Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Birching for the Nine Days' Queen

When you ask kinky people about their favourite CP scenes from the movies, Lady Jane is mentioned frequently. It's a serious, somewhat staid British costume drama released in 1986 and largely forgotten by the mainstream audience today. But spankophiles still remember it fondly because of That Birching Scene featuring a young Helena Bonham Carter in one of her first roles (she was 18 at the time of filming).

Most of you have undoubtedly seen it already, so the attached video clip won't be new to you. Even so, I wanted to pay homage to "Lady Jane" on the blog sometime. It's a great little scene in a good and arguably underrated film. I recall renting it on VHS some ten years ago, around the time when I got my first internet connection. "Lady Jane" was among the first titles I specifically sought out after hearing about them on one of those useful "spanking in the movies" lists. My local video store only had the German-dubbed version and it wasn't until later that I saw the English original. But the birching scene was exciting nonetheless and didn't disappoint...

The movie chronicles the short life of Lady Jane Grey, who was the nominal Queen of England for nine days in 1553. It was a time of fierce struggle between Protestants and Catholics. Young King Edward VI was dying (probably of tuberculosis) and his half-sister Mary, a staunch Catholic, was next in line for the throne. This threatened not only the English Reformation as a whole, but especially the King's advisors and officers - Protestants who enjoyed very powerful and financially lucrative positions. Lead by John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, they persuaded Edward to change the succession, passing over the princesses Mary and Elizabeth in favour of his cousin Jane. The ill-conceived plot failed, however. Jane and her supporters were quickly overthrown and "Bloody Mary" won the day. She was imprisoned and eventually executed in 1554.

"Lady Jane" portrays the Nine Days' Queen as a tragic heroine, a youthful idealist and zealous reformer, and finally as a religious martyr who chooses death instead of renouncing her Protestant faith. The film also focuses a great deal on the romance with her arranged husband Guilford, the son of John Dudley. Sadly perhaps, this is the biggest historical inaccuracy - by all accounts, the real Jane and Guilford never got on well. In the movie, they start out with a deep disdain for each other and for their forced marriage, but they eventually fall in love. I actually liked the fictional love story. It's anachronistic and follows the typical "mismatched romance" film formula, contrasting a studious and bookish Jane with her fun-loving, but sensitive husband. But I admit to having a soft spot for that kind of thing. Kitschy love stories are one of my guilty pleasures. Especially when they involve corporal punishment.

Speaking of which, let's get to the birching scene. It takes place towards the beginning of the story, when Jane's parents inform her that she is to be married to Guilford Dudley. The headstrong young lady promptly refuses and has to be persuaded with a taste of the rod. This is apparently historically accurate. Jane had an unhappy relationship with her parents, who enforced a strict disciplinary regime, and there are sources which claim that she was literally beaten into consenting to the marriage. What sounds horrible today would have been viewed as acceptable at the time - Jane was a young noblewoman expected to obey her parents' will, if need be through the use of force.

The depiction in the movie is certainly not among the longest or most graphic CP scenes ever filmed. There is no nudity and we don't see any strokes landing, just facial reactions. Instead, the scene gets its intensity purely from the character interaction and the dramatic staging - the elaborate punishment ritual, the whipping bench, the male servants leaving the room, and so forth. I like the ominous first look at the birch, the slow and graceful movement as it comes into the camera's view. And Helena Bonham Carter feigns some fairly good reactions to the beating.

Moreover, I empathise with Lady Jane's character, her scholarly devotion, her love of learning. This aspect is accurate as well. While Jane Grey wasn't the progressive social reformer portrayed in the film, it is generally agreed on that she was one of the most learned women of her time, with a comprehensive education in Latin, Greek, Hebrew and contemporary languages. She was also of royal blood, not some peasant girl getting whacked for stealing bread. Jane's fine mind and noble status make her chastisement all the more interesting for me. While the scholar in me identifies with her and roots for her, my inner sadist delights in her ordeal.

