Sunday, September 30, 2007

free as a bird

I’ve got the few demo versions of Free as a Bird –John playing an upright, recorded in the Dakota in 1977. It’s fun to listen to him knowing the tempo but not having written the words yet – so a few of the verses are interlaced with lines of “do-da-da-da-da. Da-da-da-da-de. Da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da.”

Turns out, he never did get around to writing those lines. John had left one half-finished verse (used twice) behind: Whatever happened to / the life that we once knew?" Hari and Macca finished it off and took turns singing the first new verse: Can we really live without each other? / Where did we lose the touch? / It seemed to mean so much / It always made me feel so ... free … as a bird.

Another interesting bit, quoting Macca: “John hadn't filled in the middle eight section of the demo so we wrote a new section for that, which, in fact, was one of the reasons for choosing the song; it allowed us some input, he was obviously just blocking out lyrics that he didn't have yet. When he gets to the middle he goes, Whatever happened to / The life that we one knew / Woowah wunnnnn yeurrggh! and you can see that he's trying to push lyrics out but they're not coming. He keeps going as if to say ‘Well, I'll get to them later'. That was really like working on a record with John, as Lennon / McCartney / Harrison, because we all chipped in a bit on this one. George and I were vying for best lyric. That was more satisfying than just taking a John song, which was what we did for the second, Real Love. It worked out great but it wasn't as much fun.”

The finished version of the song was recorded in Sussex in February and March 1994. John's original mono cassette was expanded into analogue 48-track form. Ringo started the song off with two beats on snare. George broke in with a bluesy slide guitar riff and continued with a slide solo. The demo was further augmented with George's and Paul's acoustic guitars, Paul's bass guitar and piano (which doubles with John's original) and new vocals from George, Paul and Ringo.

The video is an ode to years past. Macca said, “This idea [was to] load lots of clues here and there, 'cause we used to do that in all the old records. it became a bit of a game in the old Beatles days to stick little clues in and he's used them in the video, so it's very clever. You've got a pretty nurse selling poppies from a tray and Maxwell's Silver Hammer shop. I think it's a nice background. It'll mean that people can watch it a few times and, you know, get into it.”

The video is immediately below, followed by the lyrics. After those things are two analyses of the video contents. The first is a tick-tock approach which is good but not as informative as the narrative one that follows.

One item that I think is cool is in the second analysis, but not the first. At 2:43 (or 1:53 left), immediately following the little kids with pig masks running towards the camera in the alley, the bird flies up to and then in a window to view the paperback writer. On the outside pane of that window, before entry, viewable for less than a second, it what appears to be a lizard on the window pane ("Happiness is a Warm Gun").

Free as a bird,
it's the next best thing to be.
Free as a bird.

Home, home and dry,
like a homing bird I'll fly
as a bird on wings.

Whatever happened to
the life that we once knew?
Can we really live without each other?

Where did we lose the touch
that seemed to mean so much?
It always made me feel so...

Free as a bird,
like the next best thing to be.
Free as a bird.

Home, home and dry,
like a homing bird I'll fly
as a bird on wings.

Whatever happened to
the life that we once knew?
Always made me feel so free.

Free as a bird.
It's the next best thing to be.
Free as a bird.
Free as a bird.
Free as a bird.

This guy, “nicklby,” has done an admirable job of putting together the video references. All of the references below are a cut-n-paste from his site.

***Obvious references***

0:07 - portraits of Beatles as children on mantle (from left to right, John, George, Paul. Ringo in front)

0:14 - more portraits (left to right, Paul, John, Ringo, George)
0:38 - Beatles walk through dock workers
0:48 - Cavern Club (club where Beatles played many shows before becoming famous)
0:52 - Beatles performing at Cavern Club
1:06 - Strawberry Field ("Strawberry Fields Forever")
1:18 - Eggman appears ("I Am the Walrus")
1:27 - Beatles begin to walk off curb behind eggman
1:33 - Pretty nurse selling poppies from tray ("Penny Lane")
1:42 - Barber shop, with pictures of every head he's had the pleasure to know, including the Fab Four ("Penny Lane")

1:47 - Sign on wall reads "Help" ("Help!")
1:49 - Boy holds up hand to whisper to girl ("Do You Want to Know a Secret?")
1:50 - Ringo jumps from doorway
1:54 - Beatles stand by car
1:56 - Window has Beatles montage. First third looks like Anthology 1 cover. Other panels may be covers of other two volumes. [They Are, ed.]

2:02 - Birthday cake ("Birthday")
2:02 - Cake has a 6 and a 4 on it ("When I'm Sixty-Four")
2:07 - George appears on street
2:13 - George walks into office (In reality, Apple headquarters) with sign that reads "Dr. Robert" ("Dr. Robert")

2:18 - Ringo runs by
2:22 - John in crowd scene at car wreck, craning neck while others turn away ("A Day in the Life")

2:26 - Car wreck ("A Day in the Life" definitely, "Don't Pass Me By" possibly)
2:27 - Fire engine ("Penny Lane")
2:29 - Policemen in a row ("I Am the Walrus")
2:32 - Fireman ("Penny Lane")
2:38 - Helter Skelter slide (It looks like a lighthouse, but you can see the slide circling the building. "Helter Skelter," of course.)

2:38 - Kite ("Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite")
2:42 - Children run by in pig masks ("Piggies")
2:43 - Someone enters house through window from ladder ("She Came in Through the Bathroom Window")

2:51 - Writer working at desk ("Paperback Writer")
2:54 - Beatles walk behind children in pig masks (It's small, but it's obvious it's them)

3:05 - Beatles on TV
3:06 - John sitting in chair
3:08 - Copy of Daily Mail on table ("Paperback Writer")
3:08 - Bowl of green apples (reference to Apple Corps, Ltd.)
3:08 - Box of Savoy Truffles sits on table (kind of hard to make out, but that's what it says: "Savoy Truffle")

3:10 - Picture of Chairman Mao in window ("Revolution")
3:13 - Workers repairing hole in roof ("Fixing a Hole")
3:13 - Blue Meanie pops his head through hole (the film "Yellow Submarine")
3:18 - Newspaper taxi appears ("Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds")
3:22 - Woman leaves home ("She's Leaving Home")
3:22 - Picture of Mao being carried across street ("Revolution" definitely, "Carry That Weight" possibly)

3:22 - John and Yoko waltz by (taken from film "Let It Be" and probably representing "The Ballad of John and Yoko.")

3:23 - Blue Meanie pops head up from out of sewer (the film "Yellow Submarine")
3:25 - Magical Mystery Tour bus passes in far background (Hard to see, but it's there)

3:31 - Big game hunter leads procession, including elderly lady and elephant, out of party ("The Continuing Adventures of Bungalow Bill," who always went hunting with his elephant and gun and always took his mum.)

3:33 - Ringo at table near door
3:45 - Brian Epstein begins to put on his scarf
3:47 - Head of Stu Sutcliffe on body of James Dean from "Sgt Pepper" cover
3:48 - Flowers, drum and tuba from "Sgt Pepper" cover
3:49 - H.G. Wells and Lawrence of Arabia from "Sgt Pepper" cover chat (I know other guests are supposed to be rest of people on the cover, but they aren't as clearly identifiable as these two)

3:58 - Eleanor Rigby headstone ("Eleanor Rigby")
4:00 - Priest walks from grave ("Eleanor Rigby")
4:01 - Sheepdog runs through cemetery ("Martha My Dear" definitely, "Hey Bulldog" possibly)

4:04 - Long and winding road in background ("The Long and Winding Road")
4:05 - Paul romps on hill ("The Fool on the Hill")
4:12 - Crosswalk from the cover of "Abbey Road"
4:14 - Meter maid with bag across her shoulder steps onto curb ("Lovely Rita." She's definitely wearing a uniform and carrying a little white book.)

4:30 - Beatles walk into theater (taken from "A Hard Days Night")

***References with more than one possible interpretation***

:01 - Bird flying. (Interpretations range from "Blackbird" to "And Your Bird Can Sing" to "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" to even "Blue Jay Way." The flapping of the wings, though, sounds like the intro to the original version of "Across the Universe" which I think it's meant to represent. The entire concept of flying in the whole video could be taken to represent "Flying.")

1:27 - Children run by holding hands ("Lady Madonna" is most likely, but "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" is another possibility.)

1:45 - Woman appears in plastic-appearing coat (Some say, and I agree, that she is "Polythene Pam," but others have suggested she is "Sexy Sadie," or that her companion in the white coat is "Sexy Sadie." Since I can't locate a "Sexy Sadie" anywhere else in the video, I'll play it safe and place it in this category.)

1:53 - Couple kissing in car (may be banker on corner with a motorcar from "Penny Lane" or amorous couple from "Drive My Car." Most likely, though, it's "Why Don't We Do It In The Road?")

2:45 - Sunflowers. (I lean toward saying they're "the flowers that grow so incredibly high" from "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds." Other interpretations are "I'll Follow the Sun" (since that is what flowers do), "Sun King" and "Here Comes the Sun," hence its inclusion here.)

