30 September 2020

Why I Removed Yesterday's Blog Post

Woody Allen and his wife Soon-Yi.

Yesterday I put up a long blog post dedicated to the podcast, You Must Remember This. I heaped praise on the podcast and its creator, producer, writer and narrator, Karina Longworth. I went into specific detail about a few of the seasons of YMRT and why I enjoyed them so much. I noted that in addition to other skills, Ms. Longworth is a meticulous researcher. I may have been wrong on that point.

Today I was listening to the final episode of Six Degrees of Joan Crawford which focused on the book and film about Crawford, Mommie Dearest. In summarizing the life and legacy of Crawford, Ms. Longworth said that she could and did separate the star’s off- screen behavior from her films and thus could still enjoy those films. She added that this was something that she could not do with Woody Allen.

I checked online to see if she had many any other references to Woody and there wasn’t much other than that Longworth said she was partly inspired to start her podcast after Dylan Farrow’s allegations about molestation against Allen re-surfaced in 2014. In her mind the re-airing demonstrated  “how fast things disappear from the cultural memory.”

My question here is: why wouldn’t disproven allegations “disappear?”

If Longworth is such an authority on Hollywood and its history, surely she should know that in 1993, Woody Allen’s adopted daughter, Dylan claimed that he had molested her. She should further know that there was no physical evidence of molestation, Woody passed a lie detector test, two separate investigation concluded that there was no molestation and both suggested the strong possibility that the child had been coached. Indeed while there are no witnesses to Woody Allen abusing his daughter, there are witnesses to the mother, Mia Farrow, coaching Dylan as to what to say.

This is not obscure or hidden information. Anyone with a computer can learn this. 

Yet today it is widely-accepted that Woody Allen is a child molester just as many people incorrectly believe that he married his adopted daughter or if not adopted, one he raised and "groomed." (Woody and his wife Soon-Yi never even lived under the same roof when she was growing up and he played no role in raising her.)

As Paul Simon sang in The Boxer: “still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.”

I’ve written about Woody Allen before. My most detailed comments including numerous links was in this post from last spring.

Frankly I expected more from Karina Longworth. I’d never imagined her as one of a crowd of ignorants waving a pitchfork. She hasn’t gotten the story wrong so much as she hasn’t taken the time to even look into it.

Back in 2014 when Dylan re-asserted her claims my initial response was one of revulsion towards Woody Allen and a determination to rid myself of all the DVDs and books of his that I owned. But first I did a little research and found that there was another side to the story and it was the side with a preponderance of evidence on its side. I guess the notion of two sides to a story doesn't resonant with Longworth.

So now six years later I’m still a devoted Woodyphile and have instead taken down my post lauding Longworth and her podcast and am done listening to YMRT. Maybe some day she’ll take a closer look at the allegations and the results of the investigations and come to a different conclusion. Meanwhile, I've got better things to do. I guess I can separate the podcast from the ignorance of the podcaster.

(Perhaps Longworth can dedicate a Mommie Dearest type podcast to Mia Farrow based in part on Soon-Yi and Moses Farrow's experiences.)

Lastly I re-offer the addendum to the above-linked post I wrote about Woody.

As an assignment on research and critical thinking, a professor at  Brooklyn College, had his Introduction to Journalism class read Dylan's piece in the New York Times and Woody's response in the same paper. He then had them watch a CBS interview with Dylan, they then read Moses' blog post and the article about Soon-Yi. Most of the students -- all of them women -- had only seen the Dylan interview and believed her story. Of the 15 students who did all the reading and completed the assignment, 13 concluded that no molestation took place or had serious doubts about her claim.

25 September 2020

Forty-Five Minutes

It was two days before she died.

Pippa stood before me, naked, palm raised in benediction. I was horribly hungover, sad, and baffled by Pippa’s posture.

“What is it? What’s going on?”

“I was absolving you of your behavior last night. All forgiven. We move on.” Pippa lowered her hand to her side. 

I sat up, more confused than ever. “I don’t get it,” I admitted.

“What I’m saying, my dear boy, is that we’re wiping the slate clean. Last night never happened. All is as before.”

“It sounds like you’re pardoning me for last night. Is that right?”


This made no sense. And why was Pippa standing by the bed, like that? I wished she’d either get back in bed or put something on. She was too weird.

“But — and I can’t emphasize this enough — I didn’t do anything wrong last night. You did.” There was no question on this point. We’d been at a party given by our friend, Chad, where my greatest sin had been getting drunk. Pippa, on the other hand, had snuck off to a room with another man and not re-emerged for 45 minutes.

“Oh, is that the way you’re spinning last night. Ho ho. Ho ho.” The ho hos were — I don’t know why — offered in a bad British accent.

“Spinning it? All I did was sit on the sofa and get good and swacked on vodka tonics while talking to Chad and Leslie and a few other people. 

You’re the one who was, let’s say, indiscreet.”

Moi?” Pippa replied with mock indignation.

Now I was angry. “For crying out loud, you went into a bedroom with that football player and didn’t come out for forty-five minutes.”

