boon.  It was Tolkien telling me that I must let go and let it fall to the ground and never think or speak of it again.  That it is not worth being controlled by it.  That like Bilbo, it was spreading me too thin, instead of enjoying life to its fullest.

I wish that it was as easy as having a physical ring to slip off of my palm and onto the floor of my living room, but it's not.  In this, I ask for prayer that my resolve holds true, and that I not be tempted to pick up the ring ever again.

Bilbo lets go of the Ring.  The next thing we see, his heart is merry and he goes off into the night, onto the road that will take him to distant Rivendell and his much-anticipated rest.  He goes off to see the world, to see the mountains and the Elves and the Dwarves.  He has lost the Ring, now the Ring has lost utterly.

I wish it were as simple as that.  Bilbo was lucky, that the Ring was such a tangible item.

I wish that I could be like Bilbo.

I wish that I was a Hobbit.

To have a life of peace, only setting off on an adventure if one felt like it (though it will be thought of as queer by the neighbors).  A life full of cheer and contentment.  A life with friendships that won't be lost.  As well as all that beer and pipeweed, but I digress...

Hobbits don't have to worry about the things that we do.  And manic-depression probably doesn't exist among them.  That alone, makes me envy them.

One can learn a lot from Hobbits.  And I think, in this case, I learned a lot.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Why is it that too many Christians are bitter, hateful, resentful and generally mean to others… and especially other Christians?

People shouldn’t be like that anyway, to each other.  But for those of us who are in Christ, our behavior is far more dire.  We aren’t supposed to be like the world.  It’s supposed to be different, among us.  We are meant to be a radiant, shining witness for Christ in this fallen world.

Instead, I see so very often, there is ignorance and un-forgiveness and bitterness toward one another.

How is that being a follower of God, who has called us to be lamps unto His majesty?

A lot of things precipitated me thinking about this.  I guess, my mind was led to contemplate it.

I have no answers.

We’re supposed to be better than this.  This world isn’t our real home, but that doesn’t mean we have to behave in a manner reflecting how broken it is while we are here.

That’s something else I wonder about: why do some Christians harbor these kinds of feelings toward one another, when we are going to be sharing the same place one day?

I can’t understand that.

But what do I know.  I’m just a guy with a blog.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

O Lord,
how long will you forget me? Forever?
      How long will you look the other way?
 How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul,
      with sorrow in my heart every day?
      How long will my enemy have the upper hand?
Turn and answer me, O Lord my God!
      Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will

Monday, June 15, 2015

FALLOUT 4 gets a release date and a REAL Pip-Boy!

Game studio Bethesda unloaded the big guns last night at their first-ever E3 presentation.  Since its announcement months ago the hype had been stoked about Fallout 4.  Then two weeks ago Bethesda lifted the cover on that mega-anticipated title with this toad-strangling doozie of a trailer.  So what else could Bethesda bring before us at this point?

By the time Bethesda execs got to Fallout 4 last night the keynote was being watched by at least a million viewers over gaming broadcast site Twitch and probably just as many on Twitter.  After going over some other games (including the new Doom, due next spring) it was time to enter the Vault.  Because war... war never changes.

Okay so, Fallout 4 is getting released this coming November 10!  It's available for pre-order now.

And look!  If you wanna spend $119 for the Collector's Edition you get a real-working Pip-boy!

 From the "Don't Really Need But Are Lusting For Badly" files.  Wearable and functional.  Usable with your iPhone or just about any other smartphone on the market today.  Interactive with your game via an app.

A whole lotta cosplayers are swabbing up drool looking at that thing this morning.

I'm not ashamed to admit that Fallout 3 devoured about 120-140 hours of my life.  That wasn't a game.  That was a life-impacting experience on par with a Star Wars movie or having tickets to the Super Bowl.  With Fallout 4, I'm expecting no less.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Pistol-packin' President: Reagan had a .38

The greatest president of the past half-century - at least - and he kept a sidearm during his time in the Oval Office.

I don't care what your political persuasion, you gotta admit: that is severely hardcore.

The New York Daily News has an eye-opening story revealing something that until now only members of the Secret Service were aware of: that Ronald Reagan not only believed in the Second Amendment, he actively practiced it.  Specifically, he had a .38 pistol nearby as a personal firearm during his time as President of the United States.  He especially hid it in a briefcase as he traveled on Air Force One.

The article by Brad Meltzer goes into detail about what other presidents have carried with them.  George H.W. Bush toted his driver's license around, and Clinton had a photo of Hillary and Chelsea (no comment).  Obama carries a Blackberry but no wallet and no money which is why he's sometimes asked to borrow some (again, no comment).

But no one among the occupants of the White House during the past thirty years or so has done it as bad-a$$ as Reagan did.

Anyhoo, it's a very neat article if you're at all interested in presidential history.  Kinda makes you wonder what else is still out there waiting to be discovered.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Magna Carta: 800 and counting!

Worth noting that we are currently in the midst of the eighth-hundred anniversary of Magna Carta: the founding document of English law and a cornerstone of liberty for many nations down through the ages.  Including the United States.

"Sign HERE, Johnny-boy."
Ahhh yes: John, King of England.  A monarch so disastrously bad that not once since and never again has England put a king named "John" on the throne.  He spent years wrecking havoc on the country he was supposed to be leading (sort-of like the past three or four presidential administrations here), wasting money and manpower and countless lives on wars in France and such.

Finally, enough was enough.  A bunch of the barons of England decided that the time had come to lay the smack down on King John.  So they showed up in force, arrayed in their armor and finest weaponry and, ahem... "invited" John to come down to a meadow at Runnymede near Windsor.  Because they had a list of demands and if he knew what was good for him, he was going to read it and sign it.

The document which would come to be called Magna Carta ("Great Charter" in Latin, because of its large size compared to other documents of the era) curtailed the powers of the king so as to assert the rights of the barons, delineated individual rights such as jury trial and fair justice, and laid down the groundwork for what would become parliamentary law.

