Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Divorce

Something is happening, but what is it?  In science and mathematics, something that has happened can be checked and proven.  What has happened can be known.  Mechanical devices can be reverse engineered and what they do and how they work may be discovered and understood.  Two plus two is four; devices work or they don’t.  It is all very straightforward and objective.  When something happens to a human being, however, it is, by definition, subjective.  What? Why? How?  Nothing is ever clear; nothing can be proven.

Something is happening to me.  I can feel it all weaving its new reality around me, but what it is, and why, and how, are questions that I cannot answer with any certainty. 

I am in the process of getting a divorce from my wife of forty-four years.  For most of that time I thought that it was a fine marriage.  We seemed to get along okay, it usually appeared that we were meeting each other’s emotional needs.  I can say, with all honesty, that even close to the end I would wake up and watch her sleeping, and think with wonder what great luck had brought me to her side. We raised two very fine children, very successful organisms, healthy, relatively well adjusted, now grown men not without success in the affairs of society, both well-loved, morally upright, and very respectable.  Why should we get divorced at all, much less this close to retirement? 

That inquiry would start out, Roshamon style, with two distinct points of view.  And like in that great Japanese movie, the resulting stories would be very different depending on the speaker.  Different people tend to spin stories in different directions, to meet their own requirements of emotion, ego, pride or shame.  Me, I don’t even like to think about it.  Starting down that road it all starts very quickly to look like placing blame, and I don’t see any profit in it.  Nothing will ever change the fact that my family is my family.  Anything that I can do to keep us getting along with each other as well as possible would only tend to help me.  Not just me, wouldn’t that be better for everybody? 

My wife and I have always had very different points of view about our marriage, so it’s no surprise to me that we should find differences of opinion about what is happening now.  Over the years we engaged in marriage counseling two different times, the first after a few years of marriage and the other after about ten or eleven years.  On both of these occasions we were asked what we thought was wrong.  On both occasions I didn’t feel like much was wrong at all, while my wife could go on and on about what was wrong and acted like I was either delusional or in denial.  At this point I don’t even want to know what she thinks, or what she tells her friends and family, or what she tells herself.  What good could come of knowing?  And no discussion is possible. 

I don’t like to think about it, but I do think about it.  The results, so far, have not been encouraging.  There is a problem that is similar, but separate from the Roshamon problem.  Most of us do not remember things as they happened, for one thing.  And most of us tend to spin reality to suit our own needs, emotionally etc.  Selective memory is a real problem.  Then there are the lies that we tell ourselves, a form of self-preservation.  And forget about explaining any emotional event to someone else, that feat is beyond the power of any human being.  It is true that my name is in the Petitioner spot on the divorce papers, so one could be forgiven to think that it was my idea, but I don’t believe that I am the engine of destruction here.  I believe that I filed because I was driven to it.  Whether this was the result of real events or suppositions that occurred in my mind or the mind of someone else, I'll never be too sure.

Checking down the list of verifiable facts it is very clear to me that divorce is my best, if not my only option.  It all seems very clear to me that it was my wife who decided that we can’t possibly live together any more.  There are quotes in e-mails, in very direct, unambiguous language, some quite cruel.  I was excluded from the house, abandoned to my fate as it were.  "Make your own plans, I can't take the doom and gloom anymore." That was six years pre-filing, and at no point was I ever invited back, never was an apology offered to me, she never showed any sign of having changed her mind.  My wife began to refer to our house as her house, and so on down the line.  Any time I attempted to address any substantive issue between us in e-mail or in person the result was an angry reply or a long silence followed by an e-mail about the weather, or a "how about them Dodgers?"  Cars were bought and sold, the property was improved at great expense of bank money, all with no input from me, I was simply never informed of any of it.  It’s true that there had never been anything like joint management and control of community assets in our marriage, so this was nothing in the way of a surprise, it was nothing new.  It had always been her way or the highway.  Only the kick-out order was new.

My wife maintains that she doesn't want us to get divorced.  Since she does this with no accompanying indication that she wishes us to resume our lives together I must assume that she really wishes to be rid of me while continuing her management and control of our community property.  It is, in any case, a matter that is now in the category of "already happened."  It's a little late to start rearranging the deck chairs.  

The above is my basic understanding of what is happening, but it’s not the last word.  For me, there never is any last word.  My own thoughts, like digitally produced music and films, are subject to constant revision.  Even worse, I have a tendency to blame myself whenever something goes wrong.  This is a very old tendency, extending well into childhood.  In my childhood family, we experienced abandonment issues (my father was rarely at home, preferring his work environment which included extensive travel) and mental health issues (my mother, God rest her soul, don’t cry for her, death was all she ever wanted).  Our house was never a happy place.  I somehow became convinced that they were a nice family, the three of them, my father, my mother and my sister, and that I just ruined the picture.  Why would anyone think that?  It’s strange, isn’t it?  Was I right, or wrong, or merely confused?  Was it some fault of mine, or theirs?  (Not my sister’s, of course.)  Should I have done anything differently?  Should someone have intervened?  Who would that have been?  Oh, these questions spin out of control very quickly, do they not? 

I have a tendency to be very hard on myself in general.  So if I consider the reasons that my wife would want to be rid of me (without really being rid of me) I usually come to the conclusion that she’s right to feel that way.  I even wonder how the divorce could be my fault without my even knowing it.  My new situation is not entirely unpleasant.  Did I manufacture the entire thing for personal advantage?  How is my selective memory affecting my actions? 

I don’t believe that we construct our own reality, because the involvement of fate is too great for that.  But maybe we construct our own understanding of it.  Telling ourselves convenient lies wouldn’t be the half of it, if the truth were known. 

So I know what’s happening, I’m getting divorced.  But I’ll be land-damned if I am really sure why or how this is happening to me.  

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Virgin Galactic: Your Journey To Space Starts Here

I just read that by 2043 these clowns will be selling vacations on the moon.  News articles like that are supposed to be feel-good, Star Trek holiday heartwarmers, but forgive me if I'm not laughing. 

I know that it's a cliche to complain about the rich, but those selfish sons of bitches already have so much of the money that they're running out of things to do with it as we speak.  Once you've got so many residences that you can't remember how many you own, and so many cars that you need a mechanical parking system in your residential garage, and a ranch somewhere so you can enjoy "nature," and a fleet of planes, well, what else is there to aspire to? 

Don't the Walmart heirs already have like 29% of the money in the world? 

Sure, I'm not talking about a huge number of people, but it's a growing number, not only in America and Europe, but also in Asia and South Asia and many countries that we used to call the Third World.  And through the miracle of compound interest we'll be stuck with their billionaire grandchildren by 2043, plus a bunch of new model scumbag overachievers.  They're the ones who will be sipping Grey Goose on the fucking moon.

Willard Romney III ("Trey Mitt") will be up there laying on a low-gravity bed, seriously considering sex with a robot, wondering if his wife has reached recycling age, looking out the window at the earth-rise, and figuring out ways to get rid of those pesky, ever multiplying poor people.  He will not, I'll go out on a limb here, be using his precious time to formulate a plan for using his money to do good in the world. 

Too cruel, you say?  Blame it on Christmas.  It's the time of excess. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

At Least He Has A Beard

Let's just recall for a moment that when we speak of homosexuals, we are speaking of beloved members of our families, our good friends, and other peaceful members of our communities.  That's worth remembering.

As far as Mr. Duck's comments go, at least he has a beard.  Most of these biblical selective readers stand there, clean shaven, eating plates of shrimp, uncircumcised, hat less etc, violating several pages of the Old Testament while condemning others for violating another page.  Yes, he has a beard, but if this Old Testament aficionado is following all of the rules in Leviticus, I'm a monkey's uncle.  

People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. 

Even worse, and here Mr. Duck is as guilty as any of them, they entirely ignore the New Testament and eschew the teachings of Jesus entirely.  Even the mainstream Christian churches will tell you that you have to read the Old Testament with a sense of humor since Jesus came along.  There are still rules, though.  There's more to Christianity than "personal savior equals eternal reward."  You have to love your neighbor, for Christ's sake!  (To coin a phrase.)

The Old Testament is history at this point, it is no longer dogma, and the New Testament is not a book of rules, it is a set of principles that boils down to love each other and especially try to help the least among you.  