The aftermath is great, too, with boy-king Henry dashing in to end his cousin's torment. Another totally fictional event, of course, but adding a nice touch of damsel in distress. An exquisite scene as he finds poor Jane in a tearful heap on the floor and comforts her. I found the story he tells her quite intriguing - how he as the king couldn't be subject to corporal punishment and how a servant was whipped in his place to pay for his transgressions. That kind of "sacrificial lamb" concept is right down my alley, I'm fascinated by the psychology of it.

In summary, I recommend that you go out and rent "Lady Jane". Not only does it contain one of the all-time great CP scenes from the movies, it is a pretty decent film from start to finish. Some viewers might find it a bit overlong and talky, but history buffs like me will love it. Helena Bonham Carter gives a magnificent performance in the title role and has good on-screen chemistry with Cary Elwes, who plays Guilford Dudley. The supporting cast features several actors from The Royal Shakespeare Company, including John Wood as the Duke of Northumberland and an already bald Patrick Stewart as Jane's father.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Website Review: Spanking Online

1999 was the year when I got my first internet connection. Before that, I had only sporadically surfed the web from (vanilla) friends' places - not a convenient environment to search for kinky porn. So I guess '99 marks the real start of my still ongoing corruption process. It was also the year when Spanking Online was founded, which became one of the first CP paysites I ever subscribed to.

Today, "Spanking Online" is still around, now going on its tenth anniversary. It has expanded into the Xerotics network, which also includes sites like Spanking Digital, Spank My Bottom and Spanked Schoolgirl. "Spanking Online" or SOL underwent several different layouts over the years and remains one of Xerotics' main flagships. Time for me to take another look and find out how it holds up against the much larger competition in this day and age.

Like all the sites in the network, SOL sports a rather flashy, colourful design. This is true not only for the previews, but also for the members area - after logging in, the first page features a list of the most recent updates as well as half a dozen advertising banners for other spanking paysites. As a result, the entry page has a cluttered, somewhat "spammy" look that may not be to everyone's taste. The site's content can be accessed via the updates list or with the help of a navigation bar at the top of the main members page.

Basically, there are five major video areas: two separate "Archives" with material dating back to the early days of SOL, a section simply titled "Movies", another one with "Full Movies 2007", and a recently added page with "HD Movies" (high definition). With the exception of the last two, all of these areas are further divided into thematic subsections like "School Girl", "Domestic", "OTK" or "Severe". Overall, SOL offers one of the largest spanking movie archives on the net.

While the wealth of material is commendable, it is not always laid out in the most user-friendly manner. Especially in the older archives, where scenes are often broken up across different subsections - you might find one segment of a session under "Hand Punishment Movies" and other parts of it in the "Velocity Zone". It must be said, though, that the newer sections are more coherent and easier to navigate. Basically, you can retrace the evolution of the SOL members area as it grew bigger and more diverse over the years. New subscribers will take a few minutes to find their way around and discover all the different corners, but that is not a major complaint. Actually, the historian in me finds the "spanning the ages" layout rather entertaining in its way.

The technical quality of the videos also varies considerably. The ancient ones are in .rm format at 320 x 240 pixels, the most recent high definition .wmv's have an impressive resolution of 1280 x 720. Most of the content falls between the two extremes. The movies are split into several parts, but the newer ones are often available as a single download as well.

Most of the action is straightforward CP without much buildup or backstory. There is a fair bit of chatter in many of the sessions, though. Hand, strap and cane are the most common implements, but I also saw the tawse, the slipper and the hairbrush being used. The severity ranges from light and playful to pretty hard in some of the "high velocity" clips (I like that term). Not all videos are complete or exclusive to SOL - some are previews of full movies from other Xerotics sites like Fetish Flixx or Spanking Vids. Actually, "Spanking Online" feels like a hub for the rest of the network at times.