John looked around at all of those armored barons and their retainers and quickly arrived at the conclusion that Runnymede was not the place to get all uppity.  With all the barons witnessing, he signed the Magna Carta on June 10th, 1215.  A few days later on June 15th the barons pledged fealty, which is kind of a way of saying that the Magna Carta was officially ratified.

It was all well and good, but pretty soon neither party really upheld their terms of the agreement.  Magna Carta went for awhile annulled by the pope, but after a bit of a civil war and the coming to the throne of Henry III it became the consensus of most that the treaty was a pretty good idea after all.  From that point on, it's remained one of the basic elements of English law.  And consequently, a progenitor of the Declaration of Independence in the United States.

So, happy birthday to Magna Carta!  Looking not too shabby for something eight centuries old.

Book update... and it's a good one


Well, this section of the book is now finished.  The first draft of Chapter 25 was completed a short while ago.  It follows the one that had stumped me since February, up until a week and a half or so ago.  The one that took me so long to crack and I couldn't have done it without a dear friend being here to give support and encouragement.

So the complete draft of Chapter 24 was done, but 25, well... I could see the shape of it, the general form, but the particulars were eluding me.  So I thought "maybe I should write the next chapter while waiting for 25 to really present itself".  And that's what I did.  So there was 24, followed by 26, with 25 in between still to be written.

This past hour, Chapter 25 was done.  I wound up waking up for some vague reason, and decided for the heck of it that I'd see if I could write anything.

And I did.  But man, that was tough.

Chapters 24 through 26 are somewhat a "triptych", in that they are a block of chapters complementing each other, and if this book gets published you'll see how that is.  This was THE hardest little part of the book to get through, but now it's done.  This was the end of Part 3 of the book, and apart from editing and polishing up it is more or less completed.

(Still a lot of work to do so far as editing goes, but I'm not really worried about that.)

Now comes the next section, which will be a collection of essays about bipolar disorder, and a lot of those have already been written.  Some as early as last summer.  There is at least one chapter which is darkly hilarious and had two friends cracking up laughing when they read it.  I don't mind that at all: you have to be able to laugh if you have a condition like this.

So that part is the next to be tackled.  And then the final section.  Which, I think will go much easier than the just-finished one was.

Who knows?  It's possible that this book might be finished by the end of June.  If so, it will have only taken 13 months to complete it.  Seems like a long time.  But be kind: this is my first time writing a book after all :-)

(The first.  Lord willing, not the last...)

Friday, June 12, 2015

End of a journey

A journey that began in late 2001, finally ended a few minutes ago.

Tomorrow my DirecTV account ends (I'm relocating soon) so this week I've been watching all the stuff on my DVR that I hadn't seen yet. Among those were the last three Harry Potter movies.

Since yesterday afternoon I've been watching, as time allowed for it, Part 1 and Part 2 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

I just finished it.

And watching Harry stand there, with Ron and Hermione and Ginny, it hit me hard: these were the final moments of something that began what seemed like a lifetime ago, for me personally.

I saw Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone on the day it came out, on November 16th 2001. It was a cold, dreary and raining day. My girlfriend had come to Asheville for the weekend. The next day we were going to a wedding. We saw the movie in a theater not far from my apartment, and we really enjoyed ourselves.

She had no idea that a few feet from where she was sleeping, was a diamond ring.

That was the day I saw the first Harry Potter movie.  And whenever a new Harry Potter movie came out, I saw it on its opening day.

Except for the past number of years.  I hadn't been able to bring myself to watch the films that came after Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I didn't know if I could do it. 

Order of the Phoenix was the last Harry Potter movie I saw during what was one of the happiest periods of my life.  I suppose, I just didn't have the heart to want to watch any more after that.

But here I am, this morning. Thirteen and a half years later, this cinematic journey has drawn to a close for me.

Thirteen and a half years ago, I was working at a Best Buy. Until everything in the economy took a hit along with those two towers. I had just begun writing the script for my first movie, with no idea how I was going to make it. The bipolar disorder had yet to erupt with all its fury (I still struggled with depression, but nowhere as bad as it would eventually get).

Most of all, I was in love with someone who I was going to spend the rest of my life serving.

I saw the first Harry Potter movie on the afternoon of November 16th in 2001. I watched the ending of the last Harry Potter movie on the morning of June 12th, 2015.

So much that happened in that little dash between those two dates.

And I don't know what to really think of that.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

A true renaissance man

Christopher Lee
1922 ~ 2015 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Thief gets deck-ed by clever Magic: The Gathering player

Did you see what I did there?  Huh, did you?  That's all I got...

Well anyway, a recidivist robber is cooling his heels in a jail in Fairfax, Virginia after stealing 300 cards from the insanely popular game Magic: The Gathering in the possession of a self-described "nerd".  Said nerd, one Kemper Pogue, proceeded to formulate and execute an elaborate trap toward recovering his cards.  Which, incidentally, were worth $8000.

(Are these Magic fans dedicated to their hobby, or what?)

From the story at The Washington Post:
After filing a police report, Pogue decided to do what a Magic character like Garruk Relentless might do, and hunted down his enemies with dogged ferocity — sans the battle axe.

He started by posting a detailed message on Facebook to alert friends in the Magic community about the theft. Then, he began calling stores in Northern Virginia and Maryland that specialize in selling Magic trading cards.

Unless the thieves were big fans of the game as well, Pogue figured he knew something that the perpetrators didn’t: Despite its rapidly growing ranks, the Magic community is not only fanatical and obsessive, it’s also a tight-knit, nerds-only clubhouse, where information about players and cards circulates quickly via regional shops, tournaments and online forums on Reddit and elsewhere.

“There aren’t many physical things that can be taken that has this much sense of community attached to them,” Pogue said. “Cards have all these memories and conversations with them from people you’ve met all over the country. When Magic players hear that a collection has been stolen, it’s heartbreaking and they rally around each other to get it back.”
The story shares how Pogue and his friends trapped two thieves in the store after working with local law enforcement to crack the case.  It's a wild story and well worth your time to check it out.

I've never played Magic: The Gathering.  But I do know a lot of players who congregate at HyperMind and actively play, trade, all that good stuff.  It is definitely a close-knit community of players around the world and I can't help but cheer stories like this.

