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01jan2007 to This Very Daggone Minute

Junk you may have missed and yet managed to live happily without:

28jul2007It's starting to sound a lot like Pat Tillman got Neidermeyered. . .

. . . and the Republicans are likely to lose their Horst Wessel:

The doctors _ whose names were blacked out _ said that the bullet holes were so close together that it appeared the Army Ranger was cut down by an M-16 fired from a mere 10 yards or so away.
Ultimately, the Pentagon did conduct a criminal investigation, and asked Tillman's comrades whether he was disliked by his men and whether they had any reason to believe he was deliberately killed. The Pentagon eventually ruled that Tillman's death at the hands of his comrades was a friendly-fire accident. . . .
In his last words moments before he was killed, Tillman snapped at a panicky comrade under fire to shut up and stop "sniveling."
Army attorneys sent each other congratulatory e-mails for keeping criminal investigators at bay as the Army conducted an internal friendly-fire investigation that resulted in administrative, or non-criminal, punishments. . . .
No evidence at all of enemy fire was found at the scene _ no one was hit by enemy fire, nor was any government equipment struck. . . .
Tillman's mother, Mary Tillman, who has long suggested that her son was deliberately killed by his comrades, said she is still looking for answers and looks forward to the congressional hearings next week.
The documents show that a doctor who autopsied Tillman's body was suspicious of the three gunshot wounds to the forehead. The doctor said he took the unusual step of calling the Army's Human Resources Command and was rebuffed. He then asked an official at the Army's Criminal Investigation Division if the CID would consider opening a criminal case.
"He said he talked to his higher headquarters and they had said no," the doctor testified.
It has been widely reported by the AP and others that Spc. Bryan O'Neal, who was at Tillman's side as he was killed, told investigators that Tillman was waving his arms shouting "Cease fire, friendlies, I am Pat (expletive) Tillman, damn it!" again and again.
But the latest documents give a different account from a chaplain who debriefed the entire unit days after Tillman was killed.
The chaplain said that O'Neal told him he was hugging the ground at Tillman's side, "crying out to God, help us. And Tillman says to him, `Would you shut your (expletive) mouth? God's not going to help you; you need to do something for yourself, you sniveling ..."

(See also)

27jul2007By all means, raise the deuce! Raise it!

["Raise the deuce" = raise Cain, where deuce is a substitute for devil (cp. "deucedly")]

[via Cardhouse]

26jul2007Goodbye Jeffrey Lee Pierce, hello Beth Chapman

(See also)

25jul2007 — From 52 McGs.: The Best Obituaries from Legendary New York Times Writer Robert McG. Thomas Jr.:

The quintessential way to experience Wall Drug seems to be to stand at the wall of clippings reading about people standing at the wall of clippings reading about people standing at the wall. (25; "Ted Hustead is Dead at 96; Built the Popular Wall Drug")

The idea was that a grocer would pay Mr. Carlson $14.50 for stamps that could be exchanged for products that cost $10 wholesale but had a much higher retail value. That made the stamps attractive to the grocer and to the store's customers, but not at first glance to Mr. Carlson, whose $4.50 spread would barely cover costs and overhead.
The magic of the business was that while the grocer would pay for the stamps as they were issued, it might be months before customers accumulated enough stamps to redeem them (a four-slice toaster proved to be the most popular premium) and some would not be redeemed at all, leaving Mr. Carlson with the float—the use of the money—for other investments.
(55; "Curtis L. Carlson, 84, Founder of Trading Stamp Conglomerate")

As his longtime friend and admirer Robert Evans, the former head of Paramount, described it in his 1994 book, The Kid Stays in the Picture, Mr. Korshak could work wonders with a single phone call, especially when labor problems were an issue.
"Let's just say that a nod from Korshak," Mr. Evans wrote, "and the teamsters change management. A nod from Korshak, and Santa Anita closes. A nod from Korshak, and Vegas shuts down. A nod from Korshak, and the Dodgers can suddenly play night baseball."
. . . Mr. Korshak . . . also used his clout on lesser matters.
Among the stories circulating yesterday, for example, was one about the time the comedian Alan King was turned away at a plush European hotel by a desk clerk who insisted that there were simply no rooms available. Mr. King used a lobby phone to call Mr. Korshak in Los Angeles, and before he hung up, the clerk was knocking at the door of the phone booth to tell Mr. King that his suite was ready.
. . . It was a reflection of his power that when Mr. Korshak showed up unexpectedly at a Las Vegas hotel during a 1961 teamsters' meeting, he was immediately installed in the largest suite, even though the hotel had to dislodge the previous occupant: the union's president, Jimmy Hoffa.
(66-7, 68; "Sidney Korshak, 88, Dies; Fabled Fixer for the Chicago Mob")

Indeed, after a flare-up of allergies, an occupational hazard of a musty business, forced Mr. Tannen to retire, and Mr. Biblo to open a smaller store that his wife Frances still operates in Brooklyn Heights, Mr. Biblo said reading every book in the public library was not his only unfulfilled ambition.
He had also, he said, dreamed of going to Africa to look for Tarzan.
(79; "Jack Biblo, Used Bookseller for Half a Century, Dies at 91")

Six years later she received a teaching certificate, strapped on a six-shooter and set out for the town of Presidio on the Rio Grande, a major crossing point for Pancho Villa's raiders. When her father accused her of going off on a wild-goose chase, she stood her ground. "I'll gather my geese," she said, a retort that established her independence and provided the title for an autobiography. . . . Though Mr. Stillwell owned a 22,000-acre spread 45 miles south of Marathon, he was a taciturn, hard-drinking, poker-playing widower more than twice her age. He may not have seemed a suitable husband, but the first time he drove up in his sporty Hudson Super Six, she later explained, "He decided he liked me, and I decided I liked that car."
. . . In addition to regaling tourists, she worked on a sequel to
I'll Gather My Geese, her autobiography. Now being completed by a granddaughter, it is titled, My Goose Is Cooked. (84, 85, 86; "Hallie C. Stillwell, A Rancher and Texas Legend, Dies at 99")

It was only after he had made his way through the throngs at the cemetery gates that Mr. Saunders learned that the ministers, objecting to an open-air ceremony where they would be exposed to potential snipers, had not appeared.
When Mr. Oswald's mother asked him to fill in, Mr. Saunders obliged. He had left his Bible in his car, but as the small, forlorn Oswald family looked on from a row of folding chairs, he recited the 23d Psalm . . . and a passage from John 14 . . . from memory, and delivered one of the briefest eulogies ever:
"Mrs. Oswald tells me that her son, Lee Harvey, was a good boy and that she loved him. And today, Lord, we commit his spirit to Your divine care."
Within weeks his gesture had prompted an outpouring of financial support for the impoverished Oswald family.
(105; "Rev. Louis Saunders, 88, Dies; Buried Oswald")

24jul2007 — From Elvira's Haunted Hills (2002):

Creepy castle guy: The village people say this castle is haunted.
Elvira: Who listens to the Village People anymore?

22jul2007Remember: If a sound tickles your ear, you may be hearing a mode.


Just Shoot Me (Season 1, episode 28, "Eve of Destruction"):

I'm glad I wasn't around
when you guys were dividing up your albums.
Where's my Herb Alpert with the whipped cream?
Ask her that!

Here's your Herb Alpert with the whipped cream. . . .

20jul2007Arizona Diamondbacks broadcaster Daron Sutton, on players in the clubhouse cheering at televised action in another baseball game:

If you think these guys are just in there watching Old School—which, they DO watch . . . a LOT—you'd be mistaken.


About fifteen minutes into Burning Man: Beyond Black Rock, a special guest star appears:

It's a copy of the Larry Harvey Mein Camp book, one of the stars of our Hairy Larvae Book Signing. (Still more Mein Camp blahblah)

18jul2007No matter how much you love Otis Redding. . .

. . . you will be tempted to two-time him with James Carr.

(Or three-time—'cos we all know you're seeing Al Green on the side, too.)

17jul2007Oh, great

CNN just did a "report"—their usual bang-up job—on salvia divinorum. The reporter intelligently noted that salvia's effects "are similar to LCD" (yes, she actually said "LCD") and that one mother—there's always the ignorant, weeping parent in these anti-substance propaganda pieces—"blames salvia for her son's death." Her son couldn't possibly have been suicidal to begin with, I'm sure. Had to be the drug. Go ahead and comfort yourself with that fiction—it's called the Linkletter Pill. Stupid parents have drugged themselves with it for decades, to the detriment of public knowledge and experience. And a further Good Job to CNN for pimping its anti-substance message at the end of the report by urging viewers to visit the CNN website to see "what's being done" to "make salvia illegal." And another course of bricks goes up in the wall of uninformed reassurance.

15jul2007Hey kids! How many sociopoliticalphilosophical problems can you spot in the following story?

Girl dies after fall from Air Glory free-fall ride at Lifest

A girl died Saturday after falling from an amusement ride at Lifest. . . .

Music at the Christian festival had resumed around 7:30 p.m. until an announcement about the death was made from a stage just after 9:30 p.m. Wes Halula, director of communications for Lifest organizers Life! Promotions, said the music scheduled for the evening went on as planned, Halula said, though with more mellow, worship songs. "We thought it would be the right thing for them to do to play tonight," Halula said. . . .

A state inspector is expected on site today to look into the accident. Amusement rides are overseen by the state's Department of Commerce and Air Glory is regulated by the state. . . . The police were investigating, Weyers said, because the ride is regulated by the state of Wisconsin.

"We cover our bases like an industrial accident," Weyers said.

After the accident, all activities and concerts at Lifest were suspended for about two-and-a-half hours and Lifest officials were asking festival attendees to pray.

Music resumed on the grounds around 7:30 p.m., but Halula said some of the comedy events had been cancelled. . . .

Halula said a special area was set up for those who witnessed the accident to talk with pastors and counselors. "We're taking it really seriously. It doesn't feel very festive right now," Halula said. . . .

Rachel Kohn, 17, of Oshkosh, was in the merchandise area on the festival grounds when the accident occurred at the nearby ride. . . .

08jul2007This Ain't Deadwood: The Language of Big Love

Margene: You and Bill forgot Nicki's anniversary and she is totally completely ticked off royal!
Barb: Jiminy Crickets!

07jul2007Celebrate the kooky error message

Shut her down, I think she's pumpin mud.

(You can see it for yourself if you have pop-ups disabled and click the Click for larger image link on this page. If you don't have pop-ups disabled, the pop-up will show you the exact same size image. I like the error message better.)

06jul2007The Disney-fication of the world proceeds apace

Actual radio station promo I just heard: "No suggestive lyrics here to embarrass you in front of your kids or clients!"

(See also)

05jul2007 — From an expatriate pal:

so i was playing this song by cat stevens earlier, and i was worried about the copyright issues. then i thought, hey, that dude can’t even get in the country. then i thought, hey , can i get back in the country?

28jun2007 — ". . . but I can dream, / Can't I?"

People like myself want not a world in which murder no longer exists (we are not so crazy as that!) but rather one in which murder is no longer legitimate.
— Albert Camus, Neither Victims Nor Executioners (p. 25)

When people nowadays hear the word, "revolution," they think of a change in property relations (generally collectivisation) which may be brought about either by majority legislation or by a minority coup.
This concept obviously lacks meaning in present historical circumstances. For one thing, the violent seizure of power is a romantic idea which the perfection of armaments has made illusory. Since the repressive apparatus of a modern State commands tanks and airplanes, tanks and airplanes are needed to counter it. 1789 and 1917 are still historic dates, but they are no longer historic examples.
(33, 35)

26jun2007 — It's Tuesday. Documentary recommendation day.

The Bridge

The Lost Tomb of Jesus

Hacking Democracy

Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple

The Most Hated Family in America

24jun2007 — All Aboard For Convention Of Jakeleg Victims / Jake Leg Blues

The Jake Walk Effect Jake leg blues


20jun2007 — Ten years. . . .

Ten years ago, Lorene answered a ringing telephone in a phone booth in the middle of the Mojave Desert.

19jun2007 — It's Tuesday. Documentary recommendation day.

Rainbow Man

This Film Is Not Yet Rated

The Nomi Song

Jesus Camp

The U.S. vs. John Lennon

Plagues and Pleasures on the Salton Sea

18jun2007 — From Bob Spitz's The Beatles:

Certainly John wasn't told anything about it, much less that he had a sister. (By all accounts, he never discovered her existence.) Without further delay, the baby was taken away from Julia and given to a Norwegian Salvation Army captain, who removed the newborn to Scandinavia, which was the last anyone ever heard of her. (27)

It didn't take long for them to hit on a surefire formula: volume. It got people off. More than anyone so far, the Beatles realized that the function of a bar band wasn't to promote artistry, expand the musical genre, or even entertain. Bar bands really weren't performers in the conventional sense, but rather were agitators. (212)

Catering to the masses, the Butlins camps were governed by vox populi, and by 1960 it was clear that rock 'n' roll had crystallized as a mainstream trend. . . . The Beatles, however, avoided Butlins like church. (323)

So as not to jeopardize the [Butlins] gig, the two boys had rented a trailer, laying out a precious two pounds per week, and parked it rather presumptuously opposite the Butlins front gates. "Ringo had one end, I had the other," Byrne recalled. They decorated it with posters of American rock 'n' roll artists and brought the record player out of hiding. . . . And it was there, on that Wednesday morning in August, just after ten o'clock, they were so rudely awakened by a knock.
Drowsily, Byrne answered the door. "It was John and Paul," Johnny recalls vividly. "As soon as I saw them, I knew what they wanted. They wanted Ringo."

