Monday, June 30, 2008

Survivors

Not Survivor the reality show. Not Survivor the 80's rock band.


Survivors.


Survivors was a low-tek Sci Fi show broadcast by the BBC in the mid 70’s. It ran for 3 seasons, or series, as they refer to them. It starred one of my favorite actresses, Carolyn Seymour, at least for a while. The show revolved around 3 characters, Abby Grant, Jenny Richards and Greg Preston. At the end of Series 2, Abby leaves to find her son Peter. Taking her place is Charles Vaughan, who was featured in an episode of Series 1. Greg leaves at the end of Season 2. You didn’t want to get too attached to any one character.

The setting is present day (mid-1970s) England. The only clue to the flash point is seen in the opening credits, where we see a Chinese scientist dropping a flask of liquid. From there, we see planes taking off and landing while the background shows his passport being stamped at various major metropolitan airports throughout the world. We then see people collapsing to the ground wherever he goes. In a very short period of time, 95% of the world’s population is dead.

The show opens with Abby at her home, playing tennis. She gets a call from her son who is away at school. She is set to pick up her husband at the train station later in the day. Jenny is at her flat, contemplating staying home to care for her roommate, who has severe cold/flu symptoms. Jenny has a boyfriend who is a doctor at the local hospital. She is surprised to see it is overflowing with patients. Jenny wants her boyfriend to stop by and take a look at her roommate when he gets off work. He cautions her to leave town immediately. That this is more than just a cold or flu outbreak. The dead will soon outnumber the living and reports are that this has broken out across the globe.

During this time, Abby meets her physician on the road and he tells her that he’d like to stop by in the evening to inoculate her and her husband. The phones and electricity go out. The doctor never shows and Abby begins to have severe cold/flu symptoms. When she awakens, it is some days later. She has survived and is now immune to the disease. She discovers, however, that while she slept, her husband passed away. She flees into the countryside. Eventually, she meets Jenny and after a while, they meet Greg.

The series deals with mankind surviving the death of 95% of its population and it often holds up a mirror to society as a whole. Our survivors deal with: militia, capital punishment, renewable resources, farming, politics and many other issues. They are tasked with rebuilding society. It’s an amazing series and there are rumors that it is being remade.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Water Outage

A few weeks ago, I had a rude awakening. No, not an earthquake. No, not someone stealing my daily newspaper. I woke up late, watched some television, read my newspaper and surfed the web for a bit. Then, my grumbling stomach told me it was time to eat. I decided to start with some coffee.

Since Gilroy water is SOOOO bad, I use a Brita filter container. The water is so bad that pregnant women and small children are told not to drink the tap water. A few years ago, perchlorate was discovered in the water table. However, the water was not that good for you even before this was discovered.

So, I made my coffee and decided to refill my Brita container. My kitchen faucet hacked and coughed like an older grandparent hocking up particles from a lifetime of cigarette smoking. I panicked. I calmed down. I cursed. I thought of one of my favorite SciFi shows, Survivors. More on that later. I checked the faucets in my bathroom. Another smoking grandparent. I checked the faucet outside. Nothing.

Long story short, the water went out about the same time I started hearing the jackhammer in the alley. City workers who left flyers on all the front doors of the affected neighbors. Being in the cottage, I didn’t get a flyer. But the water was back on in no time. Good thing I’d taken care of my morning ablutions (S-S-S). :D

But this made me think more about how our modern life is so like one of the eggs I have in a carton in my refrigerator. Take away water, electricity…hell, take away microwave and/or telephone and/or internet and we go apeshit.

Sad really.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Will Cuppy


Well, sooner or later, this blog was going to turn to the topic of Will Cuppy. Several years ago, I was introduced to his works by a History instructor of mine. Will Cuppy was a humorist from several years ago. He was a contemporary of P.G. Wodehouse, who some of you British comedy fans may know from, among other things, his Jeeves and Wooster stories.

I first read The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody. It’s a collection of humorous essays on various historical figures which was published posthumously. Laugh out loud funny. Unfortunately, few of his books are still in print. I am currently reading How to be a Hermit, which is his diary from the experience of moving to Jones Beach in the 1920’s to write. This is before Jones Beach became the tourist attraction is has since become (State park, 10 miles of beaches, Nikon Theater, 2 mile long boardwalk, etc etc etc)

If you’re a fan of dry British wit, you’ll enjoy his books. Just by reading a few chapters, I could tell that Terry Pratchett, of Discworld Fame (see below), was a fan of and was inspired by Will Cuppy. They both have a knack for personification, which I find hilarious.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Shit, Piss, Fuck, Cunt, Cocksucker, Motherfucker & Tits

George Carlin passed away on Sunday evening. Very sad. But he’d be the first to say that we were fools for mourning his passing. He was just a guy. That’s it. Nothing more. On this, I’d disagree. He was by far my favorite comedian. He was a throwback to the days of the court jester, who was able to put down anyone and joke about anything and get away with it.

He lived to be 71. And if you know anything about him, he sure squeezed a lot of life into those years. Actually, he waited in a dark alley and waited for It to walk by before he grabbed It from behind, dragged It into the shadows and beat It senseless. Drugs, arrests, landmark court cases, at least half a dozen heart attacks. He lost his beloved first wife several years ago. There are those of us who believe he was never the same after that. He was still hilarious but, he became a little more bitter year after year. He missed her, even after he remarried.