And it goes without saying: way to go nerds!!

(Also thanks to friend of this blog Roxanne Martin for spotting this story.)

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Chris gets astoundingly charmed by THE WEDNESDAY MORNING BREAKFAST CLUB!

The other week I was up late working on the book.  It was frustrating me to no end.  So I turned on the television, allegedly for background noise thinking maybe it would inspire me.  And it did, but not the way that I imagined.  Because for some reason I wound up on a local station that was less than a minute into something called The Wednesday Morning Breakfast Club.

It was a movie.  And from the first moments, it captivated me like few films I've seen of late have.

Directed by Justin Barber, The Wednesday Morning Breakfast Club is the tale of young waitress Megan (played by Stacey Bradshaw) and her career at a small restaurant.  Simple enough.  Except that every Wednesday morning Megan's routine runs afoul of three senior citizens who arrive for breakfast and hold court.  They practically come in and take over the place.  Which never fails to rub Megan and fellow waitress Martha (Amanda Barber, who also wrote the script) the wrong way (though restaurant owner Virgil seems to take perverse pleasure in the elders' antics).  No matter what Megan and Martha do, the three men always find something to gripe and complain about, and it's getting on the two ladies' nerves to no end.

But then one day Megan has an idea: instead of her and Martha merely tolerating the three, why not go out of their way to be nice to the three men?  Meaning such little things as having their usual breakfasts prepared for them when they arrive.  And taking some time to talk to them as being more than merely customers.

What transpires is the beginning of a beautiful friendship between Megan and the Wednesday morning breakfast club.  One that finds Megan and the three gentlemen seeing each other in a new light, and has Megan especially coming to appreciate her new pals for their experiences and the cheerful natures that have been hiding behind a fading facade of grumpiness.

The Wednesday Morning Breakfast Club is an outright delightful gem of filmmaking: one that packs a lot of humor, heartbreak and life lessons in its 50 minutes running time... and if there's any complaint about this film it's that I wish it had run longer, so captivated was I by these characters.  Justin and Amanda Barber have filled their story with some terrific casting bringing to life nothing short of perfectly nuanced and even slightly quirky characters.  Stacey Bradshaw plays a frustrated-turned-bold Megan with tremendous talent, and with this film under her belt she definitely deserve to go far.  There is some gorgeous cinematography at work in this film, with each shot given a loving amount of care and attention.  It is, by every measure, a movie well done.

But for me personally, the most fun about The Wednesday Morning Breakfast Club is the weekly trio who congregate at the restaurant.  Werner Reidel, Hans Willer and David Maysick are a hoot to behold as Heinrich, Nathan and Ricky.  The three are concentrated curmudgeon-ness and gripe.  But as Megan works her way toward them the griping falls away beautifully for each of them, and through Megan's eyes we come to see Heinrich, Nathan and Ricky anew... as well as appreciate them and those who they stand for.

Here's the trailer for The Wednesday Morning Breakfast Club:

I loved this movie on so many levels.  I suppose one of those is that my own father was much like one of the Wednesday morning breakfast club.  Every morning he would leave the house at 5 a.m. for breakfast at a nearby cafe, where he would eat and spent two hours with the other regulars.  That was his routine.  Dad's been gone for a little over six months now and I still miss him doing that.  So The Wednesday Morning Breakfast Club resonated with me.  It made me realize how thankful I was for the time I got to spend with Dad, especially after Mom passed away.  I think this movie is going to resonate with a lot of other people like that.

I didn't work anymore on my book that night, but I came away feeling that it was time well spent.  And you no doubt will too.

Here's the official Facebook page for The Wednesday Morning Breakfast Club.  And if you wanna check it out for yourself (you should, you really really should) here's the movie's product page on Amazon.

More artwork from our friend Cameron Hobbs

Artist on the rise Cameron Hobbs has returned with another piece...

"I Will Not Stop"Cameron Hobbs, 2015
Keep your eyes peeled y'all.  Cameron has promised another work of art sometime real soon.  'Course, I'll be posting that one on this blog too!

If you want to see more of his work, check out his Facebook page as well as his original Superhero Art page.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

"Goonies never say die!"

The Goonies, without a doubt one of the most defining movies of the Eighties generation, was released thirty years ago today on June 7th, 1985.

Here's Chunk doing the "Truffle Shuffle" in wild celebration!

Inquisitr.com has a neat list of 15 things about this movie that you may not have known.  F'rinstance, the pirate ship was kept a secret from the cast until they were ready to film the scenes there, so as to more authentically capture their surprise.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Check out this poster for THE PEANUTS MOVIE

Love the appearance of the CGI here. It's a spot-on merging of modern animation style with Charles Schulz's classic look.

But the highlight of course is the characters.  Looks like most of the Peanuts gang all in one shot, including Snoopy's siblings (even Olaf made the cut!).  And ya gotta appreciate the Little Red Haired Girl's face hidden behind the bag of popcorn...

The Peanuts Movie arrives on November 6th.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Bitter Blood: Thirty years later

Law enforcement officials at the scene of the explosion, June 3rd 1985

Within minutes the skies turned a roiling black.  Rain, and then a vicious hail poured out like wrath across the fields.  Law enforcement and emergency personnel ran for cover.  Stones of ice pelted the vehicle, and those who had been within it.  Steam arose from the asphalt of the highway… but it did little to dissipate the acrid aroma of high explosives and smoking metal.

Years later, one of the detectives who had come from Kentucky remembered the storm.  It was as if God Himself “was pissed”.

As well He might.  Looking down from on high at this culmination of madness fueled by pride and jealousy.  If God could be moved at all to anger, surely it must be here.

And there in the midst of it all, wrapped inside the crumpled wreckage: the bodies of two little boys.

Jim and John were already dead when the vehicle exploded.  Autopsies revealed that each had been given a lethal amount of cyanide.  But that must not have been enough, because both were also found to have been shot in the head.

June 3rd, 1985.  The day that one of the most horrifying and bizarre tales in the annals of American crime came to an end.