3:08 - Portrait of Queen Elizabeth II sits on floor ("Her Majesty" or portrait of the Queen from "Penny Lane," though it's hardly pocket-sized)

3:53 - Statue in cemetery turns head (Statue could be of the Madonna ("Lady Madonna") or could be Mother Mary ("Let It Be")

***Reference that may not actually *be* references***

1:18 - Marketplace (Could be reference to "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da," but since I see no one with a barrow in the marketplace, I'm unconvinced.)

3:38 - Last boy in Bungalow Bill's entourage looks very much like Sean Lennon. Could be a cameo or just a coincidence.

3:50 - Sun through panes in roof (It's the only intentional shot of the sun in the whole video. It could be meant to represent "Here Comes the Sun," "Sun King," "Good Day Sunshine" or "I'll Follow the Sun.")

4:06 - Woman walks down road with suitcase (could be "She's Leaving Home," but since we already had that song done with the woman leaving home in the newspaper taxi at 3:22, would she need to appear again?)

4:06 - Car heads up long and winding road ("Drive My Car"? Not many other cars in video, and one of few that's moving)

***The Voice***

4:36 - Voice at end of song. It sounds like backward masking, and it is definitely John's voice. Interpretations I've seen include:

"Turned out well at the end"
"There's that noise again"
"Turned out nice again."

Strangely, though, the backward tape sounds like John saying "My name is John Lennon" to me. It's possible the Fab Three put the tape on the end not only because it's a throwback to their tape use in the '60s, but also because it SOUNDS like "My name is John Lennon" when it's played backward.

[End of first video analysis.]

Here’s a narrative version of the video sequence and here’s the source.

The Video. The promo video for the song begins inside a room with a mantelpiece showing childhood photos of the four Beatles. The sound of a bird in the room, perhaps echoing the line 'she showed me her room, isn't it good?' from 'Norwegian Wood', is heard, as we follow the invisible bird out into Liverpool, and the beginning of the journey. It might also be seen to represent the song 'Flying', on the Magical Mystery Tour album. The lyrics 'and when I awoke I was alone, this bird had flown', again from 'Norwegian Wood', not only symbolise the flying out of the room, but also the flying journey. The bird could also symbolise 'Blackbird' from The White Album, or 'And Your Bird Can Sing'. The room itself stands in for John and Stuart's Sutcliffe's flat at 3 Gambier Terrace, which was near Liverpool Art School, which John and Stuart both attended.

The trip to Liverpool brings to mind a number of songs as we are shown the Beatles' lives: echoes 'In My Life'; 'Across The Universe'; and 'A Day In The Life'. It could even represent Sentimental Journey, Ringo Starr's first solo album, which was released before Let It Be.

The Docks. We catch a glimpse of the Liver Building, the river Mersey and the boats on it, symbolising the line 'Picture yourself in a boat on a river' from 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds'.

We land in the docks, where it is raining. The Beatles are among the dock workers who 'when the rain comes they run and hide their heads' from 'Rain' and 'get your tan from standing in the English rain' from 'I Am The Walrus'. The dock workers could well be 'lonely people', as mentioned in 'Eleanor Rigby', or even represent John Lennon's father, Alfred, who worked as a steward on the transatlantic liners from Liverpool. The docks were a major part of Liverpool life, with most families having at least one member working there, and they were also the source of many of the imported records that shaped the Beatles' music.

The Cavern. From the docks we are taken to Mathew Street, where we are amongst the crowd of people trying to get into the Cavern. The Cavern is the club where the Beatles performed almost 300 times between 9 February, 1961, and 3 August, 1963.

Although the original Cavern was demolished in 1973 to make way for an extension to the Liverpool underground railway (which was never constructed), it was rebuilt on almost the same spot in 1984, using many of the same bricks and built to its original dimensions. However, as the original entrance no longer exists, the current club was passed over as a filming location in favour of the recreation in 'The Beatles Story' museum in the Albert Dock, with the outside scenes being filmed in Henry Street. Here, we see the Beatles performing in time to the music.

Penny Lane. We are then taken from the Cavern, via Strawberry Fields, to Penny Lane. This could well reflect the lyric from 'Glass Onion', 'I told you about Strawberry Fields, you know the place where nothing is real, well here's another place you can go where everything flows', a lyric which applies to the whole video.
Here in Penny Lane, children run hand in hand, reminding us not only of 'I Want To Hold Your Hand', and of the 'couple of kids running in the yard of Desmond and Molly Jones' from 'Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da' but also of the children from 'Lady Madonna' and 'Little Child'.

There is a covered barrow in the marketplace, reminding us of 'Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da' again, while a van belonging to 'Liverpool Egg Company' can be seen, obviously 'the eggman' from 'I Am The Walrus'. Two people who look similar to Prime Minister Harold Wilson and Leader of the Opposition Edward Heath walk by, both of whom appear in the song 'Taxman', just as we observe a laughing Ringo walking past.

Outside a greengrocer's, selling apples, we see the pretty nurse selling poppies from a tray mentioned in the song 'Penny Lane'. The nurse bears an uncanny resemblance to Paul's mother Mary, who worked as a district nurse and midwife. Also on Penny Lane is the barber with the photographs of 'every head he's had the pleasure to know'. Near his shop on the wall someone has written the word 'Help!', the title of the second Beatles film. Just then, two women come through a door into the road. One is dressed in black, perhaps to remind us of 'Baby's In Black', or the plastic raincoat from 'Polythene Pam'. Her companion could possibly be 'Another Girl', or Prudence from 'Dear Prudence', come out to play.

On the pavement, one boy whispers to a girl, reminding us of 'Do You Want To Know A Secret?' and 'All I gotta do is whisper in your ear' from 'All I've Gotta Do'. Next we see a couple acting quite passionately in a parked car, echoing 'Why Don't We Do it in the Road?', or, more probably, Paul McCartney's 'Back Seat Of My Car'. The Beatles watch, while outside we notice a large poster for the Anthology, reminding us that the Anthology too is part of the Beatles' canon. Also on Penny Lane is a bakery, which has a cake in the window that says 'Happy Birthday'. This reminds us of the song 'Birthday', with 6 and 4 in the corners of the cake recalling 'When I'm 64'. This also can symbolise Ringo Starr's father, who made cakes. We then see George Harrison walk into the Apple Building which in the video belongs to Doctor Robert from the song of the same name.

The Accident. Down the road we see the car accident from 'A Day In The Life'. We see the 'crowd of people [who] stood and stared', and a girl in a Lotus sportscar, from 'Drive My Car'; that she is also crying might remind us of 'Cry Baby Cry'. At the accident we see not only Penny Lane's 'Fireman [that] rushes in' with his 'clean machine', but also the 'pretty little policemen in a row' from 'I Am The Walrus'.

The camera then flies away, passing a 'Helter Skelter' and a kite ('Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite'), to an alley in Liverpool. A group of children runs down an alley wearing pig masks, a nod to 'Piggies' and the 'See how they smile like pigs in a sty' line from 'I Am The Walrus'. Behind them the Beatles appear, then cross the alley and walk through a wall on the other side, suggesting either a 'Wall of Illusion' from 'Within You, Without You', or George Harrison's soundtrack album, 'Wonderwall' (which was released when the Beatles were still together to accompany the 1968 film of the same name).

Also in the alley is a ladder propped up against one of the terraced houses, and we see a foot disappear from its top through a window, referring to 'She Came In Through The Bathroom Window'. In the garden are some tall sunflowers, presumably the 'flowers that grow so incredibly high' mentioned in 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds'.

Paperback Writer. The camera takes us into the upstairs room of a man hard at work on his typewriter. On his window, there is the lizard on the windowpane mentioned in 'Happiness Is A Warm Gun'. The man himself instantly reminds us of the 'Paperback Writer', although it is possible that he is Father McKenzie 'writing the words to a sermon that no-one will hear'. It is even possible that he is writing a letter, from 'PS I Love You', or 'while I'm away I'll write home everyday' from 'All My Loving'. Inside his room is a copy of the Daily Mail, again from 'Paperback Writer', with the headline '4000 Holes In Blackburn Lancashire' (from 'A Day In The Life'). Also inside the room is a clock, which states the time is 10:10, presumably the 'One After 909'. On the table lies a bowl of apples and a box of chocolates, which can only be 'Savoy Truffles'. John Lennon is resting in a chair, reminiscent of 'I'm So Tired' and 'I'm Only Sleeping', next to a television which is broadcasting the Beatles on their famous Ed Sullivan appearance. A picture of 'Her Majesty' the Queen is also in the room, with a picture of a soldier on the window, either in reference to John Lennon's involvement in the 1967 film How I Won The War, or the line in 'A Day In The Life' which states 'I saw a film today, oh boy. The English army had just won the war.'