He was the inaugural guest host of Saturday Night Live. He loved wordplay. Some of his best bits had to do with the absurdities of the English language. He claimed to be a “recovering Catholic.” He also had the foresight to snatch up the rights to www.laugh.com early on in the Internet Age.

I was fortunate enough to see him live a few times. Once even at the Stardust in Vegas, before the historic building was finally demolished in 2007. I’ve only had premium channels like HBO since 2003, so I’ve only caught his HBO specials live and first run a couple of times. I’ll just say this: I’m glad he got to do one final show. In the second-to-last one, he seemed…very bitter…very dark, even for himself. But in what turned out to be his final special, he was back in form. Funny, insightful, intelligent.

Today, the Mercury News has a guestbook on it’s website that you can sign in honor of George Carlin. I find it ironic that they didn’t post my entry. Censorship of a note written to George Carlin. And I tried twice!! And all I wrote was the seven words which George said you can never say on television or radio. Seven words which would “…infect your soul, curve your spine and keep the country from winning the war.” How did he know our country would be at war at the time of his death? Shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker and tits. Hmmm.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Summer Solstice

Ah, Summer. The Summer Solstice arrived on Friday at 4:59PM local time. It is now officially summer. We are closer to the sun now and the days are longer. While I prefer heat to cold, sand to snow, I do admit that I enjoyed summer better when I lived in a home with air conditioning. Baseball’s in full swing. BBQs are frequent. Of course, I have friends who BBQ year ‘round. Hey…it’s California. The beach beckons. Weddings, especially the outdoor variety, occur with regularity. School is out for some and just beginning for others. The newspaper ads are filled with swimsuits, fans and sunblock. Long standing produce stands offer a bounty of summer fruits and vegetables such as sweet white corn, strawberries and softball sized nectarines. The theaters are filled with summer blockbusters and long awaited sequels. It almost makes shivering through winter worth it.

Friday, June 20, 2008

La Terza Madre

Well, thanks to eBay and my self-programmed, region-free DVD player, I’ve had La Terza Madre/The Mother of Tears on DVD for about 6 weeks now. But today, it’s in the theaters. Well…at the local art house theater, Camera 12. I have to see this on the big screen. This is a trilogy 3 decades in the making, starting with Suspiria (1977) and continuing with Inferno (1980). These films were all written and directed by Dario Argento. He has been called the Italian Hitchcock.

Dario’s films have always been gory. The visuals, the sounds, everything done to maximize the gore. But it has never been gratuitous, believe it or not. That said, the films are definitely not for the weak of stomach. He loves to use primary colors in his movies and he is obsessed with animals and water. In 2000, Dario was awarded the Maverick Tribute Award at the Cinequest San Jose Film Festival.

The star of his latest film is his daughter, Asia Argento, who has become famous in the U.S.A. for her acting in such films as XXX, The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things and Land of the Dead as well as being the acting coach for twins Cole and Dylan Sprouse. She’s starred in several of her father’s films.

The trilogy centers around the story of three witches, or Three Mothers, known collectively as the Mothers of Sorrow. There is Mater Suspiriorum (Mother of Sighs), Mater Tenebrarum (Mother of Darkness) and Mater Lacrimarum (Mother of Tears).

My favorite quote from the new movie, seen on a parchment, is “For what you see does not exist. But what you cannot see is truth.”

I can’t wait.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sushi!!

I went to lunch with a friend today. Japanese food. It’s been a while for both. I’ve seen this friend fairly often in other situations but I like going to lunch with him. We went to San Jose’s Japantown. I’d print the name of the restaurant but I can’t remember. I have the receipt but I’m too lazy to fish it out right now. It’s not on the main strip, but on a side street towards the end. I’ve only been to this place for dinner so lunch there was a first for me.

Of course, I have yet to have a bad meal ANYWHERE in Japantown. They even have an authentic Ramen shop there now!!

But this restaurant we went to has always been good. We found out that they don’t have as much of a selection of sushi as the other restaurants in the area. But they do have the basics: tuna, yellow tail, spider, California. We chose to share a plate of Rainbow Rolls, which had California Rolls in the middle but were covered with tuna…salmon…and a few other selections. Very tasty.

My friend also didn’t spot his favorite, Sashimi, on the menu. But, like the sushi, they had it, just not on the menu. We got some combo platters. Rice, Gyoza (one of my favorites), deep fried shrimp, sashimi, I got teriyaki chicken, he got teriyaki beef (rare). All with salad, miso and hot tea. Quite the tasty lunch.

As I said, it’s been a while since I’ve had Japanese food. Not just in Japantown but anywhere. There’s no good sushi in Gilroy, or Morgan Hill for that matter. It’s all crap. And with gas prices the way they are, I hate to drive to San Jose unless I have to. Now, once I’m there, Tempura is usually my fall back selection. I like to branch out and experiment but I don’t dig raw fish or anything with tentacles. I try to try different menu items but that deep fried shrimp and veggies is always calling my name. That’s why I like going with this friend of mine. He gets me to try new sushi. I don’t always like it but I know if I won’t eat it, he will.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Time!! Time!! Time!!

This has always been a pet peeve of mine. I’ve noticed it even more in just the last few weeks. I hear people say over and over, “I don’t have time for this.” They never seem to be able to get to this errand or that errand. A wise man once said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

I gave a friend this software 3 years ago for use in his business. I explained it all to him. He kept saying that I didn’t understand because I didn’t own my own business like he did. He just did NOT have the time to try it out. I would respond by re-explaining to him how useful it would be to him, how easy it was to use and how much time he would save. He would only mumble a half-hearted promise to try it out on the second Tuesday of the following week.