It had begun a year earlier, with the murders of a widow and her daughter in Kentucky.  And then the brutal deaths of a prominent Winston-Salem executive, his wife and his mother.

The insanity would finally draw to a close on this rural stretch of North Carolina highway, at the climax of a guns-blazing car chase straight out of Hollywood.  Years later, Hollywood did come knocking… but entertainment executives refused to believe that such a twisted tragedy could be wholly nonfiction.

Here at the end of it all, an SUV blasted to smithereens.  Two children who looked sweetly asleep in the back of the vehicle.

And blown apart from the wreckage their dead mother, her body shredded from the waist down: the result of having been sitting atop the bomb.  Nearby, gurgling to death in a ditch, was her cousin… and her lover.  The scions of one of the most notable lineages in North Carolina.  Drawn together in a shared and spiraling madness.

A madness that in the end would leave nine people dead.  Two families nearly wiped out completely.  And to this day, it remains a crime spree that remains no more understandable than it was fully three decades ago.

It began, as so many stories of this kind do, with a fairytale romance.  The princess in question being one Susie Sharp Newsom.

Susie was the daughter of tobacco executive Robert Newsom and Florence Sharp Newsom.  And growing up, Susie seemingly had it all.  She was beautiful.  She had smarts.  She had no end of admirers and then, suitors.  Above all else, at least to her, she was an heiress to one of the most respected names in the state: the Sharps.  Most prominent of whom was the aunt she was so close to: Judge Susan M. Sharp, who had become the first woman in the country to be elected the head of a state supreme court and who was widely recognized as one of the most respected women in America.

In every possible way, Susie Newsom was blessed.  But there was a darker side.  Susie harbored fantasies of being royalty.  She was considered spoiled by many, no doubt because of how she insisted that everything be done her way.  So fierce were the ensuing temper tantrums during childhood that her mother often doused Susie with cold water to calm her down.

When it came time to further her life, Susie chose to attend Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem.  And it was there where she met Tom Lynch.  Two years her junior, Tom hailed from a prosperous family near Louisville, Kentucky.

It seemed like it could have been a happily-ever-after story.  But there were signs from the start.  That Tom’s mother Delores and Susie came to despise each other was the most obvious.  Delores did not want Susie in the family and perhaps Susie did not appreciate her own family being disregarded by her mother-in-law to be.  Photos of Tom and Susie’s wedding portray the two women with very strained smiles for the camera.  What the photos do not show was the heated argument between Delores and Susan, who among other things found fault in the dress worn by bridesmaid Janie Lynch: Tom’s sister.

Susie, John and Jim
circa 1980
But there was a marriage.  And Susie followed Tom back to Kentucky where he was in dental school.  Though between his own studies and her career, there was little time for each other.  Neither was there time to be found with Delores, less than two hours away.  When Susie gave birth in 1974 to her son John, Delores - who had come to Beaufort, South Carolina to see her first grandchild - was told to wait for an appointment to see the baby.  It was much the same with Susie and Tom’s second child James, born in 1975.

And then Tom decided to move the family to Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Susie hated it.  It was a place beneath her position, she thought.  The way Susie raved about the Sharp family back in North Carolina, one would have thought that they were running the place.  Albuquerque lacked culture and dignity.  It refused to treat her with the royal due she had been given throughout her life.

Tom and Susie began to have it out with each other.  With tensions growing, the animosity between the two began to envelop sons John and Jim.  Apparently it even spilled over to the point that Susie lashed out at Jim, who required hospitalization for two days.  No charges were ever filed.

In the summer of 1979, Susie flew back to North Carolina, claiming that she wanted to spend time with her grandfather who was in failing health.

It was very soon after that Susie Lynch told Tom that neither she or their sons would be returning to Albuquerque.

Thousands of miles away, with little more than the reputation of a new dental practitioner set against one of the most politically connected families in the southeast, Tom signed an agreement to give Susie custody of their sons, now ages 4 and 3.

Susie had tired of Albuquerque.  Strangely, with Tom out of the picture even a return to familiar surroundings had given Susie a wanderlust.  For whatever reason (she said she wanted to go be an English teacher) Susie left for China, taking John and Jim with her.  They departed with little more than the shirts on their backs and a bag of Star Wars toys.

She was there for six months before returning home, dirty and malnourished and disillusioned with living in what she had come to believe was a filthy and unhealthy environment.

Susie’s condition shocked her mother, Florence.  But it so happened that there was a doctor in the family.  Susie’s uncle, Dr. Fred Klenner.  Yes, Dr. Klenner would make everything all right…

Even at the height of demand, you could have driven past and not know it was there unless you were consciously looking for it.  The narrow front entrance is today situated between the doors of a beauty shop and a low-power television station.  Looking at it from across the street, it seems like nothing more than another empty office along Main Street, Anytown, U.S.A.

Until perhaps the past decade or, the front door looking out onto Gilmer Street in Reidsville, North Carolina was still announcing, in fading script, that this was the practice of Dr. Frederick Klenner.  And depending on who you chose to believe, Dr. Klenner was either one of the most cutting-edge physicians in the field or a quack of enormous proportions.

Physician or fraud?
Dr. Fred Klenner
There is no doubting of Dr. Klenner’s medical knowledge and expertise, especially in the area of what would today be considered neonatology.  When one looks around Reidsville, there are still today quite a number of people who will profess… and even with some amount of pride… at having been delivered by Dr. Klenner.  When a local farmer’s wife gave birth to quadruplets, it was Fred Klenner who assisted and then supervised their nourishment to good health.  It was a feat that propelled Dr. Klenner to nationwide prominence

A product of the medical school at Duke University, Fred Klenner certainly had the right credentials.  It also seemed that controversy would forever surround him.  His marriage to Annie Sharp was practically a family scandal: she was Protestant, he was old German Catholic of strictest caliber.  But that would only preface the peculiarities… and dark pall… of the life and career of Dr. Frederick Klenner.

