Gaining a Friend through Aussie Rescue

Cordon Bleu, better known as Blue

Cordon Bleu,
better known as Blue

On Monday, June 20th, Kelly and I finished the adoption process for Cordon Bleu through Aussie Rescue.  I never knew adopting a dog had so much paperwork.  We agreed to many things, including that we would never give Cordon Bleu, known as Blue to his friends and family, away to anyone, that we would never shave him (No way would I ever do that anyway.  I’d sooner shave my hair and beard.), never to let Blue ride in the back of a pickup (Again, something I would never do.), always keep him on a leash outside unless in a fenced backyard for 12 weeks (A good policy even for after that period.), etc.  We underwent a written online survey and a home inspection, as well as meeting Blue before we could adopt.  I haven’t felt so “under the microscope” since we applied to move to the Isle of Man, maybe even more so.   Am I complaining?  Absolutely not.  NorCal Aussie Rescue (click here) and Kim, who runs the operation in the area, want to make sure that the dogs she rescues aren’t sent to someone who will not take good care of them.  There is even a 30-day full refund period after adoption.  Considering some idiot abandoned Blue, I am in full agreement with a process to prevent that ever happening again.

Jilly-dog A real sweatheart

Jilly-dog
A real sweetheart

If you’ve been a reader of my blog, three years ago I wrote about the loss of my companion and family dog, Jilly, an Australian shepherd. (click here to read)  I was devastated.  After almost three years, I yearned to have the “friendly presence” of a dog in the house again.  Although I like the long-haired “working dogs’ like Aussies, I was afraid that I would always be reminded of Jilly and expect the next one to be a clone of her, so I checked out rescue border collies.  I filled out the application and kept a watch on the adoptable dogs.  Since I was looking for a dog no more than four years old and not too hyper, it limited my choices.  One great thing about rescue sites is you get a bio on each dog, letting you know age and personality, with a photo.  There was one dog that seemed ideal, but when I emailed the site there were eight others ahead of me in line!  Then, in January of this year, I checked NorCal Aussie Rescue.  At the rescue site, I saw Condon Bleu , who sounded good.  Then I read that he was “reactive with strangers” and wasn’t ready for adoption.  There was another Aussie, Rocco, who seemed a possibility.  I filled out the application and Kim, the person who had told me about Jilly being kept in Woodland’s animal shelter in 2004, responded.  She brought Rocco, who was called Rocky, out while she inspected our place.

Rocco, a.k.a. Rocky A big boy

Rocco, a.k.a. Rocky
A big boy

Let’s just say that at 70-plus lbs. and tall for an Aussie, Rocky was in the heavyweight class, as well as quick on his feet . . . er, paws.  He also put his paws on our marble table and on the grand piano (fortunately covered).  It wasn’t that he was a “bad dog,” just large and a bit rambunctious for our life style, never stopping his roaming around the house.  Still, I felt that familiar tug at my heart when Rocky was in the ring . . . er, living room.  I felt he could be trained.  After Kim and Rocky left, Kelly and I were discussing Rocky when we got a call from Kim.  She didn’t feel Rocky was a good match for us.  She takes her duties very seriously and did not want Rocky going to a home where there would be problems in the relationship.  Still, it was disappointing and we felt that the problems were more with us.  “We flunked,” Kelly said.

Cordon Bleu's photo on the Aussie Rescue website. Who wouldn't love a face like that?

Cordon Bleu’s photo on the Aussie Rescue website. Who wouldn’t love a face like that?

I would go on the the rescue websites periodically to check for new recruits, but no joy.  Days went into weeks and weeks into months.  Then I noticed that Cordon Bleu’s bio had been updated.  He was doing very well with people and dogs and was ready for adoption.  Well, he had problems with chickens and cats, but we have no cats and only eat chickens we get normally from Costco, so that would not be an issue.  I contacted Kim again and she brought Cordon Bleu (who I will henceforth call Blue, since the French word sounds too much like “blah”) out to see how he would do with us.  She told us that he was very attached to her, sticking close to her all the time, and was not sure he would do well with a man.  When she got here, we took him out into our fenced yard and played a little ball with him, then went inside and sat in the living room.  Blue came over to visit me at my chair and I rubbed his spine.  We seemed to get along.

After Kim left with Blue, I wasn’t sure if we’d made the grade.  After a day of no word, I was concerned.  Once I’d met Blue, I really wanted him to join our home.  Hesitantly, I emailed Kim and asked her what was the next step, fearing that there would not be one.  She said we needed to have three days in a row when we would not leave Blue alone and that it would have to be after she took Blue to the vet again.  Kelly and I were meeting our daughter and son-in-law for lunch on Father’s Day, but it looked like late afternoon of that Sunday would work.  I was like a kid waiting for Christmas morning.  Due to misunderstanding on telephoning procedures, it ended up that Blue could not come to his new home until the next day.  I’m way too old to feel like the kid who Santa missed, but I did.

Kim brought Blue to his new home on Monday.  We went through all the signing, agreements and info on caring for Blue.  I’ve done some real estate deals and they do take more paperwork, but so does dog adoption.  Especially the part where you slice your palm and drip blood on the contract to seal the deal.  Just kidding.  I think.  Anyway, Kim trusted us and left Blue with us.

Blue's first day with us.

Blue’s first day with us.  He looks a little unhappy, but that soon changed.

He was anxious for several hours after she left, pacing the house, but calmed by the evening and was even sleeping on his back behind my chair.  When we put him in the crate last night, he would whimper a bit, but stopped when I said “no.”  I walked out of the room to do a quick email and he whined, even though Kelly was there.  One time he banged on the crate door and I took him out to see if he needed to wet, but he just wanted to stay up and play.  After about a half an hour, he was fine and slept through the night.  It’s sort of like a kid who has his first night at camp and misses home.  He never whimpered in his crate again.  In a couple of months, we hope to have him sleeping on his own bed.  I may have to put it right next to my side of the bed.

Blue on a leash. We weren't actually on our walk, but Kelly doesn't want to get yup at 5:45 a.m. to take a photo!

Blue on a leash. We weren’t actually on our walk, but Kelly doesn’t want to get up at 5:45 a.m. to take a photo!

Blue and I went for our walk at 5:40 a.m. the next morning along the Nevada Irrigation District canal (that I call the ditch) and he loved it.  It is a dirt trail that is right along the running water, with lots of trees.  There was no one on the trail, so we had a great time.  Jilly used to wet one or two times on the walk, but he marked our trail about thirty times!  I wondered how big his bladder was.  At least he did his part against the drought.  We have gone every morning since and he has been fine with the few people and animals we have met.  Well, except for the doe and fawn on the trail in front of us one time.  He really wanted to prove he could run them down.  We serve him Taste of the Wild dog food, so maybe he wanted a real taste of the wild.  When I went home afterwards I may have found out why he had so much energy.  I found the empty container for some cookies that had been on the kitchen counter.  He must have grabbed it while I was in the bathroom before we left for our walk.  He was on a sugar high.  Our walk has lengthened from about 2 mi. to 3.7 mi. (per the Mapmywalk app on my phone).  Blue seemed tired and slowed a lot the first day, but no longer.   I bet he could got 10 mi. now, but I don’t know that I could.  There is saying that a fat dog is the sign of an out–of-shape owner.  As lean and strong as Blue is, I only wish I were in commensurate condition.

It’s been about three weeks since Blue joined the family.  He tries to stay beside me all the time.  Whenever I leave a room, he follows right behind me.  I call him the strong, silent type because he’s not a barker, but sometimes he does whine a bit whenever I leave.  I also call him my bud, Ol’ Blue Eyes, True Blue and Blue Dog, but I like nicknames.  He’s only about 8 months old at most and I’m happy with that because I am very attached to him already.  I want him with me a long time.  Young age and a good disposition were the two key requirements for choosing a dog, but if I’d made a long list of wants, he’d have fulfilled about every one of them.  He is one great dog.

They trust us, giving us loyalty and love. This is how they are treated.

They trust us, giving us loyalty and love. And this is how they are treated.

There is a moral to this message: rescue a dog.  The dogs deserve better than they have been treated.  Dogs have given their lives in the military, will sacrifice themselves to save their masters from harm, and give unswerving devotion to the humans that own them, yet far too often are given only cruelty and abuse in return.  There are too many of our four-legged friends that have suffered by the hands of humans and we owe it to them to reach out to them.  Dog rescue services try to right some of these wrongs.  The people who run the rescue operations are some of the most dedicated, unselfish people you will meet.  If you prefer, go to an animal shelter and save one of those poor, neglected dogs.  A quick Google search will locate the rescue operation or animal shelter in your area.  So, rather than buying from a breeder or “puppy mill,” rescue a dog in need.  I close with a quote from John Galsworthy that speaks to me.  “The family dog – the only four-footer with rudiments of altruism and a sense of God.”

 

 

 

 

 

Scottish Games

A Pipe Band at a Scottish Games

A Pipe Band at a Scottish Games

Over Memorial Day weekend, I will be attending the United Scottish Society’s Scottish games in Costa Mesa, CA, known as Scottish Fest, (click here for info) selling my Celtic saga, Three Legs of the Cauldron.  Alas, I have only attended Scottish Games in California, so my impressions are not of any Games in Scotland.  Those are competitions in athletics and dancing, far different than the Celtic fairs of America.  Even the one at Braemar that the Queen regularly attends and draws about 20,000 people is focused on the competitions.  There will be kilts and pipe bands, but no clan booths or musicians (sorry, pipers, I mean no slight to your musical talents).  They harken back 950 years to the time of Malcolm II, known as Canmore or Bighead, who is said to have had the games as a way to have Scots compete with each other without someone literally losing his head. Since he’s the guy who killed the historical Macbeth, there may be some irony there.  But I digress.  Back to the New World.

Lady Saltoun, chief of the name Fraser and Lord Lovat, chief of the Lovat Frasers

Lady Saltoun, chief of the name Fraser and Lord Lovat, chief of the Lovat Frasers

The games in America are more of a fair or festival, hence the name Scottish Fest for Costa Mesa.  I first attended these games when they were held at the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds in Pomona.  It was 1981, a hot Sunday afternoon, and my little clan (family) barely made it to them before closing time.  They were a rather small affair then, but I was bitten by the Scottish bug.  My nearest tie is through my father’s mother, a Fraser.  A couple of years later, I went to the games the Clans of the Highlands used to hold in Chino as a member of Clan Fraser Society of North America.  Although a small games, they had the necessary components of a games in America: clan tents, vendors of about every item Scottish and not so Scottish as well as food and drink, and Scottish, or at least Celtic, musical entertainment.  Oh, yes, they also had Scottish athletic and dancing competitions as well as pipe bands.  Other games might add a Highland animal exhibit, sheepdog competitions, whisky tasting, historical re-creationist groups (Want to meet Mary, Queen of Scots?  Well, not the real one, since she’d be rather decomposed by now, but someone who has taken a lot of time to learn to act like she would have.  She just might be there.), and even odd events like beard competitions.