Fast forward to last month. He calls me on a Thursday evening and he informs me that he needs to use this software for a job and he needs to have it ready at 8AM Friday. I was on the phone with him for 2 hours (I should’ve just driven down there and done it for him) and we got a small percentage of it done. He became fairly competent with it in that time believe it or not. Long story short, he got an extension and I helped him over the weekend. Afterwards, he had a new respect for the software.

Everyone wakes to the same sun. Everybody falls asleep to the same moon. (Don’t give me any crap about the North Pole) Everyone gets 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week, 12 months in a year. And they tell you, “Well, you don’t understand, you’re not as busy as I am.” Fuck you!! Everyone is busy in their own way. Spouse, kids, work, so on and so on. No one HAS time to spend on this or that unless you’re a teen spending your last free summer between High School and University. But if something is important to you…you MAKE time. “But Bhagwan Joe,” you say, “you just told us that everyone gets the same amount of time. How could one just MAKE time?” I’ll tell you how and it doesn’t involve a Flux Capacitor or Phase Inducer. You make time in your day for lunch with a friend. You make time in your day to attend your son’s baseball game. You make time in your day to watch the Food Network.

This past weekend, I was part of an extremely disorganized graduation party. They hadn’t given the DJ a list of music (not a single song) prior to the event, the powerpoint presentations of the grads were a disaster and they kept giving the poor caterers contradictory instructions. It turned out well but the parents who were supposedly in charge had NO time for anything prior to the event. One was a surgeon and could only meet with one of the vendors for five minutes, in the hospital parking lot. The other three were busy…I dunno…running Microsoft, balancing the State budget and/or running for President, I’m guessing. I swear they reminded me of the Wizard of Oz because one needed a brain, the other a heart and the other some courage. Idiots. “I’m too busy.” “I have no time.”

Think about it. If one of these persons was going to get married or graduate or even fuel up your car, they’d do it. They’d make time. They’d find a way to fit it into their schedule. That block of time would be cleared in their smartphone or their Franklin Covey organizer. It all comes down to priorities. If something is important to you, you make time for it, you make time for someone.


Monday, June 16, 2008

Lose Weight Now, Ask Me How


Nutrisystem
Weight Watchers
Atkins
South Beach
Cabbage Soup

Every week, it seems there’s another diet program out there promising something for nothing, except a monthly fee of course. Oh…and meals are extra. The pounds just melt off. And I got this way eating hamburgers, pizza…even chocolate!!

While the bulimic supermodel might pop up fairly often in magazines these days, she is hardly seen in public. There are many different healthy body types out there. Several years ago, a full figured woman was the ideal form. Times change.

The media has always had the knack of showing us what we’ve wanted to see. Many believe any claim that promises them the world for little or no effort. To quote the great Chris de Burgh, “Don't believe a word you read, and only half of what you see…”

The amazing broccoli-broth and bean-bath diet!! The dependable frog legs, figs and flatulence diet!! Just try eating less and exercising more. Don’t starve yourself. Don’t feel obligated to get the fries, even if they come with the meal. Drink more water, less soda. Boy, there are so many tangents I could go off on right now. But I won’t. I’ll behave. More later.

“Never go to excess, but let moderation be your guide.” - Cicero

Friday, June 13, 2008

Friggatriskaidekaphobia

So…today is Friday the 13th. The only one of 2008. According to this year’s Farmers Almanac (I love this book), in the 14 possible calendar configurations: 6 have one Friday the 13th, 6 have two and 2 have three. There is always at least 1 but never more than 3. There will be 3 in 2009.

In the movie, Faces of Death, a group of drunken college students go to the roof of a tall building with a lot of liquor, a video camera (with another at ground level) and a bungee cord. They are all laughing and drinking as one of their own straps on the cord and leaps.

*Plop*

They get all serious. I guess they forgot that most tall buildings don’t have a 13th floor. Their friend remembered, albeit too late.

While Triskaidekaphobia is the fear of the number 13, Friggatriskaidekaphobia Is the fear of Friday the 13th.

The Atlanta Braves have banned the number 13 throughout their Major and Minor League systems. In Formula One and many other racing categories, no vehicle carries the number 13. Of course, the NFL Miami Dolphin’s quarterback Dan Marino embraced it as his number.

Then there were the Friday the 13th movies. I didn’t really care for the movies too much as they got really silly really quick. I preferred Michael Myers and Freddy Krueger. There was even a Friday the 13th television show. Yes there was a short-lived tv show, which had nothing to do with the movies. I actually preferred it to the movies. Two cousins, assisted by…a family friend if I remember right, have to retrieve cursed antiques sold by their uncle before they wreak havoc throughout the world.

I know a few people who were born on Friday the 13th. Aside from the third eye in their foreheads, they’re completely normal. I’m just kidding!! Margaret Thatcher, Fidel Castro, Steve Buscemi, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, heck even the Olsen twins were born on Friday the 13th.

One of the cool local events occurs at the Winchester Mystery House. If you google it, you’ll get the whole story. Long story short: Sarah Winchester was haunted by ghosts and the only way to keep them at bay was to keep building onto her house, which she did until the day she died. Now, at the house, you see her fascination with the number 13, you see walls that lead up to the ceiling, going nowhere. You see windows that open up into the wall. All kinds of stuff. AND…every year on Halloween and on every Friday the 13th, they hold flashlight tours. Creepy, scary, fun.

