Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Hundreds, Maybe Thousands

Hundreds, maybe thousands, of bloated dead bodies float listlessly through oily waters. They can't be dealt with until the living have been evacuated. They're there for the Duration.

This is the thing that won't leave my mind. They're going to be finding corpses for weeks. Months. A lot of very unpleasant surprises in store.

The all-too-human reaction to such a hideous calamity is to search for someone to blame. But unlike when those frother gasbags blamed everything from 9-11 to rectal pruritis on Bill and Hillary Clinton, some real, tangible, irrefutable facts -- facts that have been known for years -- cast an ineluctible pall of culpability on Vacation Boy and his pals, who glance furtively at the devastation from 2,500 feet on a flyover.

It's long been open war between the Bush acolytes and the scientific community -- a long-running guerrilla conflict between maddened ideologues on one side and coolheaded empiricists on the other. No inconvenient appeal to the irrefutable evidence of the senses has ever prevented the agenda-driven True Believers from dealing out harrassment and opprobrium to their enemies, as Al Swearengen just got through telling you -- or just ignoring their advice altogether.

The fact of the matter is, they just won't listen to the fuckin' scientists. The guys with the inconvenient facts. The Cassanda Crowd with the Evidence of Global Warming and all that miserable, predictable Preserve the Wetlands to Save the Spackle-Headed Mudhopper crap.

Sidney Blumenthal points out in today's Salon, "In early 2001, the Federal Emergency Management Agency issued a report stating that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three most likely disasters in the U.S., including a terrorist attack on New York City. But by 2003 the federal funding for the flood control project essentially dried up as it was drained into the Iraq war. In 2004, the Bush administration cut funding requested by the New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for holding back the waters of Lake Pontchartrain by more than 80 percent."

Continues Blumenthal:
The Bush administration's policy of turning over wetlands to developers almost certainly also contributed to the heightened level of the storm surge. In 1990, a federal task force began restoring lost wetlands surrounding New Orleans. Every two miles of wetland between the Crescent City and the Gulf reduces a surge by half a foot. Bush had promised "no net loss" of wetlands, a policy launched by his father's administration and bolstered by President Clinton. But he reversed his approach in 2003, unleashing the developers. The Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency then announced they could no longer protect wetlands unless they were somehow related to interstate commerce.
I used to characterize Republican philosophy thus: My right to make money trumps your right to enjoy your life.

I no longer am so naively polite. After the destruction of New Orleans, all civility is over.

My right to make money trumps your right to live.

Get Off Your Ass

Handdrummer writes in a comment to my last post:
Been listening to the podcast and trolling th net for pictures of the horror served on to my dear beloved New Orleans. Can't stop crying. Oh lord, what are we to do?
What you are to do is to stop listening to emotionally evocative music this instant and answer the Skippy Challenge:
skippy has donated $100.01 to the red cross for hurricane relief. and now, skippy challenges everyone who writes a political blog, no matter what side of the spectrum they inhabit, to do the same.

but that’s not all of the challenge. skippy then dares everyone on his blogroll (who will be receiving an email with this double-dog dare), after they donate, to (a) blog about it, and (b) send an email to everyone on their blog roll.

the $100 is to make a difference. if every political blog donates $100, think of the hundreds of thousands of dollars the red cross can use to buy food and supplies for the people that need it now.

and the 1 cent is to let everyone know where that the donations came from blogtopia (yes! we coined that phrase!) and know that for once, in reality, the blogs are making a difference.

if the server is busy, call 1-800 help now.

if you can't contribute $100.01, then make it $50.01 or $20.01, or at least $5.01 (the minimum the red cross requires, plus 1 cent). give up your saturday movie date this week, take your lunch to work instead of eating out, do something!
To donate online, that link again is The American Red Cross. Or call 1-800 help now.

Get off your ass. (Yes, I coined that phrase!)

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


Sitting in the kitchen, the front edge of some Weather Named Katrina lashing the windows (you try that shit around here, bitch, see what you get), poor thunderphobic Ring Ting Ting huddled panting under my chair in a purple funk, and the true Glory of Broadband beginning to make itself known.

Jason Chervokas' podcast, Down in the Flood. Oh, fuck yeah! I'm downing Episode 1 now, "Bob Dylan's Old Weird America," and poppin' that sucker into the iPod for tomorrow's commute.

I think I could start to like this.

Rain's so intense, it's knocked out the satellite signal. That's happened exactly once before in more than a year.

(Edit, next morning: Jason can't possibly have known he was doing it, but that first episode is perfect background music for those of us lucky enough not to be suffering in the aftermath of Katrina. Wow. An absolute must-listen if you can. Bob Dylan, Charley Patton, Jimmie Rodgers and others howling about levee breaks and archetypes.)

Duke, Duke, Duke, Duke of Oil

I couldn't help it.

I was getting some lunchtime blood-pressure therapy over at The Smirking Chimp, when my eyes lit on a piece from The Guardian about a damned fishy-looking inquiry launched by the egregious Joe Barton, chair of the HR Committee on Energy and Commerce, into three of the US's most senior climate specialists -- looking for all the world like a McCarthyite witch-hunt out to intimidate scientists who'd annoyed the petroleum industry by establishing actual, objective links between fossil fuels and global warming.

I was, naturally, outraged, but just as I began to compose a blithering blistering response, a firm hand rested on my shoulder, and a greasy voice murmured in my ear, "Trixie's waiting for you in Room Two, Neddie. I'll handle this one."

Al's Back

I've got to hand it to you, Barton.

I've got to bestow credit where it's fuckin' due.

You must have a lackey, some sort of Exxon-Mobil pissboy who precedes you like Puss in Boots, pushing around the wheelbarrow necessary to transport your gigantic fuckin' swollen balls, all the while crying out, "Make way for my master, the Duke of Oil!" You certainly can't keep a pair like that in an ordinary mortal pair of trousers. I'd hate to be your fuckin' tailor.

Tell me something, Representative Joe, and tell me true, because I know a thing or two about the world of men: How do you do it? Every rational bone I have shrieks to me that a cocksucker who's as bought as you are, as hip-deep in casual graft, compulsive corruption, and Pharisiacal pipelaying as your every cocksucking act declares you to be, might have some tiny qualms about appearing in public covered with your masters' slimy exudations, whipping some hapless climatologists before you.

But plainly I underestimate the frozen brass balls that a comfortable quantity of boodle can endow a United States Congressman on the fuckin' take.

Obviously, I've got a thing or two to learn.

Out my way, even the dirt-worshippers had the presence of mind to raise something that at least looked like anger, like resistance, when everything they owned and everywhere they lived were methodically stripped away from them by men very, very like you, Representative Joe. Fella named Custer comes to mind. But your hoopleheads apparently don't give much of a rat's cunt -- steal 'em blind, paint their sky black with greasy dust, piss polysyllables into their water, charge 'em a week's wage to fill their wheeled boxes with your masters' precious ichor so they can wallow their way back to the Halls of Commerce, eructing more polysyllables as they go.

And they smile while you do it. They absolutely smile like seraphim while they get their ass-fucking. I simply don't understand it.

And this day of all days, when the proud cities of Mobile and New Orleans reel like glassjawed pugs after fifteen rounds with some weather named Katrina -- weather that those piss-stained scientists you're persecuting tried to tell you to expect more of, hosannas to your masters -- you awoke from your slumber, stumbled into the bathroom, looked at your bleary reflection in the mirror, looked deep into the black fucking abyss that is your bought-and-sold soul, and thought of another way to grease the skids of Armageddon.

And then you brushed your teeth.

I wish I had your balls, Representative Joe. But I'm not even in your league.