Caber Toss

Caber Toss

What do the Games in Scotland and the Scottish Games in America have in common?  Much.  The athletic competitions always have some uniquely Scottish events.  The most dramatic is the caber toss, which has been termed the telephone-pole toss by those of non-Scottish descent.  Some burly guy in a kilt balances a log the size of a telephone pole upright against his shoulder, slowly trots ahead and heaves it upward so that it lands on the other end and falls forward.  It’s supposed to land perfectly upright and fall directly away from the competitor.  Take it from me, it’s not easy even with a smaller, practice one. (click here to see)  Then there is the stone toss.  It’s like shot putting, except with an irregularly shaped stone weighing about 18 lbs. and done with no approach, feet firmly planted.   (click here to see)  Next is the weight toss over a bar, similar to a pole vault bar.  The 56 lb. weight has a ring attached for gripping and tossed over a bar 18 ft. or more directly overhead.  Not keeping an eye on the weight could be fatal.  (click here to see)  Then there’s a 28 lb. weight toss for distance.  Finally, there is the 22 lb. hammer throw for distance.  This is also an Olympic event.  In the Scottish games, the big guys throw it 185 ft. or more.  (click here to see)  In the Olympics, the record is 284 ft.  Of course, the Olympic hammer is 6 lbs. lighter and has an easily-gripped handle on the end of a chain instead of a simple pole!  Maybe the Scottish one is a little too much for the rest of the world.  The real kicker is that, unlike the Olympics, Scottish heavy competitors compete in all these events and over a relatively short period of time.  Not exactly the same, is it?

Highland Fling

Highland Fling

Another common ground for Scotland and America are the dancers.  Highland dancing is not done with a partner and is energetic, to say the least.  The sword dance is done over a pair of crossed swords, supposedly originally done by Malcolm Bighead celebrating his victory over Macbeth.  If a dancer touches one of the swords in this difficult dance, he or she loses major points.  (click here to see)  The Highland fling requires the dancer to stay in the same spot while going through fast and rigorous steps.  (click here to see)  Both of these are performed mainly on tiptoe.  Although there are other dances like the sailor’s hornpipe, these are the essentials of Highland dance competitions.  There is no improv in any of these dances.  The dancer must learn the steps and follow them.

Bagpiper

Lone Piper

The last commonalities for the New World and the Old World games are pipers and the kilts.  Pipe bands are the mainstay for the music at the games.  You can hear pipers practicing their music, often eerily wafting through the games.  You either love them or you hate them.  There is a joke that says that a bad piper sounds like someone strangling a cat.  A good piper sounds like someone strangling a cat gently.  However, if you’ve got any Scots blood in your veins, the sound of a good pipe band will send cold chills down your spine.  (click here to see and hear)  I remember when my wife and I were first in Scotland in 1986, we were driving along a glen when we saw some red deer and got out for a photo.  It was about 11:00 at night, but still twilight and the hills along the burn were covered with heather.  There was not a person or a house in sight.  A lone piper was playing somewhere in the far distance, echoing along the glen.  It was so beautiful it almost brought tears to my eyes.  (click here to listen)  I am a Scot, not only by some of the blood in my veins, but in m heart.

James Bond in a Kilt. No one to mess with.

James Bond in a traditional kilt. No one to mess with.

And then there is the kilt.  I cannot take the time to go into the entire history of the kilt and tartans, but what has evolved is a pleated wool garment with a tartan that is registered with the Scottish Register of Tartans.  For most, that means a Scottish Highland clan or Lowland family.  In America, you will see many men in these kilts at the games. but many more who are not.  They are custom tailored, somewhat expensive and, quite frankly, take a little courage to wear.  Although, as I said, I have not been to any Games in Scotland, I would imagine that is the case there.  Here, however, things have changed since I got my kilt in 1983.  Now there are Utilikilts and their Pakistani knock-offs.  These are off-the-rack, made in heavy cotton, solid-color or camo instead of tartan cloth and (shudder) have pockets.  While it’s a free country and anyone can wear whatever they wish, I will never wear a Utilikilt.  To me, it would be like wearing Jockey underwear (Y-fronts for my British friends) and calling them swim trunks: not the same thing and rather embarrassing to be seen in in public.  An American site summarized my thoughts very well.  “They took a traditional garb and perverted it.  A kilt is a symbol of Scotland and its history.  A Utilikilt is someone trying to functionalize culture.”

Scary dude in Utilikilt

Scary dude in Utilikilt

It’s like wearing white athletic shoes with a tux: just not right.  If you figure the cost of my kilt for the 30-plus years I’ve owned it, it’s not that much, far less than an iPhone and lasting far longer.  If you want to show your Scottish heritage, do it with the real thing and not a cheap substitute.  When you walk in a real kilt, there is a “swoosh” of the fabric side to side.  When you walk in a Utilikilt, it hangs stiffly down.  A U.K. site called it, “hardly a kilt at all, but a man skirt, marketed as a kilt.”  If you wear a Utilikilt, just be honest and say it’s a man-skirt.  Like a man-purse or a man-bun, it’s a masculine version of a feminine fashion item.

Wicked Tinkers- not exactly traditional Scottish music.

Wicked Tinkers- not exactly traditional Scottish music.

 

But back to the games.  For Americans, they are a Scottish festival as well as competitions.  The music reflects that, although I do wish there were more in the traditional style than the modern, rock-type, but the organizers book what draws the crowds.  While they’re not to my taste, I guess I can live with that.  The vendors provide a chance for purchasing British food and drink, Celtic jewelry, British knick-knacks and Celtic-themed clothing that varies from T-shirts to kilts and tracing your name’s ancestry.  There are also books on Celtic topics, which is where I fit in.  As I said, I will be autographing and selling Three Legs of the Cauldron at the Celtic Nook booth in Costa Mesa as well as Pleasanton, CA, over Labor Day weekend.  (click here for info)  Then there is that American innovation, clan tents.

Clan tents

Clan tents

For native Scots, they consider clan membership to be a matter of birth, not joining.  If you’re born a Fraser in Scotland, you are a member of the clan.  However, in America (and I now understand in a number of other countries as well), you join a clan society.  Requirements vary, but most bend over backwards to find a way to include those interested in membership.  We are a nation of mutts, so pure-blooded Scots are rare and oft times the connection is many generations back.  Many clan societies have ties with the clan chief or chief of the name in Scotland, but there is no copyright on a name and some are not connected with Scotland at all.  Nonetheless, it is all about preserving our Celtic heritage.  In this modern, mobile and transitory society, many of us are looking for roots, a tie to the past that will keep us grounded in the present.  Having manned the Clan Fraser Society of North America clan tent as Southern California Convener for many years, there is a special place in my heart for those who put time, effort and money into preserving this heritage.  That great duo, Men of Worth, have made a tongue-in-cheek song about them entitled The Clan Tent Cavaliers(Click here to listen)  At the clan tents, diasporan Scots can find their connection to their heritage.  Dedicated volunteers are more than willing to share their research and knowledge with any who stop by.  It’s all free.  If you attend the games in America and have any Scottish name in your ancestry, take the time to check out your clan tent.  It’s a part of the Scottish games experience in America.

Pogo for President

The Possum Himself, Pogo

The humble possum himself, Pogo.  Is he ready to throw that hat in the ring?

In 1952 and 1956, there was a dark horse running in the presidential campaigns.  Well, make that a light-colored possum.  It was Pogo.  The star of a comic strip of the same name, creator Walt Kelly described him as,  “the reasonable, patient, softhearted, naive, friendly person we all think we are.”  He was one of the good guys.  I mean possums.  While also termed “opossums,” I will use “possums,”  which is how these marsupials are termed in his native Ofekenofee Swamp in Georgia, near Fort Mudge.  Yes, those are real places, but there the reality ends.  In his comic strip, Kelly spun tales with more characters than a Russian novel, combining wit and wisdom, slapstick and shtick, puns and pithiness, and satire and sarcasm in a delightfully amusing mix.  In all the mayhem and madness, Pogo stands above it all, or rather sits on his flat-bottomed boat and fishes.  He is the epitome of what is right with America: honesty, integrity and lack of political ambition.  He is the antithesis of what it takes to be president nowadays.

I GO POGO! Do you?

I GO POGO!   I DO, I DO!

In case you didn’t get the idea, I am not happy about this year’s choices for president.  In light of that, I am dusting off Pogo’s hat and throwing it in the ring.  Here and now I am announcing that Pogo is once again running for president.  Sure, like William Jennings Bryan and Adlai Stevenson, he is a proven loser, but Richard Milhous Nixon lost a run for the presidency in 1960 and a run for California governor in 1962, yet came back to win the presidency in 1968.  Pogo can do it, too, and I guarantee there’s no Swamp-gate waiting to wash out him out of office.  So let’s rally behind the true political outsider, the possum with nothing in his closet but striped shirts and who never offended anyone.  He’s never mishandled confidential government emails, never had a company he owned go bankrupt, never lied or changed his position on anything.  In fact, he’s never had a position on anything.  Except for a little swamp mud, he’s the truly clean candidate.  As of now, I GO POGO!

A poster from Pogo's ill-fated movie.

A poster from Pogo’s ill-fated movie.

Now, to address those who claim that no candidate can be as clean as Pogo, especially one who lives in a swamp, let me squash that mud before it’s slung.  Someone will surely bring up the rather embarrassing 1980 movie, I Go Pogo: Pogo for President.  With Walt Kelly’s wry humor combined with Pogo’s consummate knack for pithy and profound observations, it should have been great, right?  With a cast of zany character actors like Johnathan Winters, Vincent Price, Ruth Buzzi and Stan Freberg voicing the cast, it should have been a hoot, right?  Wrong.  (click here to view.)  Walt Disney brought in Mark Paul Chinoy to write the script, attempting to adapt the late Walt Kelly’s comic strips (he died in 1973) and to direct it.  Chinoy showed his lack of experience (and, I would say, talent) as well as missing the mark on capturing Kelly’s use of satire, malaprops and “swamp lingo.”  The “claymation” stop-action movie would have been far better if Warner Brothers had done an animated feature, written and directed by Chuck Jones, the creator of Marvin the Martian, Pepe LePew, the Road Runner, Wile E. Coyote and Michigan J. Frog, my favorite.  But Disney’s version was more of a Pinocchio than a One Froggy Evening (click here), a kiddie movie rather than a sophisticated satire.  All in all, it was a pretty Mickey Mouse movie.  It went straight to video and never even made the cut to DVD.  For that, Pogo is thankful.  At least it wasn’t some even more embarrassing Kardashian-like sex tape, even though Pogo didn’t wear any trousers for the entire movie.

Albert with his cigar, possibly Cuban.

Albert with his cigar, possibly Cuban.  But it now might be a legal one.

