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Grow a Pair

Maybe it's you who needs to grow a pair, pal (Monica Almeida/New York Times)

Maybe it’s you who needs to grow a pair, pal (Monica Almeida/New York Times)

Is it possible that Americans are making too big a deal out of bullying? If you’re Porterville, California Mayor Cameron Hamilton, then the answer seems to be “yes.”

Last week, KFSN out of Fresno reported on a Porterville City Council meeting where its leaders were discussing a proposal to create a “safe zone” for bullied students at Burton Middle School. And Hamilton wasted no time in making his controversial views known.

“I’m against bullying, but I’m getting damn tired of it being used as a mantra for everything and the ills of the world,” he said. “All most people have to do is grow a pair and stick up for their damn selves.”

Pretty enlightened view, huh?

Councilwoman Virginia Gurrola, who supported the safe zone proposal, immediately countered and said, “It is hard to stand up and ‘grow a pair’ when you’re maybe a 10-year-old little girl.” Of course, Hamilton had an answer for that, too.

“Then maybe the other 10-year-olds that think they want to stop bullying will stand up for her instead of a safe zone with a placard.”

Ultimately, Hamilton’s efforts were successful and the Burton Middle School students’ proposal was withdrawn. He later claimed that his message was that “together we can all fight this thing.” What he doesn’t seem to realize, however, is that safe zones also provide sanctuary for LGBT students, who seem to start questioning their sexuality at an earlier age now. Is this really the kind of message to send to them—that their feelings, internal struggles and mistreatment by others mean nothing?

What a piece of work…

For the Love of Katy

I “roar” every time I see Katy! (Taringa)

These days, few performers are as hot as Katy Perry. And where this California girl is concerned, the word “hot” applies in more ways than one.

I am absolutely in love with this gorgeous young woman. And despite liking Russell Brand, I have no idea what his problem is. He was lucky enough to marry Katy in 2010, but filed for divorce from her a mere 14 months later. Apparently they argued over starting a family and, as I understand it, he left because he didn’t want her “being the boss” of things.

What a dumb ass. She can boss me around any time!

Fortunately, this just means that Katy is available for smarter men to date—like singer/songwriter John Mayer, who’s had an on-again-off-again relationship with her since 2012.

He’s obviously no dumb ass. What happened to you, Russell?

At any rate, I decided to feature the lovely and talented Katy Perry in today’s post because, in my dreams, she happens across my article, loves it and immediately reaches out to me so we can start a friendship. Since I have a better chance of being appointed as the next Pope, though, I suppose I should be happy to have so many beautiful pictures of Katy to enjoy. Here are a few of my favorites, which I hope you appreciate as much as I do.

And if you are reading this, Katy, hit me up sometime. I’m no John Mayer, but I’m also no Russell Brand. Believe me.

Pop-Up Post: Fact or Fiction?

Oddly enough, "50 Shades of Grey" was labeled as "How-To" (Facebook)

Oddly enough, “50 Shades of Grey” was labeled as “How-To” (Facebook)

A funny thing happened to Caleb Kaltenbach of Simi Valley, California on Friday.

The pastor of Discovery Church was shopping at his local Costco—trying to find a gift for his wife—when he made a shocking discovery. There in the sales section were Bibles for only $14.99, but that wasn’t what caught Kaltenbach’s eye.

It was the sticker on the front of each holy book labeling it as “fiction.”

The good pastor immediately photographed one of the Bibles and tweeted it to his congregation with this message: “Costco has Bibles for sale under the genre of fiction… hmmm.”

Floods, plagues, dragons, wizards... fantasy has it all! (Michael J Sullivan)

Floods, plagues, dragons, wizards… fantasy has it all! (Michael J Sullivan)

There was obviously an uproar that shook the Discovery Church to its very foundation and rocked the community surrounding the heathens of Costco. And the company “immediately” issued an apology… immediately the following Wednesday. They admitted their mistake, offered their most sincere regrets and assured the blessed of Simi Valley that the Bibles would be moved to their proper place… in the fantasy section!

I’m kidding… or am I?