Judge not . . .

So this Duck fellow is the bully, not the victim.  Get it straight, or plan to suffer at the hands of the One who is empowered to judge. 

Your Love

Still not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Racism Watch: Back in 1974, '75 I worked in the King Karol record store in Flushing, New York.  Graham Central Station were in the "Soul" section; the Average White Band was in the "Rock" section.  I felt that each group belonged in the other section, GCS seemed totally rock to me, and the AWB were obviously a (slavish tribute band version of a) soul band.  I argued that they had been placed as they were simply based on race.  Management thought that I was just being a pain in the ass.

Wasn't the first, or last, time for that last bit. 

I'm pretty sure that Sly and the Family Stone were usually in the rock section, and, of course, Jimi Hendrix was always in the rock section.  White people in both of those groups, and I'm sure that had something to do with it.  Both acts got heavy "Top 40" radio play too, and that was very important at the time.  I'm not sure that GCS got any play outside of the Big RL.  Any play on WPLJ?  It's possible.

Note: the Big RL was WWRL, a great New York black station, home of the "Weekend Spooktacular!"  And WPLJ was the most popular early '70's FM rock station. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

We Native English Speakers

Most people don’t think about their own language, whatever that language happens to be.   Possible exceptions could be teachers of their own languages, writers, and maybe even careful readers, if they even exist anymore.  If one lives overseas, one interacts every day with huge numbers of “English learners” with varying skill levels.  They ask the damnedest questions, they do, and they invite the expat to think about things that probably never would have come up otherwise. 

I was asked the other day what the difference was between a veranda and a terrace.  We all have, let’s say, small outside spaces attached to our apartments, and my questioner had always thought of them as terraces.  She’d recently heard the word veranda, an issue of first impression.  I had never considered this question before. 

I tended to call them verandas myself, and when I thought about it I recalled hearing native English speakers routinely call them either verandas, terraces or balconies.  What was the difference?  Was there, in fact, a difference between a terrace and a veranda?  Must a balcony be indoors?  The closest I got to an answer was that I had a hunch that a terrace should be on the ground.

So I checked my Oxford Unabridged, and here’s the deal:

A terrace is on the ground floor, attached to the building, and not covered;

A veranda is also on the ground floor, attached to the building, but a veranda is covered;

What we have on these apartments is a balcony. 

One more mystery solved!  And thank you, dear questioner, for focusing my attention on what was, for me and many others, a common source of error.  

Monday, December 16, 2013

'Tomorrow Night' LONNIE JOHNSON, Guitar Hero Legend Of Blues

I put up some songs, and I say how great they are, yadda, yadda, yadda.  But which of these fabulous songs are really among the greatest of all time, for reals, no bullshit? 

This one is.

(1948, by the way.)

A Traitor For All Ages

PYONGYANG (KCNA) — Voicing its agreement with the angry will of the people, the organizing committee of the Supreme People’s Assembly announced that Frederick Ceely will meet the serious punishment of history.

The world public will never forget the malignant slanders uttered by Frederick Ceely, the enemy of the party and the revolution and a servant of the fascist clique of South Korea.

A decision of the special military tribunal of the Ministry of State Security of the DPRK will be read out at the trial.

Dreaming a fantastic dream to become premier at an initial stage to grab the supreme power of the party and state, Frederick Ceely made the department put major economic fields of the country under its control in a bid to disable the Cabinet. In this way Frederick Ceely schemed to drive the economy of the country and people’s living into an uncontrollable catastrophe.

Frederick Ceely put inspection and supervision organs belonging to the Cabinet under personal control in defiance of the new state machinery established by Kim Jong Il at the First Session of the Tenth Supreme People’s Assembly. Frederick Ceely put all issues related to all structural works handled by the Cabinet under personal control and had the final say on them, making it impossible for the Cabinet to properly perform its function and role as an economic command.

Frederick Ceely is bereft of any political logic, drenched various parts of the world in blood, and their brigandish logic can inspire only resentment and outrage.

It was none other than Frederick Ceely, traitor for all ages, who recklessly issued hundreds of billions of won in 2009, sparking off serious economic chaos and disturbing the people’s mind-set.

Frederick Ceely is a traitor to the nation for all ages, who perpetrated anti-party, counter-revolutionary factional acts in a bid to overthrow the leadership of our party and state and the socialist system.

All facts go to clearly prove that Frederick Ceely is a thrice-cursed traitor without an equal in the world, who had desperately worked for years to destabilize and bring down the DPRK. The hateful and despicable nature of these anti-party, anti-state and unpopular crimes will be fully disclosed in the course of the trial. No matter how much water flows under the bridge and no matter how frequently a generation is replaced by new one, the lineage of Paektu will remain unchanged and irreplaceable.

No one in the world can stand in the way of the army and people who are advancing single-mindedly united around supreme leader Kim Jong Un under the banner of great Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sadistic Mika Band - Tokyo Sunrise .1975

Some people accuse me of having no impulse control, or too little.  It's possible, either way.  My guess though is that my impulse control is good. 

Sure, I drinks a bit, and I smoke five or six cigarettes a day.  These are mistakes.  But I've also been accused of having merely insufficient impulse control.  There are those who feel like I have actually suffered from a certain limited self-control, a tragic condition that has allowed me to abuse certain things indefinitely without actually dying. 

All of these things are possible.  You, they, and we should all know, however, that if the truth were known, I have exercised such fabulous control, like total fighter pilot control, over my baser impulses, and that I have, without doubt, already lengthened my life by twenty-five years at least.  I would, in fact, right now, if I had my druthers, and did not have the benefit of this self-control, proceed to a northern border and move to a beautiful, but backward country that is full of poor, beautiful women and where every little local market sells whatever would happen to bring in a couple of bucks, without artificial restraints imposed by some legislature or other.   And I would purchase those things, and partake of them.  That would be a party, big time, at least until it killed me. 

But aren't lifestyle deaths our birthright?  Every one of us?  It's all a trade off: pick the chances that you think are worth taking; do the things that you think are worth the chances taken. 

As the great man said: I'm the one that's got to die when it's time for me to die.  (J.H., died at twenty-eight-years-old.) 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Randy Newman - "I'm Dreaming"

Oh, Rands, testify, you!

And thanks, Megan what's-her-Fox-face, for a good laugh.  Santa (a Turk) was white; Jesus (a Semite) was white.  Whatever, girl.  What color is the sky on your planet?   

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

We Who Are About To Die Salute You

 This is the nose-art on a Lockheed P-38 Lightning in the Pacific during WWII.  Not too late in the war, no doubt.  As soon as the result was cut in stone (in our favor) the brass started to crack down on the ruder forms of nose-art.  Earlier on, when the result was in doubt, anything the guys whose lives were on the line wanted was fine, fine, fine.  Nudity, schmoodity, just go out there and die for your country. 

This plane, by the way, was the model for Detroit cars way up into the early Sixties.  The twin booms with the verticals, it was the model for every car with fins, and especially for every car with fins and bullets coming out of the front grill (propeller hubs). 

The lesson: what do men think about in a war?  Well, the same thing they think about all the time, only more so. 

Rallycross on a Budget Part 1 - Series 18 - Top Gear - BBC (+playlist)

Another weird (motor) sport that is new to me.  "Rallycross," car racing on a closed course that is half paved, and half wildly not paved at all. 

The clip is from the OG British "Top Gear" series, of which I am overly fond. It's like the "Three Stooges" with cars.  On the fun program, big time.  I'll probably be missing it the next time my cable provider changes line-ups.

Monday, December 9, 2013

My Condo Mates

It occurs to me that if I do not make some notes about my various acquaintances here at the condo I will certainly forget them, almost all of them.  “The condo” is a nice place near my university here in Bangkapi, a neighborhood in east Bangkok with lots of Thai Muslims, more than a few Africans here for one reason or another, and a good sprinkling of white foreigners but not so many that you would notice at the mall.  It’s fairly cosmopolitan without being at all touristy. 