Then there are some of Pogo’s friends.  The last president from the Goober State was another Washington “outsider,” Jimmy Carter, who had questionable-banker Bert Lance and brother Billy of Billy Beer and Libyan loan fame.  Yet Jimmy’s personal reputation was never muddied with their misdeeds.  Georgia good ‘ol boys were just part of the culture.  The same is true for Pogo.  Let’s take Albert the Alligator.  Sure he smokes cigars the way Billy drank beer, and that’s no longer accepted.  Sure he gets involved with characters like Howland Owl and Churchill “Churchy” La Femme (sounds a lot like Cherchez la femme), who are also friends of Pogo, but their plans always come to naught and Pogo has never been linked to any illegal or unethical actions himself.  Just like Jimmy Carter.  And unlike some other past and possibly future presidents.  Plus Albert has never done anything but smoke his cigar, unlike a certain former president who is a current candidate’s mate.  So you can go Pogo without fear he will be accused of an impropriety.

Miz Mam'selle Hepzibah, the next First Lady?

Miz Mam’selle Hepzibah, the next First Lady?

No improprieties includes sexual ones.  Although he has been linked to a certain Miz Ma’m’selle Hepzibah, the farthest they have gone together is across the swamp for a picnic.  True, being linked to a sexy French skunk might be thought unwise by some, but let’s look at this more closely.  Jacqueline Kennedy, nee Bouvier,  was thought to be French because of her beauty, classy style and fluency in French, yet is one of the most beloved First Ladies this country ever had.  True, she was actually only 1/8 French and 1/2 Irish, but no one thinks of her as Irish and in politics, perception is everything.  While there are species-ists who will never accept Miz Ma’m’selle Hepzibah, she is half white and half black, which is rather the current thing in presidential politics.  And if anyone insulted her to her face, she’d probably raise quite a stink.  In fact, if Pogo married her, it would likely keep his critics at a distance.  A far distance.  Not only that, it would prove his complete lack of prejudice and be very PC.

So, are you ready for the next step in American politics?  Are you willing to bring in the ultimate outsider?  The best man (or woman) for the job of president is not a man or woman: it’s a possum.  Reality is highly overrated, if the slate of current candidates is an example.  Be unreal.  Be a part of a real grass roots movement and help me bring true honesty, humility and ethics into the White House in 2016.  I GO POGO!  Will you?

 

Royally Banned

You question be being king?

R L Cherry, do you question me being king now?

It’s true.  I’ve been royally banned from seeing the tweets by His Pomposity, “King” Drew Howe, the the self-proclaimed King of Mann.   I was going through old emails, dumping many, when I saw this one that told me  @JodyPaulson had tweeted, “@RL_Cherry You know what? @HoweRoyal and his lovely family have done more for tourism for the Isle of Man than you’ll ever do. #Jealous.”  Obviously, I’d offended Ms. Paulson by giving the facts on KD’s bogus claim to kingship of the Isle of Man.  I agree that he has done more for tourism.  The best thing about the dog-and-pony show that TLC presented was that it showed some of the beauty of the Isle.  I’m sure that KD getting his show helped tourism.  That begs the question about legitimacy of his claim.  However, before deleting the above mentioned email, I decided to check out what good ol’ KD was up to and went to his twitter account.  There, I was greeted with “You are blocked from following @HoweRoyal and viewing @HoweRoyal’s Tweets.”   I have officially been declared persona non grata by the pretender to the Manx throne!  If KD actually did become king, likely I would be beheaded if I ventured back to the island that was legally my home for five years.  I can’t tell you how much that pleases me.  I must have become such a threat to him that he didn’t want me to see what he tweets.  KD is still free to view my tweets, but I’m not ashamed of what I write.  In honor of my new standing, I will fire my final salvo at the Faux King of Mann.  Or Man.  TLC can’t seem to decide which spelling to use.

Sir Terry Pratchett, author of fantasies

The late Sir Terry Pratchett, author of fantasies

After finding that I was royally banned from KD’s twitter, I checked out his “official” website (click here).  I suppose KD has not figured out how to ban me from seeing it.  Yet.  The site has been cleaned up since I last saw it.  No longer are there opportunities to purchase Manx titles of nobility for tens of thousands of dollars.  No longer are there ties to the rather dubious  The Sovereign Magistral Order of the Temple of Solomon.  Now it has a brief outline of KD’s claim, info on “Suddenly Royal,” and contact info, plus a number of touching family photos.  It still states that the “UK Barrister firm Pratchetts issued an official Barrister’s Opinion further affirming the legal use and possession of the hereditary royal titles of his ancestors in relation to the Isle of Man.”  I did a little poking around.  The only listing by Solicitors and Barristers for the UK is Pratchetts, 555 Lincoln Road, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, PE1 2PB.  It also states “Please note: Please be aware that we are currently updating all our solicitor listings, and Pratchetts my(sic) no longer exist, may have merged with another law firm, or may have different contact details to those shown below.”  Further searching reveals that it has a staff of one, Ian Pratchett, and specializes in “Injury Lawyers or solicitors, Divorce Lawyers or Solicitors, accident claim solicitors, accident lawyers, Criminal Lawyers, Conveyancing Solicitors, Immigration lawyers or wills and probate experts amongst others.”  There does not seem to be a company website for Pratchetts.  Obviously, this is not an old and prestigious law firm in London that one would normally contact about establishing a claim to a British throne.  Yet this is the rusty hinge upon which KD’s claim swings.  It would have been more appropriate if KD had sought the opinion of the late Sir Terry Pratchett, the author of the “Discworld” series of fantasy novels instead of Ian Pratchett, the solicitor.

Queen Elizabeth II, the Lord of Mann

Queen Elizabeth II, the real Lord of Mann

One interesting observation is that none of those who he admits have a better claim to the throne of Mann (if there were one to claim) have stepped forward to take their place in front of him.  Obviously, they realize that it is not valid.  In fact, Robert Currey (apologies again for my previous error in your family tree) is one of those who appeared on “Suddenly Royal” when KD met with him and his family regarding a claim senior to KD’s.  Mr. Currey commented on this site that, “At no stage has anyone in our family including my grandfather claimed Lordship or Kingship of Man. As my mother, Heather Currey stated on camera the Queen is the Lord of Man. Like many other comments, this was edited out.”  Such honesty did not mesh with KD’s claim, so actual reality lost to the fantasy “reality” of TV.  Damn the truth, full fantasy ahead.

Me in my fantasy role as a Scottish soldier of fortune

Me, as my fantasy Renaissance  Faire character.  I knew it wasn’t real.

I have seen online comments about “Suddenly Royal” that say how KD is such a great family man and how delightful his wife and daughter are and I agree it seems that way.  What’s my beef?  Although KD does come across as rather crude and rude, that’s not the issue.  And if this were just a little, private fantasy of his, that would be fine since I have nothing against fantasy.  I used to enjoy going to Renaissance Faires in character as a soldier of fortune.  But I never thought my Renaissance Faire character was a real person.  I never tried to make money from it and never forced it upon other people.  Fantasy is not reality.  Except for on reality TV, like “Suddenly Royal.”  KD has made himself a public figure by being on the show with his pretension to the kingship of Mann and thus opened his fantasy claim to investigation.

I watched all the episodes of “Suddenly Royal.”  If I hadn’t been writing about it for this blog, I wouldn’t have made it.  I won’t go over old ground except to mention that he never did address the fact that, while talking about moving to the Isle of Man, KD never addressed the fact that he needed to obtain permission to do so and never did so.  Big problem.  He never covered the history of how the Stanleys were given the kingship of the Isle by the king of England and did not inherit it, then changed it to Lord of Mann and finally the Murrays, who inherited it, sold it to the Crown.  Even if he were the heir (more than doubtful), he had nothing to inherit.  Big omission.  With that quick summary of my past blogs, let’s visit the last episode of the Howe saga, “Suddenly Royal.”

Thash a niesh red.

Thaaash a niiish red.

The family discussed moving to the Isle and what kind of job KD would find without talking about the difficulty of obtaining permission from the Manx government.  Since I’ve covered so much of that already, I’m only going to talk about the “Royal Garden Party,”  the swan song for KD before he flew off into the sunset.  In other words, took a westbound plane back to America.  In the planning, Lady C and Ms. KD do a wine tasting.  Now, I’ve never known of a wine tasting with just one red, one white and one sparkling, and a full glass of each, but that’s what they did.  I guess the choices were limited and they wanted a buzz.  Lady C said that all the invitations had to be hand written.  Not true.  Even for a very formal dinner, they may be engraved.  Not only that, handwritten ones should be on proper stationery with either the sender’s address or crest engraved or printed at the top.  This party was neither formal (black tie) nor was it a meal, so Lady C displayed her lack of true understanding of proper etiquette.  Then Lord K gave a lesson in receiving one’s guests, saying a lady offers her hand to be kissed.  Rubbish!  Having met titled ladies in Scotland and on the Isle of Man, I can say that this is pure balderdash.  I’ve never seen the Queen do this in any movies or photos either.  More unreal “reality.”  But, then, neither Lady C nor Lord K are actually from Britain, nor did they inherit their titles.

The location chosen for the party was stunning, with TLC no doubt footing the bill.  Unfortunately, I never caught the name of the place or where it was on the Isle of Man, didn’t see it in the credits and couldn’t find it online.  Nigel Sperring, who was the gracious host/butler for the event, owns the well-rated Albany House B&B in Peel, but that was not the location.  Too bad, I’d like to have known where it was.  The actual “Royal Garden Party” itself was not so stunning.  I counted about 25 attendees, other than the “royal family,” and, of course, none of those were in formal attire.  Considering all the publicity the show has had and that there was free food and drink provided, it was not a very impressive number out of an island of eighty-five thousand people.  Lady C was there, but Lord K wisely bowed out.  The Manx Radio personality, Stu Peters, was the most notable of those who attended and the only member of the Fourth Estate, if you consider radio to be a part of that.  The Curreys were also there, which I found a little surprising.  A few ladies from the Women’s Institute came, but not their Federation Chairman for the Isle of Man.  No Lieutenant Governor, no Members of the House of Keys, no Deemsters, no mayors, no bishop or rectors, no finance-sector notables no movers and shakers of any sort.  And KD considered it a success.  When people or events didn’t turn out the way I’d hoped, I remember my mother-in-law used to tell me, “Lower your expectations.”   If this were a success for his run at kingship, KD’s expectations must have been low, indeed.

King George VI: the stuff real kings are made of

King George VI: the stuff real kings are made of.