“Did you time me?” Pippa seemed taken aback.

“As a matter of fact, I did.”

“The nerve,” she said playfully then finally crawled back into bed. 

“It’s a fine thing for you to forgive me when you did the unforgivable.” 

“Do you mind telling me what that was all about? Are you going to tell me that you two just talked?”

“First of all, my pet,” Pippa said as she snuggled against me affectionately. “You should never have let me smoke pot and drink hard liquor. I’ve no control under the spell of that combination. Second, you weren’t exactly Mr. Innocent.”

“What the devil did I do?”

“I saw the way you were flirting with that Mexican girl, Yovanna. There was real intent behind that.”

“She’s a model from Venezuela, not Mexico, and there was absolutely zero flirting going on. I was friendly. I’d never flirt in front of you.”

“She was a model from Venezuela. It seems you got to know quite a lot about her.”

“That’s two things! My god, how does me simply talking to a girl at all compare with you spending 45 minutes locked in a room with a football player? By rights, I should never forgive you.”

“Lookee here my little sweetie, I’ve apologized —”

“No, you haven’t, you haven’t once said you were sorry.”

“Okay, fair point. Well, I’ll say it now. I’m sorry for my behavior last night. How’s that, Mr. Prosecutor? Satisfied?”

I laid flat on my back, staring at the ceiling. The totality of what Pippa had done, the cheating, the fact that she did it in front of my friends, the humiliation, was suddenly overwhelming, and her flippancy made it worse. I had the urge to get up, pack my things, and move out of our house. At that moment, I hated her almost as much as I loved her. But my feelings were further complicated by her naked body being draped around mine. 

“So whattaya say honeybunch, can we forget this whole thing?” Pippa asked, then began kissing me all over my face while her left hand reached down and softly held my recently awakened penis.

I was outraged and aroused all at once but stuck to my guns. I’d not let Yovanna seduce me. She wasn’t getting off that easily.

“How do I know that there won’t be a time in the future, maybe soon, when you smoke pot and drink liquor and do the same thing? Hell, maybe you won’t even need to get high. For all I know, you’re going to see that guy again.”

“Oh sweetie, no, no, no, one hundred times no. I give you my word I’ll be faithful. Even when high as a kite. As for Nick….”

Then she said nothing for a while. Pippa stopped kissing and released my penis and laid next to me in silence.

“Well?” I finally said impatiently.

“I’ll break our date and insist we never see each other again.”

“You had a date arranged with…him?” I couldn’t bring myself to say his name.

“In my defense, I was still pretty high when I made it, and it was after….”

“After what?” As if I didn’t know.

“Goodness Mark, do I have to say it?” Pippa’s tone had shifted. She was at last serious.

“No, I sure guess you don’t. Were you really going to see him again?”

“No.” then after a pause, “I am sorry, Mark, I know what I did was awful. I….”

“You what?”

Pippa sighed heavily. “I don’t know. Maybe I’m all screwed up or something. Maybe I’m working things out. I had a really stifling childhood and went wild during my first two years of college. Then I met you, and this past year has been the best in my life. But it could be I had one little bit of wildness to work out of me. I feel terrible now. When I woke up, I thought I could try to play it off by being cute, and well, it was the wrong thing to do. I’m sorry for that too. Plus, to be honest, I’m still a little high. I wish I knew how I could make it up to you.”

“I know one thing you could do,” I said, and with that, I rolled on top of Pippa, and we made love. I was screwing her out of anger; it felt morally wrong, but it also felt physically fantastic. For me, it was the best fuck the two of us had had in our eighteen months together.

After sleeping off our hangovers, we went out for breakfast then headed to the library to study. Pippa was a senior, and I was in my first year of grad school, and despite our heavy night of drinking the day before, we were studious people. 

That evening we prepared dinner together in silence; we chatted a little over dinner, mostly about our studies, then resumed silence as we studied. Thoughts about what Pippa had done the night before had poked at me all day, occasionally giving me pangs of jealousy or pain. I knew there was a further reckoning to come on the matter and sensed that Pippa realized this. The incident was still too close to look at objectively and talk about. I wasn’t going to leave her, but I was hurt. We went to bed, exchanging nothing more than a chaste good night kiss.

“I think it would be wise if we had a nice long chat about things tomorrow night,” I said.

“Yes, that’s a good idea. You still love me?”

“Of course I do. We need to straighten a few things out, that’s all.”

“I want to be sure you know that what happened last night, I mean what I did, was no reflection on you or our relationship.”

“I understand,” I said, not sure that I did. “We’ll talk more tomorrow. Good night.”

I got up early the next day for an eight o’clock class, I was going out the door when Pippa emerged from our bedroom, and we wished each other a nice day. There was no kiss good-bye as had been our custom. She smiled widely and said, “I’m looking forward to our talk tonight, Mark.” 

“I smiled back and said sincerely, “looking forward to it, Pip. Bye.” 