Monday, August 29, 2005

You Sort of Leave Your Skin

Attendees at a Green Day Concert, 2001

Fine, fine piece in Sunday's Washington Post Magazine by David Segal, "Memoirs of a Music Man," about Creeping Phonyism in big-name rock shows. Segal was a rock critic for the Post for several years but has now given it up for a beat in New York. Segal writes passionately about something he and I have shared since we were both 12 years old -- an incurably romantic belief in the transformative power of the Bacchanalian excess of Rocking Done Right.

I don't think we're alone in this, ol' Dave and I. I think most folks going to a show, be it a small club or a huge stadium gig, have an inkling of an expectation of some sort of Tribal Moment, some kind of Kozmic Koming Together when the vibrations from both the audience and the performer coalesce into sine-wave perfection, a joyous Yes! that (if we're completely honest with ourselves) might be just a little sexual.

The problem is that rockers and those who run them have cottoned on to the importance of this Money-Shot Moment, and have taken to larding them deliberately into performances. He recounts a detail of an Aerosmith gig he saw in which Steve Tyler grabbed hold of a conveniently placed trapeze, thrilling the punters:
It's fair to assume that Tyler rode the same trapeze in the same spot during the same song at every concert that summer.... The whole trapeze thing was almost surely dreamed up before the band strummed the first note on the tour. There was probably a trapeze roadie, with instructions that read "9:15, hand Perry an Aquafina. 9:18, go get the trapeze."

That's the way pop concerts are these days, especially large ones. Everything is choreographed, even the parts that seem unchoreographed, and there is no room for unplanned derring-do.
I think with a little sadness of an Iggy Pop gig I witnessed at the Peppermint Lounge somewhere in the mid-Eighties, in which the Igster climbed a wobbly amp stack and then treated us to a view of the Magnificence That Is Iggy through some flimsy, tearaway trouser fabric. Thrilling then, yes, but in retrospect... Dammit. Calculated.
You know about the great Live Concert Moment, right? I'm not talking about the kind of show where you leave thinking, "Those guys rule!" and then buy a T-shirt. I'm talking about total-body bliss, a rush so strong it turns brain cells into Jell-O and, for a moment or two, you sort of leave your skin. Art lovers would probably argue that they get the same feeling by looking at a great painting, but they're fools, and you should ignore them. A good part of what I'm talking about here is sheer volume. A painting can be many things, but it will never make your ears ring.

The Pixies, my friend, can make your ears ring.
I do have a collection of Moments that, like Segal, I treasure. Talking Heads, Forest Hills Stadium, 1983 -- David Byrne unveiling the Big Suit. Wow. XTC, Cleveland Agora, 1981, making the transition from hairy-chested art-rockers to omnivorous synchretists between Black Sea and English Settlement. James Blood Ulmer, CBGB, 1982, Coltraning away on that wonderfully weird jury-rigged guitar of his -- to a rapt audience of exactly three -- me and Wonder Woman and my roommate. Going to see the remnants of The Band at the Lone Star, watching some guy before the gig trying to serve papers on Rick Danko, who did the most expert melting-away act I've ever watched; a surprise Bob Dylan joined for a two-hour drunken hootenanny. James Chance and the Contortions playing for me and about six other people in a ridiculously tiny club in Columbus, Ohio -- Psychotherapy Through Sweat!

But the Moments get fewer and farther between. There are lots of things to blame for that -- my own cynicism and lowered expectations being in no small way responsible. Still and all, you have to feel some small frisson of jealousy at what Segal characterizes as his Favorite Moment of them all. I'm mostly green-eyed because I had every intention of being at this show, as I'm a huge fan of Squeeze, but didn't make it out of pure apathy:
But the greatest Moment was a solo show by Glenn Tillbrook, the former lead singer of the now-defunct British band Squeeze. Just him and an acoustic guitar. Near the end of the evening, at the tiny Iota Club in Arlington, he posed a question. How many people would like me to play the next several songs in the parking lot? It was nearly unanimous. We trundled out the door, maybe 50 people, led by Tillbrook, who took his place on a ramp in the rear of the club and played -- unamplified -- the Squeeze classics "Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)" and "Goodbye Girl" while people danced under the moonlight. It was my kind of ecstasy. Then the cops came and shut it down, after complaints by neighbors, which made it even better.
This was voted the Best Concert Moment of that year by the Washington Post -- no doubt at Segal's impassioned urging. Would have been mine, too.

Joy Unconfin'd!

It is with a swimmy head and a giddy tummy that the Management announces the advent -- after 13 and a half months without it owing to our move to the country (that's 58 weeks, 406 days, 9,744 hours, 584,640 minutes, or 35,078,400 seconds -- each dragging on longer than the last) -- of a true-blue, no-shit wi-fi BROADBAND connection into Jingo Acres.

Although Loudoun Wireless (you absolutely must check out their web site!) installed the gear yesterday afternoon, they only turned on the tap early this morning.

(Ed. note: John and Gloria at Loudoun Wireless have, since I posted this, put up a much more robust and informative site and I hereby apologize for giggling at the one-pager that they've had up for a year. They run an excellent service, and for anybody local to Lovettsville or Waterford, it's absolutely the way to go. Call them now!)

The first sign of our deliverance was the absence from breakfast of young Freddie, the inveterate online gamer who has suffered even more than blog-happy Dad the 28.8 modem speed we got through dialup on these noisy copper land-lines. I checked in his room to find a young man with popping eyeballs manipulating his PlayStation Portable, engaged in battle royal against some luckless victim in cyberspace. Today being the first day of school in our county, it was a bit heartbreaking to wrench him away from his newly invigorated pastime, but duty calls. It's how we build our Character House.

The next few days will be a series of thrilling Firsts. Already we've had First Streaming Video ( -- Katrina beating the kapok out of N'Awlins). Haven't downed any music yet, but I'll top up the iPod tonight. Haven't built a shared iCal family calendar yet. Haven't shared the family photo album. Haven't uploaded any gigantic Illustrator files to the office. Haven't yet cheerfully opened any gargantuan mail enclosures from well-meaning friends -- "Here's a 15-minute QT video of our baby spitting up, I'm sure you'll enjoy it!" -- instead of either deleting them or waiting until I'm at work to look at them. Haven't visited Weebl and Bob or watched any online commercials about personal fragrances with guaranteed viral moxie.

(Oh, I'm sorry! You probably won't want to click on those links if you're on dialup! Sorry, sorry, sorry! I shouldn't be flaunting it, should I. No gloating. Tee hee.)

I've got a sneaky little hunch that after my noon daily meeting, I juuuuust might find a reason to "work from home" this afternoon.

Send me stuff, people. Send me BIG stuff. Entire episodes of some TV show, or a whole movie. Homemade pr0n. Your lousy band's demo. Whole Grateful Dead concerts. Amusing Flash movies.


Friday, August 26, 2005

What He Said

Yes, yes.... This is more or less what my spittle-flecked windshield gets to hear whenever I drive past Patrick Henry College to go grocery shopping. Via Pharyngula, Darksyde over at Unscrewing the Inscrutable serves the God Gene up on a bed of lettuce and avocado garnish:
Lots of death, famine, drowning, and apocalypse litter these Godly wakes, all sewn up w[i]th apologists for each and all. Apologists quick to earnestly explain at great length why the entity in question perfectly imitates a being that does not exist at all, and cannot be detected by any empirical means including ones we haven't thought up yet, but is nevertheless round us every second of every day. Damn that's pretty convenient isn't it? They're there, see ... they're there: They're just invisible to any possible sensing device or organ. And in almost every case this supernatural menagerie possesses a seemingly obsessive concern about the most trivial human behavior including, but not limited to, the architecture of our homes, how we prepare cheese and meat, the length of our beards, masturbation, and a whole list of other obscure, loony shit.
Most of his Comments center on the Community that religion offers. As if the comradeship and filiality you get out of your bowling league or just a nice chat with the grocery clerk is somehow degraded and profane, lacking as it is in the Grace that from Old Nobodaddy Doth Flow. I call bullshit on that.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Good Enough to Eat Thing

Saturday Night, Peeps House, Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio. Spring 1981.