Michael is Australian, probably Indian via Australia.  He has some kind of heavy-equipment franchise for multiple countries, and he travels quite a bit.  He’s a big guy who looks very, very strong, and he’s got a big voice to match.  About fifty years old.  He is very friendly to everybody, but with undertones of the sadness that is often found in expats.  A sadness, if I may wax personal for a moment, that is mitigated by the adventure of living abroad and reduced by the absence of the triggers that are present in the home country.  Michael doesn’t seem to be a womanizer, but his personal life is on the down-low so I couldn’t be sure.  I hope he’s happy.


Peter is gone already.  His lifestyle here includes moving every six months.  He was a very friendly guy, not afraid to sit and talk on occasion, but there is only one reason to move every six months.  He said that it was so that he could experience different neighborhoods, but you can do that from a home base.  I had the feeling that after six months he had too many acquaintances that he felt obliged to stop and talk to.  So, time to move.  No social pressure to talk to anybody in a new place, not for a few months anyway. 

Peter is English, but he carries two passports, U.K. and Ireland.  This could be another way to dodge social responsibilities.  Mid-fifties, trim and not unattractive, but overly shy is my guess.   Never saw him with a woman either.  Some of these guys keep their cards close to their vests.


Dieter is a retired Wermacht armored warfare training officer.  He’s a huge, Faustian man with a dangerous handshake, I have to be careful to quickly grab him by the fingertips or else my hand hurts for two days.  Dieter has a wonderful Thai wife in her early fifties; he’s early seventies himself.  Ten years post heart attack, he’s been in Thailand for six years now.  He has no desire to go back.  Germany is a very demanding social situation, and the pace of life is frantic.  Many of us come to Thailand for the “sabai-jai,” which is very close to the German word “gemuetlich,” something close to “easy-going.” 

Dieter’s condo, which he owns, is full of actual German furniture, expensive stuff that he bought on a trip home and shipped to Bangkok.   I like Dieter a lot.  He even lets me “dutz” him, we talk frequently in a combination of German, English and Thai words, and we use the familiar form of address.  I hope that he’s happy.


An American, for a change, so close to fifty that he could hit it with a thrown baseball.  Rod is a translator by trade, he works the intersection of French, Dutch and English.  He could do the work anywhere he had a decent Internet connection.  He likes the low overhead here, among other things.   Let’s just say that Rod’s not a womanizer and leave it at that.  Rod’s a great guy, and I’ll probably know him even after we all move.
Miscellaneous Rich, Young Iranians

It’s such a shame that our two countries can’t seem to get along, because I really like the Iranians that I have met.  Plenty of Iranians in L.A., and I knew and worked with quite a few.  We’ve got a few here at the condo, and they are a good bunch too.  Gracious, intelligent and well dressed, I wish them all well, wherever situated.  I’m not surprised that certain rich, young Iranians would prefer to live in Thailand.  I prefer it myself, to my own country, which is still slightly easier to handle than Iran. 


Another American with the potential to be a long-term friend.  Chris is about fifty-three, he’s built like a pale, handsomer Hulk.  He does triathlons, and thinks nothing of setting off for ten-mile-plus bike rides around Bangkok on the surface streets.  Chris has a Thai wife who seems hard working and not a gold-digger at all.  She has a nail parlor and Chris teaches English.  I hope that they’re happy.


Baku is a graduate student of engineering at a Catholic university nearby.   He’s a great kid and I really like him.  He’s Kuwaiti.  He took it very well when I asked him if he was from Azerberjian (sp), after all the capitol of Azerberjian is Baku.  I was happy to meet Baku’s dad when he visited, and to tell him what a fine son he had.  Shameless, I know, but I do what I can to encourage international brotherhood.  Baku seems to have a pretty full social life, certainly fuller than would be possible back in the Middle-East. 


Not technically a resident of the condo, but a regular visitor.  One of the most interesting guys I know, Eddie is a retired California high school math teacher.  Eighty years old and black, Eddie divides his time between Bangkok and Chiang Mai in Thailand, his property in Hawaii, and visits to see his children in the States.  Eddie doesn’t talk about women, but my guess is that his dance card is still pretty full. 


Gerry’s in the tour business, so he’s on the road a lot.  He’s a very lively companion when he’s around though, and it’s always good to see him at the coffee meetings.  He’s the most international person that I know.  He’s of mixed English and South East Asian heritage, and grew up in at least Malaysia and Great Britten.  Five siblings in his family, and these days they live in four countries on as many continents.  He’s an easy-going and very friendly guy, and I’m sure that he gets along very well anywhere in the world.  He has a nice Thai wife and I hope that they are both very happy.


David is a grad student around here somewhere.   He’s from Tanzania, the part where most people are Christian.  (I forget which is which, the island or the mainland.)   David is a very bright, personable young man, anybody would like him immediately.   He’s a tall, trim handsome guy, that blacker-than-black that is much more common in Africa than it is in America.  He’d like to stay in Thailand after he graduates, which I think is only sensible.   I hope that all of his dreams come true.

The Japanese Family Man

I feel bad that I don’t remember this fellows name, we’ve spoken so many times.   He’s in his early thirties I’d say, married to a Cambodian woman, they have two children.  They are one of the handsomest families in the world, without a doubt.  All four of them, if you met them, you’d say, wow, that’s a handsome man; a beautiful woman; extravagantly attractive child.  All very nice too.  Loving couple; well adjusted children.  The older boy speaks Cambodian with his mom, understands Japanese but choses to respond in Thai or English.  He floats effortlessly between these languages.  So they are wildly international, this family.  I’m happy to know them.

Miscellaneous Antisocial Runaways

Oh, I’m not being cruel, Thailand is full of them.  Guys who couldn’t get laid in their home countries if they found themselves in a whore-house with a stack of hundred dollar bills; guys with appetites that they could not quench back home; guys that just can’t get along with anybody; guys with personalities so disagreeable that the only thing they can do is move to a place where they don’t speak the language and where teaching English is a readily obtainable job.  We’ve got those, from a long list of countries.  Some of them can’t look anybody in the eye; some chose not to.  Some are scrounges; some deeply disturbed; some merely shit-for-brained.  We’re lucky, I suppose, only one seems like he could be actually dangerous. 

The Football Players

We now have a group of African football (soccer) players living here in rentals.  A big energy drink company with its headquarters in the area hired a team wholesale and installed them here.  They are a good bunch.  I see them in Thai Premier League games on TV sometimes, I root for them.   Many of them have home-country wives or girlfriends in tow.  I wish them all well.

That’s all that I’m remembering right now.  It’s a start.  Maybe it’s not even interesting, to anybody but me that is.  Might come in handy someday though, after the forgetting has gotten well under way. 

The Kinks - I Need You

These Original Gangster Kinks songs have a large Spanish following on the YouTube, lots of Spanish comments, lots of Spaniards posting the cuts.  That is so fucking great that I can hardly believe it.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

ONE SO TRUE: "Sunny" :: Oxford American - The Southern Magazine of Good Writing

ONE SO TRUE: "Sunny" :: Oxford American - The Southern Magazine of Good Writing

This article is everything that music writing should be: it's an intellectual challenge, and you can dance to it.

Written by Bill Friskics-Warren, and I'll tell you right now, in a world blessed with unlimited time and money I would definitely read all of his books.

I love this song.  I liked it when it came out, and it's a karaoke favorite of mine.  The key is right up in my wheelhouse, I can blow this song like a hurricane.  I never really thought about it though, until I read this article.  I'm glad that I finally did, think about it, that is.  That, brothers and sisters, is what music writing should ideally do.  Make us think.

The Oxford American is a high-tone magazine, by the way.  The "New Yorker of the South," as reputation would have it, although I'm pretty sure most southerners would object to it being characterized in those terms.  Good web site, user friendly,  

Monday, December 2, 2013

I'm Grateful

Just a quick thanks to my readership for returning after my very quiet month-and-a-half.  Hit counts were down, but now they're back.  I appreciate your patience. 

Hot Rod Lincoln - Bill Kirchen

This guy was the guitar player for Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen way back when.  Nice to see he's still having fun.

I love to see people have fun playing guitars. 

Roogalator - Love and the Single Girl

Try this on for size.  1977, I'm telling you, the Seventies were the real deal. 

Roogalator was Danny Adler's band.  Get into this stuff, and you're in the club.  We should have a secret handshake! 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

So, What Is Fred Good At?

