Saturday, April 28, 2012

Freaky (Factual) Tale Friday: Edgar Allan Poe predicts the future...and a grisly death.

(photo @ poestories.com)

This weekend, a movie was released called 'The Raven.' The plot revolves around Edgar Allan Poe (played by John Cusack) helping the police track down a serial killer who is emulating the killings and/or death that could be found in Poe's writings.  Eventually, the serial killer makes things personal and goes after Poe's love interest, Emily, played by Alice Eve.

The entire story is a complete work fiction (including the character of Emily) and by nearly all accounts, the movie itself is absolutely terrible.

An awful script, however, will never convince a movie 
studio to pass up the chance to show Alice Eve in a corset

I have not seen the movie myself; $20 is far too steep a price to pay for the slim chance that Cusack might thrust a phonograph playing Moonlight Sonata into the air and make the film worth the admission price (and if you don't get that reference, please continue enjoying your youth).

Besides, if the filmmakers really wanted to tell a story about Poe's art being imitated by life, there already was a great (and very unsettling) true story right there for them to base a movie on.

In 1838, Poe published his only complete novel, 'The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket.'  The book's protagonist, Arthur, is an adventurous child that decides to stow away on a whaling ship. The story start off fairly normal (or as normal as they can be for a kid that sneaks onto a whaling vessel), but much like Edgar Allen Poe, things become strange and demented as the end nears.

The grisliest scene, however, comes about halfway through the book. Through mutiny and a terrible storm, only four crew members remain alive, and they have run out of food.  A character named Richard Parker suggests that to stay alive, one of the group should be sacrificed and eaten by the others. 

Though he did not offer to sacrifice himself and 
his "gammy leg" like the brave Monty Python captain did.

After drawing straws, Richard Parker instantly regretted his decision.  He had drawn the shortest one, making him a meal for his fellow surviving crew to kill and cannibalize. Fortunately, this was all just a work of fiction...for a few more decades, at least.

46 years later

On May 19 of 1884, four men set sail on yacht called the Mignonette for a leisurely trip from Southampton, England to Sydney, Australia.  On July 5, the yacht was struck by a powerful wave, forcing the crew to abandon ship in an incredibly flimsy lifeboat.

For weeks they drifted aimlessly, surviving on turnips, a random turtle they were able to snag out of the water, and by drinking their own urine.  The group's cabin boy, who had very little sailing experience, decided to bypass drinking his own pee and instead attempted to hydrate himself with seawater (which is REALLY bad for you).

This caused the cabin boy to slip into a coma.  In the meantime, the remaining crew members had not been able to catch any food and were going hungry.  They decided to draw straws to decide which one of them would be sacrificed and eaten by the others.  Conveniently, someone drew a straw for the unconscious cabin boy...that also happened to be the shortest one. The crew then killed and devoured their fellow crew member.  

Oh yeah, one more thing:  The name of the cannibalised cabin boy was also Richard Parker.

The men were eventually rescued, confessed to what they had done (and seemed to genuinely feel incredible guilt and despair about it), and became involved in one of England's most famous legal cases.

Two of the men were sentenced to death (the other man was used as a witness for the prosecution), but they were eventually pardoned after six months imprisonment due to rising public sentiment in their favor. Despite ultimately not receiving a death sentence from the courts, their lives were seemingly cursed into oblivion.

The ship's captain, Thomas Dudley, died a few years later from bubonic plague. His fellow defendant, Edwin Stephens, saw his marriage fail as he drank himself to death.  Edmund Brooks, who had been the witness for the prosecution, found incredibly depressing work as a feature in a traveling freak show that constantly reminded him and others of what happened that day on the life boat.  Parker, of course, was simply digested.

One can only imagine just how much this trio of men spent the rest of their lives being crushed by the burden of that horrible action of last resort they decided to take on an ill fated boat trip.

Especially if they also took some of Richard Parker home in a "to go" box.

Please feel free to leave a comment below. If you'd like to sing my praises or tell me how much I suck more personally, I can also be found on Twitter.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Weird Crime Wednesday: When the police are looking for you, taunting them on Twitter is never a good idea

(photo @ sodahead.com)

Pearland, Texas

On May 17 of 2011, Mahogany Mason-Kelly (yes, that is her actual name) was cited by the police on a routine traffic stop.  The stop became anything but routine, however, when Mahogany decided to falsely identify herself as her sister, Turquoise Mason-Kelley (yes, that is her actual name).