It was in the 1940s that Dr. Klenner began experimenting with ascorbic acid - better known as vitamin C - as a possible treatment for a wide variety of maladies.  In time Klenner would be using vitamin C on everything from polio to multiple sclerosis to a toothache.  His work would not go unnoticed: no less an authority than Nobel winner Dr. Linus Pauling gave Klenner his highest praise.  Within a few short years, Dr. Klenner had become world-renowned for his treatments.  And indeed, it was to his secluded office on Gilmer Street that patients came from across the country, hoping to be another miracle of Dr. Klenner’s approach to medicine.

Yes, Dr. Klenner certainly was making a name for himself.  He also earned his detractors.  His over-reliance on vitamin C and other substances to the detriment of traditional medicine gained him a bevy of physicians who deemed Klenner’s remedies to be reckless, even irresponsible.  “Fraud” was commonly said behind his back.

Anyone who came into his Reidsville office could almost certainly expect to be given a shot of vitamin C courtesy of Dr. Fred Klenner.  Visitors to his office could expect other things too.  A segregated waiting room, for one thing.  Up until his death in 1984, Klenner kept white and black patients separated while they waited to see him.  Some have ascribed this to racism on the part of Dr. Klenner, though others have noted that he was simply a product of his times and was reluctant to change according to modern sensibilities.  Indeed, many of his most faithful patients were black.  And when Dr. Klenner passed away, the only fellow physician who came to the service was a black woman.

There were other odd things about Dr. Klenner.  Among the most cringe-inducing is that Dr. Klenner was still using a needle sterilizer, in a time when AIDS and other diseases were grabbing the headlines.  It was very likely that a needle used in Dr. Klenner’s office would be used a dozen times, on as many patients, before finally being discarded.

And then there was Dr. Klenner’s theology and politics.  His belief that the apocalypse was nigh.  That communism was on the march and would swallow the earth whole.  On at least one occasion Klenner claimed to know the exact date that the world would end.

This was Susie Lynch’s uncle, to whom she turned for medical care.

It was at the elder Klenner’s office that Susie would become reacquainted with her cousin Fritz.

To this day, my aunt remembers Fritz Klenner making the rounds at Annie Penn Hospital in Reidsville.  That Fritz would come in wearing his white doctor’s coat, smiling, sometimes accompanied by his father.  Going room to room to see patients and speak with them.  Sometimes Dr. Klenner would take blood samples and give them to Fritz.  Because Fritz was studying medicine at his father’s alma mater Duke University, and his work related to blood research.

Fritz Klenner:
His father's son
That is the Frederick “Fritz” Klenner Jr. that so many people were familiar with.  The up-and-coming young protégé of his illustrious father, who would go on to make his own name in the annals of medicine.

And it was all a show.

Maybe there were indications early on about Fritz.  Some of his high school classmates later recalled how fixated Fritz was about Adolf Hitler.  Fritz also shared his father’s hatred of communism, albeit to perhaps a far deeper degree.  Also inherited was Fred Klenner’s intense end-times fatalism, and a belief in being prepared for the apocalypse at all costs.

Fritz adored his father.  He would do anything to please Dr. Klenner.  The thing he feared most was to be rejected and abandoned by his father.  And he was determined to do anything to keep that from happening.  Fred Klenner’s love was generous… but his punishments could be most severe.

Who can tell when the madness began in earnest?

Was Fritz Klenner pure evil, or - as a very few have suggested - was he the product of mental illness?

I’ve never doubted: Fritz was the way he was, because he chose to be.  It was all a game to him.  Right up to the very end, when he claimed to have been involved in covert operations.

What we do know for certain is that after graduating from a private high school in Georgia (Dr. Klennner refused to have his son graduate from Reidsville High School, so outraged was he over the school's new desegregation policy), Fritz Klenner studied at the University of Mississippi.  But he never graduated.

He told his family that he had.  The first significant lie in a web he would weave of them.  Fritz told his father that “enemies” in the school’s German department conspired to keep him from finishing his degree.  Dr. Klenner bought into it.

Then Fritz told his father that after getting it “straightened out” with Ole Miss, that he was going to enroll at Duke University’s medical school.  And for many years, that is what the community around Fritz Klenner believed: that he was studying to be a doctor.

Fritz… who was affectionately known as “Young Dr. Klenner” by many, could be seen working constantly with his father.  Just as ubiquitous was the black doctor’s bag he carried with him, containing a wild assortment of pills and injections, especially his father’s vitamin C.  Drugs which Fritz was generous in dispensing to any he deemed was in need of them.

It was only when Judge Susan Sharp inquired with her good friend Terry Sanford, then president of Duke University, that it came to be discovered that the only Frederick Klenner who had ever been enrolled at Duke had graduated in the 1940s.

And in time, other stories that Fritz had told would come to light…

Fritz was a Green Beret in Vietnam.  Fritz had fought against the communists.  Fritz had performed extraordinary measures to save the lives of his father and others.  Fritz had connections.  Fritz had done undercover work.  Fritz was an asset of the CIA.

Fritz Klenner was a fixture at gun shops throughout the area.  He made a lot of acquaintances, who became enamored with Fritz’s spell-binding tales of heroic feats.

Only years later was it realized that he had been building up an arsenal of weaponry with which to ride out the end of the world: dozens of guns.  Thousands of rounds of ammunition.  Survivalist literature of the most radical sort.  Vitamins and stimulants and anything else of medical value that could be swallowed or shot up.  Combat knives.  Camouflage clothing.  A Blazer kitted-out to be a rolling fortress.  And explosives.

It wasn’t long after Susie went to see Dr. Klenner that family realized something was very wrong between her and Fritz, though it was never spoken aloud.

But in time, it became obvious to all: Susie and Fritz, first cousins, had become lovers.

Maybe it was a delusion on the part of Susie.  That she and Fritz and the two boys were now all a family.  After all, didn’t the royal families of Europe practice incest so as to keep the bloodline pure?

That is what Fritz had become.  A prince to her princess.

The family was aghast.  If for no other reason than because of the environment that Susie was providing for John and Jim.