Killer Swordsman Brought to Justice

This is the only woman I want to see with a sword (A Band Apart/Miramax)

This is the only woman I want to see with a sword (A Band Apart/Miramax)

On July 12, 2008, Lucy Preciado—a 26-year-old mother of four—was stabbed to death with a sword in her Lancaster, California home. Sadly, all four of her children witnessed the murder, and it was her 9-year-old daughter who eventually placed the 911 call.

The chief suspect in the killing—Preciado’s boyfriend, Jesus Humberto “Chuey” Canales—fled first to Pomona, California, followed by Las Cruces, New Mexico, and finally to a small town near Jalisco, Mexico. That’s where the Mexican authorities—together with U.S. Marshals—finally apprehended the fugitive on Thursday and charged him with felony counts of murder and child endangerment.

The arrest warrant itself dated back to only six days after Preciado’s death, somewhere in the neighborhood of July 18, 2008. And what has Canales been doing since then, you might ask? Get this: within four days of killing Preciado, he shacked up with a woman in Mexico who also had four children!

Truly bizarre, but I can say this: whoever this Mexican woman is, ella es muy afortunada that the cops caught Canales before she became his next victim… Kill Bill style, of course.

Fortunately, it looks like the danger has been averted and justice has a chance to be served. Chuey now sits in the Los Angeles County Jail on $1.4 million bond, awaiting his arraignment tomorrow in L.A. County Court.

Canales ran Preciado through with his sword (Police Handout)

Canales ran Preciado through with his sword (Police Handout)

And Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department homicide detective Jeff Leslie could not be happier—especially since he only missed capturing Canales in Las Cruces by four hours, and then had to endure numerous episodes of “America’s Most Wanted” that featured the close call.

Personally, I would feel a little like a failure—unjustifiably so, of course—so I know how Leslie must have felt. Things are much improved now, though, as evidenced from his most recent comment.

“After 5 ½ years, it was a really satisfying feeling to put him into the back of a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department radio car.”

I bet it was, but now a new mystery has been revealed.

What in the hell is a radio car?

Duh!

Please keep your hands and feet... and your BODY... inside the helicopter at all times (Alamy)

Please keep your hands and feet… and your BODY… inside the helicopter at all times (Alamy)

If you ask me, few things are more hilarious than newspaper headlines—or headlines on news websites—that do little more than state the obvious. A case in point comes from CNN, which covered a recent story from Newport Beach, California.

Here’s what happened.

On Tuesday afternoon, 61-year-old Gregory McFadden walked into Anaheim Helicopters in nearby Fullerton and arranged for a 30-minute tour of the coastline. He seemed strange to the owners of the company—Chuck Street and his son Corbin—and had scabs on his arms, but they had no reason to deny his request and 25-year-old Corbin soon “took him up.”

What happened next, though, was completely unexpected. Corbin’s father described it like this:

“During the flight, [McFadden] kept asking to go higher and higher. ‘Can you fly right here along the shore?’ My son was starting to get suspicious. When they got towards Balboa Pier, he started to take his seat belt off and he started to open the door. My son said, ‘What are you doing? What are you doing?’”

Corbin grabbed ahold of McFadden’s shirt and tried to restrain him—all the while struggling to pilot the craft so they both didn’t crash and burn—but McFadden resisted and his shirt ripped. Then he simply opened the door and jumped out, plummeting 750 feet to the water below.

McFadden and the Balboa Pier (ABC News Local)

McFadden and the Balboa Pier (ABC News Local)

Corbin immediately reported the incident to air traffic controllers at nearby John Wayne Airport and a Huntington Beach police chopper was dispatched to help search for the missing man. They spotted McFadden and informed lifeguards and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Harbor Patrol, who were able to rescue him and bring him to shore. Lifesaving efforts were made before McFadden was transported to a local hospital, but it was too late. He died from his injuries a short time later.

According to McFadden’s estranged brother, he suffered from a severe throat disease, depression and mental illness. Based on this information, the authorities are investigating the incident as a possible suicide. And to me, the case seems pretty “cut and dry.”

