Quiet Please, There’s A Lady on Stage

Karen Mason

There’s a line from the musical “Gypsy” when Mama Rose accuses her daughter Gypsy of trying to be an intellectual by telling her “You read book reviews like they were books.”

Like Gypsy, I used to read concert reviews like they were concerts. Though I loved music, I didn’t have the dough to hang out in cabarets and piano bars. Instead, I lived vicariously through Howard Reich, the Chicago Tribune’s long time music critic whose column over the years introduced me to a multitude of musicians and helped nurture my unquenchable taste for Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn, and thru him I also found out about a lot of new singers I might never have heard of, like a fresh faced newcomer named Madeleine Peyroux, whose debut CD “Dreamland” I rushed out to buy after reading Reich’s glowing review of her back in 1996.

Another artist Reich adored was a singer named Karen Mason, who got her early start singing in Chicago’s cabaret scene (according to her Wikipedia page, she was once a singing hostess at a place called Lawrence of Oregano!) before graduating to better things. If you’re unfamiliar with this 12 time MAC Award winning vocalist, it’s time to get you up to speed. In addition to being a famed cabaret artist, Ms. Mason’s credits also include starring in several Broadway shows, such as playing Norma Desmond in “Sunset Boulevard”;  she also originated the role of Tanya in “Mama Mia”, and she played Velma Von Tussle in “Hairspray”. Additionally, Karen has appeared on TV in “Law and Order: SVU” and she was in the film version of “A Chorus Line”.

Though I became familiar with her name from reading reviews of her shows at the Park West or at Davenport’s, I never got to see her perform live until she was booked as the entertainment at an AIDS Benefit.

At the time I was hitched to a pharmacist and we attended so many of these events, as his employer Walgreens was a major sponsor and would buy up multiple tables and distribute the tickets to their pharmacists and executives. Over the years of attending these benefits, we got to see a lot of great acts, like the B-52s, Donna Summer, Gloria Gaynor and Koko Taylor among others.

No offense to the pharmacy profession, but pharmacists make for lousy audiences. I remember that one of these events was hosted by Saturday Night Live alum Rob Schneider, who was very pleasant and graciously introduced himself to my group of already over-served seat mates, who kept embarrassingly insisting he do the “making copies” guy from SNL, which he declined.

With the B-52s, these overpaid drunks got a band they knew, so they behaved, but Koko Taylor got no such respect. Neither did Karen Mason.

I was so excited when I found out Mason was performing at one these benefits because I’d read so much about her amazing vocal talent, but had never heard her in person.

Well, the pharmacists weren’t fellow readers of Howard Reich, so they had never heard of Karen. Instead of shutting their free wine holes or leaving the room when Karen Mason took the stage, these philistine boozed up bozos proceeded to talk over the music. Now, when they did this to Koko Taylor the year before, the event organizers went around chastising the loud mouths, but no one was coming to Karen’s rescue.

Except me.

I shushed more than a few of those professional pill pushers that night. Despite the rude crowd, I still managed to enjoy the vocal prowess of this amazing talent.

When she concluded her set, I felt an impulse to apologize. I spotted her heading to the escalators and followed after her. There she was, a glittering gowned diva all alone riding a hotel escalator. So I sprinted up to her, “I’m so sorry that people were so loud, I really enjoyed your singing,” I told her.

Then I explained that these weren’t music lovers, but just a bunch of drunks who got free tickets and didn’t appreciate great music.

Anyway, Karen Mason is in town at Davenport’s this week and I’m so excited to be going. And if a mother fucker opens their mouth while she’s singing, I’m going to throat punch them.

Here’s some samples of the great Karen Mason, whose new album “Its About Time” is now available. Check her out and witness the perfect example of a great singer who is also a gifted actress.

Karen Mason in Sunset Boulevard

Karen singing “This Nearly Was Mine”

Karen celebrating equal  marriage, “It’s About Time”

History on Repeat: Trump More Dangerous than Bush

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In the years leading up to 9/11, a proposal was made by the Clinton Administration to require secure cockpit doors on all commercial aircraft. This would have prevented 9/11. The media was more interested in a sex scandal.

The rest is history. On repeat.

“The federal government should consider aviation security as a national security issue. The Commission believes that terrorist attacks on civil aviation are directed at the United States, and that there should be an ongoing federal commitment to reducing the threats that they pose.” The Gore Commission final reportFebruary 12, 1997

In 1997, Vice President Al Gore chaired the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security, otherwise known as the Gore Commission, to study and recommend  new safeguards to prevent future terrorist attacks.  The Gore Commission recommended all commercial aircraft install secure, un-breachable cockpit doors to stop terrorists from hijacking an aircraft while in flight. The GOP controlled Congress subsequently rejected the Gore Commission proposals as too expensive and too burdensome on the airlines.

Unbeknownst to all, also in 1997 a radical Islamic terrorist named Osama Bin Ladin was plotting an attack on the United States. This plot might have been uncovered sooner if the Republican Congress wasn’t more concerned with impeaching President Bill Clinton over lying about a blowjob.

Some may argue that in 2016 the Republican controlled Congress likewise overlooked a plot – by the Russian government to hack our democracy because they were more concerned about investigating emails. <sips tea>. But that’s none of my business.

