Fun Facts to Know and Tell About Baltimore 

Baltimore City is an independent city (meaning it’s not part of any county).   As such, it is the largest independent city in the U.S.

Snowballs/snowcones were invented in Baltimore during the Industrial Revolution.

The Great Baltimore Fire of 1904 burned for 30 hours, during which it destroyed 1,500 buildings and leveled entire neighborhoods.  One of the reasons cited for the widespread destruction was mismatched hose couplings that impeded fire-fighting efforts.  As a result of the Great Baltimore Fire, firefighting equipment was standardized across the United States.

The first dental school in the world was founded in Baltimore in 1840.

Baltimore has more statues and monuments per capita than any other city in the U.S.

The first telegraph line in the world was established between Washington, D.C., and Baltimore in 1844.

Source:   See the rest of the article, “Fun Facts to Know and Tell About Baltimore”, in the free Baltimore Beacon, August 2018, Arts & Style, pages 22 and 25.


Public Television’s David Suchet and Poirot

For those Agatha Christie mystery fans, I saw the “David Suchet on the Orient Express” documentary on public TV.  If you have ever seen the many tv/movie versions of her “Murder on the Orient Express”, you know that David Suchet is the consummate Hercule Poirot, her lead character. I’ve seen Albert Finney and Peter Ustinov perform as Poirot in the past, but they played their part more like comedy.  Kenneth Branagh’s recent performance as Poirot was good drama, but his mustache was so big that it was distracting as was his grey hair.   For me, David Suchet’s dramatic portrayal for Murder was the best.

David’s Poirot has the most expressive eyes I’ve ever seen. He can stop you with a look. Besides being one of the vainest characters I’ve seen (besides Sherlock Holmes), Poirot is also one of the most insightful characters ever developed.  His too-tight collars, too-tight shoes, and Belgian accent let you know just how vain his character was.  David has played Poirot for a quarter of a century in 13 series, including 50 short stories and 33 novels. (Being Poirot kokopico)  I love David Suchet’s Poirot.

Imagine yourself in the situation of knowing a man had been stabbed a dozen times in his sleep by someone.  And, you are asked to determine who killed him.  Did the punishment of the man fit the crime?  And, would you be justified in walking away knowing the man’s original crime set all of this in motion?  Get Agatha Christie’s novel or see Murder on the Orient Express in public television movie form.

Written by Rosa L. Griffin


Just as you can lead a horse to water, but can’t make him drink…

You can lead a President to facts, but you can’t make him think.

Remember the Greek myth of King Midas who wanted gold so badly that everything that he touched turned to gold?   He couldn’t eat gold food.   He couldn’t take gold with him when he died.  After a while, all he could do was sit on his golden chair.  (King Midas-Wikipedia)

Money is not evil, but the all-out pursuit—what and how you get it—can be evil.   Who are you stepping on or killing to get it?   Money can rule your life.  Cases in point.   The contamination of the water supply in Flint, Michigan, and the nerve of the city still asking residents to pay their water bills when they can’t drink or use the water.  The lack of help for Puerto Rico by a government that doesn’t know that Puerto Rico is part of the United States (an unincorporated U.S. territory, U.S. citizenship granted 1917, though no vote in U.S. elections, Wikipedia), and the nerve of that same government demanding that any help be paid back.   The examples are ad infinitum—they go on forever.

“It’s about greed.  King Midas is just a tool used to teach us about the dangers of being greedy.  Fancy people call this kind of story a parable:  a short story with an obvious moral or life lesson.”  (

I’m not talking about rich people.   There’s a great difference between wealth and greed, especially if the wealth was earned in a way that benefits the world.   Every greedy person who is ruining the only Earth we have will soon find that out.  Payback cometh!

Written by Rosa L. Griffin

You’re Kinky—Admit It!   Review of the movie Fifty Shades of Grey

Fifty Shades of Grey is a version of the Cinderella story, two people who would not have been exposed to each other except by coincidence.   Ana (Cinderella) filled in for her sick roommate/school editor and physically fell in front of the interviewee, Christian (the Prince).