Of course, this didn’t stop CNN from tagging the story with that obvious headline I mentioned earlier—one that immediately drew a response of “duh” from me and likely countless others. What was it, you ask?

Man Falls 750 Feet, Dies

All together now: “DUH!”

Sextortion Case Revelation

The lovely Cassidy Wolf (Darren Decker/Miss Teen USA)

The other day, in a post entitled Reality Round-Up: Sex and the Naked TruthI wrote about Jared James Abrahams, a 19-year-old from Temecula, California who was recently arrested for hijacking the webcams of young women, taking nude photos without their knowledge and using these photos to extort even more revealing material later.

Among Abraham’s victims was Cassidy Wolf, the current Miss Teen USA. At the time of her harassment, she was Miss Teen California.

In a shocking new development—well, it’s not all that shocking, just interesting—it seems that Wolf actually knew Abrahams from high school. They rarely crossed paths, of course—he was a computer geek and I assume she was the homecoming queen or at least a popular chick (true to high school cliques and all… John Hughes would be so proud)—but they were at least familiar with one another.

I imagine the nerdy young man passing the gorgeous cheerleader (or whatever) in the hallway. She would be surrounded by shallow friends—maybe some kind of jock boyfriend—while he would be more-or-less invisible… a pimply faced dork with stars in his eyes for the unattainable beauty that floats past him, a trail of perfumed loveliness trailing behind her.

The nude photos and extortion were obviously Abrahams’ ways of lashing out after languishing for so long, in love with a woman he could never attain.

I am curious what he did with the photos and videos he extorted from these unfortunate women. If they met his terms and surrendered naughtier material, did he keep his word and actually keep it secret? Were the nude pictures used as tools while he was polishing his tool, if you catch my drift?

Inquiring minds want to know—I want to know.

At any rate, I do know that Wolf knew Abrahams and Abrahams knew Wolf, who didn’t know much about him at the time.

How confusing was that sentence? My bad.

What all of this does prove is what any law enforcement official can tell you: most crimes are committed by someone you know.

Great. That certainly is reassuring…

Grisly Details in Anderson Case

Christina and Ethan Anderson (Fox-5 San Diego)

In early August, 16-year-old Hannah Anderson of California was kidnapped after cheerleading practice by 40-year-old James DiMaggio, a family friend who once seemed more like an uncle to Hannah and her brother Ethan. The ensuing manhunt led authorities to the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho, where DiMaggio was subsequently shot and killed.

Hannah was, of course, rescued. Unfortunately, the fates of her mother and younger brother were much different: their charred remains were discovered in the burned-out shell of DiMaggio’s home in nearby Boulevard, California.

This week, details about the murders of Christina and Ethan Anderson—as well as their subsequent autopsies—were released by the San Diego Medical Examiner’s Office. And believe me, they were pretty gruesome.

According to the report, Christina’s feet were bound at the ankles with a plastic cable tie and duct tape had been wrapped around her mouth and neck. Her head had been bashed in at least a dozen times and there were fractures to her right arm and both legs. She also had a cut on her neck.

Christina’s body was found in the home’s garage, alongside their family dog, who had been shot.

Ethan’s body was discovered in a different part of the home and was burned beyond recognition. He also had some bone fractures, but authorities believe it was the fire that killed him.

Hannah today (People)

Despite being more than a month removed from this terrible tragedy, it is still hard for me to understand what drove DiMaggio to turn so violently against a family he once cared for deeply. Yes, I know he was in love with Hannah and that this provided the impetus for his actions. I just can’t comprehend what happens inside someone’s mind to make this kind of violence seem like a good idea. There were obviously more deep-seeded issues at work.

The good news is that Hannah is alive and doing well—as well as can be expected of someone who lost half of her family in a brutal and highly publicized way. She is a survivor, and even she recognizes this fact.

“In the beginning I was a victim, but now knowing everyone out there is helping me, I consider myself a survivor instead,” Hannah told NBC News recently. “My mom raised me to be strong.”

And if her mother were here, I know she would be proud of her daughter. I’m proud of her and we aren’t even related!