“Bye, honeybunch,” she said, and we again smiled at each other for the last time.


It was a quarter to six and getting dark as I finished cleaning the kitchen and started thinking about dinner. Pippa should have been home an hour earlier but I assumed that she had either got caught up studying at the library or had stopped at the grocery store. I was sure that it was my night to cook, but I thought it better to wait until Pippa got home, especially if she had stopped at the store.

I watched the evening news while waiting. By six-fifteen, I was starting to get worried. It was unlike Pippa to be late.

When the news was over, I turned off the set, went into the kitchen, and tried to figure out whether I should go ahead and make dinner. My head was in the fridge, examining the possibilities when there was a knock at the front door. I rushed to open it, figuring that Pippa had forgotten her keys.

It was the campus police.

Their grim expressions and lowered heads were clues that they bore sad tidings. I was suddenly unsteady on my feet, and my insides started to swim.

One officer asked if I was Mark Radcliffe, and when I said I was, he told me he was afraid that there was bad news.

I was sure this meant Pippa was dead. I felt like my internal organs had collapsed. My body felt weak, and my right hand began to shake.

“Your girlfriend who lives here with you is Pippa Scott, is that right?”

I nodded glumly.

“I’m sorry, Mark, she’s gone.”

“You mean dead?



“Murdered. We’ve got a person in custody who admits to it. Nick Lamantia. Know him?”

“Kind of.”

The same asshole Pippa had spent forty-five minutes with at Chad’s party.

I followed the officers to the cruiser in a fugue. Life was in dreamlike fragments, a combination of a hazy dream state and a harshly lighted reality.

When, minutes later, I identified Pippa’s body, I experienced a total disassociation with reality. She’d been stabbed repeatedly. The sight of the woman I loved — my first love — laid out naked on a gurney over a white sheet, her beautiful body covered in wounds, made me feel faint and sick to my stomach and as though I was living in the worst nightmare imaginable.

I always said to Pippa that her body was luscious. Now it was cold, bluish, motionless, scarred, decaying. 

An officer told me the story. In the middle of the afternoon, Pippa had gone to Nick’s house. (An added shock; she had not broken their date.) In Nick’s confession, he said that they went to his bedroom as soon as she arrived and made love. Nick had gotten out of bed immediately after they finished, went to the kitchen, got a knife, returned to the bedroom, and began stabbing Pippa repeatedly. First, in the abdomen, then the chest, and then turning her over and stabbing her in the back-at which point she was already dead. 

There were approximately 30 stab wounds. The policeman said that evidence suggested that Pippa had put up a fight but was outweighed by nearly fifty pounds, a lot of which was muscle.

A neighbor had heard screams and called the police who, fifteen minutes after the call, found a docile Nick sitting in his living room sobbing, still holding the knife. He had no explanation for murdering her. 

“Something clicked after we had sex, and it was like a light in my brain had gone out, and a force took over, and I had no control over it. It told me what to do, and I did it.”

Nick had no history of mental illness.

First time for everything.

The police contacted Pippa’s parents— the Scotts — who had referred them to me.

I went home and called our mutual friends. Within half an hour, many of them were crowded into my small house, offering food, drinks, coffee, and lots of hugs. People cried, some softly, some in great, loud heaves. There were expressions of disbelief and shock and anger and bafflement. But not by me. I was numb. It was like my brain had been shot with novocaine. The sight of her naked, punctured dead body lingered in my mind’s eye. The fact of her permanent departure from this world coiled around my brain. 

I was surrounded by fellow mourners, and I was utterly alone.

There was too much to process. I hadn’t even gotten over Pippa’s behavior at the party and now had to sort out the fact that she had gone back to have sex with Nick and then been brutally murdered, and I’d never see her again. Not being able to touch and kiss and make love to and talk to and listen to her was incomprehensible. 

Even in the wake of her behavior, I assumed we’d spend the rest of our lives together. That should have been the focus of my grief, but it was mixed in with her infidelity and the realization that if Pippa had been faithful, she’d still be alive. I found it impossible to simply be sad or heartbroken. I was overwhelmed.

On top of all this, I felt guilty, but I didn’t know why. Maybe it was because my grief was complicated by anger with her betrayal. Perhaps it was because I was feeling sorrier for myself than I was for Pippa or her family.

I couldn’t cry. I could barely speak. I couldn’t do much beyond staring at the carpet, accepting the condolences, and trying to comfort the people who had come to comfort me.

It was well after midnight when everyone left — though I can’t recall exactly how late it was. I had rejected offers to stay with me through the night, and in fact, once I got into bed fell asleep instantly, still having failed to shed a tear.


I woke up at sun-up, still numb. But as I showered, the feelings washed over me with the water, and I sobbed uncontrollably. I managed to shave and get dressed, unsure if I could sit through my early afternoon seminar when I was blindsided by another crying jag that left me crumpled on the floor next to my bed, wiping tears with, and blowing my nose into, a bedsheet.

The ringing phone snapped me out of it, and I composed myself enough to utter a weak hello.

