By Carolina de Busto
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
A flaming cross appears on the screen, then a chocolate heart with sighing lips superimposed. Finally, there is Samwell, breakthrough Internet star, who asks the musical question:
"You want to do it in my butt?"
The video for "What What (In the Butt)," was posted on YouTube on Valentine's Day; just over a week later, it has already been played more than half a million times. Samwell lives in Chicago, but the song was produced by Giorgio (Mike Stasny), who lives in St. Louis. (Milwaukee-based Brownmark Films produced the video.) [Editors note: A correction ran concerning this paragraph; please see end of column.]
Early last week, still in the glow of unexpected success, Stasny managed to squeeze in a few minutes to chat with Unreal.
Unreal: How'd you and Samwell meet?
Giorgio: We're both flight attendants, and one day we met at a training session. He is as eccentric as I am, and we're both attention hogs. But he ended up being the dominant one.
Is that some sort of sexual allusion?
Oh no, no! I'm a straight man who has an open and relaxed attitude. Samwell and I have different sexual practices.
What's up with the flaming cross?
He wanted it because he's a Christian but he doesn't do Christian morality. For him having a burning cross is a way to pay respect to his beliefs. Part of what's so attractive about Sam is that he comes up with these wonderful ideas, but he doesn't totally realize that, when combined, they can be pretty complex.
Is he "delicate as a flower"?
Oh God, that is such an incredible question! I guess I'd have to say no. I've never met someone who is as comfortable with himself as Sam. He has so many people who could dislike him, but he's so resilient. Maybe he just got a thick skin along the way.
In the song, is he saying all he wants is "your big fat C" or "your big fat seed?"
I read online that someone thought it was "C," which would just be a short and softened way of saying "cock." That would be a brilliant lyric. But he's saying seed. I have no fucking idea what he's talking about, but when I heard it I knew it was pure genius.
Before turning to novels, Laura Stamps put pen to paper as a poet, and before becoming a Wiccan, she worshipped with Christians. Something about Wicca and fiction seem to pair perfectly, 'cause ten years ago was about the time Stamps made the switch to both. And man, is she thriving! (Check her out at www.kittyfeatherpress.blogspot.com.)
Stamps hails from Columbia, South Carolina, but Unreal couldn't resist the urge to learn more about her occult fiction series for women, touted in a press release as "including useful information about feral cat rescue, how to shrink uterine fibroids naturally...surviving perimenopause, and more."
"You've got perfect timing, and I've got perfect spell-casting!" she pronounced when we rang last week just before 6 p.m. EST.
Unreal: You get to worship whichever god or goddess you want in Wicca so who do you bow to?
Laura Stamps: It would have to be Bast, the Egyptian cat goddess. She's gorgeous: a black cat with gold earrings and necklaces. And she has all kinds of temples, even had a town dedicated to her.
Were you a cat in a past life?
I don't know. I feel very strongly this is my first incarnation in America. I like it it's a good country. In other countries I have past-life memories of being burned as a witch: in England, France and South America. But I do strongly believe my first incarnation was probably in Egypt at the time of the temples of Bast.
And you self-publish this fiction series?
I had shopped it around to a lot of publishers. They're not crazy about anything with witches if it doesn't have a lot of sex, death, blood, guts and adultery, which I don't have. I write spiritual books to help you become a better person. The thing that's really neat, that witches really like about them, is not only do I include useful tips in there, things about cats and perimenopause, but every chapter has a real chant, ritual or spell in it from my Book of Shadows.
You're not betraying some fundamental principle of Wicca by giving away your secrets?
Nope, we're incredible networkers. We're all that's left of feminism in this country.
What does your husband think of all this?
Well...[laughs] first he married an artist, now he's married to a writer. He expects the strange and the bizarre every day.
This is the saddest Unreal ever told.