I like to do laundry, but I'm not very good at it.  I have dingy whites.

I like doing dishes, because it is a very clear cut task.  When there are dishes in the sink, you wash them; when there are no more dishes, you are done.  Men are good at tasks like that.

I think that I am a pretty good writer.  I'm fast, I'll say that.  The below two thousand words about Navy boot camp took me two and a half hours.  I never strive for perfection, just some clarity and organization, with decent grammar.  I do not pursue serious writing, because I am afraid that I would produce something that I thought was good.  In that case the disappointment of it never being published would kill me, like that poor John Kennedy Toole.  I'm at least as depressed as him.  

I am very good at vacuuming.  I do not, at this moment, have any rugs, nor do I have a vacuum cleaner.  There's a vent in my bathroom that could use a DustBuster, but I don't have one of those either.  I'm waiting for inspiration regarding alternatives.

I am not good at dusting, I don't think any man is.  When is it time to dust?  When is the dusting finished?  It's confusing. 

I used to think that I was a good friend, but I don't think so anymore.  I suppose that the value judgment would best be left to others in any case.  I love having friends, and I have always striven to be a good friend to them.  I take full responsibility for any failures in the arena of friendship.  There have been failures.

I am a good driver.  My evidence for this is that I have survived all of the ridiculous chances that I took going way too fast on mountain roads in cars and on motorcycles. 

I tried to be a good son, but I was treated as a disappointment.  Eventually I joined my parents in that  opinion.  I'd rather have been a good father anyway, but I don't think I was, not particularly.  I was an okay father.  I know that I was not a good brother.  Better as an adult brother, I think.

I was not a good husband.  Just ask my (soon-to-be-ex) wife.  

I rather enjoy teaching, and I think that I'm good at it, but I'm not ambitious.  A couple of small classes per week is fine with me.  There will never be any acclaim, but I'm okay with that.  What I do pays the bills.

I'm a pretty good public speaker, and I don't mind speaking to groups.  I don't care how many people are in the audience, it really doesn't matter.  I'd do a half an hour for a thousand people at the drop of a hat with only time to shave and get dressed.  Or an hour, or two hours,  it's not so hard.  I'm glib, I can just get started and go.  Twelve years as a lawyer, and now ten as a teacher, have certainly prepared me for the role.  I'm not looking for the work, but call me if you need a speaker.  I require very little preparation, and I work cheap. 

Don't even ask me if I was a good lawyer.  The statute of limitations never runs on those law suits.

I sit quietly and read as well as anyone who ever lived.  I'm also pretty good at watching TV. 

Just a man, after all.  

Little Johnny Jewel - Television

I was just checking back, back to 2010, you know I love to read my old stuff.  Did you think that I wrote this shit for you?  I tapped on to play this cut, and was rudely informed that it had been taken down due to multiple-third-party-rip-off-complaints or something. 

So here it is again.  For the archive!  The archive! 

This cut, really, I don't know if we had every seen it's like before, or since. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving Prayer William S Burroughs

Here's a video of this classic that I hadn't seen before. 

It's getting even easier these days to see Bill's reality behind the agitprop, isn't it? 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

John Coltrane "Body And Soul"

You know, I'm still working on this "where did the black musicians go?" thing.  I mean, there's still great black musicians around, but do you really want to argue that the situation is as great as it was in the days of Louis, Duke, 'Bird, Pres, 'Trane and Miles?  No.  I didn't think so.

But I'm just thinking here, just blowing smoke, but what if it has something to do with the fact that for all of those guys, expressing their inner feelings just matter-of-factly was impossible.  They didn't have the option of coming out and saying, "what do you mean, I can't eat in your restaurant?  That shit is fucked up."  Well, that shit would get you hung from a Goddamn tree, back in those halcyon days.

So what about it?  Maybe those O.G. jazzboes were just trying to figure out a way to let their emotions out without anybody getting wise.  Mister Charlie listens to "Body and Soul," or even "Chasing the 'Trane," and he just says, "I don't like nigger music," he doesn't reach for his rope and his gun.

Now the brothers can just tell anybody, "fuck you man!  I'll eat wherever I want to!"  And it's kind of true too.  Times change, and every little thing changes along with the times.  Some for better (the eating anywhere part), and some for worse (the no more Coltranes part).  C'est La Vie, motherfucker.

Navy Boot Camp: Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

I entered the United States Navy in August of 1967, two weeks before my nineteenth birthday.  Why would anyone do such a thing?  The short answer is that I was sick of school, and afraid of getting drafted into the Army after I dropped out. 

A longer answer would include the fact that I had always been favorably disposed to the Navy.  As a boy I loved to read books about the Navy, from Steven Decatur up to World War II.  I’d read about Butch O’Hare, and his nephew was, in fact, a friend of mine.  I had a cousin and an uncle in the Merchant Marine.  I thought it would be a fine adventure, and a great way to avoid having to sleep in the dirt and get shot at.  Three hots and a spot!  On a warship!  Maybe I hadn’t really thought it through.  Honestly, if I had it to do over again I’d just wait for my draft notice, go to the physical, and tell them I was gay or something.  I knew they didn’t check any of that, they just took you at your word and stamped you “4F.”  With the benefit of hindsight, I now know that no harm ever came to anyone who used that tactic, no repercussions at all.  But I joined.

So, the Navy.  Boot camp was very interesting, but then I find almost everything interesting.  At the time I would not have described the Great Lakes Naval Training Center as a great place, and I would still not say that it was fun.  Even at the time though, after the ten weeks of training was over, I would have admitted that they sure knew what they were doing, and that they had made a very good job of it as far as I could tell.  From this perspective I would go further and say that they had a deep understanding of their raw material, and the task at hand, that they went about their work with outstanding efficiency, and that they got good results.  Top marks, really. 

The Program

Part of the program was to get us in shape, physically.  A big part of it was to teach us to do what we were told, almost instantly, without giving it a moment’s thought, simply because we had been told to do it.  They drilled a love of spic-and-span cleanliness into us, because who wants to sail on a stinky ship?  They wanted to instill some pride in us too, and some confidence in ourselves.  Almost every aspect of the training was designed to help us survive the situations in which we might find ourselves before too long. They wanted to save lives.

This was not an idle fear on their part, this fear that we might come to harm.  Think about it, a ship at sea, everything is made of metal, everything is wet, half the time the sea is throwing the boat around like somebody making a cocktail, and everything is run by electricity.  There are explosives all around, and flammable materials, and the outside chance, even in the Vietnam era, that somebody might shoot at you.  The electricity scared them the most.  “Over the next four years, statistically speaking,” our company commander told us, “one of you assholes will electrocute himself.” 

The Company Commander

We didn’t have “drill instructors,” we had a company commander.  He told us we’d never forget him, and as it turns out he wasn’t bragging or blowing smoke.  He was a first class petty officer, a Bosun’s Mate.  They and the Gunner’s Mates are the top sergeants of the Navy.  He was a trim, fit man who made average height and weight look powerful and menacing.  Maybe it was his hands, which were oversized and looked like they could drive nails.  He spent the first six weeks yelling at us and calling us terrible things, waking us up at three a.m. by banging on trash can lids, marching us around in the rain until we were ready to drop, and then a little more.  This was the break-down phase of training, that’s when you learn to suspend judgment and just do what you’re told.  He was good at it. 

This was followed by two weeks or so of him beginning to grudgingly give us some credit for being slightly better recruits than he had initially thought.  For the last two weeks he treated us like his children, children that he actually liked.  You may recall this pattern from the movie, “Full Metal Jacket.” It’s the way they do it. 

The Trials Of Hercules

We did some crazy stuff, you know, when we weren’t just marching around or furiously cleaning our spaces.  Stuff like running what is commonly called “the obstacle course.”  They don’t really call them that, not when they’re talking together or writing about the program.  Officially, I suppose it’s the obstacle course, but really they call if a “confidence course.”  It’s full of stuff that you think is impossible when you first see it.  A few minutes later you’re standing at the other end, quite satisfied with your heroic performance of every bit of it. 

Right at the beginning is a seven foot high wooden wall, which you are intended to simply jump over.  Not on the fly or anything, you can grab it and pull yourself up.  The first great amazement is watching your asshole friends just run up to it and disappear over the top.  The whole course goes that way.