Have a good day.


...woah...I just realised...this is my 13th post on this blog. Didn't even plan it that way. Should I stay in bed or go buy a Lotto ticket?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

...from a certain point of view

Obi Wan spoke these words to Luke in Return of the Jedi. Regardless of your opinion of Star Wars (and/or the fans), this single line of dialogue speaks volumes. Most, if not all, of the tenets we see as basic common sense are coloured by our life experiences. These experiences help to develop our outlook on life as well as our attitudes. I remember the following poems from one of my favorite periodicals: Games Magazine:

The Pessimist

That deep red rose -- I see its thorn.
I just ignore the scent that's borne.
To me it's nothing. I deplore
Those scratches that I got before.
I just complain about the pain.
A lot I think of beauty's gain!

The Optimist

That deep red rose I see;
Its thorn I just ignore.
The scent that's borne to me --
It's nothing I deplore!

Those scratches that I got --
Before I just complain
About the pain a lot,
I think of beauty's gain.

-- By Mary Youngquist

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The true cause of all evil in the world: Flowers

The Last Flower
A Parable In Pictures
By James Thurber
Copyright 1939
For Rosemary
In the wistful hope that her world will be better than mine

World War XII, as everyone knows, brought about the collapse of civilization. Towns, cities, and villages disappeared. All the groves and forest were destroyed, and all the gardens, and all the works of art. Men, women, and children became lower than the animals. Discouraged and disillusioned, dogs deserted their fallen masters. Books, paintings, and music disappeared from the earth, and human beings just sat around doing nothing. Years and years went by. Even the few generals who were left forgot what the last war had decided. Boys and girls grew up to stare at each other blankly. Love had passed from earth.

One day, a young girl who had never seen a flower chanced to come upon the last one in the world. She told the other human beings that the last flower was dying. The only one who paid attention to her was a young man. Together, the young man and the girl nurtured the flower and it began to live again. One day, a bee visited the flower, and a humming bird. Before long, there were two flowers, and then a great many. Groves and forests flourished again. The young girl began to take interest in how she looked. The young man discovered that touching the girl was pleasurable. Love was reborn into the world.

The children of the young man and the girl grew up strong and healthy. They learned to run and laugh. Dogs came out of their exile. The young man discovered how to build a shelter. Pretty soon everybody was building shelters. Towns, cities, and villages sprung up. Song came back into the world, and troubadours and jugglers, tailors and cobblers, painters and poets, and sculptors, and soldiers and Lieutenants and Captains, and Generals and Major-Generals, and liberators. Some people went to one place to live, and some to another. Before long, those who went to live in the valleys wished they had gone to live in the hills. And those who had to live in the hills wished they had gone down to live in valleys. The liberators, under the guidance of God, set fire to the discontented. So presently, the world was at war again. This time, the destruction was so complete that nothing at all was left in the world, except one man, one woman, and a flower.


Monday, June 9, 2008

Chris de Burgh

…woah.

That was weird.

So…yea…music. Music music music.

I love it.

My favorite musical artist has to be Chris de Burgh. If you know me for any length of time, you end up learning this sooner rather than later. I’ve given up trying to get people to listen to his music. If they happen to hear a song they like, great. If not, no worries.

He’s an Irish rock/pop musician who was born in Argentina. He started out in 1974 and is still going strong. The last song on his debut album was called Good Night. In it, he referenced or named each of the other songs on the album. On the title track of his latest album, The Storyman, he did something similar. While he didn’t mention EVERY song, he hit upon the highlights.

The first single, One World, could easily have been on any of his previous albums. It crystallizes the message that he’s been broadcasting since the beginning: We’re living in one world, sleeping in one world, dreaming in one world, working in one world, breathing in one world, laughing in one world, crying in one world, hoping in one world, praying in one world, trying in one world.

More on Chris later.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

You can halt your car for an afternoon in Utopia

One of my favorite music groups is Alphaville. They’re an eclectic pop group which began operations in 1984 with their smash hit Forever Young. Not the Bob Dylan song. Not the Rod Stewart song. The one they used in Napoleon Dynamite. On their second album, they recorded a great song which they put on their second album. The album was title Afternoons in Utopia. The song was at the very end of the album, which was the ONLY place it COULD go. It was a short ditty named Lady Bright. She could’ve dated Albert Einstein. They lyrics are as follows:


There was a young lady named Bright
Whose speed was much faster, much faster than light
She departed one day in a relative way
And returned on the previous...


Sunday Mornings

…night…

When I moved out of the branch and into backoffice operations for The Bank, a strange thing happened. Prior to that, I was fully plugged in. I was conspicuously on the grid. I could have a phone in one ear, have a teller trying to explain the problem she’s having while her customer keeps interrupting and you could tap me on the shoulder and ask me the day, date and time and I could tell you to within 10 seconds. There were always deadlines: open vault, do ATMs, nightdrop, conference call (depending), open system, open doors, start breaks, midday check batch, start lunches, afternoon ATMs, start afternoon breaks, close doors, balance branch. Boom, boom, boom.

Then I moved out of the branch. I didn’t know what day it was. I didn’t know what the date was. I only knew the time because I’d make extensive use of my cell phone and Outlook alarms or a coworker would call and yell at me to “get on the damned conference call!!” It was heaven.