Columnist Nat Hentoff reported that a spokesman for the U.S. Treasury Department had made the Beatles "an economic issue," due to what he called "a gold drain" resulting from their record sales and personal appearances. (482)

The Beatles defused any potential controversy with their now-expected witty one-liners, stumbling only when it came to the news that while they were overseas, the prime minister, Sir Alec Douglas-Home, named the Beatles as his "secret weapon" in diplomatic relations with the Americans. It actually "flattered" the boys that the PM knew their names. "The thing is, I don't get the bit where [he] said, `Earning all these dollars for Britain,'" George said with a shrug, paraphrasing the item. He would learn the hard way—and before long write a song about it he called "Taxman." (486-7)

For his part, John could not resist the knife. "You want to get some teeth for these people who are cheering us," John advised the Lord Mayor, who seemed befuddled by the outrageous remark. (Little did he realize the extent of the Beatles' worldly exposure, having witnessed firsthand the superiority of other cultures' hygiene. The contrast, glaring in front of them now, with rows of "gap-toothed grins," was shocking.) King for a day—and fortified by pills—John wasn't about to let it rest. "What's the matter," John persisted, "can't you spare the money?" Then, without any forewarning, he strode to the front of the balcony, put a finger across his upper lip, and threw the Nazi salute to the unsuspecting crowd. (513)

As heartless as it sounds, it seemed there were more dying children with a last request for one of the Beatles to bid them farewell than there were healthy ones. And each request drew the same cold response: no! Not on any condition. Nada. Non. Nein.
They'd already been through this with the cripples. At the outset of Beatlemania, handicapped or deformed children were wheeled into the theaters and placed along the front, at the foot of the stage, before each performance as a goodwill measure. "We were only trying to play rock 'n' roll and they'd be wheeling them in, not just in wheelchairs but sometimes in oxygen tents," recalled George. "We'd come out of the bandroom to go to the stage and we'd be fighting our way through all these poor unfortunate people." To make matters worse, they were the only part of the audience the Beatles could see from the stage, and the distraction was unimaginable. John would gaze down at a child whose drool hung in a solid string from mouth to lap, and he'd pfumpf a line. Spastics trying to clap would accidentally smack themselves in the face. Epileptics would have seizures in the middle of songs. . . .
Fed up with the continued imposition, John took to doing "spastic impersonations" while onstage. (571)

"Taxman" was finally behind them. The scathing satire, with the slurry, psychedelic edge, is the strongest of a record three George Harrison compositions that made the final cut, and an extraordinary contribution to the album's aesthetic sensibility. Among the Beatles, true genius radiated from the Lennon and McCartney nexus, but "Taxman" is a huge achievement. It is wry, witty, caustic, and concentrated, with "sharp, incisive jolts of energy" that burst from the song's offbeat "studio-verite" introduction: wandering notes, a cough, a false count. . . .
Like many topical lyrics, "Taxman" sprang from the anger and disillusionment that followed a meeting with Bryce Hammer, the Beatles' accountants, weeks before the session began. "I had discovered I was paying a huge amount of money to the taxman," complained George. Paul recalled George's "righteous indignation" in those business meetings. "Well, I don't want to
pay tax," he'd fume. "It's not fair."
George's response would open the album. Everything is taxable according to his account: the street, your seat, the heat, and your feet. No matter what you do or how much you have—
pay up and shut up. And it doesn't stop there. After you are dead, he advises listeners, be sure "to declare the pennies on your eyes." "Taxman" is as sly and critical as anything Dylan was writing. . . . As far as first-rate songwriting went, with "Taxman" George had finally arrived. (611-12)

A headline slashed across the cover shouted, JOHN LENNON SAYS: "BEATLES MORE POPULAR THAN JESUS," and inside, CHRISTIANITY WILL GO! The reaction was swift and predictable. Southern fundamentalists went apeshit over the remarks, labeling them blasphemous. . . . It would come to be a personal joke among the Beatles that in order to burn their albums, one first had to buy them, "so it's no sweat off us, mater, burn 'em if you like." (627)

But John had one last trick up his sleeve: combs were distributed throughout Studio Two in lieu of instruments, after which Mal was dispatched to the loo for ample lengths of regulation-issue EMI toilet paper (each sheet was stamped PROPERTY OF EMI) to complete the kazoo orchestra. (670)

All the Beatles smoked pot in vast quantities; they really enjoyed it. . . . Paul has reported—quite surprisingly—that "the one hard drug used during the making of Sgt. Pepper was cocaine." . . . Had harder drugs further encroached, they might have seriously impeded the work, but even the buttoned-down [George] Martin maintained that "looking back on it, Pepper would never have been formed in exactly that way if the boys hadn't gotten into the drug scene." (670)

There was a lull between takes, during which John staunched the boredom with what he thought was a blast of amphetamine. "By mistake this night he had acid," Paul recalled, "and he was on a trip." . . . Martin may have exuded common sense, but he knew less than nothing about drugs. In his naivete, he suggested John get some air—on the roof. Fifty feet above the concrete driveway, shivering in the biting air, the two men stood perched on the edge of the studio's flat roof, staring at the stars. John hallucinated wildly. . . . George Martin . . . felt him "swaying gently against my arm . . . [and] resonating away like a human tuning fork." . . . At some point George and Paul "came bursting on to the roof" when they found out where John was, but by that time he was safely out of danger—or at least nowhere near the ledge. (671)

[The other Beatles] couldn't understand why [Paul] wouldn't try [LSD], or why, as they put it, he was "holding out." What was the point? And why did he have to act so high-and-mighty about it?
. . . It had become such an issue that late in 1966, against his better judgment, Paul succumbed to the pressure. . . . Overall, he found it quite "spacy," a "very, very deeply emotional experience," ranging in sensations from godliness to depression. Most likely, Paul was too uptight to give it a fair ride.

[On "A Day in the Life," John's] parting contribution: inserting a high-pitched whistle only dogs could hear immediately after the piano chord but before the gibberish began. (674)

After a brief Hindu prayer was intoned, the Maharishi whispered a handpicked mantra in the disciple's ear, along with advice that he or she was never to share it with anyone. "It has been specially chosen to harmonize with your personal vibration," he said. Weeks later, after the novelty had worn off, Mal Evans divulged that his mantra was I-ing, at which point everyone discovered they'd been given the same word. (712)

George . . . was paged around 5:00 by his wife, Pattie. There was a team of police at their home, she reported, tossing the place in preparation for a drug bust. They had already found a hefty chunk of hash stowed in a box on the mantel. (George insisted that the police had planted it.) Some grass would later turn up as well. (This was his private stash.) In any case, there was going to be an arrest, and when it came it would vie with Paul's wedding for the morning headlines.
Pete Shotten, who lived nearby, was at Esher when George, dressed in a flamboyant yellow suit, arrived in a stretch limousine with Taylor and a lawyer. The indiscriminate atmosphere in the parlor resembled nothing if not "a party." Several cops were slouched in armchairs with their feet propped up, watching television. Others drank coffee and thumbed through George's record collection, while a police dog clad in a beet-red neckerchief nosed through the bedroom closets. George scanned the scene with a sweep of his head, at which point his eyes went blank. Shotton had seen George riled up before, often, and he could be mean. But this was different. "I'd never seen George so angry in my life," Shotton recalls. "He came into the house—and went
berserk." He would have told the police where his dope was stashed, but they seemed more interested in playing out the bust, as though it, too, were being stage-managed—which, in a way, it was: even the press had been tipped off to chronicle their handiwork. When a photographer popped out of the front hedge, that was the final straw. "George chased him murderously around the garden," recalls Shotton, who couldn't help laughing at the improbably scene. "George was chasing him; the police were chasing George. It was like something out of the Keystone Kops." Leaping over garden ornaments and bushes, George kept shouting: "I'll kill you! I'll fucking kill you!" Later, being led away by Derek Taylor, he pointed at a reporter and yelled: "The fox has its lair, the bird has its nest. This is my fucking house!" (825-6)


I'm not happy about having to offer the opinion that V. Vale's Pranks! 2 is a wildly unworthy successor to Pranks!

Robert Duvall's capsule review: "Too thin, Rooster, too thin!" To our knowledge, Mr. Duvall is not talking about the book's lack of pages compared to the original Pranks but rather to the book's lack of content compared to the original Pranks.

Among a certain crowd the standing of the original Pranks book approaches as near to Holy Writ as can be among a crowd that largely recognizes no Holy Writ. "When the first Pranks book came out, it was such a great, influential book for me. My copy is all dog-eared. It was like the Bible. I saw it in a bookstore next to the Book of the SubGenius and realized, "Oh, there are other paths." Pranks gave me models. There were helpful suggestions, inspiration—there were lots of laughs." (Reverend Al, Los Angeles Cacophony Society)

If Pranks was the Torah, sadly Pranks 2 is no New Testament. It's more of an Apocrypha—interesting in its own way, but lacking power.

Worse still, there are many pages of meandering bloviation having nothing at all to do with pranks—such as page after page of hackneyed statist claptrap from Ron English, with the active abetting of Vale (who, in his introduction, notes that "Americans have definitely become less free since 1776, hundreds of thousands of laws later," yet in the paragraph right before that moans, "It is too much to hope for our so-called legislators to come up with a bill outlawing all corporate advertising in public space." So you're simultaneously complaining that there are too many laws and that "so-called legislators" don't get busy with the lawmaking? Figure it out already, Vale, c'mon.

Granted, it would be a massive achievement if Pranks 2 came anywhere close to its predecessor, and its failure as a followup doesn't mean there isn't interesting reading to be had:

Andy, of the Yes Men: There's a French word invented by Michel Desarto: "perruque," which means: the principle of using time at work to do your own stuff. Nice concept: a widespread practice that just needed a word! (41)

John Law, of the Suicide Club: Meanwhile, I'm talking to the sergeant outside. The cops are just trying to figure out what the fuck we are doing in this abandoned building. And we just told them the complete truth; we didn't tell a single lie. (You never, ever lie to cops.) The sergeant is intelligent, trying to understand and get a handle on the situation. Finally, I said, "Well, we're kind of like a theatrical group." He goes, "Oh, a theatrical group!" He could handle that. (48)
[Cp. "It's for scale, see?"]

John Law: Fawn Brodie wrote a brilliant biography [No Man Knows My History] of Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormons. She documented the literal contradictions and lies that were part of the initial genesis and growth of the Mormon Church, from court documents and newspaper accounts from the 1830s. Smith's creation theories were the ravings of a lunatic—much like virgin birth or the underpinnings of these other silly religions. She was excommunicated from the Mormon church, and she later died under mysterious circumstances. (50)
[Not until 1981—36 years after publication of the book—of a fairly non-mysterious lung cancer ("although she had never smoked," notes Wikipedia, as if no one but smokers gets lung cancer).]

John Law: The Mormon church tried to suppress that book; they bought up copies of it. It's hard to find. Unfortunately, I gave my only copy to Larry Harvey, back when he was first starting the Burning Man cult, and I think he took a lot of lessons that Joseph Smith laid out to heart. (50)

John Law: We infiltrated the American Nazi Party; Eckankar (a peculiar "spiritual" group led by Paul Twitchell); and we tried to do est, but it was too expensive. We took a bunch of Scientology personality tests, but just as with est, at a certain point you have to start giving them major amounts of money, and we were all broke.
When we actually met the American Nazis and were around them, they weren't obvious, hideous, monstrous ogres. Yes, they had monstrous, horrible beliefs, but they were married and had families; they loved their kids; they had jobs; they were human beings who, aside from these odious views, seemed fairly normal. I found that profoundly disturbing, because aside from their confused ideas, they reminded me of people I knew.
That was most disturbing. (50)
["The SS were not, by and large, psychopathic sadists. To pathologize Göth as Sadist, to demonize him and make him a monster is precisely to miss the most disturbing knowledge we now have of the average Nazi perpetrator: that he was, in an overwelming majority of the cases, not a sadist, a "deviant" or an "aberation," but rather a dutiful, law respecting civil servant carrying out his orders.
Zygmunt Bauman has persuasively argued concerning the Nazi Genocide that it is precisely this fact—that most of the perpetrators of these crimes against humanity would be considered "normal" and would have passed tests administered to our own police officers—that poses the real challenge to our advanced form of society and the scientific disciplines which attempt to understand it."
— Robert S. Leventhal, "Romancing the Holocaust"
"I am entirely normal. Even while I was doing this extermination work, I led a normal family life, and so on." — Rudolf Höss (in G. M. Gilbert's Nuremberg Diary, p. 258)]

Harry Haller, of the Suicide Club: Downtown Detroit now has literally dozens of abandoned skyscrapers. Remember the Detroit race riots of the sixties? Detroit's population shifted from being, like, 80% white to being 75% black and 10% white, and many businesses just left these buildings behind. Two decades later in the Cacophony Society, I visited some friends there, brought my climbing equipment, and we spent an entire week entering abandoned skyscrapers and rappeling off them. And we didn't get caught. I love Detroit—it's a great place if you like "urban exploration." (53)

Harry Haller: The Suicide Club was very underground, because the only thing that allows group pranks like this to continue happening is secrecy. The Internet is seductive when it comes to publicity and fame—everybody wants their fifteen minutes—and everything gets publicized, and in no time "The Man," who uses computers just as well as the rest of us, gets wind of it and implements measures so you can't do it anymore. And now, you mostly can't do things like this anymore, so you may as well talk about what's been done. (54)

John Law, Cacophony Society: Last year we spent 24 hours underground in Paris limestone catacombs a hundred feet underneath the city. Very few people know where the entrances are. Same thing in Berlin; we hooked up with the people who wrote Underground Berlin, and they took us to underground chambers left over from World War II—we were in the secret escape tunnel which Goering used to exit the Reichs Chancellor Building. (56)

John Law: They hoisted me up over their heads, threw a rope over a lamppost and strung me up so I was hanging about twenty feet in the air. Then all the Santas started chanting, "Kill the scab Santa! Kill the scab Santa!" [laughs] It looked like I'd just been executed by a lynch mob of Santa Clauses! That's when we realized where the line is drawn between a group and a mob—it's probably just below a hundred. We had procured bullhorns for a couple of "Control Santas" who ostensibly were supposed to lead this mob, but as you can guess that didn't work very well. (58)

John Law: Chuck Palahnuiak [sic] joined [Portland Cacophony] in '94 and became good friends with Chuck Linville and Marcy [sic] McFarland, [sic; actually, Marci "Cupcake" Macfarlane] some of the Portland Cacophony organizers. (59)

Vale: You recently narrated some kind of critical documentary on the Salton Sea in Southern Caliornia—
John Waters: I don't know how critical it is; it's a good documentary. The movie was completely finished and they came to me and asked me to narrate it. I said, "Let me see the movie." I liked it because it reminded me . . . of Baltimore and Provincetown put together—the two places I live in. So it is this outsider community—they are outsiders, believe me, I'll give 'em that. And it's almost like they're in this cursed heaven. Just the whole subject matter and the whole idea of it appealed to me. It was a place—very seldom do I see new places I would like to see one day, because my idea of a "vacation" is to come home, because I live in airports, basically. So to me, it was something I knew nothing about, and I don't know that that many people know about it. And the people were so bizarre and almost like desert communities which I always like, like going to Needles, California, and places like that—I love the name, there. (141)
[Cp. Plagues & Pleasures on the Salton Sea]

Ron English (painter & billboard modifier: What turned a corner for me in the art world was when I did collaborations with Daniel Johnston. Somehow that made me "legitimate." A lot of people who hated me quit hating me. I was making paintings of his drawings, and his drawings are super-crude and weird, and people found them interesting.
Vale: A documentary came out, The Devil and Daniel Johnston. Were you in it?
Ron English: No. Actually, I was a little mad about that. Basically, my sister and I rediscovered Daniel Johnston living at home in Texas. He hadn't done much for years. We visited him and he gave me a huge stack of drawings. He came to New York and we did a show together; then we did a bunch of shows together. He's been active ever since, painting and making recordings.
It turned out he had been on the wrong medication that had made him kinda crazy, and our visit started a chain of events that got him put on medication that made him "normal" again, so he was able to work again. However, the director of the movie had a particular story in mind. My wife had written a book about our Daniel Johnston experiences, and this director used that book, but didn't give her any credit and he didn't mention me, either. But that's pretty common, I think. Still, it's a good movie. (146)

Vale: You could also do a website of billboards that never really happened, but which look like real billboards—all thanks to the miracle of Photoshop.
Ron English: But that's like faking a picture of you winning the Super Bowl—it's no good unless you really did it! (149)

(See also: Pranks!)