Then came the king’s speech.  Too bad KD didn’t learn from the movie of that name.  He takes the stage, as it were, overdressed in black-tie, formal attire.   After a few awkward sentences, he stands there like a deer in the headlights, much like during his Manx Radio interview.  Finally, Ms. KD feeds him his lines and he stumbles through them.  At one point in the series, KD had whined, “The people were mean to me. They didn’t take me seriously.”  How could they?  I know little of “reality” TV is real, but why let himself look like such a bumbling buffoon if there were not some truth in it?  After a few seconds of silence, the crowd starts to clap.  I’m not sure if it were because of Manx politeness or some TLC tech was standing in the wings with an “APPLAUD” sign.  After the party was over, KD commented that he thought it went well.  I suppose being delusional helps when you’re claiming something that isn’t yours.  At a true Royal Garden Party, the Queen (the Lord of Mann) enters after the guests have arrived and the national anthem is played.  It is a class affair.  (click here)  The Isle of Man anthem, Arrane Ashoonagh dy Vannin or Land of Our Birth, was not played at this affair.  Odd for a Royal Garden Party.  But, then, while KD has shown a lot of class during the “Suddenly Royal” series, it was all low.

King William's College on the Isle of Man, where my daughter attended.

King William’s College on the Isle of Man, where my daughter attended.

I don’t deny TLC’s “Suddenly Royal” probably helped Isle of Man tourism by showing the beautiful scenery and that, by being the instigator, KD had a part in that.  But that was not why he did it.  He got a free vacation to the Isle for him and his family, was able to publicly air his bogus claim and, I am sure, was paid as well.  It was not to help the Isle.  So what, Ms. Paulson, is there to be jealous of?  While my contribution to tourism has only been this blog, a few lectures and personal contacts, while I lived there, I was an active part of Manx society.  I was a member of the Isle of Man Natural History and Antiquarian Society, joined the Manx Classic Car Club, served on the Parochial Church Council at Kirk Bradden, and held the position of Chieftain of the Saint Andrews Society of Ramsey.  My wife and I were also members of the Friend’s of King William’s College, where we helped raise funds for my daughter’s school by organizing events like The American Dream 50’s party and a Western line-dancing hoedown with fellow committee members.  I also taught third-form history (8th grade) there for a couple of months while the teacher recovered from a mild stroke.  We were invited twice to the Christmas reception at Governor House by the Lieutenant Governor, His Excellency Sir Timothy Daunt.  Finally, my Master’s thesis, “The English Civil War and the Manx Rebellion: A Comparison of Seventeenth-century British Revolutions,” is in the Centre for Manx Studies.  So, while I agree that I have not done a great deal for tourism on the Isle of Man, when I went there it was to live and be a part of life on the Isle.  It was not to claim to rule over the Manx and exploit the Isle for my personal gain.  But, if hell froze over and KD did become king, I would be sure to wear a steel collar if I visited again.  However, I advise KD not to quit his day job as an “auto repair adviser,” whatever that is.  The Manx are not fools.

The Seal of the Kingdoms of Elgaland-Vargaland.

The Seal of the Kingdoms of Elgaland-Vargaland.

However, I am not heartless.  Poor KD is desperate to be a king, so I have a suggestion that requires no public support.  Set up a kingdom like the Royal Kingdoms of Elgaland-Vargaland [KREV] (click here).  Swedish artists Leif Elggren (now undisputed King Leif) and Carl Michael von Hausswolff established the kingdoms in 1992.  They are “all Border Territories: Geographical, Mental & Digital.”  According to its website, the Kingdoms have a flag, constitution, citizenship, ministries, embassies and, most importantly, a gift shop.  There, anyone can buy T-shirts, stamps, recordings of the national anthem, etc.  Since their prices are far less than KD was asking for noble titles, he could actually sell some and make a profit.  His kingdom could be where one enters when having a fantasy, an area in which he has some expertise.  I would suggest Fantasia, but it’s already taken.  Perhaps the Land of Drewablank?  Or the Kingdom of Howeboutit?  Give it a thought, KD.

Vive la France!

"Puisque vous êtes un Américain , aimeriez-vous que, avec le ketchup ?"

“Puisque vous êtes un Américain, aimeriez-vous que, avec le ketchup?”

I try not to be prejudiced.  Sometimes, however, I make generalized evaluations, which is a trait of being prejudiced.  I did that with the French.  I had read accounts of rude, snooty people there (especially the waiters) and even heard personal accounts of such action.  It is not hard to find people who blog about bad Gallic experiences (click here).  True, I’d also heard the opposite from other people (including one of my sisters who studied at the University of Strasbourg for a year), but the most recent accounts were mostly negative.  So I crossed France off my list of places to visit.  Why go someplace where I wasn’t wanted?  I stated to my wife that I would never go to France.  I’d rather eat my hat than go there.

Because we use American Airlines air miles, we have to make reservations months ahead to be sure of a seat on the plane.  This year we had planned to go to Greece.  Then all the economic problems there came to a head.  It was a season of elections and plebiscites.  There was even the question of whether Greece would go off the euro.  With such uncertainty about even what money to use, it did not look like a good time to see the Acropolis.  Where to go for the year’s vacation?  After a bit of discussion about the various possibilities, I said to my wife, “How about France?”  After I picked her up off the floor from a dead faint and finished eating my fedora (Why don’t they make hats out of tortilla chips?), we started making our plans.

View from outside our apartment.

View from outside our apartment.

Although I was less than gassed by the idea of going to Paris, which I understood to be the headquarters of the rude French and overpriced food, there was no way my wife would hear of missing it, so I booked an apartment on the Île Saint-Louis, which is an island in the Seine River, right next to Île de la Cité, where Notre Dame Cathedral is located.  It was a great headquarters seeing the main tourist sites (yes, we did the tourist bit), except for Versailles, which required a short train trip.  Don’t drive in Paris unless you are a LeMans champion, have a death wish, are certifiably insane or are all of the above.  But that’s true of London and Rome as well.  Then again, I feel that way about San Francisco (where I drive as little as possible) and I’ve heard it’s also true of New York City, although I’ve never been there.

The stairs of the Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile are worth climbing.

The stairs of the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile are worth climbing.

Since this is more about the people than the sights, I will only give a quick review of what we saw.  Skip this paragraph if you’ve already been there.  We went in late October and early November, so the crowds were not as bad as high season.  We bought a museum pass, which Rick Steves recommended, but found it really only helped with the line at the Louvre, a definite must-see that not only has great European paintings and sculpture, but ancient art and artifacts from the Roman, Greek, Egyptian and Assyrian cultures.  The worst line and crowds were at Versailles Palace, making it my least favorite Paris-region site.  Its formal restaurant was good, though.  The Hôtel National des Invalides, which contains the Musée de l’Armée and Napoleon’s tomb, was well worth seeing, especially if you like military history.  Notre Dame, of course, was wonderful and free.  The Arc de Triomphe sits at the hub of twelve radiating streets and has a nice view of much of the city from the top.  Well worth it.  However, one of the radiating streets is the famous Champs-Élysées and it was a waste.  It was packed with crowds and chain stores, with almost no small shops and cafes.  Go to you local mall instead.  We saw some other sights, but these were the main ones.

Eiffel Tower at night.

Eiffel Tower at night.

What about the Eiffel Tower?  We saw it close up, but did not go up.  The lines were very long and we’d been advised it wasn’t worth it.  So we walked below it and studied it from a nearby park bench.  It was impressive.  But at night, it was spectacular.  It had lights all up the structure and there was a bit of a light show every so often.  We also saw it from a bateaux-mouche (meaning “fly boat” because they hosted many of said pests in days gone by) dinner cruise on the Seine.  It was pricey and the dinner was one of the worst we had in France, but well worth it for the comfort (we had a private table inside and it was quite cold outside) and the breath-taking beauty of seeing the City of Lights after dark.

Resto Med near our apartment, where we had galettes.  Our hostess, the blond, was fun and helpful

Resto Med near our Paris apartment, where we had galettes.  Great cider, too.  Our hostess, the blond, was lively and a kick.

Now, to the food and people: both were a delight.  Did we have any rude waiters in Paris, the so-called City of Snub?  No.  True, your waiter won’t come up and say, “My name is Damon and I’ll be your server, sweetheart.  I love that sweater.  Are you a Leo, too?”  Being a waiter is an occupation, not a job, so they try to be professional and polite.  We had two that were rather aloof and some were just average, but none that were rude or gave really poor service.  Outside of Paris, many were even better.  Now, it’s not like our chain restaurants where the idea is to get you in and out as quickly as possible.  Waiters would think it rude to rush the diners.  Simply say L’addition, s’il vous plait, and they will bring you your check.  But slow down and enjoy the experience of dining rather than just eating.  It’s a different philosophy.  And don’t always expect it “your way,” but order what is listed on the menu. We didn’t try to mess with the menu the way you do in California, asking for multiple changes to what we ordered.  I did ask them to hold the crème fraîche on my salmon galette (savory buckwheat crepe) and that was not a problem, but did not make substitutions.  That’s simply not the European or British way.  Live with it.  On the bright side, we had very good food for very reasonable prices by avoiding the “tourist trap” places and the high-cost restaurants.  Salads never had iceberg lettuce and the ubiquitous French dressing was made with shallot, Dijon mustard, salt, lemon juice, red-wine vinegar and a bit of olive oil, not that sweet, ketchup-based garbage I remembered from my childhood.  Food was no more expensive than a restaurant of the same quality here and wine was cheaper.  The most expensive meal we had was at a nice restaurant in Reims, which cost 85.40 euros, or about $93, including wine.  I’ve spent far more here for worse food and drink.  Since tax and tip were included in your restaurant tab, it was often cheaper than here.

Mont Ste Michel- stunning place, but lousy food in the village

Majestic Le Mont Saint-Michel- stunning abbey, but probably the worst eateries in all of France in the eateries in the village below.

I’ve mainly covered Paris, but Paris was not one of the high points for me.  We rented a car at the airport and drove over to Reims, down to Troyes in the Champagne region, then over to Amboise in the Loire Valley, across to Pontorson near Le Mont Saint-Michel, up to Bayeux in Normandy, over to Rouen, then back to the airport.  We used those cities as bases of operations to see the areas around them.  I did a lot of driving and was ready for the rude drivers to cut me off or go so slowly in front of me that I would scream.  I’m still looking for them.  I’m sure they were in Paris, but I didn’t drive there.  The ones I encountered were far more polite that those I see on my trips down Interstate 5 to SoCal three times a year.  Not only that, truckers never pulled in front of you just before you passed them!  The highways were better than many in California and, I have to admit, so were the drivers.  Europe and the UK drivers don’t seem to have adopted, “I’m more important than anyone else” philosophy.

The town of Amboise, viewed from the chateau on the hill.

The delightful town of Amboise, viewed from the chateau on the hill above.

