Michel of the Moor

Susan Brown was the best friend a man could ever have. I have tried to honor her in some of these glass pages. I have written about our life together. Parts of it may have read like a True Confessions magazine, I hope not, but what the hell, I took that risk.

We had money and we were broke, we travelled the world and we were hermits, we loved and we fought. I forgot it some of the time, but I loved her more than anyone else in my crazy life. One thing I do know — she deserved better than me. That thought must have occurred to her too, but — and this is the truly amazing part, she stayed with me and put up with my bullshit for thirty-four years. If that doesn’t deserve a medal, nothing does.

Susan Brown was the best.

She supported me while I wrote the Great American Novel, which turned out to be the Not-So-Great Australian Novel with the unmarketable title of ‘Nerve Sprike Tan.’

The title derived from the Australian expression ‘He’ll ever nerve sprike tan the waze goane,’ which is how an Australian says, ‘He’ll have a nervous breakdown the way he’s going.’ I took the phrase from a book written in 1965 called Let Stalk Strine (‘Let’s talk Australian’) about the hurried speech patterns of many Aussies. The book was written by a guy calling himself Afferbeck Lauder, which itself is an example of Aussie speak, and translates as ‘Alphabetical order,’ and was the pseudonym of Alastair Morrison (who died in 1998 at a good age of 86.)

My book began with a story about a French aristocrat, Guillaume Michel, who fled to England during the French Revolution to save his neck and established his own business in southwest England on the English Moor — holding up stagecoaches on the London to Exeter road and stealing passengers’ valuables. He soon became notorious, and wanted posters were tacked up throughout North Devon, West Somerset and Dartmoor:

WANTED for Banditry on the high road. Mask’d & Well Dressed. MICHEL OF THE MOOR. Armed with Sword and Pistols. 50 Guinness Reward!

Susan Brown was the best

Michel of the Moor lived well. Until he was captured and hanged in Devon County Gaol in Exeter. Before that, however, he had sired, by way of a buxom lady, a daughter, who, after the execution, and a modification of her name, travelled to Australia with her mother. And thus was established the Michelmore clan in the Land Down Under. The story may have been a load of Aussie bull but my grandmother swore it was true.

The novel went on to recount my life in that sun-baked land — my father stopping by my elementary school and taking me out of class to go to country race meetings with him; his death when I was eleven; the death of my older brother in a car crash six months later at the age of 24, and the guilt and remorse of his best friend who was driving the car; and other stuff.

The manuscript found an agent and did the rounds in New York City publishing houses and I ‘took meetings’ and ‘did lunches’ and received some excellent feedback, but in the end, bupkus! It was passed over (one publisher called it ‘too ambitious’ — wtf!). And that was the name of that tune. I could have continued to flog the book but I went onto something more enjoyable — playing the horses.

But I digress… and now I’ve forgotten where I was going with this — except to say, Susan, wherever you are (and I do hope you are Somewhere), thank you for staying with me all those years, and forgive me for all my craziness and for the times I didn’t treat you right. I will love you forever, or at least until the day they hang me, or I hang myself, whichever comes first.

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80-1 miracle

Rich Strike perfectly named.

Rich Strike — Perfect name for a perfect payout.

A chestnut colt that was purchased for $30,000 won a staggering $1.86 million in his first stakes victory.

The 80-1 longshot Rich Strike came charging from the rear of the pack to win the Kentucky Derby in the second-biggest upset in the Derby’s 148-year history.

Saturday’s victory was nothing short of a miracle. Rich Strike was entered in the Derby on Friday just 30 seconds before the entry deadline when Ethereal Road was scratched at the last minute, opening up a spot in the gate.

Only a horse called Donerail way back in 1913 topped Rich Strike’s odds when he won at 90-1. The third biggest longshot was Mine That Bird in 2009 at 50-1.

As the 20-horse field roared down the stretch all eyes were on the favorite Epicenter and hotshot closer Zandon who were locked in a tight duel.

Then, like a flash, Rich Strike charged out of nowhere and beat them all in the last strides.

Rich Strike perfectly named

The horse was ridden by Sonny Leon, a Venezuelan jockey in his first big stakes race who normally rides the smallest circuits where the purse is a fraction of the Derby payout.

“When I was in the last 70 yards, I said, ‘I think I got this race,’” Leon said.

Rich Strike perfectly named.
Winning jockey Sonny Leon

“I about fell down in the paddock when he hit the wire,” said the trainer Eric Reed, also in his first Derby. “I about passed out.”