Christian Grey!  Shades of S&M (Sadomasochism).  Your Dominant probably saved your sanity, your self-worth, etc. in your damaged youth.  You also knew what it meant to be a Submissive.  You’ve had so many women and were overly experienced in sex but emotionally unavailable.  You are attracted to Anastasia’s innocence.  Your immaturity shows in your jealousy toward any other male who wanted to even talk to Anastasia—and this was before you even had sex with her.  Every time you revealed something personal to her about yourself, you reverted to a little boy who was abused by your mother’s drug addict friends.  You even walked like a little boy.   When you asked Ana, “What are you doing to me?”, it’s obvious that with this woman you were nearly ready to change.  As with any addiction, change is painful.  For a man who didn’t do romance, you had a strange way of showing it with all the trips and gifts you were showering on her to attempt to persuade her to fulfill the contract.

Anastasia Steele!  You were a young woman totally inexperienced in sex but emotionally available.  You had male and female college friends.   However, you weren’t attracted to your male friends, but were attracted to Grey who tried to put you at ease in the interview for your college newspaper you conducted for your female roommate who had the flu.   Your immediate objectives lay in your upcoming finals and graduating.   Would you, the damsel who was not in distress, save the “knight” who was?  When Christian asked, “Do you trust me?”, of course, you said “yes” because you wanted what you thought he should have been able to give emotionally.  Every woman wants to have sex with a man who knows how to do it right (or is at least teachable) when he allows himself to be so.

I saw the movie in a movie theatre in 2015—one of the few times I’ve gone to movie theaters.   I believe the movie will become a classic in the adult genre.   There is nothing wrong with having a classic under your belt, although it’s certainly not a love story in the usual sense.   I just finished reading all three books:  Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker, and Fifty Shades Freed.   I will write a review of them later.

The movie begged for a sequel.   So many things were not fully addressed in the first movie.  I begged Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson to do the sequel.  I hoped also that the screenwriters would outdo the first movie in their sequel.   The soundtrack was stupendous, especially Annie Lennox’s version of the song “I put a spell on you” which began the movie!   Thank you, author E. L. James!

Admit it, fellow kinks—you came for the sex, and either the potential love story kept you there or the intensity of the little bit of “torture” made you walk out (as some critics say they did)!

Written by Rosa L. Griffin


On Reading


If you have never liked reading, you are missing a lot because movies would have to be as long as Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind movie (4 hours) in order to get as many of the author’s book details as possible into a movie.

To become a reader, start slowly.    Have a dictionary or your smart phone near by to look up words you don’t understand.    Or, make a list of those words to look up later.

If you can’t read at all, there are voluntary organizations available.   Some libraries have reading programs to help you learn to read and there are other free programs listed on the Internet.

I improved my reading ability by reading Gothic novels in my teens written by British authors such as Emily Bronte, Charlotte Bronte, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, Robert Louis Stevenson, Jane Austen, Oscar Wilde, Daphne du Maurier, etc.

I’ve also read American authors like Shirley Jackson, James Baldwin, Stephen King, Ann Rice, Edgar Allen Poe, Walter Mosley, Joyce Carol Oates, Ray Bradbury, Tananarive Due, Isaac Asimov, Maya Angelou, etc.

However, there are two authors that are hard for me to read:  Toni Morrison and Richard Wright.  I don’t know why they seem to be so difficult.   One day, I plan on conquering their books as well.

I only use audio books if I can’t find a printed copy of a book I want to read.    I like the feel of a book in my hand and I don’t want to have to keep scrolling up, down, or across on the page electronically.

Written by Rosa L. Griffin




On Fantasy 

“Since I had plenty of leisure time, I usually rose early in the morning, and then with an empty mind concentrated on the beauty of the fields, trees, rivers, mountains, and clouds, and I found that I could predict the weather right 7 or 8 times out of 10.   Then I realized that in quietness the universe can be observed, the inner moods felt and obtained.”  (What author Yeh Meng-te wrote about quietness in 1156,

For me, fantasy is escape by using one’s imagination.   Your imagination can take you to faraway places like the many countries explored on public television.   If fantasy is controlled safely and not obsessive, it can be better than drugs.