Aside from being a pretty jerk move on the part of Mahogany, it was also very strategically stupid: Her sister had an outstanding warrant for her arrest through the Houston Police Department. After police issued the citation to Mahogany (while believing that she was Turquoise) she signed her sister's name and was promptly arrested.

Mahogany, however, was not one to turn down a method acting opportunity. She continued to identify herself as her sister at the police station while being processed, questioned, and signing forms.  After police confronted her with fingerprint and photographic evidence, Mahogany finally confessed that she in fact was the sister named after a type of wood and not an opaque bluish/green mineral.

When combined, however, they can form a lovely mandala necklace.

But Mahogany's streak of stupidity was not done, yet.  After failing to appear in court for her multiple misdemeanors (traffic warrants, tampering with governmental records, and giving false/fictitious information) a warrant was issued for her arrest.

But back at nearby Lamar University, where Mahogany is a student, she apparently felt that the long arm of the law would be unable to reach her.  She was so confident, in fact, that she posted the following message to her twitter account (which has since been deleted):

Anyone doing a their daily twitter search 
for "pearland pigs" was in for quite a treat, apparently.

As you can imagine, the police did not take too kindly to being called "pigs," especially on twitter by a girl with a stupid name.  This made Mahagony's outstanding arrest warrant go from a the bottom of the to do list to a top priority.  Pearland police traced her to Lamar University, where campus law enforcement were notified.  They found, arrested, and transported a very subdued Mahogany Mason-Kelly back to Pearland.

Embedded below is a video featuring an interview with a representative from the Pearland police department savoring their victory. It also includes the obligatory "interview/reaction to the story with some random person" that all news reports like this must have for some reason.

Mahogany posted bond on all charges and was released on April 21.  She is currently awaiting trial.  She obviously wouldn't do anything stupid from now until her pending court date...

...but just in case, RamblingBeachCat.com will be keeping an eye out for this spunky 20-year-old's social media skills to strike again.  It shouldn't be too hard to find out what she's up to in the next few months.

After all, how many people are actually named Mahogany?

Actual mugshot of 
Mahogany Mason-Williams @ click2houston.com
...or use their twitter account to taunt the police?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Freaky (Factual) Tale Friday: The terrifying death of Kenneth Michael Trentadue

(photo @ realfoodfreaks)

Kenneth Michael Trentadue (or Kenney, as his friends and family called him) spent his early years in West Virginia as part of a family of coal miners.  When the coal market plummeted in 1961, his family packed all of their belongings and moved to Orange County, California.

Kenney and his brother, Jesse, went on to become accomplished track stars at their high school.  But while Jesse turned his athletic ability into a college scholarship (and later a successful law practice), Kenney dropped out of school, developed a heroin habit, and eventually began a completely different career path:  robbing banks.

He was arrested, served his time, and paroled in 1988.  Unlike many convicts released from jail, however, Kenney actually seemed to clean up his act: He got married, started a family, and found steady employment as a construction worker.

Peter Gibbons of 'Office Space' would approve of this career choice.

But on June 10, 1995, Kenney was pulled over for a DUI near San Diego. After police ran his license, they discovered that he had committed multiple parole violations (not submitting to monthly reports being chief among them).  Despite the fact that he seemed to have come a long way from his bank robbing and heroin days, Trentadue recognized that he had messed up and pleaded guilty.

Kenney was jailed in San Diego for about two months, but on August August 19, he was inexplicably transferred to the Department of Justice's Federal Transfer Center...in Oklahoma City.  He talked with his brother Jesse's wife that evening (who was also an attorney) and did not seemed terribly concerned, about the change in location, figuring it was just procedural (for those clicking on the link, "Brockway" is a reference to an alias, "Paul Brockway" Trentadue once used).

The next evening, Kenney called Jesse again so that they could discuss plans and strategy for his upcoming parole hearing.  Jesse described his brother as sounding "chipper" and said that he promised him that he would call the next day. The family did get a call from the prison the next morning, but not from Kenney. Instead, it was the prison warden informing them that Trentadue had committed suicide by hanging himself in his jail cell with a bed sheet. 