Reed almost gave up his career five years ago when he lost nearly two dozen horses in a fire in his barn in Lexington, Kentucky. But he said the kindness of friends and fellow trainers kept him going.

Rich Strike perfectly named.
Trainer Eric Reed (left), Jockey Sonny Leon and owner Rick Dawson after their historic win.

Rich Strike was purchased last fall by Rick Dawson, who races under the handle RED TR-Racing, for $30,000 after the colt was entered in a low-level claiming race.

“Small trainer, small rider, small stable,” Reed said. “And so anybody that’s in this business, lightening can strike.”


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Suicide of former child beauty pageant star raises grave concerns

Suicide of former Toddlers & Tiaras star

Sexualizing little girls has a history of tragedy

A former child beauty pageant star on the controversial Toddlers & Tiaras TV show has committed suicide at the age of 16.

Her body was found Monday in her car in a park in Washington State. She had turned 16 just a week earlier.

Kailia Posey was one of the most famous contestant on the child sexploitation show which ran from 2009 to 2013.

May 11, 2022 — Kailia Posey died by ligature strangulation in her car at Birch Bay State Park, reported the Whatcom County Medical Examiner.


‘Ligature strangulation is when a constricting band is tightened around the neck by force other than body weight,’ the medical examiner explained. ‘Hanging is when the band is tightened by the gravitational weight of the body,’

Further details of the autopsy and toxicology reports would not be disclosed to the public in order to preserve the victim’s privacy as the details would be ‘highly offensive’ to her family, it was reported.

Suicide of former Toddlers & Tiaras star
Kailia Posey as child beauty contestant


“A beautiful baby girl is gone,” her mother Marcy Posey Gatterman posted on social media. “We mourn the loss of Kailia. My baby forever.”

Kailia and her mother
Kailia Posey and her mother Marcy Gatterman

Perhaps if Kailia had been allowed to have a normal childhood

Toddlers & Tiaras featured children in sexually provocative outfits, and glamorized with makeup and even fake teeth. This sexualization of little girls sparked outrage among parents of children who led comparatively “normal lives.”

Several times on the show, the mothers of the beauty pageant toddlers would scold their children and make them cry when they didn’t rate high enough in the scoring.

Pageant mother makes her little girl cry for underperforming

Parents watching the show at home, and family therapists, were shocked. “Shame on them,” was a typical condemnation of the mothers of the beauty pageant babies.

The show’s producers enjoyed the controversy-driven ratings until the show was cancelled after too many complaints and a notorious lawsuit.

Suicide of former Toddlers & Tiaras star
Families protest child beauty pageant show

One toddler contestant’s mother, Lindsay Jackson, was ordered by a Kentucky judge to stop entering her five-year-old daughter Mady in pageants after putting fake breasts and a provocative behind on the child, and dressing her up to look like a little Dolly Parton.

A baby Dolly Parton
Going too far

The mother was in a custody battle at the time with Mady’s father, her estranged husband Bill Verst, who based his case on the mother’s sexploitation of the little girl.

In the end the court awarded Mady’s mother primary residential custody, with both parents having joint legal custody, a decision that angered many parents.

The shocking, unsolved murder of child beauty queen JonBenét Ramsey is a notorious example of how toddler beauty pageants can turn into terrible tragedy.

JonBenét Ramsey Murdered
JonBenét Ramsey

JonBenét was savagely killed at the age of six in her family’s home in Boulder, Colorado, on December 26, 1996.

Her father, John Ramsey, told police he found the girl’s body in the basement eight hours after she had been reported missing. The child had been brutally bludgeoned on the head and strangled. A homemade garrote was around her neck. Unidentified DNA was found in her underwear.

Ramseys were suspects
Patsy and John Ramsey

Ramsey and his wife Patsy, a former beauty queen, claimed their daughter had been kidnapped and showed police a long, rambling handwritten ransom note that had all the earmarks of being fake.

JonBenét’s death was ruled a homicide and both parents were suspects. But to this day the murder remains an open investigation in the Boulder Police Department.

The child’s mother, Patricia Ramsey, died of cancer in 2006 at the age of 49. The father, John Ramey, 78, remarried in 2011 — his third wife — and moved to Michigan.

Little JonBenét was brutally murdered, Kailia Posey killed herself, and Toddlers & Tiaras is off the air. But the sexualization of little girls in child beauty pageants continues.

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