Jaded, blasé college junior Neddie Jingo is beginning to come to an understanding that (although he has at the time no way of knowing it) will mark his final passage to adulthood.

He realizes he hates, to the point of loathing, crowded smoky rooms with music so loud that conversation is impossible. When "Rock Lobster" is playing at such volume that one's leather-lunged sallies of seduction fall on unhearing ears and blank face ("Wanna fuck?" "What?" "Let's go upstairs and -- oh never mind." "What?"), one intuits that one's time might be more profitably spent. It will be a long time before this insight will cause him to make the sort of life-altering choices that will eventually land him, decades later, in a clearing in a forest on the side of a mountain in rural Virginia. The impulse is exactly the same -- loud room, loud city. But for our purposes let it suffice that, disenchanted, he leaves the smoky commons and wanders upstairs to the residence to check out the haps.

One room contains a few desultory friends. He goes in, sez howdy, picks up a guitar, slouches into a beanbag chair, begins to plunk aimlessly, dreamily. I-vi-IV-V. IVmaj7-ii-V7-I. I-ii-iii-IV-V7 ("You went to the finest school all right, Miss Lonely...")

He becomes aware of figure on a nearby couch. Smoking. Staring intently.

"You're pretty good," comes from the wreath of smoke.

"Thanks." He's competent. Andy Summers, Django Reinhardt, Danny Gatton, Christopher Parkening. They're good. Neddie's just barely scraping into Doesn't Suck Completely. But it's nice to hear.

"You ever write any of that stuff down?"

"What, what I'm playing?" Hell, this is just improvising. Chord archetypes. All songs are made up of 'em.

"You should write 'em down. Copyright 'em. I did. Got me a trucking business out of it." He stares intently, expecting something from me. Interest. Fascination. Dropping everything and staring, rapt: Oh, do go on! The adult Neddie would have done just that. But not the 20-year-old model. Way too cool for school, that one.

Who the hell is this guy? Townie, seen him around a few times, cadges beer at frat parties and tries to chat up coeds. Mostly harmless. But he makes Neddie nervous, seems far too intent on wrenching away his interest, his cool. A blowhead, a buzzkill. Ned makes his obeisances to the room, sets the guitar down, leaves.


Pierce Dining Hall. Spring 1981.

Some time later, he mentions this encounter to a friend over dinner.

"Oh! You met the 'Yummy, Yummy, Yummy' guy!"


"Yeah! Guy claims to have written 'Yummy, Yummy, Yummy, I've got love in my tummy"! Nobody knows if it's really him, or he just says that to get into girls' pants, but yeah: He comes into town on Saturdays, goes to frat parties, drinks free beer, and tells people he wrote 'Yummy, Yummy, Yummy.'

"Jesus. Some people."



Used Record Store, New York City, Winter 1985.

Copy of The Ohio Express's "Golden Classics" in his hands. Hey! Check out this super-kitschy bubblegum record! Ohmygod, that gay blue-velvet neckpiece that guy's wearing, that double-breasted coat, and that blue ruffled pirate-shirt--"


"Yummy, Yummy, Yummy" guy. Extreme left, yellow cravat. Absolutely no mistaking it: Jeeeeezis Cripness on a toasted motherfuckin' bun, that's the guy! That's old Wreath-of-Smoke, old You're-Pretty-Good, old Got-Me-a-Trucking-Business!

He wasn't lying! He really did exactly what he said he did! And Neddie, complete buffoon, complete skeptical nose-in-the-air standoffish pinhead, the guy he tried to tell to write down and copyright his ideas, the guy he tried to impart some fuckin' wisdom to -- just snickered up his sleeve.

Oh, he hates himself.

But at least he has a story that he can dine out on for a bit. Never hurts to be a little self-deprecating at parties. The chicks love a guy who can laugh at himself.


Cyberspace, 2005.

Joey Levine is a prolific songwriter, producer and performer of pop music starting around 1966. He sang lead vocals on several charted Top-40 pop singles, including "Run Run Run" by The Third Rail (1966), "Yummy Yummy Yummy" by The Ohio Express (1968) and "Life Is A Rock (But The Radio Rolled Me)" by Reunion (1974). He specialized in what was known as "bubblegum pop" music.

Levine produced records for Super K Productions, run by Jerry Kasenetz and Jeffrey Katz (Kasenetz-Katz), who released many charting single records in the late-1960s for the likes of The Ohio Express...
Now I have no idea who the "Yummy, Yummy, Yummy" guy actually was. He was in the band, and that's how he got his trucking business, and how he came to be photographed in the band. But he did not write "Yummy Yummy Yummy." The same guy who did that went on to write "Life Is A Rock (But The Radio Rolled Me)," and who I have no doubt is rich enough that he doesn't need to cadge free beer at frat parties south of his native Mansfield.

And that was definitely not old Wreath-of-Smoke. Old You're-Pretty-Good. Old Write-That-Stuff-Down. Old Voice-of-Experience.

Unless he was lying to me.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

I'm Immortal!

Ever since I was a tiny baby, I've always wondered if I could measure up to the honor of having my likeness limned by the insouciant rakehell known to the demimonde as the up-and-coming satirist enfant terrible Neil Shakespeare.

Well, it appears my time has come.

Not wishing to draw too much attention to just how rarefied a fellowship this puts me in, I won't condescend to enumerate the list of Bloggovian celebrities who have not had their likenesses done by Mr. Shakespeare, but a discreet cough and a vague wave at James Wolcott, Michael Berube, Markos Moulitsas and the Rude Pundit will no doubt make my point. I do, however, join such luminaries as Res Publica and the Viscount LaCarte on Mr. Shakespeare's gallery wall. A signal honor, Mr. Shakespeare, and I'll tip my hat to the Jesus Monument next time I saunter by.

Will No One Rid Us of this Bubblesome Beast?

I'm just sayin'.

Robertson Calls for Chavez Assassination

You need some sweet, sweet invective, Rude Pundit's got you covered.

Monday, August 22, 2005

I Loves Me Some Science

Positive proof of a Dimensional Transition to the Other World. I'm not surprised you can't see it, you miserable cynic.

Yesterday, in the course of a lovely late-summer Sunday, during a visit from my dear sister and niece, through the agency of a completely accidental meeting and chat with its former owner, I discovered that the 1780's log cabin that serves as our den was, some thirty years ago, the scene of a horrifying shotgun murder-suicide. The fella, whose name I haven't yet gleaned, generously spreading the joy to those less able (or willing) than he, offed first his cat, and then himself. The body was found later by a local farmer who still lives nearby.

Who cleaned up the gore is anybody's guess. But they did a sovereign job; not a speck or splash have I been able to find.

And believe me, I've been looking.

After dinner, over dessert on the screen porch, thrilled as only a dedicated ghoul can be, I announced my gleeful discovery to six faces, each to some degree rapt. But just as there are different attitudes toward life's vagaries, various, too, were the attitudes that greeted my bloodthirsty recitation. I might theorize that the closer one feels to one's own demise, the less vulnerable one becomes to such revelations. Certainly my audients closest in time to their own births were the most horrified. The adults were able to achieve some level of detachment from the news; the young 'uns were (I've come to regret) chilled to the core with the understanding that someone had reached such a pass of despair that he'd seen no way out but to blow his own head clean off in the selfsame cheerful place they now enjoyed their Neapolitan ice cream and Pepperidge Farm cookies. No shells, no exoskeletons, had time endowed these youngsters against such horror.

I believe ghosts may have been foremost in their minds. I have noticed that Betty and Freddie have both given the den -- ordinarily the Mecca for televisual transport -- the widest of all possible berths since my revelation.