The bizarre series of events surrounding this terrible tragedy began immediately when the prison offered to have Kenney's body cremated at the government's expense. The family turned the offer down and asked that his remains be sent to them so that they could have a viewing and funeral.

When Kenney's body arrived in California 5 days later, the family was shocked by what they saw:  Multiple bruises, slashes across his throat, ruptures on his scalp, and much more, all indicators a violent and painful struggle/beating.

At this point I would normally post pictures, but they are far too graphic and saddening to put up. Instead, here is a link where you can see much of the physical damage done to Kenneth Trentadue, but be forewarned that it caused some mourners at his viewing to go out to the parking lot and vomit

Once you're done examining the photographs, 
stare at this picture until your soul is able to recover.

Jesse Trentadue wrote and hand delivered an angry yet well articulated letter (along with photographs of his brother's remains) to the Bureau of Prisons and the Department of Justice.  The message of said letter was basically "Your claims that my brother committed suicide are complete and total bull$#@&."

Two days later, the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) issued a press release stating that the death was, in fact, a suicide and that Trentadue's injuries were a result of "persistent attempts" to hang himself.  

These "persistent attempts" included the possibility that after Trentadue's bed sheet rope did not hold around his neck when he jumped from the sink (which also somehow causing bruises all over his body), Trentadue decided to try and slash his own throat with a plastic knife...or a toothpaste tube.

That's just too dumb/maddening/sad for me to make a snarky comment about it.

The BOP claimed that after this failed plan of 'death by Colgate', Trentadue attempted to hang himself again and was successful.  Fortunately, someone pretty high up in the investigative chain saw how ridiculously stupid the BOP's assessment was: Chief examiner of the Oklahoma state medical examiner, Kevin Rowland.

Rowland lodged a complaint with the FBI, stating in part the Trentadue's cell  had clearly been washed out and sanitized before an investigation by the coroner could be performed.  He went on to state that Trentadue appeared to have been tortured and that foul play was most definitely suspected.  Oklahoma's chief medical examiner, Fred Jordan, also refused to classify the case as a suicide, listing it as "unknown" pending an investigation.

The BOP got right on the case and launched a full investigation...with one small catch. The attorney in charge of it was told to treat all of his finding as "attorney work product." This meant that any information uncovered in the course of said investigation could not be used in a lawsuit against the government and was exempt from Freedom of Information Act requests.

Case closed.  Counsel would like to request that the the committee reviewing this matter "move along" immediately.

Things get weirder

The case was also investigated by the FBI, and later by the Department of Justice due to mounting complaints from the state medical examiner.  This was later followed by a wrongful death suit filed by Trentadue's family.  There is still a lot about the case that we don't know (and probably never will), but quite a few things that were uncovered make it clear that something wasn't right:

-When a guard alleged to have found Trentadue dead in his cell, he did not offer any medical assistance.  A prison medic claimed to have performed CPR on Trentadue, but later admitted he had not.

-Trentadue's clothes from the night he allegedly hung himself vanished.

-The FBI testified that there had been another person's blood found in Trentadue's cell and that there were no cut marks from the noose that prison officials had allegedly cut him down from.

-Although prison officials claimed that Trentadue had scrawled his suicide note on the prison wall, it was painted over before the cell could be examined.  The FBI deemed it "doubtful" that the writing could definitively be matched to Trentadue.

-A prison guard strongly hinted to his neighbor that Trentadue had been killed and subsequently hung in his cell as a cover up.

-Alden Gillis Baker, an inmate that was housed near Trentadue, told Jesse Trentadue that he had heard sounds of a violent physical struggle in Kenney's cell the night that he died. He made the same claims in a deposition connected the wrongful death suit.  The judge deemed Baker an unreliable witness and threw out his testimony.  He told his lawyer that he feared for his life...

...and was later found dead in his jail cell, hanging by a bed sheet. His death was also ruled a suicide

No, seriously...move along, or you may "commit suicide," too.