St. Bride Street. We are then taken outside the house, where we see a hole in the neighbouring house's roof - reminding us of 'Fixing A Hole' - when unexpectedly a Blue Meanie from Yellow Submarine pops through it. Also on the roof you can just make out a monkey (because of course 'Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey'). Echoing the lyric from the same song, 'The higher we fly, the deeper we go, so come on', we are then taken from the roof down to street level. Here we see a man walking his bulldog down the road ('Hey Bulldog'), and the newspaper taxi mentioned in 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds'. Two men carry a large picture of Chairman Mao across the road, reminding us of the line ('But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao, you ain't going to make it with anyone anyhow') from 'Revolution'. We see John and Yoko waltz down the road, either 'I'm Happy Just To Dance With You' or 'The Ballad Of John And Yoko'. A Blue Meanie then pops his head up out of a hole in the road, subtly reminding us that 'Mean Mr Mustard... sleeps in a hole in the road', or that the Meanie has just come from the Sea of Holes from the Yellow Submarine film. At the far end of the road, the Magical Mystery Tour bus drives by. This could be seen to also represent Harold 'Harry' Harrison, George Harrison's father, who worked as a bus driver after leaving the Merchant Navy, and indeed often drove his son George and Paul McCartney to school.

The Adelphi Hotel. We are then taken into a posh hotel, the Adelphi, glimpsing Napoleon, presumably to remind us that 'All You Need Is Love' begins with the Marseillaise, the French National Anthem which dates back to the Napoleonic era.

A hunter is seen leaving the hotel, with his porters, mother and elephant, reminding us of 'The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill', who 'went out tiger hunting with his elephant and gun, in case of accidents he always took his mum'. We also see the Maharishi Yogi, who the Beatles stayed with in India, and perhaps even the 'Sheikh of Araby', one of the very earliest Beatles recordings, as featured on the Anthology.

We then see a gathering of the people on the Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band cover chatting, listening to the Indian music of a sitar including a cut-out of Stuart Sutcliffe, the Beatles' bass player and close friend of John Lennon, who died of a brain haemorrhage in Hamburg on 10 April, 1962. We are then taken through a skylight, reflecting 'Here Comes The Sun' and 'Good Day Sunshine'.

The Graveyard. We are then taken to a cemetery. In it, a statue of Mary can be seen, her head turning to follow us, reminding us of 'Lady Madonna', and the line 'Mother Mary comes to me' from 'Let It Be'. We also see Eleanor Rigby's gravestone and Father 'McKenzie, wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave'. We then see a sheepdog running through the graveyard, probably a reference to Paul McCartney's sheepdog Martha (referred to in 'Martha, My Dear') or the line 'Sheepdog, standing in the rain' in 'Hey Bulldog'. Outside the graveyard we see a woman walking down a 'Long And Winding Road' carrying a suitcase, reminding us how 'She's Leaving Home', while Paul is seen jumping up and down in footage taken from 'The Fool On The Hill' sequence from the 'Magical Mystery Tour' film.

Abbey Road. We then move to London, and the world-famous zebra-crossing shown on the Abbey Road album cover. On the left side of the road a traffic warden, presumably 'Lovely Rita, Meter Maid' can be seen, presumably about to ticket the Volkswagen Beetle largely responsible for causing all the 'Paul McCartney Is Dead' hysteria that gripped America in late 1969.

The final sequence takes us to a theatre, possibly representing the Saville Theatre in London where the 'Hello, Goodbye' video was filmed. The Beatles are then seen rushing into the theatre, in a scene from the A Hard Days Night film, surrounded by clowns - perhaps echoing 'Gather round all you clowns' from 'You've Got To Hide Your Love Away' - while on the stage a little man plays the ukulele. As the curtain lowers we hear a voice which appears to say 'My name's John Lennon', but is in fact 'Turned Out Nice Again' played backwards - a reference not only to the backwards track on 'Rain', but also to George Harrison's childhood hero ukulele player George Formby, who used it as a catchphrase.

dysfunction at 30,000 feet

Q: “Hey, A, if I left Place X around noon, how long do you think it would take to get to Place Y?”

A: “About 30 minutes.”

Q: “Stop! Why are you telling me that? I’ll figure it out on my own.”

A: “Then why did you ask me?”

Q: “I wasn’t asking. I was thinking.”

A: “But you looked at me, and asked me a question.”

Q: “I didn’t. “

A: “Yes, you did.”

Q: “No, I didn’t.”

A: “Yes, you did. You said, ‘Hey A …’”

Q: “Well, I didn’t mean to.”

A: “Funny way of not meaning to. Funny ‘peculiar,’ as in ‘dysfunctional,’ not in the least ‘ha ha.’”

Q: “OK. I did ask you, but then I decided not to ask you.”

A: “But you asked quite clearly, so I answered.”

Q: “What’s your point?”

A: “I had no need or interest in answering a question. Then you asked one. So I answered it. Now you jump on me for doing what you asked of me.”

Q: “OK.”

A: “You’re fucked up.”

Q: “So are you. That’s why I didn’t want an answer from you.”

A: “Whatever.”

Q: “This conversation is over.”

A: “It never began.”

Saturday, September 29, 2007

shatterproof vaginal doors

I was 12, I think, when I realized that shatterproof didn’t mean the same thing as breakproof. I was at my friend’s house (Artie). His dad had a new tool thing on the workbench with a grinder wheel. This shatterproof glass flipped over the wheel to block flying debris. I read the little sticker, “Shatterproof Glass.” “Neat,” I thought, and then picked up a pair of pliers and whacked it! It fractured in place. “Oh,” I thought, “shatterproof. Shatter. Got it. Fuck me.” I put the pliers down and walked away. Knowing Artie’s dad, I am sure he got his ass kicked for that broken-but-not-shattered glass. The good news is that I learned the importance of words in a very concrete setting.

Still into my webcams. Well, not really. Regardless of the G rating for the ones I would look at, I only peruse the lists when I am blogging, and only view the Watering Hole linked before when I am not blogging. Webcams still suggest to me Bambi touching herself live just for you as she works her way through college, who then becomes Bambi working her way down bobo for $45 a pop when her full-time job doesn’t quite make enough for her.

This webcam ”Switzerland Live Webcam on authentic steamer cruise, Interlaken, Bernese Upper Country,” is not live, but takes a pic every 60 seconds. The neat part is that the database goes back a few months. When you go to the site, it takes you the last pic of the last day. Move yourself to the first pic of the day, then you can use your arrow keys to move from pic to pic through the day. It takes just a moment for each image to load. Beautiful country.

Last one. Since the Cubbies won the NL Central yesterday, here is the exterior of Wrigley Field. OK, I’m bored, too.

Put in an address and get satellite pics. It’s free but the database is old.

You want to know how well read I am? I thought Ezra Pound was a chick. Turns out he’s a dude! Go figure. He read and recorded a lot of own works. Here’s a comprehensive set of direct links. Guess I better start listening.

I’m watching the Nationals-Phillies game. I love finding out who I am by noting the commercials chosen to present during the things I like to view. I have an enlarged prostate. My dick don’t work. My grey hair is holding my back from banging complete strangers in bars. I eat crap fast food (no wonder my dick doesn’t work). I need a new razor, cell phone, and tv (“it’s the mirrors”). I’m a wreck with out-dated tools.

So I went to the Flomax site and pull the full prescribing information.

You know the line about telling your eye doc you’re taking Flomax if you are going to have cataract surgery? “Intraoperative Floppy Iris Syndrome (IFIS) has been observed during cataract surgery in some patients treated with alpha-1 blockers, including FLOMAX capsules.” Floppy Iris Syndrome? I don’t know what the hell that is, but anything followed by syndrome can’t be good.

It gets better: “The patient's ophthalmologist should be prepared for possible modifications to their surgical technique, such as the utilization of iris hooks, iris dilator rings, or viscoelastic substances.” A HOOK? Wait a minute. Help me understand. I got something inside my ass that somehow changes my urine stream, you give me medicine, and now I have a hook in my eye? WTF?

Oh, great. As I write, Avodart is advertising and some clown is squeezing a ball of clay to show how my ass obstruction will get smaller. He claims to be a modeler who makes detailed city scenes. He’s a liar. Know how I know? This highly detailed model of a series of city blocks – just beautiful – is shown. Looks real, full scale. Then his face comes into view and you learn it is a model. Then – wait for it – then this ass-obstructionist put a cup of coffee down right in the middle of the street! A ring on the bottom, a bump and spill – and a-o is explaining to the client why he is $15K over budget and one week delayed. People get fired for stupid stuff like that. Must be a urine back-up clouding his thinking.

Where was I? Flomax, OK. The bit about sperm counts? “Studies in rats revealed significantly reduced fertility in males dosed with single or multiple daily doses of 300 mg/kg/day of tamsulosin hydrochloride (AUC exposure in rats about 50 times the human exposure with the maximum therapeutic dose). The mechanism of decreased fertility in male rats is considered to be an effect of the compound on the vaginal plug formation possibly due to changes of semen content or impairment of ejaculation.”

Well, “significantly reduced” is soft language – just means they can measure it and attribute it to the drug. Big enough so it isn’t a false positive. The second part is what I like – a “vaginal plug.” What a great concept. The reduction is so significant that a biological function arises inside the woman that says, “You must be kidding? Is that the best you got?”