Which is why it was so fortuitous that this morning a lovely friend sent me a link to the best unintentionally hilarious web site I've seen in quite some time. The International Ghost Hunters Society offers a "Certified Ghost Researcher home study course [that] is the most comprehensive course available on the Internet." The offering apparently consists in its entirety of a rather unprepossessing CD-ROM. Splendidly incisive as the home-study course doubtless is, it is their Free Photo Gallery that most beguiles us. (You have to scroll past the enormous banner ads.) The photos themselves are a collection of the castoffs of people's holiday snaps and family minutiae, sent in by hopeful punters seeking assurance that their utter incompetence as photographers might be better excused as a harbinger of extrasensory perception and communication with Other Worlds.

No one is more willing to validate this happy delusion than the site's proprietor, one Dr. Dave. It's his commentary that is the true entertainment here. No camera-light-leak is so obvious, no bouncing flashlight trail so howlingly self-evident, no mirror-caught flashbulb, no double exposure, no inadvertent reflection in intervening glass so blatantly obvious, that it can't be explained away so that the sober truth -- that the Expired hop around among us pretty much as thick as junebugs on a tomato -- might prevail.

Len [who sent in this photo] said, "I have been in the photography field for over 30 years. I have worked in darkrooms since 1974. I know what it takes to produce a digitally enhanced pic like this as well as in a conventional darkroom. This camera used to take this film image wasn't a very sophisticated one and I was the only one using this camera at the time. If someone sent me a pic like this without any background I would be skeptical, too....

Dr. Dave's Notes:
Len has confirmed that this is not a double exposed frame and he has not manipulated it in any way. I accept the Holmesian philosophy: When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. The skeptics prefer the principle of the Occam's razor: The simplest explanation is usually the correct one. In this case, the simplest explanation is double exposed frame, but Occam's razor fails to accont [sic; Dave's not one of history's proofreaders] for the testimony given by Len Bragg. This is one reason we support the Holmesian philosophy for evaluating photos.
God-DAMN! Science! I'm overcome by your crisp and pitiless logic!

This photo is from an even older cemetery by the name of Rosedale, Gladewater, Texas; clear night; 9:30 p.m., Nov. 2004. This shot was taken of a total black area of the cemetery."

Dr. Dave's Notes:
Our only explanation is ghost lights, if there is a natural explanation, I am not aware of what it would be.
I love you, Dr. Dave. Don't you ever let that dumb ol' Occam's Razor slice your self-confidence.

My children are no longer afraid to go into our den, having looked -- and gotten huge, satisfying belly-laffs -- at your Ectoplasmatic Analysis. They loves them some Science, now, too.

Friday, August 19, 2005

What Can a Poor Boy Do?

Not a fucking penny are you getting from me, you wrinkly amoral sacks of shit

Well, it's not like I was going anyway.

Jesus, the thought of sitting in RFK Stadium, gettin' my Sixties on with forty thousand people I loathe, squinting at a bug-sized little Mick Jagger doing that tired rooster-on-acid crap while all around me completely sober 50-year-old attorneys on comped tickets from the fuckin' American Bankers Association go "woo!" and raise the devil-horns -- nah. Not for the Jingster. My kids don't need to see their pop carted off to chokey for mass slaughter.

I remember in the early Eighties (Tattoo You? Dirty Work? Who knows?) being quite nonplussed at the fact that the Stones had a corporate sponsor -- Budweiser -- for their tour. That was new. That was, I think they'd call it, "creative." 'Cos in sleepy London Town there's just no place for a Budweiser man! was what would have appeared in my derisive blog-post back then. Mick and Keef might have pointed out to me that they needed the extra whipout to pay for the logistics of a gigantic tour, and I might have pointed out back to them that the $30 a pop* they were charging for ducats might fill that need if the Glimmer Twins scaled back on the $10,000,000 they paid themselves.

But what the fuck. I'm just some quaint crank who thinks that rock-and-roll oughtta be some kind of transgressive deal. More stupid me. That went the way of gaslight and spats yonks ago.

Still and all, things have reached some kind of Rock Bottom (heh) when Their Satanic Majesties whore themselves out to strike a sponsorship deal with Ameriquest, one of history's rottenest predatory lenders, who are engaged in an all-out, mindbendingly expensive effort to whitewash their image. Ameriquest has dropped $1.5 million into Arnold Schwarzenegger's campaign treasury, along with plenty of other politicos from both sides of the aisle and, of course, Preznit George, who's named Roland Arnall, Ameriquest's top executive, to the ambassadorship of the Netherlands. That sorta vigorish will buy you plenty of forgiveness -- what's a little flim-famming the rubes between friends?

At the opening gig, Arnold himself, of course, will be hosting $100,000 contributors in a luxury box "contributed" by Ameriquest. Picture that shit? Whee-ooo! Catchin' the Stones with Arnold! He-ah him vip de vimmin chust around midnight! -- fist in the air -- I say ja, ja, ja -- VOOOO!

"Sweet Neo Con." It kinda rocks. I really, really enjoyed downloading it off LimeWire. "The Rolling Stones Call George Bush 'Full of Shit.'"

Takes one to know one, boys.

*That was Serious Scratch in them days, chilluns. Truss me.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Blogrolling In Our Time

I keep peeking guiltily over at the Noble Eightfold Path over in the right rail of my blog. Spurred by the melancholy whistling of the wind and the gentle sway of the cobwebs, I have donned the yellow rubber gloves, dug out the bucket and Spic-and-Span from under the kitchen sink, and set to with a will. Some additions, a couple of discreet deletions.

Say Howzies to the elegant and hellacious mordant Julia at Sisyphus Shrugged, lazies and gennelmuns! I guest-blogged for her a couple-few weeks ago, and completely failed to destroy her reputation with my weeklong goofy-footed Jonathan Sebaceous Bark routine, which tells me that reputation musta been pretty tight to begin with.

Res and the gang down at Republic of Dogs have been amusing me no end. And for some reason, whenever I'm faced with Res's Comments interface, the wackiest stuff springs to mind. Wish I could summon up some of the same funny shit over here. Good on yer, kids!

Once years ago I participated in an XTC tribute compilation, put together by the contributors of Chalkhills, the XTC Online Digest. (Have I mentioned I'm a bit of a fan?) Of the many well-done contributions, my absolute favorite was submitted by Simon Knight, an astonishingly inventive mashup called "Summer Grass," which managed -- long before it was fashionable to do so, and on 4-track cassette, so take that you GarageBand weenies -- to overlap the melodies of the first two tracks on Skylarking. A dirty deed damned deftly done. Now Simon's hit Bloggoland with Homefront Radio, in which he muses on songcraft and its relationship to Life Its Own Self.

Matt at the The Tattered Coat has impressed the hell out of me with his passion and insightfulness. Most recently, a piece on Cognitive Dissonance climaxed with this graf...
President Bush finds it hard to meet with Cindy Sheehan because he knows that the eyes that will meet his gaze have been emptied of sympathy, emptied of friendship, emptied of lies. In the face of her painful truth, Bush withers and runs like a creature whose ugliness is revealed in the bright light of day.
...And I was smitten.

Neil Shakespeare makes Photoshop collages that are simultaneously brilliantly mordant and flawlessly executed. Believe me, I work with that damned app every day. I know what a slog it is to mask a complex object, and Neil's got the touch, baby. Check this one out: Fear of Christians.

And Pharyngula, well, needs no introduction. And, no doubt, PZ's traffic is gonna prolly, like, quintuple when this righteous link hits the street. Just like mine did when he linked to my Al Swearengen post last week.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


(Crossposted at The American Street)

From Salon's War Room:
For the president, 38 flavors of bad

George W. Bush is a very popular president -- in Idaho.

Survey USA has pulled together a 50-state survey on George W. Bush's approval ratings. The president gets a net positive approval rating -- that is, a poll result in which more respondents approve of his job performance than disapprove -- in just 10 states: Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Nebraska, Texas, Alabama, North Dakota, Montana, Oklahoma and Mississippi. In two other states -- Louisiana and North Carolina -- respondents are divided evenly on their president.