Even more damning than all of this was the fact that Oklahoma's chief medical examiner, Fred Jordan, was still adamantly refusing to rule Trentadue's death a suicide.  He insisted that Kenney had been "abused and tortured" and was most likely killed.  He was even bold enough to say that the federal Grand Jury assigned to the case was part of the cover up.

The Department of Justice was not very found of Mr. Jordan's opinion, so they sought a second one in the form of Bill Gormley from the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. Unfortunately for the DOJ, he also came to the conclusion that Trentadue had been murdered.

Jordan even went so far as to tell a local news station of how strong his belief was that Trentadue had most likely been murdered.  Embedded below is a (terribly transferred from VHS) video of the interview:

Jordan also claimed that he was under intense pressure from the Department of Justice to rule Trentadue's death a suicide. In fact, the pressure from the DOJ became so intense that he eventually asked for a protective audit from the IRS to shield himself from further harassment.

To drive the point home further, Oklahoma Assistant Attorney General Patrick Crowley wrote a letter to the Justice Department affirming that the DOJ had continually harassed Jordan and his staff and accused the DOJ of destroying evidence.  He ended by saying that if this was how things were done on a regular basis, "all Americans should be very frightened...of the DOJ."

A few months later, Jordan suddenly changed his ruling on Trentadue's death from "unknown" to "suicide."  Although he still contended that Kenney had been beaten, he cited forensic analysis of the suicide note on the prison wall as his primary reason for changing his cause of death ruling...

...the same writing on the prison wall that was painted over hours after Trentadue's death...and deemed by the FBI itself as highly unlikely to ever be conclusively matched as Trentadue's.


But why did they kill Trentadue? And why would the federal government move a parole violator from California to Oklahoma City?

The possible answer to these questions is what helps all this craziness and possible cover up start to make some sense (until it doesn't).

Two months before Trentadue was arrested, America was shocked and devastated by the Oklahoma City bombing.  In what was the most destructive terrorist attack on American soil before 9/11, a bomb outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City took the lives of 168 people. 19 of the victims were children under the age of 6 that were in the building's day care center. The blast also injured over 800 people and caused approximately $652 million in property damage.

The man who primarily organized and carried out the attacke, Timothy McVeigh, was the type of turd brained idiot that was able to justify children dying in his misguided quest for revenge on the government as "collateral damage."  He was also a giant walking contradiction (as most extremists are), believing was crusading against tyranny and oppression, but also associating with hate groups such as the Aryan Republican Army.

Within that group was one Richard Lee Guthrie. Guthrie was a member of the A.R.A. and pegged as a possible match for John Doe #2, an oft cited and as of yet unidentified (and still at large) conspirator that helped McVeigh in the Oklahoma City bombing.

When McVeigh was shown a picture of Kenney Trentadue, he was shocked at how much he looked like Guthrie, right down to having almost the exact same dragon tattoo on his left forearm.  Unfortunately, we will never know if Guthrie was involved with McVeigh or not; a month before he was to give an interview about the Oklahoma City bombing, Guthrie was found in his cell jail, dead from (you guessed it) hanging himself in an apparent suicide.

We've covered the "move along" part of all this, correct?

While it's hard to feel any sympathy for a white supremacist who may have been involved in the killing of innocent people, Trentadue is an entirely different matter. 

Was Kenney beaten to death in an interrogation due to mistaken identity?  Though we will most likely never know the answer, Jesse Trentadue was able to win a $1.1 million judgement in his wrongful death suit against the federal government.

While the ruling did not state the Kenney had been murdered, it did affirm that the investigation into his death was handled very poorly and with extreme dishonesty at nearly every turn.  The federal government repeatedly appealed and even outright refused to pay the sum, but eventually relented and payed a civil settlement.

Unfortunately, all the money in the world can't return Jesse's brother to him.  He has continued his quest to find out how and why Kenney really died, but has been blocked by the FBI and the Department of Justice at every turn

While many of us will simply find this story confusing, intriguing, or maddening, the Trentadue family has yet to gain closure on who or why one of their own was brutally beaten and most likely killed.  A wife lost her husband, a son lost his father, and a brother lost his best friend.

Jesse Trentadue, left, and Michael Trentadue in happier times.           

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Weird Crime Wednesday: Insurance fraud is never a good way to make money...even if your friends tell you having your hand cut off is worth it.