Susie was convinced, courtesy of no small amount of paranoia from Fritz, that Tom Lynch was going to take her sons away from her.  Her reaction was to limit Tom’s contact with John and Jim even further than there already had been.  Phone calls were kept brief.  Letters and packages from the boys’ father and grandmother were thrown into the trash.

John and Jim with Susie's aunt Judge Susie M. Sharp, at the dedication of her portrait
The legal hurdles Susie had put in place for Tom to meet with his children perhaps speaks volumes about her desire to control their interactions.  Some have suggested that Susie’s aunt, Judge Susan Sharp, had much to do with that.  However it may be, the requirements were enormous and exacting on Tom Lynch.  He even had to provide for air transportation for his ex-wife when she accompanied John and Jim to Albuquerque on their rare visits to their father.  Tom wanted to see his sons more often, but under the agreement he had signed he could only see them on holidays and several weeks each summer.

Oh hell, I’ll go ahead and say it if no one else will: Susie Sharp Newsom Lynch had all the legal marbles in her corner.  And there wasn’t anything that Tom Lynch could have realistically done about it.

May she burn forever.

Tom Lynch,
wife Kathy and
John and Jim
Tom and his new wife  Kathy got to see John and Jim when they arrived in Albuquerque.  They were utterly astounded at how bad the boys looked: underweight, dirty hair, unkempt nails.  They did not look at all like two healthy young boys.  Neither did Tom and Kathy care for the plastic bags of “vitamins” that Fritz had sent along with them.

Things had gone on long enough, Tom had decided.  He was going to press his case for more visitation rights with John and Jim.

Meanwhile, in May of 1984, Dr. Fred Klenner was in the emergency room at Morehead Hospital in Eden, about twenty minutes from Reidsville.  Dr. Klenner refused to be taken to Annie Penn - only a few streets away from his home - because of a longtime dispute about doctors privileges.

A few days later, Frederick Klenner Sr. was buried.

It was wondered by many what would Fritz do without his father’s overarching presence.

The closest thing that authorities found in the way of a witness was a bicyclist who later reported hearing something not unlike gunshots.

It had been a friend of Delores Lynch who made the discovery, on June 24th 1984.  Law enforcement descended on the scene.  It was a gruesome one: Delores, shot in the back and then in the head at close range.  Her body had been there for at least a day, cooking in the Kentucky heat on the driveway approach to the garage of her house in Prospect.

A trail of blood nearby.  Investigators followed it into the house.

There was Janie, Delores’ daughter.  39 years old, but looking much younger.  She was graduating dental school.  And for the first time in her life, she was truly deeply in love.

Like her mother, she had also been shot in the head and the back.  Also at close range.

Delores Lynch and her daughter Janie

As night descended, more personnel arrived on the scene.  One of the detectives took a single look and told the others “this was a hit.  A pro took these people out.”

The murders of Delores and Janie Lynch rocked the community and completely baffled detectives.  Who could have done this?  Why would they have done this?

“There’s a dark cloud in that family,” a retired officer told Lieutenant Dan Davidson, who was in charge of the investigation.  Find that cloud, he was told, and he would find the killer.

But as weeks turned to months, the mystery of what happened in the house on Covered Bridge Road would only increasingly confound the detectives.  Almost as if to punctuate the enigma, during one visit to the house investigators found several palm leaves arranged in crosses spread across the floor.

They were never explained.  Neither, it seemed, would be what happened to Delores and Janie Lynch.

Gentle souls:
Bob and Florence Newsom
John and Jim had been with their father in Albuquerque when the news arrived about the deaths of Tom’s mother and sister.  Tom wanted to spend more time with his sons so that they could grieve together.

Susie would have none of that, and demanded that John and Jim come home immediately.

In the aftermath of the murders of Delores and Janie, Tom received condolences from an unexpected quarter: Florence Newsom, Susie’s mother.  Florence expressed significant grief to Tom, and Tom was appreciative of that.

But Tom also took the opportunity to express his frustrations about the situation with Florence.  And that what he wanted most was as normal a relationships with his children as any father should be allowed to have.

“I believe that in order for children of divorce to come out of the experience as as well as possible, it is vital for them to have a strong relationship with their father as well as their mother,” Tom wrote.

Florence acknowledged that belief.  “We agree it is very important that the boys have a strong and good relation with their father.  We hope you and Susie can have good communication so the boys will not play one parent against the other.”

So began a rather deep relationship between Tom and his former in-laws, built upon care and consideration for the best interests of John and Jim.

And in the months to come, Florence Newsom and her husband Bob would agree to testify  in court on Tom’s behalf that Susie must be obligated to give him more visitation rights and access to John and Jim.

Susie was incensed.  John and Jim had to stay with her, she claimed.  Because Tom was involved with the mob and that’s why his mother and sister had been taken out in a gangland hit.  She knew that was so because Fritz told her, and because Fritz was CIA.

The hearing was scheduled from the week of May 26th, 1985.

May 19th.

There were Bob and his 84-year old mother Hattie.  They had been shot.  But the perpetrator had shown far greater hatred toward Florence: shot, stabbed and her neck slit.  She was discovered in a prayerful position, posed by the assailant.  Their bodies in Hattie’s house in northwestern Winston-Salem.  Bob and Florence had moved in with Hattie so that they could take care of her in her old age.

Three people who were thought by those who knew them best to be among the gentlest of folk, butchered in the middle of the night.

Next-door neighbor Maya Angelou echoed the disbelief of everyone: why would anyone do this to the Newsoms?

Had there been any other history of violence in the family?, detectives asked Bob and Florence’s son Robert.

As a matter of fact, there had been.  A year earlier, in Kentucky.

Investigators from two states suddenly became very interested in the life of Susie Lynch.  And very quickly her cousin and lover Fritz Klenner aroused their curiosity also.

The question must have been in their minds: would a woman dare murder her parents over a custody battle with her ex-husband?

In a sane world, such a thing didn’t seem possible.

But the world of Susie Lynch was not a sane one.

During the course of the investigation, detectives came across Ian Perkins: a friend of Fritz’s who also lived in Reidsville.  Perkins, 21 and a student at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, was questioned by Winston-Salem detectives.  And from him, through prodding by the detectives from Kentucky, eventually came a remarkable recounting of the night of May 18th.