Pippa’s parents and two siblings were in town and suggested we meet for breakfast. It was the last thing I wanted to do, but I saw no way out of it. I arranged to meet them at the same diner that Pippa and I had eaten breakfast two days before.

I’d met Pippa’s parents twice before when we’d visited them during long weekends. Her parents were of the Republican polyester-wearing set who loved TV game shows and bowling and going to yard sales and who decorated their house with schlock and souvenirs from their trips to tourist sites around the country. The Scotts had quietly disapproved of us living together, though it had nothing to do with me personally. I got along fine with them, partially because during our visits, Pippa did all the talking. She’d mostly felt disdain for her parents while growing up but had grown to appreciate them once out of the nest. They were easy enough for me to talk to despite our having little in common, aside from loving Pippa. They were adept at discussing the weather and the lengths of drives and the latest celebrity scandal. We had an unspoken agreement to avoid politics.

Pippa’s younger sister Maggie was a senior in high school, and the family rebel. She was streetwise and smart in a way that I couldn’t see would help her find fulfillment or success in the world. She was headed for community college where perhaps she’d “turn it around” and find a passion but also might just as likely might marry the wrong guy and have a kid too soon and struggle for the rest of her life to make ends meet. She was earnest and likable, but she lacked her sister’s intellect. The older brother, Buddy, had gone straight from high school into the family construction business, and his aspirations were to achieve a level of success a notch or two above his father’s. He probably would, and he’d likely marry a nice local girl and have his 2.5 kids to whom he’d be a decent father. He rarely spoke to me, and I assumed he resented my education. Pippa had been the odd duck in the family. Intellectually curious and academically gifted, she loved art, literature, poetry, and classical music and longed for a life in academia. As did I.

I was nervous about seeing Pippa’s family. For one thing, she wouldn’t be there as a buffer, and for another, I half suspected that they’d somehow blame me for Pippa’s murder.

We met outside the restaurant, all of us appropriately sullen. Everyone was red-eyed — especially me — and no one could manage to talk much above a whisper. Pippa’s dad, Rex, quickly shook my hand and then seemed to try to glide away from me. The siblings gave me perfunctory hugs, but Pippa’s mother, Lana, held me in a long embrace and thanked me for being so strong and for having been so good to her “sweet little girl.”

The conversation was awkward. There was the reality that we had little to say or, in fact, could say about what had happened. It was a tragedy, and besides Pippa, we were its main victims. But what was there to talk about? Rex asked me if I knew “the bastard” that killed his daughter. I answered that I knew of him, that he had been on the football team, was a pretty good player, well-liked, and as far as I knew, had never been in any sort of trouble before. Oh yes, he fucked your daughter a couple of times, once while in the same house as me. This, I didn’t say.

“Do you know why she was at his house?” Lana asked me.

I scratched my head and looked down, then lied, “I suppose it had to with a class they had together, maybe she was —”

“But Pippa was nude,” Rex said. “That’s what I don’t understand, she was completely nude.”

“Maybe,” Lana offered, “he stripped her clothes off after.”

“That doesn’t make sense,” Buddy said.

“Mark,” Lana said, looking me in the eyes, “do you think Pippa was having a fling with this boy?”

“Mom!” Maggie exclaimed, clearly shocked at the suggestion.

Obviously, I had to lie. “I’ve no reason to suspect so.”

“You don’t suppose he raped her,” Rex said as a statement, not a question.

“Dad!” Maggie practically yelled.

“The police said nothing to me about rape or post-mortem intercourse,” I said truthfully.

“Post mortem sex? God, everybody, can we not say such things right now? She was my SISTER.” Maggie was verging on hysteria.

Lana held her daughter and cooed to her. I took a stab at my omelette and noted that Buddy was making short work of his meal. While Buddy inhaled his pancakes, the rest of us picked at our food with varying degrees of enthusiasm. I managed to finish half my omelette and most of the hash browns when I noticed someone enter the cafe wearing a shirt very much like one that Pippa had bought me a few weeks before. I remembered how enthusiastically Pippa came home that day and pulled the shirt out of the shopping bag. “I saw it in the store window and thought it would be perfect for you. Try it on!” I did, and when Pippa saw me in the shirt, she said, “Perfect! My handsome boyfriend! I’m so goddamned lucky!” She smiled widely and hugged me.

The memory was crushing. Pipp had been so sweet, so loving, so thoughtful. I began to sob, which made me terribly embarrassed. I’d never betrayed strong emotion in public before. I was raised in a cold, formal New England household where a broad grin or frown was considered the extent to which one was allowed to betray their feelings. But now I was unable to stop crying. Having just comforted Maggie, Lana slid her chair next to mine and held me as I wept. 

When I finally composed myself, I offered apologies. Everyone, even Rex, told me that it was okay. “Don’t feel bad, young man,” Rex said as he fought back the tears, “it’s only natural.”

Doubtless, customers and restaurant staff were glad to see us leave. We’d made everyone uncomfortable through our lamentations and obvious grief. 

