Tasting Life Twice

Archive for the category “Characters from O’Connor”

Dispatches from the Isle: Death by Misadventure

Yesterday’s news:

A man who died after his head became trapped under a tap in the kitchen sink was intoxicated by alcohol and was unable to free himself from that position, an inquest has heard.

John Stanley (42), of Brighton Court, Foxrock, Dublin, was found, knees bent, in a semi-kneeling position at the kitchen sink of his home by his mother on the evening of September 27, 2009. Noreen Stanley put her arms around her son and raised the alarm after finding he was cold to the touch.

A post-mortem by the deputy State Pathologist, Dr Khalid Jaber, found Mr Stanley, who had a drink problem, died from positional (postural) asphyxia due to alcohol intoxication with chronic alcoholism and blood loss from abrasions, lacerations and bruises as contributory causes.

Dublin County Coroner’s Court heard Mr Stanley got his head into such a position that he asphyxiated himself.

He would have been unable to disengage himself from the position and alcohol would have suppressed his respiration, the inquest heard.


Exorcising the Jayhawks

Last week Caleb and I caught one of the better games of the Missouri-Kansas  rivalry.  The Tigers won 41-39 on a last second field goal.  Outside the stadium before the game, we even met a Missouri Tiger priest who drove a Kansas City Chiefs hearse.  Picture 025

The game was also notable because the Tigers wore some some new unis from Nike as part of their Beast Mode Combat series.  Here is a snap I took of Blaine Gabbert handing off to Danario Alexander on an end around.

Picture 063

Shopping Til You Drop

clip_image002Last week, in a fit of insanity, I ventured out for Black Friday. At an unreasonable hour in the middle of the night, I left my warm bed and joined members of the hunter-gatherer tribe who were looking for a doorbuster buy. I typically don’t have the patience for long shopping lines and I especially don’t like watching civilized men and women fight each other over Mr. Squiggles, the Zhu Zhu Pets Hamster and latest shopping fad. Public rudeness dampens my holiday spirit and threatens to destroy my cherished illusions about the basic decency of the human race. I’d rather be chained to my chimney in the middle of an ice storm or forced to eat a pound of fruitcake. 

clip_image004But venture out, I did. Armed with a thermos of coffee and a Black Friday app on my phone, I went to the stores that I thought would be overlooked by the daring souls who were running with the bulls at Toys R Us and Target and Best Buy. I found my way to Macy’s Department Store where, thankfully, the crowds were fairly thin. I hadn’t been there long at all when I heard someone yelling out, “Help me! Somebody help!” Around the corner, an older, heavy-set lady was in trouble on the escalator. Carrying her consumer cargo like a pack mule, she had somehow lost her balance and had taken a nasty fall backwards. We stopped the escalator and because of the way she was positioned (feet up, head down, lying backwards) I held her head up until she could move. The only problem was, she couldn’t move. She told me she had just recovered from a broken leg and recently had back surgery. She couldn’t help herself up and didn’t think she could put any weight on her leg. Meanwhile, the fallen shopper was getting light-headed and her hands started to shake. While we waited for a chair and some water, she said to the woman standing above us on the escalator:

“Sis, you there?”

“I’m right here.”

“I’m going to be ok. Just give me a minute.”

“We need to go home. We’ve done enough for one day.”

“No! No! Go on up and get those shirts you wanted. I’m going to be fine. You get those shirts. I want you to get those shirts!”

I had to admire her composure. The injured woman had the presence of mind to realize a good buy was still within reach. Even had she lost life and limb, her one final act would have been a brave one: encouraging her sister to go on in the great consumer quest to find a bargain. I guess this is what it means to “shop til you drop”.

Doing Business with the Christmas Drone

image Today we went to Hallmark to get Christmas ornaments.  Each year, the  children pick out new ones that capture something of recent interest to them, such as the Lollipop Guild, a violinist, Luke Skywalker, Barbie, Harry Potter or Club Penguin. Taken together, the ornaments on the tree tell stories and mark the passage of time.

They made their selection and I took the ornaments to the register.  Working  the register was an unenthused cashier in his mid-thirties who really didn’t like his day or his job or both.  Our conversation went as followed:

“Do you want postage stamps with this?”

“No thank you.”

“Do you have a rewards card with us?”


“Would you like to open an account and save money with no cost to you?”

“No thanks.”