The other 38 states? Not so good for Bush. They don't approve of him just a little bit in Indiana and Alaska, and they don't like him much at all in Rhode Island, where respondents say they disapprove of the president's job performance by a margin of 68 to 39 percent. Rounding out the bottom five: Massachusetts, Vermont, Delaware and California.

If poll results equaled Electoral College votes, Bush would have about 75 of them right now. It takes 270 to win.
This would have been very heartening news -- in October of 2004. In August of 2005, this bodes very ill indeed.

Vindication's in the air, I can't deny it. Millions are coming to the realization they'd been sold a passel of pigshit, and the utterly enervating cognitive dissonance that pervaded the atmosphere for years seems now to be resolving itself into something more like clarity. Forty-nine percent of us saw through the smoke and mirrors last year, and shrieked like hell at every filthy diversionary tactic employed by those miserable bastards. Fifty-one percent didn't. Now those numbers have reversed themselves and then some, and we can shout "I told you so!" until our throats bleed -- but we're stuck with the result.

Vindication, sweet though it is, butters damned few parsnips.

Vindication won't prevent Iraq from collapsing into a failed state -- that "haven for terrorists" we warned about. Vindication won't prevent the next car-bomb from killing 48 more people, or however-the-hell many it was today. It won't repair the terrible damage done to the US Armed Forces, or the tattered shreds of US credibility. It won't bring back Cindy Sheehan's or anybody else's slaughtered children, or prevent more from dying.

While vindication might give you a brickbat to heave at the next wingnut you get into an argument with, that's cold comfort when the reality of the coming few years -- and the things the country's been committed to in our names -- comes to pass.

LBJ hit these kinds of numbers in 1968.

Who among us remembers 1968 fondly?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

You Swollen-headed Bloodsucker!

The League of Socialist Working Youth of Korea was renamed the Kim Il Sung Socialist Youth League at its conference in 1996. At that time he handed a torch of Juche to the youth vanguard, indicating the road to be taken by them under the banner of the Songun revolution.

He put forward the slogan "Love the young people!" and authored a number of famous works including "Let Us Exalt the Brilliance of Comrade Kim Il Sung's Idea on the Youth Movement and the Achievements Made under His Leadership", encouraging them to work miracles and labor feats.
Just when you thought lively writing had gone the way of the Gang of Four, comes the joyous people's wordsmithing of the Korean Central News Agency, mixin' it up with the dialectic, kickin' bellicose-human-scum ass and takin' arrogant-political-dwarf names!

For the Younger Set who don't remember the good ol' days of the Cold War and the Cultural Revolution, it was considered a badge of honor among the brighter lights of both the American Left and the Right (or, respectively, "cockroach lackeys of bourgeois reactionaryism" and "running dogs of the protofascist capitalist road") to be able to spout paragraphs of Maoist-propaganda insults at cocktail parties. The stuff was just so -- delicious, I think would be the word. Style points would be awarded if you could name something bestselling purportedly written by Mao, something with a blockbuster title like "Let the Youth Bravely Reject the Many-headed Monster of Bourgeois Hegemonic Imperialism!" or whip out a couple of verses of that super-catchy people's ditty, "We Celebrate the Total Annihilation of the Ultra-right Gangsters with a Fresh Revolutionary Upswing!"

The NK News site (a searchable DB of news releases from the KCNA) features a Random Insult Generator, which will really take you back. Some favorites:
You swollen-headed bloodsucker, you have glaringly revealed your true colours! (Note British spelling: Classy!]

You bellicose human scum, your ridiculous clamour for "human rights" is nothing but a shrill cry!

You politically illiterate human scum, we will resolutely smash your desperate war moves!
And you thought Baghdad Bob was funny! It'd all be a bit more hilarious, of course, if the press release I extracted above didn't end by failing utterly to disguise the hideously dreary reality of life in North Korea:
During the "Arduous March" and forced march, young men and women carried out many major construction projects including the Anbyon Youth Power Station, Kumgangsan Youth Railway Line, Hamhung Youth Goat Farm and Youth Paper Mill. In particular, young constructors built the 40-km-long Youth Hero Motorway with success in a matter of two years.
Not much room for rock-and-roll in that picture, is there.

Afterthought, 2:05 PM: I could swear that Maoist propaganda was where I first heard the term "politically correct," in approximately 1968. I then remember it being used ironically by a leftist in some offhanded joke. It assumed its current irritatingly misapplied sense only in the early 80s. Can anybody corroborate me on this?

Monday, August 15, 2005

Everything They Know Is Wrong

So when we got back home from the beach yesterday, the first, panicked thought that went through my head was "Sweet Jesus on a broke-down Zamboni, lookit all them weeds!"

In two weeks the goddamned crabgrass had absolutely taken over the front beds, there are literally hundreds of these miserable invasive, smelly trees-I-cannot-identify poking up everywhere, and there's a pokeberry bush the size of a young woolly mammoth eyeing the raspberries with obvious malign intent. The lawn's a mess, vines everywhere, and the whole wall of vegetation that surrounds my three-acre forest clearing has advanced another three feet inward. Now it's two-and-a-half acres, and if I don't get hopping with the machete -- and look right slippy about it -- it'll be two acres by Saturday.

And let's not even talk about the vegetable patch, okay?

I'm glad to see nobody turned off the Completely Natural Course of Things in my absence.

I've harped about this before, but it bears further examination. I stopped and took this picture this morning, because it illustrates what I'm going to say quite nicely:

Bucolic, no? But what you're looking at there, in that pretty, butterfly-festooned country lane, is Nature Red in Tooth and Claw -- just in a slightly more protracted way.

Once not long ago that road was open to the sun. The young trees by the side of the road noticed -- in whatever way trees can be said to "notice" anything -- that a resource vital to all of them -- light -- was to be had by the simple extension of a branch in the direction of the road. All the trees extended their branches into the light, competing among themselves for height advantage, until the shady tunnel that you now see came into being.

Now, I'm a complete 6-by-2 plank when it comes to biological science, but even I -- who have read only a couple of Richard Dawkins' books, having most recently bogged down hopelessly in "The Ancestor's Tale" -- even this complete gooberhead can see that there must be winners and losers in the competition for available resources. The winning strategy -- faster growth rate, better branch design, more efficient leaf production -- is not something the trees consciously try to produce; the winner is determined by just plain dumb luck. The loser dies. This is not a concept requiring advanced thinking or a huge, bulging brain fed by a steady diet of fish.

But this, I think, is probably the thing that most bothers our Intelligent Design friends -- the randomness of natural selection. Faced with the prospect of living in a world where a whole species can be wiped out because of a chance event that suddenly changes the nature of the competition -- a meteor impact, say, or (gulp) global warming -- the true infantility of their belief system becomes self-evident, and they rock back and forth, sucking their thumbs, hoping against hope that this utterly imbecilic idea, this neo-Medieval, peabrained Thomist notion just might -- oh pleeeease! -- turn out to be true. Otherwise, Everything They Know Is Wrong.

Try this on for size. Let's for the sake of argument allow for a moment that 160 years of solid, painstaking science has been completely discredited (forehead slap -- How could thousands of highly trained biologists have been so wrong!) and the map of Micronesia, if you connect the islands together in just the right order, actually spells Deus Me Fecit in handsome script -- what then? Darwin wrong, ergo... Parting of the Red Sea? Transubstantiation? Virgin Birth? Resurrection?

If not this, well, then, quite ineluctably and beyond the shadow of a doubt, that! Glory Halleluiah!

In the febrile little mind of the ID Creationist, I'm very much afraid that's just about exactly the level of critical thinking going on. If you can somehow refute the theory of evolution, goes the logic, you have pretty much won the whole enchilada and we can zip on back to that happy pre-Enlightenment time when the preachers made the laws and those pesky scientists were constrained to damned well ask Mother Church if their investigations jibed with current dogma or risk the label of heresy and losing their funding.