The five of us walked toward campus, but after two blocks, stopped, and I said, “so where are we going?”

Lana said, “we were following you.”

“I have no idea where to go or what to do right now. I can’t possibly go to class.”

We decided to go back to what had been Pippa and my house and was now — I realized — only my place. Without her share of the rent, it wouldn’t be my place for long—yet another weight on my slim shoulders.

Pippa’s family fit neatly on our sofa as I sat in a rocker — another gift to me from Pippa. We sat in silence for a full minute before Lana said, “this is a nice, cozy house.”

“Yeah, it’s perfect for two people. The bedroom is big, my desk is in it, and Pippa’s was right there, of course,” I said, pointing to the corner of the living room. “There’s a small backyard where we used to sit on warm days.”

“The kitchen is nice and big,” Lana noted.

“Does anyone know why in the hell this awful beast killed my daughter?!” The question burst out of Rex, laced with equal measures of anger, frustration, and bewilderment.

According to the police, Nick had offered no motive. He had simply, as one officer put it, “suddenly gone nuts.”

“I’m sure a psychiatrist will thoroughly examine him,” Lana said.

“What good will that do any of us? They’ll try to establish a defense for an insanity plea. The bastard should be given the chair or gas chamber, or however they rid the state of bastards like him. Then he should burn in hell.” Rex seemed to be both on the verge of tears and ready for an even greater explosion.

“Try to relax, Dad,” Maggie said and took one of his hand and held it between both of hers.

Buddy, who had been mostly silent, suddenly said, “this is the most fucked up thing ever,” and he began to shake, then, for the first time, he wept. Lana moved next to her son and held him. 

It went on like that for most of the day. First, one person crying then another, as if we were taking turns. And Lana always held and soothed whoever was expressing their grief. By early evening Lana herself started to sob, and Maggie comforted her.

Pippa’s family stayed in town for two more days, then took Pippa’s body home for burial. Two days after that, I took the train to Pippa’s hometown for the memorial service. There Lana introduced me to relatives, neighbors, family friends, and Pippa’s ex- schoolmates. My status as the former boyfriend gave me a measure of importance, but it was only for the day. I’d soon leave and never return to this vapid suburban town and never see any of these people again. 

The funeral, the burial, and the reception were dull, depressing affairs that conveyed none of Pippa’s vivacity or charm. She was a dead person associated with communal and individual memories that would soon fade. Forever remembered, forever gone.

Meanwhile, Nick had been charged with first-degree murder. A couple of psychiatrists had examined him, and it was obvious that his lawyer would mount an insanity defense.

The lease on the house we’d rented would expire in a few months — at the end of the semester — but Rex offered to continue paying Pippa’s share. I gladly accepted his offer.


After two weeks, I resumed classes and immersed myself in studies. I’d always been a conscientious student, but now I was obsessive about my school work. Initially, it was because I needed to catch up, but it soon became a way to distract myself from Pippa’s death and the attendant wonderment I felt about her cheating on me. 

I was awash with happy memories of Pippa and I picnicking, making love, shopping, enjoying films, concerts, and museum visits. I remembered snippets of conversations. Silly things that made us laugh. Discussions about our future together and whether we should have children, and if so, when and how many. We often talked of European vacations we’d someday take and listed the places we most wanted to see. I also thought of those forty-five minutes, and how it had sickened me to see her enter a room with another man in full view of my friends. And I constantly thought about her going to see Nick again after promising not to and how he would forever be the last person she ever had sex with. I was continually visited by the thought that she was a victim of her own lust, her own duplicity. I was tortured by thoughts of her last seconds when she fought for her life as that madman stabbed her. What a horrible ending. How terrified she must have been knowing that she was being murdered.

Of course, Pippa was still very much alive in my dreams. There she’d be, miraculously live again. In some, she’d survived her injuries, or there was no Nick. In others, we made love. Then I’d wake up to the ugly reality that the girl I’d loved was dead. I’d gamely get out of bed and into the shower where I would sometimes sob, as I’d done that first morning after her death.

In addition to revisiting Pippa’s death, I also thought of her strange behavior the morning after the party. What was behind her trying to play off her actions the night before? Was she really still a little high? Pip was not only smart but a real wit whose sense of humor occasionally veered into the downright goofy. I wondered what her end game was with the whole forgiving me act. 

Six weeks after the murder, Chad threw another of his soirées, and he talked me into coming. I’d not had a sip of alcohol nor socialized since Pippa’s death and was reluctant to do either. But good old Chad coaxed me into coming. He was sympathetic and understanding but insisted that I was doing myself no favors by perpetually mourning.

I arrived at the party determined to say a few hellos, have a drink or two, and then slip out unnoticed. Everyone went out of their way to ensure that I was comfortable, having a good time, and I wasn’t left alone or without a drink for so much as a second. After a few drinks, the grief that hovered over me dissipated, and after a few more, I felt good. For the first time since….

Late in the evening, Chad stole me away from the chap I was talking to. 