Probably in the pioneer days, people imagined many ways they could escape the drudgery of doing anything which had no future of success.   It might have taken a year just to receive a letter.   Farmers, some of the hardest-working people on earth, have kept the world fed for centuries despite droughts, tornados, floods, etc.   In an AARP article, I discovered that doctors suffer from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) worrying about us among other things.  I never imagined that.

We have a lot of things from which we want to escape these days.  We receive “news” instantly as it happens—minute-by-minute.    Whether we see or hear it broadcast in some type of medium like our smart phones or the people you meet are discussing it daily—Bam! It’s in your face or ears.  We are bombarded constantly with “noise”.

“Reality tv” is not reality, but it can take you away from your situation.   You can see peoples’ situations that are a lot worse or better than yours on television shows like “Jerry Springer”, “Maury”, “The Kardashians”, “Survivor”, etc.  I would call these guilty pleasures because unless you are writing a thesis on them, I wouldn’t watch them more than once.   However, the audiences seem to enjoy them so maybe that’s their escape from reality.

Music is another way to escape.    I like to listen to Bruno Mars or the “Flower Duet” (a famous duet for soprano and mezzo-soprano from Le’o Delibes’ opera Lakme’, first performed in Paris in 1883—Wikipedia).  Fantasy can relieve tiredness from working especially if you can’t get what you want in promotion or advancement.   Even the government recently is trying to take away a citizen’s earned benefits like Social Security, Medicare, tax benefits, etc.– the things that past U.S. presidents and legislators secured for us.

Wikipedia lists about 20 themes (subgenres) of fantasy if you want to get deep into the types of fantasy.  I don’t intend to get that deep.   Erotic romance, fiction, science fiction, and autobiographies are fantasy enough for me.

I’m sure you can imagine a few things you would rather be doing.   Figure out a way to have quiet and/or leisure time every day.   I find that in quiet, I have a chance to think for myself, create, and listen to the sensible no matter the political party.


“The Doctor Diaries:  What Physicians Wish Patients Knew”, Healthy You, AARP the magazine, June/July 2018, pp. 22-23.


Written by Rosa L. Griffin



What I am reading now—Fifty Shades of Grey

Last week, I borrowed and read the book Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James.  This is her first book of three in the series.  This week, I’m reading Fifty Shades Darker, the second book in the series.   I already have the third book, Fifty Shades Freed.

I borrowed all 3 books from the library at the same time.   However, I paid to see all three movies (my control-freak side) on the big screen.  I needed closure to see how their sado-masochistic (S&M) adventure worked out.    I have to find the review I wrote of the first movie and I will be writing a review of the book trilogy as a whole.

I read someone’s comment before I saw the first movie that her books couldn’t possibly be bestsellers because they are so poorly written.  That commenter was a liar.   E. L. James’ books are well-written from pretty sex-novice character Anastasia Steele’s point of view in her turbulent affair with handsome rich young man, Christian Grey.

Another commenter asked why Christian Grey had to be rich.   Being poor is not something I want to fantasize about.  Fantasy is how we escape a condition we don’t want to be in.   Been there–lived that!

“Laters, baby!”

Written by Rosa L. Griffin







I’m still writing a review of Jodi Picoult’s book, Small Great Things.   The review is coming soon.


Another comment was that

Review of television series Bitten

The series started with Clay (played by Greyston Holt), an anthropology professor, who we soon find out is a werewolf .   He falls in love with his human student, Elena (played by Laura Vandervoort), and brings her home to meet his “family”.