So how many vaginal doors get slammed? They label the observation, “Abnormal Ejaculation.” The placebo group abnormally ejaculated 0.2% of the time. For the first dosage level of the anti-ass-obstruction-but-hook-in-your-eye “medical solution” AE’d 8.4%, and the next dosage level 18.1%.

Ouch! One out of five guys gets a hook in his eye, and the door slammed on the one-eyed guy – but he can piss up a Cat 2 Hurricane! I want some!

My heart isn’t strong enough to read the pharm data on the dick medicine that tells us that if your erection lasts longer than four hours you need to see a doctor. Four hours? That’s normal, ain’t it? But I am sure if I read it I would find that I am at risk of inner ear prolapse – but not slamming vaginas. So I guess it’s a balance.

I need to walk around. My privates are not relaxed with all this talk. You should be ashamed of yourself for reading this smut. Go find a webcam.

Ballad of John and Yoko

I’ve been drifting back to The Beatles lately. I’ve heard their music so much – from the 212 released songs to hundreds of hours of beatleg that I have – that it is easy to toss it into a compartment and forget the feelings from my early years as I awaited the next single or album.

One of my current favorites is the Ballad of John and Yoko. Here’s some detailed notes on the song.

I remember buying the single when I was ten years old. The local radio stations took “Christ” out of Christ you know it ain’t easy / You know how hard it can be / The ways thinks are going … they’re gonna crucify me.

I recall being in my living room in Scranton playing the 45 on a boxy portable record player. The three windows with the arched stained glass were on my right. The driveway was on the other side of the wall. I cranked the volume every time John sang Christ.

What I liked about the song in 1969 was the story. It led me through the travels and travails of John and Yoko. I remember thinking what it must have been like to be Peter Brown and being able to call John with a problem resolved (Peter Brown called to say / You can make it ok / You can get married in Gibraltar in Spain. An interesting side to that line is that the status of Gibraltar was actively being contested between England and Spain at the time – the crack about being “near Spain” was enough to have the song banned by Franco.

What I like about the song now is that it was a spur of moment recording by just John and Paul. George was on vacation and Ringo was taping a movie, The Magic Christian, with Peter Sellers. I just don’t know any other pair of musicians that could show up in a studio and complete such a song in one day.

John was on lead vocal, and played lead guitar, acoustic guitar, and percussion (beating on the back of an acoustic guitar). Macca sang harmony vocals and played bass, drums, piano, and maracas.

The song, to me, is a great example of John and Paul as pure musicians having fun in the studio. It reminds me of the duets on “Two of Us” and “I’ve Got a Feeling,” which were recorded on January 31, 1969, and January 30, 1969, respectively, and not released until May 8, 1970, on the Let It Be album – Phil Spector’s trashing of some pretty good source material. Ballad of John and Yoko was recorded on April 14, 1969, and released in the UK on May 30 and in the States on June 4.

Here’s the video, followed by the lyrics, followed by two more videos for good measure.

Standing in the dock at Southampton,
Trying to get to Holland or France.
The man in the mac said, "You've got to go back".
You know they didn't even give us a chance.

Christ you know it ain't easy,
You know how hard it can be.
The way things are going
They're gonna crucify me.

Finally made the plane into Paris,
Honey mooning down by the Seine.
Peter Brown called to say,
"You can make it O.K.,
You can get married in Gibraltar, near Spain".

Christ you know it ain't easy,
You know how hard it can be.
The way things are going
They're gonna crucify me.

Drove from Paris to the Amsterdam Hilton,
Talking in our beds for a week.
The newspaper said, "Say what you doing in bed?"
I said, "We're only trying to get us some peace".

Christ you know it ain't easy,
You know how hard it can be.
The way things are going
They're gonna crucify me.

Saving up your money for a rainy day,
Giving all your clothes to charity.
Last night the wife said,
"Oh boy, when you're dead
You don't take nothing with you
But your soul - think!"

Made a lightning trip to Vienna,
eating chocolate cake in a bag.
The newspaper said, "She's gone to his head,
They look just like two gurus in drag".

Christ you know it ain't easy,
You know how hard it can be.
The way things are going
They're gonna crucify me.

Caught the early plane back to London.
Fifty acorns tied in a sack.
The men from the press said, "We wish you success,
It's good to have the both of you back".

Christ you know it ain't easy,
You know how hard it can be.
The way things are going
They're gonna crucify me.
The way things are going
They're gonna crucify me.

"Two of Us" (watch the end - whistling is a lost art form in rock music)

"I've Got a Feeling" (cut from the Let It Be movie)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Newspaper clippings

I love being taken advantage of. My car needed service – new clutch. Should have been $600+. Came back as $1800+. They replaced everything between the tranny and the engine. I had an extended warranty. The dealership – not where I bought it which was an hour away – denied that I said anything about a warranty. What, I have to tell you? Well, I did, and they immediately danced into this local-only application. I got the original dealership tied in now. They confirmed that I am covered. They local dealership is now lying. Gonna be fun. I can smell blood. I just want my money back. Was saving for a couple of things important to me.

My latest favorite site is this webcam in South Africa. It’s a water hole in a wildlife refuge. The refuge itself is pretty cool - check it out here. There’s two water buffalo at the hole now. I was watching, with my twin, some buzzards feasting the other day. Yesterday, the hyenas took over on whatever carcass was there. The evening shots – it’s US ET + 6 hours – are like chewing aspirin … just the hole, but with the occasional monkey screech as a layer on top of the birds. At least the evening shots are aided with an infrared. During the day, they pan the camera to the “action” areas.

Here’s a novel idea: Humming Bird webcam. Yeah, two words – humming bird. There is nothing there right now, but it would be cool, I think, to watch birds humming. Do their lips move?

Here’s a good starting point to viewing all sorts of webcams. All clean.

I just learned something outrageously cool! Go here and plug in my url – It seems that the People’s Republic of China has banned my website! Fuck ‘em. I hate their food anyway. Makes me sweat and never fills me up. What the hell is a “poo poo platter” anyway? Some inside joke?

Section 4.4 of this wiki gives a host of ways to get around it.

(Yeah, I know, it is not me that is blocked – but all of blogger – shut up .. give me this moment!)

The urban landscape – pics of abandoned shopping carts.

Years ago, in my I’m-a-lawyer phase, I had a Palm handheld thing to track addresses and calendars. That was when laptops weighed more than a gallon of water and their fans sounded like jet engines. Half the use was in a seated position, former colon fully engaged, playing games. Dope Wars was one of my favorites. Buying and selling heroin, coke, speed, pot. Reminded me of college. My high score was something out of sight – like $54 million. I found a version for my laptop. Only played once. Has more drugs. First game was $6.3 million.

Here’s a site I am just starting to review. Seems to be factual stories about interesting and obscure topics. The first couple of stories held my interest.

The watering hole is empty and has been for the last five checks. Crunch, crunch, crunch.

Make your own newspaper.

I’m done for now.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

free phone lines

I find a lot of great lines in my net wanderings that I will use from time to time. I keep this file-card index in my head. Let me list some …

  • He’s as dumb as an autistic dog.
  • There’s a place for food like that – it’s called your left ventricle.
  • Looks like she’s trying to read the graffiti on both sides of the stall at the same time.
  • Give a man a match, and he'll be warm for a minute, but set him on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.
  • Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.
  • For Sale: Parachute. Only used once, never opened, small stain.
  • What would a chair look like, if your knees bent the other way?
  • You never truly understand something until you can explain it to your grandmother. --Albert Einstein
  • My mother never saw the irony in calling me a son-of-a-bitch.
  • Knowledge is realizing that the street is one-way; wisdom is looking both directions anyway
  • Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are good is like expecting the bull not to charge because you are a vegetarian.
  • You know your god is man-made when he hates all the same people you do.

Ever fill out forms or have to give a phone number for something – and it has to be a good number, but you don’t want your personal number floating out there? This is the coolest thing. This site gives you a free telephone number for up to a month that forwards to any phone you want. I think you can extend it beyond if you want, but when the period ends, the number just dies along with the ability of the holder to reach you. It’s a good thing.

Alright, I’m tired. Night.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

good eats

I was ten years old when this commercial came out. I thought at the time, and still do now, that it was a catchy tune.

I was contemplating a certain class (perhaps the wrong word) of recipes with my twin. We concluded that “Sciurus carolinensis on Toast Points with a White Sauce” would be such a recipe. Let me try to make up the recipe.

2 Sciurus carolinensis (aka Eastern Grey Squirrel), dead, skinned, and deboned
8 slices Wonderbread
1 cup Mayonnaise
4 ounces recent vintage fortified wine

Cook the deboned squirrel in a cast iron pan with a bit of lard, turning frequently until it begins to look stringy. Remove the meat and place on a newspaper to degrease.

Toast the wonderbread to a light brown, and cut the toasted bread diagonally twice, forming four triangles from each piece.

With a coffee spoon, mix the wine into the mayonnaise to thin it out.