“Mark, old boy, I’ve been debating about whether or not to tell you something, and I’ve decided that you should know the truth,” he said while leading me to his room. He closed the door.

“So this may come as a bit of a shock. Or it may be that it won’t surprise you at all.”

“Fire away, old friend. I figure I can handle anything now.”

“If you’re sure.”

“I am.”

“Do you know Ray Hagen?”

“Sure, nice fella, Russian Studies, as I recall.”

“Yup, that’s him. Well brace yourself, old boy, Ray confessed to me recently that he had an affair with your late Pippa last Fall. Said it amounted to about a dozen or so assignations over a couple of months.”

I didn’t bat an eye.

“I’m not surprised. You know Pippa told me the day before she was killed that she had a date with Nick but promised me she’d cancel it and be forever faithful. The next day she went to his house, and they made love before he killed her. So I’m not surprised. Before the night of your party, I wouldn’t have believed it for a second. But I’ve learned there was a side to Pippa that —”

“I’m glad you’re taking it so well, Mark. I was a little worried about telling you.”

“In a sense, it doesn’t matter one way or the other since she’s dead. But I am — for what it’s worth, getting a fuller picture of the girl.”

“And so, what do you think?”

“Well, I’ve got to process this new bit of news, but it seems to point to the fact that Pippa and I would not have had a long or successful relationship. More than anything on this earth, I wish she were still alive. But the loss of our relationship seems less a tragedy than it initially had.”

“You won’t mention to Hagen that I said anything.”

“Course not. Don’t see him much anyway.”

“Kind of a low thing for him to have done.”

“I bear him no malice.”

Chad’s revelation affirmed that — as tragic and horrible as Pippa’s death was — it had not cost me a life partner. After all, there might have been others besides Nick and Hagen and likely would have been more to come. 

But none of this eased the pain of her death, not in the slightest. 


I needed to get away from the physical memories, so I continued my graduate studies in Boston the next semester.

There I soon met a woman and fell in love. Constance (never Connie) came from the same traditional Brahmin stock as I did, though with even more and older money. Constance was tall, slender, delicate, and highly refined. She had expensive taste in conservative clothes, favoring tweeds. She had a clipped officious manner of speaking, and while I suffered fools badly, she did not suffer them at all. Her dream was to have a high-level job at a top art museum. Constance was, in many ways, the opposite of Pippa, except behind closed doors. Alone in her apartment or mine, she was an utterly uninhibited force of sexual nature who drained every ounce from me, leaving me an empty, if sated husk. 

As I began my Ph.D. program, Constance graduated with her MA in Museum Studies and landed her first job. We moved in together, and the sexual gymnastics that she favored were virtually a nightly occurrence. I was happy, though I felt somehow unfulfilled and wondered if lingering memories of Pippa were keeping me from being as happy as I should have been. I had passing thoughts that Constance might not be my perfect mate but ignored them.

It was a year later that I saw Pippa again. 

Or thought I did. 

On the way home from a class, I stopped in a produce market to look for fruit. I was sorting through Royal Gala apples when I happened to look up and see a woman who could have been Pippa’s twin. She looked up from the cantaloupe she was examining and saw me staring. 

“Mark Radcliffe!” She exclaimed with a broad smile.

It was otherworldly. Had the dead risen? Was this a ghost?

The woman walked purposely towards me, put down her shopping bag, and embraced me.

Looking me in the eyes, she frowned. “My god, you don’t know who I am, do you?”

I shrugged.

“Maggie! I’m Maggie, Pippa’s sister.”

I was relieved not to be dealing with supernatural phenomena.

“Of course. It’s amazing, you look just like Pippa did.”

“You think so? Mom had said I was starting to look more and more like her, especially when I cut my hair, but I don’t see it.”

Maggie looked like Pippa, all right, only prettier. In fact, she was downright stunning. Was Pip ever this beautiful?

“What are you doing in Boston? How are you? How’s your family?”

“First of all, I’m fine. Mom and Buddy are doing well. Dad had a huge heart attack last year and had to retire, and kind of has to stay calm, quiet, and at home a lot. He’s happy to be alive but not happy with his new lot in life. I think it’s tougher on Mom having him around all the time, but they’re adjusting. Buddy is in charge of the company if you can believe that. He’s married, and his wife is expecting their first.”

“Wow, a lot’s changed. And what of you?”

“I did two years at a CC, and now I’m in my first semester at Boston University. My life kind of turned around. I’ve gone from hating school to loving it, zero to sixty. How about you?"

“I’m in a Ph.D. program at Harvard and thoroughly enjoying it.”

“God, I remember when I thought you were such an egghead like Pippa. Now I admire you.”

“Would you like to get a coffee or a drink?” I asked, hopefully.

“Sure.” she smiled.

Three months later, Constance moved out of our apartment after discovering my affair with Maggie. Three months after that, Maggie moved in with me. That’s where things stand now. I swear I’ve never been happier. (I now can’t figure out what I saw in Constance — was it just the sex?) 