However, Clay is also the Enforcer for the werewolf pack who should have known better.  Chances were that something would go wrong, and it did.  The alpha pack leader, Jeremy (played by Greg Bryk), would have killed Elena if she had seen him change from wolf back to human.   Clay, believing that Elena saw Jeremy’s transformation back to human, bit her to save her life.   But, the leader assumed that she would die from the bite anyway, as had all bitten women in the past.  However, Elena painstakingly survived the transformation.   After she was free to leave, she ran away back to the big city, hating Clay for biting her.  In the two years that she was away, she fell in love with human Phillip (played by Paul Greene).

Werewolves were a supernatural race of half-humans who were male-ruled and didn’t have females at all.   Human women were used as tools to give birth to male werewolves that the women could never claim.    The “happiness” of existing in secret male wolf packs was always short-lived.   Secrets and lies kept the werewolves below the radar for centuries.

However, when the outside wolf packs learned about Elena being the only female werewolf to survive, they all wanted her for breeding.   Leader Jeremy went by a code of honor that was no longer being used by outsiders.   Enemies to their pack were from within and without of their society–other werewolf packs, mutts (werewolves without affiliation to a pack), witches, the law, etc.

For instance, all his pack’s enemies used weapons, anything from knives, drugs, guns, computers, etc. against Jeremy’s pack which usually fought bare-handed.  Jeremy made several fatal decisions trying to live by the traditional rules with which he was raised.

There were sizzling sex scenes and lots of violence (hey, we’re dealing with werewolves here!).  But, I believe that Bitten was a great vehicle for the actors’ careers, especially for Laura Vandervoort.   A woman having two good-hearted and good-looking men who desire her is a fantasy that some of us women have.  The actors made me believe in their werewolf society.   The actors were also diverse in race and language.  The special effects were meticulous, showing great attention to detail.

Bitten was a Space Canadian tv series broadcast by Syfy from 2014-2016 and based on the Women of the Otherworld series of books by author Kelley Armstrong.   I only saw the first season because when the show went on hiatus, I had a hard time resuming watching it.   I can’t keep up with new start dates, changes in week days and times, etc.  Thanks to the library’s DVD copies, I was able to watch all 3 seasons of Bitten recently.

Written by Rosa L. Griffin

Libraries are still FUN!

Since the first group of cave dwellers, there have been story tellers.  A great deal of human history was passed on by librarian-types, those who wanted to share survival tactics, knowledge, and history.

In recent years, some people have said that libraries are no longer necessary because we have technology at our fingertips with our “smart phones”—iPhone, Android, etc., with which we can do research, but nothing can take the place of the enthusiasm of a great librarian.

Years ago, I went into the library and never looked back.    My first job ever was a page (a job which entails shelving and retrieving library materials and even circulating materials) in my local branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in East Baltimore.   I shelved books and magazines daily and gladly while in high school.   I fell in love with reading.   With a book or magazine, my imagination was able to travel warp-speed to other people’s lives, investigate dangerous places and situations, and fantasize safely.

I worked in a library for the next 30 years from the time before Baltimore Junior College became Baltimore City Community College—from student worker to secretary to circulation technician.  I loaned books, magazines, rooms for meetings, and computers to our college population.   Even some community members were provided limited library services as well.

After that, I worked at the Johns Hopkins University Press as a Permissions/Office Assistant for a short time where I had the pleasure of handling and reading books and professional journals, as well as copyrighting the same.   I also got a chance to work with authors which was a thrill!

Now, I’m an author (see my website at   In the past year, I joined a book club, Woodlawn Page Turners, for which I have read a book a month.   We are reading Jodie Picoult’s book Small Great Things for June, but we will be off-site discussing it over great food.   I will be writing a review of that book for my blog (

To this day, I am more likely to have a book or journal in my hands rather than using my phone or laptop to read a book.   I use an audio book only when the physical book is not available or when I’ll be doing a lot of driving.  It was great hearing Ta-Nehisi Coates, a former Woodlawn High School graduate, reading his own audio book, Between the World and Me, to me.   It would make a great book assignment for high school students as it was written to his teenage son.

And, let’s not forget the TNT television show, The Librarians, in which an ensemble of librarians live out the adventures we can only imagine.