Pull apart the squirrel meat with your fingers, and cut the stringy strips into lengths not exceeding 2 inches.

Arrange three toast points on a plate, place enough meat on them for about half a sandwich, and drip some of the white sauce to cover.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 2 to 8 depending upon girth (of eater, not eatee).

Next week: Perogie Pudding with a Faux Brandy Flambé.

My little girl’s all grown up. I helped empty the clothes dryer, and found a small key. I said, “hey, I thought you outgrew having a diary with a keylock on it.” She said, “yeah, I did, daddy, that key is for a pair of handcuffs.” Oh.

Monday, September 17, 2007

A Nightmare

A gift to the lawyer, the teacher, a friend.

A Nightmare

W. S. Gibert

When you're lying awake with a dismal headache, and repose is taboo'd by anxiety,

I conceive you may use any language you choose to indulge in without impropriety;

For your brain is on fire - the bedclothes conspire of usual slumber to plunder you:

First your counterpane goes and uncovers your toes, and your sheet slips demurely from under you;

Then the blanketing tickles - you feel like mixed pickles, so terribly sharp is the pricking,

And you're hot, and you're cross, and you tumble and toss till there's nothing 'twixt you and the ticking.

Then the bedclothes all creep to the ground in a heap, and you pick 'em all up in a tangle;

Next your pillow resigns and politely declines to remain at its usual angle!

Well, you get some repose in the form of a doze, with hot eyeballs and head ever aching,

But your slumbering teems with such horrible dreams that you'd very much better be waking;

For you dream you are crossing the Channel, and tossing about in a steamer from Harwich,

Which is something between a large bathing-machine and a very small second-class carriage;

And you're giving a treat (penny ice and cold meat) to a party of friends and relations -

They're a ravenous horde - and they all came on board at Sloane Square and South Kensington Stations.

And bound on that journey you find your attorney (who started that morning from Devon);

He's a bit undersized, and you don't feel surprised when he tells you he's only eleven.

Well, you're driving like mad with this singular lad (by the bye the ship's now a four-wheeler),

And you're playing round games, and he calls you bad names when you tell him that "ties pay the dealer";

But this you can't stand, so you throw up your hand, and you find you're as cold as an icicle,

In your shirt and your socks (the black silk with gold clocks), crossing Salisbury Plain on a bicycle:

And he and the crew are on bicycles too - which they've somehow or other invested in -

And he's telling the tars all the particuLARS of a company he's interested in -

It's a scheme of devices, to get at low prices, all goods from cough mixtures to cables (Which tickled the sailors) by treating retailers, as though they were all vegeTAbles -

You get a good spadesman to plant a small tradesman (first take off his boots with a boot-tree),

And his legs will take root, and his fingers will shoot, and they'll blossom and bud like a fruit-tree -

From the greengrocer tree you get grapes and green pea, cauliflower, pineapple, and cranberries,

While the pastry-cook plant cherry-brandy will grant - apple puffs, and three-corners, and banberries -

The shares are a penny, and ever so many are taken by ROTHSCHILD and BARING,

And just as a few are allotted to you, you awake with a shudder despairing -

You're a regular wreck, with a crick in your neck, and no wonder you snore, for your head's on the floor, and you've needles and pins from your soles to your shins, and your flesh is a-creep, for your left leg's asleep, and you've cramp in your toes, and a fly onyour nose, and some fluff in your lung, and a feverish tongue, and a thirst that's intense, and a general sense that you haven't been sleeping in clover;

But the darkness has passed, and it's daylight at last, and the night has been long - ditto, ditto my song - and thank goodness they're both of them over!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

lost time

Thirty years ago today, Marc Bolan died.

Cosmic Dancer
(partial lyrics)
Marc Bolan

I was dancing when I was twelve
I was dancing when I was aaah
I danced myself right out of the womb
Is it strange to dance so soon
I danced myself right out of the womb.

I was dancing when I was eight
Is it strange to dance so late
I danced myself into the tomb
Is it strange to dance so soon
I danced myself into the tomb

Is it wrong to understand
The fear that dwells inside a man

Lean Woman Blues
(studio adlibs)
Marc Bolan

(take 10 ...)
(one and a two)
(and buckle my shoe!)

Lean love
All you give to me
Is lean love
I'm like a beggar in the sand
With the sky in his hand
And I'm blue

Black day
All you give to me
Are your wild ways
Well you're the love of my life
And then you gorge me with a knife
And I'm blue
(that's so true!)

All the heavy world
Is frightening
(i'm talkin to you!)
I'm like a child in the sand
On the beach of the land of you
And I'm blue
(oh, i'm your friend, take my hand)

Lean love
All you give to me
Is your lean love
I'm like a beggar in the sand
With the sky in my hand
And I'm blue
(cuz i really love you)


I was thinking about the sun as I sat outside with my dogs. Its surface is about 11 million degrees. We’re about 93 million miles away (mean distance because, duh, we are an elliptical orbit). Absolute zero is about 459 degrees F. Electromagnetic waves toss energy under our tropopause. Gravity holds us through the curvature of space in this pocket. All that stuff – heat loss traveling through space, the troposphere holding what gets here, gravity making sure we maintain a livable distance – all lead to a narrow band of temperatures that means my dogs don’t fry like two really large corndogs. I hoped they enjoyed chasing butterflies and pissing on my yard.

Had Stouffer’s Mac & Cheese tonight. One of those big frozen ones that is dubbed “family size.” I think “impacted colon” and “enough sodium to stroke out three otherwise healthy adults” are more accurate labels. If I wasn’t about to go hypo I would have thrown up the first bite and thrown away both the remaining portion and the bowl that held it. Just the thought of it processing through my intestines is enough to make my hands shake. Good thing I work at home – tomorrow morning’s movement will rival the worst of the Baroque period, something akin to Peter Paul Rubens on bad mushrooms.

Have you ever been to one of those living museums? Where people dress up and make brooms? I often wonder if there is someone there that everyone stays away from because he is “too into it.” Like he’s a Nazi about the people that use Charmin, insisting that only leaves and newspaper (post-Gutenberg) could be used to wipe your ass. If you hung along long enough, I bet you could smell him in a crowd. See how he walked funny from perpetual Pimple Ass.

One thing I enjoy about visiting old settlements is how low the doors are. I am 5’10” (or used to be – 5’9” now?). I would have been a giant. I could have walked around and … well, I would never have walked around. My childhood disease would not have been cured. I would have been a footnote in one of those families – 17 kids, 8 died before maturity, 1 of which died in infancy.

I sat in a restaurant in Chicago this past Wednesday night. My coworker stayed at some dumb hotel that messed up their shuttle so he was late. I waited an hour, but that was fine. For a while, I sat on a bench just inside the door. It was interesting to watch people come and go. This woman walked out of the eating area. A man was several feet behind her. She left the restaurant, and did not hold the door open for him. There was a vestibule, and she blew through those doors as well. They went to the same SUV, and she got behind the wheel. He was whipped; she was just a bitch. All sorts of people ignored old people approaching the doors. Not everyone, of course, but just an incredible amount of people was absorbed in their own worlds. Does not play well with others: Check. Needs to be more aware of those around him: Check. Needs to be less of an asshole: Check.

I shaved for the first time today in almost two weeks. Took my first shower since Thursday. Did I say that out loud? Damn.

Did you ever wonder who was the first person to think about frying an egg and eating it? I suspect one fell on a rock in some god-forsaken furnace of a locale. Sounds logical. But then who thought about using uncooked egg whites and oil to make mayonnaise? And then to take that white slime and put it on bread with decaying animal flesh? And people wonder why they have loose stools – go figure. The colon is just saying, “I’m not even going to bother firming this stuff up, just – get – it – out – of – me – now!”

I’ll be driving to Virginia this week. I hope the weather is a few degrees warmer than it is here. We have frosts just north of us. I wore sweatpants and sweatshirt today. Undershirt for the first time in months. Last time I went, I had two dozen raw oysters for dinner. Will probably do the same this time. I actually dislike eating in restaurants. I am much more comfortable with my pots and pans, my spice rack, and groceries that I bought. I was out once and ordered some soup that would up having dead pig in it – couldn’t believe it. Talk about truth in advertising. It was a personal dinner, not business. I vaguely remember being yelled at for making my point to the waitress that not everyone eats corpses. Even more vague to me was when I was reminded that I ordered the same thing at the same restaurant and made the same complaint. I have learned, I do believe, to just eat what I order and always smile. It is so hard for me to learn manners.

I need to do some things …

Saturday, September 15, 2007

haiku you

I go to Darwin Awards every once in a while. The premise is to give awards and honorable mentions to people that die in such a way as to provide creedence for Darwin's "survival of the fittest" concept - that is, truly people stupid always find a way to kill themselves.

I submitted a story one time. Some local was riding in an innertube behind a snow mobile and ate a tree. I thought it was rather unique. Turned out to be common. Oh well.

I was surprised to find on the site this time a forum on haiku. It set the following parameters;

The Easy Type: A total of 17 syllables makes a Haiku.