But what about people other than waiters and drivers?  In Paris on Saturday, after seeing Napoleon’s tomb we were looking for a place for lunch, but some were closed in that area.  I was standing on the sidewalk, trying to find a place with my smart phone and a map, when a fellow in running gear came up to us and said something in French.  “I don’t speak French,” I said.  “Do you need help?” he asked.  “We’re trying to find a restaurant,” I told him.  He laid out all the options and told us of a nearby recommendation.  We went there and had a good meal.  A Frenchman took pity on a couple of obvious tourists.  In Amboise, I went into a boulangerie, or bakery, in the early morning to buy breakfast.  The man behind the counter did not speak English and my French was not much better.  Using charades, I made my selection and pulled out a 5 euro note.  Since I could not understand the price he told me, I figured that was safe.  He said something and pointed at a small tray on the counter.  It had the hours for the boulangerie.  I checked my watch and, yes, he should be open, so I again offered my money.  Again, he pointed at the tray.  After a moment, he took my money and put the change in the tray.  The elevator hit the top floor and I realized he was trying to tell me I was supposed to put the money in the tray, that there was a proper way  to pay.  But he had given in to my ignorance.  I touched the side of my head, showing it had finally gotten through, and nodded with a grin.  He laughed and nodded back.  I was in his country unable to speak his language and not following the normal procedure, but he took it well and we laughed together.  That was far from rude.

Proudly standing next tot the man who I greatly admire, Lord Lovat.  I wore clothes like this and seemed to fit in well.

Proudly standing next to the man who I greatly admire, the late Lord Lovat, at Sword Beach, Normandy. In France, I wore clothes like I am wearing here and seemed to fit in reasonably well.

What’s my take on all this?  The French are not rude.  I am sure there are rude French, just as there are rude Americans.  I am sure there are French who have a strong dislike for Americans, just as there are Americans who have a strong dislike for the French.  But when you meet people one-on-one and don’t “cop an attitude,” it’s surprising how nice they can be.  I went to France knowing that it was their country and they did not have to be nice to me.  I tried to be polite to them and was surprised at how they responded.  I tried to fit in as much as possible, struggling with the few words of French I knew, and they seemed to appreciate that.  I even took up the scarf (no, not berets) that so many Frenchmen wore because I liked it and was several times taken for a Frenchman by the French.   Until I spoke, that is.  A good friend gave me a sound piece advice: when you go into a store, always greet the shopkeeper with bonjour (if it’s daytime, but bonsoir) and say au revoir when leaving.  It’s the polite thing to do and all the French do it.  If you’re going to France, don’t be the Ugly Americans (whom we saw a few times on our trip) and expect the French to kiss up to you ( a French kiss?), but realize it’s their country and you are merely a visitor.  You might be surprised at how well you are received.  I was.

 

Requiem for an Artist: Mahlon Fawcett

Moment of glory- Lonnie introduced at the Roamin Angel breakfast before the car show

Rare moment of glory-
Lonnie introduced at the Roamin Angel breakfast before the car show.  I loaned him one of my Vette shirts.

It’s Christmas time.  For many years, my good friend, Mahlon Fawcett, known as Lonnie, would come up to our house in Lake Arrowhead for our annual Christmas party.  Although that has been many years ago, my mind wanders back to those parties and my friend who will not be celebrating Christmas this year.  He is no longer on this earth, but I will not let him be forgotten.  If you are on this website, you’ve met him.  He did all the banners for my website.  His zany sense of humor and off-the-wall ideas come through them, as they often did in his work.  Perhaps that limited the appeal of certain pieces he did.  Yet he would do commissioned work, even Disney characters for a child’s room.  He did great drawings of film notables like Jimmy Stewart, James Cagney, Basil Rathbone and even Harrison Ford for me that hang in my pool room.  Although he knew almost nothing about cars, he enjoyed doing caricatures of car people in their hot rods and classic cars at the annual Roamin Angels car shows.  He loved drawing and would do almost anything requested.  His passion was his art.

Lonnie titled this one "Bomber's Moon."

Lonnie titled this one “Bomber’s Moon.”

I met Lonnie in the early ’80’s.  John, his brother, worked for me as a tow truck driver.  Finding out that I had an interest in Sci-fi, he told me about Lonnie’s work and brought in a few pieces to show me, which I bought.  I kept asking John to meet his brother, but he said that Lonnie was a recluse who hated meeting people.  For a year or so, John would occasionally bring in pieces Lonnie had done and I would buy them.  Then, out of the blue, I got a call from Lonnie asking me to meet him.  I went to his small trailer, where he showed me more of his work and asked me if I was interested in anything.  When I hesitated, he said, “Just give me what you think it’s worth.”  That was Lonnie.  He loved to draw, but hated marketing himself.  As it turned out, brother John told Lonnie I was making him give the art to him, so Lonnie never got any of the money.  But Lonnie’s phone call ended that scam.  And, as Bogie said to Louis in Casablanca, it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.  Did I mention that Lonnie loved old movies even more than I do and could do voice impersonations of many of the old actors?  He did.

Time Travel ala  Lonie

Time Travel ala Lonnie

Over the years, Lonnie and I became good friends.  I tried to promote him and his art.  We went to a San Diego ComicCon in 1986, where he sold art at a table there.  Unfortunately, people there were looking for comic books, not original art.  I got him a review by Disney, which didn’t pan out for unknown reasons.  I got him an interview with DIC Entertainment that went quite well.  The very young executive we met with loved Lonnie’s art and described a new series that he thought Lonnie could do.  Lonnie and I both were on Cloud 9 when we left.  I kept telling Lonnie to do a follow-up call, but he felt it would be too pushy.  Then, months later, the series came out without Lonnie.  I tell this tale to demonstrate two facts: I believed in Lonnie, but he did not have enough self-confidence to push open the doors.  In retrospect, I feel guilt that I did not do more pushing for him because I could see he would not.  If I had, maybe Lonnie would have had a successful career in animation.  I’ll never know.

To understand a person, know his upbringing.  Lonnie’s father died when he was a teenager.  His mother was an alcoholic.  When he was an adult, she married a two-time convicted child abuser whom she chose over Lonnie.  Then there was his brother, John, who had been telling Lonnie that I was forcing him to give the artwork to me to keep his job.  His only romantic interest Lonnie married, but they soon separated and never met each other again.   I have no idea who she was or where she now is.  Out of this came a man who was kind and gentle, living to draw.  Lonnie was a big man when we met, over six feet and maybe 230 pounds, but never used his size to intimidate.  He was a good soul.

Christmas card Lonnie drew with my '72 Vette

“Sorry, Comet, if you want to be Robin, you’ve got to wear tights”  A Christmas card Lonnie drew for me with my ’72 Vette

Lonnie had no formal art training, but had natural talent and taught himself.  His passion for his art knew no bounds.  He would rather starve than forsake his calling.  At times, he nearly did.  I would give him money, but he always made sure he did something in return.  Any idea of a picture, any concept I had of a drawing he gladly did.  He gave as much as he received, probably more.  He did drawings of me as the Crusader he loved, back against the wall, bloodied but not defeated.  I asked him to do it after a trying day at work and it hangs on my wall in my office now.  He did Christmas cards with all the cars I owned over the years,  Anything that I asked, he did and did well.  I had so many panels he’d made that I gave a number of them back to him to sell.  Sadly, he entrusted them for consignment sale to Jim Van Hise who was, at best, very tardy on payments and who is now selling Lonnie’s artwork for which he never paid Lonnie a dime.  DO NOT BUY THESE ON eBay!!  If you love his work, I have his best pieces in my collection.  I will make copies of ones I have and have you send the money to a charity he appreciated in his honor.  I will only take the cost of reproduction and furnish proof of that amount.  Contact me if you are interested.

Star Wars tribute,  Obi-wan, are you there?

Star Wars tribute, Obi-wan, are you there?

Over the years, Lonnie spent time with us at our home.  I like to feel that we became the family he never had.  When he came up to Lake Arrowhead for our annual Christmas party, he participated in the video-taping we did of spoofed commercials.  He taped voice impersonations of John Wayne, Obi-wan Kenobi (Sir Alec Guinness), Humphrey Bogart and Alfred the Batman’s butler for our answering machine.  He got to see snow for the first time at our house.  His R2-D2 snowman sculpture was exquisite.   When my family and I moved to the Isle of Man, my sister and her husband had a farewell party.  It was a nostalgia theme and everyone participated in lip-syncing to a Moldie Oldie.  I have a video recording of Lonnie mouthing the soprano solo of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” with his group.  I still laugh.

Typical cars how caracature

Typical car show caricature of me and my T-Bird

After we moved overseas, things did not go well for Lonnie.  He had his demons, mainly drink and tobacco. Drink cost him his place to stay and maybe along with his diet, his life in the long run.  But he did conquer alcoholism after becoming a Christian, totally abstaining.  However, the long-term effects might have caused his diabetes.  Tobacco kept its hold on him as long as I knew him, but at least he did not die of lung cancer.  After we moved back stateside, we had him come up to visit us for the Roamin Angel car shows in September.  It gave him a sense of validation to hear the praise for the drawings he did.  For several years, it was a vacation for him.  The only ones he ever really had.  But it didn’t last.

Lonnie doing waht he loved most at the 2003 Roamin Angel car show: creating his art.

Lonnie doing what he loved most at the 2003 Roamin Angel car show: creating his art.

Lonnie, bested by ill health and infection, ended up in an extended care facility.  I watched as he deteriorated, finally ending up in a motorized wheelchair.  Yet his mind and his talent remained alive.  I visited him when I was in SoCal, taking him to breakfast.  He relished the real eggs, sausage and hash-browns that he did not get “inside.” He talked about the art he did for people who lived with him or cared for him, oft times for little or nothing.  He taught kids how to draw, calling them his students.  His goal was to inspire them with the same love of drawing that he had.  And he did, a real success for him.  Money was never the reason for his drawing, but rather the love of creating.  Greed was unknown to Lonnie.

 

The last Christmas Card Lonnie drew for me.

“Merry Christmas, Santa.  We thought one Moldie Oldie deserved another!”  The last Christmas card Lonnie drew for me.

I was in France when I got a message on my home phone to call the facility where he lived.  Because the facility only had my home phone, they had been trying to get me for a couple of days before I retrieved the messages.  Lonnie had died on October 27th after an operation to remove one of his feet because of infection.  Having been out of the country, I never knew he was going into the hospital.  I was the only person Lonnie had given any authority to for his affairs and they did not know what to do with his meager belongings.  Linda Gutman, a kind lady from his church, handled everything for me, even though she had not known him that well.  Lonnie is gone, but will never be forgotten.  People who have his art will see him whenever that look at his drawings.  Every time I sit in my office, working on my computer and every time I walk through the pool room, I remember him.  While he never achieved greatness in the eyes of the world, he did in mine.  And he was a good friend.  Merry Christmas, Lonnie.

 

 

 

Alice in Wonderland

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland A early edition

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
An early edition

This is Alice’s 150th birthday and she certainly doesn’t show her age.  You’d never believe she’s a day over 100.  Like the brainy Athena from the skull of Zeus, Alice sprang from the imagination of  Lewis Carroll.  While oft mistakenly considered merely children’s books, both Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (shortened to Alice in Wonderland) and its sequel, Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Saw There (shortened to Through the Looking Glass) are not simplistic.  True, they can be taken on the children’s level, where they are amusing and entertaining.  Queen Victoria enjoyed Alice so much that she sent for all Lewis Carroll’s other books and was surprised to receive mathematics treatises.  You see, Lewis Carroll, the pen name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, was an Oxford don of mathematics.  Droll, erudite wit permeated both books.  Even his pen name is a reversal of the Latin translation of his first and middle names.  Originally, he planned to use an anagram of them, Edgar Cuthwellis, but his publisher thankfully nixed that idea.  So Charles translated his names to Carolus Ludovicus, then swapped them around and Anglicized them to Lewis Carroll.  Simple, eh?