15jun2007 — From Trent Harris's Mondo Utah:

My first encounter with Mondo was at age nine. Uncle LeRoy and I were sitting in church, next to my grandmother. Uncle LeRoy had suffered a stroke and had not so much as mumbled a word in five years. Suddenly, in the middle of sacrament meeting, LeRoy stood up and shouted, "Oh bullshit!" He then sat down, looked at the leader and said, "Go on with your speech, Gumby." It was at that moment that I developed what I call a benevolent respect for the bizarre. (3-4)

Sometime in 1993, God told Cody Judy to tape batteries to an old radio and go to a BYU fireside meeting where apostle Howard H. Hunter of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was speaking. Once there, Judy walked onto the stage, held his fake radio-bomb to the apostle's head, and announced that he, Cody Judy, was the new Prophet, Seer, and Revelator of the Mormon Church. 17,000 students sat silently for a moment, then spontaneously broke out in a rendition of "Thank Thee Oh God For Our Prophet." Judy thought they were singing to him. The tactic worked. Mr. Judy dropped his guard. Security jumped in and beat him to a pulp. (5)

David Shane Shelby, sporting an orange jail jump-suit, stood and addressed the court. "For years, I've been listening to a voice in my head . . . the commandments of God, and I obeyed them . . . I was listening to God." I remember reading this statement in the paper and thinking to myself, God has a constant dialogue with the people in Utah. He guides our state legislators to pass incomprehensible liquor laws. He's in direct contact with every eight-year-old that gives a Sunday School talk. He even helps BYU win football games; so why is it so unreasonable to assume He'd devote a few minues to talk to a fry cook at Arby's in Ogden? (40)

Richard's books were not your everyday kind of books. He read about the Sumerians, and the Babylonians, and dozens of other long-lost civilizations no one has ever heard of. He read about astrology and astronomy and water-skiing and King Arthur and airplanes and dogs and everything medieval. He liked stuff about genealogy and religion and archaeology too. . . .
He worked washing dishes in retirement homes, saved every penny, and lived off the interest. He never bought clothes, or cars, or TVs or insurance or anything that normal people bought. The only purchase I ever remember Richard making was when he bought property up by Strawberry Reservoir. He would take the Greyhound to the middle of nowhere and make the bus driver let him off. Then Richard would walk a couple of miles to where his land was, look at it, read a book, and come home. He had plans to build a yurt (a tent kind of thing popular with Afghan nomads) on his land but never did. He was just too busy reading and doing dishes.

Yes, Congressman Jim Hansen loves Utah. He loves it so much he wants to sell chunks of it to Holland. Actually the chunks I'm speaking of are coal from southern Utah, and even though a Dutch company would make most the money off this deal, the black stuff itself would probably end up in Asia. There the coal would be burned and turned into smoke and power. The smoke would be used to make things like souvenir rubber tomahawks that can then be shipped back to Utah and sold in Kanab. It's a hell of an idea when you think of it. (65)

[If you read this book, see if you don't think page 65 has the exact same clip art—only reverse—used for the Ghost Planet Industries logo (now the Williams Street logo).]

[Re: the Mormon church's film, Legacy:] This movie pretends a lot. It pretends that Joseph Smith looked like Tom Cruise and wasn't a polygamist, that blacks were welcome in the Church, and that the "Book of Mormon" is simply a supplement to the Bible. It never mentions Danites, or Nephites or Zarahemla or white salamanders or the Urim and Thummim. There's nothing about the Jaredites in submarine type boats crossing the ocean in 600 BC, or Kolob, or the Doctrine of Eternal Progression, where men but not women get their own planet. (81)

Contrary to popular belief, actor Crispin Glover is not the only fop to grace our city of salt and charge an exorbitant ticket price to allow entrance to a show designed to educate and introduce bewildering aesthetic theories to an audience that really just came to look at a celebrity famous for acting weird.
Over a century before Crispin's "Big Slide Show" which he put on at the Tower Theatre, there was an even bigger side show at the now defunct Salt Lake Theatre. The star of that 1882 event was none other than Oscar Wilde himself. . . .
From all accounts Oscar's lecture was about as boring as a boot and had all the levity and wit of a bull moose's fart. But he did look funny and that counted for something.
Oscar told a reporter from the Deseret News "I am quite conscious that much of what I say may be annoying, but after all I came to say it, and so long as audiences with such forebearance and good breeding allow me to strut my brief hour upon the stage I should be singularly stupid not to take advantage of my hobbies." Who can argue with that?
Perhaps a more eloquent way of stating the same thing would be, as long as people want to dish out 15 bucks to Crispin so they can observe him while he shows slides he would have to be a complete dope to say no.
(82, 83)

(More Trent Harris)


Chilling observation from Amanda: I'm working on a death penalty case. . . . I looked at the prison records... the release date for those on death row is listed as 00/00/0000.

13jun2007 — From Mingering Mike: The Amazing Career of an Imaginary Soul Superstar:

I've always enjoyed interviewing David Bowie. Whenever I've talked to him, he's turned me on to something new. . . . I was able to tell Bowie about Mingering Mike. He pledged to check out the album covers online. In return, he suggested I visit a place in Los Angeles called the Museum of Jurassic Technology, a gallery that exists on the border of reality and fiction. (7, 9)

Mike's only other shot at stardom came when he once sent some lyrics to a company that had advertised in a magazine. He quickly discovered the ad was a sham and didn't pursue it further. "In the back of magazines they had a little advertising section, and in the back they had about 'we'll put your songs to music' like that, and they say $39.99. I said, 'I might try it out.' Then I said, 'No, no. I know what I'll do. I'll write the most craziest, dumbest song I can think of and see if they'll tell me if it's good or bad.' So when I did send it off to them, they said, 'This is the most fantastic thing we ever heard in our life. We want your song! Send us more money and we'll get musicians and singers and...' I said, 'Uh-huh, okay.' So I left that alone after that." (109) [Cp. John Trubee's later "Blind Man's Penis"]

"So [in 1970] I went to Fort Dix in New Jersey for training, and from there I was supposed to report to Seattle, Washington. When you go to Seattle, the next stop is Cambodia," Mike says. "I just went home."
"I was like, 'Man, they're trying to throw
me up in this mess.' They tell you 'Just shut up and keep moving. Do what I say. You don't have any choice anymore.' It's like a person not being in control of their destiny. If you go off to war you might just become a memory in people's minds." (116)

06jun2007A lyric that cracks me up every time I hear it

"Electrically, they keep a baseball score."


Who's going to convince me this photo of Cremona Cremains tearing apart the Rhythm Room isn't as cool a photo of a bass player as has ever been?




5-Star Grade A recommended: James Bilagody and the Cremains, Sacred Stage. "Bow and Arrow" will reach inside of you, no fooling, even if you have only one feeling.


RobbL writes:

Yes, that's a great photo, but at best it's #2, because Paul Simonon on the cover of "London Calling" is the champion.

By the way, she gets MAJOR points in my book for playing a Jazz Bass, much cooler than the more common P-Bass. But P-smashin' Paul still wins.;

1. Instrument smashing was old hat years before Simonon did it.
2. Fishnets.


(See also)

04jun2007How to Foil a Terrorist Plot in Seven Simple Steps

Something not stupid: Ron Paul tonight on The Daily Show.


Isn't this a swell Demolition Doll Rods poster?

Gracias to Joe, the Cardhouse Robot, and John Hobbs, the artist.


Someone left a flyer advertising services offered:

Skinning • Injections • Precision Takedowns

New hitman in town? Nope.

"We're Al's, Your Tree's Pals!"

01jun2007"Enhanced interrogation techniques" = "Verschärfte Vernehmung"

Andrew Sullivan at The Atlantic:

The phrase "Verschärfte Vernehmung" is German for "enhanced interrogation". Other translations include "intensified interrogation" or "sharpened interrogation". It's a phrase that appears to have been concocted in 1937, to describe a form of torture that would leave no marks, and hence save the embarrassment pre-war Nazi officials were experiencing as their wounded torture victims ended up in court. The methods, as you can see above, are indistinguishable from those described as "enhanced interrogation techniques" by the president. As you can see from the Gestapo memo, moreover, the Nazis were adamant that their "enhanced interrogation techniques" would be carefully restricted and controlled, monitored by an elite professional staff, of the kind recommended by Charles Krauthammer, and strictly reserved for certain categories of prisoner. At least, that was the original plan.

(via LewRockwell)

31may2007Cosmologists predict a static universe in 3 trillion years as evidence of expanding universe disappears from observations

"We live in a special time in the evolution of the universe," stated the researchers, somewhat humorously: "The only time at which we can observationally verify that we live in a very special time in the evolution of the universe."
The researchers describe that modern cosmology is built on Einstein's theory of general relativity, which requires an expanding or collapsing universe for a uniform density of matter. However, an isolated region can exist inside of an otherwise seemingly static universe.
They next discuss implications for the detection of the cosmic microwave background that provide evidence of the baby pictures of an early universe.
That radiation will 'red shift" to longer and longer frequencies, eventually becoming undetectable within our galaxy. Krauss said, "We literally will have no way to detect this radiation."
The researchers followed up that discussion with one tracking early elements like helium and deuterium produced in the Big Bang. They predict systems that allow us to detect primordial deuterium will be dispersed throughout the universe to become undetectable, while helium in concentrations of approximately 25 percent at the Big Bang will become indiscernible as stars will produce far more helium in the course of their lives to cloud the origins of the early universe.
"Eventually, the universe will appear static," said Krauss. "All evidence of modern cosmology will have disappeared."
Krauss closed with a comment that he suggested is implicit in the paper's conclusions. "We may feel smug in that we can detect a host of things future civilizations will not know about, but by the same token, this suggests we wonder about what important aspects of the universe we ourselves may be missing. Thus, our results suggest a kind of a 'cosmic humility'".

So, everybody cheer up, or something!

30may2007U.S. foreign policy as explained for Rudy Giuliani by the Brothers Warner

Our special guest today is The Bad Boy from the great old Warner Brothers cartoon A Day at the Zoo (1939).

Since Rudy Giuliani seems unable to read, The Bad Boy has traveled all the way from 1939 to help Little King Short Pants ("They Hate Us For Our Fweedum!") with Ron Paul's point about United States foreign policy, in a format he might better comprehend:

(By the way, does anyone know the origin of that old cartoon staple "bread 'n' butter / bread 'n' butter," as performed in A Day at the Zoo by the pair of panthers? That is, why "bread 'n' butter" rather than, say, "bread 'n' water," or "sugar 'n' spice?")

29may2007 — Norman Singleton at On a recent edition of Meet the Press, Newt Gingrich offered his suggestions on how to "ensure "the forces of freedom win," . Among Newt's suggestions are "...the development of a, of a military tribunal system to lock people up the way Abraham Lincoln would've done it," and the establishment of ".... a nationwide ID card with biometrics so you can actually track everybody in the country."
There is something seriously wrong with a country where Newt Gingrich can advocate creating a police state and still be treated as a respected elder statesman and a serious contender for the presidency by both the mainstream media and the conservative movement, while Ron Paul is dismissed as a "fringe candidate" who should be silenced.

(Here's the relevant page of the Meet the Press transcript—the part about Lincoln is about 2/3 down the page)

26may2007 — Ten years ago this evening, I first learned of the existence of what would come to be known as The Mojave Phone Booth. Thanks again to Nick (R.I.P.), Girl Trouble, and everyone else who played along.

25may2007 — How ever did my Mr. T. cabbage patch doll get left out of this?


I'd love to be in those magazines, myself. You always hear about people suing National Enquirer. I think it's an honor! — Poison Ivy (From the old green vinyl LP What's Inside a Ghoul: An Interview with Lux & Ivy of The Cramps)


21may2007 — From Fell In Love With A Band: The Story of The White Stripes:

On July 9, 1975 . . . the Detroit Tigers beat the Chicago White Sox 6-2 at Tiger Stadium at the corner of Michigan Ave. and Trumbull. And not far away, Gorman and Teresa Gillis were welcoming the last of their ten children into the family home in Southwest Detroit, in the shadow of the Ambassador Bridge. (7)

By all accounts, the Gillises were people who understood place, continuity, and perseverance. Hell, to stick it out in Detroit after the riots of 1967 shows that kind of backbone. But then again, Southwest Detroit had a sort of geographical immunity from some of the white flight that those riots induced. It was already working class. It was already Catholic. It already was populated with the kind of stubborn folks who weren't about to give up their home because the National Guard was called in when people decided to run riot over a city. It was off the beaten path in a way. The colossal Michigan Central Railroad station—once the hub of Detroit's tourist, business, and commerce travel—had officially closed in 1988. (9)

That he grew up as a cultural and racial minority in the city of Detroit, actually in the city as opposed to the more lily-white suburbs, cannot be overstated as an indirect influence on the White Stripes: from their work ethic to their seeming creation in a vacuum to their reticence to trust outsiders, it all springs from geography. "There was just nothing to do in that neighborhood," remembers Suchyta. "You couldn't even shop there, really. The suburbs had everything. But we hated the suburbs. It was like the worst put-down to be called a suburbanite. We didn't understand the suburbanites . . . they had friends. We definitely identified with being Detroiters." (11-12)

Thankfully, along the way was John King Books, a Detroit institution—three floors of used books, arcane maps, strange documents of historical significance, and, most importantly at the time, four records for a dollar. (16)

"We used to hang out in abandoned buildings like the recently closed hulking landmark Central Station and stuff and none of them ever had any thirteenth floor. . . . In the train station we'd throw toilets down the elevator shaft and stuff like that. It was on our way home from school, so we'd do that pretty frequently," says Suchyta. . . . "We'd take old stuff from those places, like, I still have a return address stamp from the Central Station. Cool old Detroit stuff like that." (18)

Toward the end of high school, on one of their sojourns to the coffeehouse in Ferndale, Jack Gillis had met Grosse Pointe resident Megan White. Grosse Pointe was only ten miles upstream as the Detroit River flows past Belle Isle, but it was a world away from the Southwest Detroit that Jack and Dominic called home. (24)

The unlikely pairing happened by coincidence. 2-Star Tabernacle was playing a show with the Demolition Doll Rods at the Magic Stick. (36)

The quote attributed to George Washington on the inside sleeve of the Stripes' debut single "Let's Shake Hands" reads like a band mission statement: "We take the stars and blue union from heaven, the red from our mother country, separating it by white stripes, thus showing we have separated from her, and the white stripes shall go down to posterity representing liberty." (45)

[Meg's] "a creative person. She was just this really artsy girl. She also knew a bunch of artists, too. She introduced Jack to this artist that only drew Captain America." [Daniel Johnston?]

"We also recorded a version of `Little Red Rooster' on his porch complete with distant Southwest Detroit gunfire. Very tasteful." (60)

White set himself apart from the other "local rock" rabble by paying attention to details like personally handing the band's singles to area writers and taking a minute to talk to them about the record, about upcoming shows, and generally walking the line between self-promotion and amiable chatting like an expert politician. This is diametrically opposed to the musicians who send their records in the mail, never follow up, and then send bitchy emails three months later when they weren't reviewed. After all, half of life is showing up and White showed up. (70)

"I remember one time that really kind of ticked Jack off was when Matt Smith made a comparison to one of our takes being like pearls before swine," recalls Buick. "And Jack always got mad about obscure references. He was anti-obscure reference." (87)

"I remember I set him up with some mike, covered with a Crown Royal bag, an old RCA mic from the '50s. I was like, `Here, use this, it'll sound older.' And he said, `no, it sounds too much like we're in a studio,'" recalls Diamond.
"And I said, `well, you
are in a studio!'"
Jack didn't want the record to sound, as he described it, fake. He wanted to capture the live sound as much as possible. Diamond's response was, "If you want it to sound live, just go record it at the Gold Dollar! So we ended up putting all the vocals through a tape recorder from 1953. Like singing through the 1953 tape recorder and mike-ing its little built-in speaker. So that's why everything sounds trashy. It was made to sound that way purposefully."