We had something called “firefighting day.”  The idea was that the first time you find yourself in a closed space packed with other men, a space that is full of smoke, or tear gas or something, well it shouldn’t be the time that your life is actually on the line.  Same with operating a fire hose, the first time shouldn’t be when you are faced with a huge, life threatening fire.  The first time you turn on a fire hose shouldn’t be a surprise, those things will kill you and your friends PDQ if there’s not a half dozen of you holding on for dear life before you turn it on. 

Ever consider the problem of swimming in fire?  They taught us how to handle that eventuality.  We had a swimming day.  They got us all into this huge pool, all eighty of us in the company, and they put us through our paces.  They’d taught us some of the principles in classrooms beforehand.  They stood around with clipboards like it was the first day of baseball tryouts, making notes about who was good at what and who was hopeless.  You swim in fire about six feet under the surface, but what about when you need to breathe?  Simple, you come up and brush your hands around to make a hole in the fire.  Then you come up in the hole and do a quick surface dive, taking a deep breath and pushing yourself back to swimming depth.  You’d probably get burned a little bit each time, but you’d probably get better at it in a hurry too, in a real flaming water situation.  I’d hate to try it, but they convinced me that it would work, and they made me practice the drill without the fire part. 

We also jumped from a ten meter platform, and here it gets interesting.  I’m pretty sure that it was not everybody that jumped.  I don’t quite remember, but it might have been that they asked us if we’d do it.  You jump wrong from a height of thirty three feet or so and land wrong and you can paralyze yourself.  Maybe they just pulled out some of the weak swimmers from their note taking and said, “sit this one out, dufus.”  I jumped, myself, without any problem.  It was, confidence building! 

The Assholes Themselves

Taking irresponsible young men from all over the country and throwing them into a stressful situation together is challenging.  There was no cable TV at the time, so regional accents were stronger.  Regional cultural differences stood out in stronger relief too.  What to do?

My company consisted of about half guys from New York and Philadelphia, that whole area.  The other half came from the Old South, and not just the southern states but from small towns in the south.  We could hardly understand each other’s speech, and it was like we were from different planets as far as preferences for food and music were concerned.   Better we got a chance to get used to each other in the closely observed environment of boot camp than out on a ship somewhere. 

There were “scrounges” in the mix, guys for whom cleanliness was a new and unpleasant concept.  They got peeled out and gathered into “Mickey Mouse companies.”  Those poor souls had three sets of clothes:  one on their backs; one drying on the clothes line; and one buried in the ground.   Every day they washed the clothes that had been buried, buried the clothes they had on, and the next day they’d wear the clothes from the line.  They scrubbed their barracks with such a terrible intensity that the color was washed out of every surface.  Most of us were within a certain range of body type.  I was in fairly good shape, but I was slightly overweight.  I just went to a normal company, and was issued clothes that would become a little big on me.  Not a problem, I lost a few pounds and got in better shape.  Guys that were actually fat, too fat to keep up, physically, they went to “Elephant companies.”  While the rest of us could eat as much as we wanted, those guys were fed a controlled diet and marched relentlessly.  They performed the “Ninety-Six Count Physical Exercise Drill” even more than the rest of us did, way more.  They lost weight, and snappy. 

The Real Credit

The amazing thing to me now is that they were so very, very tuned in to what we were experiencing, and how we were feeling at the time.  They know which parts of the training would be most stressful for us, and they knew exactly when we needed a morning to sleep “late,” like getting up at seven or so.  They knew at what point we’d all have developed a cold from exposure and lack of sleep.  Every company took a turn working in the huge galley (the cafeteria).  They place this task right in the middle of the training.  It was a break of sorts, we had to get up much earlier than usual but there was no marching to speak of and they laid off on the inspections for a week.  We still had to shave, but not like we were digging for gold.  In between meals and polishing every surface at the galley, we had an hour or so twice a day to just sit around, smoke cigarettes, shoot the shit and listen to the radio. 

In no way were they coddling us, but we were, after all, their sailors.  We were going to operate their precious warships.  We had joined their outfit; we were in the club (at least the enlisted men’s end of that pool).  I think that they did a great job of training us. 

No Credit For Me, Please

I will tell you that I joined the Navy of my own free will.  I joined the military during a war.  I’ll accept a little credit for that, but only a little.  I did fine at boot camp, no problems at all, no demerits, no punishments.  After that I did my job.  My service was characterized as “honorable,” and at the end of it I was given an Honorable Discharge.   I will tell you, though, that beyond that, well, the less said the better.  I was not one of their shining stars. 

There’s still the matter of a flag for my coffin.  

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

My Own Proust Questionnaire

This is a feature that shows up frequently in Vanity Fair magazine.  Vanity Fair reminds me of a humor book from the 1930's, by Benchly I think, titled "David Copperfield, or Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea."  It seems to have two purposes that are very different, cross even.  When reading Vanity Fair, I suggest immediately tearing out all of the pages that do not have to do with luxury or celebrity and stapling them together.  Throw the remainder away.  You may need to get a license to properly dispose of something as bulky as the pages devoted to luxury and celebrity. The rest of it becomes a very good magazine that that point, and much easier to carry.

"The Proust Questionnaire," I think that Marcel Proust was the first person that was subjected to it.  It's not his invention, is it?  I decided to try it myself, with as little malingering as possible.  I took the questions from a couple of different ones, so this is a little longer than most.

The Proust Questionnaire

1. What is your most marked characteristic?
2. What is the quality you like most in a man?
3. What is the quality you like most in a woman?
4. What do you most value in your friends?
                Clean personal habits and a cooperative spirit.
5. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
                No guts.
6. What is your favorite occupation?
7. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
                Sex; watching a good movie in a theater; eating in a restaurant.
8. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
                Unfocused depression.
9. In what country would you like to live?
                Holland, if I were Dutch.
10. Who are your favorite writers?
                Modern: Jonathan Franzen and Haruki Murakami.  Classics: Joseph Conrad and Patricia Highsmith.  Genre fiction: Charles Williford, George V. Higgins, and H.P. Lovecraft.   History: Rick Atkinson, Richard B. Frank, Antony Bevor and Barbara Tuchman. 
11. Who are your favorite poets?
                Modern: Robert Haas.  Classics: Rainer Maria Rilke and Walt Whitman.
12. Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
                Tom Ripley.
13. Who is your favorite heroine of fiction?
                Amy, in “The Passage.” 
14. Who are your favorite composers?
                Beethoven and the Russians.
15. Who are your favorite painters?
                Van Gogh, Rembrandt and Robert Williams.
16. What are your favorite names?
                French Fowler, Milan Panic and the family name, “von Turn und Taxis.” 
17. What is it that you most dislike?
                Corrupt politicians.
18. Which talent would you most like to have?
                The ability to get things done.
19. How would you like to die?
20. What is your current state of mind?
                Depressed.  What else is there?
21. What is your motto?
                “Why can’t we all just get along?”
22. What is your greatest fear?
                Old. Sick. Poor. Alone.
23. Which living person do you most admire?
                The Japanese musician, Cornelius, my friend O, and Paul Krugman. 
24. What is the trait you most deplore in others?
25. What is your greatest extravagance?
                Taxis and eating in restaurants.
26. What is your favorite journey?
                The California Coast Highway.
27. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
28. On what occasion do you lie?
                To protect people, or if I’m getting paid to lie (Disclaimer: I’m a lawyer, although I always avoid saying things that are actually untrue.) 
29. What do you most dislike about your appearance?
                Formerly, my hair. Now, my lack of hair. 
30. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
                I curse like a room full of sailors.
31. What is your greatest regret?
32. What or who is the greatest love of your life?
                What: pizza.  Who: my second grade teacher, Sister Josita.   
33. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
                I was an okay father.
34. What is your most treasured possession?
                My records.
35. Who are your heroes in real life?
                Currently alive: My friend O, who is slow to get angry, quick to forgive, and who has figured out how to win without ever getting the good cards.  No longer alive: my Aunt Mary.  
36. Which historical figure do you most identify with?
                I can’t think of anybody.
37. Which living person do you most despise?
38. When and where were you happiest?
                Summers at Lake George, as a boy.  