The Suffering

Daniel Chong lived off urine for five days (KSBW-News)

Daniel Chong lived off urine for five days (KSBW-News)

Patterns in almost anything are easy to find if you watch them closely enough—and the news is certainly no exception. Granted, the media always focuses on the most dramatic stories, the ones guaranteed to increase viewership and please the sponsors. And there will always be some overlap in the stories they present. Every so often, though, patterns form around a particular theme, crime, natural disaster or other random subject, pulling together stories seemingly unrelated on the surface, but connected on a much deeper—and often bizarre—level.

Unfortunately, the pattern I noticed today was one of suffering. And it came in the form of two high-profile cases involving two men on very different paths: Daniel Chong and Ariel Castro.

Some of you may not recognize the name Daniel Chong, but he is the engineering student from UC-San Diego who was recently apprehended by agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency, tossed in a tiny holding cell and forgotten for five days. He is also the guy set to receive a whopping $4.1 million cash settlement from the U.S. Justice Department for his suffering. This may seem rather excessive—as it did to me the first time I heard it—but trust me, this poor bastard earned a good portion of that money after what he experienced.

Chong was busted in April 2012 during a small 420 celebration at a friend’s house. Incidentally, 420 is the number associated with marijuana, so smokers usually toke up at 4:20 in the afternoon—and sometimes even the morning—and celebrate even harder on April 20th (4/20). That’s what Chong was doing when he got swept up in the drug raid, never knowing his hosts also had guns, ammunition and a bag of 18,000 ecstasy pills in the house.

After being questioned thoroughly, agents realized that Chong was innocent and told him he would not be charged. Instead, they planned to release him, but placed him in a small holding cell in the meantime. The room was roughly 5-by-10 feet and there were no windows, which would have been meaningless if not for one unfortunate turn of events: Chong was left to rot in that cell for five days.

Pee pee is not intended to be a refreshing beverage (Steven and Chris/cbc.ca)

Pee pee is not intended to be a refreshing beverage (Steven and Chris/cbc.ca)

He banged on the walls, kicked the doors and screamed until his voice went hoarse, but to no avail. At one point he even heard employees milling around nearby, only none of them ever came to investigate or check on him. Chong was hungry, thirsty, alone and, most of all, desperate. So he kicked into survival mode and did something most of us wouldn’t wish on our worst enemy: he drank his own urine.

Hey, survival is survival, right?

Sadly, Chong’s mind started to drift during his third day of captivity. He started hallucinating and even admitted to being “completely insane,” which would explain why he crushed his glasses and swallowed pieces of the broken lenses in what thankfully became a failed suicide attempt. His initial plan was to use the glass to carve “sorry mom” on his arm, but he gave that up after completing only the “s.”

By the time agents finally came to get him, Chong was severely dehydrated, malnourished and incoherent. He had lost roughly 15 pounds and was—to put it bluntly—covered in shit. They rushed him to the hospital where he then spent five days in intensive care for kidney failure, dehydration, cramps and, of course, a pierced esophagus from the glass eating, and for what? Smoking some weed near a college campus in California… as if that never happens.

No offense, California. You know I love you, baby.

Needless to say, Chong sued and will now receive millions of dollars to help assuage the pain he suffered at the hands of the authorities. And now the DEA plans to place daily calls to their agents to ensure prisoners are not locked up and forgotten again. Of course, this will prevent any future multi-million dollar lawsuits, too, but I’m sure the prisoner welfare thing is the real reason for this new policy.

Either way, Chong is getting paid. And the moment he sees that $4.1 million check, I’m sure some of his suffering will be long forgotten. Too bad the same cannot be said for the victims of Cleveland’s Ariel Castro. We all know the suffering they endured at his hands will be with them for life.

For a decade or more, Castro kept three women prisoner in his home after kidnapping them off the street as children—Michelle Knight, Gina DeJesus and Amanda Berry. During their forced incarceration, these poor women suffered through torture, rape and countless other abuses. They were chained up in the basement and the attic, deprived of basic necessities, pressured into sex with their captor and even impregnated by him, as was the case for Michelle Knight—Castro induced miscarriages five times by starving and beating her. This maniac even had the nerve to attend vigils for his prisoners in the local community and to interact with family members suffering from the pain that—unbeknownst to them—he himself produced!