Jack's direction for the production was relatively simple. He told Sikes to make it sound good, but not too "studio." Sikes interpreted that to mean "don't flick it with piss, you know?" (145)

Jack had borrowed a large City of Detroit flag from his brother. They put it up at every stop along the way, no matter how little room there was for it on the smaller stages or how much of a pain in the butt it seemed to find the requisite adhesives and hangers to mount the thing. The White Stripes were literally flying the flag of their hometown and putting out a couple of the city's best-known acts under its gaze.
"The cool thing was that it was up for all three bands," concurs Siemasz. "And it applied to all three bands! So that whole trip had that kind of like the last gang in town vibe."
On the flag are written the words:
"Speramus meliora; resurget cineribus," which translates from the Latin as "We hope for better things. It shall rise from the ashes." Suffice it to say that Jack White has a flair for his town's history. . . . So it was that over the course of the summer in which the White Stripes laid the foundation for their mainstream crossover, Jack and Meg became the unofficial ambassadors for the City of Detroit. (152)

After the first Peel show, the UK press picked up on the notion that he had said the Stripes were the most exciting thing he'd heard since Jimi Hendrix. That notion was promptly adopted into the Stripes lore.
"That's really haunting me. I never said that at all. I never make those kind of comparisons. It's like saying Tuesday is better than a piece of string. What I said was that they're likely to find themselves having things said about them like `the best thing since Hendrix.' To me that's a fatuous way of saying things. As a man who did gigs with Hendrix, I have some basis for comparison. You're not comparing like with like," says Peel.

The Electric Six's campy disco-metal romp "Danger! High Voltage" . . . has one-hit wonder written in large letters across its forehead, and damned if it didn't lead to yet another chart-busting Electric Six when their equally retarded rock tune "Gay Bar" followed "Danger!" into the charts. (179)

[Michael Gondry:] "I always wanted to run away from the cliche of rock. Some of the bands that came in the same way as the White Stripes have too much of the past stuck to their butt." (198)

"I do remember Jack's mom meeting Jackass star Johnny Knoxville who had asked to come back and talk to Jack and Meg and she said to him `I don't like your show.' And he said, `You know, I don't know if my mom likes my show, either.'" (213)

Thanks to the notoriety of White's passenger in the crash, the White Stripes were never far from the headlines, even when the band was idling. Zellweger made her first appearance in Detroit gossip columns that spring, shopping at a riverfront grocery store with her no-name boyfriend. Eventually the Free Press—ever the tongue-waggling fishwrap—figured out that her boyfriend was a rock star and that the rock star actually lived there. But the great thing about Detroit is that besides the office workers sipping their coffee and bored housewives, nobody really seems to give a shit about celebrity culture. So Zellweger was allowed to roam free in the music dives and hair salons of Detroit. (216)

19may2007 — From Michael W. Kauffman's American Brutus:

Because military commissions were not subject to judicial appeal, they were not legally bound to follow the common-law rules of procedure. That gave [Judge Advocate General] Joseph Holt and associates the luxury of relying instead on the "laws of war." They refused to define the term. . . . It was a new form of jurisprudence -- fluid, unwritten, and in short, anything Joseph Holt wanted it to be. [Defense attorney] Walter Cox could not resist giving it a verbal jab.
"What a convenient instrument for trampling upon every Constitutional guaranty, every sacred right of the citizen!" said Cox. "There is no invention too monstrous, no punishment too cruel to find authority and sanction in such a common law. Is it possible that American citizens can be judged and punished by an unwritten code that has no definitions, no books, no judges or lawyers; which, if it has any existence, like the laws of the Roman Emperor, is hung up too high to be read?" (359)

(How shocked would Cox be if he could see ahead to our day, in which—according to the Supreme Court—not only accused criminals but everyone in the U.S. is subject to "secret laws"?)

At New York's Cooper Union, Abraham Lincoln issued his own closing comments on the Harper's Ferry incident. He denied that any member of his party had been implicated in Brown's plot, and he told his listeners that the raid had always been doomed to failure. "That affair, in its philosophy, corresponds with the many attempts . . . at the assassination of kings and emperors," Lincoln said. "An enthusiast broods over the oppression of a people till he fancies himself commissioned by Heaven to liberate them. He ventures into the attempt, which ends in little else than his own execution." The same might have been said of John Wilkes Booth in 1865. (107)

(Or ten-thousandfold moreso of Abraham Lincoln at any time from 1860 to the end of his life.)

18may2007If only

If, however, the military fortunes of the Confederacy had followed a more favorable course leading up to 1864, a dissatisfied Northern electorate just might have voted in a new president who would have been willing to extend overtures to end the war. — Roger L. Ransom, The Confederate States of America: What Might Have Been (121)

17may2007Breaking news: Only you care that you ran 10 kilometers.

Scourge of internet person name searching: Lists of footrace results.
Scourge of thrift store t-shirt browsing: Freebie t-shirts commemorating footraces.


16may2007"Zero Tolerance"

Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw will not be playing tonight, thanks to the same sort of common-sense-destroying policies that put kindergarteners on suspension for playing with squirtguns or pointing their fingers at each other.

Speaking of no common sense, Rudy Giuliani, the Little King Shortpants of American Exceptionalism, should read the 9/11 Commission Report and then humbly beg Ron Paul's pardon. (See also)

15may2007Litmus test

If you watch today's Republican candidate debate forum, count how many kiss the dead ass of Jerry Falwell.

14may2007 — Last night I watched Animal House with a grown-up, adult person who had never seen it. I know! I have no idea how anyone could have missed it. But it was fun, like seeing seeing boobs and beer and hijinks through virgin eyes. Awwww! I'm like an Enya song.

Anyway, thanks to Robb for being some sort of Commie who grew up in a hollowed-out log deep in the Appalachians, I would have to guess.


DP, on Weschler's Mr. Wilson's Cabinet: That's amazing that it almost got the Pulitzer Prize. It must be written pretty good.
DoC: DP, you are a prize.
DP: Well . . . it must be written pretty good, if it almost got a Pulitzer Prize.

(Note the chiasmus (cf. Spontaneous Ancient Literary Structure in Modern Colloquial Speech.)

12may2007 — From the Arrested Development DVD commentary, re: Charlize Theron's coonskin cap:

Mitch Hurwitz: We got the call from the network about her hat—they hated her hat.
Portia de Rossi: What?
Hurwitz: Yeah. We'd already shot a day. And Jim Vallely came up with, like, instead of trying to get rid of the hat? Let's really highlight the hat.
Hurwitz: That's why we have that scene: "Don't forget . . . your hat!"
Hurwitz: And then we actually even zoom in on the hat, at the end of the show.
David Cross: What a ridiculous waste-of-time note that is.



♣ The moment I switched on the radio yesterday morning, Diane Rehm was asking Cullen Murphy to "give us a brief summary of the rise and fall of the Roman Empire."

♣ Bruce Bowen = dirty punk? (YouTube)
What’s funny is that off the court Bruce Bowen is one of the nicest guys you’d ever want to meet. Although there was this time when I went to interview him and came down on his foot and was out for four to six weeks.

Stoned Cop Thought Wings Win Was a Hallucination (Be sure to listen to the 911 audio linked from that page)
The great thing is how the cop and his wife were not charged with any of the multitude of crimes you or I would be charged with in the exact same situation.


With Romney in the race, journalists will have to update one of the staple questions of penetrating modern campaign inquiry:

Boxers, briefs, or temple garment?

09may2007 — From Julie Burchill & Tony Parsons, The Boy Looked at Johnny: The Obituary of Rock and Roll:

Rock became the sole property of white dopes high on punk. (2)

Spungen had introduced Vicious to the full-time occupation of wondering where the next fix was coming from. (30)

Verlaine and sidekick Hell shared a chummy chuckle when they auditioned fellow heroin-enthusiast Dee Dee Ramone and blackballed the blank bassist's entry to the band when it transpired that one could count the number of chords Dee Dee knew on his waxy ear-holes. (52)

In the UK, punks are prepared to pay out hard cash for expensive albums by bands who could just as easily have been standing behind them in an audience. (59)

These days, the California judicial system only threatens to come down hard on coke criminals who have information they want—as in the case of Anjelica Huston, an actress who testified that her close friend film director Roman Polanski had taken a 13-year-old girl into a bedroom. Her revelation caused her possession of cocaine charge to be dropped, and forced Polanski to plead guilty. (70)

Acid (as it came to be known, man) was an inward-bound experience for cosmic cretins born too early to line up for Star Wars. (71)

Amphetamine—the only drug that makes you sit up and ask questions rather than lie down and lap up answers. (72)

Of the Mod bands, the manufactured Who sang their melodramatic fantasies of what they imagined the amphetamine lifestyle to be and reached a credulous mass audience, while the Small Faces were the archetype who had lived the life before they were ever in a band. In "Here Comes The Nice" they said more in three minutes about Mod than Pete Townshend said in thirty years. (73)

08may2007 — From Circle of Iron:

The Blind Man: A fish saved my life once.
Cord: How?
The Blind Man: I ate him.

07may2007 — Say hello to Brigadier General States Rights Gist

States Rights was born in the incongruous Union, South Carolina—rather than in, say, the more thematically appropriate Secessionville, South Carolina.

06may2007National Suck Up to the Military Day

Moreso than usual, I mean. Can't be "Memorial Day" (zzzzzz) or "Armed Forces Day" (WTF??), because both are apparently not for a few weeks, as if I would give two shits when they are, but anyhow, as part of the propagandafest, just now on the baseball game one of the announcers proudly—yes—announced that their broadcast was going out over Armed Forces Radio to U.S. Military Personnel in 176 countries around the world.


Or, according to Wikipedia, 177. ("Wherever large numbers of US troops are deployed, the AFN sets up operation, providing news and entertainment from home. Today AFN has several satellites and uses advanced digital compression technology to broadcast TV and radio to 177 countries and territories.")

If this is not empire, what is? That's Your Armed Forces, folks—Out There, pissing off people all over the globe, so as to continue to create the need for (and provide job security to): Your Armed Forces.

Oh, sorry, I forgot . . . "Even if you don't believe, blah blah blah."


Pop music is for sheep and we are shepherds disguised as wolves.Laibach


Schoolhouse Rock: Pirates and Emperors (youtube)

(See also: Legal Piracy)

"Immediately." — Congressman Ron Paul, asked during yesterday's debate forum whether, if elected President, he would abolish the IRS

03may2007 — The ol' Mahavi Desert Phone Booth Project

Rocket Boom and the Mojave Phone Booth

(Danke to Joanne @ Rocket Boom)


Chestnut: Dear Dr. Laura
Just plain nuts: Xtian flash mobsters
(See also: Mike Daisey responds)
(More: Daisey confronts the cowards)

30apr2007 — From Open Letters (also featured on This American Life's episode "The Missing Parents Bureau"):

". . . maybe check out something on the net like the phone number of that phone booth in the middle of the desert so he can call it some day. . . ."

(Thanks to the soon-to-be Chatoyante)

28apr2007J. G. Ballard on the Mojave Phone Booth

I don't have a PC actually, but my girlfriend is a keen PC user, a great surfer of the Internet. . . . And some of these sites she's dug up contain accidental poetry that is quite moving. I remember when she first got a PC about six or seven years ago, there were these "telephone booths in the Mojave desert" sites. I can't remember the theory of it, but there was some strangely poetic business about this telephone booth which was still functioning. I can't remember what the exact point of it was, but it became a kind of talismanic object.

J. G. Ballard: Conversations (RE/Search Publications), p. 41

27apr2007Government, weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Mike Gravel (former Alaska senator) did a good job in yesterday's candidate forum (no WAY will i call that shit a debate) on MSNBC. The outcome? Neither CNN nor Fox will allow Mike Gravel to appear in their candidate forums. YAY, FREE COUNTRY!!

Speaking of which, Retired cop who blocks vents says he smells a roof rat:

The pest-control cops launched a seven-week probe, concluding that Hanley can do the work. He just can't tell people why he's doing the work. Thus, his sales pitch—"Keep birds and rodents from invading your home"—has to go.
Gervase said the state would have no problem if Hanley says he's covering vents to keep leaves out. "But if he's advertising that he can keep pests from invading your home, that's pest control, and you need a license for pest control."
Actually, three licenses.
In addition to a $75 business license, Hanley would need an applicator's license. To get one, he would have to pay $30 and take a test on pesticides.
He'd have to study 25 pages of laws and 18 pages of rules and several books, including a real page-turner, Truman's Scientific Guide to Pest Management Operations.
And still he wouldn't be qualified to advertise that he covers vents to keep rats out.
In order to make such a highly technical claim, he would then have to go to work for a licensed pest control company.
Then, once he had 3,000 hours of experience, he could pay $150, take a test and get a qualifying party license.
Hanley is not amused. He is so not amused that he's contacted the Institute for Justice.

Legalized extortion, protectionism, monopoly: This. Is. Licensing.

As someone who made a career out of using force to back up any and all laws, do you suppose former officer Hanley now understands the nature and character of "authority"?

Meanwhile, the CIA says: Torture?? How could anyone suggest such a thing? We merely use "enhanced interrogation techniques."

26apr2007Compare and Contrast

From the classic Jim Jarmusch film Stranger Than Paradise:

Eddie: Cleveland—it's a beautiful city.
Eva: Yes?
Eddie: Yeah. It's got a big, beautiful lake. You'll love it there.
Eva: Have you been there?
Eddie: No.

And again:

Willie: You ever been to Florida?
Eddie: Florida? It's beautiful down there. White beaches, girls in bikinis, Cape Canaveral, Miami Beach. They got pelicans down there, and flamingos.
Willie: You been there?
Eddie: No, I never been there.

From the television broadcast of the Arizona Diamondbacks home opener vs. the Cincinnati Reds, 09apr2007:

Mark Grace: Springerville is just east of Show Low, right near the New Mexico border. BEAUTIFUL area! Just beautiful.
Daron Sutton: You been there?
Mark Grace: No.

25apr2007TRAGIC NEWS

Apparently the Demolition Doll Rods are quits!

24apr2007Say it ain't so, Crow

We can't have come to the point where we're limited to one square per toilet visit, can we?

(I wonder how "green" the Subaru Imprezas are, the ones advertised with Sheryl Crow's earworm song about the winding roads?)

23apr2007His Ninth is most strange. In it, the author hardly speaks as an individual any longer. It almost seems as though this work must have a concealed author who used Mahler merely as his spokesman, as his mouthpiece. This symphony is no longer couched in the personal tone. It consists, so to speak, of objective, almost passionless statements of a beauty which becomes perceptible only to one who can dispense with animal warmth and feels at home in spiritual coolness. We shall know as little about what his Tenth (for which, as also in the case of Beethoven, sketches exist) would have said as we know about Beethoven's or Bruckner's. It seems that the Ninth is a limit. He who wants to go beyond it must pass away. It seems as if something might be imparted to us in the Tenth which we ought not yet to know, for which we are not yet ready. Those who have written a Ninth stood too near to the hereafter. Perhaps the riddles of this world would be solved, if one of those who knew them were to write a Tenth. And that is probably not to take place. — Arnold Schönberg, Style and Idea, p. 470

21apr2007"No, nope, no way, hell no."

—Montana state government to the Feds re: their "Real ID" bullshit

Meanwhile, the Vermont senate has voted to call for the well-deserved impeachment of both Bush and Cheney. At one time this sort of a vote would have had actual effect, because up until 1913 U.S. senators were elected by their state legislatures, instead of by popularity contest popular vote. Under that scheme, where states were actually states, Vermont's two senators would now be obliged to work in the U.S. senate for impeachment trials. As things are today, Vermont's two senators will probably meet with major contributors and take fact-finding trips to Bermuda.

