Saturday, December 27, 2008


This is a picture of Amy in the courtyard of the Museo Lapidario Scipione Maffei, just off the Piazza Bra in Verona, during our honeymoon trip to Italy in 2000. That was a great trip to Italy and the French side of Switzerland. It was just a few weeks before Bush won the election and we could still admit to being Americans, and folks liked us.

Verona is a wonderful tourist/working-class town, a lot like our own Boston. If I could live anywhere, after the Happy Valley, and Cambridge, and Manhattan, and Florence, Italy, it would be Verona. When we hit the lottery we will have apartments in all of them.

It's a question I love to ponder in bed at night- if you won the lottery and could have apartments anywhere in the world, where would you have them?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Mary Crispymas!

Ah, Christmas, my favorite holiday! What I love most is singing the traditional Christmas carols, like "Daddy Shot Rudolph and Hung His Head on Our Wall", "I Saw Mommy Blowing Santa Claus", "Oh, Little Whore of Bethlehem", "Santa's Got A Gun", "The Little Gang-Banger Boy", and "Oh Come, Marianne Faithful".

Comer on everyne, let's sing!

Chuck's nuts roasting on an open fire
Jack Frost ripping off your nose
Yuletime Carol being done by the choir
And folks out dissin' eskimoes...

Everybody knows
that Holly is a friggin' ho,
and Ronny killed her kids last night,
Fucking cops, if your husband don't know,
Can make you sleep so deep, tonight...

A Seasonal Hunting Song

(with apologies to Tom Leher)

I always will remember,
'Twas a year ago December,
I went out to hunt some deer,
On a morning bright and clear.
I went and shot the maximum
the game laws gave myself:
Two bell ringers, seven reindeer, and an elf.

I was in no mood to trifle,
I took down my trusty rifle
And went out to stalk my prey.
What a haul I made that day!
I tied them to my fender,
and I drove them home myself:
Two bell ringers, seven reindeer, and an elf.

The law was very firm, it
Took away my permit,
The worst punishment
it could manage to propose.
It turned out there was a reason,
It seems elves were out of season,
And one of the reindeer had bright-red, glowing nose.

People ask me how I do it,
And I say "There's nothin' to it,
You just stand there lookin' cute,
And when something moves, you shoot!"
So there's ten stuffed heads sitting
on my maple trophy shelf:
Two bell ringers, seven reindeer, and an elf.

Friday, December 19, 2008

I Suppose it Was Inevitable...

To: All Staff
From: The Board of Directors
Date: December 19
Subject: New "Twelve Days of Christmas" Policy

The recent announcement that Donner and Blitzen have elected to take the early reindeer retirement package has triggered a good deal of concern about whether they will be replaced, and about other restructuring decisions at the North Pole. Streamlining is due to the North Pole's loss of dominance in the season's gift distribution business. Home Shopping TV channels and mail order catalogues have diminished Santa's market share. He and the Board could not sit idly by and permit further erosion of the profit picture.

The reindeer downsizing was made possible through purchase of a late model Japanese sled for the CEO's annual trip. Improved productivity from Dasher and Dancer, who summered at the Harvard Business School, is anticipated. Reduction in the reindeer will also lessen airborne environmental emissions for which the North Pole has received unfavourable press (gas and solid waste). We're pleased to inform you that Rudolph's role will not be disturbed. Tradition still counts for something at the North Pole!

Management denies, in the strongest possible language, the earlier leak that Rudolph's nose get red, not from the cold, but from substance abuse. Calling Rudolph "a lush who was into the sauce and never did pull his share of the load" was an unfortunate comment, made by one of Santa's helpers and taken out of context at a time of the year when they are known to be under 'executive stress'.

As for further restructuring, today's global challenges require the North Pole to continue to look for better, more competitive steps. Effective immediately, the following economy measures are to take place in the "Twelve Days of Christmas" music subsidiary:

1) The partridge will be retained, but the pear tree, which never produced the cash crop forecast, will be replaced by a plastic hanging plant, providing considerable savings in maintenance;

2) Two turtle doves represent a redundancy that is simply not cost effective. In addition, their romance during working hours could not be condoned. The positions are, therefore, eliminated;

3) The three French hens will remain intact. After all, everyone loves the French;

4) The four calling birds will be replaced by an automated voice mail system, with a call waiting option. An analysis is underway to determine who the birds have been calling, how often and how long they talked;

5) The five golden rings have been put on hold by the Board of Directors. Maintaining a portfolio based on one commodity could have negative implications for institutional investors. Diversification into other precious metals, as well as a mix of T-Bills and high technology stocks, appear to be in order;

6) The six geese-a-laying constitutes a luxury which can no longer be afforded. It has long been felt that the production rate of one egg per goose per day was an example of the general decline in productivity. Three geese will be let go, and an upgrading in the selection procedure by personnel will assure management that, from now on, every goose it gets will be a good one;