In some ways, it’s like having Pippa back in my life, but that’s based solely on the physical resemblance. Maggie is into organic cooking; Pippa loved gourmet restaurants. Maggie likes a good comedy; Pippa preferred costume dramas. Maggie plays volleyball; Pippa hated sports. Maggie loves dancing; Pippa watched the ballet.

We’re not making any plans — yet. Both of us are determined to live in the moment. If I had to guess, I’d say we’ll likely stay together for a very long time and that we’ll probably get married. But I know how suddenly things can change.

It’s in some way strange to be living with Pippa’s sister — especially given the physical resemblance — yet I hardly ever think of Pippa anymore. Sure, I’ll always miss her, but the pain is long gone. I don’t think about the specifics of her death anymore, nor do I contemplate her infidelities. It’s like she’s an ex of mine who died -- and nothing more. Maggie rarely speaks of her, and when we visited her folks — they were delighted we were together — Pippa was barely mentioned. 

People learn to carry on in the aftermath of tragedy. We have to. And sometimes good things come to us. It gets better. It has for me anyway.

23 September 2020

I Comment on Today's Headlines, Fifth in an Occasional Series

RIP Ruth Bader Ginsberg

 In July I came up with the brilliant idea of posting some of the day's headlines from various news sources and writing comments about them that were either pithy, snarky, wise or brilliantly on point (or a combination thereof). The response was so overwhelming (thank you Lloyd Foghorn of Punxsutawney, PA) that I offered readers two more editions in August and one earlier this month. Since no protests (at least no violent ones) have resulted, I am continuing the series with part five. Enjoy!

From SF Gate:

Video shows mountain lion stalking child on bike in Bay Area

My first interpretation of this headline was that the mountain lion was riding the bike. Upon reading the story that turns out not to be the case. I also thought it would be amusing if the bike was a mountain bike and downright hilarious if it was a mountain lion bike. Don't worry, folks, the kid is okay.

If Trump appoints a third justice, the Supreme Court would be the most conservative it's been since 1950

The death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg and the willingness, nay eagerness, of Senate Republicans to allow Trump to appoint her successor has been, to me, the most depressing story of 2020. And that's saying something in a year that has brought us Covid-19, climate disruption and police murdering more African Americans. The ramifications to this country are enormous and horrible and could cause damage for decades to come -- even if Biden is elected and Democrats re-take the senate.

200,000 dead as Trump vilifies science, prioritizes politics

The number above reflects, of course, deaths from the coronavirus. Could the pandemic have happened at a worse time in our history given who the president is? Nope. Clearly, Trump doesn't care how many people die and neither do any other conservatives, except as it effects their poll numbers. History will not be kind.

Pentagon used taxpayer money meant for masks on military gear

I was under the impression that the military followed orders and obeyed the letter of the law. My mistake.

From the New York Times

As Schools Go Remote, Finding ‘Lost’ Students Gets Harder

Ladies and gentlemen I give you the least surprising headline of the year. I'm glad I'm not teaching at a public school right now, it's tough enough under normal circumstances. I admittedly haven't studied the issue but think it a safe guess that it's much easier to "cut class" these days, and reaching those students who traditionally struggle in a traditional classroom setting and meeting their needs, is especially difficult. 

Trump Demands U.N. Hold China to Account for Coronavirus Pandemic

How about the United States hold Trump responsible for his disastrous handling of the pandemic? The nerve of the asshole to point fingers. Get back in your glass house, Trumpy.

Democratic Donors Push Biden for a Cabinet Free of Fossil Fuel Connections

I'm all about this. People who get in bed with the fossil fuel industry should play no part in a Biden cabinet nor anyone else's, for that matter. We're in the midst of a climate crisis and this is no time to play nice with folks who are part of the problem.

How Republicans Are Trying to Use the Green Party to Their Advantage

See what bastards these people are? They can't win legitimate elections so they have to resort to such tactics as voter suppression and pushing third party candidates to siphon votes from Democrats. Utter low lifes.

From CNN:

Sean Lennon hosting 80th birthday celebration for dad and chatting with Paul McCartney

Strange to think that John Lennon would be turning 80 next month and weird to think that it's been almost 40 years since his murder. Lennon's death still feels recent and sad to me but fortunately his time on the scene also seems so fresh and new. Growing up, The Beatles were a huge influence on me and a great comfort. Their music has remained part of my life since their first appearance on US TV over 56 years ago. Good for Sean and Paul to celebrate the life of a great and positive cultural influence.

Kentucky hospital CEO pleads with people to wear masks as the hospital fills up with Covid-19 patients

Tells you everything you need to know about our society. Imagine having to beg people to do the right and obvious thing. It boggles the mind and like so much of the news these days is pretty goddamned depressing.

'The girls go crazy over him': Meet Jenisbek Tserik, Mongolia's most eligible eagle hunter

Who knew that women go for eagle hunters? Who knew that there are eagle hunters? Good for Mongolia for getting a little publicity. However odd.