19apr2007 — From Selling Satan, by Mike Hertenstein & Jon Trott (an exposé of self-proclaimed "ex-satanist high priest" Mike Warnke):

Autumn 1991. Not "church," but "Christian Center"—like shopping center—with a towering marquee on the highway side and a phony-colonial design that would fit comfortably into Heritage Village or Main Street USA. Here we stood, Christianity in America, twenty centuries down the road from catacombs, cathedrals, and steeples in the public square. (1)

That story, as told in The Satan Seller, was by now woven into the fabric of evangelical pop culture: a young orphan boy, raised in foster homes, drifted from whatever family and friends he had to join a secret, all-powerful satanic cult. First, he descended into the hell of drug addiction. Then he ascended in the satanic ranks to the position of high priest, with fifteen hundred followers in three cities. He had unlimited wealth and power at his disposal, provided by members of Satanism's highest echelon, the Illuminati. And then he converted to Christ. (3)

Yet Lois did have some good memories of Mike Warnke. . . . "I don't regret having known him. I'm just glad I didn't marry him." (61)

Formidable chronological problems exist in The Satan Seller. . . . These discrepancies could have been uncovered by anyone else in the past twenty years—with minimal research. But nobody took the time to do the math. (63)

The professor shook his head slowly in disbelief. "I taught here during those years, and we never, ever asked for or had any LSD experiments take place on this campus. For heaven's sake, this is only a two-year junior college!" (68)

"The times were right for that sort of testimony. People wanted to hear that their worst fears were true." (141)

There seemed no limit to what Christian audiences were willing to accept—as long as the main character gave his heart to Jesus in the end. (174)

One thing disturbed Karen, she recalled. "Mike liked to introduce me as a former hippie or drug addict—which I'd been, but I wasn't proud of," she recalled. "Then he started introducing me as a former prostitute, which I'd never been. I had to ask him to stop." (179)

Later the police officer did come through with some information in the form of sketchy cop-talk: "My sources within the department indicate an individual with the name you gave me was involved in activities similar to what you outlined." (182)

[Warnke] "told me about the verse in Genesis that talks about angels of God visiting the daughters of men and creating a race of giants. And he told me he and I were born out of that unique race and that we were giants with special powers." (185)

Carolyn said the two went for a drive and Warnke stopped at a convenience store. "He asked what kind of cigarettes I used to smoke, and I said, `Pall Mall Gold. Why?' He just shut the door and kept on walking. I went, `Uh-Oh.'" Warnke returned to the car, according to Carolyn, with "two bottles of Annie Greensprings wine, two packs of cigarettes, and a package of peanut-butter cookies." That day they began an affair. . . . (186)

Danny Taylor . . . noted, "Mike and Carolyn came to Nashville to hide. Because you can hide in Nashville." (193)

One question it would have been appropriate to raise at this key juncture: How could Word/Myrrh know if the satanic story they were about to mass-produce and distribute around the world was true? But nobody asked. "It was just accepted," Huey told Trott. (203)

Added Mike Johnson, who often toured with Mike on his road trips, "It was pretty consistent money for a guy with a mouth and a bag of records. He didn't need anything, not even a guitar. He just talked for forty-five minutes." (214)

Concluded Carolyn, "Mike Warnke was one of the greatest con artists I've ever known in my life. And coming from my background, that says quite a bit." (236)

Mike Warnke began offering his expertise on the horrors of Satanism to law enforcement agencies and national media. Warnke appeared on ABC's "20/20," "Oprah Winfrey," and "Larry King Live" as well as countless local shows. He was cited frequently as a reference in print media, both on Satanism and other subjects: the Warnkes did a series of articles for the Christian magazine Family Life Today with topics ranging from parenting teenagers to popular music. They also shared their parenting tips on James Dobson's "Focus on the Family" radio program. (256)

Jon Trott went on his evidence kick again. He called Larson's publisher, Thomas Nelson Publishing, and asked to see some evidence for the grisly stories in the book, like the one about the little girl who was stripped naked by Satanists and pulled through the rear end of a dead horse. A Nelson spokesperson hemmed and hawed, initially claiming evidence existed, then backed away stating that the book was meant only as entertainment. "Like the part about the little girl and the horse?" Jon wondered, "or the part about her performing fellatio on the Satanists?" Nelson eventually pulled the "based on actual accounts" blurb before the book went to press. The parts about the horse and fellatio stayed. (286)

The ex-seminar director's charges were a dubious combination: Warnke Ministries was a fraud, he claimed, yet he had been improperly discharged from that fraud. Cooper's lawyer, William Stevens, demanded a half-million dollars. (335)

One reader of the Southern California Christian tried to call what she believed was the phone number for that regional paper, but accidentally called Cornerstone. She was quickly on the line with Hertenstein. No, she said, she hadn't read the Cornerstone article, just the brief synopsis in her own regional paper. And no, she didn't want a copy of the original article to see the evidence.
"What is all this talk about
evidence?" she said, offended by the very idea of checking up on Warnke's story. "I don't want to look at any evidence. God has given me the gift of discernment. And I feel in my heart that Mike Warnke is the one who is telling the truth." It was quickly obvious this discussion was going nowhere, but the woman wouldn't get off the line. Hertenstein finally appealed to the highest authority: "Ma'am, I honestly feel in my heart that God led me to do the article on Mike Warnke." The woman was stopped in her tracks and politely ended the conversation. (369)

A Texas woman named Beverly phoned Cornerstone and said she was confused. . . . "There's a lot of people out here who have always supported both Cornerstone and Warnke Ministries and now we just don't know what to do. What does this all mean?"
"Maybe it means that God is calling people to a greater level of discernment. I guess you'll just have to look over all the evidence and statements that have been presented and decide for yourself."
"But that's so hard. I don't like having to do that."
"I know," said the writer. There wasn't much else to say.

[During an interview with Anton LaVey:] Jon Trott had been waiting for an opportunity for some subversive evengelism. He leaned forward and observed, "I've always thought of Jesus as an iconoclast. He certainly presented a challenge to the status quo of his day. . . .
LaVey saw his point. "
If Jesus existed," he conceded, "then he probably would have been a Satanist. Not a devil worshiper, but a Satanist in the sense of being an iconoclast."
That was something we had never considered, we said.

Perhaps sensing that we might try to preach at him before the evening wrapped up, LaVey announced, "I get piles of religious tracts from people trying to convert me." He told us about a form letter reply he'd composed for such letters. . . .

Dear ______:
Thank you for your enlightening and inspirational letter (tract). I am touched by your prayers, and because of the dire warnings and accusations you have leveled upon me, have chosen to see the light. You are the person I have been waiting for to lead me to Jesus, when all others have failed.
I now see the folly of my actions and can perceive how I was taken in by Satan and used as a tool to destroy innocent minds and bodies....
...Surely your wisdom must be matched by your generosity, so perhaps you would like to help me bring others to Jesus who have been ensnared by the Devil's lies....
Enclosed is a return envelope in which you might place your offering....

LaVey smiled a naughty smile, revealing a missing front tooth. "Can you imagine what would happen if I suddenly announced that I'd seen the light?" he hisses, eyes twinkling. "I could really make a bundle." . . .
Jon shook his head. "If by some miracle you ever do become a Christian, do yourself and everybody else a favor: disappear. We don't need any more celebrity conversions. And we certainly don't need any more ex-Satanists on the circuit."
LaVey assured us this would not be the case. "You don't have to worry about me," he said. "There will be no deathbed recantations." Still softly playing hymns, he closed his eyes and let his head drift back as he lost himself in a private ecstasy.

Here's the great thing: this lying clown Mike Warnke is still in the god biz. ("Congratulations on the successful completion of the recommendations that were placed on you personally and on your ministry by the Advisory Council 13 years ago in January of 1993. All restrictions have been met and are hereby lifted.") Oh, Barnum . . . even religions that don't saint should saint you.

18apr2007 — Favorites from The Onion A.V. Club's The Tenacity of the Cockroach: Conversations with Entertainment's Most Enduring Outsiders:

We're doing out best to have the most desired web site in the world and sell all of our goods like everybody else is trying to do. And, of course, the competition is great, but the opportunity's vast. I'm not educated about computers, and I don't have any business talking about them, but they're upon us, and it looks like they're gonna make us educate ourselves to deal with them. I guess a guy like me has to talk about hiring a roomful of people to look at one of those computers. You see those rooms where somebody, some guy, some entrepreneur has a bunch of people in there watching the computers. It's kind of funny to me, actually. Then they'll have on a cell phone at the same time. They'll be reading e-mail and talking to somebody on a cell phone and getting paid, by God.Merle Haggard

That's my trade. I'm an irony dealer. I mean, that was an ironic statement. Irony is what I deal in from the moment I wake up until the moment I go to sleep. I am weary of it, though. To me, irony is snobbery in a way. There's no irony in Bangladesh. What's so-bad-it's-good if you're hungry? [Laughs.] Baltimore is very un-ironic, and they're not impressed with anything. People who like irony are impressed with anything. People who don't could give a shit. They don't care if you like them, and they're not "with it" . . . With what? They think you're an asshole! I like to be around people like that sometimes. I don't want to be around witty people all the time. I know enough of them.John Waters

I have four kids, all from the same wife, all from the same husband, I think. I've been home four times in my career, and my wife was high or something each time. I'm a good, solid family man. I don't say I'm a good solid man, but, you know. They always love me. They don't always like me, and I deserve that.Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick

Things are planned to a degree. . . . You don't want Matt Dillon to come out and no one's ever talked to him, and we have no idea what we're gonna talk about and just go fishing, because too often the result is going to sound like a conversation you'd have with some stranger on a bus. . . . Like, say Matt Dillon was a male prostitute in the late '70s, and that's how he earned money. If I know that in advance, and I know he's willing to talk about it, that's a good thing to have in your back pocket, because it's something we would have in common.Conan O'Brien

I used to do college dates, and I actually had to stop doing them because it was just . . . David Sedaris, in one of his books, has a great thing about how, when you work in front of the public, you really want to view people as unique, special, and rare unto themselves. But, then, the more time you spend, the more you realize everyone's the fucking same. I used to do these college dates. I'd go and make a month's rent in one night, so it was kind of hard to say no, but I had to stop doing them because it got so sad, like, people in the Q&A part going, "Are you ever gonna win a staring contest? Ha ha ha!" And it's not their fault. That's, I guess, a relatively clever question if you're a fan of the show, but after the 10th time, it started to make me feel really sad. When I started, I thught, "I'll talk about the show, but I'll also try to throw in my personal take on my journey through show business." A lot of people basically d a one-sided interview. So I did that, and I found out more and more that, as I did it, nobody gave a shit what I thought. They just wanted to know, "Who's the Masturbating Bear? Who's in that? Who came up with that?" . . . Where do you go from that?Andy Richter

That's where I get pissed off at a lot of my younger readers. I come on avuncular sometimes and say to a young guy, "Son, what are you doing? I'm your dad. I drank, I used drugs, I hate William Burroughs, I hate Hunter Thompson, I hate Charles Bukowski, I don't think any of 'em were worth a shit, and none of 'em can write, and William Burroughs is a misogynist cocksucker who murdered his wife." People can't take that.James Ellroy

17apr2007 — Extra-random snippets from William Gibson's Pattern Recognition (kindly recommended to me by Puzzling Evidence, though I've now forgotten in what connection; a month can do such terrible things to a man's mind):

What is that, to be over thirty and not know where you'll be in a month or two? (88)

"The market is not entirely rationalized, you see."
"Not yet established as a global specialist environment. As has long been the case, for instance, with rare stamps, or coins. Or, to almost that degree, with the clocks Greenaway deals in. Values are only just being established for Curta calculators. One still finds the odd example gathering dust on a shelf, perhaps for relatively little. All such markets are being rationalized by the Internet, of course."
"Are they?"
"Absolutely. Hobbs himself . . . is responsible for that, to some degree."
"eBay," says Ngemi. "He's very adroit there, and has sold many Curtas to Americans, always for more than they would fetch here. Global values are being established."
[So that's what happened to my dream of retiring on the proceeds of the sale of my childhood baseball cards. . . .]

His shoes are black four-eyelet DMs, the ur-Martens of the first decade of punk, long since de-recontextualized into the inexpensive everyman's footwear they'd been designed to be. (235)

"Police cars, no! Those are the cars of important people, of the rich, or those who work for them. They have purchased a permit allowing ignorance of traffic regulations. Blue lights are courtesy to others, a warning. It seems strange to you?" (285)

16apr2007 — From Reggie Nadelson's Comrade Rockstar: The Life and Mystery of Dean Reed:

"Come on out to California, Mom," he said, shouting because he was on long distance, which was still a novelty, used only for death and celebration. (29)

"Well, I went to see one of their policemen over in East Germany, you can just imagine." Mrs. Brown was not as reticent as I had expected. "My goodness, he was a pompous man. I asked who he thought did it and he looked at me as if I were just plain crazy. I'll never forget it. He said to me, `There are three things to consider. First, crime. Second, suicide. Third, accident.' She hesitated. "Then he said, `One. We do not have crime in the GDR. Two. We know Dean well and he would never have committed suicide. Three, therefore, it was an accident.'" (30)

December 7, 1942, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Dean Reed was four years old. (32)
[December 7, when, now?]

"Dean did not kill himself," said Phil Everly when I met him in Burbank a week after I saw Ruth Anna Brown in Hawaii. "He was a good laugher and a guy that laughs does not kill himself," Everly said. (34)
[Tony Hancock, Will Cuppy, Micke Dubois, Drake Sather, Freddie Prinze, Charles Rocket, Doodles Weaver, Richard Jeni notwithstanding. Also Salvador Allende.]

It seemed as if, beyond the Berlin Wall, for decades Darth Vadar [sic] had ruled, evil, unknown, shuttered. (46)
It was as if Darth Vadar [sic] had not only pulled up his vizor, he'd taken off the whole damn costume. (321)

The production of records required similar ingenuity, which was how Records on Ribs were invented. You stole X-ray plates, which were made of a thick plastic material, rounded out the edges with a pair of scissors, cut a hole in the middle, and recorded on top of them. In the underground, rock music was produced on pictures of somebody's lungs. I saw them, these incredible artifacts, and you could actually see the ribs while the needle went around and around. Young hustlers who sold them on the street secreted the records in their coat sleeves because the X-ray material was pliable and you could fold it over. (79)

Sometimes, late at night, you could still catch Adios Sabata on TV. In it, Dean worked with Yul Brynner. Dean was taller than Yul, but Yul was the star, so Dean played their scenes standing in a hole on the beach that had been specially dug for him. Dean told the story for laughs, but it clearly got up his nose that he was less important than Yul. (119)

Idolized by fans, his politics acceptable to the Party, Dean became a minor but potent player in the East. He claimed to know Erich Honecker and Gustav Husak. He made speeches and was honored by the Czechs with the Julius Fucik Medallion. He played concerts in Sofia and the Bulgarians presented him with the Dimitrov Medallion. Every ghoul in Eastern Europe, I thought, the whole bunch of them had honored and celebrated Dean Reed. (135)

Not much in the East shocked me more than the way these countries degraded their own currency. It eroded the whole structure of society; it made people willing to sell themselves for a few bucks, and I hated it. When in the fall of 1989, East Germans began jamming the trains that would take them west through Hungary, they tossed their banknotes on the station platform with contempt and spat on them. (143)

[Leslie Woodhead:] "It's crap," he said. "Crap. All of it crap. The politics are crap. The money is crap. The furniture, the clothes, the schools. Crap. It's a conspiracy of mediocrity. From the Berlin Wall to Vladivostok, they've cheated everyone and everything is crap." (144)

With Dean on the TV screen, the reporter's voice was saying, `Who is this man, the one being hounded for autographs in downtown Moscow? You probably don't recognize him. Most Soviets would since he's considered to be the most popular, best known American in the Soviet Union. And most Soviets are quite startled to learn that most Americans have never heard of him." The picture cut to a Soviet woman with a few teeth missing, who said, `He is the best singer in the world.'" (171)

Dean would not release Dixie from her promise. To cheer her up, he sent her Yasser Arafat's headscarf for a present. (216)

On one occasion at least, according to Dixie, Dean went into West Berlin wearing a false wig and moustache. He also used a phony name. But why? Why would Dean use a disguise? Why did he really cross the Wall to call Dixie from a public phone that stank of urine? (274)