Survivors Knight, Berry and DeJesus (theweek.co.uk)

Survivors Knight, Berry and DeJesus (theweek.co.uk)

Fortunately, Castro left home on May 6th and forgot to lock an inside door, which allowed Amanda Berry to get close enough to the front of the house to call for help. Neighbors Angel Cordero and Charles Ramsey heard Berry screaming, kicked a hole in the bottom of the door and helped the young woman out of her prison—along with the 7-year-old daughter she had with Castro in 2006. A quick call to police led to the rescues of DeJesus and Knight, as well as the arrest of Castro a short time later.

The nightmare was finally over and Castro was charged with 977 counts that included kidnapping, rape, assault, aggravated murder and attempted murder. He pleaded guilty to 937 of them as part of an agreement to spare his life and was recently sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole plus 1,000 years.

I guess dropping a millennium on Castro ensures he will never see the light of day again—except for brief visits to the prison yard for exercise and such. Of course, he may need to be isolated from the rest of the population because the odds of someone murdering him in prison should be fairly high.

Castro’s sentencing hearing took place on Thursday and was very emotional, not to mention disturbing. The emotional part came primarily from Michelle Knight, who was brave enough to be in the courtroom with her abuser and to read a prepared statement in his presence.

“My name is Michelle Knight, and I would like to tell you what 11 years were like for me,” Knight told the judge and everyone else in attendance. “I worried about what would happen to me and the other girls every day. Days never got shorter. Days turned into nights. Nights turned into days. Years turned into eternity.”

The entire time that his victim was reading her statement, Castro sat quietly with a slight smirk on his face—as if he couldn’t believe she would have the audacity to lie in a court of law. When it was finally his turn to address the judge, Castro delivered what to me was a very disturbing speech, and one that illustrated just how horrible and depraved this man really is. I’m hesitant to reproduce any of it here, but will do so because we all need to understand just how evil some of our fellow humans can be. Here’s a little excerpt—I skip around a little, but feel free to check out the full transcript of his speech HERE:

“First of all, I am a very emotional person so I’m gonna try to get it out… I was a victim of sex acts when I was a child. This led me to view pornography for my whole life… these people are trying to paint me as a monster, and I’m not a monster. I’m sick… I’m repulsive… I believe I am addicted to porn to the point that it really makes me impulsive and I just don’t realize what I am doing is wrong… I am not trying to make excuses here… I’m a happy person inside… I continued to practice the art of masturbation and pornography and it got so bad that I used to do it like maybe two or three hours a day non-stop… when I picked up the first victim, I didn’t even plan it… I’m not a violent person… I was driven by sex… I am not a violent predator… I am a normal person… I have an addiction, just like an alcoholic has an addiction… most of the sex that went on it that house, practically all of it was consensual… There was times that they would even ask me for sex… these allegations about being forceful on them, that is totally wrong… I just want to clear the record that I am not a monster, I did not prey on these women, I just acted on my sexual instincts because of my sex addiction… God as my witness, I never beat these women… I never tortured them… I ask God to forgive me… I’m sorry to all the victims… but I do also want to let you know that there was harmony in that home.”

Knight delivers her speech in front of Castro (Tony DeJak/AP)

Knight delivers her speech in front of Castro (Tony DeJak/AP)

It sounds like a load of you-know-what to me, even though there can be little doubt that Castro is a sick and demented individual. To think he blames a sexual addiction for his crimes. Would that prevent him from knowing the difference between right and wrong? Would that lead him to kidnap, torture and rape three young girls for more than a decade—girls he knew from the neighborhood and whose parents he went to school with, as was the case for Gina DeJesus’ father? I don’t think so. There has to be some deep-seeded, evil streak running through him to make something like this possible. After all, most of us don’t respond to our sexual urges through violent crime—at least I hope we don’t. And even though I hate to admit it—and despite this being fairly common among hot-blooded males—I used to look at porn frequently and never had the urge to make some innocent girl my sex slave.