Libraries today are staying in the thick of things, providing computers for typing papers and game play, conducting classes and workshops, having speakers, providing musical entertainment for all ages, etc.    Visit your local library especially if you’ve never been to one in your life and not just for the computer games!

Written by Rosa L. Griffin

Review of The Alienist television show on TNT

A few years ago, I read the 496-page crime novel, The Alienist, written by Caleb Carr, originally published in 1994, but I wasn’t in the habit of making notes then.    The film rights to Carr’s book were purchased by Scott Rudin and Paramount Pictures but didn’t come to their television division until nearly 24 years later when a 10-part-event tv series was adapted.

I watched a marathon of the first season of The Alienist television show on TNT recently.  All the characters were deeply flawed.   And, adult men preyed on young boys who only wanted to survive, eat, and find a place to sleep.   Some boys had poor parents while others were homeless.  Prostitution of boys was not shown in history as much as that of girls.

Doctor Laszlo Kreizler, played by Daniel Bruhl, attempted to solve the murders of young boys by using the 19th century version of psychology.   Of the people he recruited to help him, the doctor pointed out everyone else’s faults but his own.   He has book learning, but the “friends” have common sense enough to add up the facts and draw their own conclusions.    He needed all these people to come into his life or he eventually would have ended up in an asylum himself.   He had read all the popular writers in his field of psychology and tries to help others of lower standing in society, but he himself was emotionally and physically disabled.

His housekeeper, Mary Palmer, played by Q’orianka Kilcher, hooked his shoes and helped him to dress as well.   She didn’t speak at all, but the looks she gave the doctor and others was understood.  The doctor and Mary became lovers.

The newspaper illustrator and painter of portraits, John Schuyler Moore played by Luke Evans, lived with his grandmother and ventured into the city’s red-light district nightly to have sex with the same prostitute and drink, reliving a love lost.   He tried to use his knowledge of brothels to help find the murderer, and in trying to be of help to the doctor, got himself into dangerous situations.

Police Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt, played by Brian Geraghty, is a quiet honest man among corrupt police (like Captain Connor, played by David Wilmot, counting bribe money openly in their offices) and political crooks (like former police commissioner Thomas Byrnes played by Ted Levine).   Roosevelt was Police Commissioner in New York in 1896 and “authorized the purchase of a standard issued revolver for the NYPD”.  It was the “Colt New Police Revolver in .32 Long Colt caliber”.

The Police Commissioner’s female secretary, Sara Howard, played by Dakota Fanning, was rare in the police department at that time.   Though she dressed appropriately for her job, she was raised like a boy and drank whiskey in public.   Sara was abused by her male co-workers in a male-dominated profession.  She had a good mind, but she too felt like an outsider socially and emotionally.

The two Jewish detectives, Marcus and Lucius Isaacson (played by Douglas Smith and Matthew Shear), did the research for the doctor, introduced new criminology techniques they heard about such as fingerprinting, etc. to help find the murderer. They, too, were treated like outsiders and were also in danger.

The doctor’s Black male servant, Cyrus Montrose, too, (played by Robert Wisdom) was always ready to serve and defend the doctor in this dangerous undertaking.

Stevie Taggert, played by Matthew Lindzt, was the young boy who went under cover in the brothel which catered to older men by providing young boys for sex.

Maxie, played by Dominic Boyle, was the main male prostitute who dreamed of being free like one of the murdered boys.

I really liked the historical flavor of the show with the fights for rights that were going on then:  women’s suffrage (right to vote), one woman in the police department, etc.  The mutilation and slaughterhouse ripping of the children’s bodies brought tears to my eyes, but the men who ran the brothels were just as much to blame as the murderer.

As usual, the rich got away with their bad habits that would put the average person in jail.   While the poor might sleep several generations in one apartment.  Mass production did give people jobs, but those people were treated as part of the machinery with no safety precautions, lived in housing that should have been condemned, and had no medical care, nourishing food, or living wage.

TNT definitely knows drama!

Other sources:



Written by Rosa L. Griffin