5 syllables for the line
7 syllables for the line
5 syllables for the line


3 syllables
5 syllables
3 syllables.

I pulled these from the forum. I made a few changes because this is my blog and I can do whatever I want to.

My genitals hold
My body high above ground
Now without body

Suspend yourself from
Wire around your genitals.
Ut oh: piñata.

I think for myself
Warning signs do not apply
To an immortal.

Homemade parachute
Not latest technology
Opens on impact

Death happens to all
Some happily wait to go
Some knock on Death's door

Death happens to all
To many, a quite tall wall
To some, not so tall

It looks like a bomb
Naturally I wonder:
What could be inside?

After fools rush in
Where angels do fear to tread
The fools become dead

True wisdom: knowing
That you should insert nothing
Into your rectum

Being inspired by such gifted writing, I took a few shots at it.

Waiting for the knife
To cut deeply once again
My blood lets for her

She runs swift as wind
Chased, hounded every night
By a changeling

There is never time
To love openly, truly
When self is utmost


My best friend
Died a thousand deaths
Then gave up

Thursday, September 13, 2007

river stones

There’s an old Jewish story – old being before the Maccabees – about the flat stones found in the southern foothills of the mountains. The stones were clearly river stones, but no river was there, nor had one ever been there to anyone’s knowledge.

In the mountains beyond the foothills were eagles that were particularly vicious hunters. They were patient and nothing escaped their attacks.

As the cold weather came to the regions north of the mountains, the geese would fly south over the mountains. As they honked to each other in flight, their honks also told the vicious eagles of their presence. The eagles would soar to the heights of the geese, and drag their bodies back to the eagles’ nest to be eaten.

Over time, the geese learned to stop and rest before crossing the mountains. They would each take a stone from a riverbed north of the mountains into their mouths. They would then fly over the mountains silently, as the river stone filled their mouths and they could not honk. Since they flew so high and so quietly, the eagles were never aware of their presence.

As the geese cleared the mountains, they would drop the river stones from their mouths. Hence, the river stones in a place where no river ever flowed.

The direct interpretation of the story was that there was a time to speak and a time not to speak. Speaking at the wrong time could have dire consequences.

I like to step back from the story and find a more general meaning. There is a time when some acts are appropriate, and a time when those same acts are not appropriate. Doing an act out of its proper time can have, indeed, dire consequences.

Even more generally, there is a season for acts. Sometimes those seasons end and never come back. Continuing to do an act beyond its season can have dire consequences.

“Dire consequences” can never be looked at too narrowly. Effects can be direct to the actor, direct to those acted upon, or indirect to those two or others beyond that limited group.

This discussion reminds me of teaching Ethics. No act ever occurs in a vacuum. It is as if every act creates energy. The energy of every act ever performed lingers to this day. A bad act today can affect perceptions and decisions decades from now.

I always liked the simple ethics test called, “newspaper headline.” What if your acts were fully described on page one of the newspaper for all to read – friend, family, and foe alike. Would you still do the same act in the same way? Could you defend your actions to your harshest critics? What will you say when the dire consequences become public?

I think I shall be reminded to review my own acts every time I find a flat stone.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

family ties

i am always amazed at how genetics makes family ties so obvious sometimes. my g-g-grampa, stephen middleton, a mid-1800s guy from england, coal miner (of course), is pictured on the left. bounce forward an entire century (i was born in 1959), and compare our pics. you'd swear we were separated at birth.

remarkable. it is nice to know that my hairline will continue to recede.

only words survive

i want to write about words in a moment. quick mention first to an update in "my blog family" on the right.

i have written often about my daughter in this blog. you can search the blog top left for "jourdaine," "cartoons," "nonconforming," and "nonconformity" and read some of it. her cartoons are cool. some of my favorite stories are here, here, and here.

she's had some great influences in her life, my twin primary among them, as well as being slapped pretty hard for being an individual. every time the latter has happened, the girl stands, dusts herself off, and says, "is that the best you got, a'hole?" remarkable endurance and depth for a 16 year old.

she bailed on some previous blogs when The Others impugned Satanic Rituals in sentences like, "for my 16th birthday, i want strippers and cheap vodka," and "if i could be any kind of tree, i would want to be a dead one, because i think trees take up too much space and they annoy me." The Others saw potential rape and pillage in a cartoon that depicted a girl scout about to be executed because she brought the wrong flavor of cookies. some guy even left a comment on my post about it that he would have his kid in therapy if she drew like that.

really? therapy? and when you discover that your kid smokes pot (which mine don't), you'll consult with a dozen people, practice in front of a mirror, then sit with her and say things like, "where did we go wrong? don't you like me? i try so hard? how could you do this to your mother and me?" whereas i would stare intently and occasionally say, "wtf?" and then glance down at the cattle prod and do-it-yourself-at-home-like-an-expert-frontal-lobotomy kit on the coffee table, adding, "choose your poison, little girl." lest you dismiss my approach, remember it is your kid doing weed or lifting your wife's prozac, while mine is merely writing about them. yeah, funny, your wife is on prozac - does that tell you anything?

alright, enough of you. my daughter has returned to posting - check it out here.

i want to talk about words. twin says this morning - people use the same words, it is just that some people treat them like treasures found on a beach, while others only collect them from the dollar store. what a great point.

i am not thinking of somebody writing, "i am writing you myself because i want to insure that you understand." really? you want to financially underwrite this issue? methinks, grammarian, that you mean "ensure." that is just someone that doesn't read often enough to see words in proper context, so they rely upon their hearing and false intellect.

i am thinking instead of those people that say, "i guess this is it. have a nice life." oh. and such an epitaph to the most casual of relationships joined only by a mutual friend that was thereafter moving to Away. "have a nice life?" how utterly presumptive. beyond the obvious - maybe i don't want a nice life - how about the dimissive statement wrapped around a presumed complete knowledge of the rest of her life and its interactions? i frankly don't care if i ever see her again - and i haven't in the three years since those words were so flippantly tossed out. but what an abuse of language!

words have a way of lasting - they explain the look on someone's face, they accompany an action. the same precise act coupled with two sets of words can have diametrically opposed interpretations. people put more faith in, "did you hear what he said?" as opposed to, "did you see the look on his face?"

all i have left of my dad is one pic i refuse to look at because it is too close to the image i carry of him in his casket, some fishing flies, some shirts, and his words. the flies only mean something because of a story we shared. his shirts carry the meaning of dinner table conversations when he came home from the factory.

so people need to treat the words they utter more as if they are sharing a found treasure rather than having just filled the basket with seven items for $7 plus tax. when you are dead, only your words will survive - your choice: remembered as a treasure hunter or common trash?

Saturday, September 8, 2007

immutable social stratum

my twin and i were discussing the layers of society this morning. my position is that one never leaves the layer from whence one came to find comfort and true happiness in another layer. i don't mean leaving poverty behind and not being happy because the fridge is stocked. i mean the people with whom you deal. i can walk into any bar and talk at length with people. farmers and factory workers and coal miners are my roots.

regardless of the money and ease of life that has come and gone in my time, i still view life through my earliest lens. i see liberals as intellectually vacant. i believe that bill clinton is a slut, hillary is a dyke, and web hubbel is chelsea's real dad. i oftentimes point and laugh when harm comes to assholes. i have no patience for self-serving dickheads. my favorite joke is premised upon having sex with a nun (maybe you've heard it - the punchline is, "yeah, maybe we should bury her"). getting into a fist fight is not desired, but is understandable. i think the best way to deal with terrorists is to torture every last one of them in public places, handing out video cameras and laptops for you-tube uploads before the festivities begin. i love my dogs. i own a gun with hollow-points to kill-first-and-ask-questions-later (much later) of anyone dumb enough to enter my home with the intent to commit a crime therein. i think there is little more beautiful than a recently weeded vegetable garden. a field or patch of wildflowers has it all over designed "flower gardens." purple is a great color because it fucking is - how would i know why? if you want to make it, i think you need yellow, but i find it easier to just buy a set that has a purple crayon already in it.

you want to know why people lose money in the stock market? because they buy stuff they do not understand. they look at numbers. numbers? companies sell products - that is what to look at. energy stocks have dividends - built-in return or cushion against lose. the industry got deregulated. that created an opportunity to sell energy - that's the product after all - across territory not possible before. so the value changed from owning exclusive rights to territory to being able to produce product at the lowest cost per kilowatt. duh! so duke energy did well and socaled bit it. it isn't financial analysis with trends and charts and martini-laden tips. it is explaining why to buy something - a gas grill or common stock - over a few beers at a bar with someone you don't know. you better make sense.

it is that common sense that is driven into coal miners, because without you die. i maintain that as you rise through the social strata of life, common sense because more and more optional. in fairness, it is a structural thing - one has highly refined tools for what one needs to survive. if common sense in monetary matters is less important than in nodding politely and choosing a socialist view of the world, then the former merely recedes. it is not a condemnation. but it is ironic that the lack of common sense often leads people to venture into areas outside their knowledge base, and often to their detriment.

so the argument comes full circle. your social stratum defines your survival tools. when you deal with people all of the time that have survival tools that conflict with yours, the novelty wears off after a while and discomfort settles in. you find comfort again only in your stratum.

what some cold, hard truth? i married outside my stratum. she is a class above me. that is why it has been a train wreck. i did her a great disservice. she saw "lawyer" and thought one thing; i knew "coal trash" and stayed quiet. oh well. the pain of that recognition has greatly scarred over. it is the end game now. i hope she gets her dignity back soon enough.

so these two guys get stranded on a desert island with a nun ...

my twin shared with me a beautiful story. it is a perfect illustration of the complete lack of ability of one stratum to understand another.