I turned to get the children and realized that Micah was still holding his ornament in his hand and that I had only paid for four of them and not five.  Rats.  “Let’s try this again.  I forgot one of them.”

I placed the last and final ornament back on the counter to start another transaction.  Would you believe it?  The cashier asked me the same set of questions:

“Do you want postage stamps with this?”

Didn’t we already have this conversation?… “Uh, no.”

“Do you have a rewards card with us?”

You’re joking right….“No, I still don’t.”

“Would you like to open an account with us and save money with no cost to you?”

I can’t believe this…“Again, no thank you.”

I left with my laugh for the day.  I couldn’t decide who he was.  I thought he might be an alien from Men in Black.  Or the modern-day company man who had to keep to the company script even when it wasn’t necessary, and especially then.  Or the most naive literalist who ignores the spirit of any text.  Or Mr. Roboto.  Caleb concluded he was a drone from Star Trek.

Muscular Christianity Among the Drug Cartels

TT’s Note: These individuals and true life stories pay homage to Flannery O’Connor who, when asked why she wrote so many eccentric characters into her short stories, replied: “to the hard of hearing you shout and to the almost deaf and blind you draw large and startling figures.”]


image Attorney General Eric Holder announced this morning a massive nationwide crackdown against members of a bizarre Mexican drug cartel that officials say operates like a “quasi-religious” cult.

In just the last few days, federal drug agents have arrested 303 U.S. members or associates of  La Familia Michoacána—a fanatically ruthless organization that some officials say may be the fastest growing and most dangerous of all the Mexican cartels. All told, 1,186 La Familia associates have been arrested as part of a 44-month operation dubbed Project Coronado.

Unlike its cartel rivals, La Familia is motivated as much by religious zeal as it is by criminal profit. Its members pass out Bibles, use their drug proceeds to benefit the poor, and study the works of John Eldredge, a charismatic and staunchly conservative Colorado evangelist. Eldredge does not preach violence and has no connection to La Familia, officials say. But the cartel apparently is taken with his muscular theology, which teaches that men should assert their “Christian masculinity” through acts of physical rigor. (Eldredge’s Ransomed Hearts Ministries did not respond to requests for comment.)

“When [members of La Familia] commit acts of violence, it’s on the grounds that the Lord told them to,” said George Grayson, a College of William and Mary professor of government who has studied the operations of La Familia.  “They are absolutely ruthless and that is exacerbated by the feeling that what they’re doing, they do for God.”

La Familia is a relative newcomer on the Mexican drug-cartel scene, having only emerged in the last few years in the West-coast state of Michoacán—where the open shoreline makes it easy to import Colombian cocaine as well as chemicals used to make methamphetamines, one of group’s main products.

The group first made headlines in Sept. 2006, when 20 masked members stormed into a Mexican bar, fired shots in the air and tossed five human heads onto the dance floor. They left a note that said: “The family doesn’t kill for money … Know this is divine justice.” Last July, La Familia again shocked Mexico when its members were accused of torturing and killing 12 Mexican law-enforcement agents whose bodies were found dumped along a mountain road. The killings took place after agents began investigating organized crime in Michoacán and arrested one of La Familia’s top leaders, Arnoldo Rueda Medina

The key difference between La Familia and other Mexican cartels is the  group’s professed religiosity. Under the tutelage of its spiritual leader, Nazario Moreno-Gonzalez, (a.k.a. “El Más Loco” or The imageMaddest One), the group forbids drug use among its own people and adopts a “Robin Hood mentality” that seeks to use the proceeds from its illicit activities to benefit the impoverished, said one U.S. law-enforcement official who asked not to be identified talking about the group prior to Holder’s press conference. “They make their people go to church and they don’t want people using drugs in their area.” Moreno-Gonzalez, who remains at large, also requires La Familia members to carry a “spiritual manual” filled with New Age aphorisms. Mexican officials have also found numerous references to Eldredge and his book, Wild at Heart, in La Familia documents.

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The Woman Who Corrupted Columbus

You’ve heard of Twain’s short story, “The Man Who Corrupted Hadleyburg”?  This week’s news of the weird is about the woman who corrupted Columbus.  Seems a woman went into the Burlington Coat Factory in Columbus, Ohio and offered to buy people’s merchandise out of the goodness of her heart and the goodness of her non-existent fortune.  Was the woman mentally ill? A devious prankster? a grad student in sociology doing a research project?  A jilted consumer?  Can’t wait to hear the rest of the story.



image A woman being driven around in a rented limousine pulled up at a coat store and announced she’d won the lottery and would pay for everyone’s purchases, police said, but she ended up causing a riot when customers realized it was a hoax.