That November day I walked up to the Berlin Wall and bought a piece of it from a boy from New Jersey who had set up shop. A burly ex-GI from Texas said hello and told me, "We come on over to get us a piece of that there Wall," and looked nervously at his friend while a gang of drunken teenagers did a rock version of "Winter Wonderland" for KOOL, America's oldest golden oldies station. KOOL was in town from Arizona, doing live remotes from the Berlin Wall. (315)

15apr2007 — From "Is This The Way To Baker House?" — A Compendium of MIT Hacking Lore:

The title of this book is something of an inside joke among hackers. Etiquette dictates it is the only correct thing to say to a Campus Police Officer if you are found in a particularly inappropriate place. (2)

Above all, exercise common sense. This is another general rule with very wide applicability. When exploring, you are often in places which were not intended for normal traffic. The people who built the area may not have assumed anyone would be there without special knowledge of the area. Many of the assumptions you are used to making are not valid or applicable while hacking. It is very important that you stay alert and think clearly. (8)

Always have two ways to run. If someone comes one way, you can go the other. If possible, run along a path that has many side branches. Your pursuer will pause to check them. Change floors often. Don't start running when someone spots you. Walk around a corner and then run. Remember that the person who sees you must first decide that you are doing something wrong, and running is an admission of guilt. It's amazing what you can get away with if you don't look like you're getting away with anything. (8)

People are usually unaware of anything above them unless it moves or otherwise calls attention to itself. When hacking, remember to look up periodically. (9)

Try to account for all the space in a building. If a bump in one wall does not line up with a dent on the other side, then there is a space that needs exploring. (9)

Brute force is the last refuge of the incompetent. Carrying master keys is extremely stupid and unnecessary. Things are not always as they appear. This is true of locks, doors, walls, and people. (10)

Rush and Orientation is also a wonderful time for hacks—hacks that welcome the freshmen, hacks that lampoon the sometimes stressful events that freshmen encounter during R/O, and hacks that may inspire them to think about hacking. (13)

About 40 band members ran out onto the field at halftime, lay down and spelled out MIT with their bodies. MIT students also handed out over 1,000 flash cards to Harvard loyalists, telling them that they would spell out "Beat Yale." What they spelled, of course, was MIT, but only the last two letters were distinct. (82) [Cp. the Zug/Cockeyed 2006 Superbowl attempt]

As you become an experienced hacker, you'll find yourself seeking out the unusual. Every building has its own personality; it's up to you to find it. In Boston's theater district there's an entire network of underground tunnels connecting the area's oldest buildings. Find them and look at yourself in the ornate 19th century mirrors that line their walls. (84)

Now this is not to say that a hack involving elaborate preparation isn't simple. Nothing could have been simpler than Smooting the Mass. Ave. Bridge—all you needed was a bucket of paint and Oliver Smoot '62. (91)

Originality: A truly memorable hack needs to have a freshness about it that says it has never been done before. There was a period during the early 1990s when student groups would occasionally "re-Smoot" the Mass. Ave. bridge with their own units of measure or obscure symbols. You wouldn't put another Hilltop Steak House cow on top of the Dome, now, would you? This is boring and unimaginative and I am glad to see that this practice has been dormant the last few years. (92)

In MIT's long history no student has ever come up with a sentence that can top this one: "The sterile lateralism of the grouped utensils ( sans knife) conveys a sense of eternal ennui, framed within the subtle ambience of discrete putrefaction." (95)

The title of Brian Lebowitz' historical compendium of MIT hacks, The Journal of the Institute for Hacks, Tomfoolery & Pranks at MIT, (MIT Museum, 1990) is itself a hack. Embedded in it are the initials IHTFP, which, as everyone at MIT knows, stand for "I hate this fucking place." (102)

Here is how Arthur Koestler describes the practical joke in his Encyclopedia Britannica article: The coarsest type of humour is the practical joke: pulling away the chair from under the dignitary's lowered bottom. The victim is perceived first as a person of consequence, then suddenly as an inert body subject to the laws of physics: authority is debunked by gravity, mind by matter, man is degraded to a mechanism. (102)

At some level our students know that while they are all in the top 5% of their high school classes, they will soon be recalibrated downward. I say "at some level" because a poll taken not too long ago asked the incoming class how many of them thought they would end up in the top quarter. Something like 75% said they would! At least half of those responding were about to discover they were not as good as they thought, not an easy pill to swallow at any stage of one's life. (103)

Unlike the extreme kinds of disobedience that one often finds in living groups, the hack is a socially acceptable form of disobedience. It is easily distinguished from its more extreme counterparts by three properties. Hacks are (1) technologically sophisticated, (2) anonymous, (3) benign. They are technologically sophisticated because they need to parody an MIT education. They are anonymous because were they otherwise, the Institute might be forced, if only for safety reasons, to do something about them. They are benign because their goal is not to inflict pain, but to cope with pain inflicted. They do this by making fun of the Institute, diminishing it, bringing it down to size so that its judgments are brought down to size as well.
The hack is a pact that the Institute and its students enter into. Keep it anonymous, harmless and fun and MIT will look the other way. It will even be mildly encouraging because it recognizes, as do the students, that students need to turn the Institute into an adversary. This, by the way, is why the adversarial undercurrent between students and the Institute won't go away, no matter how supportive student services are or how solicitous our staff might be or how accessible the faculty makes itself.

Hacks and living groups, then, are to the Institute what sunglasses are to the sun: a form of protection that makes it possible to live with the light. Not every student hacks. Not every student feels the same degree of disobedient dependency. But every time hackers help to place a police car on the dome, they are providing shade in a very sunny clime. (104)

[See also: Access All Areas]


Ron Paul, 2008

The Once and Future Republic of Vermont

More foolishness from Pinal County politicians

13apr2007 — From Strike the Root:

As every American knows, "private property" is a joke. Like literally everything else, when real estate changes hands, the state gets a piece of the action (real estate transfer tax.) They also demand continual payment of protection money for real estate (property taxes.) When property values rise, naturally the tax man gets a bigger slice of the pie by officially increasing the "state equalized value" of one's property. Should you improve your property, after you get their permission, you'll pay higher taxes for the privilege of doing so.

In a shocking new twist, with property values falling, local governments are refusing to lower SEV's no matter what the purchase price of a property is. This will pile more problems onto the deflating housing bubble, making foreclosures even less appealing to the few buyers who are out there.

When the value of property rises - so does the extortion cost. When the price of property falls, too bad, shut up and pay. Extortion never gets cheaper. The dough must continue to roll in - how else could they keep funding their benefit/pension plans and feathering their own nests?

12apr2007 — From Mark Anderson's Shakespeare by Another Name: A Biography of Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, the Man Who Was Shakespeare

As one Puritan critic wrote, during the annual progress season Elizabeth was "entirely given over to love, hunting, hawking, and dancing, consuming day and night with trifles. . . . He who invents most ways of wasting time is regarded as one worthy of honor." (12)

Tortured and imprisoned, Hales drowned himself in a stream near Canterbury in 1554. Since his death was a suicide, some of Hales's possessions (including his leases) had been forfeited to the crown. The crown had then turned around and leased one of Hales's forfeited leases to a man named Cyriack Petit. The Hales family, wanting their lease back, argued that they'd inherited Hales's possessions at the moment of his death, before the state deemed it a suicide. Thus Petit had no right to be living on land that the Hales family had already inherited.
The tortured language of both sides in this case reads like a skit from
Monty Python's Flying Circus. The documented arguments on behalf of the Hales family: "Sir James Hales was dead, and how came he to his death? It may be answered, by drowning. And who drowned him? Sir James Hales. And when did he drown him? In his life-time: So that Sir James Hales being alive caused Sir James to die and the act of the living was the death of a dead man." The documented arguments on behalf of Petit: "The Forfeiture of the Goods and Chattels, real and personal, shall have relation to the Act done in the Party's Life-time, which was the Cause of his Death; and upon this the parts of the Act are to be considered. . . . The Act consists of three Parts. The first is the Imagination, which is a Reflection or a Meditation of the Mind. . . . The second is the Resolution. . . . The third is the Perfection. . . . And this Perfection consists of two Parts, viz, the Beginning and the End." (34)

[Letter from Gabriel Harvey to Edward de Vere;] Mars lives in thy tongue, Minerva strengthens they right hand, Bellona reigns in they body, within thee burns the first of Mars. Thine eyes flash fire, thy will shakes spears. . . .
Will shakes spears. At the time Harvey uttered these words, a fourteen-year-old boy in Stratford-upon-Avon was still living in obscurity. The first opportunity Will Shakspere of Stratford would have to join London society—and, presumably, to come to the attention of literati such as Harvey—was still years away. It must be one of the great coincidences of Western literature that Harvey's 1578 encomium to de Vere would reference the very name the earl of Oxford would one day use to conceal his own writings. (139-40)

By using the disguise of another man's name, de Vere had protected himself from the fate of William Reynolds—a man who had uncovered just one facet of Venus and Adonis's hidden meaning and was cast aside to the very fringes of society. Venus and Adonis represents the debut of the ruse that would enable de Vere to become Elizabethan England's most candid truth-teller. Following the recipe laid out in Castiglione's Courtier (1572) and Cardanus's Comfort (1573), de Vere had published his heart in Venus and Adonis using a Batillus—the "upstart crow" Will Shakspere—as the beard who would distract the public gaze from the regal truths to be found within. (271)

Courtiers and visiting dignitaries in the 1590s still had to pretend that Her Majesty was the most radiant star in the firmament. Any young man seeking royal preferment still was required to act as if he only had eyes for England's Eliza. She wore embarrassingly low-cut dresses, and because of her love for sweets, her teeth had begun to rot. Her Highness's breath stank. She often sucked on a perfumed silk handkerchief before seeing visitors. And yet, eternally the ingenue, Elizabeth batted her eyelashes and played adolescent love games with the boys around her. (272)

Nostalgia is a kaleidoscope. At the dawn of the Jacobean Age, one disillusioned courtier was fixing his retrospective gaze into the viewfinder: The queen had certainly indulged her lordly fool; her £1,000 annuity never stopped, although it was also never enough. She was maddeningly opaque and fickle; she was amazingly brilliant and fascinating. She was tightfisted, two-faced, and horrible tease. She was, in her day, perhaps the sexiest and most alluring woman de Vere had ever met in his life. She was a hag; she was a goddess. She was dead. (349)

The central engraving features a hidden man's hand writing from behind a theatrical curtain. The title page emblem would appear to be about a disguised playwright.
Lastly, the hand from behind the curtain writes on a scroll the words "By the mind, I will be seen." (
Mente videbor.) The hidden playwright appears to be adding the letter i to videbor. However, there is no Latin word "videbori." Yet "videbori" makes a perfect anagram of the sentence—and would also make sense of the stray period between the two words. Unscramble " MENTE.VIDEBORI," and one Latin phrase makes all the pieces of the puzzle fit together: TIBI NOM.DE VERE. Or, in English: "Thy name is de Vere." (367)

In the nine years since Queen Elizabeth's death, King James I had proved himself to be little more than a place holder for some great monarch to come. By all signs, Henry, Prince of Wales, would have been that monarch: brilliant, erudite, well trained as a military man, an enthusiastic patron of the creative arts, an unrepentant but still accomodating moderate Protestant, a decisive man of high morals. Had Prince Henry lived to assume his place on the throne, it's likely that post-seventeenth-century world history would be unrecognizable today.
Instead, Henry's corrupt younger brother Charles eventually inherited the crown and so enraged Parliament and the population at large in the 1640s as to spark the English Civil War—a conflagration that resulted in Charles's beheading in 1649 and in which Oliver Cromwell's Puritan revolution shut down all the theaters.
This sociopolitical turbulence during the early seventeenth century would be responsible in no small part for continuing the Shake-speare ruse past the lifetimes of the author and his contemporaries.

Shakspere's likeness rests his arms on a pillow, upon which sits a blank piece of paper. Shakspere grasps at a quill pen with his right hand and gazes emptily out into space. The bust has been the subject of much witty chatter throughout the ages. As Twain wrote: The bust too—there in the Stratford Church. The precious bust, the priceless bust, the calm bust, the serene bust, the emotionless bust, with the dandy moustache, and the putty face, unseamed of care—that face which has looked passionlessly down upon the awed pilgrim for a hundred and fifty years and will still look down upon the awed pilgrim three hundred more, with the deep, deep, deep, subtle, subtle, subtle expression of a bladder. (369-70)

11apr2007What It Feels Like

In Stockholm, each laureate is assigned a stretch limousine, a driver, and an attache. I'd never worn tails in my life and I had to wear them three times that week. I think the Swedes use more starch than mos, because Ifelt like a true stuffed shirt. The receptions got very old, and there were a lot of them. They were very alien to the lifestyle I chose. I'm an academic and not a CEO or a diplomat. If there was an option to have the prize mailed to me, I would've taken it. (James Heckman . . . winner of the 2000 prize for economics)

I didn't want to be friendly with any of my captors. They asked me, "When this is over, can you get me a visa to America?" I said, "If you ever come to the United States, I'll kill you." But after a while I gave up being defiant because it only got me struck over and over again. I kept relations very formal. (Barry Rosen . . . held by the Iranians for 443 days in 1979-80)

I used to let people push the sword down my throat. But this time I chose a big, burly guy. . . . He pushed too far. . . . I finished the act with seven swords. When I pulled them out they were covered with blood. Now I have people withdraw the blade from my mouth instead of pushing it down. You can't pull out a sword too far. (Brad Byers, sword swallower)

10apr2007Latest favorite url particle: Farticle

09apr2007 — From Peter Carey's Wrong About Japan:

Japanese addresses rightly seem complicated to gaijin. Say your friend's address is 1-12-33 Asakusa Chome, Taito-ku. This means your friend lives in Taito Ward, in the district of Asakusa. Within Asakusa you will need to find area number one. If you're well prepared you'll have a map; if not, you ask a local. Then you use the same process to find block 12 and there, sooner or later, you'll find building number 33. Of course it will be nowhere near building 32 or 34. It is more likely to be sandwiched between 20 and 7. Imagine what this did to the minds of the American occupation forces in 1945. No street names. Meaningless numbers. The victors changed many things about Japan . . . but the American plan to render the Japanese addresses "more logical" never had a hope in hell.
"It is not because we are secretive," Takashi told me later. "Westerners think we want to hide from them. No one is hiding. Our way is logical. It is zoom shot, see. Begin wide, then zoom in until you have CU of your building."

So I asked if making a sword felt like a spiritual business to him.
Yoshihara-san smiled. "You've been reading American books?"
"English," I admitted.
"Perhaps some people have spiritual experiences. They hear voices talking to them. Then they are crazy."

In 1939 Yoshiwara boasted three hundred and twenty brothels. When the firebombing was over, only ten were left standing. The American army of occupation swiftly established Special Recreation centres in the few unbombed factories, and price lists were posted on the quartermaster bulletin boards: 20 yen—a buck and a quarter—for the first hour. 10 yen for each additional hour and all night for 50 yen. If you pay more, you spoil it for the rest. The MP's [sic] will be stationed at the doors to enforce these prices. Trucks will leave here each hour, on the hour. NO MATTER HOW GOOD IT FEELS, BE SURE TO WEAR ONE. (72)

[On the U.S. bombing of Shitamachi:] "Officially, one hundred twenty thousand people died in that raid, but there were really a million victims if you count everyone who lost a home or was injured or orphaned. You were in New York, Charley, when the terrorists struck the World Trade Center. Three thousand people died, and that was an enormous number. You know what that was like, so now imagine what one hundred twenty thousand is like." (80)

[Completely unrelated to Ringu] "It is kind of a ghost house."
"What makes it a ghost house?"
"Well, as you will see in a moment, there is a well."
"So?" "The well is a very animistic thing. It is a hole to another world, to ghosts and spirits. A Japanese viewer sees that well and immediately understands that this will be a story about spirits."