The Little Match-Seller
By Hans Christian Andersen (1846)

It was terribly cold and nearly dark on the last evening of the old year, and the snow was falling fast. In the cold and the darkness, a poor little girl, with bare head and naked feet, roamed through the streets. It is true she had on a pair of slippers when she left home, but they were not of much use. They were very large, so large, indeed, that they had belonged to her mother, and the poor little creature had lost them in running across the street to avoid two carriages that were rolling along at a terrible rate. One of the slippers she could not find, and a boy seized upon the other and ran away with it, saying that he could use it as a cradle, when he had children of his own. So the little girl went on with her little naked feet, which were quite red and blue with the cold. In an old apron she carried a number of matches, and had a bundle of them in her hands. No one had bought anything of her the whole day, nor had anyone given her even a penny. Shivering with cold and hunger, she crept along; poor little child, she looked the picture of misery. The snowflakes fell on her long, fair hair, which hung in curls on her shoulders, but she regarded them not.

Lights were shining from every window, and there was a savory smell of roast goose, for it was New-year’s eve—yes, she remembered that. In a corner, between two houses, one of which projected beyond the other, she sank down and huddled herself together. She had drawn her little feet under her, but she could not keep off the cold; and she dared not go home, for she had sold no matches, and could not take home even a penny of money. Her father would certainly beat her; besides, it was almost as cold at home as here, for they had only the roof to cover them, through which the wind howled, although the largest holes had been stopped up with straw and rags. Her little hands were almost frozen with the cold. Ah! perhaps a burning match might be some good, if she could draw it from the bundle and strike it against the wall, just to warm her fingers. She drew one out—“scratch!” how it sputtered as it burnt! It gave a warm, bright light, like a little candle, as she held her hand over it. It was really a wonderful light. It seemed to the little girl that she was sitting by a large iron stove, with polished brass feet and a brass ornament. How the fire burned! and seemed so beautifully warm that the child stretched out her feet as if to warm them, when, lo! the flame of the match went out, the stove vanished, and she had only the remains of the half-burnt match in her hand.

She rubbed another match on the wall. It burst into a flame, and where its light fell upon the wall it became as transparent as a veil, and she could see into the room. The table was covered with a snowy white table-cloth, on which stood a splendid dinner service, and a steaming roast goose, stuffed with apples and dried plums. And what was still more wonderful, the goose jumped down from the dish and waddled across the floor, with a knife and fork in its breast, to the little girl. Then the match went out, and there remained nothing but the thick, damp, cold wall before her.

She lighted another match, and then she found herself sitting under a beautiful Christmas-tree. It was larger and more beautifully decorated than the one which she had seen through the glass door at the rich merchant’s. Thousands of tapers were burning upon the green branches, and colored pictures, like those she had seen in the show-windows, looked down upon it all. The little one stretched out her hand towards them, and the match went out.

The Christmas lights rose higher and higher, till they looked to her like the stars in the sky. Then she saw a star fall, leaving behind it a bright streak of fire. “Someone is dying,” thought the little girl, for her old grandmother, the only one who had ever loved her, and who was now dead, had told her that when a star falls, a soul was going up to God.

She again rubbed a match on the wall, and the light shone round her; in the brightness stood her old grandmother, clear and shining, yet mild and loving in her appearance. “Grandmother,” cried the little one, “O take me with you; I know you will go away when the match burns out; you will vanish like the warm stove, the roast goose, and the large, glorious Christmas-tree.” And she made haste to light the whole bundle of matches, for she wished to keep her grandmother there. And the matches glowed with a light that was brighter than the noon-day, and her grandmother had never appeared so large or so beautiful. She took the little girl in her arms, and they both flew upwards in brightness and joy far above the earth, where there was neither cold nor hunger nor pain, for they were with God.

In the dawn of morning there lay the poor little one, with pale cheeks and smiling mouth, leaning against the wall; she had been frozen to death on the last evening of the year; and the New-year’s sun rose and shone upon a little corpse! The child still sat, in the stiffness of death, holding the matches in her hand, one bundle of which was burnt. “She tried to warm herself,” said some. No one imagined what beautiful things she had seen, nor into what glory she had entered with her grandmother, on New-year’s day

Friday, September 7, 2007

Just … can’t … help … yourself, … can … you? … See … below.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

helpful tips from your uncle clyde

I have always wondered about obsessive behavior. I don’t mean the good kind – like washing your hands 50 times or watching the clock tick second-by-second for 47 minutes (that’s 2,820 seconds; I know, I’ve sat with someone that did it because someone said they’d be home and weren’t). I mean the Einstein statement of insanity – doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result – type of obsession.

A person returns time and again to a rock. The rock is lifted, and perhaps the viewer expects to be comforted or, worse yet, knows he or she will be repulsed. Yet that person cannot stop him- or herself. Wherever their sojourn, they walk to the rock, lift it, and peer downward intently. They even know the burrows of the ground and what lay within them. Yet they cannot stop. Soon, they realize that the sojourn from which they deviated was designed to be sure that the rock was a part of it.

That is the bad kind of obsession.

If a person has the bad kind of obsession, it is time to stop looking at other people as the problem or the source of their ills. It is time to look inward. Yes, such an obsessed person really is that fucked up. Yes, those around him or her are right.

When that person can walk past the rock without even realizing it was there, then they are on the road to recovery. That’s a long way from present-day obsession. It is even further when one realizes that a rock so easily found cannot be every rock. There must be (and are) other rocks. And if the other rocks are not so easily found, it must be for a reason. The burrows under those rocks must be repulsive indeed! Bad obsession leads to paranoid delusions.

But never, ever forget: just because a person is certified “paranoid” (stamped ticket and all) has absolutely no bearing on the accuracy or inaccuracy of the assertion that people are, in fact, watching him or her.

If you think the former applies to you, jot down these DSM IV references: 300.3 Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and 301.4 Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder.

Here’s your diagnostic criteria:

Marked inflexibility and preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and mental / interpersonal control, as indicated by at least four of the following:

Marked preoccupation with details, lists, order, organization, rules, or schedules.

Marked perfectionism that interferes with the completion of the task.

Excessive devotion to work.

Excessive devotion and inflexible when it comes to ethics, morals, or values.

Can not throw out worn-out, useless, or worthless objects, with no sentimental value.

Insist others work or do task exactly as they would.

View money as something to hoarded.

Stubborn and rigid.

If you think that the latter also applies, also write down: 301 Paranoid Personality Disorder.

Here are your diagnostic criteria for this, um, situation:

Marked distrust of others, as indicated by at least four of the following:

Believes without reason that others are exploiting, harming, or trying to deceive her / him.

Unjustified doubts about a friends / associates loyalty or trustworthiness.

Believes with out reason that if she / he confides in others, this information somehow be used against her / him.

Finds hidden demeaning or threatening meanings in harmless remarks or events.

Unforgiving and bears grudges.

Believes with out reason that people are out to attack his / her character or reputation and is quick to react with anger.

Believes with out reason in the fidelity of their sexual partner.

When it comes to treating 301-PPD, I am fond of a transactional approach.

Specifically, transactional analysis focuses on the clients cognitive and behavior functioning. The therapist helps the client evaluate their past decisions and how those decisions affect their present life. They believe self-defeating behavior and feelings can be overcome by an awareness of them.

The therapist believes that the client’s personality is made up of the parent, adult, and child. They believe that it is important for the client to examine past decisions to help their make new and better decisions.

The transactional approach is also available for treatment of the OCs, but I personally prefer pharmacotherapy (better living through chemistry).

I hope this has been helpful.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

idjit 4 wrent

When I was in Philadelphia the other day, and we were having lunch, someone mentioned about the fires in Greece being suspected terrorism. I don’t read the news. I shun every news source. I actively avoid learning anything about the news. It is a shame about the fires. I hope not too many people suffered. I surprised they didn’t blame it on the Turks. There historically has been such a complex hatred between the Turks and the Greeks.

“D-dd-d-do-ddo-o-o-d-doo.” Slow down. Form lips like an “O” with straight sides. “Do-ddo-ddooo-og—ga-e. Doggie! L-l-l-o-oo-k-ee at t-th-the pret-tee dogg-gie!”, whereupon having said that successfully, I am given an ice cream cone.