7) The seven swans-a-swimming is obviously a number chosen in better times. The function is primarily decorative. Mechanical swans are on order. The current swans will be retrained to learn some new strokes, thereby enhancing their outplacement;

8) As you know, the eight maids-a-milking concept has been under heavy scrutiny by the EEOC. A male/female balance in the workforce is being sought. The more militant maids consider this a dead-end job with no upward mobility. Automation of the process may permit the maids to try a-mending, a-mentoring or a-mulching;

9) Nine ladies dancing has always been an odd number. This function will be phased out as these individuals grow older and can no longer do the steps;

10) Ten Lords-a-leaping is overkill. The high cost of Lords, plus the expense of international air travel, prompted the Compensation Committee to suggest replacing this group with ten out-of-work congressmen. While leaping ability may be somewhat sacrificed, the savings are significant as we expect an oversupply of unemployed congressmen this year;

11) Eleven pipers piping and twelve drummers drumming is a simple case of the band getting too big. A substitution with a string quartet, a cutback on new music, and no uniforms, will produce savings which will drop right to the bottom line;

Overall we can expect a substantial reduction in assorted people, fowl, animals and related expenses. Though incomplete, studies indicate that stretching deliveries over twelve days is inefficient. If we can drop ship in one day, service levels will be improved. Regarding the lawsuit filed by the attorneys' association seeking expansion to include the legal profession ("thirteen lawyers-a-suing"), a decision is pending. Deeper cuts may be necessary in the future to remain competitive.

Should this happen, the Board will request management to scrutinise the Snow White Division to determine if seven dwarfs is the right number.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Wonderful 2009.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Well, that was quick...

Barack, Barack, what are you thinking? You are picking neo-Facist televangelist Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at your inauguration?

This is the same man who campaigned in favor of California's recent ban on equal rights for its all citizens (Prop 8, the gay marriage ban), does not believe in evolution, has compared abortion to the Holocaust and advocated the assassination of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The guy is a hate-spewing, simple-minded fruit-loop, and certainly unfit to be anywhere near the White House. This is one decision you will have to re-think.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Three Throws For $5.00 !!

This video needs some music, and perhaps a song. Next summer I hope some enterprising sort makes up a carnival game where you can throw a shoe to dunk a guy wearing a Bush mask into a water tank, I'd pay to do that.

Apparently in the Middle East it is the ultimate insult to hit somebody with a shoe and call him a dog (which is what the reporter shouted). I fear the symbolism may be lost on most Americans. So let's all think up a Western version -what would you like to throw at the President? Keep it nice- we don't want any more visits from the Secret service...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

'Tis the Season!

In the Spirit of the Season we went down to the Christmas Tree Farm today and killed a tree for the Baby Jesus. Call me old-fashioned, but nothing quite celebrates the season of Joy, Peace and Love like killing something with a chainsaw.

I feel so... so... so Republican!

Friday, December 12, 2008


This was the scene in our backyard one evening last week.

Today it's covered with slushy ice, and the water that ran off the ice decided to visit the basement.

I've been fiddling in Facebook and skimping on my Blogger responsibilities. I've been a bad blogger.

Tina Fey should spank me.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Judge? We Don' Need No Steeenking Judge...

It looks as if New York Giants star Plaxico Burress is headed for jail, not for shooting somebody (he shot himself, but isn't pressing charges), and not for carrying an unregistered handgun into a New York nightclub. Heck, he could not have registered that gun even if he had wanted to, since he is a New Jersey resident and New York does not issue permits to out-of-state residents, nor recognize "licensed-to-carry" permits from other states (he does have a Florida permit).

Plaxico Burress is going to jail because the state of New York doesn't trust it's judges, and that steams me.

Several years ago New York state decided to take the "judging" part out of judges hands when it comes to carrying an unregistered firearm by passing a law that gives a mandatory 3.5 year jail sentence for a first offense. Now I don't know if three and a half years is too much, too little, or just right for that particular crime, and I don't really care, that's not the issue. The issue is that if we are going to have judges, it should be up to the judge to judge, on a case by case basis, what an appropriate sentence is. That's why we give them the robe, the high desk, the gavel and all those law books. In England they give them funny wigs. If we aren't going to also let them pass judgment we might as well replace them all with trained parrots. Parrots would be just as effective, and would add some color to otherwise drab courtrooms.

New York state is not alone in short-circuiting the criminal justice system- I'd guess most states have a variety of mandatory sentencing laws these days, and they're all bad ideas. I'm sure it's true that there are some judges who, on occasion, hand out unfairly light sentences, which is what these laws are designed to prevent. But to take the discretion out of the hands of all judges simply because a few make a mistake from time to time is rather like taking a sledgehammer to your television because you don't like American Idol- it's briefly satisfying yet ultimately foolish.