In 2000, Al Gore ended up losing the presidency to the dumbest man in American politics after the media caricatured Gore as a boring and self aggrandizing technocrat and lauded his opponent George W. Bush as the plain spoken guy you wanted to have a beer with.

Gore narrowly lost to Bush by 500 votes in Florida after Ralph Nader, sensing a moment to make a comeback as an election spoiler, ran a negative Green Party campaign casting the devout environmentalist Gore as a corporate owned shill no different from the oil industry’s official sock puppet, George W. Bush.

Sound familiar?

As we know, Bush narrowly won the electoral college while losing the popular vote by 500,000. For only the third time in U.S. History, the election loser was appointed to the presidency. The fourth to win by losing (by 2.8 million) of course is Donald “Traitor” Trump.

Like Donald Trump today, George Bush also didn’t care for his daily intelligence briefings, including the one he should have received in August 2001 titled “Bin Ladin Determined to Strike on US Soil”. Bush was on a month long vacation at his Crawford, Texas ranch when this alarming report was issued, warning of threats to hijack commercial aircraft.

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On 9/11, terrorists were able to breach the cockpits of multiple commercial aircraft not encumbered by Al Gore’s proposed safety regulations. 3,000 people died horribly that day and two wars were started as a results.

History repeats.

Happy Returns

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Question: would you buy a gigantic Foosball table for someone who doesn’t have a basement or a rec room, or an interest in Foosball? How about for someone with a recent elbow/arm/hand injury?

I’m asking for me. Because that’s what my Mom slapped a bow on for me and said “Merry Christmas!”.

I thought it was a joke, this HUGE box disguised as a Christmas gift, with a plastic red tablecloth wrapping and a nearly life sized Santa Clause gift tag. She bought it online from Target, and she admitted it didn’t seem quite as large on her iPad. It weighed 168 lbs and came in a box larger than my Toyota.

Given that my sister had just unwrapped one of her old bras Mom gifted her as a joke, I could be forgiven for laughing out loud when I tore off the wrapping and saw FOOSBALL TABLE written on the side of the living room sized box.

I told her I had no room in my apartment. My roommate would have a fit. I sputtered on the endless reasons why I couldn’t accept it. I consoled her that it was the thought that counted, but told her she should have thought a lot harder.

She thought my response was hysterical. Now she’s trying to figure out how to return it.

I think she should keep it. Passing the casseroles will be so much easier.

Bernie is No John Lewis or a Democrat

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Putin couldn’t have done it without Bernie

Bernie and his Brats are trying to do a hit and run. They wrecked the election and are now attempting to flee the scene.

History unlearned, or worse, re-written, repeats. That’s why I stand up for examining truth. The Russian government may have installed Donald Trump as President, but they couldn’t have done it without Bernie Sanders, the guy who once honeymooned in the Soviet Union.

For some reason, the Bernie or Bust crowd seems thrilled with Trump beating Clinton, almost as if beating Clinton was always their only goal. Maybe they think Rust Belt voters would have swooned for a leftist socialist atheist who never held a job outside of government, but I don’t.

Now, after doing more than anyone to beat up Clinton, Sanders wants a say in a party he still hasn’t joined. He wasn’t a Democrat before he inserted himself into the 2016 Democratic Primary (a hijacking attempt that DNC leaders should have nipped in the bud by telling him to either join the party or be disqualified) and he isn’t a Democrat now, even after the destruction he caused.

The major reason Bernie never became a Democrat while seeking to lead the Democratic Party is because he’s a narcissist who never voted for anyone until he voted for himself. It is ALL about him.

Despite casting himself as a Civil Rights hero, Bernie Sanders never voted for any of the civil rights heroes of the Civil Rights era. He didn’t vote for anyone until he was into his 30’s when he voted for himself. He didn’t vote for Kennedy, Johnson, Humphrey or McGovern. He didn’t care if Goldwater or Nixon won.

His supporters treat him like John Lewis while tossing the actual John Lewis under Rosa Parks bus (for daring to back Hillary Clinton).

Here’s Bernie bragging about not giving a damn about voting in a 1987 article in the Gadfly, a University of Vermont student newspaper.

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Apparently, Bernie Sanders only liked to talk about politics, not do anything meaningful to change things like organizing voter drives or all the various things real community leaders do, for example: voting. (GOOGLE Obama, Barack or Clinton, Hillary for examples of effective community organizers.)

Some may question the relevance of Bernie’s narcissistic voting habits, but I believe it perfectly explains Bernie’s careless disparagement of the Democratic Party that so graciously endured his constant jabs at its leaders and longtime supporters like myself who have voted in every damn election since I was legally allowed to (and never once been called a “shill” until this year).

Remember when Bernie cried “rigged” over the Superdelegates? His supporters sure do. They still claim the election was rigged. Who can blame them when their leader said so?

Bernie’s top campaign advisor Tad Devine actually invented the superdelegate system in the 1980s, but that didn’t stop his fanatics from blaming Debbie Wasserman Shultz. The Bernie Brats know more about the hierarchy of the DNC than they do their own state governments.

Once Bernie was mathematically eliminated from the nomination, he changed his mind about those evil SDs. He needed them. Hillary had 18 million votes and he only had 13 million. What to do?

So he then called on those same dastardly SDs to reverse the election and nominate him instead of Hillary at the convention. His supporters then began harassing delegates at their homes. (It’s hard to distinguish Bernie’s and Trump’s supporters sometimes).