Using weed during pregnancy linked to psychotic-like behaviors in children, study finds

Can't say I'm surprised. Best to stay off any mood-altering substance while with child. I had a student once who was -- in the terminology of that time -- a crack baby. (I understand this is no longer an acceptable term but am not sure what to replace it with.) The point was that the mother smoked crack during her pregnancy and that child was a mess. Impossible to handle in a classroom and there were no special programs available for him. The funds to maintain or create such programs were unavailable because rich people needed tax breaks and the military needed lots and lots of weapons. Cool.

From the BBC

Breonna Taylor: Kentucky city on edge ahead of prosecutor decision

This could really be bad. A grand jury is going to announce a decision today regarding charges in the police slaying of Breonna Taylor. Hopefully justice will be served. History teaches us not to expect that the rights of Black people to not be killed by the police will be upheld. It could get nasty tonight in Louisville.

The ‘Trump train’: 'I'm tired of people putting down our president'

Not nearly as tired as most of us are of putting up with an idiot-in-chief who continues to debase the office of the presidency and inflict irreparable damage to the country. You're tired of your president being "put down?" Many of us are tired of being put down by him. 

How the oil industry made us doubt climate change

Okay, for the record they didn't make me doubt climate change nor a lot of other intelligent people. Sadly they (no pun intended) polluted the minds of many people for whom logic, reasoning and empirically verifiable facts are strangers. Rest assured that oil company bastards will have a special place in hell right next to tobacco industry executives and the Trump family.

20 September 2020

Strictly Groucho Film Quotes Part Two

Here is part two of my look at great one-liners uttered by Groucho Marx in Marx Brothers films. See yesterday's post for part one and an introduction.

From Duck Soup (1933) in which Groucho played Rufus T. Firefly (Continued from yesterday.)

Calling all nations. Calling all nations. This is Rufus T. This is Rufus T. Firefly coming to you through the courtesy of the enemy. We're in a mess folks, we're in a mess. Rush to Freedonia! Three men and one woman are trapped in a building! Send help at once! If you can't send help, send two more women!

It's too late. I've already paid a month's rent on the battlefield.

I wonder whatever became of me? I should have been back here a long time ago.

Nobody calls a Firefly an upstart!

From A Night at the Opera (1935) in which Groucho played Otis B. Driftwood.

Listen, Gottlieb, nix on the love making. Because, I saw Mrs. Claypool first. Of course, her mother really saw her first; but, there's no point in bringing the Civil War into this.

Of course, that's why I'm sitting here with you. Because you remind me of you. Your eyes, your throat, your lips! Everything about you reminds me of you. Except you.

You're willing to pay him a thousand dollars a night just for singing? Why, you can get a phonograph record of Minnie the Moocher for 75 cents. And for a buck and a quarter, you can get Minnie.

I have here an accident policy that will absolutely protect you no matter what happens. If you lose a leg, we'll help you look for it.

Signor Lassparri comes from a very famous family. His mother was a well-known bass singer. His father was the first man to stuff spaghetti with bicarbonate of soda, thus causing and curing indigestion at the same time.

From A Day at the Races (1937) in which Groucho played Hugo Z. Hackenbush.

If I hold you any closer, I'll be in back of you!

Hey, don't drink that poison! That's $4.00 an ounce!

Either he's dead or my watch has stopped.

Will you have the bellhop hop up with some hop scotch.

From Room Service (1938) in which Groucho played Gordon Miller.

My advice to you is to stay where you are. Most actors would be tickled to death to get as close to a lamb chop as you, and I do mean ewe.

From At the Circus (1939) in which Groucho played J. Cheever Loophole.

I bet your father spent the first year of your life throwing rocks at the stork.

I know, you have forgotten. Those June nights on the Riviera, where we sat 'neath the shimmering skies! Moonlight bathing in the Mediterranean! We were young, gay, reckless! The night I drank champagne from your slipper - two quarts. It would have held more, but you were wearing inner soles! Oh, Hildegarde!

Operator, operator! Get me the steamship Normandy. Where is it? It's in the water.

From Go West (1940) in which Groucho played S. Quentin Quale.

I was going to thrash them within an inch of their lives, but I didn't have a tape measure.

Time wounds all heels.

I give you my solemn word as an embezzler, I'll be back in ten minutes.

You must fan the flames of love with the bellows of indifference.

From The Big Store (1941) in which Groucho played Wolf J. Flywheel.

You mean a woman of your culture and money and beauty and money and wealth and money would, would marry that imposter?

From A Night in Casablanca (1946) in which Groucho played Ronald Kornblow.

From now on the essence of this hotel will be speed. If a customer askes you for a three-minute egg, give it to him in two minutes. If he askes you for a two-minute egg, give it to him in one minute. If he askes you for a one-minute egg, give him the chicken and let him work it out for himself!

From Love Happy (1949) in which Groucho played Sam Grunion.

I am the same Sam Grunion who solved the international uranium-mining swindle. Scotland Yard was baffled; the FBI was baffled. They sent for me and the case was solved immediately: I confessed.