Angry customers threw merchandise around and looted, leaving the store looking as though a hurricane had passed through it, police said.

Linda Brown was arrested Tuesday after an hours-long shopping spree that began when she hired a stretch Hummer limousine to drop her off at a Burlington Coat Factory store, police Sgt. Lt. Michael Deakins said. Brown walked to a cash register and loudly announced she had won the lottery and would pay for each person’s merchandise up to $500, he said.

"Well, of course, people like to hear that," Deakins said. "Apparently they were in line calling relatives who were not at the store and told them to come."

People flooded the registers as cashiers began ringing up purchase after purchase, but Brown had not yet paid the bill, Deakins said. At least 500 people filled the aisles and another 1,000 were outside trying to get in, he said.

"She was telling people she won $1.5 million," Deakins said. "But it ends up she didn’t win anything. She had no money to pay for anything."

About an hour later, Brown had the limousine driver take her to a bank to withdraw money, but she returned empty-handed, police Detective Steven Nace said. By then, store employees had called in two dozen police officers to handle the crowds.

Shopper Candace Jordan said she told Brown she didn’t need clothes, she needed help paying her rent.

"And she said, ‘How much is it?"’ Jordan told WBNS-TV. "And she promptly wrote out a check."

By the time employees realized Brown didn’t have any cash to pay, police said, she already had taken off in the limo.

That’s when angry customers, realizing they weren’t getting free coats, began throwing merchandise on the floor and grabbing clothes without paying for them, Nace said.

"Everybody was like, ‘I still want my free stuff,’ and that started the riot," he said. "It looks like (Hurricane) Katrina went through the store."

Police said they have no way of tracking down the customers who stole items and fled, but they’re reviewing surveillance video.

When the limousine driver realized he wasn’t going to be paid the $900 Brown owed him for the day’s rental, he turned her in to police, Deakins said.

Brown, 44, was arrested on three outstanding warrants for aggravated menacing, misuse of a 911 system and causing false alarms. She was jailed late Wednesday, but no charges had been filed against her related to the coat store chaos pending a mental health evaluation.

Police said they didn’t know if Brown had a lawyer. No telephone number was listed under her name, and no one answered repeated phone calls at the Franklin County Jail.

A spokeswoman for Burlington Coat Factory, which is based in Burlington, N.J., and has more than 300 stores across the country, said late Wednesday she couldn’t comment on the incident.

For All the Saints?

[TT’s Note: These individuals and true life stories pay homage to Flannery O’Connor who, when asked why she wrote so many eccentric characters into her short stories, replied: “to the hard of hearing you shout and to the almost deaf and blind you draw large and startling figures.”]

In the hymn For All the Saints, we sing,

O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,

Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,

And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.

Not sure if this is what the hymn writer (William Walsham How) had in mind:

In Belgrade, Serbia an Orthodox priest is in trouble for beating patients at a recovery center for drug addicts.  The Reuter’s article reports that:

“Two separate videos made public by Belgrade’s Vreme weekly and B92 TV showed one of the centre’s employees and Peranovic repeatedly beating patients with a shovel, and kicking and hitting them inside a room decorated with icons.”

Preacher Gets Beat Up at Funeral

[TT’s Note: These individuals and true life stories pay homage to Flannery O’Connor who, when asked why she wrote so many eccentric characters into her short stories, replied: “to the hard of hearing you shout and to the almost deaf and blind you draw large and startling figures.”]

While Orlando Bethel vowed his battle against evil has only begun, one relative at the service said he believes Bethel set out to incite the grievers because he was bitter over a family land squabble.
The incident occurred June 14 at the Pine Grove Baptist Church in Loxley at the funeral of Lish Taylor, an uncle of Bethel’s wife, Glynis.
Bethel claims Loxley police did nothing after "a mob" beat him.

"They said it was attempted murder," Loxley Police Chief Cliff Yetter said Tuesday. "It was a little scratch on his shoulder."
Yetter said Bethel’s verbal assault "slandered the family of the deceased. … He told them the man in the coffin was going to hell, calling them whoremongers.”

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