Bernie stayed in the race too long and held out the false hope to his fans that Hillary would get indicted over emails. His wife Jane even begged the FBI to hurry it up! He refused to concede when any other candidate would have to avoid dividing the party, but he wasn’t a Democrat anyway, so dividing the party he never cared for wasn’t really his concern.

Then WikiLeaks and Russia decided to get involved, selectively leaking hacked emails from the DNC suggesting (GASP) that longtime Democratic Party leaders might prefer nominating an actual Democrat to lead their party. The Bernie kids ate up the Russia propaganda like it was free college.

Hoping to change the outcome, his delegates disrupted the nationally televised Democratic Convention, an event meant to showcase the party platform and nominee.

The 227 year old glass ceiling got shattered when for the first time a woman became the nominee of a major party, but Hillary and her supporters were denied that celebration.

Instead of celebrating this history, instead of celebrating the achievements of a woman who has been an inspiration to millions world-wide, Bernie’s boorish delegates booed and interrupted speakers at the convention, including John Lewis. Even Bernie supporter Sarah Silverman got booed and she told them on prime time TV that they were acting like babies. Bernie more than anyone brought us Donald Trump.

Despite everything, Hilary was up 7-12 points in some polls 11 days from the election. It took the FBI Director’s last minute letter to defeat Hillary, but she shouldn’t have been in that danger zone where 80,000 votes in 3 swing States decided the election.

The answer to Hillary’s question on why she wasn’t up by 50 points against Donald Trump is: Bernie Sanders.

Post Truth AIDS History

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I am no fan of Ronald OR Nancy Reagan, so I’m really, really tired of the uninformed trying to link Hillary Clinton with Nancy Reagan when it comes to AIDS policy in America.

The Clintons were early and crucial champs when it came to AIDS policy. They instituted the Office of AIDS Research and increased federal funding for AIDS research and care by 356% and they successfully fought to outlaw discrimination based on HIV status in employment and housing.

This absurd linkage got created by the Bernie Brats when Hillary stupidly said some kind – but not wise words – at the funeral for a fellow former First Lady regarding AIDS.

“Because of both President and Mrs. Reagan — in particular Mrs. Reagan — we started a national conversation, when before nobody would talk about it, nobody wanted to do anything about it, and that, too, is something I really appreciate with her very effective low-key advocacy,” she said. [emphasis mine]

Although Clinton issued an apology within MINUTES of her comments, some people still won’t let it go. Even on World AIDS Day.

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The irony is, Clinton was almost right about Nancy Reagan’s “low key advocacy”. In fact, the venerable national LGBT magazine The Advocate said almost the same thing in their obituary for Nancy Reagan just the week prior.

“Nancy Reagan is sometimes credited with pushing her husband to do something about AIDS, and he eventually supported some funding for research. The death of their friend, actor Rock Hudson, is often referred to as a pivotal moment.”

img_2263Nancy’s real claim to villainy is her refusal to get her husband to help her dying pal Rock Hudson get experimental treatment in a French government hospital that was closed to non citizens. Nancy coldly declined to get involved, reasoning people would accuse Ronnie of granting special favors to a Hollywood celebrity. This calculated response to a dying friend rightly earns Nancy Reagan her villain award. But this has nothing to do with Hillary Clinton.

Again, I’m no fan of Nancy Reagan, but to let an inconsequential misstatement erase Hillary Clinton’s 25 years of advocacy for AIDS research and care is ridiculous. It is ignorant, dangerous and it is most of all ungrateful.

But expected in our post truth world.

WeakLeaks Strikes Again!

Can you IMAGINE what profanity laced emails they would have discovered if I worked for the DNC last Spring!

To: John Podesta
From: John-John

Hey Johnny P! Thanks for your risotto recipe! After reading how difficult it was, I ordered in.

Anyway, well it looks like Old Barnie Slanders won’t drop the fuck out of the race and the convention is coming up. Jesus, can’t he take a fucking hint? Does a house have to drop on him and Jane? Because I know a guy with a catapult.

Hey, if you know how to make a GOOD linguini and clam sauce, could you call Calo’s in Chicago? They don’t have a clue! Lol!

Later masturbator!

cc: huma, RicoSuave, HRC, DWS, Satan

My Coming Out Diary

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It’s been several years since I’ve “come out”. After telling my immediate family and close friends, and experiencing the liberating feeling attached therein, I  made it my mission to come out whenever possible to whomever possible. This is an excerpt from My Coming Out Diary.

Monday, February 5

I came out to the cable installer today. He was quite surprised at first – a reaction I’ve come to expect after coming out to the Sprint operator earlier today. Despite my hopes for furthering understanding, the cable guy ignored me, saying, “I’m just here to install your cable.”

I could tell by his avoidance that he was in deep denial and desperate to hide from the shocking truth that one of his cable subscribers is a homosexual!  I followed him about as he hooked up the lines, relating how horribly misunderstood gay people are and how tough it was for me to reveal such personal information to strangers, but also how important it was for me to be honest and open in all my dealings. His discomfort with my truth must have overcame him for in his haste to leave, he accidentally hooked me up with free HBO, Showtime and the Spice Channel. I sure hope HBO reruns that Streisand concert!