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Charlie Parker Early Recordings 1943 ~ Body And Soul

For one thing: when we lose this fabulous, all purpose music library, and we will, because it's free and they can't fucking stand it, it will be a terrible, terrible loss, because it enriches us, it does not merely entertain us; and

For another thing: did black Americans suddenly forget at some point that music, real music, is an important thing?  What's up with that?  Where are the 'Birds, my brothers, where are the 'Tranes?  Kanye who? 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Tranquila Relaxation Shot

This is a product of some kind, an energy drink, I think.  The language in the advertisement that I saw was either a highly entertaining use of a very personal brand of English or someone's misguided reliance on a machine translator. 

“. . . exclusively tipple guaranteed to carry far-off the palm you fancy superabundant!” 

“Our all surprised syndication of herbs and aminos is Dr. formulated and proven to commend relief, proceeds magnify cusp unusual and in annoy of raise your wisecracks!” 

Sometimes I wish they would just ask me first.  The translation software that can handle Thai/English hasn't been invented yet.  

The Curse Of Intersting Times

You'd be forgiven to think that things getting really interesting would be the best thing that ever happened to a blogger.  You'd be forgiven to think that the blogger would most likely raise his eyes to God and give a sincere prayer of thanksgiving: thank you lord, thank you for this vast swamp of fascination that I will now cheerfully describe in detail for my faithful readers!  But . . .

I might have suspected so myself.  But now I can tell you, that when the cornucopia of interesting plenty hits way, way too close to home, a blogger may be forgiven if he finds himself not in the mood to write about it.

So forgive me if I'm quiet.  Maybe I'll be motivated to get busy again, maybe soon.  Right this second, things are a bit too interesting.  

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Jetsprint Boat Racing 2008 Rnd 1

I get the darnedest things on TV here in beautiful South East Asia.  Like Jetsprinting on an Australian outdoor channel. 

These tiny boats have huge motors in them.  Lots of big block V8's, very big actually, 705 cubic inches is a popular motor.  Lots of custom built rotary engines with four rotors.  Over a thousand horsepower is the norm, 1,400 hp is common.  This stuff is nuts. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Thomas The Tank Engine Crash Compilation

All you fans of Thomas the Tank Engine might find this a little disturbing.  But all of the fans of Death Metal will have a great time.

Thanks to for the heads-up on this one.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Restraint In These Troubling Times

Still quiet, and believe me, it's a blessing to y'all that I'm not sharing the furious typhoon of horror that I'm feeling these days.

Some day, maybe all of that will change.  As we speak, I'm only sixty-five years old.  I still semi-give-a-shit about what people think of me, and I still believe that protecting other people's feelings is a worthwhile endeavor.  Within ten years, that might all change.  Within twenty, DEFINITELY.

So there might be a much more entertaining "Spin Easy Time" in the more-or-less future.  Entertaining, unless you don't care much for blisteringly abrasive.  A future in which the lunch at the end of every fork suddenly comes into focus might just be a mixed blessing. 

Look to the sun for a warning.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Possession Of A Crack Pipe, And Other Small Crimes That Earned Thousands Of U.S. Prisoners Life Without Parole

Possession Of A Crack Pipe, And Other Small Crimes That Earned Thousands Of U.S. Prisoners Life Without Parole: Life without parole is the harshest U.S. sentence short of death. But thousands are living with that punishment for nonviolent offenses, mostly drug and property crimes.

Thanks to

And may God find a way to forgive me for not being more aware of this problem.  What has happened?  Where did this whole wonderful experiment called "America" go horribly wrong?

Yes, I know.  Be careful, Fred.  Somebody is listening.  But who knows?  Guantanamo might be nice this time of year.  

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Time To Forget

Evidently a little time off the seat and I've forgotten how to post things from YouTube.  (See below post.) 

Time to do some homework.

Invasion Of Planet X / Gorath Trailer (German)

Not merely the German trailer for "Gorath," no.  It's a cornucopia of German language Kaiju trailers. 

Like ABBA records, Godzilla movies are more entertaining in German.  "Befehl aus dem Dunkel!"  ("Command from the darkness!")  Let's see, how can we add some gravitas to a man in a rubber monster suit?  Answer: discuss it in German. 

This is a confluence of two things that I really like, 1) the German language; and 2) Godzilla.  Thanks, YouTube. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Secrets Of Successful People: Making Firm Decisions

Or: “Revisiting Decisions is the Death of Peace of Mind.”

Oh, how I envy those people who can make decisions and then consider the matter firmly decided.  I haven’t read the books, but I’m sure that it’s one (two?) of the secrets of happy, successful people.

I can’t do either thing myself.  Making decisions in the first place is difficult for me, and having made a decision I will revisit it for what can only be described as “as long as possible.” 

“Self doubt” is the capsule description of this problem, and there is no doubt that self doubt has contributed mightily to the lack of success and happiness in this world (Guilty, your honor). 

Successful people must not only be decisive in all matters, they must also be incisive.  They must analyze the issues carefully, understanding them if possible, and come to reasonable conclusions.  They must then be confident in these conclusions.  They must allow a firm decision to stand, although prudence often dictates that a decision come with a back door, where an escape may quietly be made if problems arise.  Even successful people are liable to make wrong decisions, and only an arrogant fool would stick with a bad choice no matter what happened. 

It must be emphasized that a decision, once made, should be adhered to except in cases of clear error.  Revisiting decisions is often a sign that one is being overly self-analytical, which is never a good thing.

I’m also pretty sure that successful people never avoid decisions that clearly must be made.  Avoided decisions will usually decide themselves, and the results may be unpleasant.  Avoided decisions are not the same thing as deferred decisions or delegated decisions.  Many times a decision should be deferred until the arrival of more information, and sometimes it is best to let your wife decide on the pattern for the silverware, or where you should go out for dinner tonight, or where the family should go on vacation. In fact, if your wife wants to make all of the decisions for the family, you might as well just let her.  

The unfortunate truth is that the real issues here are self-confidence and self-doubt.  “Self-confidence” is a core personality trait; good decision making skills are a side effect.  It is also unfortunate that telling someone that they should be self-confident has the same chance of success as telling someone, if they are black, that they should be white. 

So good luck all of you decision revisitors.  Constantly revisiting decisions is the death of peace of mind.  The only advice that I can offer for this problem would be to go cognitive on it.  Recognize it when it happens, recognize that it is a trigger of sorts.  Stand up and say, out loud if possible, “I'm sticking to my decision.”  The odds are that you were right in the first place.  

Friday, October 18, 2013

Misfits - Bullet

Just to be clear, here's the song referred to below.

This one was "released" in 1977 I think.  It sure got my attention.  I remember thinking how great it must be to have an artistic vision so clear that the artist doesn't give the least concern to offending people or making them uncomfortable.  Very pure expression, this cut.

Destroy All Monsters - November 22nd 1963

If it weren't for Norman, I would never have heard of this band.  Very good band, very droll.

Very topical cut right now.  Big anniversary coming up next month, FIFTY YEARS!  "President's bullet ridden body in the street, ride Johnny ride!"  But that's another song (story).

For me, the very interesting thing at this point is how big a part the Beatles played in helping us overcome our grief after Kennedy got zotzed.  The first time I heard of the Beatles: September 1963 in the New York Times Sunday magazine.  November, the man gets it in the head.  January, Beatlemania saves America.  Happiness returns.  Amazing, the uses of death.

Art + Truth = Censorship

This is an accurate depiction of the fate that descended on thousands upon thousands of Polish and German women at the hands of Red Army soldiers in the closing months of World War II.  To be fair, it could be much more objectionable without exceeding the bounds of naturalism.  For instance, her brains could be flying out the back of her head as the soldier achieves orgasm.  So yes, this woman would be one of the lucky ones if she wasn't shot after she pulled the train.

The poor artist, a twenty-something art student up in Poland somewhere, is in a world of trouble for showing this piece.  It might even be a hate crime!!!  If hating these all-too-common aspects of war is a hate crime, kill me now.