This really has nothing whatsoever to do with Plaxico Burress- the man's an idiot who did a stupid thing and he's damn lucky he's not singing soprano today, after jamming a loaded, un-holstered gun into the waistband of his sweatpants at a crowded club. But is that worth 3.5 years in prison? I don't know, maybe it is and maybe it isn't. I do think that in the case of Plaxico Burress, and in every other case, it should be up to a judge to decide.

Monday, December 01, 2008

The Simple Life-

As we enter the month of December, Christmas Shopping Season, Holiday Party Season and all the other hoopla that go with the Holidays, sometimes it's good to take a step back and try to simplify.

In that spirit, I offer the following Amazingly Simple Home Remedies to Simplify Your Life which I stole from somewhere or other-

-Avoid cutting yourself when slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop.

-Avoid arguments with the Mrs. about lifting the toilet seat by using the sink.

-For high blood pressure sufferers: simply cut yourself and bleed for a few minutes, thus reducing the pressure in your veins. Remember to use a timer.

-A mouse trap, placed on top of your alarm clock, will prevent you from rolling over and going back to sleep after you hit the snooze button.

-If you have a bad cough, take a large dose of laxatives; then you'll be afraid to cough.

-You only need two tools in life - WD-40 and Duct Tape. If it doesn't move and should, use the WD-40. If it shouldn't move and does, use the duct tape.

-Remember: Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.

-If you can't fix it with a hammer, you've got an electrical problem.

- -

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday Redux'ted

I know the economic news has been a bit grim lately, what with hordes of out-of-work Republican office-holders soon to be roaming the countryside in despondent packs (or perhaps PACS), but be of Good Cheer, it's time to cast all reality aside and celebrate-


We posted our first "Non-Stop Black Friday Coverage" last year, and our plan this year was to rev up the Datsun minivan and go back on the road today with "Return of Non-Stop Black Friday Coverage -We're Back, and We Have Fresh Credit Cards!". However, due to economic constraints (well, ok, the truth is that our staff ate so much yesterday that we can barely waddle to the keyboard to check our email), we are going to post an updated version of last year's coverage instead.

(Another good reason to stay home- our lawyer says that several of the restraining orders we received from local shops, as a result of last year's Coverage, have not yet expired.)


7 A.M. Black Friday begins at 4 a.m., when all the stores open, and if you're not in line at the front doors then you might as well stay in bed and wait 'till next year. So, wanting to do it right, we got up at 3, had a quick breakfast, scraped the ice off the car and headed out to the nearest Wal*Mart. I expected it to look something like this-

Imagine my surprise when it looked like this instead-

Ecstatic at our luck at being first there, we made a mad dash into the store, stopping only to kick down the doors (I'd been told this was traditional) and started loading stuff into our carts. The lights weren't on, but we started a bonfire in the Xmas card section, and soon had a dozen carts filled up, which is when the police arrived.

Apparently not all Wal*Marts open at 4 a.m., and not all Wal*Mart store managers have a sense of humor, at least not when they're gotten up at 5 to mop up the charred remains of their greeting cards display.

Despite this unexpected interruption of our Black Friday activities, we've got a call in to a bail-bondsman and expect to be back on the road shortly. I'll keep you updated!

Um, I need to wash up, anyone got any soap?

11 A.M. Finally out of jail. My cousin's friend Vince sprung us, free of charge, and he's going to send me on an all-expense paid trip to Turkey as well! All I have to do is pick up a suitcase of gifts for him from a friend at the Ankara train station and bring it back through customs. Vince is a champ, and really has the Christmas Spirit!

Undaunted by our ordeal, we got back on the road and headed for the next mall. I've got to say, I love the Christmas Shopping Season, it brings back such warm memories. Santa on the street corner smelling of cheap cologne and bourbon, bailing my uncle Fred out of jail for drunken driving after his office Xmas party, hurling on Santa's lap after too many Happy Meals...

Good times.

So when we drove in to the next mall I was ready for a special, All-American Christmas experience. Something like this-

But apparently my friends were right, and we should have gotten there before 10, because when we went in we found this-

Saddened but not discouraged, we decided to take a break and stop at a local roadside establishment for some lunchtime "fortification" before journeying on.

I wonder if they serve sherry?

5 P.M.
Oops, sorry, we've been having a fun afternoon at this bar. It's very Christmasy and festive, and there's a woman named Sherry (how's that for a coincidence?) who's giving what she calls "Holiday Quickie Specials" in the bathroom. Santa's even here!

Holiday cheer is great, but I suppose we'd better get back on the on the road now. Where the Hell did I leave the car? Did we even drive? What month is it?

HEY, where'd all my credit cards go????