Wednesday, February 7

It was Margarita night and I had quite a few of them. So many, I found myself “coming out” to the bartender, before remembering I was in a gay bar. The bartender cut me off.  On my way home, I came out to my cab driver. He was very understanding, and then he told me his own personal tale, some of which I actually listened to. Evidently, his native country’s culture demands absolute purity from their women, and thus the men find it difficult to release their sexual energy. At some point, he pulled the cab over and asked me for a blowjob. Afterward, he drove me home and do you know, he had the guts to charge me full fare? Of course I didn’t tip him.  You know, some cab drivers really leave a bad taste in my mouth.

Thursday, February 8

Home alone – again. Feeling bored. Nothing on TV. Just a bunch of jiggling breasts on the Spice Channel.  What is it with soft porn? They give you every conceivable view of a woman, frontal, back-al, you name it. It’s a complete breast fest, but you barely get to see even a guy’s ass. This is wrong and another example of the unfair treatment for LGBT. I’d call and complain, but I’m getting the channel for free.

Thank God the doorbell rang! l was greeted by rug rats selling Girl Scout cookies. I politely explained to the green skirted children that I reserve my charity contributions for gay related causes only, but as they were walking away I spied a box of Thin Mints, so I relented.

Friday, February 9

I met someone! He’s a cashier at Burger King. Granted, it’s not a profession I  imagined my future husband to be involved in, but he’s in college. Our meeting was tender and memorable. l had just ordered my Whopper, careful to specify no onion (you never know who you’re going to meet). When he saw my Pink triangle lapel pin he asked me about it and I explained that the pink triangle was a symbol of homosexual oppression in Nazi Germany and that in recent times had been adopted as a gay rights symbol, adding that not much has changed and homosexuals are still being oppressed.  He looked at me quizzically and responded, “I just wanted to know where you got it –  mine just broke.”
Well l almost fainted. I heard strains of “Some Enchanted Evening” and thought l was dreaming until l realized it was just the Muzak. Well, to make a long story short, we agreed to meet tomorrow. Oh,  and he threw in an order of free chicken fingers!  I never noticed before, but those burgundy polyester uniforms look kind of hot. I hope he doesn’t wear it on our date.

Monday, February 12

Chip and I had our first date. It wasn’t as romantic as I’d hoped, but we’re both between paychecks so we dined at Taco Bell. Chip spent a good part of the dining experience commenting how much nicer the uniforms at Taco Bell were and how he wished his Burger King had free drink refills so he wouldn’t have to deal with it.  I got really bored by this. Then he let it slip – the deal breaker. He wasn’t “out” to his mom and dad!

As someone who “came out” just last week, this infuriated me. I told him off right there and then about the importance of coming out to your family and how if everyone came out we wouldn’t have the discrimination we encounter today. He then lets it spill that he’s an orphan – just my luck! I said that was no excuse and he stormed out.

Tuesday, February 13

Went to pick up my clothes at the cleaners. I just got my “Gay Dollar” stamp and stamped all my currency with it at breakfast.  The woman who owns the cleaners was there and I handed her my ticket. She’s usually a nice little old Asian woman, but she didn’t seem so nice after I carefully counted out fifteen dollars all stamped with my pink and glittery “Gay Dollar” stamp, which I had to count out twice because she didn’t see my political statement at first. “Notice anything?”

Her eyes widened in fright, pushing my cash away, “You defaced money – that’s a crime!”

“No it isn’t” I insisted, now wondering if it was.

But she didn’t want to be part of a crime, so I had to find a cash machine to pay for my dry cleaning. Note to self: try the Gay Dollar trick on someone who isn’t holding $500 in dress shirts hostage.

Today

After cross checking on my computer the names of people I know against the people I’ve “come out” to, I’ve come to realize that there is no one left. Short of waiting for some employee turnover at Burger King, for the near future everyone I know knows.

Briefly this though left me in a fit of despair until I spied the telephone book. Then it struck me – there’s a whole lot of people out there I don’t know! My God, there’s billions of Chinese alone who I don’t know and who don’t know that I’m gay! So, I picked up the phone and started dialing the A’s.

Hello world, I’m coming out!

 

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Don the Con: The Cheapest, Sleaziest Bastard Alive

How’s this for a grift:

You start a tax exempt “foundation” in your name using other people’s money. Then you go around donating that very same money as if it came from your own pocket! You get the glory and the headlines, but you still have those extra millions in your pocket to buy back your repossessed yacht.

Donald Trump brags about donating money to charity – but it’s never his own money. He gets other people to donate millions to his tax exempt Trump Foundation, which he then loudly donates to other charities in his name, and then accepts all the acclamation, press releases and “thank you” plaques that comes with big ticket philanthropy.

If that isn’t a perfect enough con, throw in Trump using his phony charity to buy himself expensive gifts, like $12,000 in luxury sports memorabilia or blowing $20,000 of his charity’s money on a grandiose 6 foot tall oil painting of himself to decorate his golf course.

image(Trump’s charitable gift to himself -with altered hands!)

The Trump Foundation paid $20k for this vainglorious painting, but it could have gotten it for $5 bucks, as Melania Trump opened the bidding at $10k, and when there was no counter bid, she upped her own winning bid to $20k.

Can you imagine if the Clinton’s bought a 6 foot oil painting of themselves with their foundation money?