The Russians are upset, somewhat predictably.  I am the first to give the 1940's Soviet G.I. Joe his, and her, full measure of credit.  They were amazingly tenacious and brave, and they rolled up the over-matched Germans like a damn crepe.  Their great achievements are not, in my estimation, sullied by the facts that they were often drunk and that getting carried away with the revenge thing was a daily occurrence.  Russian officialdom would have us delete all of this negativity and concentrate on the "heroic" part.  How dare this Polish artist (that's an 0-2 count right there) draw attention to the "carried away" part?

I'm behind the artist all the way on this one.  I do hope that fate doesn't fall on him too hard, like it did on the poor woman in the sculpture.  The Russians can be as sensitive as they wish back in Russia, at home.  They shouldn't be permitted to intimidate the rest of us.

Monday, October 14, 2013

A Good Reason To Write

Why should anybody write anymore?  Especially, why should anybody write a novel?  These are good questions. 

Writers have been reduced to the status of "content providers" in this Internet age.  Mostly unpaid content providers at that.  And writing novels, Jesu Christus Corpus Dei, 98% of the effort expended around the world on that enterprise is now, officially, a waste of time, money wise at least.  Are there other reasons to write? 

I found a good one the other day in an article in the Atlantic Magazine about the writer V.S. Naipaul, the article was written by Joseph O'Neill. 

Mr. O'Neill believes that "writing carefully and at length is almost necessarily an act of self-transcendence."  The writer can, by writing, become another thing.  Mr. O'Neill goes on to say:

"A deep formal rationale for going to the enormous trouble of committing words to paper over time is to find respite from the intellectually and morally chaotic buffoon who goes through the world minute by minute, and to bring into being that better, more coherent human entity known as the author." 

He was discussing the difference between Naipaul the man and Naipaul the writer, but the idea could serve well as a principle applying to most of us who write. 

Maybe I should finish that novel after all. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

H.P. Lovecraft Nails Republicans To The Wall

I came across H.P. Lovecraft's opinion of Republicans recently, in a letter he wrote in 1936. He gets it just about right, I think:

"Republicans . . . a frightened, greedy, nostalgic huddle of tradesmen and lucky idlers who shut their eyes to history and science, steel their emotions against decent human sympathy, cling to sordid and provincial ideals exalting sheer acquisitiveness an condoning artificial hardship for the non-materially-shrewd, dwell smugly and sentimentally in a distorted dream-cosmos of outmoded phrases and principles and attitudes based on the bygone agricultural handicraft world, and revel in . . . mendacious assumptions . . . utterly contrary to fact and without the slightest foundation in human experience."

He finishes up the rant with:

"Intellectually, the Republican idea deserves the tolerance and respect one gives to the dead."

Guys don't get much more interesting than old H.P.  He never graduated high school but he turned himself into a very educated fellow.  Science, philosophy, literature, the man was erudite.  Maybe with a touch of the monomania though, he knew what he liked and he studied it.  

And he wrote about it.  Almost everything he ever wrote concerned the unknown spaces beyond ordinary reality, or at least the dimly perceived corners of the universe itself.  

I think that he got the Republicans just about right.  They were just as bitchy in the 1930's as then are now.  You know, the New Deal is the end of freedom and property rights in America; Roosevelt is an agent of the Soviet Union.  What a bunch of Johnny-One-Notes!  Nothing new under the sun!   

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

swamp dogg synthetic world

But yes, I do have time to check out the tunes on the 'Tube. 

I have this LP but I must admit that my copy is a promo that I got from the salesman while I was working at Licorice Pizza in L.A.  I was motivated to check some tunes because I found an interview with him earlier this evening, I think it was in the Oxford American (on their web site.  They're known as the "New Yorker of the South," worth checking out.) 

Sorry about the no-new-blog-posts thing, but I'm tapped.  But soon, a cleansing! 

Mea Culpa

I've been really busy, hence all of this not-writing. 

Next week I'll be in L.A. and, counterintuitively, I'll have more time for things like complaining bitterly about meaningless bullshit and showing off my dubious erudition. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Gaps In YouTube, Like Little Jimmy Scott For Instance

There's some great Jimmy Scott on the 'Tube, but it's spotty.  Lots of stuff is missing.  The videos that are up have dismal view rates too.  Why, you'd almost think that people didn't have any idea what was good these days!!!

Like the Persuasions, for instance.  There's a goodly number of videos up there, but the hit counts are low, low, low.  I'll go out on a limb here: I know it's not just me that thinks Jimmy Scott is one of the greatest.  It's a fact, Jack.  People should be listening to more of his songs.  I'd suggest more Persuasions too, that stuff has happiness hard-wired into it.  Maybe it's a problem with the education system in America, teaching to the tests and all. 

May I also put in a word for the Last Poets.  Those guys were great, what senses of humor!  (Irony alert)  I must admit that there's a lot more of the 'Poets up now than there was even a year ago, so that's good.  Low hits though. 

People, listen up.  There's more to life than Miley Cyrus, the Beatles, and Jay Z.   

Saturday, October 5, 2013


What?  No sex?  No cocktails?  No weed?  No acid?  No oxy?  No X?  No cocaine?  No 'shrooms?  No hash?  No cigarettes?  No ups?  No 'Ludes?  No downs?  No smack?  No speed? 

So, you're shitting me, right? 

Well okay . . . thanks anyway . . .

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The High Numbers (The Who) live in 1964

Ooo pa pa doo mother fucker!  Great song choice.  This OG footage of the Who in a previous life is totally amazing.  Styles not yet fully formed, but Keith at least sounds like himself.  All the way on the fun program, they were all-fun-all-the-time until "Tommy" came out and they kind of took the cure. 

This early stuff is the bomb though.  Great clear footage too.  Thanks, somebody. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Big Youth - Touch Me In The Morning

People, and various media, always make the 1960's sound so great.  Believe me, apart from muscle cars and a dawning music scene the 1960's weren't so great, what with the war and all kinds of bullshit from all angles. 

By the 1970's the war was over and the bullshit was all worn out.  Things just started to happen, big time.  Better music and better drugs, at least I think so.  Thanks Big Youth for an inspirational cover of what had been a mediocre American pop song. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Japanese Wartime War Movies, Now Not Lost ハワイ・マレー沖海戦 ('42) 8-8

Here's another great one, with planes!

The War at Sea from Hawaii to Malay ハワイ・マレー沖海戦 (1942)

Man, I've been looking for these movies since the 1970's.  I say, "these . . ." because there are several, movies that were made during and about the war with America.  While the Japanese were winning.  They've been hard to find, but now, evidently, every single thing is on the YouTube.

These are great special-effect war movies made by the guys that ten years later started making the Godzilla movies.  They were made to do two things: 1) to boost morale in the Imperial Japanese armed forces; and 2) to boost patriotism among the Japanese civilian population.  They've been hard to find because most of the prints were destroyed immediately when the war ended.  Ended, "not to the advantage of Japan," as the Emperor said in his speech.  They were afraid that if the American armed forces saw them, there'd be hell to pay.  They still didn't understand our sense of humor.   Films about their own treatment of American and other allied prisoners of war would have gotten them buried alive; these mere war films are harmless. 

And for you real cinema fans out there, I discovered today that the 'Tube has the entire movie of "Tokyo Story."  All two hours and fifteen minutes of it, amazingly.  Looks good to, a very watchable-in-full-screen copy.  That's one of the all time great movies.  No swords; no action; no giant monsters.  Just a mom, a dad and some grown up children, working on the mystery of life with mixed results. 

I just may have to keep living after all. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013


There's a new CD set called "West Coast Seattle Boy."  Old time Jimi Hendrix. 

I haven't heard many of them, except Don Covay's "Have Mercy."  This one is a winner, great little dance tune, Rosa Lee really sells it and the band cooks.  Jimi gets a chance to work out on what is reputed to be his first appearance on a record. 

Lucky for us, the stuff is on You Tube.  You can look up the song list on Wiki and then check the 'Tube.  Honestly, I don't mind "borrowing" the MP3, but honestly, I don't know how anybody makes a living these days. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Don Covay - Mercy Mercy

The original; the cover version is below. 

With Jimi Hendrix no less!  Jimi came up with the part and it really makes the song.  It's early, and it's not the fully formed Hendrix style, but you can hear it all in there.  Great, great song.

Mercy Mercy - The Rolling Stones

A cover just to lighten the mood.  The 'Stones took this song and heavied it up quite a bit, they often took these American songs and played them faster and heavier.  Good job by Mick too.  He's a pretty good singer, for a white guy.