I don't usually get too hot under the collar about stuff -- you know me better than that. But this this is capital-S Stupid, comin' atcha. If the Forces of Dumbness are emboldened by Commander Cuckoo Bananas to use the power of local politics to force ID to be taught as a competitive "theory" over the objection of every credible scientist in the world, you can kiss goodbye to the notion that our standard for objective belief is observable, predictable, and testable facts. Welcome, instead, to the world that obtained when all you needed to say to win an argument was, "Well, Aristotle said it, so it must be true."

That's not how you run a civilization, kids. That's the bell, there. It tolls for thee.

Friday, August 12, 2005

From Hell's Heart, I Can't Be Bothered to Stab at Thee

Neddie Jingo: Ass-Cancer Survivor. In due time, he will recover enough to resume his usual activities, like shaving.

There. That's much better, isn't it. Amazing what a week at the beach will do -- even after what Annapolitan so felicitously characterized in a Comment as "tail problems."

The dogs are completely healed, you'll be thrilled to hear. Your academic biology types might try to tell you that dogs can't express emotions though their facial expressions -- anthropomorphic projection, et wet-blanket cetera -- but if the mid-beach-romp expression on Ring Ting Ting's face in this photo isn't an ecstatic smile, I'll eat my straw boater:

I'd have called it a shit-eating grin, but unfortunately that's probably more literally true than some of us might be comfortable with.

Today, our last full day here, was Sailing Day. Young Freddie and I (young, hell -- he's 12 going on 16) rented a WindRunner at a local outfitters and we spent the afternoon tooling around aimlessly in a delightfully spanking-fresh breeze on Currituck Sound. A WindRunner is a three-hulled craft -- the central main hull and two outrigger pontoons -- with a mainsail and a jib. It's steered like a kayak, with two pedals at your feet, and its approach to jib-sheet handling is ingeniously innovative -- certainly not what I learned on the old family day-sailer back in the day, at any rate.

Oh -- and it's just wicked fast with the wind on the beam. Woof. Wonderfully zippy. The pontoons make it super-stiff, and if your mate hikes on the windward pontoon, the thing can fly. On the other hand, it's pretty much completely impossible to capsize -- hence its popularity as rental boat.

Some fifteen minutes into the excursion, I luffed her, took the way off her, and directed Freddie into the cockpit. He was tentative at first, never having piloted a water-craft before, but once he felt her heel over in the breeze, heard the sound of the waters beginning to sluice down the hull's length, and above all the thrilling speed that you can very quickly pick up in a well designed sailboat in a stiff wind, it was pretty obvious he was rather taken with the pastime.

I do believe a sailor was born this day.

All right. Back to the world of dreams.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Eye, 1945

Ordinarily I'm about as fascinated by accounts of other people's dreams as I am by photos of other people's children, so I realize I'm treading thin ice when I bring the topic up. But yesterday, still on holiday, the Jingo family took a day-trip, a drive down through Cape Hatteras to the island of Ocracoke, a fishing village reachable only by ferry. On the way, my own deepest dream-landscape came perilously close to the waking surface, and it became very clear to me the extent to which these islands have affected my dreaming.

I need to set the stage a bit for those who haven't been there. The Outer Banks of North Carolina are a series of barrier islands that skirt the Atlantic coast from the Chesapeake Bay nearly to Charleston. They are hundreds of miles long and never more than a few hundred yards wide, and are made entirely of shifting sands. They are bounded to the west by a freshwater sound, of various names depending on how far south you are, and on the east by the Atlantic Ocean. At several points along a north-south traverse of these islands they extend so far into the ocean that you can no longer see the mainland across the sound, and your overwhelming impression -- that you're on a tiny and terribly vulnerable spit of land far, far out in the deepest, bluest water imaginable -- would be entirely correct. Here's a map to show you what I mean.

This is where it starts to get a little dreamlike.

At the town of Rodanthe, I experienced the first of my dream-flashbacks. A strangely ornate, weatherbeaten, unpainted, ramshackle tall wooden house -- all unnecessary turrets and rose-windows and weirdly cantilivered porches basking in the starkest, harshest, hottest light imaginable -- is the first building that you see on the northerly approach to the town. I realized I'd dreamed this house before, and that the kite-boarders visible on the sound from this very spot provided the hook on which was hung a dream last year of the ability to fly thrillingly long distances by holding on to sheets thrown into the wind -- launched from the roof of that house.

I'm afraid I didn't have the presence of mind to photograph that house -- but I will the next time I'm through there, believe me.

It was on the ferry from Hatteras Island to Okracoke that the dreamscape truly started to surface. At this point the distance to the mainland across Pamlico Sound is about 25 miles, which makes the desolation of this place nearly total. And looking west off the ferry across the sound, on a hot, windless day, here is what you see:

That empty flatness stretches for miles and miles in every direction, the water never more than a few yards deep. It's dotted everywhere with little manmade structures poking up through the water's surface -- bouys and mooring-points and navigation guides. You could very easily imagine it as a gigantic plat on which they're planning to erect an enormous city.

That city is what my dream-mind conjures pretty much nightly. You know -- for my entertainment.

As the ferry-ride progressed I tried to mumble some of this subsurface oneiric jibber-jabber to Wonder Woman, tried to get her to see how utterly surrealistic I found our surroundings. I'm not sure I got it across. However, tonight I cruised some online Salvador Dali collections looking for examples of Dada dreamscapes. I believe I found a very good representation of exactly how that seascape slashed open my subconscious.

My dreams. And welcome to them.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Shiver Me Timbers

The beach vacation proceeds blithely, I'm happy to report. The dogs have shown signs of excellent progress -- we've not yet seen the return of their customary whole-heart, whole-spine tail-wagging, but both have managed to display some tentative oscillations.

No, it's Wonder Woman who today hints that all is not well in Paradise. She evinces guilt, for example, that our recent purchase and avid consumption of the first season of Deadwood on DVD has had a noticeably deleterious effect on our vocabularies. My Al Swearengen post of a few days ago, (which proved rather bemusingly popular on the Internets, by the way, being read by a heady 53 people!) manifests the problem clearly: It's all very well to assume a tone of voice and a distinctive vocabulary in order to amuse and elucidate in a blog-post, but it's when one's ordinary conversation becomes peppered with casually tossed-out "cocksuckers," and one addresses one's own cherished teenaged offspring as "you dirt-worshipping little goat-fuckers," that one should perhaps sit back and take sober stock.

Perhaps spurred on by my recent flirtation with ass-cancer, Wonder Woman has also begun to be troubled by thoughts of death. In particular, over dinner last night she expressed some new opinions on the method by which she would like to dispose of her mortal remains. She declared herself unenamored of the customary burial or cremation, and has instead decided she'd like her lifeless body to be preserved through taxidermy.

Now at first blush, this may seem somewhat unconventional, bordering on the bizarre, but on reflection, it has many practical advantages, and it's just like my wonderfully pragmatic life-mate to have explored the possibilities. For example, you're far less likely to be forgotten if you have to be dusted once a week or so -- which certainly can't be smugly asserted by the occupants of cemeteries, where out-of-sight, out-of-mind rules the day. She also pointed out that visitors and house-guests are unlikely to overstay their welcome if confronted by the stuffed corpse of the former Lady of the House displayed as a curio.

But it is in the matter of home decoration that my cherished soul-partner shows the depth of her practical ingenuity. During most times of the year she suggests she could be displayed casually in the living-room, perhaps, seated on the sofa holding a drinks-tray, or a rack of popular magazines for visitors. But at holidays, think of the possibilities! A Christmas creche featuring donkeys, sheep, and Mom in full BVM drag, or perhaps a Santa's-sleigh display featuring Mrs. Claus in red with white fur trim. Ho, ho, ho! A Thanksgiving tribute in the foyer with cornucopias and Indian corn, all surrounding an artfully posed Wonder Woman in full Goodwife McPuritan regalia! The Halloween possibilities are virtually endless, of course -- and whose heart would be so hard as to be unbeguiled by an Easter tableau featuring bunnies, chocolate eggs, and Mom's preserved corpse in a simple white shift holding a sign: Halleluia! Unlike Me, He Is Risen!