As expected for a site of this age, the cast is pretty enormous. There are male tops, female tops and dozens of different victims, including well-known faces like Pandora Blake, Sarah Collins, Catherine Corbet, Niki Flynn, Elizabeth Simpson and Amber Pixie Wells. One SOL girl I liked a lot is Isis aka Tara, a dark-haired, exotic beauty with a gorgeous bottom and interesting reactions. Her "Schoolgirl Returns" caning scene alone is worth the price of a one-month subscription.

In addition to the movie sections, the members area also includes picture galleries and an Ezine archive going back to 2002. The Ezines contain readers letters, model interviews and some extra movies. I thought it was an interesting little feature, but it was discontinued in mid-2006. Nowadays, there is a free Spanking Online Blog with various previews, though.

All things considered, SOL isn't quite the juggernaut one might expect after such a long history, but a reasonably good site. It would benefit from a facelift to clean up the design and streamline the navigation. On the plus side, there are tons of content and most of it is quite enjoyable. You can purchase a regular SOL membership or, alternatively, a deal at Spank Pass that includes three other sites. For the real Xerotics addicts, there is also a 14 sites for 1 year offer.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Return of the Censor Slayer

In The Prolefeed Menace, I argued that, when it comes to dealing with the kink haters who oppose our lifestyle and demonise what we do, we have to go on the offensive. It's all very well to back-slap each other here in the spanking community, and it has its uses - honing our pro-kink arguments, offering moral support, showing like-minded individuals that they are not alone. But what we really need to do is add our voices out there, in the wider public discussion. That's where the real struggle is taking place, not here in the safety of our ghetto.

Besides, who doesn't love a good flame war once in a while? As Heraclitus was fond of saying: "War is the father of all things." Not the mother, mind you - women are usually too smart for this kind of macho crap. But seriously, the quote shouldn't be read as an endorsement of mindless jingoism. What he is saying is basically that conflict and crisis are the motors of change, and I agree with that. Whether it needs to be violent is another question. In any case, bring your fireproof jackets as a precaution - anti-BDSM crusaders tend to get angry when they are confronted with reasoned arguments.

Their own arguments, it must be said, are usually less than stellar. They are mostly based on unwarranted claims and subjective preferences rather than empirical facts or logic, with a healthy dose of "the end of civilisation" hysteria thrown in. Ironically, the individual freedom they seek to restrict is the main foundation of Western civilisation and its successes, but hey - a proper zealot is not deterred by (nor usually aware of) self-contradiction.

Here are some points from the recent "violent pornography" debate. For the record, these are not strawmen arguments I'm inventing to easily tear them down. They were all actually put forward by the pro-censorship crowd - I've seen it with my own eyes. Of course, none of this is new, and neither are my rebuttals. I just wrote this (and the companion piece) as a personal take on the issue - not because I think it's a stunning new insight or something you haven't heard before.

"Violent porn encourages violent behaviour" - This is the central claim of the censorship supporters, so I have already addressed it in great detail.

"Children must be protected from seeing violent porn" - I agree, they should be protected. What I object to is the notion that it is primarily the job of the state to do so. Not only is the idea that you can just legislate a perfectly safe and child-friendly environment into existence utopian, it is also dangerous, because it discourages individual responsibility. First and foremost, protection lies within the responsibility of the parents. There are various laws and tools already in place to help them with this - age verification systems, adult content blockers, cybernanny software, and so on. Ultimately, as any expert on the protection of minors will tell you, personal supervision and education work best.

But there is no case for banning things outright simply because they are (or perhaps might be) inappropriate for children. Such censorship would restrict the freedom of every adult and of society in general. Bluntly speaking, why should my freedom be limited on the grounds that some parents are too incompetent or too lazy to keep an eye on what their kids are watching? If you let your children surf the internet unattended for seven hours per day, you have no one but yourself to blame. It is not the state's job to take over your parental duties.