Trump also used his tax exempt foundation to buy Tim Tebow’s game worn helmet and jersey for $12k at a public charity auction in 2007. Trump got the applause and the merchandise, but his charity got the shaft.  The last anyone saw Tebow’s jersey, it was decorating Trump’s business offices, which means he used charity money to enrich himself. It has since disappeared from public view like Tim Tebow’s career. No one even knows where it went. Like Tim Tebow’s career.

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Donald Trump  has a long history of enriching himself at other’s expense; from cheating poor contractors to squeezing well meaning social elites to donate to his lousy charity. He also brags about extravagant gifts he never even gave. One journalist has recently estimated Trump has lied to the IRS about giving to over three-hundred different tax deductible charities.

In the case of buying himself gifts with tax exempt charity funds, it is We the Taxpayers who helped Prince Donny acquire his $20k narcissistic oil painting of himself and his $12k in now worthless sports memorabilia.

Then there is his opportunistic and illegal “donation” to Florida AG Pam Bondi’s re-election, who then conveniently dropped her investigation of his Trump University scam just days after cashing her $25,000 Trump Foundation check.

Get this: Bondi actually called Trump directly to ask for the cash the day after she announced her investigation of him!

Yet there was media crickets about all this. The most damning evidence of Trumps sleazy operation is documented! Trump used $25,000 from his charitable foundation to bribe the Attorney General of Florida. Trump is so cheap he steals from charities to bribe public officials!

I wonder how many 9/11 widows Trump could have helped with the money he blew on himself?

Everyone thinks you’re a swell guy when you give money away – except none of the money was EVER  his.

Donald Trump is a fraud. Let’s compare:

The Clinton Foundation provides AIDS drugs to 11 million people.

The Trump Foundation bribes public officials and buys Don the Con expensive tax free gifts.

The Clinton’s have donated $14 million dollars of their own money to their charity.

Don the Con hasn’t contributed a dime to his since 2008.

Vote Hillary Clinton – America’s future depends on stopping this bigoted maniac.

The Mystery at Camp Sister Lick

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Nanci Dwuu’s convertible darted down the country road headed for mystery. Exactly what the mystery entailed, Nanci’s friend George wouldn’t divulge over the telephone. George, a tomboyish girl with short dark hair, was one of Nanci’s closest friends, but the girls hadn’t seen each other since George had moved to Camp Sister Lick, a women’s only retreat where, according to George, “Strange things had been occurring”.

“Please say you’ll come,” George pleaded, “the owner is a real darling and she needs your help.”

Although Nanci was intrigued by George’s mystery, she was hesitant to leave Hannah Gruel, the Dwuu’s longtime housekeeper. Hannah had lived with the Dwuus since Nanci’s mother suddenly passed away when Nanci was three.

Nanci had always been suspicious of her mother’s death, and in her last adventure, The Case of the Murdered Mom, Nanci discovered that her own father had poisoned Mrs. Dwuu in an insurance scam – resulting in Mr. Dwuu’s new residence on Death Row, all thanks to his daughter’s expert sleuthing.

“Oh, and don’t bring that asshole Nick, men aren’t allowed here.” George added before hanging up.

Nanci couldn’t have brought her longtime boyfriend Nick Nederson anyway. Nick was with his buddies the Hardly Boys on a fishing trip, staying at the popular sportsmen’s resort The Rainbow Lodge. According to Nick, the lodge didn’t have phones, although judging from the evening clothes Nanci helped him pack, the lodge had a disco.

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Camp Sister Lick was located in neighboring River Side. The property was formerly an old cattle ranch newly converted into a retreat facility for women. The camp’s unusual name paid homage to the new owner’s mission of promoting sisterhood and to the property’s natural salt deposits used by ranchers as “salt-licks” for livestock.

As Nanci’s convertible approached Camp Sister Lick’s entrance, she was greeted by a bevy of angry protestors waving vulgar signs demanding the camps immediate closure on moral grounds!

“How could a women’s only camp be immoral?” Nanci thought. “Maybe they offer Yoga.”

Nanci hit the accelerator on her Mustang, causing a few protestors to scramble as she glided easily into a spot in a parking lot filled exclusively with trucks. Looking around,  Nanci felt confident that she’d  have no trouble locating her car for her return trip home.

As Nanci followed the signs directing her to the main lodge, her old friend George suddenly emerged from a path leading from the woods “Nanci Dwuu, you made it!”

George hadn’t changed much since the last time the two girls were together. She still sported her short, chopped hair, and was dressed in her trademarked unbuttoned blue flannel shirt layered over a black T-shirt tucked into her denim shorts, with a pair of beaten, black leather boots framing her pale, unshaven legs.

“So, what’s the big mystery?” Nanci asked.

“First I want you to meet the proprietor of Camp Sister Lick, I just know you’ll love her, she’s so keen!” George pulled Nanci into the lodge’s office. Behind a desk sat a woman who appeared in her late fifties, stout like a bulldog, with graying hair whipped up into a beehive.

Nanci offered her slim, well manicured hand to the woman who took hold with a firm grip, shaking Nanci’s hand as much as Nanci. “I’m Virginia Diesel, the owner of this retreat, and you must be the famous Nanci Dwuu.”

“George hasn’t filled me in yet, what’s going on?” Nanci asked.