Fritz Klenner had long already “confided” with Perkins, with whom he shared an interest in anti-communism and firearms, that he worked with the CIA.  Well, Fritz now needed Perkins to help him.  They had been given an assignment to wipe out a communist cell.  The communists were smuggling weapons to South America and trading them for drugs, which would then be sold to profit the communist cause.  All of this was under the control of the KGB.  So Fritz was going to perform a “touch”, as he explained was CIA terminology for assassination.

If Perkins helped Klenner on this covert operation, it would no doubt look well on his record when he was officially recruited by the CIA.

Fritz planned for he and Perkins to have a three-day weekend, ostensibly camping in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  That would be their “cover”, as he put it.  Cover while they were away on the real mission: taking out the foreign drug traffickers aiding the communists.

The date for the mission was May 17th throug the 19th.

At 11 on Saturday night, Ian Perkins drove Fritz Klenner to the Old Town neighborhood of Winston-Salem,  and dropped him off just half a mile from where Bob, Florence and Hattie were enjoying their evening.

An hour later, Perkins picked Klenner up, the “mission” an apparent success.

Only now, with the detectives present, did Ian Perkins learn that Fritz Klenner had never been a doctor.  Had never been an operative of the Central Intelligence Agency.  But in all likelihood was a multiple murderer who had used Perkins as a gullible alibi.

That was on May 30th.  The next day, Ian Perkins met with Fritz Klenner.  Perhaps out of a need to atone for the role he inadvertently had played, Perkins agreed to wear a hidden microphone.

Perkins and Klenner met the following day also.  On each occasion, Perkins told Fritz that the police had been asking about the Newsoms.  About if he knew anything about it.  Fritz insisted that he was working with the CIA.  He gave Perkins some pills from his black bag, claiming they would help him keep his nerve during interrogation.

On June 3rd, Perkins met with Klenner a third time, in the parking lot of what was at the time the Zayre department store on Cone Boulevard in Greensboro.  Perkins wore the wire again, terrified that Klenner would see it.  Klenner swore that he hadn’t actually killed anyone.  Then he said that he would write a statement for Perkins, indicating that he was on a secret mission for the government.

Then Fritz Klenner said his final words to Ian Perkins: “I’ve got things to do.  I won’t see you again.”

It was the closest thing to a confession that Fritz Klenner would ever give.

Fritz drove off in his Blazer.  Several unmarked police cars were following.

It was about 1:30.  Personnel from five law enforcement agencies, including the detectives from Kentucky and the State Bureau of Investigation, were scrambling.

Fritz arrived at Susie’s apartment off of Friendly Avenue in Greensboro, not far from the Guilford College campus.  Detectives had already staked out the apartment.

They saw Fritz and Susie furiously running back and forth from her apartment, loading supplies into the Blazer.

And then the detectives were shocked to see John and Jim, dressed in camouflage fatigues, exiting the apartment and being made to get into the back of the Blazer.

No one had thought about the children.  It had just been assumed that they were in school for the day.

The Blazer took off.  And the law officers went into pursuit.  It was at the intersection of Friendly and New Garden roads that a Greensboro detective and an SBI agent attempted to make Klenner stop.  Fritz spun the Blazer around the car and headed east.

Police officer Tommy Dennis, who had taken the call to be on hand to arrest Klenner, was coming from the west.  Seeing the Blazer, he attempted a U-turn.  Two other vehicles in the pursuit did likewise and followed behind Dennis.  One car raced past Dennis to get to Fritz.  Dennis swerved and crashed into the Blazer’s driver’s side door.

The next thing he knew, Dennis was looking down the barrel of a 9mm  Uzi submachine gun and behind its trigger the maniacal grin of evil incarnate.

Fritz fired.  Five bullets hit the car.  Two hit Dennis.  He survived, no doubt because of the bulletproof vest his wife made him always wear.  With a chest wound and his shoulder bleeding, Dennis was out of the game.

And Fritz was smiling the entire time.

Friendly Avenue had become a scene straight out of a Mad Max movie.  As the carnage rolled on, Fritz Klenner continued to fire the Uzi as he directed the Blazer toward New Garden road.  One bullet hit Lennie Nobles: a fresh-faced detective from Kentucky just a few weeks on the job before the Lynch murders took place.  Nobles received minor wounds.  Glass from the bullets also hit detective Sherman Childers, also from Kentucky.  The two were undeterred in their pursuit of who by now was almost certainly the killer of Delores and Janie.

The chase reached Battleground Avenue.  Fritz stopped several times to open fire on the officers.  At one point Fritz stepped out of the Blazer to stand in the road and open fire with the Uzi.  Civilians ducked for cover.

The chase exited Greensboro proper.  Fritz continued north, as Battleground Avenue gave way to US 220.  There was no doubt where was his destination: the “farm” he and his father had near Eden.  It was a place he had allegedly kept well stocked with weapons, ammunition and explosives.

The farm was where Fritz was going to wait out the end of the world.  And that is what was happening to him and Susie.

The caravan arrived at the intersection of US 220 and N.C. 150.  The Blazer made a right turn, east.

More machine gun fire.  Residents were bewildered as to what was going on.  The officers remained in close pursuit.

Then, at Bronco Lane, the Blazer’s brake lights came on.

Those nearby later said that they saw some commotion, or struggling, in the cab of the vehicle.

Two shots.  Like pistol fire.

And then the Blazer blew up.

So powerful was the blast, that the Blazer was lifted off the ground as high as the telephone poles before slamming back down.

The time had been 3:07 p.m.  June 3rd, 1985.

Susie’s head and torso barely remained.  It was obvious that she had been sitting on the bomb that Fritz had installed.  There was nothing to be gained from her.

Fritz, also thrown out of the vehicle, survived for a few seconds more.  Dan Davidson, the lead detective from Kentucky, came across Fritz and tried to get a deathbed confession from him.  All that could be heard were the sounds of bones scraping together and a bloody gurgle of desperation.

Then he died.