[Marginally related: The eye-opening " Dying For the Emperor? No Way" by Mike Rogers ]

08apr2007Catapult the propaganda, II

This was Easter Sunday, the day that Christians celebrate the martyrdom and resurrection of Christ. But Lincoln's death brought a new meaning to the idea of redemption and sacrifice, and ministers all across the North proclaimed a new national savior. Abraham Lincoln was now the "chief of martyrs," whose sacrifice would save the nation. The irony was inescapable: Booth had hoped to kill Lincoln on the Ides and highlight his resemblance to Caesar; but instead, he shot him on Good Friday, and the world compared him to Christ. -- Michael W. Kauffman, American Brutus, p. 251.

07apr2007Catapult the propaganda

"This is the thirteenth annual Pat's Run!" — Crack KTVK (Phoenix) reporter April Warnecke, excitedly reporting from the scene of a race commemorating someone who didn't even die until three years ago

More crack reporting from the somehow unembarrassed Arizona Republic: Little Luke's a Pat Tillman race winner (""My daughter is very excited she gets to race with mommy," she said. "This really is a great way to support our country and everything he stood for.")

Puts me in mind of one of the few true statements George W. has made as president: See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda. (Applause.)

Gosh, I hope so, Dave, but I doubt it.

Meanwhile, in the New Hampshire state legislature: I ask you: Have you ever lived in a Communist state? Well, I have. And I can see a mile away what you may not recognize right under your nose.

06apr2007 — Penn and Teller: Wal-Mart Hatred Is Bullshit

Hipsters, please watch and then please STFU.


04apr2007Great Amazon customer reviews (con't):

Alexander the Great: The Final Cut, March 30, 2007
Reviewer: D. Silaeva "Gesiona"

Film global, rich, interesting, talented. Oliver Stone the great director. Many money is enclosed in film. Colin Farrel very good actor, but it is absolutely not similar to Alexander the Great. Angelina Jolie great an actress of all times and people! The my words are more dear, that the role of supermum of Olympiad to it is obviously daring. Val Kilmer has played Phillip-super. Hopkins-is simple shine! Princess Roxane (Rosario Dawson) obviously comes not from Bactria (Afghanistan), and from Harlem. Jared Leto- genius! To play the gay so, that all girls in it have fallen in love, it it is necessary to be able! Pay attention to statues, during when Phillip opens Olympic games in day of the destruction, in my opinion they are made, is obvious from polyfoam. And names of the countries and cities on a card in a palace, grown old Ptolemy are written obviously is not Greek, and in English. Battle stages are removed fine, especially, a stage of battle with fighting elephants. If not talented actor's works film would turn out usual American parody on history in style of «The Man in the Iron Mask» Leonardo DiCaprio

02apr2007It Can't Happen Here Dept.

Timely tidbits from Robert Payne's Zero: The Story of Terrorism (NY: John Day, 1950):

It was not only that the secret police obeyed no laws, but there could be no laws; if there had been Law, they could not have continued their practice of lawlessness. They might arrest whom they would, punish whom they wished, hold secret trials, fake evidence, and torture; they were bound by no statutes; their excesses were pardoned as "overzealousness in the cause of the state"; and though every excess necessarily drew in its wake a new excess, they survived because there is no limit to man's desire to be lawless, once it is awakened. The highest honors of the state were showered on murderers, and simply by giving them the most magnificent uniforms and the most high-sounding titles, Hitler was able to destroy at the source any natural shame they might have had in carrying out the murderous reign of lawlessness. (126)

From his childhood Nechayev saw the world through the eyes of his father, a schismatic village priest. From him he learned the legends of the schismatics, how Father Nikhon had thrown religion into a ferment by misspelling the name of Jesus, and how Archpriest Avvakum had said, in defiance of unorthodoxy: "Let us be monsters for the sake of Christ! All things are permitted to us if we destroy this Anti-Christ who has come among us!" One of Avvakum's followers declared: I wish that every man, woman and child of this town would come to the banks of the Volga, throw themselves into the waters, and sink to the bottom so that the temptations of the world would not attract them. And what is even better: that I might set fire to, and burn down the entire city; what joy if it were to burn from end to end destroying all the aged and infants, so that none would receive the stamp of Antichrist. [Paul Miliukov, Religion and the Church, Philadelphia 1942, p. 57] The same follower went on to describe his greater joy if it could come about that the whole world would dissolve in the flames. (81)

In Russia, as in Germany, the whole people were enslaved. No other civilized state possesses internal passports, but these were introduced in Russia in 1939, two years after the Small Soviet Encyclopaedia stated that "the custom of internal passports, instituted by the autocracy as an instrument of police oppression of the toiling masses, was suppressed by the October Revolution." (220)

It was at this time, in 1936, that the Stalin Constitution was promulgated. Under article 127: "Citizens of the USSR are guaranteed inviolability of the person: no one may be subect to arrest except by order of the court or with the sanction of the state attorney," and by article 128: "The inviolability of the homes of citizens and secrecy of correspondence are protected by law." But the nihilist loophole was contained in article 127: "The state and district attorneys' offices shall perform their functions independently of any local organs whatsoever." (224)


Here's an April Fool's joke: These slick military commercials that try to paint war as a high-tech, adventure-filled video game.

I'm waiting for the video game called O Fuck It All I Just Stepped On A Land Mine.


Many turkey vultures find that morning yoga prepares them for the difficult task of catching dead things.

They would prefer to go through their routine in a Buzzard Tree but fortunately we don't have a whole lot of giant trees out here in this part of the desert.


Dental anaesthesia is a frontier in need of further research and being of pioneer spirit I'm always ready to make my own contribution to tow the ode. And so if space can repeat, can it be anticipated? If an echo were reversed, could it tell the future?Rainer Ptacek (whose recordings are still available from his widow Patti Keating)

(More on Rainer) now has RSS feeds

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Many dankes to the Cardhouse Robot!

27mar2007I think you're insane for this guy

Lewis Paine was a dashing young man in the 19th Century. Why would Booth tempt Lewis Paine into kidnapping Mr. Lincoln? I liked Lewis Paine since I was little. Now that I'm 20 yrs old now, I still dream of him. I know he's dead already. (Don't think I'm insane for this guy.) If Lewis Paine was like he was in the 1860's today, I'll freak out. My husband's name is Lewis but not Powell. I have collected several pics of Powell since I was 12 to 13. I drove my mom & dad crazy about Lewis Paine when I was 9. Hope you like my thoughts about Lewis Paine.

Love, Carmen

26mar2007DEAR MY FANS

Hello! It is chiaki Kuriyama.I read the massege of many comment from you who looked at kill bill. Thank you. I regard as very fortunate that it has appeared on Quentin, Uma.Lucy,and other performers and such wonderful movie. I love kill bill and GoGo very much,I want to make a movie wonderful from now on and to live.Please aid from now on.




21mar2007Today we are Green

1. Which causes more pollution: a Hummer, or a Prius?

2. I don't know whether The Great Global Warming Swindle [Google Video; 1 hour, 13 minutes] is swindle or science; I am (alas) no scientist. But I know something about politics, and one thing I know is that one should always be suspicious of anything that will centralize more power in the hands of politicians.

19mar2007COMMANDOS! USA®

Don't even think of idolizing them, for COMMANDOS! USA® "do not strive in any way to be superstars or celebrities"!


The Case for Mary Worth


If his "murky brown concoction of seven herbs and spices" doesn't cure AIDS as claimed, Gambia's president Colonel Jammeh might want to see how it tastes on chicken; there was another fake colonel ran his "eleven herbs & spices" gambit a long, long time.

16mar2007 — Steven Torres, Mountain Lion Alert:

After killing larger prey, such as deer or bighorn sheep, mountain lions usually first open the body cavity under the ribs, remove and consume the vital organs (i.e., heart, and liver), and leave a gut pile. Next they eat the thigh muscles. (42)

Mountain lions do not recognize provincial boundaries, state lines, or city limits. (45)

Most people do not realize how elusive mountain lions are. Do you simply see them if they are nearby? Can you easily observe and take pictures of them? The answer to both questions is "no." Even wildlife researchers who intensively monitor these animals with radio telemetry rarely see them. (47)

It is easy to imagine that mountain lions occupy only remote, "undisturbed" wildernesses. This seems natural: we rarely see mountain lions, and they appear to have a natural aversion to humans. Yet mountain lions commonly wander in areas with high levels of human activity. I recall discussing the distribution of mountain lions with a Fish and Game biologist who monitored the first radio-collared mountain lions in California in the early 1970s. This was the first time this technology was used to monitor mountain lions, and small airplanes were equipped with receivers to find and document the animals' movements. The biologist was most impressed that "the cougars were commonly around campgrounds with people." He added, "I was amazed that nobody saw or reported them. We did not expect this." (64-5)

Mountain lions are vocal and can be commonly heard, if present. False. Mountain lions are better known for their silence. Vocalizations are heard so rarely that it is more likely that you are hearing some other animal. Most vocalizations by mountain lions are "close range" sounds, intended to communicate with dependent young, and you are very unlikely to hear any of this intimate chatter. Although mountain lions may vocalize loudly during mating or when fighting, even these sounds are rarely heard. Mountain lions do not usually vocalize when approaching prey or humans. (63-4)

Eye contact presents a challenge to the mountain lion, showing that you are aware of its presence. Eye contact also helps you know where it is. (79)

Mountain lions have demonstrated that all types of cats and dogs are quite edible, regardless of size or pedigree. (104)

10mar2007Things you cannot not love, #734:

Waylon Jennings stage pass - THIS GETS YOUR ASS IN FREE

09mar2007. . . lost

07mar2007`Dishonest Abe' Hanged on President's Day

06mar2007On having at least some schooling


Hey, everybody! Let's proofread those tattoo designs out there! NO, I MEAN BEFOREHAND

(Still, you can't question her commitment to Sparkle Motion.) (See also)

05mar2007On compulsory schooling

School is the only universal institution, the only one not requiring a person to be ill, criminal, insane or possessive of some other deviant trait in order to be institutionalized. — Jeffrey Schrank, Snap, Crackle, and Popular Taste: : The Illusion of Free Choice in America (NY: Delta, 1977), p. 144.


You may have run across one of the mottoes of our Fearless Cultural Mania section:

"A simple life with peace and quiet is better than faring luxuriously and being tortured by fear."

I had taken this phrase (cribbed from a school folder I bought in Korean-product-rich Douglas, Arizona) to be classic Korea-glish, but the Cardhouse Robot, via Google's cache of a disappeared page, discovered otherwise:

It's from S. A. Handford's translation of Aesop's Fables—specifically, the it's the moral to the fable of The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse.

PUBLIC NOTICE: Now accepting Aesop's fables with the moral Fearless Cultural Mania.


Proper behavior means always giving the appearance of unperturbed grace. This appearance is much easier to achieve if you really don't care about anything. And this is why people always seem to be on their best behavior right before they commit suicide. — P. J. O'Rourke, Modern Manners (p. 25)

01mar2007Spring training time and here am I still in California

Nevertheless, let us re-commence the Yankee-hating with Jim Caple (from The Devil Wears Pinstripes)

With a lineup that regularly features whites, Latinos, African Americans and Japanese players, today's Yankees are as racially and culturally diverse as the No. 7 subway train, but back in the Weiss era, their integration record was roughly equal to Mississippi's. . . . Elston Howard finally cracked the Yankee color barrier in 1955, but he still was the only African American in the daily lineup when he won the MVP award in 1963, the same season the Dodgers swept the Yankees in the World Series with a team that included five blacks in their regular lineup. The Yankees won fourteen pennants from 1949 to 1964, but their discrimination policy ultimately proved devastating for the franchise—the club's reluctance to sign players of color was a contributing factor to their mid-'60s collapse.
Not that that should be considered justification for racial discrimination.

October 1, 1932: In one of the most dramatic moments in World Series history, the Babe steps to the plate and points to center field, where the cast of Fox's Arrested Development just happens to be sitting. (23)

If major league baseball returned to Brooklyn it would create excitement on a par even greater than if the city repaired the potholes. (183)

28feb2007 — From the underrated 1973 film Dillinger:

(Charles Arthur "Pretty Boy" Floyd has been holed up in a farm house and he sees the FBI driving toward the place.)

Farmer's wife: You need a Bible?
Floyd: I have sinned. I have been a sinner, but I enjoyed it. And I killed men—but the dirty sons-of-bitches deserved it. No matter how I figure it, it's too late for no Bible. Thanks just the same, Ma'am.

(He climbs out the window and is shot dead moments later, followed by an instrumental version of "Old Gospel Ship.")

27feb2007. . . get . . .

25feb2007Remain In Light

From Brian Eno's, "Lessons in how to lie about Iraq" (17aug2003):

When I first visited Russia, in 1986, I made friends with a musician whose father had been Brezhnev's personal doctor. One day we were talking about life during 'the period of stagnation' - the Brezhnev era. 'It must have been strange being so completely immersed in propaganda,' I said.

'Ah, but there is the difference. We knew it was propaganda,' replied Sacha.

That is the difference. Russian propaganda was so obvious that most Russians were able to ignore it. They took it for granted that the government operated in its own interests and any message coming from it was probably slanted - and they discounted it.

In the West the calculated manipulation of public opinion to serve political and ideological interests is much more covert and therefore much more effective. Its greatest triumph is that we generally don't notice it - or laugh at the notion it even exists. We watch the democratic process taking place - heated debates in which we feel we could have a voice - and think that, because we have 'free' media, it would be hard for the Government to get away with anything very devious without someone calling them on it.

[Then, in what I would like to believe is a deliberate nod to an album he helped create, Eno says:]

It takes something as dramatic as the invasion of Iraq to make us look a bit more closely and ask: 'How did we get here?'


"Ya gotta go to Burma, before they get democracy." — Dr. Brody Culpepper, last night at Forbidden Island

(Apologies to Stuart Mangrum for the drunken phone calls.)

20feb2007Randumb BART

I. Bay area people apparently don't often randomly run into their pals on BART but after TradeMark G dropped me off at the 24th and Mission BART station, I boarded a train, heard my name, and turned around to find my pal Lori from LA.
(Not this Lori; this Lori.)

II. Outside Oakland's Lake Merritt BART station there was a guy listening to a shiny white Ipod with a shiny white cord that, against his leathery skin and dark, filthy clothing made him eerily resemble one of those Ipod ads.

III. As I awaited Wig outside the 16th & Mission BART station there was but a single notable phrase that blared through the megaphone wielded by a Spanish-speaking street preacher (until the cops asked him to leave off the amplification—the first time I was ever glad to see a cop), resulting in a New Website Motto:

Las Cosas Incorrectas


I'll be loitering about the premises of the Victoria Theater tomorrow probably before and definitely following the showing of Mojave Phone Booth at Twelve o' Clock High. Well, I'm not sure I'll be high, but in either case, here's a nice writeup by Scott Beale of Laughing Squid, followed by further information (below):

venue: Victoria Theater (2961 Mission @ 16th)
tix & info:
enigmatic trailers:

14feb2007A Flying Fuck

Usually when people talk about fucking flies, they're not talking flies fucking.
And they're not even thinking about Valentine's Day.