There has to be something seriously wrong with Ariel Castro, but I could care less if he ever receives treatment for his self-identified affliction. Instead, I would much prefer for him to be chained up in a cell, deprived of almost everything and raped repeatedly by other prisoners until, finally, he experiences the same hell that he put these poor women through. Only then will justice truly be served.

Suffering in any form is never a good thing, even when it leads to a million dollar settlement as it did for Daniel Chong. The truth is that no amount of money can ever recover the person a victim was before they were made to suffer. Just ask Amanda, Michelle and Gina. These young women endured enough pain and suffering to last a lifetime. And no one deserves to suffer, least of all children.

Be good to each other. And by all means, be careful out there.

Sausage Slicer Sentenced

This is the only wiener that should ever get sliced (Stuart/Wearenotfoodies.com)

In May of 2011, a man in Garden Grove, California filed for divorce from his wife, Vietnam-born Catherine Kieu. The couple met at a gym a few years earlier and had been happy for a time, but things had changed recently. An ex-girlfriend had come back into his life and based on the rekindling of that former flame, the time had come for a change.

Despite their separation, the man continued to share a condominium with his estranged wife. And for a month or two, things seemed to be going fine. There were arguments from time to time, but nothing major… at least not until one terrible day in July.

That afternoon, they had another argument, this time about a friend the man wanted to stay with them sometime soon. She finally relented and made a peace offering by serving him some delicious tofu, one of his favorite foods. It was delicious and quite filling, so much so that he immediately got sleepy and had to go to bed.

Little did he know that his soon-to-be ex-wife had laced his tofu with the sleep medication Ambien. And when he awoke, he found his arms and legs splayed apart and tied to different bedposts. Standing above him—a 10-inch knife in her hand—was Catherine. And she was not happy.

“You deserve it! You deserve it! You deserve it!” she yelled at her helpless husband. Then she did the unthinkable: she pulled down his pants, grabbed his penis and lopped it off with the knife.

With severed penis in hand—and her husband bleeding in the bedroom—Catherine walked casually into the kitchen, tossed the bloody member into the garbage disposal, switched it on and mutilated the penis. She then phoned the police, who arrived to find her husband tied up and bleeding right where she left him. He was rushed to UC Irvine Medical Center for emergency surgery and survived, but his penis could not be reattached. Now he can pee, but he can never have a sex life again.

Police could find no clear motive for the heinous sex crime, but apprehended Catherine and charged her with false imprisonment, aggravated mayhem, assault with a deadly weapon, poisoning, administering a drug with intent to commit a felony and spousal abuse.

She was eventually found guilty of one felony count of aggravated mayhem, one felony count of torture and a sentencing enhancement for using that knife. I’m not actually sure what that last one means, but it certainly can’t be good.

This Friday, Catherine Kieu was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole in seven years. I’m hoping no one is stupid enough to let her out that soon, though. She definitely deserves a lot worse, and I’m not just saying that because a guy lost his business, either. I assume we would all be equally upset if some crazy man had hacked off a woman’s breasts.

No matter how you slice it—no pun intended—assault is never a good thing. And that obviously includes a sexual assault like this one.

I truly feel for the victim in this terrible tale. He remains nameless since none of the media sources has identified him—this is customary in cases of spousal abuse, for obvious reasons. However, he did release a statement through his lawyer. It’s heartbreaking, but here’s an excerpt:

“The convicted (person) viciously deprived me of part of my life and identity. Then, as is routine in cases of violence that involve something sexual, the victim must endure, at the hands of the defense, a second attack. This was a cruel and calculated violation of a person’s body and mind. I now struggle with what is before me. She has torn off my identity as a man. She has caused doubt in my belief in good. She has betrayed my trust in people.”

The poor guy even said that when he learned his penis could not be reattached—that his “wife” had diced it up in the disposal—he felt as if he had been murdered. I can’t even imagine…

Catherine Kieu Guilty

Kieu in court (AP)

According to the defense, Catherine experienced trauma—some in the form of molestation—during her childhood in wartime Vietnam. This caused mental health problems like depression, which were exacerbated by “sexual requests her husband made that caused her pain”—whatever the hell that means. Anal, maybe?