"People must be protected from seeing violent porn" - It's hard to see why. We have already debunked the claim that violent porn encourages violent behaviour. So the argument seems to boil down to the notion that people should be protected from inadvertently seeing material that they might find offensive.

Needless to say, this is a ridiculously weak rationale for introducing sweeping laws that restrict the freedom of everyone. If you ban everything that someone, somewhere might find offensive, you won't have any media left before too long. Subjective tastes vary considerably and are no basis for legislation. Why should my freedom of viewing the images I like be taken away because someone else dislikes them? Does their subjective taste matter more than mine?

As well as that, the chance of inadvertent exposure to "violent porn" is extremely slim. Compared to mainstream pornography or mainstream horror films, violent pornography is a niche product. You have to actively look for it - so the only people who really risk exposure are the ones who presumably want to see it. And even if you do stumble across such a website by accident, what do you think all the disclaimers and adult content warnings are for? No, the only protection I need is from patronising nanny-state supporters who want to tell me what sort of material I should and should not see...

"Most people find violent porn repulsive" - This is a variation of the above argument with an emphasis on numbers. "But most people are offended by this filth! No one likes it except for a handful of perverts!"

For one thing, this isn't true. In fact, I don't see all that many people who have a huge problem with violent porn. The ones who do are the usual suspects - over-zealous moral guardians, religious conservatives, radical anti-porn feminists. It goes without saying that they hate all other forms of porn and kink, too - even the "tamer" ones. On the other hand, it would seem that most people just aren't interested in violent porn one way or another. They don't watch it, they may find it weird and unerotic, but they are not bothered or alarmed by its existence, either. They simply don't care.

But let's grant the proposition that "most people" would, if you confronted them with it, find violent porn repulsive. Actually, I consider some of it to be rather icky myself. But why shouldn't it exist? No one forces me to watch it. More importantly, why should the subjective preferences of many be more valid than the subjective preferences of a few? What it comes down to is a matter of taste, nothing more. A free and fair society does not discriminate against people on the grounds of taste (the fallacy of the pro-censorship argument is that it equates "distasteful" with "morally wrong").

"Violent porn is degrading" - It is hard to see how the acts of consenting adults, who engage in them for fun, self-exploration and to live out fantasies, could possibly be degrading. Not to mention that "degrading" is a very vague term, especially in a legal context. Maybe people who are not into it themselves do find the material degrading. But then, we are talking about subjective taste again, which is not only insufficient for censorship, but also poses the question: why should their taste matter more than the preferences of the kinky people who willingly engage in these acts?

"Violent porn is degrading against women" - The usual addendum to the above argument, seeking to embellish the prejudices of the anti-kink movement with the noble cause of feminism. Of course, it inherits all the aforementioned problems. When it is hard to see how violent porn could be degrading against anyone, it is even harder to see how it could be degrading to women in particular. Are women more easily degraded? Are they weaker and more vulnerable than men, do they need special protection, like children? If there is any chauvinism here, it is not inherent in the kinky practices being targetted by the argument, but in these patronising implications.

The only degradation of women that I can see in relation to violent porn is this presumptuous and condescending arrogance of the anti-kink movement, telling women how they should and should not explore their sexual desires, and what desires they ought to have in the first place.

"Violent porn portrays dangerous acts" - Believe it or not, I have actually heard this argument, too. So now, the good censors are concerned about our health. The implication here is the old canard that viewing automatically encourages imitation - another nanny-state theory that failed. Sure, people (presumably vanillas who accidentally watch a violent porn clip) will all think: "This is great stuff! Let's do a mock hanging!"