Virginia’s voice hushed to practically a whisper, “Someone is trying to destroy Camp Sister Lick.”

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“Who would want to do that?” Nanci asked, incredulous.

“Our retreat has had some local opposition,” Virginia explained, “Maybe you saw the protestors.”

“The attacks started two weeks ago when someone stuffed tampons in all eighteen holes of our golf course. When the sprinklers came on, it looked like a field of white mushrooms sprouting out of our cups. We had to cancel the golf tournament.”

“At first we thought it was a prank, but then something else happened.”

“What?” Nanci asked, her pulse beginning to race, “what happened?”

George took over for the distraught Virginia. “Last week was the championship game of our darts competition. Everyone was just terrible. No one could get a dart on the board. The dart would sail flawlessly through the air, perfect arc, expert aim, but the dart would strike the board and fall to the floor. It was eerie.”

“Let’s have a look at those darts, maybe they’ll shed some light on this mystery.” Nanci said.

“I hope so,” Virginia cried, “if this keeps up, Camp Sister Lick will be run out of business.”

George led Nanci on a short walk to a rustic building with a plaque that read “Gertrude Stein Field House”. George opened the screen door with a rusty creak. A ping-pong and pool table indicated to Nanci’s keen intuition that this must be some sort of building where ping-pong and pool tables were kept.

Nanci walked across the room to inspect the dart board hanging from a rusty nail while George produced the darts. “I think I have the answer to your mystery,” Nanci proclaimed, holding the darts up to the light, “These are Velcro darts and you have a cork dart board. Someone must have switched them.”

“But, but, Nanci,” George stammered, “we don’t use Velcro dart boards at Camp Sister Lick!”

Just then, from outside came a piercing scream. Nanci and George ran from the field house. Emerging from the woods was a petite brunette woman with bright red lips, her flower-patterned culottes stained with mud.

image“Ahhhhhh!” she screamed.

“What happened?” Nanci asked.

“Men – in the woods” the young pretty lady gasped falling to the ground, holding her hand out to Nanci before fainting, “My name is Lizzie Lipshtick, and you must be Nanci Dwuu.”

As the two sleuths propped up the fallen girl, George filled in  Nanci. “Lizzie runs the art classes at Camp Sister Lick. Her classes aren’t well attended because they can’t compete with sports and Lizzie has never felt quite accepted. And now this!”

A crowd started to gather as Nanci took Lizzie’s pulse.

“That’s it! I’m leaving,” one guest proclaimed angrily, “This place is dangerous!”

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“I’m ruined,” Virginia later proclaimed to Nanci and George in the privacy of her office, “What was I thinking, trying to establish a little utopia for my sisters, an Eden without Epiladys. A place to celebrate our womanhood surrounded by the warm embrace of our Earth Mother.”

George was on the verge of tears, hugging Virginia, “Don’t you dare give up! Nanci Dwuu will solve this case!”

“Where do those woods go?” Nanci asked, determined to solve this mystery. George explained that the woods bordered the Tuscashawnee River, which was popular with fishermen and other outdoor enthusiasts. On occasion, boaters would pull their canoes over on Camp Sister Lick property, although there were “No Trespassing ” signs posted along the river bank.

“Whoever frightened poor Lizzie is probably still out there,” George surmised, anxious to confront the trespassers, but the approaching darkness made Virginia fearful for the girls’ safety and she insisted they wait until morning to search the woods.

Reluctantly, Nanci agreed. Back at her cabin, Nanci was finally able to rest after a long day of driving and sleuthing.

Drifting into a fitful sleep, Nanci was suddenly awakened by the sound of shattering glass. Bolting from her bed, a brick lay at Nanci’s feet with a white slip of paper secured around it. Untying the paper, Nanci detected a flowery smell before she gasped at the note’s content.

“You’re in grave danger Nanci Dwuu.” The letter was scrawled in what looked like red crayon. The note ended, “P.S. I think you’re cute!”

“Hmmm,” Nanci thought to herself. ” I didn’t think men were allowed anywhere near Camp Sister Lick.”

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The next morning, George and Nanci set out to explore the woods. Lizzie came along to point out where she saw the trespassers the night before.

Seeing Lizzie dressed in shorts and a thin T-shirt, Nanci lectured her on the dangers of deer ticks.

Lizzie laughed, “I’m so tired of flannel. Am I a traitor because I like frills and lipstick?”

“Not at all,” Nanci laughed along, “I like frilly things too!”

“We have so much in common! Lizzie proclaimed, grabbing Nanci’s hand, the two skipped along the dirt path through the woods. Nanci felt protective of Lizzie after seeing the poor girl so frightened the day before.

“I have a hunch were going to be good friends!” Nanci said, giving Lizzie’s hand an affectionate squeeze.

The forest was bristling with birds and busy squirrels looking for nuts. Suddenly, Nanci signaled the girls to be silent. Out of the peaceful chatter of the woods came the sound of male voices!

“Walk quietly, we’ll sneak up on whoever is out there,” Nanci instructed.

The girls hadn’t taken more than a few steps when from the dense bushes someone called out “Nanci Dwuu!” Looking past greenery, a smile of recognition mixed with relief swept over Nanci’s face. It was Nick Nederson, Nanci’s long time boyfriend.

“Nick! What are you doing here? I thought you went fishing with the Hardly boys?”

