The Devil Queen

How my wife and I sold our souls to the Queen Anne Victorian we tried to save.

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Location: Crow Mountain, Arkansas, United States

Synopsis: This is a cautionary tale. A seriously disturbed couple find the charming, old ruin of a Queen Anne Victorian in Russellville, Arkansas, and buy it for $1.00. They tore the roof off, cut it in half, and had it moved to some land they owned sixteen miles away because they didn't know any better. Since then, they have hired and fired contractors, had all of their tools stolen, re-wired, re-plumbed, insulated, and essentially rebuilt the entire house. Their only problem is that after four years it still isn't finished. Now they are tired, broke, and wonder what in the hell it is they've done to themselves. And, it's haunted.
(Last updated on April 3, 2008)

Press: Russellville Courier Article - December 2003, HGTV website article, AP story - October 2006, and Victorian Homes Magazine - February 2008 (link coming soon).
Art: From time to time, I receive requests for my art. If you would like to look at more of my art, go to The Failed Artist. If you would like to buy my art, email me. I am more than happy to answer any questions you might have. Thanks!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Volkswagen, Du Kanst Mich Mal!

It was a day drifting between last summer flush and cool fall. The sunny, early afternoon was comfortable in the trees' shade, they lined the lane. I climbed into the yellow convertible parked at the curb. It was a classic design, providence and origin unknown. The long, sleek hood was too big to hold anything less than a V8. The engine started with a whisper and purred. I had to smile. I eased the car away from the curb and raced down the road. The old wooded neighborhood vanished, the road masked the lakefront, southbound to downtown. I glided through traffic, rocketing past everyone. I never shifted out of second gear. I ruled as a god among the shoddy, weak plebs of the road.

Imagine my disappointment in wakening to a much different world.

Even though one gallon of diesel will get you 56 miles down the road, I hate this car, our 1998 VW Beetle. Apparently, I am not the only one either.

As long-suffering reads will already know, this car has cost us quite a bit of money over the last eight or nine months. It got a $2500 check-up for Christmas and another $400 of electrical work after leaving me stranded during an ice storm. Then, we had another $1000 of work done this summer.

The current problem with pimple sized bit of over-engineered, four-wheeled dung is the battery won't stay charged if you don't drive it every day. There are two possible explanations for this.

One is that this is one of the endemic problems that plague the newer Volkswagens. There is so much passive-electronic crap in this car that they vampire all the juice off the battery when it's not running. Volkswagen installs solar panels that charge the battery via the cigarette lighter while they are shipped from the factory to the dealership. Prior to this, the cars were arriving at the dealers' with dead batteries. Nice.

The second possible problem is that we may have a short in the new electrical system, another endemic problem with the new VW's. Steve, our good mechanic, said that we ought to take the car back to the dealer and make them fix it. This sounds reasonable at first, but, since this nut-sucking bunch of monkeys has yet to fix the car to my satisfaction, why would they start now? Besides which, they probably won't make it right for free to and they'd keep the car for a week or more while they fucked it up in some utterly novel way. Volkswagen, du kanst mich mal am Arsh lechen!

Oh. Since we've already pissed away a small fortune on this car this year, I don't have any money to really do much about this at the moment. I'm guessing I'll have to dig out my trickle-charger and just plug the little bitch up over the weekend so it'll start come the work week.

Do you remember my much lauded Saturn, the one I retired after it lost a cylinder at 287,000 miles? It still starts the first time after sitting in the driveway for over a month. I used it to jump my "good car," the VW, yesterday morning. Again.

Anyhow, the question is what exactly we'll do with this piece of maggot eaten shit.

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Blogger Paul said...

As a German major, I was heartily embarrassed that I couldn't translate your post title. You can imagine my relief when I saw the full German excerpt in the body of your post. *Phew* that was a close call!

I have a friend who gave up on his Passat 'cuz it was too expensive and (does this sound familiar?) unreliable. He had had a Saturn, and now drives a Civic, though he says he liked the Saturn well enough.

Yeah, my husband made a disparaging remark about our (former) SL2, but I defended it. Not the people who sold it to me and didn't much care about fulfilling the warranty, but the car I defended. We "only" drove ours to 180k.


5:32 PM  
Blogger John said...