Back on planet Earth, the vast majority of the kinky people I know frequently and repeatedly emphasise the guidelines of safe, sane and consensual. Of course, there are some cases of irresponsible BDSM play resulting in death or permanent harm. However, they are much fewer in number than deaths or serious injuries in boxing, bungee jumping, skiing, mountain climbing, hunting or motor racing - activities that are seen as perfectly normal and unobjectionable.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Spanko-Style Advertising

Now I know what it's like to have a number one hit. For about five days, Author Gets Spanked (starring Niki Flynn and yours truly) held the distinction of being the most watched video ever on Spanking Tube. It recently slipped back to second place, but hey - five days! That's, like, almost a week. We will hit 200,000 views soon.

Not bad for a clip that wasn't even intended for Spanking Tube in the first place. One day in June, Niki and I decided that it would be fun to make some quick little promos for Dances with Werewolves (that's her book, in case you've been living under a rock for the past year). "Hey, you could play my editor and spank me!" That was set up and shot in about three minutes. Here is another clip that took even longer. We made them all with a "general release" on YouTube in mind, which is why there isn't any nudity.

All the same, our first YouTube upload was quickly removed "due to terms of use violation". I have no idea why - there are many similar "tame" spankings on the site. Maybe it was the fact that this one promoted an erotic memoir. Needless to say, my polite inquiries at the YouTube help desk (here's an oxymoron) remained unanswered, so I still don't know which (if any) rules we broke.

(Speaking of rules: even though the YouTube terms of use state that "we do not permit hate speech", you can find a continuous supply of racist, anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim or anti-gay videos there. Some of them have been up for months - apparently, Nazi propaganda and Jihadist pamphlets are no reason to get in a hurry. But post a humorous clip of spanking between (fully clothed) consenting adults, and the good folks at YouTube will take it down within two days. God forbid, somebody might be offended by this stuff!)

But enough of that. You did get to see our "vanilla friendly" promos on Spanking Tube, and the irony is that they are now two of the most viewed videos there. As a thank you to everyone who watched (and because I'm a shameless self-promoting narcissist), I'm posting a high quality version for download today: link

(Click on "Free Download", wait for the counter to count down, then solve the captcha and download the file.)

Oh, and lest I forget, the package also contains a third, previously unreleased clip: Niki Flynn's first public reading from "Dances with Werewolves". That's right, a true world premiere. You all know how much Niki loves the idea of reading aloud in front of an audience - the last time she was asked to do it, she opted for a public spanking instead (as one would, given that it's a far less daunting prospect). So you can imagine how much she has been looking forward to this moment. Always willing to go that extra mile for the fans (and for persuasive German friends).

Step in front of the class, Miss Flynn.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Movie Review: Amelia-Jane Rutherford Vol. 1


Strictly English (released in 2006)

Entire Story In Fewer Words Than Are In This Sentence:
Amelia-Jane gets interviewed, spanked

Victim Appeal:
Miss Rutherford is always spectacular. She has the kind of radiant, springlike beauty that turns everyone's head - men want her, women want to be her, and some women both want her and want to be her (I have a thing for blondes, anyway, so I am certainly no exception on the male side). However, what really makes this flick worth watching is that it not only shows off Amelia-Jane's lovely face, graceful figure and exquisite bottom, but also her equally gorgeous personality. In five numbered segments, the video combines a normal, scripted spanking movie with a look at the casting session that preceded it.

The first two parts show Amelia-Jane getting ready for the casting. She talks about her expectations for the big day, wonders what exactly is going to happen and admits to being quite nervous, "but not in a bad way". Her cheerful enthusiasm and sense of humour are evident from the start. Part three is a screen test including role-play and spanking. Next up is the main feature, a "proper" CP movie called "The Tutor" (to be concluded in "Amelia-Jane Rutherford Vol. 2"). Finally, the fifth and last part consists of a 6 minute interview (which falls chronologically between segments one and two - it was put at the end of the video to get to the action more quickly).