Years of verbal and sexual abuse finally resulted in Catherine having some kind of “break from reality,” at least that’s what her public defender Frank Bittar claimed. Of course, I don’t buy that crap for a second. We’re supposed to believe this woman had a temporary psychotic episode that resulted in her chopping the dong off a man she also drugged and bound? I’m sorry, but all this plotting, executing and recording—a voice-activated tape recorder Catherine set up in the bedroom caught that bit where she repeated “you deserve it” before going to work on her husband’s Johnson—seems like more than a “break from reality.”

Catherine knew what she was doing. And while I’m sorry that she had such a rough childhood, I simply cannot accept that as justification for chopping off a man’s penis and grinding it into hamburger. Even if her husband was abusive, she could have found a less violent and vindictive way to exit the relationship. Wouldn’t someone have noticed some warning signs prior to this desperate act? Couldn’t she have easily extracted herself once her husband started talking to his ex-girlfriend again? Don’t you think he would prefer some privacy to enjoy with his “new” lady friend?

I think so.

If Catherine Kieu is mentally ill, then I sincerely hope she receives treatment while serving her life term. And if counseling or some other therapy is available, I’m certain she will participate since doing so will strengthen her case for parole seven years from now. Either way, she will likely be released with enough time to enjoy a good life, while her ex-husband suffers daily after one cruel and callous attack.

Clearly, justice was not served… how sad…

Goodbye, Sparkly Devil

Sparkly Devil works them for the crowd (courtesy of Johnny Crash Photography)

Every Memorial Day weekend sees its share of traffic jams, fender benders and, sadly, highway fatalities. And this past weekend was only different in the sense that one of its victims was none other than the performer Penny Starr Jr. called “the original bad girl of burlesque”: the sexy and infamous Sparkly Devil.

Sarah Klein, 36, was parked along a highway just south of San Francisco with her husband Raul Padilla, 43, when a party bus suddenly slammed head-on into their car.

Padilla’s red Honda impacted a center divider on US 101, spun around and came to rest facing oncoming traffic. Fortunately, the seat belt he was wearing saved his life (for now) and he was rushed to Stanford Hospital in critical condition. No word yet on whether he will survive or if he was under the influence at the time of the accident—there have been a few rumors to that effect from various news sources.

Sadly, Klein was not wearing her seat belt and was killed instantly. A tribute has been planned for her this Thursday evening at an annual convention in the Burlesque Hall of Fame in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Snapping photos backstage (courtesy of Sparkly Devil)

Sarah Klein came to California in 2006 from Detroit, where she worked as a culture editor for the weekly Metro TimesShe landed in San Francisco and quickly became one of the city’s most celebrated performers and engaged community leaders.

Klein worked to commemorate the “golden age” of burlesque from the 1950s and 1960s and to promote the museum in Vegas, but she was best known for her incendiary performances on stage. Here is a quick blurb from her website:

“Sparkly Devil is a glittering collision of sass, class, ass, and over-the-top vaudevillian entertainment. She first cut her rhinestone-encrusted teeth in Detroit’s vibrant cultural underground over a decade ago, and quickly became a glittering diamond in the rough, having graced (and disgraced) stages across North America since 2000.”

And believe me. Sparkly Devil was very good at what she did.

After receiving first runner-up as Best Burlesque Act in a 2008 readers’ poll conducted by the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Sparkly bounced back to win the Golden Pastie Award for “Performer Most Likely to End Up in Bangkok Missing a Kidney” at the 2009 Burlesque Festival in New York.

In other words, her star was just beginning to go supernova when it was suddenly and unfairly snuffed out. Did alcohol play a role in this terrible accident? Was it negligence? Coincidence?

Who knows… and seriously, who cares?

It took the Sparkly Devil away from us, and that is all that matters. Farewell, Sarah. And may you be the first devil in Heaven, sister.

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