“We did, we lost our canoe.” Nick then called to his companions and from the trees emerged Nanci’s sometime sleuthing partners The Hardly Boys.

When George came running into view, Nick’s smile turned sallow, “Hey.”

“Screw you, Nick and your fascist paternalistic society.” George said warmly.

The two old friend’s friendly quarrel was soon interrupted by Nanci inquiring how the boys found themselves at Camp Sister Lick. Nick explained that he and the Hardly Boys were out pole fishing the previous evening when their canoe was inadvertently swept down stream, stranding them in the woods, where they stripped naked to keep each other warm.

“You gave Lizzie the fright of her life when she spotted you in the woods yesterday,” Nanci chuckled.

“Yesterday? It was well after dark when we lost our canoe.” Joe Hardly chimed in,

“We could barely see our poles.” Frank snickered and struck his brother’s arm.

Then someone else must have been in the woods, but who? Nanci thought to herself, not wanting to raise an alarm.

The girls hated to bid Nick and the Hardly Boys farewell, but men weren’t allowed at Camp Sister Lick. As it turned out, women weren’t allowed at the Rainbow Lodge, either.

“That’s too bad,” Nanci teased, “There’s nothing like a soprano voice for those great old campfire songs!”

“Nick sings soprano just fine,” Joe Hardly declared, before his twin brother giggled and punched his arm back.

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Back at camp, the three girls, hot and sweaty from their long hike, hit the showers and changed into fresh clothes before lunch. Afterward, Virginia called Nanci and George into her office. The brick that was thrown through Nanci’s window the night before sat on her desk.

“I’ve made a decision.” Virginia said to the girls, “I never thought our opponents would resort to violence, but I can’t have bricks being thrown through my girl’s windows. I’m closing down Camp Sister Lick.”

“What!” George cried, “You can’t let these terrorists win!”

“I think it’s an inside job,” Nanci said matter of factly.

George gave Nanci a worried look. Ever since Nanci helped convict her father for the murder of her mother, Nanci hadn’t been her usual self. Her sleuthing skills had suffered and she was prone to grandiose pronouncements about minor  inconveniences, like when she solved The Mystery of the Missing Car Keys or The Secret of the Stained Carpet.

“Are you sure someone from the Camp is doing these horrific things, Nanci? Why?”

“I don’t know yet,” answered Nanci, “I need more time. Don’t make any announcement until after the Softball Tournament tomorrow. That will give me enough time.”

Before Nanci could leave, Virginia wrapped the young detective in a hug and whispered, “It’ll lighten an old ladies heart if you solve this mystery my dear.”

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“Do you like our uniforms?” George asked Nanci, showing off her team’s denim baseball pants and flannel jersey with their team name “Bull Dogs” emblazoned on the back. “We’re playing against the Dykes.

“Oh, are they from Holland?” Nanci asked with excitement, “Such a lovely place!”

“Yeah, they’re Dutch,” George said, inserting a protective cup into the crotch of her baseball pants.

“I’ve always wanted to save a town by putting my finger in a dyke.” Nanci mused.

“You might get that chance.”

George then revealed to Nanci her “secret weapon” for winning the softball game, a prized baseball bat George made years ago in high school wood shop. Caressing the bat’s smooth curves, George cooed, “I d be lost without my baby.”

The softball game was a welcomed diversion for everyone, but all through the game Nanci couldn’t shake the feeling that something was about to happen. Standing outside the Bull Dog dugout, Nanci suddenly became aware of a familiar sweet fragrance emanating from somewhere behind her, but when she turned to look, no one was there.

The Bull Dogs were trailing the Dykes by two runs going into the seventh inning when the Dykes sent in a new pitcher, the glare from the sun prevented Nanci from seeing who it was.

“Ball one!” the umpire called as the first pitch stopped short of the plate and bounced into the crowd. The next three pitches either sailed wildly over the batter’s head, or dropped short of the plate. With one runner already on base, the batter was walked and George was up next.

“Come on George, you can do it!” The Bull Dogs cheered. George smiled and made the traditional adjustment to her uniform cup, then reached for her prized bat… but it was gone!

“It was right here!” George insisted. Nanci felt horrible that she hadn’t kept a closer watch on things. Nanci was convinced that the sweet odor she smelled was somehow connected not only to George’s stolen bat but to the other acts of vandalism that had been plaguing Camp Sister Lick.

Reluctantly, George took the plate without her prized bat. The first pitch wobbled well outside the strike zone, but George, feeling defiant, swung anyway and her bat connected. The ball flew high and straight, making a beeline for the home run fence. The crowd went wild as George took her triumphant lap around the bases, stopping only to unleash a stream of tobacco spit at third.

A fanfaronade of buttocks slapping greeted George as her foot touched home. The Bull Dogs had won the tournament!

As the teams congratulated each other, Nanci was alerted to the same sweet fragrance she smelled earlier. Sniffing around, Nanci found the source of the perfume smell. Grabbing that player’s arm, Nanci turned the girl around, “I’d like a word with you -“

“Lizzie! What are you doing, I thought you didn’t play sports,”Nanci gasped, her eyes wide with surprise.

“I don’t, but I’m pitching in!” Lizzie laughed at her own pun. It was Lizzie who had pitched so horribly the last inning and probably stole George’s prized bat!