Alice Liddell at 8 years old July 1860

Alice Liddell at 8 years old
July 1860

Although books have been written about why he penned Alice’s tales and what then happened, the short version is that the bachelor don took the  three daughters of his friend and college dean, Henry George Liddell, out rowing on July 4th, 1862.  Ten-year old Alice, the middle child, begged him to tell them a story.  He spun a fanciful tale about a young girl named Alice who followed a white rabbit down a hole to Wonderland.  At Alice’s urging, he put it on paper.  The working title was Alice’s Adventures Under Ground.  Fortunately, Carroll was persuaded to change it because the book might be thought to have something to do with mining, but he did give a handwritten copy with that title to Alice in 1863.  Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was published on November 26th, 1865.  While Dodgson expected to sell about 400 books, it was soon a runaway hit.  It continues to have many incarnations, including ones by Disney, Depp and even a porno version.  Alice’s tales have become a mainstay of children’s (and adult) fiction.

Humpty Dumpty sitting on a wall

Humpty Dumpty sitting on a wall before the fall

All this is nice, but so what?  It doesn’t make these books of enduring quality or Mensa standing.  Although Dodgson was a mathematician, there are no profound formulas or theorems of great repute in the two books.  Instead, it is the way he uses the English language, the banter and brilliance, the puns and portmanteaus that stand the test of time.  Consider that scrambled egghead, Humpty Dumpty, who uses “glory” to describe a “nice knock-down argument,” in Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Saw There.  It sounds like nonsense, right?  Yet it had to do with a linguistic debate as to whether words have an intrinsic meaning that is inbuilt and inherent or whether they can be defined or redefined at will.  When Carroll wrote the books, there was a strong school of linguistic thought that words had an intrinsic meaning.  Few now follow that school and the other view seems to be what we now follow.  “Cool” has nothing to do with temperature, but with popular acceptance.  “Sweet” doesn’t describe the sugar content of a food, but means “cool.”  “Ill” doesn’t mean sick, but “cool” or “sweet.”  Who knows what the newest and latest word will be tomorrow.  Since traditional dictionaries cannot keep pace with this rapid “evolution,” there are even “urban dictionaries” to help you keep up on this ever-changing patois of the youth culture, since yesterday’s youth are today’s AARP.  The upshot, it seems, is that Humpty was right when he said, “When I use a word, . . . it means just what I chose it to mean.”   An existential etymology.  Meaning of words do change over time, although that has been greatly accelerated in the last few decades.  Not exactly the stuff of a children’s book.

Jabberwocky. The stuff that fantasy is made of.

Jabberwocky.
The stuff that fantasy is made of.

Another bit of linguistic wit is the poem “Jabberwocky,” which I can still stumble through  by memory to this day.  Again, it is from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Saw There and found by Alice in a book.  It is a masterpiece of pun and portmanteau words.  In fact, Carroll first coined that phrase for “two meanings packed up into one word.”   A portmanteau is a small suitcase with two equal compartments (ever hear of one now?), so Carroll used it to describe two words combined into one with elements of both.  Who does not understand that a motel is a motorists hotel?  Or that a brunch is a combination of breakfast and lunch?  Even the air many breathe has long been smog, or smoke and fog.  But the list keeps growing, with Labradoodle (Labrador Retriever/poodle mix) and frappuccino (frappe/cappuccino blend) now common parlance.  But grue as green and blue?   Chuggers from charity and muggers, meaning people who accost you for contributions for their favorite cause?  To me, chuggers were guys who downed mugs of beer quickly.  But I’m obviously dated.   I could go on, but there are far too many to list here.  And all this came from Lewis Carroll.  Consider this poem, which I quote in full because I like it and it’s my blog.  Hmmm.  My web log?

 Jabberwocky

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
      Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
      And the mome raths outgrabe.
“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
      The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
      The frumious Bandersnatch!”
He took his vorpal sword in hand;
      Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree
      And stood awhile in thought.
And, as in uffish thought he stood,
      The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
      And burbled as it came!
One, two! One, two! And through and through
      The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
      He went galumphing back.
“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
      Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
      He chortled in his joy.
’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
      Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
      And the mome raths outgrabe.
While it may seem like nonsense words, Carroll had specific meanings in mind for some of them, which he has Humpty Dumpty explain.  Some are portmanteau words, some are variations or derivations of normal words and some are whimsys.  Here is Humpty’s explanations.
  • “Brillig”: four o’clock in the afternoon — the time when you begin broiling things for dinner.
  • “Slithy”: lithe and slimy. ‘Lithe’ is the same as ‘active’.
  • “Toves”: curious creatures that are something like badgers, something like lizards, and something like corkscrews. They make their nests under sun-dials and live on cheese.
  • “To gyre”: to go round and round like a gyroscope.
  • “To gimble”: to make holes like a gimblet.
  • “Wabe”: the grass-plot round a sun-dial. It is called like that because it goes a long way before it, and a long way behind it. And a long way beyond it on each side.
  • “Mimsy”: flimsy and miserable
  • “Borogove”: a thin shabby-looking bird with its feathers sticking out all round; something like a live mop.
  • “Mome rath”: a ‘rath’ is a sort of green pig. Humpty Dumpty is not certain about the meaning of ‘mome’, but thinks it’s short for “from home”; meaning that they’d lost their way.
  • “To outgrabe”: ‘outgribing’ is something between bellowing and whistling, with a kind of sneeze in the middle.

The question I posit is that, even without an explanation of the words, do you understand the action, the basic concept?  The words bring images to mind, perhaps a little different for each reader.  Vorpal sword.  Manxome foe.  Uffish thought.  Snicker-snack.  Beamish boy.  You get a feeling for the intent without fully understanding the meaning.  It is a masterful stroke of lexical lightheartedness.

Cheshire Cat Pheline Philosopher or Feline Filosofer?

Cheshire Cat
Pheline Philosopher or
Feline Filosofer?

I tend to menander (mentally wander) a bit, so I will close with another favorite of mine, the Cheshire cat from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.  He explains to Alice why he is mad.

“And how do you know that you’re mad?”    “To begin with,” said the Cat, “a dog’s not mad. You grant that?”                                   I suppose so, said Alice.                        “Well then,” the Cat went on, “you see a dog growls when it’s angry, and wags its tail when it’s pleased. Now I growl when I’m pleased, and wag my tail when I’m angry. Therefore I’m mad.”

In other words, madness (insanity, not anger) is going against expected behavior, not diminished mental capabilities.  By such a standard, I am happily mad. When Alice asks him which road to take, he gives her another delightfully illogically logical answer that pretty much sums up the way many live their lives.

Alice asked the Cheshire Cat, who was sitting in a tree, “What road do I take?”
The cat asked, “Where do you want to go?”
“I don’t know,” Alice answered.
“Then,” said the cat, “it really doesn’t matter, does it?”

Try explaining these concepts to an eight-year-old.  Yet an eight-year-old can enjoy Alice’s adventures without worrying about deeper meanings.  That is the genius of Lewis Carroll.  Happy birthday, Alice.  You look marvetastic.

 

Suddenly Royal, or Suddenly Stupid

Well, here we go again.  In the latest episode, “King” David, or Drew, talked many times about wanting to move to the Isle of Man permanently and getting a job driving taxi and/or being on the radio.  It is pure bunk.  I moved there with my family in 1994.  At the time, I had the personal recommendation of the British Consul and still had to write what was, in effect, an essay explaining why it would be good for the Isle to let me in.  I had heard that it was even more difficult to be admitted now, so I checked it out.

Isle of Man 1994 Yearbook, which KD obviously never read.

Isle of Man 1994 Yearbook, which KD obviously never read.

The only chance KD has is General Migrant, since his claim of kinship is not a grandparent, which is the most distant relative allowed for claiming kinship.  According to the official Isle of Man government site (not KD’s “official” site), requirements for “indefinite leave to remain” on the Isle under General Migrant are (click here):

The applicant must have spent a continuous period of 5 years lawfully in the Isle of Man, of which the most recent period must have been spent with leave as a Tier 1 (General) Migrant, in any combination of the following categories:
(i) as a Tier 1 (General) Migrant,
(ii) as a Highly skilled Migrant,
(iii) as a Work Permit Holder,
(iv) [Not used],
(v) [Not used],
(vi) as a Writer, Composer or Artist,
(vii) as a Tier 2 (General) Migrant, a Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) Migrant or a Tier 2 (Sportsperson) Migrant, or
(viii) as a Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) Migrant

Work permit holders don’t include taxi drivers or “radio personalities,” obviously, so what are his chances of getting a temporary “right to remain” under that category and hanging in for 5 years to make it permanent?  Since the changes to the law in 2010, they are nil.  Here’s what it says:                                                                                                            Tier 1 (General) Migrants                                                                                                   This route is now closed except for indefinite leave to remain applications.
That means that unless he was already there as a General Migrant in 2010 when the law was changed, that road onto the Isle is closed to him.  Thank God.

Perhaps KD might be able to hold a job for 30-48 days, but that’s it.  So it’s all a joke, just like KD.  No immigration, no job.  It looks like he didn’t check it out, TLC didn’t check it out or they both ignored the laws.  Most likely, there was no intention of KD and family moving to the IOM, just making a little “Reality TV” drama.A real knighting by a king.

Then came KD”s plan for an “investiture” of “knights,” an incredible farce.  Lord K thought it was a good idea.  Since he bought his title and KD has previously tried to sell “knighthoods” as “King of Mann” for 40,000 pounds, perhaps he thought he would get a kick-back for titles sold.  But KD had a hard time giving them away.  Stu Peters, a personality on Manx Radio accepted, possibly taking the mick out (pulling the leg) of KD, because it would make an interesting radio program.  Mol Holmes, the kind fellow who loaned KD a bathtub for the Castletown Tin Bath Race, refused.  Typically a Manxman who says much with few words, he merely stated, “That’s pushing it a bit.”  But “Push” is KD’s middle name.  Or one of them.  I have a few more I could add.

After a ludicrous rehearsal at the ruins of Peel Castle (not named in the show), he decides to ask his “royal etiquette expert,” Lady Cruella, I mean Lady C, if he should go through with it.  For once, I agreed with her.  “That is the official act of an acknowledged monarchy,” she told him.  “You are not an acknowledged monarch.  You are a claimant.  No phony investitures.”  The whale started to blubber.  “I don’t want to be an embarrassment,” he said.  WHAT!  That’s all he is.  Without embarrassment, he wouldn’t exist.  Lady C notes that European men don’t break into tears so easily.  It should be noted that neither to American men with cajones.