Ach, don't feel too bad about the cussing. I happened to have an RA in college who had been a sergent in the German Army. We learned a lot that wasn't taught in the class room.

I can't remember how it went in German exactly, but one of my favorite German curses was, "may lightning strike you while you're shitting." If you happen to know this one auf Deutsch, please let me know.

I've had a Civic too. It was a good car but when the parts wore out they were very expensive. The Saturn (original models) were not sexy rides but they were tough.

8:05 AM  
Blogger Fargo said...

Makes me grateful that I've had so few problems with my ancient 1987 Civic. It's been very reliable and rarely needs repairs.

At this point, it's got a little rust and a few major things that need fixing, but the engine runs fine. I only need it once every week or two for local errands, so it's fine as long as it starts and runs and stops when it should.

BTW, 1987 was the last year they made the Civic with a carburetor, last year before major redesign. No power anything - windows, steering, door locks. Fewer electrical things that can fail at bad times. Sometimes old and low-tech has its advantages.

10:31 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

Es tut mir leid, ich habe keine Ahnung. I guess you'll have to ask Anna. It surely contains the words Blitz and Schei** and should use that one case, what's it called??? I can't believe I can't come up with the word!! I was the grammar queen, for Pete's sake!

L *sighing*

4:53 PM  
Blogger Paul said...


(still Lenise)

5:08 PM  
Anonymous Annie said...

Hello John,
I've been reading for months, but don't remember if I've commented before. My house is not as demanding as yours, but as a fellow TDI owner, i can empathize. But i only get 40 mpg :( As for what you can do with it, have you seen how much they're going for? Watch ebay, and forget the kelly blue book. Check out for ideas. Also, if you list it on, you'll probably get lots of interest. I almost sold my 98 jetta with 185k and some rust for $5500. Which sounds good considering i bought it 3 years ago for $5800. But bad when I've poured $4k into it in the past 3 years, easily. But i seem to be a sucker for my car the way you are for your house. I'm patching Sparky up and keep going; better the devil you know and all that. . . All i have to say is change that timing belt before it goes. Wow did that suck! Good luck whatever you decide.

10:51 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

Oh dear, I almost missed out on this one although I can really contribute something useful for once :) :)

"Dich moege der Blitz beim Scheissen treffen" - that's the translation you were looking for...

Concerning the rest of your post I'm probably not the one to view it objectively : My father-in-law is a relatively big shot at Volkswagen's headquarters in Wolfsburg and to be honest I've been driving Volkswagen for 12 years now (Golf) without a single breakdown.

But you have my sympathy anyway, sounds extremly annoying!

5:22 AM  
Blogger Anna said...

Ok, when re-reading my comment I realized that I forgot to add some :)s and ;)s...

Now it sounds as if I were really pissed off because of your slight criticism towards Volkswagen... Which I'm definitely NOT :) :)

5:38 AM  
Blogger John said...


After having a couple of cars with all the electronic bells and whistles, I'd love to go back to low-tech.


O, the joys of grammar . . .


Fortunately (?), we just replaced the timing belt last December. Really, it's probably in near mint condition since the car has hardly run since then.


Danke! I've been trying to remember that for nearly ten years. Now that I have it, I think I'll make it my personal motto.

A 12 year old Golf? That would make it a 1995? I think your car is an old enough VW to have avoided most of the problems that plague the late 1990's to present models.

We had a 1992 VW Fox (sadly discontinued), and it was virtually indestructable. It was 100% mechanical more or less. We ran it without oil and water and it never stopped. The only time it left us anywhere was because the spark plugs were dirty.

Then VW got all fancy with seat-warmers, power windows, et cetera and everything just went to crap.

Also, I understand that the Made in Mexico VW's are not as good of quality as the German made ones. Guess were all the VW Beetles in the USA are made?

Anyhow, thanks for the translation!

I don't suppose there is any chance that you could pull some strings and get that in-law of yours find an old VW Fox and have it shipped to me?

It would be good PR, right?

10:58 AM  
Blogger Anna said...

I forgot to tell you that your favourite curse is a "flexible" one: You can replace "Dich" by "Ihn", "Sie", "Euch" - whatever the situation requires. Sehr praktisch :)

5:10 AM  
Blogger John said...


Again, thanks. Definately good to know. It always pays to be prepared to insult large groups.

9:41 AM  

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