“You’re behind the attacks at Camp Sister Lick!” Nanci cried out, holding tight to Lizzie’s arm. Lizzie tried to pull back, but Nanci’s grip was too strong, so instead Lizzie shoved Nanci to the ground and the two girls wrestled in the dirt for about a half hour before George finally separated the mud soaked girls.

“Nanci… have you lost your mind?” Virginia cried.

“I’ve discovered who has been sabotaging Camp Sister Lick.” Nanci declared.

Just as Nanci predicted, George’s purloined baseball bat was found in Lizzie’s locker, along with the missing darts and several bricks similar to the one thrown through Nanci’s window.

“How’d you know it was Lizzie?” George asked her old chum.

“Well, Camp Sister Lick is fragrance free,” Nanci explained, “I noticed the first time I met Lizzie that she was wearing Calvin Klein. At first I wasn’t sure it was Lizzie, because Calvin Klein is a unisex fragrance”

“Lizzie tried to throw suspicion off of herself by making it appear a man was behind the attacks, first by making up a story about seeing men in the woods, and then throwing a brick through my window with a flirty message. When I saw Lizzie wearing that stolen softball uniform, though, I knew she was the culprit.”

“Uh, Nanci, she’s been playing softball all Summer – her name is stitched on her jersey.” George interrupted. “Anyway, why would she do these things?”

“Employment security!” Nanci replied, “Lizzie thought if she ruined all the more popular activities the women would have no other choice but to attend her art classes.”

“Will she go to jail?” George asked.

“That depends on whether Virginia wants to press charges.” Nanci said, turning to Virginia, “I’m hoping you won’t. Lizzie needs a steady job more than prison. I’ve arranged an interview at the Rainbow Lodge where Lizzie’s art classes will be more in demand. You’ll give her a good reference won’t you Virginia?”

“Anything for you Nanci Dwuu!” Virginia laughed.

And so Nanci Dwuu closed the file on The Mystery at Camp Sister Lick. But Nanci and a mystery were never far apart, and soon Nanci would be immersed in The Clue to the Secret of the Misplaced Remote.

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Beware of Bernie

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Are you among the undecided voters having trouble choosing between tax raising Socialist Bernie Sanders and Democratic centrist  Hillary Clinton? Then consider the following…

Remember the thrill of winning an election? Say goodbye to that and any hope of winning a Democratic Congress for the next decade if we try to pass that old Socialist Sanders off as a Democrat.

For those who think I write too harshly about Bernie, I got to tell you the encouragement I’m getting to continue is amazing. I’m proud to step up to the plate to stop this re-writing of history by Bernie Sanders and his secret stash of Republican elves.

I have been involved with Democratic politics my whole life and I’m not going to sit back and watch history repeat itself by nominating a sure loser in the general election. (See George McGovern, Hubert Humphrey, Ralph Nader and Al Gore.) Left of center candidates always fail in general elections, and when they do, they bring defeat to the whole ticket, state and local races too.

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The Bernie Sanders phenomenon has scarily devolved into a faith based religion. He has become a demagogue turning his crowds of college kids against the “establishment” – which in his book is everybody. He can do no wrong, whether it’s dumping toxic waste on poor people, voting to fund every war he could or himself being a taker of Wall Street cash. It doesn’t matter. They now blame Hillary for a 1994 crime bill that their beloved Bernie voted for while Hillary was the First Lady. Try to understand this logic. Bernie voted for the bill. But it’s Hillary’s fault.

President Obama had to raise $1 Billion dollars to defeat Mitt Romney in 2012. Can you imagine what the Republican media machine will do to a tax craving Socialist who honeymooned in Communist Russia; who as Mayor renamed his small village “The People’s Republic of Burlington”, who’s town had its own “foreign policy” which included Bernie flying around playing footsies with South American leftist rebels and Fidel Castro, who he praised as having “transformed” Cuba – while political prisoners languished in jails. The TV ads would be merciless.

And that’s leaving out Bernie Sanders awful folk album and his B movie acting stint and his dirty short story writings. All these different elements, to my calculations, adds up to Bernie Sanders being a grandiose narcissist. His tendency to smear people as enemies of his revolution should frighten everyone paying attention.

His slimey innuendo and “artful smears” against Hillary and anyone endorsing her should get him nicknamed Bernie “Slanders” in my book. False accusations against people’s character can never be taken back. He’s trained his minions to yell “bought” at an honorable woman with a clear record of integrity.

All revolutions have to offer up a scapegoat. Someone to get a mob riled up against and blame everything bad on. Bernie picks his targets for ridicule wildly, but he concentrates on bankers. Do the Bernie kids know their future inheritances are most likely invested on Wall Street? If Bernie hurts the banking industry, he hurts a lot of middle class families who have their retirement savings tied up in IRAs and 401Ks.

Comrade Bernie also doesn’t like Capitalism, so look forward to a future with a lot fewer Apple products. Although, I must admit that the Bernie Sanders Free College program will solve the Elizabethan Poetry shortage.

Personally, I’m going to vote for the candidate who wants to build upon our successes, not tear them down for being insufficiently “perfect”. So I’m voting for Hillary Clinton. I can’t wait until this is all over and Hillary can start repairing the damage Sanders and his helpmate Karl Rove have inflicted on her and begin focusing on defeating the Republican agenda. #ImWithHer