Then I was no longer with the company. I still had no idea what the day, date or time was.

But the funny thing is, my body clock STILL knows a Sunday when it feels one. Those first moments when your eyes flicker open. The stretch and yawn. The wiping away of eye boogers. The first thought: what time is it? Roll over and reluctantly get out of bed. Scratch (hey, I’m a guy. The scratch is on the Y chromosome. Deal with it). Read hastily scribbled note about dream written at 2:30 AM (more on this another time). Start coffee. Go out to get the newspaper. Walk back in upon realisation that I’m not wearing pants. Make second attempt to get the paper. Get coffee and sit down with the Sunday Funnies.

Nothing like a Sunday morning.

Friday, June 6, 2008

My Favorite Spy Magazine Prank, from February 1993

...excerpts from my favorite Spy Magazine prank...

PARLIAMENT OF SUCKERS

From SPY Magazine, first published in the February 1993 issue...

We all remember being freshmen. The strangeness, the fish-out-of-water alarm, the terror that some big kid might humiliate us – why, it’s all just part of the fun of growing up!! But while the new members of Congress might feel a bit overwhelmed, it seems unlikely that nay veteran congressman – even Newt Gingrich, who seems as sadistic as any high school sophomore – will play pranks on the newcomers. Which leaves it up to us.

Prank Three:
We pretended to be Henry Rose, the host of a New York talk-radio program, and phoned several of the freshmen reps and interviewed them – live!! Here are the highlights.

*Freedonia, Marx Brothers fans will recall, was the country in which Duck Soup was set.

WE CALLED NICK SMITH (R-Mich.).
SPY: What should we be doing to stop the ethnic cleansing in Freedonia?*

SMITH: My impression, Henry, is we’ve gotta be very careful, that moving through the United Nations effort has a great deal of merit right now.

WE CALLED DON JOHNSON (D-Ga.).
Do you support Bill Clinton’s proposal to lift the ban on gays in the military?

No, I don’t.

I find it surprising that, as Georgia’s first openly gay congressman, you wouldn’t support that.

I’m sorry, did you say…What? You said I was the first what?

Aren’t you Georgia’s first openly gay congressman?

No, that’s not me, I don’t know that there is one.

We had a story come over the wire –

No, That’s not me. That’s not me.

WE CALLED JAMES TALENT (R-Mo.).
What should we be doing to stop the ethnic cleansing in Freedonia?

I think anything we can do to use the good offices of the U.S. government to assist stopping the killing over there, we should do.

WE CALLED DAVID MANN (D-Ohio).
Bill Clinton has proposed lifting the ban on gays in the military. As Ohio’s first openly gay congressman, do you support his position?

As Ohio’s first openly gay congressman – who’re you talking about?

Uh, the story in USA Today about –

Who is this? This isn’t me.

It’s not you?

No, no, no.

Is there another freshman who, uh –

There are six from Ohio.

There are six?

Uh-huh, Uh-huh. Anyway, if that’s true, that’s something that’s up at the other end of the state.

WE CALLED STEVE BUYER (R-Ind.).
Do you approve of what we’re doing to stop the ethnic cleansing in Freedonia?

Yeah. It’s a different situation that the Middle East.

WE CALLED CORRINE BROWN (D-Fla.).
Do you approve of what we’re doing to stop the ethnic cleansing in Freedonia?

Yes, and you know, I think all of those situations are very, very sad, and I just think we need to take action to assist the people.

WE CALLED JAY INSLEE (D-Wash.).
Do you approve of what we’re doing to stop what’s going on in Freedonia?

I have to be honest with you, I’m not familiar with that proposal, um, but it’s coming to the point now that a blind eye to it for the next ten years is not the answer.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant

I love this song. Hopefully it won't be needed anytime soon.

Alice's Restaurant
By Arlo Guthrie
©1966,1967 (Renewed) by Appleseed Music Inc. All Rights Reserved.


This song is called Alice's Restaurant, and it's about Alice, and the restaurant, but Alice's Restaurant is not the name of the restaurant, that's just the name of the song, and that's why I called the song Alice's Restaurant.

You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant
You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant
Walk right in it's around the back
Just a half a mile from the railroad track
You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant

Now it all started two Thanksgivings ago, was on - two years ago on Thanksgiving, when my friend and I went up to visit Alice at the restaurant, but Alice doesn't live in the restaurant, she lives in the church nearby the restaurant, in the bell-tower, with her husband Ray and Fasha the dog. And livin' in the bell tower like that, they got a lot of room downstairs where the pews used to be in. Havin' all that room, seein' as how they took out all the pews, they decided that they didn't have to take out their garbage for a long time.

We got up there, we found all the garbage in there, and we decided it'd be a friendly gesture for us to take the garbage down to the city dump. So we took the half a ton of garbage, put it in the back of a red VW microbus, took shovels and rakes and implements of destruction and headed on toward the city dump.

Well we got there and there was a big sign and a chain across the dump saying, "Closed on Thanksgiving." And we had never heard of a dump closed on Thanksgiving before, and with tears in our eyes we drove off into the sunset looking for another place to put the garbage.

We didn't find one. Until we came to a side road, and off the side of the side road there was another fifteen foot cliff and at the bottom of the cliff there was another pile of garbage. And we decided that one big pile is better than two little piles, and rather than bring that one up we
decided to throw ours down.