Gratuitous Sadism:
The action is fairly light. There are only hand spankings in this volume of the series, and not excessively hard ones at that. During the screen test, Amelia-Jane is spanked over her panties in three different positions: over the knee, bending over a sofa and kneeling on the sofa. Then she returns to the OTK position to have her bare bottom smacked for the first time. In "The Tutor", a teacher / student scenario, there is a somewhat longer OTK punishment with the old three-part "on the jeans, on the panties, panties down" progression, followed by various mini-spankings in another scene - some on the bare, some on the panties, some OTK, some while she is bending over a desk.

While severity freaks will be disappointed, the video partly makes up for what it lacks in mere physical intensity with good acting and chemistry. There is great interplay between Amelia-Jane and the two male tops, especially with the gentleman in the main segment. He gives a fabulous, quiet but stern performance as the old-fashioned professor. As a result, the action scenes are surprisingly edgy, more than they have any right to be, really.

Best Reactions:
As usual, Miss Rutherford's trademark, indignant "I can't believe I have to put up with this!" reactions are terrific fun to watch, both during and in between the spankings. I particularly loved one loud, insolent "No!" during the screen test, when she is instructed to remove her skirt (it goes without saying that her refusal is in vain).

Best Line:
The banter between Amelia-Jane and her tutor is hilarious throughout, with some wonderful, acerbic repartee from the increasingly irritated professor. Student (after coming late): "I had to play tennis!" Professor: "I suppose tennis is an important part of a sociology degree." Student: "You can't spank me for every sentence in this essay!" Professor: "Oh, some of them are good, are they?" Student: "I thought you meant that I should write about me..." Professor: "'I thought. I thought.' I don't think you thought at all!" Here is the rare case of a non-Lupus spanking movie with a whole series of (intended) laugh-out-loud moments.

However, my favourite line is when the professor calmly states: "If I'm an eccentric, I'm very happy to be one." That's the true spanko spirit right there.

Nice Psychological Touch:
It's always intriguing to get a glimpse into the mind of a professional victim, especially when she is as likeable and smart as Miss Rutherford. Her interviews here, delivered in that impeccable uber-posh accent, show a self-described "thrill-seeking girl". Amelia-Jane's coyness is part real, part playful exaggeration, but always endearing - when she is acting, she does it with a cheerful twinkle in her eye, and even the perennial skeptic in me finds himself willingly enchanted by her spell.

Of course, I also liked the "semi-consensual" character of the scripted scenario, always a turn on for me. Neither official rules nor blackmail force the student to submit to the "traditional views" (read: corporal punishment) of her tutor. She goes along in an effort to improve her grades, reluctantly and with a lot of defiance, but always out of her own initiative. There is a beautiful scene when the time for her first spanking has come and she is getting second thoughts: "I'm terribly sorry, I don't think I can...!" The professor sends her away, noting that it's a free country and she can leave anytime she wants. She hesitates, walks out of his office, hesitates again, wrestles with herself, then goes back in with a resigned shrug.

How Good Is It Really?
Very good indeed. The technical quality of the production is decent, but not exceptional, and the relatively tame action is arguably the weakest part (they step it up a gear in the next installment). In all other aspects, though, "Amelia-Jane Rutherford Vol. 1" is a classic. The girl is adorable, the chemistry between the players is superb and Professor Templeton adds a healthy dose of dry British humour. It's hard to decide which is better, the documentary or the scripted part. "The Tutor" is a spanking movie well worth seeing in itself. Add the interviews, and you have quite a memorable package.

What You Learned:
When I first met Amelia-Jane, I asked her about the origin of her modelling name. Hey, I'm German and therefore unfamiliar with British children's books! She told me about the "naughty Amelia Jane" character, and while writing this review I did a bit more research. So, it's from the work of Enid Blyton, huh? Didn't Leia-Ann Woods also mention that author when I interviewed her? It seems like Miss Blyton is responsible for sowing a lot of good seeds...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Spank the Donkey!

In case you are wondering: no, I did not acquire a taste for bestiality all of a sudden. There are some hard limits even to my twisted sense of fun.