(photo @ sodahead.com)

Sumter County, South Carolina

One evening in May of 2008, Gerald B. Hardin and two of his friends came up with a scheme that would potentially make all three of them rich.  Their idea involved defrauding multiple insurance companies with false claims, which by itself isn't terribly original and doesn't have a very high probability of success.

As anyone who has dealt with homeowners insurance is well aware, these guys don't mess around. You can't just submit a claim that says "HOLY CRAP CTHULU JUST RAN THROUGH MY HOUSE" and expect to get a payout.  There needs to be physical evidence that an accident/catastrophe truly did happen (and caused you damages) that's covered by your policy.

But someone in this trio of masterminds (reports do not say which one) happened to have a very lucrative homeowners insurance policy. They realized that if one of them also took out multiple personal insurance policies that left him well covered in the case of accidental death or dismemberment, the payout would be enormous if one of three were to have an in home "accident."

In what had to be the most intense game of rock/paper/scissors (or drawing straws) that has ever taken place, someone ended up losing, bought the personal insurance policy, and agreed to have their hand cut off with a pole saw.

Like this, only without the ability to request a "best out of three" tournament

For those unfamiliar with what a pole saw is, below is a video of some dude in a blue bandana using one to cut tree branches (while completely bizarre/unsettling music plays in the background).

After the screaming and massive amounts of blood subsided a bit, the man was transported to a Charlotte hospital where doctors were unsuccessful in their attempts to reattach his hand.  Afterwards, the trio cashed in on the homeowners and personal insurance policies to the tune of $671,125 (most of which hopefully went to the dude that gave up an extremity).

Their insurance companies, however, were justifiably skeptical about the sequence of events and subsequent claims that were filed.  Once the FBI got involved (presumably because they crossed state lines for their hospital visit), it wasn't too long before one of the stupidest "get rich quick" schemes ever conceived was discovered and shut down.

Gerald B. Hardin was released on $100,000 bond (!) and is currently awaiting trial.  His fellow conspirators have yet to be charged or identified, although one of them definitely won't be clapping at the end of The Avengers movie when it comes out on May 4.

If convicted, Hardin faces the possibility of 20 years in jail along with a $250,000 fine.

Actual mugshot of Gerald B Hardin @ thestate.com
...and a lifetime of people shooting him nervous glances when he offers to "give them a hand."

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Internet Celeb of the Month: Katie the Hula Hoop Girl

A few weeks ago, I was messing around on fark.com when someone posted the video linked below.  I watched it (a few times) and was struck by a couple of things:

1. This girl is incredibly attractive
2. I didn't know hula hooping could be this cool or awe inspiring.

Take a look for yourself:

Despite being a male, my unabashed fascination with this video was not solely due to how attractive the girl was; I was also totally blown away by the incredible tricks and stunts she was able to pull off with a hula hoop, which to me only represented the bane of my elementary school gym experience.

The next morning, I was talking on the phone to my good friend Jeff before I headed into work.  Jeff was having a terrible day, so I thought I'd try to cheer him up.

"Jeff, I'm going to send you a video that I guarantee will make your day better," I earnestly told him.  Jeff didn't believe me, but 10 minutes after I sent the video, I began receiving text messages and voicemails from him proclaiming it to be the greatest thing to ever grace the internet.

Next, I decided to brave the possible swift kick to the nuts I might receive and show the video to my wife. "Why show a video of a beautiful girl I watched repeatedly to your wife?" you may ask.  Because the skill and artistry was just too impressive not to...and for another reason.

Once the video was done, my wife looked at me and said: "Wow, she really is good.  I guess I need to go out and get a hula hoop now."

The youtube user who uploaded the video (and others of her hula hooping) went by the handle of 4638katie.  While her individual channel began blowing up, the video also became even more popular on sites like reddit, thechive, and barstool sports.

But aside from a few youtube comments by her and a couple of internet search results, no one seemed to know much about this girl from Arkansas that had hooped her way into our hearts.  So I decided to go out on a limb and try to contact her.  I figured she would rather do an interview with a bigger website (and one with less typos), but it was worth a shot.