That's what we did, and drove back to the church, had a thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat, went to sleep and didn't get up until the next morning, when we got a phone call from officer Obie. He said, "Kid, we found your name on an envelope at the bottom of a half a ton of garbage, and just wanted to know if you had any information about it." And I said, "Yes, sir, Officer Obie, I cannot tell a lie, I put that envelope under that garbage."

After speaking to Obie for about forty-five minutes on the telephone we finally arrived at the truth of the matter and said that we had to go down and pick up the garbage, and also had to go down and speak to him at the police officer's station. So we got in the red VW microbus with the shovels and rakes and implements of destruction and headed on toward the police officer's station.

Now friends, there was only one or two things that Obie coulda done at the police station, and the first was he could have given us a medal for being so brave and honest on the telephone, which wasn't very likely, and we didn't expect it, and the other thing was he could have bawled us out and told us never to be see driving garbage around the vicinity again, which is what we expected, but when we got to the police officer's station there was a third possibility that we hadn't even counted upon, and we was both immediately arrested. Handcuffed. And I said "Obie, I don't think I can pick up the garbage with these handcuffs on." He said, "Shut up, kid. Get in the back of the patrol car."

And that's what we did, sat in the back of the patrol car and drove to the quote Scene of the Crime unquote. I want tell you about the town of Stockbridge, Massachusetts, where this happened here, they got three stop signs, two police officers, and one police car, but when we got to the Scene of the Crime there was five police officers and three police cars, being the biggest crime of the last fifty years, and everybody wanted to get in the newspaper story about it. And they was using up all kinds of cop equipment that they had hanging around the police officer's station. They was taking plaster tire tracks, foot prints, dog smelling prints, and they took twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy photographs with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one was to be used as evidence against us. Took pictures of the approach, the getaway, the northwest corner the southwest corner and that's not to mention the aerial photography.

After the ordeal, we went back to the jail. Obie said he was going to put us in the cell. Said, "Kid, I'm going to put you in the cell, I want your wallet and your belt." And I said, "Obie, I can understand you wanting my wallet so I don't have any money to spend in the cell, but what do you want my belt for?" And he said, "Kid, we don't want any hangings." I said, "Obie, did you think I was going to hang myself for littering?" Obie said he was making sure, and friends Obie was, cause he took out the toilet seat so I couldn't hit myself over the head and drown, and he took out the toilet paper so I couldn't bend the bars roll out the - roll the toilet paper out the window, slide down the roll and have an escape. Obie was making sure, and it was about four or five hours later that Alice (remember Alice? It's a song about Alice), Alice came by and with a few nasty words to Obie on the side, bailed us out of jail, and we went back to the church, had a another thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat, and didn't get up until the next morning, when we all had to go to court.

We walked in, sat down, Obie came in with the twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one, sat down. Man came in said, "All rise." We all stood up, and Obie stood up with the twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy pictures, and the judge walked in sat down with a seeing eye dog, and he sat down, we sat down. Obie looked at the seeing eye dog, and then at the twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one, and looked at the seeing eye dog. And then at twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one and began to cry, 'cause Obie came to the realization that it was a typical case of American blind justice, and there wasn't nothing he could do about it, and the judge wasn't going to look at the twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy pictures with the circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one was to be used as evidence against us. And we was fined $50 and had to pick up the garbage in the snow, but that’s not what I came to tell you about.

Came to talk about the draft.

They got a building down New York City, it's called Whitehall Street, where you walk in, you get injected, inspected, detected, infected, neglected and selected. I went down to get my physical examination one day, and I walked in, I sat down, got good and drunk the night before, so I looked and felt my best when I went in that morning. `Cause I wanted to look like the all-American kid from New York City, man I wanted, I wanted to feel like the all-, I wanted to be the all American kid from New York, and I walked in, sat down, I was hung down, brung down, hung up, and all kinds o' mean nasty ugly things. And I waked in and sat down and they gave me a piece of paper, said, "Kid, see the psychiatrist, room 604."

And I went up there, I said, "Shrink, I want to kill. I mean, I wanna, I wanna kill. Kill. I wanna, I wanna see, I wanna see blood and gore and guts and veins in my teeth. Eat dead burnt bodies. I mean kill, Kill, KILL, KILL." And I started jumpin up and down yelling, "KILL, KILL," and he started jumpin up and down with me and we was both jumping up and down yelling, "KILL, KILL." And the Sergeant came over, pinned a medal on me, sent me down the hall, said, “You're our boy."

Didn't feel too good about it.

Proceeded on down the hall gettin more injections, inspections, detections, neglections and all kinds of stuff that they was doin' to me at the thing there, and I was there for two hours, three hours, four hours, I was there for a long time going through all kinds of mean nasty ugly things and I was just having a tough time there, and they was inspecting, injecting every single part of me, and they was leaving no part untouched. Proceeded through, and when I finally came to the see the last man, I walked in, walked in sat down after a whole big thing there, and I walked up and said, "What do you want?" He said, "Kid, we only got one question. Have you ever been arrested?"

And I proceeded to tell him the story of the Alice's Restaurant Massacre, with full orchestration and five part harmony and stuff like that and all the phenome... - and he stopped me right there and said, "Kid, did you ever go to court?"

And I proceeded to tell him the story of the twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy pictures with the circles and arrows and the paragraph on the back of each one, and he stopped me right there and said, "Kid, I want you to go and sit down on that bench that says Group W .... NOW kid!!"