I recently got a very nice message from Spanked Barbie, saying that she had just found my blog and liked it. She mentioned that she had lived in Germany once, and from that point onwards the email switched to German. A very peculiar, charming form thereof. I was reminded of something Mark Twain wrote in his famous piece The Awful German Language: "I went often to look at the collection of curiosities in Heidelberg Castle, and one day I surprised the keeper of it with my German. I spoke entirely in that language. He was greatly interested; and after I had talked a while he said my German was very rare, possibly a 'unique'; and wanted to add it to his museum."

Well, Barbie's German is undoubtedly a unique, and if I could, I would add it to my rarities collection without hesitation. She said that she especially enjoyed my language lesson clip with Niki Flynn ("in which you were, while educating the model, how one speaks German things"). She had also seen the video where Niki caned me. Barbie used the English word "caned" at this point, which is totally excusable - I am ashamed to report that there is no verb for "to cane" in German. Instead, we have to employ more cumbersome expressions like "to punish / thrash / chastise someone with the cane".

On the plus side, I think that our noun sounds way cooler than the English one: "Rohrstock". It's got a nice harsh, intimidating ring to it and there was no question that I had to use it in my blog name somewhere - while "caning palace" sounds truly and utterly lame, "Rohrstock-Palast" is an awesome beast of a word! Niki Flynn once told me that, in her opinion, it makes all the sense in the world that "cane" is a masculine noun in German: "der Rohrstock". An interesting observation that hadn't really occured to me before - as a German, you tend not to think about word genders, you just use them naturally (but I pity the poor foreigners who have to memorise all this stuff!).

Anyway, I digress, as usual. Back to Barbie's email. She wrote that she saw the video "where Niki Flynn 'caned' you". I should mention that she used the formal German "you", similar to the now extinct English "thou". [Edit: thanks to Hardwood for pointing out that "thou" was actually the familiar address, not the formal one as I had always assumed. I leave my post the way it was, though - somehow, in light of the fact that it was inspired by Barbie's mistake, it is fitting that I made one of my own.] We still have the distinction between the formal ("Sie") and the familiar ("Du") way of addressing someone. It wasn't really necessary to employ the polite form here (I don't mind!), but a nice touch nonetheless. So, basically, she is saying: "I saw the video where Niki caned thee." That's a great little sentence in itself. And afterwards, Barbie added: "Nice donkey, by the way."

I was pretty flabbergasted at first - what donkey is she talking about? Did I miss something very important while shooting the clip? But it didn't take long to figure out that she had simply looked up the German word for "ass" and ended up with the animal ("Esel") instead of the bottom ("Hintern"). "Nice donkey." Priceless! That gem gets a place of honour in the Rohrstock Castle collection of linguistic curiosities. Mark Twain would be proud.

He would also point out that there is no shame whatsoever in slipups like these, because: "A person who has not studied German can form no idea of what a perplexing language it is. Surely there is not another language that is so slipshod and systemless, and so slippery and elusive to the grasp."

My English is pretty good, but far from flawless. In this day and age, everyone speaks English, anyway! Not much of an achievement. On the other hand, there's something heroic about every native English speaker who uses a foreign language. They don't really need to, so I have all the more respect for the people who try. Especially with a treachorous wench like German. Considering that it had been ages since she lived here, Barbie's effort was quite good, actually. I wonder how I would have fared under similar circumstances. And I really appreciate the gesture.

So, thank you for the kind message (and for the compliment, by the way). If we ever cross paths, I'll be more than glad to express my gratitude with a free language lesson. Ludwig-style, with the usual emphasis on counting.

In a followup mail, Barbie assured me that it would be alright to share her wonderful word creation with the rest of the spanking community. So that's what I'm doing - it's simply too good to pass up. Be sure to also visit her blog, an entertaining read. To encourage you, I am including a picture of Barbie's gorgeous spankable donkey.