After a few weeks, I was surprised to find this response from Katie herself in my youtube inbox:

"I'd love to!  I'm so flattered you thought I might not want to because I would only do "bigger" interviews.  You make me feel like a diva!  In a good way, like I said, totally flattered.  Ok, so here are my answers:"

Turns out she didn't respond to facebook messages due to some of the more unsavory folks on the internet sending her creepy messages, but she was more than happy to give an interview to RamblingBeachCat.com (and overlook my dorkiness).

After exchanging a few messages, I finally got to know a lot more about "that girl from the hula hooping videos," otherwise known as Katie Sunshine.

RBCOkay Katie, myself and the general populace of the internet have lots of questions for you, but first things first: What is the deal with the boots? 

KatieThat's so funny that's your first question! They definitely get noticed, people either love them or hate them, but there's no real in-between. 

I don't really know what to say, they make me happy. I feel sexy wearing them. I love dressing up and wearing costumes and so they are a quick and easy costume fix. And believe it or not, they are practical as well. They are extremely warm, so when I'm hooping outside and it gets a little chilly, those things can keep me warm for hours! 

RBC: But a lot of people have begun looking at more hula hooping videos since yours took off (I may be a part of that group) and have noticed that other girls wear them as well.  Are the fuzzy boots some sort of universal costume for hula hoopers?

KatieI don't think that the furry boots are a universal hooper thing as much as they are a universal festival/rave thing, at which hooping is really popular.  I also have a theory that it's not only a look the festival-goers are going for but it's also a texture thing. Sort of a "pet the furry boots" kinda thing. That is, like I said, only a theory; not necessarily speaking from experience!

RBCLet's get this out of the way for all the male readers so that they can move on with their lives: You are married, correct? 

KatieYes, that is correct. Just celebrated my first anniversary in March, in fact. 

RBC: When did you start hula hooping? 

KatieI started hooping about three years ago. I had been hooping about a year and a half when I made the Hoop Dance to Goldfish video. 

RBC: For someone as uncoordinated as I am, the hula hoop would just seem to make the act of dancing 10X harder, but you seem to make the two flow together perfectly. What made you decide to start (and stick with) hula hooping as opposed to just dancing? 

KatieWell, I first saw some hula hooping girls at an outdoor music festival three years ago and I was just completely mesmerized by these girls! That was my first exposure to hoop dancing. As I watched them, I figured that hooping was one of those things that with enough practice, anyone could do it as opposed to requiring natural born skill.

I already loved to dance, so adding the hoop was just an extra challenge. Right after that festival, I bought my first hoop and started practicing! Once I started, I became completely obsessed with it; I fell in love! So sticking with it was no challenge at all. :) 

RBC: How often/how much do you hula hoop these days?

KatieI hoop as often as I can, usually 3 or 4 times a week. I hula hoop to stay in shape and also if I've had a really tiring day at work that day, I hoop to unwind and relieve stress. It's a very powerful stress reliever! 

RBC: Besides your backyard, where else do you get a chance to hula hoop to music? 

KatieAnytime I go to music festivals (Wakarusa, Yonder Mountain Music Fest) I always take my hoops because now I'm one of "those hula hoop girls!" I also have hula hooped at little girls' birthday parties, adult birthday parties, and weddings, but all as favors to friends. I'm not exactly a proessional hooper in the sense that I'm getting paid to do all those events. But I don't mind, I love to do it! 

RBC: What made you decide to upload your hula hoop videos onto youtube? 

KatieOnce I had learned a few tricks with the hula hoops and felt pretty proud of what I had mastered I just wanted to share it with my friends and whoever else cared to see. So I uploaded videos then posted them to facebook for friends to see, mainly. Believe me, I was really surprised when the Goldfish hoop video really took off! (Hoop Dance to Goldfish was uploaded December 24, 2010)

RBC: Is the music you have dubbed in to your videos the same stuff you are listening to while making the video? 

KatieMost of the time, yes. Sometimes I'm dancing to different music just because I don't want to listen to the same song over and over while I'm hooping but if I'm dancing to something different, it will at least have a similar beat. 

RBC: What other types of music do you like (and once again, thank you for introducing me to Goldfish) 

KatieYou're welcome! Well, for hooping I love techno and dance music because the beat is really conducive to hooping. I also really like to hoop to disco music (kind of a guilty pleasure!) 