And I, I walked over to the, to the bench there, and there is, Group W's where they put you if you may not be moral enough to join the army after committing your special crime, and there was all kinds of mean nasty ugly looking people on the bench there. Mother rapers. Father stabbers. Father rapers! Father rapers sitting right there on the bench next to me! And they was mean and nasty and ugly and horrible crime-type guys sitting on the bench next to me. And the meanest, ugliest, nastiest one, the meanest father raper of them all, was coming over to me and he was mean 'n' ugly 'n' nasty 'n' horrible and all kind of things and he sat down next to me and said, "Kid, whad'ya get?" I said, "I didn't get nothing, I had to pay $50 and pick up the garbage." He said, "What were you arrested for, kid?" And I said, "Littering." And they all moved away from me on the bench there, and the hairy eyeball and all kinds of mean nasty things, till I said, "And creating a nuisance." And they all came back, shook my hand, and we had a great time on the bench, talkin about crime, mother stabbing, father raping, all kinds of groovy things that we was talking about on the bench. And everything was fine, we was smoking cigarettes and all kinds of things, until the Sergeant came over, had some paper in his hand, held it up and said.

"Kids, this-piece-of-paper's-got-47-words-37-sentences-58-words-we-wanna-know-details-of-the-crime-time-of-the-crime-and-any-other-kind-of-thing-you-gotta-say-pertaining-to-and-about-the-crime-I-want-to-know-arresting-officer's-name-and-any-other-kind-of-thing-you-gotta-say", and talked for forty-five minutes and nobody understood a word that he said, but we had fun filling out the forms and playing with the pencils on the bench there, and I filled out the massacre with the four part harmony, and wrote it down there, just like it was, and everything was fine and I put down the pencil, and I turned over the piece of paper, and there, there on the other side, in the middle of the other side, away from everything else on the other side, in parentheses, capital letters, quotated, read the following words:

("KID, HAVE YOU REHABILITATED YOURSELF?")

I went over to the Sergeant, said, "Sergeant, you got a lot a damn gall to ask me if I've rehabilitated myself, I mean, I mean, I mean that just, I'm sittin' here on the bench, I mean I'm sittin here on the Group W bench 'cause you want to know if I'm moral enough join the army, burn women, kids, houses and villages after bein' a litterbug." He looked at me and said, "Kid, we don't like your kind, and we're gonna send you fingerprints off to Washington."

And friends, somewhere in Washington enshrined in some little folder, is a study in black and white of my fingerprints. And the only reason I'm singing you this song now is cause you may know somebody in a similar situation, or you may be in a similar situation, and if your in a situation like that there's only one thing you can do and that's walk into the shrink wherever you are ,just walk in say "Shrink, You can get anything you want, at Alice's restaurant.". And walk out. You know, if one person, just one person does it they may think he's really sick and they won't take him. And if two people, two people do it, in harmony, they may think they're both faggots and they won't take either of them. And three people do it, three, can you imagine, three people walking in singin a bar of Alice's Restaurant and walking out. They may think it's an organization. And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day, I said fifty people a day walking in singin a bar of Alice's Restaurant and walking out. And friends they may thinks it's a movement.

And that's what it is , the Alice's Restaurant Anti-Massacre Movement, and all you got to do to join is sing it the next time it comes around on the guitar. With feeling. So we'll wait for it to come around on the guitar, here and sing it when it does. Here it comes.

You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant
You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant
Walk right in it's around the back
Just a half a mile from the railroad track
You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant

That was horrible. If you want to end war and stuff you got to sing loud. I've been singing this song now for twenty five minutes. I could sing it for another twenty five minutes. I'm not proud... or tired.

So we'll wait till it comes around again, and this time with four part harmony and feeling.

We're just waitin' for it to come around is what we're doing.

All right now.

You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant
Excepting Alice
You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant
Walk right in it's around the back
Just a half a mile from the railroad track
You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant

Da da da da da da da dum
At Alice's Restaurant

Smart Phones

An article in today’s San Jose Mercury News noted that Nokia wants to transition from a mere hardware manufacturer to an all-encompassing internet company. Your one-stop shop for all things digital. As of now, the Crackberry leads the nation in smart-phones by 44.5%, with the iPhone a distant second with 19.2%.

We’ve come a long way since the rotary phone. I remember they were always black and you couldn’t disconnect it from the wall without disabling it.

But Science Fiction introduced us to the phone of tomorrow in many ways. Dick Tracy had his 2 way wrist communicator. Maxwell Smart kept in touch with The Chief using his shoe-phone. Gene Roddenberry’s world of Star Trek gave us the pocket-size, flip-top communicator, a wrist communicator in Star Trek: The Motion Picture and a delta-shield communicator badge in Star Trek: The Next Generation and series beyond.

Yet the ultimate smart-phone seems to have come from one of my all-time favorite television series: Gene Roddenberry’s Earth: Final Conflict. Always a cutting-edge tek show which dared you to get comfortable with the protagonists, E:FC showed us an “almost tomorrow” future where visiting inter-dimensional aliens known as Taelons brought their technology to Earth in hopes of helping humanity to cross over to the next level of evolution. William Boone, Liam Kincaid and Renee Palmer kept in touch with their Globals, communicators with a fold out, flexible screen. They had video-phone capability so you got more than just voice. And of course it had the requisite touch-sensitive screen. One could send computer files back and forth almost instantaneously. These hi-tek devices were used in much the same way as smart-phones are used today, only faster.