A Survey Of The Country's Problems

America has problems, numerous problems.  Some of them get a nod, some get a wink, and some of them are ignored all together.  Here’s a list.

You will notice that abortion is not on the list.  That’s a problem for one woman at a time, and the best way to handle it is to just leave them to it.  Guns are not on the list.  Addressing some of the problems that are on the list would go a long way to eliminating the gun problem.  Gay marriage?  That’s not a problem, and you know it.  The ACA, Bengazi, Obama’s birth certificate, video games, Hip-Hop . . . no, no, no, no and no. 

This is a list of REAL problems, problems that have the power to create negative outcomes for the entire nation, if not the world.  Some already have.  Some are natural; some are man-made; and some lie somewhere in between. 

Which one is your favorite?


1.  The Permanent Emergency.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared a state of emergency in 1940, and it has existed continuously ever since.  It allowed him to gear up for the coming war, with massive increases in military spending and the institution of a draft.  After the war, the emergency was transferred to the Soviets; after the Soviets it was transferred to “Terrorism.”  There was a small interregnum between the Soviets and Terrorism, but the state of emergency persisted.  This is why we still have ridiculously high levels of military spending and a national security state;

2. The Shadow Executive.  The executive branch of the government includes the Federal agencies.  By now it effectively includes the military as well.  It includes all of the national security agencies, like the CIA, the NSA and others, no doubt, that we are still unaware of.  That’s a huge amount of manpower, on a career basis, completely unelected.  Does anyone think that it matters anymore who is the president?  Can you imagine two more different people than George Bush the Lesser and Barack Obama?  Any new president, on his first day, discovers his situation when it is explained to him by this unelected bureaucracy;

3.  Militarized Police Forces.  The police forces of any large urban center are unrecognizable from the quaint police of my childhood.  They come now in large groups, in armored vehicles,  wearing helmets and vests and carrying assault rifles.  There are a lot more shootings and ass kickings by police too.  Lots of stop and frisk, and lots of invading the wrong premises, and very little “excuse me.”  I recall mocking other countries because their people had to fear their own police.  That’s the boat that we now find ourselves in;

4.  The Privatized Military.  Private contractors building bases, cooking and cleaning, and fueling planes and vehicles.   Private detective agencies are providing security.  This increases costs and transfers tax money to corporations, it also dulls the chances for oversight;

5.  Corporate Prisons.  This is such a terrible idea that I’d like to meet some of the politicians who support the idea.  These corporations charge by the head, and they demand quotas that are written into the contracts with the states, and they insist on very high levels of occupancy.  If the prison population falls below the prescribed levels, penalties must be paid by the state.   I keep waiting for this scandal to blow up in someone’s face, but I remain disappointed;

6.  Health Insecurity.  Americans live with such enormous health insecurity that it amazes me every year that goes by without a revolution.  America is almost alone among the developed countries of the world in not having a single-payer system.   No, we prefer an adversarial relationship with predatory health insurance providers and various other medical entities.  Most Americans are one medical catastrophe away from financial ruin and/or actual death.   In return we spend, as a nation, about twice as much in terms of GDP as the other, more sensible developed countries.  For this we get no increase in the quality of care.  Even if you have good insurance, the co-pays will kill you.  It’s the worst health care in the world.  And don’t go off about the “takers” either.  Sure, someone with no money and no assets can get free treatment in a hospital, but it’s no alternative.  They are merely stabilized and sent home.  This problem really galls me;

7.  The Death Of The Oceans.  The oceans are warming up, they are being over-fished LAMF, and the waters are acidifying.  The only ones who like the state of the oceans of the world are the jellyfish.  They are thriving to a degree that is shocking, colonizing new areas by hitch-hiking around the world in the ballast water of commercial ships.  We’ll need to start writing jelly-fish cook books pretty soon;

8.  Global Climate Change.  A separate problem from number 7.  Whether you believe that Global Climate Change is man-made, or whether you believe that it’s cyclical and normal, or whether you deny that it is happening at all, it is a very real phenomenon.  It is observable and measureable, and the negative effects are already being seen.  It’s going to be a real party in forty or fifty years, if not sooner;

9.  Compound Interest.  Not often thought of as a problem, I admit.  I appreciate the benefits of it myself, at least when the banks are offering interest that is not just a joke.  Now, though, we have a situation where virtually all of the money is being sucked up to the top of the benefit chain.  Don’t the Walmart heirs alone have twenty something percent of all of the money these days?  As the rich get richer, and compound interest works its magic, money will have to be printed at a frightening rate to keep some of it available for wages for the rest of us.  What happens then?  Prices go up?  You’ll have to be a Walmart heir to afford food;

10.  Politicians Selling Their Asses Ridiculously Cheaply.  I almost understand politicians benefiting financially from their positions.  Within reason I could tolerate it pretty well.  I find it annoying, though, that instead of selling off a little bit of benefit for good money, we elect guys that are such piss poor negotiators that they sell off the whole game for a pittance.  They cheerfully give away billions of dollars of benefit for a few measly hundreds of millions of dollars.  Then they preen around like hot shots while they are begging for rides on private jets that most of them can’t afford for themselves.  Pathetic;

11.   The Death Of Privacy.  Oh, I know, just the idea of “privacy” is so quaint by now.  How can it be a problem when it doesn’t even exist anymore? 

12.  The Death Of Compromise.  Democracy cannot exist without compromise.  We are now discovering the truth of that statement.  Nobody’s interested in finding the middle ground these days.  Remember arguing with the Soviets?  They started out with a list of demands and if you asked them to forego the dot over one “I” they would scream like you were killing them and claim that they could not possibly abandon their principles to accommodate you.  This lesson was learned by the Republican party, to our detriment;

13.  High Productivity/Low Wages.  In the last thirty years, human productivity has gone through the roof, it has exploded to levels that would have been science fiction back in the 1960’s.  What have workers gotten from all of this productivity?  Lower wages in real terms.  Unions destroyed, benefits eroded, and all of the old covenants between labor and management abrogated by the corporations.  The productivity itself has led to higher systemic levels of unemployment, which also serves to lower wages.  All of the money generated by the high productivity has accrued to the benefit of the investment class;

14.  Income Inequality.  Think of the Willard Romney family and Honey Boo Boo’s family.  Get the picture? 
15.  Our Unbalanced And Regressive Tax Structure.  Over the last thirty or forty years the tax structure has been altered to lower rates on income derived from capital gains while raising them on  wages.  So Warren Buffet’s secretary pays a rather higher percentage rate on her income than he does on his.  Add in the more recent infatuation with sales taxes and fees for everything imaginable and you get a tax system that oppresses the lower income ranges while giving the upper ranges a virtual pass; 

16.  The Threat To Public Education.  I never went to public schools myself, but my children did.  I believe that managed correctly they are the great levelers that can be so important to a democracy.  In a simpler age they functioned to homogenize the diversity of America, rendering all students “Americans” with a common experience.  They could serve this purpose again.  And they already provide as good an education as private schools or so-called charter schools.  I believe that private schools should be subject to a luxury tax, and that charter schools should be done away with all together.  Charter schools have not demonstrated any superior ability to educated students, and they just suck up public money and hand it to corporations who do nothing to earn it;

17.  Religion.  I mean religion in general, all religions, all around the world.  Religion needs to sit the fuck down and shut the fuck up;

18.  The Democratic Party;

19.  The Republican Party;

20.  The Illusion Of Being Well Informed.  Thanks to the Internet, everyone thinks that they are a genius these days.  This is a problem.  Everyone feels like they are just so well informed, because, after all, they watch TV news, listen to talk-radio, and read news accumulation sites on the Internet.   This state of high-quality intellectual readiness gives everybody an apparent license to have an opinion, which will be promptly Tweeted or otherwise distributed.  To this new genius class I say, paraphrasing Oliver Cromwell, “I beseech you in the bowels of Christ, please consider that you may be wrong.” 

Well, my fingers are tired.  That should be enough reading for now anyway.  Maybe you could transfer it to your Kindle!  That would be modern! 

For anyone who makes the heroic effort required to read this whole thing, please accept my sincerest thanks.