When I'm not hooping, I love listening to the blues; I've been a long time lover of blues music. I like jam bands, bluegrass, loooove classic rock, and even some pop music. 

RBCWhat was your reaction to a video you made over a year ago suddenly blow up?

Katie: I was totally stunned! It really seemed like it all happened overnight. 

Over the past year I would occasionally get an email notifying me that someone had subscribed to me on Youtube; maybe 1 or 2 a week. Then one day I checked my email and I had probably 50 or more unread emails all from Youtube, all subscription notifications and I couldn't even fathom what had happened! I really didn't know what was going on. But, overall, I have really enjoyed my 15 minutes of fame! 

RBC: I'm guessing you've had some pretty odd admirers come out of the woodwork (hence one reason we're not printing your name on here). What's the strangest comment/contact you've had through this experience? 

KatieHmmmm...well, several marriage proposals, several proposals for other things much more lewd...I did have one person offer to send me costumes to hoop in which I was really excited about, but then I thought it might just be a scam to get my address, so I played it safe. 

RBC: Does your husband get mad/jealous about all the guys making declarations of love in your video's comments section? 

KatieHaha! No, he's very level-headed, he knows they're just silly comments. In fact, I think he even gets a good laugh out of some of them! 

RBC: Are you going to keep making hula hoop videos? 

Katie: Yes, in fact, I just posted a new one! (embedded at the end of the article)

I do all the shooting and editing myself, and the truth is that I'm just not very adept with technical stuff like that.  So it takes me sooooo long to create a video. For that reason, I don't make very many. They might be few and far between but they will still keep coming! 

RBC: When you're not hooping and breaking hearts on youtube, what else do you do? 

KatieI work as an Art teacher at a local charter school, which I love, and I also love to paint.

I love camping, of course I love going to music festivals, I love to travel, and I love playing with my two puppy dogs, JJ and Molly. 

RBC: Any samples of your artwork you'd like to share 

KatieCertainly! I would love for you to post some of my paintings! 

(Oil on canvas)

Self-Portrait in Mirror
(Oil on canvas)

Telephone Wires
(Cloth on canvas)

Feet Sketch
(Charcoal on newsprint)

Back Porch
(Oil on canvas)

RBC: Is RamblingBeachCat the first site to reach out to you for an interview? 

KatieYou're close! hooping.org was the first website to ask for an interview; you are second (You can find that interview here). 

RBC: Eh, that's a much higher place than we finish on a lot of other lists, so we'll take it.  Any plans to turn this hula hooping thing into something more marketable, like endorsements, work out vids, etc.? 

KatieYes, definitely. The problem is that I'm very right-brained and simply don't have the business mind-set to really market myself. My husband has some good ideas, though.  I guess you could say he's my unofficial manager. We're just having fun tossing ideas around right now, so we'll see what it turns into. 

RBC: Any final thoughts or anything you would like to promote before we let you go back to hooping? 

KatieI just wanted to say that I love all the complimentary comments and messages I've been getting. I may not respond immediately because I just don't check my Youtube that often (again, right-brained), but I will try to respond if I can! 

Thank you to everyone who watches, and those of you who send me those wonderful messages. They really lift my spirits and put a smile on my face! 

RBC: And thank you, Katie.  I now need to go take my wife out for an expensive dinner in return for her being cool with me contacting and interviewing you.

Be sure to subscribe to Katie's youtube channel, 4638Katie, if you want to see more of her mad hooping skills.  If you want to personally tell Katie how awesome she is, go to her new hula hooping page on facebook.

We shall leave you with Katie's latest hooping video, also set to a great tune by The Goldfish.  

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday the 13th's Unlucky Spotlight: Jeanne Rogers

(photo at Bangor Daily News)

When I first heard the story of Jeanne Rogers, I was skeptical that this woman even existed.  For one thing, every article I found about her either cited web pages that no longer existed or simply cited other unsourced articles.  Secondly, if my luck was anywhere near as bad as hers, I would have probably died/locked myself in a padded room years ago.

Fortunately, her hometown newspaper, the Bangor Daily News, was scanned and archived by the good folks at Google.  The following was revealed in an interview she did with the paper about her incredibly awful streak of bad luck through the years.