Tom Matthews calls his search for his lost mutt, Mattie, "just another lost-dog story." If that's the case, Matthews and his wife, Alice, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, are redefining the genre. In the five months since Mattie, a shaggy little white twelve-year-old, disappeared in the couple's 2001 Buick LeSabre the victim of a car theft at Delmar and Skinker the Matthewses have consulted animal communicators and behaviorists, employed a team of search dogs, hired bounty hunters and upped a reward from $3,000 to $25,000. They have attracted a pack of kick-ass local volunteers who canvass neighborhoods and spread the word.
The Matthewses even started a blog (whereintheworldismattie.blogspot.com).
So devoted are Tom and Alice, they return to St. Louis almost monthly to work their own shoe leather in areas where Mattie sightings have been reported. The search has taken them way down South Broadway and up to Bellefontaine Cemetery, through the back alleys around O'Fallon Park and across every inch surrounding a Jennings strip mall.
"We stayed out all night in the alley of Harney Avenue," Tom writes in an e-mail. "We visited drug houses looking for 'Henry.' Rumor has been that James Butler killed Mattie with a sledge hammer."
"Henry" is a purported friend of James Butler, the St. Louis city resident whom Cape Girardeau officials busted with the Matthewses' car. The Matthewses believe Henry is key to their mission. "Everybody kind of pointed to this one guy," Tom says. "But nobody will give his last name. Basically everybody's a little scared of him."
He adds: "We've had two ransom calls, but we hadn't set anything up and they quit calling. They're scary. I didn't want to meet them in a warehouse and they didn't want to come out in public. Then we had another mystery caller, who I took very seriously. He spurred the $25,000 reward. He said a family with criminal connections they're all wanted has had him for a long time, but they think we're setting a trap for them, so they will not give him up."
The couple has had no shortage of bad luck in St. Louis. On Christmas Eve they got a flat tire. On New Year's Eve their parked rental car got smashed up.
"We still think St. Louis is a great city," writes Tom, who's an accountant. (His wife, Alice, is a surgical technician.) "Big, bold, with lots of beautiful and interesting places. It's a real shame that it has such a strong criminal element that makes everything seem so dangerous."
If you run into Tom and you might; he says he has committed to a three-year search help him see another side of St. Louis. Better yet, call 616-706-6026 if you get to Mattie before he does.
This week's Commontary(tm) comes to us from Michael Broughton of Green Park, who's ticked about a lousy mattress:
If you're thinking about purchasing one of those "memory foam" mattresses, forget about it! Jeff, the "Sleep Expert" from whom I purchased the last mattress I'll ever need to buy, assured my that the space-age memory foam would never, ever lose its original shape; that the memory foam is a product developed and thoroughly tested by NASA. Would NASA provide an inferior product for our astronauts?
Apparently they did! The super-duper, space-age, holds-its-shape-forever memory foam mattress I purchased less than three years ago apparently suffers from a severe case of Alzheimer's and atrophy. It's lost its memory and its original shape!
Around the two-year mark, the memory foam began to develop depressions. A few months later, the depressions were deeper nearly two inches in depth. The warranty stated that three-quarter-inch depressions were normal; a caveat Jeff the Sleep Expert didn't bother to mention.
When I contacted the manufacturer (a California company), I was referred to the local retailer from whom I bought the mattress. The retailer, who operates six stores to better screw the buying public, treated me as though I was a thief trying to steal his last dollar.
Silly me! I thought that spending $1,500 for a space-age mattress that I would never have to replace was a prudent investment. After all, a good night's sleep is a valuable commodity. But the big-ticket purchase price and a twenty-year warranty meant nothing. Manufacturing defects! Product failure! Surely it is all the consumer's fault.
So watch out for shyster retailers selling memory-foam mattresses. Caveat emptor!
Ever get the urge to jump up and ____ this damn town?
Tell Unreal about it! firstname.lastname@example.org.
Correction published 3/8/07: The original version of this column erroneously stated that Mike Stasny (a.k.a. Giorgio) produced the video for "What What (In the Butt)." Stasny produced the song; the video was produced by Milwaukee-based Brownmark Films. The above version reflects this correction.