I’ve had…four cell phones to date, including my current Samsung SCH-U740 (recently renamed The Alias). His name is Jakub, named after the childhood toy known as the Jacob’s Ladder. I named him this because of the way it can fold out in one of two ways: portrait and landscape.

Of course, my dream phone has always been the Nokia 9500 Communicator. It has everything. I think the next model comes with an espresso machine. It has word processor, spreadsheet and presentation programs which are compatible with Microsoft Office. It also includes a hefty price tag and last I heard they were only available in Japan. I could buy an unlocked one on eBay but then I also have to get it activated and I really don’t want to go the AT&T route if I don’t have to.

I often tell family and friends that my dream cell phone is two years away. And the industry is taking baby steps towards that end. But I’m reluctant to switch over and over again like so many people I know do. I guess I’m just biding my time until I can get a Taelon/Doors Industries communicator...ooo, my phone's ringing. Hmmm...yeaaaaa, I really should take this. Leter.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Discworld


Okay let’s get off the negativity track for at least one post. Summer ’08. Terry Pratchett has been busy. They recently aired The Hogfather on Ion channel, which is a Pax-TV type channel. And I recently watched The Colour of Magic/The Light Fantastic. These were the first 2 Discworld books and did read as one long story, as COM ends in a cliffhanger…literally. They did a great job with all 3 films, Terry Pratchett even made a cameo. They were pretty faithful to the books. Now I want them to do a witches movie, hopefully Lords & Ladies. Great book.

If you haven’t read any of the Discworld series, the world is round…and flat. Kinda like a pizza. Kinda like…a disc. This disc sits atop 4 elephants (the book The Fifth Elephant clarifies the situation), who in turn sit atop the space faring turtle The Great A’Tuin (see above).

The thing is, once you get into the series, you realize that it could take place almost anywhere. They’re very funny. I tell people it’s Hitchhiker’s Guide done as Fantasy instead of straight Sci-Fi.

Currently, I’m reading Making Money, which is a sequel of sorts to Going Postal. Moist Von Lipwig is a common thief. He was saved from the gallows by Lord Vetinari and put in charge of the then-defunct Post Office of Ankh Morpork. In the new book, he is tasked with reviving the banking industry in the city. I read online that Going Postal is the next movie they’re working on, which I’m sure I’ll be happy with. I’m looking forward to it.

I guess I should explain how I found the Discworld. Funny story really. Some years ago, after meeting Larry Niven at a book signing, I re-read Ringworld and decided to read the sequels. When I was done with those, I looked into other books which took place on other types of worlds. . So I knew that the Ringworld was the first step. I knew the next step was the Dyson Sphere. Those were the Orbitsville Series. Both series were serious in tone and involved heavy Sci-Fi elements.

I then heard about the Discworld series of books and dove right in. Of course, they were not what I expected but I loved them nonetheless. I found I had to be careful where I read them (similar to Hitchhiker’s Guide) because I would laugh out loud and get weird looks from people.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Do Not Attempt

*sigh*

So what does it say about our society that we need disclaimers that read “Do Not Attempt.” Does it go back to the irresistible “Caution: Wet Paint” signs? Or is it just a result of having more lawyers than cockroaches in this country? Advertising agencies are always trying to get our attention. Stunts, talking animals, CGI, all in an attempt to sell products. It seems that more and more, you see these outrageous commercials with a tiny disclaimer at the bottom saying “Do Not Attempt.”

You see one where a lady has put her refrigerator on railroad tracks in order to justify buying a new and improved one. You see another taking a wrecking ball to hers. Do we REALLY need to put in writing the caution that we should in no way try to do these things?

Maybe it was the hot coffee spilled in the lap of some lady in her car that sparked it all. Drive up to a fast food restaurant and you see signs that remind you that coffee is hot. Duh!!

The funniest one I saw was a Volkswagen commercial that showed the cars driving down the street on 2 tires…the FRONT 2. And at the bottom of the screen, “Do not attempt.” Just how the FUCK do they think we would even try this?!?

Are we getting really stupid? Too quick with a lawsuit? I heard Rome was like this near the end. Of course, I heard they were developing rap as well so it may have just been a coincidence.




Monday, June 2, 2008

Testing? Testing...one...two...three...

So I've tried one of these before. twice actually. We'll see if the third time is, in fact, the charm. One on my neglected website (http://bhagwanjoe.tripod.com) and one on myspace. I'm sorry but I never got the whole myspace thing. Even with my neanderthal-esque computer skills, I was able to create a website 1000 times better than anything on myspace. The ONLY advantage I see to it is that it's a common place for people to gather and interact. But I've always seen writing as an art. It can be done by all but that doesn't always mean it's art. I saw a button at Fanimecon this year that read "just because no one understands you doesn't make you an artist." heh. I'm also reminded of something George Carlin said in regards to sports. I'll paraphrase here because I don't see a button which allows me to upload audio...hmm...nope, nothing obviously apparent. Okay. So he said, Running. Running isn't a sport!! My mother can run. You don't see her on the cover of Running Monthly!!

...and so it begins

"I’m saying, “I had a good shit today and this is what I thought this morning…I’m singing about me and my life…and if it’s relevant for other people’s lives, that’s all right. ""
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