You're live on Manx Radio!

You’re live on Manx Radio!

I did love when Stu Peters interviewed him on Manx Radio.  Promised knighthood or not, the velvet glove was off the mailed fist.  As KD sat, doing some spastic boogie with his hands before the interview, he bragged about not preparing.  It was soon obvious.  Stu stated that the House of Keys had categorically rejected KD’s claim, then asked KD three things he would do as king, if they suddenly did an about-face.  KD was like a deer in the headlights, sitting there with a typically stupid look on his face and saying nothing.  Finally, Stu threw him a bone, asking if he would reduce income taxes.  KD took the bait and said he would reduce them.  Guess what?  the Isle of Man is a tax haven, having taxes far lower than the UK or Ireland, and the USA.  With a maximum rate or 20% and no capital gains or inheritance taxes, many rich seek to live there for that reason.  But KD was too stupid to even check out such basics about his “kingdom.”  His closing statements were well-considered to win friends and influence people, especially the Manx.  “I am the king.  That’s a fact,” he pronounced on air.  “You’d better get used to it.  I’m the king and I’m here to stay.”  Afterwards, when talking with his wife, he said he thought the interview went okay.  Another case of a grand delusion.

KD continued to display lack of class, and poor taste to the end of the episode.  When it came to taking his wife out for a special night on the town, what did KD and his wife wear?  Jeans.  While America is more casual in attire than the Isle of Man, we are not all slobs.  When we lived on the Isle and went to a quality restaurant, I wore a coat and tie.  And not with jeans.  Maybe he was taking Pam to that Scottish restaurant in Douglas: McDonald’s.  Probably splurged and bought her a Big Mac.  And three for himself, to maintain his impressive physique.  Or should that be Himself?

In closing, let me quote from other sources on the Net and comment.

According to Fox News:  Howe filed a claim with Her Majesty’s Stationary Office on Dec. 20, 2006, they published the claim in Queen Elizabeth II’s paper of record, the London Gazette, and after no one objected, they sent him a crown, robe and anointing spoon for the ceremony, he said. “It kind of blew up into something big,” Howe said. “I’m certainly not challenging the Queen’s authority or sovereignty over the island. I haven’t amassed an army or anything like that to invade, so I’m certainly not a threat at all.”

I'm your king.  Resistance is futile.

I’m your king. Resistance is futile.

Although I’ve already discussed why no one responded, who the heck sent him “a crown, a robe and an anointing spoon?”  I will go out on a limb here and definitely state it wasn’t the Queen.  As to KD not “amassing an army,” I’d love to see him and any idiots he might garner to invade the Isle go up against the United Kingdom Special Forces.   Really.  I’d love to see it.  Actually, the Manx wouldn’t need any help from the UK to kick his “royal” butt.

According to TLC, KD got an invitation to the Duke and Duchess’s royal wedding.  Why hasn’t he shown it anywhere, including on his official website (Click here)?  Smoke and mirrors, smoke and mirrors.

Next time I’m going to address KD’s ties to The Sovereign Magistral Order of the Temple of Solomon.  One good joke deserves another.  Or, to paraphrase the quote attributed to Admiral Farragut, “History and facts be damned, full speed ahead.”

King of Mann

Since my last entry, I watched the latest Suddenly Royal episode and had to fire another salvo.  His Royal Buffooness has kept up the pace, I’ll say that.  First he smokes the clutch on a motorhome he rents in what looks like the first few miles.  The motorhome looked fairly new, so the clutch would have been, too.  He should have let his wife drive if he’s so incompetent with a manual transmission.  I wonder who has to pay for repairs.  That, however, was not what really irritated me.  The two things that got to me were the TT Races and King Orry.

“King” Dave’s “royal secretary” Lord Kiss-up, I mean Kevin, tells KD (my new designation for “King” Dave) that he will have entry to the VIP hospitality suite for the hoi polloi because of his status.  Upon arrival, Lord K tells KD that it fell through at the last minute, hinting that it was a plot against his kingship.  KD notes a security person that would keep him out.  Bull.  Anyone can get into the VIP suite who buys the VIP Club package.  (Click here for the one for the race KD went to)  Either Lord K was too cheap to buy the ticket, they were sold out or TLC thought it would be dramatic.  Perhaps all three.  As a consolation, KD gets to ride in a car with a professional stunt driver at high speed around the TT course.  Anyone can do that when the races aren’t being run for the day and, with no speed limits unless posted, it’s legal to go as fast as you want in sections.  I drove it in my ’63 Vette at some pretty high speeds when I lived there, so I know.  Since the Manx have a rigorous driver’s test (17% pass rate, including retests, when I took mine and passed on the first go) and traffic laws (there will always be a ticket for an accident, since someone was driving unsafely), they have surprisingly few accidents.  Notice that KD didn’t drive.  I guess TLC learned his competency with the motorhome incident.  Also notice he did not go with a TT racer.  They have sidecar racers, but they didn’t have KD ride on one of those bikes, probably for the same reason.

King Orry

King Orry

Then came KD’s trip to King Orry’s grave to honor his ancestor.  His ancestor?  I thought he was related to an English Earl, not a Celtic-Norse king.  And a semi-legendary one at that.  I wonder how he did that genealogy.  Then KD identifies King Orry as Godred Haroldson (as is speculated by a few historians), but A.W. Moore, in his authoritative A History of the Isle of Man, does not.  I suppose a king doesn’t need to read the history of his kingdom any more than he needs to prove his lineage.  Since KD can claim to be descended from a legendary king without proof, I can now reveal that I am descended from King Arthur and want my kingdom, too.  Prove I’m wrong.

Queen Elizabeth II, "nobility within the Royal House of Mann" according to "King" David

Queen Elizabeth II is “nobility within the Royal House of Mann” according to “King” David

However, what really frosted my corn flakes was when I stumbled upon his website, http://www.kingdomofmann.org/   It deserves a full broadside.  Here’s a direct quote: The dynastic Royal House of Mann has legalized status and recognition as an autonomous part of the United Kingdom constitutional monarchy system, by royal assent and proclamation of Queen Elizabeth II in 2007, having binding effect by force of law. It was legalized as the “Independent Kingdom of Mann”, establishing and confirming it as a separate historical institution with its own sovereignty, that predates the UK system.   Let’s study this claim.  First, when did the Queen give royal assent and proclamation about KD’s claim?  He posted it in the London Gazette (not owned by the Queen, as stated in the show) and no one responded.  That doesn’t make it a legitimate claim.  The Queen doesn’t create monarchies and if she responded to every wack job that made claims of royalty, nobility, etc., it would lend them a legitimacy that they don’t have.  Better to ignore the little pests and let them fade away, as so many do.  There is no “binding force of law” here.  Where did KD come up with that?  It surely wasn’t from the Manx people.  The House of Keys (Manx elected parliament) has confirmed that the Queen is the Lord of Man and that there is no king!  For him to claim to be king is to go against the will of the very people he claims kingship over.  Perhaps the Manx need to handle this unwanted king the way the French handled Louis XVI.  He also mentions that the Kingdom of Mann predates the UK (United Kingdom).  So what?  The kingdoms of Scotland, Ireland and Wales also did.  That has nothing to do with anything.  The Isle of Man is not and never was a part of the UK, but is a Crown Dependency.  It has no more ever been a part of the UK than the USA was.  This paragraph shows that KD doesn’t even know the governmental status of the Isle of which he claims to be king.  I could go on about this joke of a website, but suffice it to say it is all as ignorant as that example paragraph.

One parting shot at the website is an official-looking UN logo and text on the right side that says, “The Dynastic Royal House of HRH Prince David, King of Mann, is recognized and supported by United Nations (UN) Non Governmental Organizations (NGO)”  The NGO listings include organizations like Baha’i International Community, The Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute and World Young Women’s Christian Association, to name just a few, but has nothing to do with governments (as noted in its name).  So what that has to do with KD’s claim, I have no idea.  However, I went to the list and The Dynastic Royal House of HRH Prince David, King of Mann was not on it!  Click here to see for yourself.  Making false claims is not nice.  But then, that seems the modus operandi of KD.  I suppose he never expected to have anyone actually check him out.

 

 

Suddenly Royal

Coat of arms of the Isle of Man

Coat of arms of the Isle of Man                    “However you throw me, I will stand”

When my wife told me she’d recorded a new program on the grossly misnamed The Learning Channel (TLC) entitled Suddenly Royal about an American who is trying to claim his title as the King of Man, I was appalled.  We had lived there for five years and I did my Masters’ thesis about the Isle of Man during the 17th century and read a lot of Manx history.  I knew his claim was rubbish, at best.  However, we decided to watch it for the scenery of a place that was near and dear to our hearts.  Sadly, so far we’ve seen too much of “King” David “Drew” Howe and far too little scenery.

Bonnie Prince Charlie A Pretender With A Real Claim

Bonnie Prince Charlie
A Pretender With A Real Claim

So, you may have seen King Ralph and think it’s a similar case, a long-lost relative inherits the throne when everyone else suddenly kicks the bucket.  Not so.  Drew had his ancestry done and found out that he is the direct line descendant of Lord Thomas Stanley, the last man to hold the title of King of Man.  I’m assuming that’s what he found, but no proof of this has ever been provided.  I’m reminded of “Prince” Michael Stewart, who I met in 1990.  He was a pretender (unproven claimant) to the throne of Scotland, saying that he was descended from an unrecorded, yet legitimate, son of Bonnie Prince Charlie.  He refused to show me his proof, saying the Queen didn’t have to prove her claim.  Ever hear of him?  I thought not.  Last I knew, he was still living in a one-room apartment in Edinburgh.  Maybe I’ll tell more of his story another time.

Drew was an “auto-service manager” living in Frederick, MD, when he found out about his “royalty.”  He posted an official claim to be the King of Man in the London Gazette in 2007 and, because no one protested, it’s official now.  Or so he says.  “Prince” Michael Stewart did the same thing decades ago.  Since he is now universally recognized the King of Scotland, that must work.  Right.  I’m thinking of posting a notice there that I’m the King of Sky.  I mean Skye.  Medialife MagazineOne definition of the word “pretender” is “a person who pretends.”  Another is “a claimant to a throne.”   On the show, he’s a pretender in the first sense.  He pretends to believe that his claim isn’t silly and that he’s going to the island not because he’s being paid to by the TV show but because he’s trying to press his claim.  He and his wife, Pam, and their 12-year-old daughter, Grace, pretend that the things they do and the things that happen to them aren’t set up for the cameras.  Drew says, “A couple days ago, the local paper on the Isle of Man came out attacking me.”

Hmmm.  I wonder how’d I’d feel about someone claiming ownership of all of California because of a Spanish land grant?