It has long been a cherished daydream of ours to open a themed restaurant in a resort town. The Outer Banks of North Carolina, where we are now spending our holiday, was a haunt of Blackbeard -- was in fact the site of his final battle with the British Navy -- and so a thousand pirate-themed joints flourish up and down the islands. Last night in Nags Head we passed one place that had a fiberglass pirate out front, posed to attract foot-traffic. Wonder Woman proposed that this would be a capital way to attract passersby to our own Pirate's Cove: Her articulated remains in silk head-scarves and duck trousers, posed rampant with cutlass brandished in the flower-bed out front amid hogsheads and shipwreck flotsam, one glass eye out wildly askew, the other hidden beneath a patch, and a scratchy looped recording blaring from a hidden bullhorn:

Shiverrrrr me timberrrrs, ye cocksuckers!

I'm calling our lawyer to have our wills updated tomorrow.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Like Losing The Ability to Smile

Brown Fang in happier times.

By dint of some sovereign palliative scalpel-work, the Medical Establishment has given its blessing for the Jingo Tendency to decamp, lock, stock and Dominion Oak Barrel, for our annual sojourn at the beach. The Recent Unpleasantness is a but a baleful memory. Another shoe remains to drop on that matter, but not before a week of La Dolce Far Neante has soothed the fevered brow.

[Later: Il dolce far niente, thank you Bob. I don't know how that French slipped in there!]

The Outer Banks of North Carolina is about a five-hour drive from Jingo Acres, and these are without question Madame Ring Ting Ting's least favorite hours of the year. Not a relisher of car trips, is our acutely intelligent pointer-lab mix lady-friend, nor of thunderstorms or electric fences. Her anxiety on the trip's outset was as heartbreaking as it was inconsolable, and not until we broke for lunch about the third hour did she evince signs that she no longer believed a sudden painful death was immediately imminent.

However, her obvious ecstasy, and that of her littermate Brown Fang, on our first walk on the beach in the oncoming gloaming of the day of our arrival, plainly made the whole ordeal worthwhile. Dashing around with noses to the ground, making life hell for every sanderling, gull and tern within leash-length, and above all racing headlong, barking madly, into the surf, all made for plainly the sort of memory a dog will treasure fondly for the rest of her life.

The next day, yesterday, I made a point of extending and deepening their enjoyment of the seashore. In the afternoon, after the human portion of the family was satiated with the beach and had retired to the air conditioning to rest for dinner, I strode out with the dogs for a swim. Down to the beach we marched, both pooches straining at the leash in pleasurable anticipation of the fun to come.

The surf was not very high, but it was present, and the three of us bounded happily into it. Brown Fang quite plainly enjoys attacking the waves head-on, leaping over their crests with fists flailing, while sister Ring Ting Ting is more the tunneler type. As the bar-sinister progeny of a German wire-haired pointer bitch who loved not wisely but too well, these dogs have amazing gun-dog features bred into them: Ring Ting Ting, by far the more wire-coated of the two, sheds water better than your average duck. Both dogs have webbed toes for swimming, and they both would rip my arms out by the sockets to wallow in even a mud puddle on our usual walks at home. Plainly, they are keenly aware and proud of their aquatic ancestry.

So, after a happy hour spent splashing and, I swear, body-surfing! -- we happy three made our way back to the cottage, where a London Broil marinated in Carolina vinegar BBQ sauce and a tossed salad awaited us. After dinner, we embarked on a traditional post-prandial ghost-crab hunt in the evening light, and the dogs had yet another ecstatically happy time fruitlessly chasing the crafty little buggers around the cooling sands.

Nothing gave even the tiniest hint of the troubles to come.

Along about bedtime, Brown Fang began to whimper pitifully. Usually this is a sign that he wants to be let outside for a nocturnal pee, but this was not the case now. He is always preternaturally attached to Wonder Woman, pretty much tied at the wrists and ankles, and he now followed her around complaining -- and by now showing mounting and incontrovertible evidence that he was a seriously hurtin' pup. In particular, he didn't want to be touched in the hindquarters.

In the early AM hours, Wonder Woman woke me up, no longer able to deal with the poor guy alone. Furthermore, Ring Ting Ting had begun to exhibit the same crying-and-complaining behavior. We called an emergency vet listed in the local phone book: Could it be viral? A bacterial infection from the ocean water? Had they gotten into something poisonous -- or could it be something from the car trip, something horrendous like an unseen puddle of antifreeze, a rat-poison setup? It's utterly impossible to listen to a beloved friend panting and whimpering in obvious agony -- it tears the innards to pieces. The vet summoned us to his practice immediately. And immediately we went.

The diagnosis absolutely floored me. I simply would never, not given an infinity of time, have thought of it. Once made, it was blindingly obvious what the problem had been all along, but I swear to whatever binding concept you want me to swear to, I, descended from millions of generations of tailless apes, had absolutely no idea such a thing was even possible.

Both dogs had sprained their tails.

Yes, you heard me. They sprained their tails. Splashing around in the surf. Using their tails as rudders and counterbalances against the unpredictable powerful currents in ways they never use them in still water, they'd both done damage -- mild, easily healed, but damage nonetheless -- to the muscles governing their tails.

Wonders will never cease. The first thing that flashed over me when the vet made his pronouncement was "Oh, so this is why they dock pointers' tails!" And I suppose that's true. If a little loony.

So now the two poor things are on the mend, antiinflammatory drugs making life easier. Within about two minutes of the injection, Brown Fang was already obviously greatly relieved, and in the next couple of days I expect them to both to rejoin me in the surf.

But I think the most pitiful thing was this: Both dogs are as affectionate and cheerful and loving and demonstrative as you could possibly hope for in a beloved family friend, and the sight of the two of them, side by side, unable to even summon up a cursory wag on my appearance, was the saddest thing I could ever care to see. Please don't try to wag, guys. I'll understand.

PS: Their names aren't really Brown Fang and Ring Ting Ting. They are Django (for Django Reinhardt) and Ella (for Ella Fitzgerald.)

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Some Sort of Explanation.

What with this string of Dark Guest Bloggers through here I guess I owe you some sort of explanation.

Don't fuckin' talk to me about Intelligent Design, OK? That's gonna get you some ridicule. What's been afflicting me makes the Vermiform Appendix and the Wisdom Tooth look like models of acute cogitation. If a second-year student of engineering had designed something quite this awful, he'd have been taken out behind the gym and beaten with sock full of soap until he apologized.

Nevertheless, here I find myself.

Trust me, I'm in no mortal danger. The thing that's wrong with me will, if allowed to progress, lead to nothing more than a series of indignities.

Meanwhile, it's mainsail set for the Isle of Vicodin, with a hearty yo ho ho and a bottle of humility.

Friday, August 05, 2005

It Is Mr. Wu's Considered Opinion

Program Note: The Jingmeister is still encrusted in Room Four with a ball of Swearengen's dope and a pair of tarts from Chicago, so we will continue with guest appearances by some of Jingo's closest pals.

Today's Guest Blogger: Mr. Wu


Swen'gin! Cock-sucka Swen'gin!

Yes, Mr. Wu? In what material way may I be of assistance to you this fine day?

Let's see, here.... Two armed men pursued a third, who subsequently fell down and was molested by a pig? Do I have that roughly correct?


Well, that's as may be, but this is Neddie Jingo's blog, a place where refined and erudite opinion is bruited about with panache and quick wit. In what way does your anecdote conform to this custom?