While on a cruise with a friend to Martha's Vineyard, rain had made the ship's deck floor incredibly wet.  This, however, did not deter Rogers and her friend from trying to take a picture by the rails.  For those of you that haven't guessed what happens next, Rogers slipped and fell over the side into the water.

The hilarious/scary part comes when her friend ran to get help, but slipped on the floor of the deck and was knocked unconscious.  Fortunately for Rogers (who still had her life vest on), the ship was eventually alerted that a passenger had fallen overboard and they went back to retrieve her...an hour later

While waiting for a bus in Hartford, Connecticut, Rogers was struck by a bolt of lighting.  Instead of giving her super powers, it blew off her shoes, burned a small hole into her right ankle, and melted her pantyhose into her legs.  The damage to her nerves was so severe that she is now unable to wear shoes, even in the winter.

Rogers was struck by lightning again, this time on a metal bracelet that she was wearing.  Fortunately, she did not suffer any major injuries from this incident.

"Not gonna mess you up this time, just 
reminding you I'm here...and I can still kill you."

Her husband, who she has since divorced, came home one night in a drunken stupor night and attempted to strangle her to death.

By this point, anyone would hope/expect that the earth was done taking on giant dump on their head, but Rogers troubles still had a ways to go.  The following incidents do not have a specific year attached to them:

The Mugging
One day while running errands for her place of work, 3 men attacked Rogers and took her pocketbook.  Instead of just being satisfied with that, one of the robbers decided to also take a silver bracelet she was wearing that was a gift from her sister.

Rogers completely Hulked Out and socked the guy in the nose, causing the other muggers to flee. While thwarting a mugging attempt may seem like a turning of her luck from bad to good, things were about to get much worse.

Bat Attack
One day while delivering orders for the cosmetic company she worked for (seriously...they still sent her out of the office and into the world that seemed to want to kill her), Rogers had her young son along with her.  As they walked through Middlefield, Connecticut, he looked up in the sky and said "Mommy, funny bird!  Mommy, funny bird!"

Before she could recall if she had ever consumed alcohol during her pregnancy, a bat swooped down and embedded itself in her hair.  Rogers began running to different houses, knocking on the doors, and pleading for help. Each time she was met with screams (and probably a few profanities) and a door slammed in her face, which just ticked the bat off even more. This caused the creature to dig its claws into her scalp even deeper and urinate excessively on her head.

She finally ran across a "friend" who offered her help...in the form of shoving her car keys at Rogers and telling her to drive herself to a vet.  When Rogers arrived (and what must have been the most bizarre and uncomfortable car ride ever), the vet put a mesh bag over her head and sprayed smoke into it, which dehydrated the creature to the point of falling asleep and out of Rogers hair.

Rogers was forced to wear a beret (before hipsters got to say it was a cliche style choice) for 3 months while her hair grew back from where the bat had ripped it out.

Seeing Way Too Much of His Neighborhood

While swimming at the Hartford, Connecticut YMCA, Rogers heard an announcement over the P.A. system that there was a phone call for "Rogers" at the front desk.  

As she left the pool, she inadvertently (or so she says) pulled the cord of another man's swim trunks. As Rogers finished answering the phone call (which was actually for her), the front desk attendant informed her that another person with the last name Rogers had also attempted to leave the pool, but it seemed that she had inadvertently pulled his pants down in front of everyone.

His name: Fred Rogers...as in the Mr. Rogers of the popular childrens' television show, Mister Rogers Neighborhood.

To his credit, Mr. Rogers was just as nice in person as he was on the show and actually apologized to her for getting the way of her exit.

Why don't you try taking me out to dinner first, good neighbor?

Jeanne Rogers says that she can now laugh at the series of unfortunate events that have befallen her over the years. When asked if she ever feared some sort of freakish, accidental death, Rogers simply replied:

"Dying doesn't scare me, but living scares the crap out of me."

My advice to Ms. Rogers:  Considering your luck, it would probably best best not to invoke the words "crap," "poop," or any other term for fecal matter.  That's one area that you haven't seemed to have had a mishap with...yet.

"I think I ate too many rodents and insects today; 
there's gotta be some lady's hair I can land in and poop all over..."