Here at Deuce of Clubs, we break ground, Jack:

Fig. 1.1

Fucking flies

Have you heard the saying, As dull as watching flies fuck? Nor have I. Nor would it have occurred to me while watching flies fuck. For as they shared their love atop a prickly pear cactus fruit (how many Valentine's Day metaphors can you squeeze out of that?) many interesting features presented themselves for my note. For example, the fly on the bottom is hunched over a glochid tuft covered with tiny spines. Gosh, that must have been exciting. And see how she holds on to the bedpost. Rawr. And how he tenderly prepares to donkey punch her. And yet, at the same time, how annoyed they both look at being photographed in all their sexual congressional proclivity.

At length I broke up all the excitingness by harvesting tasty prickly pear fruit.

Except for one. Consider it . . . a gesture to love.

[More luv]

Update, 16feb:
Babsomatic writes "the synchronicity continues" referring to this post on boingboing (which continues its recent trend of reading my MIND):


Update, 17feb:
Dr. Brody Culpepper, DoC pal and scientist without portfolio to the website (and who has no website of his own, so instead I'll link to that of another of our scientist pals), pointed out that the Bruiser Queen recording by Cake Like [HOLY CRAP I just linked to fucking MySpaceDotFuckingCom], of whom we were speaking only yesterday, features the same motif:

Great live band, that Cake Like was. In addition: the fucking flies.

Update, 17feb:
So, moments after uploading the Cake Like CD image, I find Brody and LBJ (not the president) watching National Geographic Strange Days on Earth with Edward Norton. It was the charming "Predators" episode, and as I walked in, flies were feasting on the carcass of a wolf-killed elk. Would they, could they, show flies fucking? The entire room broke up when, indeed, PBS dared to broadcast footage of a pair of red-eyed flies doing the Barry White thing.

Apparently, Kerri Kenney (of Cake Like) is currently in San Francisco, promoting the new Reno 9-1-1 movie. If I can just keep riding this chain of coincidence. . . .

13feb2007Dreamy Psychic Phun!

This morning I awoke as I was inexplicably dreaming of the "gunsel" from the 1941 film The Maltese Falcon, played by Elisha Cook, Jr.

Tonight I went to Pixar (courtesy of pals Brendan & Jessica) to see the 1972 film Blacula. And who appears in that film? Elisha Cook, Jr.

It's now 12:30 in the morning and I pull up The first story: "Maltese Falcon swiped."

I read on. "The black statue was signed by actor Elisha Cook, Jr."

Then the movie's final line, referring to the Maltese Falcon itself, flashed into my mind:

What is it?
The stuff that dreams are made of.

11feb2007 — So I was at Bruno's for an afterparty following the Mojave Phone Booth showing at the tix & info: sfindiefest, and who's sitting across the table from me, right next to Putch if not Wig herself—Cynthia Wigginton, of Bermuda Triangle Service, taker of Wagner to Hawaii and partaker of our July 1999 Mojave Phone Booth trip.

And how did Wig like the film?

She hadn't seen it—she was at Bruno's for a party for a friend—our meeting was sheer random occurrence. Such was the Mojave Phone Booth.

(More fest info)

09feb2007 — Off I go to San Francisco to show up at showings of the film Mojave Phone Booth on 10feb and 18feb.

venue: Victoria Theater (2961 Mission @ 16th)
tix & info:
enigmatic trailers:

Stop and be friendly!

08feb2007I went to art school in the seventies planning to work in museums. By the time I graduated in 1975, I'd worked in several galleries and a few museums, and spent the summer after I got out of school working at the NEA in Washington. During that summer, it suddenly struck me that that art world was stupefyingly boring. The women in their neat little suits speaking in hushed tones as they tiptoed through the hallowed halls of high culture, the savagely disdainful gallery girls, the cheap wine at the endless succession of openings, the truckloads of second-rate art people made a fuss over, the years it took to bring even the most modest idea to fruition—I wanted out!
— Kristine McKenna, "Burned Bridges & Vials of Blood," in Make the Music Go Bang! (ed. Don Snowden), p. 39.

07feb2007Let's. . .


If not for the Gories. I would've thought U2 was a great band.

Margaret Doll Rod (quoted in metrotimes)


Is that conception where less of you is now than you hope there'll be later when you like to think now there'll be a lot when more than likely there will be even less than fuck all.

— J. P. Donleavy, The Unexpurgated Code

01feb2007The amazing Jane Espenson explains an inside joke:

Pipe Dreams

Remember when I told you that TV writers refer to exposition as "pipe"? Well, we do. Knowing that will help you understand this wonderful inside joke that I saw on an episode of Sci Fi Channel's Eureka. (The first line is from memory, so it's not exact.)

We're in some kind of labyrinth under Eureka. This must be part of the original network of conduits that takes care of the town's water and electricity and gas and sewage.

That's a lot of pipe.


Don't call him! He'll come down!"

Lori Petty, when my attorney called me from the bar where he'd run into her and mentioned my Wagner statue.

(I wasn't that drunk that day, was I?)

29jan2007Let's shoot the IRS—into space

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Brian Emmett's childhood fantasy came true when he won a free trip to outer space.
But the 31-year-old was crushed when he had to cancel his reservation because of Uncle Sam.
Emmett won his ticket to the stars in a 2005 sweepstakes by Oracle Corp., in which he answered a series of online questions on Java computer code.
He became an instant celebrity, giving media interviews and appearing on stage at Oracle's trade show.
For the self-described space buff who has attended space camp and watched shuttle launches from Kennedy Space Center, it seemed like a chance to become an astronaut on a dime.
Then reality hit. After some number-crunching, Emmett realized he would have to report the $138,000 galactic joy ride as income and owe $25,000 in taxes.
Unwilling to sink into debt, the software consultant from the San Francisco Bay area gave up his seat. . . .
The IRS declined to comment, saying it does not talk about individual matters.


Free Me Dot Org


From: Robb L.
Subject: That's my girl
Date: Mon, 29 Jan 2007

I was driving to the airport earlier today (San Francisco) and called my wife to talk about our plans for the weekend. She told me this:

"I thought you'd like to know that our daughter is literally in tears because I explained that if she won $10,000 the government would take at least 35% of it."

I can't imagine how she'd respond if I told her about today's entry on DoC. If she gets that upset over a hypothetical situation, imagine how she's going to feel when the thugs start stealing her actual money.


"You ever heard of a 'control file'? . . . The people the system trusts the most aren't the ones you'd expect, the dedicated, loyal, virtuous types like you, Bill. Or like me, unfortunately. No, it's actually better for your career if you have a secret vice. Like sex with little boys or prostitutes, or cheating on your wife, or snorting coke, or taking money from the Saudis. . . ."
"How does anyone find out? I mean, how does the, ah, information get into a file?"
"Different ways, Bill, different ways. Sometimes it's disclosed voluntarily."
"Sure. Like the new initiates in those secret Ivy League societies who lie naked in the coffin or whatever and recite their sexual history and other misdeeds. And who knows what else goes on? But putting themselves and their reputations at the mercy of their peers, it shows they're prepared to serve the greater good of the group. If you want to reach real power in this town—in public office, elected or appointed, or in the big financial institutions, or big media, or the big think tanks and foundations, you've got to have a secret vice. Secret to the public, not to the insiders. And that vice is recorded in a control file, which means just what it says. Nobody gets to the top of the heap unless they have one."

Hastie had known this moment was coming and had gone over it many times in his mind, struggling to find the resolve to do what he knew he must do. He smiled grimly to himself, having long ago discerned the fundamental weakness of the Regime. He possessed the ultimate weapon that could strike at the heart of that weakness: his consent; or conversely, his refusal to consent. Such a refusal always provoked an unjust response from despots, and therein lay despotism's fatal flaw. The man who was willing in any circumstances to proclaim, "No, I won't" was the most dangerous man in the world. (226)

"We're back where we started. The Fellowship is going to mint gold coins from your lost treasure. There'll be a coin issue in varying denominations for each Southern State. Tenth of an ounce, quarter-ounce, half-ounce, and one ounce. Silver, too, if there's enough there. We'll put the gold into circulation through the State Fellowship chapters. Each State organization will pay their staff, creditors, and vendors in gold coin. In light of the collapsing dollar and rise in gold values, many of these people will be delighted to accept them, and Southern States' gold will gradually enter the financial marketplace as the alternative to the inflated, collapsing Yankee dollar. People will automatically gravitate to the one that's viable, to the one that gives true value for value, instead of depreciating paper and digital money. It'll be an economic lifeline for those people who're willing to grasp it. And this is key: since one of the main attributes of political sovereignth is the ability to issue sound money, as people accept and use the Southern gold, they'll also be ratifying the political sovereignty of the Southern States." (272)

From Thomas Moore's The Hunt for Confederate Gold. (Pretty clunky; can't recommend it.)

23jan2007 — From Robert Twigger's The Extinction Club:

My favorite fact was the discovery that the Chinese had a system of volumetric measures that worked by sound. The measures were like scoops made from brass, and each size had a precise tone when struck. In other words, they were like bells that could be used to scoop precious spices, and because a tone could be so accurately determined, they were very accurate measures. If a trader with musical inclinations wanted a certain weight of something, he just hummed the right note. I decided this promising lead should be followed up, so I embarked on a mammoth reading of Joseph Needham's Science and Civilization in China. The gist of this huge work is to demonstrate how the Chinese thought of everything first. It makes dispiriting reading for confirmed believers in Western superiority. (30)

In the late 1970s, British local government officials, when told that only they, and not their families, would have a place in the command bunker, formally decided that if the bomb was dropped they would hurry home and ignore any orders to descend underground. (66)

A society of only victims and survivors is a stable society. Think of a prison in which no one wanted to escape or even take over the warden's office. Such a prison could run forever. If we can talk of society having its own mechanisms for self-perpetuation, then the survivor-victim dichotomy would be one such, very handy, mechanism. The survivor is useful to society. He provides a role model for a kind of dogged helplessness. The survivor accepts his powerlessness in the face of the power of the government. He hopes simply to survive, that's all. (67)

As long as he had his rear sight calibrated to the maximum, he might miss. Chinese soldiers often set their gun sights to one thousand meters on the mistaken assumption that the bigger number equaled more power. At close range their bullets went too high. (114)

22jan2007 — Today my back is pounding out a Cramps song: Let's get fuuuuuuuuuuuuuucked UP!

17jan2007Procrastination Test Results

Accuracy = 100%
Average Reaction Time = 0.65 seconds
Fastest Reaction Time = 0.42 seconds
Slowest Reaction Time = 1.06 seconds

Your score is 83 out of a possible 100
Usually a Procrastinator

You rank in the top 10% in terms of procrastination. That is, when it comes to putting things off, you often do so even though you know you shouldn't. Likely, you are much more free-spirited, adventurous, and spontaneous than most. Probably, your work doesn't engage you as much as you would like or perhaps you are surrounded by many easily available and much more pleasant temptations. These temptations may initially seem rewarding, but in the longer-term, you see many of them as time-wasters. Though you are likely incredibly productive just before a deadline, you might not get all your work done and there is a lot of unwanted stress. You may want to reduce what procrastination you do commit. If so, here are three tips that have been shown to work:

Goal Setting
This is one of the most established ways of moving forward on your plans. Take any project you are presently procrastinating and break it down into individual steps. Each of these steps should have the following three aspects. First, they should be somewhat challenging though achievable for you. It is more satisfying to accomplish a challenge. Second, they should be proximal, that is you can achieve them fairly soon, preferable today or over the next few days. Third, they should be specific, that is you know exactly when you have accomplished them. If you can visualize in your mind what you should do, even better.

Stimulus Control
This method has also been well tested and is very successful. What you need is a single place that you do your work and nothing else. Essentially, you need an office, though many students have a favorite desk at a library. For stimulus control to work best, the office or desk should be free of any signs of temptation or easily available distractions that might pull you away (e.g., no games, no chit-chat, no web-surfing). If you need a break, that is fine, but make sure you have it someplace at least a few minutes distant, preferably outside of the building itself. If you are unwilling to take the time to get there, acknowledge that you likely don't need the break.

Routines are difficult to get into but in the end, this is often our aim. Things are much easier to do when we get into a habit of them, whether it is work, exercise, or errands. If you schedule some of those tasks you are presently procrastinating upon so that they occur on a regular schedule, they become easier. Start your routine slowly, something to which you can easily commit. Eventually, like brushing your teeth, it will likely become something you just do, not taking much effort at all. At this point, you might add to your routine, again always keeping your overall level of effort at a moderate to low level. Importantly, when you fall off your routine, inevitable with sickness or the unexpected, get back on it as soon as possible. Your routine gets stronger every time your follow it. It also gets weaker every time you don't.

[ Take the Procrastination Test ]

Update, 18jan — Poetdog writes:

my attention span is so short I DIDN'T EVEN READ THE DIRECTIONS! then i was all like, what are those circles?
ok, i'll try it again.

16jan2007 — I'm visiting LA and it's cold as HELL these days. WHERE MY GLOBAL WARMING AT?

15jan2007 — From Joss Whedon's Serenity:

How did you decide on China as the other superpower in the story's universe?
Whedon: Well, have you seen China lately?

Whedon: Jayne [Adam Baldwin]—bad guy. I never meant for him to be so lovable so quickly. . . . You found yourself going, "Oh! This is the Cordelia of the bunch, the guy who's going to say what everybody's thinking." I wanted somebody on the ship that we absolutely could not trust, but who in a pinch was good in a fight, but that as a person, we always were waiting for him to stab us in the back. (11)

Nathan is a genius of comedy—he turned from Harrison Ford to Franklin Pangborn on a very thin dime. (16)

I wanted to just say on the subject of blood, Camille [Calvert], our head of make-up, was doing Mal's make-up at the end of the fight and he was just covered head to toe in blood. And I said, "Okay, sweetie, we have to pull this back. I want to see that he's suffered, but this isn't Sorority House Massacre." And she looked at me: "Oh my God! Did you know? That was my first film!" And I was like, "I didn't even know it was a real movie!" (25)

12jan2007 — Down South U-Haul should be called U-Aul. That is all.


Robert Anton Wilson
18jan1932 — 11jan2007

Various medical authorities swarm in and out of here predicting I have between two days and two months to live. I think they are guessing. I remain cheerful and unimpressed. I look forward without dogmatic optimism but without dread. I love you all and I deeply implore you to keep the lasagna flying.

Please pardon my levity, I don't see how to take death seriously. It seems absurd.



There are physical types in the espionage game that we call The Little Gray Man—the guy who walks through the hotel lobby, gets on the elevator with a crowd of people, [and] five minutes after you get off the elevator, you can't remember that they were there. Just like looking through a piece of clear window glass. They're just not there. If you're the person that stands in line at the market [and] the clerk keeps waiting on the person behind you, you know you're gonna be a good spy. — Antonio Mendez, retired CIA operative, in Errol Morris's First Person ("The Little Gray Man")

I do believe. I just am not sure what it is that I believe. It is not as clear-cut as it once was. . . . I used to be able to draw a line and say, "That's good and that's bad." I can't draw that line any more. . . . My father told me years ago, "Moishe, life is a holem." A holem means a dream. "That which was, can never be again, and it's just as much a reality as the dream you dreamt the night before. It's of no consequence." I didn't know what the heck he meant. . . . But he really was a wise guy. [Laughs] Withdrawn! Make it "a wise man." A wise guy's an entirely different thing! — Murray Richman, mob lawyer ("The Only Truth")


Har. Wagner and I are cartoons, as well as Cujo. (Not shown: the laptop Jack Diggle.)

02jan2007Appropriate year-beginning phrase from Thomson

O melancholy Brothers, dark, dark, dark!

To Deuce of Clubs