Indeed, cock, as you point out, sucker. Perhaps the matter may be more profitably addressed if I were to suggest some topics upon which you may wish to express an opinion? Shall we start with the current Government?


Ah, excellent. This is promising indeed. George Bush?


Lovely. The War on Terror?


Rafael Palmeiro?


The faculty and entire student body of Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia?


Loathesome Focus on the Family founder James Dobson?


The anonymous driver of a Nissan X-Terra, Maryland plate ANZ-2397, who cut me off at the convergence of Route 7 and Belmont Ridge Road this morning at 8:47?


Deceased Gen. William Westmoreland?


People who heckle Rickie Lee Jones?


Rep. Tom Davis (R. - VA)?


People who dress like pigs?


Grand Funk Railroad?


Thank you very, very much, Mr. Wu. You've been most helpful in sorting these issues out.


Thursday, August 04, 2005

On Bullshit

[Pharyngulistas, Oracularistas, Kung Fu Monkoids et al., welcome! I know you've come to listen to Al Swearengen turn the air blue, and blue enough it shall turn presently, but after the show I'd like to invite you to visit my main page, where Mr. Wu supplies a measured counterpoint. Recently I've reviewed a Rickie Lee Jones concert, celebrated the straw boater adorning every male head attending the Scopes Monkey Trial, and examined, slack-jawed with wonder, a schoolboy's notebook from 1840 a neighbor lent me.]

Program Note: While The Jingo heads off to parts unknown to recover from the Recent Unpleasantness, the Management has invited friends of The Jingo to stand in.

Today's Guest Blogger: Al Swearengen

What the fuck are you looking at?

Just what do you find so goddamned arresting in my visage that makes you stare until I start to smell cat-piss and I want to take a fuckin' tick-bath in whiskey and lye soap to take the edge off the cocksucking discomfort?

I'm Al Swearengen and this is my joint -- who the fuck are you?

Ah, you're the cocksuckers Jingo said would be along. That's all right, then. Tickles my taint to meet you, have a snort -- on the fuckin' house. Well met, as the cocksucker once said.

Where's Jingo, you ask? The fuckin' hooplehead came in here last night, looking like death warmed the fuck over, telling dark and troublesome tales of abscesses where a Christian man shouldn't have fuckin' abscesses. I sent him upstairs with a ball of dope, some free and gratis pussy, and my assurance I'd summon Doc Cochrane if things got dire. Sometime in the middle of the night we heard a banshee scream -- like as not a regular occurrence here at the Gem -- and since then the emanations from Room Four have been as peaceful as the grave. He may be alive and pestering Trixie till she kicks him in the giblets to achieve some relief -- or he may have shuffled off this mortal coil in a transport of fuckin' lubricity. None of my business if he has. More fodder for Wu's pigs, unless you'd like to claim the body for decent burial back East. Talk to Dan. We can preserve the body in the creek until you make a fucking decision.

But he did ask me to pass along a few observations before he took up his deathbed, and as a man of my word I'll discharge my fucking duty.

First, he asked me to let you in on a sure bet, to line your pockets and feed the hungry mouths that plague your household:

Should the opportunity arise to place a wager in a contest of wits -- a timed competition that consists of naming the ordinal numbers between one and ten, and consigning each one into its rightful category of Odd or Even -- between a large box of greasy carpet-fluff coagulated around a wad of half-chewed pig's-knuckle on the one hand, and the current cocksucking President of the United States of America on the other, you'd be a gibbering fool if you didn't take the dust-bunnies and the point spread.

What else, Neddie asks, are we to make of the intelligence eructed in Monday's Washington Post, wherein Hooplehead Bush declares -- more or less accidentally, just off-the-cuff like -- the equal intellectual standing of Darwinian science and cocksucking Creationism -- that the two should be presented side-by-side, let the student decide the relative merits. Thus in one fell (and I do mean fell!) swoop, 150 years of science, during which enormous exquisitely balanced, peer-reviewed and battle-tested biological wedding-cakes of scintillating scientific discovery were erected to the wonder and admiration of educated people everywhere, are placed, willy-fucking-nilly, in direct competition with a retrograde piss-take of a brain-dead idea that was laughed at by serious thinkers a hundred years before Darwin ever heard the word Beagle! By means of this casual off-the-cuff remark, it's to be noted, huge swaths of perfervid cretins, whose intellectual Parnassus is occupied by the sniggering (and very rich) carney Tim LaHaye, are further encouraged to sway and jibber hosannahs to the righteousness of a theological movement of the intellectual credibility of a cocksucking Mother Goose rhyme.

You drown in a sea of Rank Bullshit. It shrieks at you every day from field and fountain, moor and mountain. And it pains me to say it, but the longer we humans live, the greater the reservoir of accumulated knowledge, the easier it becomes for Bullshit to hold sway. You know the phrase, the cocksucker "knows just fuckin' enough to be dangerous"? That's humanity's fuckin' epitaph, boys. That's what the the cockroaches will carve on your tombstone when it's time to plow under the blackened subdivisions and the crusted industrial parks and let the cocksucking cupboard pests take over.

Stupid people like you -- who know just enough to dislike your jibbering idiot President and nothing at all about how to play rough to rid yourselves of him -- have allowed clever cocksuckers like, well, like me, I suppose, to impose a New Order on you. Here's the New Social Contract, in a nutshell:
We, the Party of the First Part, will tell You, the Party of Whatever the Fuck We Want to Call You, whatever the fuck we need to, to convince you to buy enough of some fucking useless shiny crap to keep this hustle going so we can relieve you of pretty much all the fucking scratch you possess. You, honoring your half of this inviolable contract, will buy the all of the fucking useless shiny crap we supply. You will not ask questions.

Signed, Al Swearengen.
This -- not the Constitution, not the Bill of Rights, not the fuckin' Port Huron Statement or Chairman Mao's Little Red Book -- is the Law of the Land: You will fuckin' buy what you are goddamned told to buy, and if you don't you will answer immediately to the Highest Authority. You will spend extra on Christmas, and if you fail to display prominently on your person the multifarious cocksucking logos of the producers of the shiny crap you are contractually obligated to buy, you will be ostracized with prejudice.

And you, you sucker of suckers, you hooplehead to rule all hoopleheads, continue to service this contract without stringing people like me up by the balls.


Well, enjoy your whiskey and pussy. I'm off to see a man about a pig.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

A Good-News-Bad-News Kind of Deal

Good News: It's not ass-cancer.

Bad News: It still hurts like a world champion bitch, even with lashings of the very best painkillers and antibiotics modern medicine can provide.

Tomorrow I consult with a surgeon, and we'll see what ensues from that. Pending that, I'm afraid I'm not much good for anything but lying on my side on the sofa, watching rented movies and quietly flicking my lower lip with an idle finger: bi-bi-bi-bi-bi-bi-bi-bi....

In other news, ho-lee Kazoosis, what a huge influx of traffic I got in last night from people Googling Freda Sorce! Like, Wolcottian numbers. I'm sure it was as a result of Mike Sorce's (Don Geronimo's) solo return to the air yesterday afternoon, which was as affecting a piece of radio as I've ever heard. The sort of thing that makes you want to run inside and give everybody you love a big hug and never let go, because there's absolutely nothing to prevent their sudden disappearance tomorrow.

Like, if they got ass-cancer or something.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Please Stand By

What I sincerely hope is a minor medical emergency has sidelined me for what I sincerely hope is a scant few days.

Don't want to gross you out with the details, but I believe I have a date with a knife -- and I sincerely hope it happens today or sometime very soon, because I'm sincerely hurting.

Meanwhile, let me leave you with this advice: Be grateful for the small things, like the ability to sit down, because you never know when they'll be taken away from you.

Genus Codeine, Species Vicodin.

I believe I'll ask for it by name.

The thing that's afflicting me is, I believe, a complication from the entirely routine surgery I was alluding to in the referred post. Either that, or it's ass-cancer.