My kids and the live-in started K12 today. Seems like a well-structured program, although they are not fully organized yet – missing some books and a computer, the online assembly crashed, and a whole course is missing (being the one needed to explain online learning!). Besides that, running smoothly. 2,104 students in Pennsylvania. That’s a lot. Where’s my boy’s IEP?

I am interested to watch how they do things since I am knee-deep in designing a distance-learning school. The requirements are different for post-secondaries, but there should be something to learn. I want to see how they handle student services. Any idiot can design a course and keep a student occupied, but keeping the cats herded when they are restless can be more demanding. I think I will wait a week, and then raise hell over the lack of an IEP to see what structures they have in place. I’ll bring up the GED issue after that, but I’ll wait a month. It’s like probing an enemy’s defenses to find its weakness, but in a benevolent way.

My twin told me today that if I were a parent of one of her students, she would pass me off onto another teacher. I was somewhat taken aback by that comment. I thought she would be more dedicated to doing a good job. Hmphf!

I got a brochure in the mail today from Rent Mother Nature. I am not quite sure what to make of it. The concept is that you “lease” a cow or maple tree or lobster trap, etc., and you get to receive the cheese, syrup, or lobsters produced therefrom. (NOTE: “Therefrom” is not a word, but it should be) For example, for $49.95 you lease a branch on a cocoa tree. They harvest about three pounds, process it as either baking or drinking cocoa (your choice), and they mail you your product. Three pounds for $50. That’s $16 a pound. Is that a good price? You get a whole tree for only $59.95, but it only yields about five pounds. Must be not quite two producing branches on a tree. Didn’t know that.

So here’s the lobster trap deal: The Lease program includes: / A beautifully designed & personalized (parchment-look) lease document that is sent to your recipient. / An announcement folder (inscribed with your gift message) that describes the many benefits of your gift. / An entertaining & informative progress report (& an optional photo) to keep them up-to-date on aquaculture. / The Lobsters are delivered to the recipient's door on the date they request. / Satisfaction & bountiful yields are guaranteed. / We do all the work and you get all the raves (while helping support America's fishermen).

For $200, you get the above happy shit and at least 7-1/2 pounds of lobster. For $200. $200. $100 + $100 = $200. For $200, I could – literally – drive the eight hours to Maine, find some roadside stand, buy 10 pounds, and drive home. And still have enough money left over for a case of beer.

Better yet! For $170 you can get four dozen oysters. Man.

Nice concept. Woefully yuppie. But I could rent a sheep! Now, that co--- … oh. You get the fleece. I thought you got t---, and then you could say to the sheep, “who’s your daddy?” and then, well, um ... Nevermind.

I got a yard someone could lease. I would send pics to people in NYC. $69 a season. If I sell a bunch I will mow, then rake, then shovel, and whatever I am supposed to do in the spring. Maybe I could lease my dog, and I will be contractually bound to walk it. That’s an idea. I wonder if the National Association for the Blind would sell their membership list? I betcha there are a lot of guys that would love to help support my car as I drive around. They can’t anymore, and it seems to be the least I could do (in fact, it is the least I could do – seems pretty frickin’ cold, actually). I do all the docs in Braille. I could narrate a video. $69 a season. $169 if they want me to drive with the windows down. I think we might have something here – niche markets for leases.

You in prison or otherwise out of the Yankees marketplace? Send me $10 and you can lease me to watch the game for you! I’ll send you a quick note afterward, along with some press clippings. You’ll have the pleasure of knowing that someone is watching the game live on your behalf. I’ll put your name along with the rest of the f’g idiots that sent me $10 on a sheet of paper next to me. I’ll occasional insert your name in sentences like, “Wow, {you}, did you see that play?” and “Yo, {you}, wanna a beer? Good, get me one while you’re up.”

You shake your head. I’m telling you, if you packaged that idea right, there are enough idiots in this world to make you rich. Ten to fifteen people per game, $10 a game, 162 games – that’s upwards of $24,000 a year. You can watch 5 or 6 games in a day with MLB and multiple sets. That’s over $120,000 a year. Grow it to 100 people a game, and you crack $1,000,000. A hundred people out of 300,000,000 in the US alone. I haven’t met everyone in the United States, but I have met a hundred people stupid enough to buy into this idea. Imagine if you tapped into … oh, I better stop here. This is a gold mine! I better not publish this until I investigate it further. OK. [Ctrl]-A, [del]. Whew! Almost gave away the farm!

I better go before someone reads my mind. I left my tinfoil downstairs. I thought I wouldn’t need it anymore today since the voices quieted down.

Monday, September 3, 2007

crossing the unarmed

What an interesting evening! Naw, no details. Best kept close. Suffice to say that I got to exercise my deepest cross-examination skills. Sometimes I really miss the courtroom.

I read Welling’s Cross-Examination, a classic from the 1940s, and Cornelius’ Trial Tactics from the same era. Good books, but such structure! Trial work is meant to evolve in front of you as an artist uses color – you don’t use red here to balance the yellow other there. That’s an insult to the creation. Ask a sculptor what that slab is going to be, and she will tell you, “I don’t know yet. It hasn’t revealed itself to me.”

That is trial work. All the preparation is just to ensure that you have a full palette with which to create. Let the trial reveal itself. DAs and USAs are asking questions and getting answers, but the infliction in the witness’ voice, the cast of the eyes, the involuntary body movements are what give depth to the testimony. Who cares if the poor bastard has hemorrhoids? He looks uncomfortable in the witness chair, so turn that to undermine his credibility. Such physical unease surely belies a moral unease with his words given under oath. Primary colors are for pussies.

I recall a trial where a cop knew she was looking bad. I had her original report, her previous testimony, and a map. I saved the map, didn’t even show it for the first half of cross. Then I brought it out. She looked at it with disdain, as if it were a prop. I loved that map. I took her step by step through everything she wrote and said. Little tiny itzy bitzy piece by little tiny itzy bitzy piece. I knew before I set her up during the first part of cross that I had her nailed. As the map came out, and I started to pull the threads together of everything she had committed to into this wonderful mosaic, she knew she was looking bad. So bad, in fact, that she began to make stuff up. I smiled sooo big!

I didn’t have to call a recess. I looked at the DA and he did! By the end of the day, the DA had withdrawn the charges and referred the issue of the cop’s testimony to the AG’s Office for a perjury investigation. A week later, the jurisdiction that employed the cop had issued a check to my client for all of my legal fees, including the cost of the map.

My client – who I knew from high school – was clearly guilty. No doubt in anyone’s mind. He walked to recidivate on another day! What a great country! I still have that map somewhere.

I remember a story, a true story, about Abraham Lincoln from his trial days. He represented a railroad in a wrongful death case. He had the night watchman on the stand – a friendly witness. He asked him if he had seen the soon-to-be decedent on the tracks. He agreed that he had seen the man walking towards and then on the tracks. He was asked if he shouted to him. He said that he had shouted to him, but that the noise of the trains cloaked his screams. Did he try to get the man’s attention in any other manner, came the next inquiry. Yes, the night guy said, he waved the lantern to and fro – it was the only other means available. The train was reversing and it was not possible to get the horn to sound in time. It seems the man did not respond to the waving lantern and was promptly made one with the tracks underneath the train. The night watchman’s testimony stood well under cross.

Outside the courtroom, after a verdict for his client, Lincoln was asked about the night guy’s testimony. “It’s a good thing that on cross-examination,” Lincoln said, “that opposing counsel did not ask if the lantern was lit.” Gotta love Abe.

Cross is just the coolest thing. I should read some of Gerry Spence’s books. Good man, great attorney.

Saturday, September 1, 2007


Thoughts run deeply on Saturday mornings. Always have. As soon as I let that first sentence find its home, it drifts back to Nicholson and sometime in high school during the school year. Five days of classes and getting up before seven. The pattern takes hold and I am up early.

Times at home were rarely filled with any semblance of family. It seems that it was all individual relationships. Reva, my maternal grandmother, lived with us since I was in about the 3rd grade. By the time I am picturing, she and I were good friends. We always had an easy relationship. With others, her ties were filled with negative emotions. I could never understand why people would act in such a way. Reva just wanted to exist. She expected little but her tea and toast in the mornings, which she always made herself, and to just sit and talk with whoever made themselves available.

She loved the gossip magazines. Hollywood was her thing. Loved going to the movies. It always made me cringe when her daughter would make a point of telling me that every time she purchased People or the National Enquirer at the grocery store that she made a point of telling the clerk that it wasn’t for herself. Like a grocery store jockey cares? Why on Earth would someone be so concerned about their self-image that they would speak such things to strangers?

I remember Reva aging, and a magnifying glass hovering over the magazines, then large print and a glass, and, finally, no magazines at all. She would sit there for hours. I should have given her a day in which I did whatever she desired, but I never did. Her days became increasingly filled with television. Morning game shows added to her always present evening dramas. Her rocker moved closer and closer to the screen, and the volume increased. I wish she lived in this time with hundreds of channels, big flat-screens, and home theaters – and the audio version of People Magazine. She died ugly and confused.

I don’t want to write anymore.