It was what was found in the back of what had been the SUV that broke the hearts of all who came to the scene.  John and Jim, dead.  Each shot in the head.

It was later determined that they had been given cyanide.

It was also later determined that it was their mother, Susie Lynch, who had shot them.

And then the sky turned black.  And the thunder rolled.

The explosion was so loud, that my father working on his dairy farm heard it from ten miles away.

There is a very strong possibility that had Fritz Klenner gotten much further, that he would have met Mom on her way back home from work that day.  If he was going to his farm near Eden, Klenner would almost certainly have turned north onto Church Street, then followed it north into Rockingham County and onto Woolen Store Road.  That would be the most direct route to the farm from where he turned the Blazer onto Battleground Avenue.

Actually, come to think of it, my sister and I could have probably seen him, too.

Tommy Dennis and Lennie Nobles made full recoveries.  Dennis soon afterward left law enforcement, at the behest of his family.

Ian Perkins served four months in prison for the part he unwittingly played in the Newsom murders.

Within hours of the chase and its fiery end, law enforcement descended on Susie's apartment and Fritz's mother's house.  Dozens of guns were found, with accompanying ammo.

Officials also entered the former office of Dr. Fred Klenner.  There were so many vitamins and other medications on the premises that it took three dump trucks to haul them away to be destroyed.

Detective Davidson later found evidence of Susie Lynch’s participation in the murders of Delores and Janie Lynch.

In the wake of the tragedy, the cooperation of the various law enforcement agencies involved fell under considerable scrutiny.  It remains an open question as to whether anything could have been done in the way of sharing information, that could have stopped Fritz Klenner before he had a chance to make his escape.

Tom Lynch refused to have John and Jim buried in North Carolina.  His sons were laid to rest in New Mexico.  In the last place where they were truly happy.

Thirty years ago today.

I was eleven years old.  Just a little older than John and Jim.  And even then, all I could think about was how could a mommy do that to her two boys.

A lot of things happened that summer.  One friend was left paralyzed for life from a car accident.  Another was killed on our farm in a freak mishap.  And then not long after, Dad almost lost his right hand in a way that to this day still makes me want to throw up.

But the Fritz Klenner murders, and how they ended on that road near my home, haunted me especially.

They have haunted countless others, and no doubt still will decades from now.  They will haunt, no matter how much our senses wrestle with comprehending that such a thing happened.  Jerry Bledsoe wrote as much when he authored Bitter Blood: his massive tome about the murders and the madness that coalesced between Fritz and Susie.  Twenty-seven years later, Bitter Blood remains the definitive authority of what has so often been called the most bizarre crime in American history.

There is so much to be haunted by this story.

But most of all, I'm haunted by John and Jim, though I never met them.

They would have been my age now.  They could have had wonderful lives, each of them.  They could have gone on to college.  Fallen in love.  Gotten married.  Had children of their own.

Their mommy took it away from them.

I just can't understand that.  I couldn't understand it then.

I can't understand it now.

And I don't doubt that until my dying day, I'll never understand.

Nine people.  Across four generations.  Destroyed by unbridled jealousy and unfettered fantasies.

Thirty years ago today.

Doesn't seem like it.

A lot of my childhood innocence died that day.

It did, for many other young people around here.

 And I'll never come close to figuring out why.

Photos are attributed to the News & Record, which has made many other photos about the Klenner-Lynch murders available.  For more coverage of the thirtieth anniversary of the murders, including links to the original article series written by Jerry Bledsoe, click here.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Book: Breakthrough

Let's recap, shall we?

Dad's passing in November threw everything out of kilter, particularly writing the book.  Not just out of being in grief and recovering from losing my last remaining parent, but also because of everything that comes with a death in regard to paperwork, his estate, and so forth.  So the project I've been working on since last May, my book about having bipolar disorder, had to be put on the back burner.

In January I felt okay enough to continue working on it.  And I did.  At least for a little while.  A few more chapters were completed.

Then in February, everything slammed to a halt.

I had reached a place in conveying the narrative where my mind could not, would not, proceed any further.  It had hit a solid wall and nothing I did could break it down.  It was my memories, very painful memories, that I could not approach much less attack.

It was all of the memories of the very worst kind of person that mental illness made of me.  For twenty-some chapters it had been building to this wretched culmination, and I lacked any heart to take one step further.

The core of it was a considerable amount of material, correspondence really, from the past several years.  You could call it a kind of file.  And I couldn't open that file, though I needed contents of it to go forward with my writing.  It was a crucial amount of raw source material about myself.  I needed it for my research.  But I also see now that I needed it for my own personal understanding.

Last month helped immensely.  First the trip I made to visit family in Florida.  And then the week which my dear friend Melody spent here.  It had been Melody's idea in March that I really could go into "the file"... but also that I shouldn't be alone when I did so.  Her presence here bolstered my resolve open "the file" and see what was inside of it.  Nothing that I hadn't seen before, but it was just as painful now as it was during the time that the correspondences were accumulating.

I couldn't have done that research without a good friend being nearby who could give me encouragement and support when I needed it.

That was the end of April.  The trip to Florida renewed my cheerful spirit.  Melody's visit gave me strength to barrel through that blockade in my mind.  But something was still missing and I couldn't figure out what.  So it was that I've gone all of this month without writing anything for the book.

My narrative was still ground to a halt and I didn't know how to make it move.

Until late last night.

I finally cracked it.  The critical next chapter.  It came in a moment, the breakthrough that I had been looking for.

I spent the next few hours writing.  In the wee hours of the morning, the first draft had been completed.  And then I hurtled on to the beginning of the next chapter.

It was like a wave had been building up all of these months, finally come crashing ashore.  And when it receded, there it was: the vision of how to keep going.  How to move forward.  Three months, my efforts and frustrations were leading to this.  There were times when I genuinely wondered if I should give up this project.

Maybe it was God whispering something to me last night.  I want to think it's like that.

Writing the book is back on track.  I've broken through the wall, have overcome that torment and fear.  Doing that changed me, maybe made me a better person.  Made me stronger.

I know what to do now.