World Tin Bath Championship in Castletown

World Tin Bath Championship, Castletown            Photo by BBC News

Drew sets off to win the hearts of the Manx people by entering the Isle of Man Tin Bathtub Race in Castletown.  Organizer David Collister described it as, “People just like to have fun and the spectators come because they like to see people get wet and they like to see people sink.  It’s two hours of family fun and slapstick entertainment involving household tin baths that your granny will have used in front of the fire.”  Drew dresses in a clownish king costume and participates.  I guess that, since the Queen did not, that makes him a winner.  Or a wiener.  Definitely a pretender in the first sense.

If “King” Drew wanted to participate in an event that would gain the respect of the Manx people, he should try the long-running, world-famous TT Motorcycle Road Race.  There’s nothing slapstick about it and it takes real cajones to ride in it.  Click here to find out why.

However, he is advised on how to be the new “King of Man” by two upstanding members of the British nobility and long term Manx residents: Lady Colin Campbell and Lord Kevin Couling.  Well, maybe not.  First neither of them live on the Isle of Man.  Secondly, there is a matter of character.  You be the judge.

In spite of her name, Lady Colin Campbell is not Scottish.  Lady Colin Campbell, a.k.a. Lady Poison Pen, was previously Georgia Ziadie.  She was born in Jamaica to a Lebanese father and English, Irish, Portuguese and Spanish mother.  She had a terrible childhood and her marriage to Lord Colin Campbell, younger brother of the Duke of Argyll, was just as bad.  It lasted fourteen months and she divorced him, claiming abuse and that he was a drunken addict.  Yet, she continues using his name forty years later.  Why?  Perhaps because it does give her more credibility as a writer of exposés of the Royals, from whence comes the Lady Poison Pen title.

According to the Daily MailWe are talking in the wake of a vociferous outcry in the media this week at the salacious and utterly unsubstantiated allegations in her new book The Untold Life Of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.
If she doesn’t draw definitive conclusions in the book, she does hold all manner of gossip up to the light for examination.
For one thing, she suggests that the Queen Mother — as well as her younger brother David — was the natural child of her father and the family cook, Marguerite Rodiere, because her mother was too fragile to have another baby after a nervous breakdown following the death of one of her older children.
The second bombshell is that the present Queen and her late sister Princess Margaret were conceived by artificial insemination, because their mother didn’t like sex . . . .
She points out in her book that the artificial insemination story has been doing the rounds as a rumour in some circles for years (which is certainly true) and that she had it ‘from several sources’.
Which, naturally, doesn’t mean it’s true.  And, happily for her, since all the players are now dead, no one can prove the point one way or the other.
There is no doubt that she loves to shock and can be horribly poisonous. Indeed, much of what Lady Colin says should, I suspect, be taken with a large pinch of salt.

No doubt, she sees “KIng” Drew as a way to get more publicity for her books, as well as a paycheck from TLC.  But surely the soft-spoken Lord Kevin Couling, who Drew said, “works with a lot of royal families,” is far better.  Right?  I’ll let the press describe him and his companion.  Mrs. Victoria Ayling.

According to the Mail on Sunday: Victoria Ayling, a high-profile ‘trusted ally’ of UKIP leader Nigel Farage, joined the openly racist party and attended its rallies as a student, according to her former husband, a friend and even her own mother.
A Mail on Sunday investigation has also discovered Mrs Ayling is being investigated by police after allegedly making abusive comments about her former husband – who is a transvestite.
The Mail on Sunday can also reveal that Mrs Ayling and her new partner, Lord Kevin Couling – who purchased his title, the 64th Lord of Little Neasden (my emphasis)– are also being investigated by police for an alleged hate crime against Mr Ayling.

But does “Lord” Kevin agree with Mrs. Ayling’s politics?  Spiegel online quotes him:
“Nowadays, you almost have to be ashamed to be British,” says her (Mrs Ayling) partner, Kevin Couling.  In school, children learn a great deal about the Holocaust and the women’s suffrage movement, he says, but not much about the country’s history. “They can’t even name the British kings.”  Besides, says Couling, Polish and Latvian immigrants are taking away jobs in the asparagus fields.

I feel sorry for all those native-born British who lost their asparagus-picking jobs to a bunch of Slavs.  But Kevin came to England from New Zealand, bought his title, and is taking a paycheck from TLC that could have gone to a native-born British lord, so maybe he shouldn’t speak.  According to The Armorial Register Limited, “Lord” Kevin is “Kevin Derek Couling, Lord of the Manor of Little Neston,” a title tied to the estate rather than hereditary.  Don’t look for famous lords and ladies in that registry, they’re not there.  Furthermore, Kevin registered his coat of arms in Serbia!  Cheaper, I’m sure, and maybe he got a few Serbs in to help pick his asparagus.

Finally, here is a caveat posted on the Armorial Registry website that should tell you who registers their arms there: The Armorial Register Limited is aware that at the present time proving the validity of the ownership of a manor and its associated right to be known as “Lord of the Manor of” is fraught with difficulty.  There are an ever growing number of businesses on the Internet only too willing to satisfy a seemingly endless consumer demand for “titles” and it seems that Manors and the right of their owners to be known as Lords have become the easiest target for less than scrupulous dealers. Our best advice is Caveat emptor “Let the buyer beware”.

Now that you have the cut of “King” Drew’s advisers, what about any validity of his claim?  Could he be king?  No.  In spite of what was said on the show, the Stanleys were the LAST kings of Mann, not the first.  Haraldr Óláfsson termed himself King of Mann and the Isles in 1237 and at least six other rulers after that held that title before the Stanleys.  Thomas Stanley made the ruler of Man the Lord of Mann instead of the King of Mann in 1504.  That cannot be changed.  The Isle of Man was sold to the Crown by the Duke of Atholl in 1765.  It doesn’t matter who anyone is descended from, the Queen is also the Lord of Man now.  Any Manx schoolchild knows this.  Of course, you have to be bright enough to read a little history.

House of Keys Logo - Green on White

House of Keys Logo

Lastly, notice that “King” Drew pushes his claim with no one who has authority on the Isle.  To date, no MHK (Member of the House of Keys, the Manx parliament) has been on the show.  No Deemster, or judge, has chatted with him.  His Excellency Lieutenant Governor Adam Wood has not received him at Government House (as I was received by His Excellency Sir Timothy Daunt while I lived there).  Instead, he tries to push his claim with a few locals in pubs and with people who do not have any authority.  When the “King” met with the Curreys, grandmother Heather, son Richard and grandson Cosmo, they gave him the go-ahead to pursue his claim.  “King” Drew acted like they were his only possible rivals.  I was puzzled.  Who were they?  The short answer: no one who had any say in the matter.  The long answer is below, but feel free to skip it.  Unless you are really into history.  I’d love it if you read it, since it took a lot to dig all this up.  I will understand if you don’t.

James Stanley- 10th Earl Of Derby

James Stanley-                       10th Earl Of Derby

Under the Stanleys, the title Lord Strange (an English title) was given to the son of the Earl of Derby until he inherited the earldom.  When James Stanley, 10th Earl of Derby, died in 1736 “without issue,” the title of Lord Strange and its barony, along with the Isle of Man, went to John Murray, 2nd Duke of Atholl, through the Stanley female line.  Since the earldom had to go only through the male line, it went to a distant cousin.  At the death of the 9th Duke of Atholl and 14th Baron (or Lord) Strange, James Thomas Stewart-Murray, in 1957, the title of Lord Strange and the Barony of Strange went into abeyance.  Charlotte Murray, the third oldest daughter of the 4th Duke married Admiral Sir Alan Drummond.  They had a son, John.  John had a son, Malcolm.  Malcolm had a son, John, who petitioned to regain and received the title of 15th Lord Strange from the Queen in 1965, but no land came with the title.  The title of 17th Lord Strange is currently held by Adam Drummond, who is one of five children and has two healthy children of his own.  Interestingly enough, he lives in a small cottage next to the castle that his mother, Baroness Strange, left with all her money to his youngest sister.  That’s a story that would be interesting to pursue, but not here.  The 15th Lord Strange’s second daughter is Heather, who married Lt. Andrew Currey.  Her son is Robert.  His son is Cosmo.  The chances of Cosmo becoming Lord Strange are little better than mine of winning the lottery.  And I never buy any tickets.  None of them have any claim on the kingship, lordship or any other title regarding the Isle of Man.

What is the opinion of the Manx about their “King?”  According to The Guardian: On Isle of Man websites, residents’ comments range from bewilderment to genuine concern. Mick, from Douglas, wrote: “What started out as an interesting and amusing story of a seemingly self-delusional American has now turned into something quite serious, as the monetary amounts stated are huge. Surely the authorities must intervene.” Kim wrote: “King David- get over yourself! You are NOT our King – you will never be our King. If you’ve got any respect at all you will give up this silly claim.”

So why has “King” Drew continued on this idiotic quest for seven years?  He claims it’s for his daughter, but the kid seems bright enough not to really believe his delusions.  So, is he deluded, a raving lunatic or something else?  It wasn’t until TLC started pumping money into this that he flew to the Isle.  Shrewd.  He and his family are only there for six weeks.  Wise.  Then, according to Medialife Magazine, “This may all seem harmless, but that same Telegraph story alleges that Drew was involved with a company that was selling supposed noble titles for as much as 90,000 British pounds (my emphasis). This isn’t mentioned in the premiere.”  He’s been doing this since 2007.  According to IOM Today:. . .  Noble Titles company’s website has been altered to include King David’s title and photograph. Among titles available are a dukedom for 90,000 or you can become a marquess for 80,000. The title of count will set you back 70,000 a countess 60,000 and 50,000 to become a viscount. The website states all proceeds will go to the Malawi Missions Project Charity by instruction of the King of Mann, excluding ‘investiture, regalia and administration costs’.  Uh, greedy? As backers of Hollywood movies have often learned, “costs” can eat up every invested dollar.  Or pound.  So what exactly is King Ralph . .. uh, Drew . . . uh, David?  I’ll let you be the judge.  If you can stomach the show enough to watch it for the spectacular scenery.  And if it survives.  Again, according to Medialife Magazine, “The true story behind ‘Suddenly Royal’ might be funny, or dramatic, or tawdry, but the creators of the show seem to have neither the talent nor the intention to tell it.”

In closing, why do I care enough to write this?  Because I love the Isle of Man and had many friends there who thought Americans were decent people.  If any of the Manx watch Suddenly Royal, their opinion of us will be that we are rude, crude and ignorant.  “King” Drew slurping his soup from his spoon and tucking his napkin under his chin?  Sure, I know it was orchestrated, with a slim, attractive wife accepting the behavior of her tub-of-lard husband, but “King” Drew went right along with it.  The Isle of Man can’t hate the publicity they’re getting from the show, but they also can’t have gained any respect for Americans.  We are buffoons of our own making.  Thank you, Drew, and TLC for harming the image of Americans in the eyes of the Manx, the British and the European viewers.  Your show is truly un-American.  As Kim on the Isle of Man said so well, my message to Drew is, “If you’ve got any respect at all you will give up this silly claim.”