8 P.M. We're bailed out, strung out, vaccinated and back! The third mall we stopped at had some stores that hadn't sold out yet, and we went into full Shopping Mode. There were some great bargains left, let me tell you!

For almost everyone on my shopping list I got the Ultimate Style-Up-Your-Ass Christmas Gift- monmogrammed toilet paper!!!! Look at the hand-crafted workmanship, and only $3.60 a roll!!!

For a few select friends, I got a bumper sticker that about says it all-

And, for my aunt who worships Martha Stewart as a God and shops nowhere but Macy's, I got the perfect garden ornament-

I think that takes care of my Crispymas shopping! I am honored to have been able to take part in Black Friday, and now I'm heading back to the bar.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkey Daze - II

OK, despite all your great suggestions (hairspray & lighter fluid didn't get the bird, but did roast the potatoes, and the couch) the "free range" (feral) turkey has resisted all entreaties to "get into the pan and swallow this damned bowl of stuffing".

Stupid bird.

On second thought, however, we realised that with 18 people here for dinner, the "free range" (feral) turkey isn't really big enough anyway.

So, the turkey and the cats have barricaded themselves in the pantry, singing "We Shall Overcome", and we are moving on to Plan B-

A Happy Thanksgiving to all our American friends, and a Happy Thursday Even Though It's Just Like Any Other Thursday to all our other friends!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Turkey Daze - I

Well, the 2008 Thanksgiving turkey just got delivered, and I've spent the last hour chasing it around the living room with a hatchet. Free-range, my ass. This thing's feral. I'll bet they trapped it on the way over and threw it in the box.

And call me stupid, but I didn't think turkeys had teeth...

-to be continued.

Monday, November 24, 2008



My cold is gone, but now I've got hay fever again.

I'm just going to sell my goddman nose on Ebay. I'm through with it.

Where the fuk did that other box of Kleenex go???


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Boy, that Moscow Mule Kicks...

My, my, my... digging through a box of ephemera we uncovered this gem from the mid 1960s-

Of course, vodka has made a comeback in the past 10 years, with lime-flavored vodka, cherry-flavored vodka, and pistachio-flavored vodka, but somehow this little pamphlet appeals to me more than all the over-priced, over-hyped stuff they are trying to peddle now.

Not that you could actually give a "Vodka Party" today- somebody would hit a tree on the way home and you'd get your rear-end sued off. But let's just take a look at some of the snacks they recommend-

-avacado dip (matches the color of your new fridge)

-broiled anchovies (I actually love anchovies, but nobody is going to want to enter the house after you get done broiling a batch)

-cheese sticks (remember, what's good for Kraft is good for America)

-cheese logs (in case your arteries survived the cheese sticks)

-camembert almond balls (actually, I'd try those. I've never heard of such a thing, but it sounds as if it might be good, especially after a few vodkas).

The pamphlet then roves over toward the more "dramatic" entrees, incliuding "Flaming Dishes". I'm not sure I'd stick around for that performance- the host and hostess have had a half-dozen Moscow Mules, and then attempt to set fire to the turkey...


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

ANARCHY (oops, sorry- butter) IN THE U.K.!!!!

Here in America we have become sadly used to the sight of our former rock 'n roll idols, counter-culture heroes and youthful ne-er-do-wells selling their images or songs to shill pickup trucks and instant pudding.

But, you know, this is America. We're greedy like that.

But now the rot has officially come to England. I'm not sure if our friend the Manic Street Preacher is ready to see this (though he probably already has), but Johnny Rotten is now flogging-



Monday, November 17, 2008

You'd Think It Would Go Without Saying, But-

Got a cold. Feeling bitchy. Reading the news and wondering what some people are thinking.

You'd think it would go without saying, but-

-if you're going to walk along active train tracks, don't be boppin' to the tunes on your iPod headphones.

-if you're going to live in the canyons of southern California, make sure anything of sentimental value is ready to pack at a moment's notice, and decide beforehand that the rest of it can be replaced. facing a 50-foot wall of flames with a garden hose is 10xstupid.

-if you're shipping ANYTHING worth more than a buck-fifty Canadian, do NOT ship it anywhere near the coast of Somalia.

-if you were thinking most of that $700 Billion Wall Street bail-out was not going to end up in insider's pockets, I have some credit-default swaps to sell you.

-if you think Citibank's CEO is not going to get a big-fat bonus for laying off all those working stiffs a month before Christmas, see above.

-if NASA thinks it's going to get promising young candidates for the next generation of the space program with headlines like "Astronauts at International Space Station Drink Own Urine", see above.

-according to the US government, the healthiest US city is Lincoln, Nebraska. All that news does is make me want to order more cheesy fries.

-one more headline: "After Meeting, Obama, McCain Agree to Work Closely Together". Uh huh. At what, keeping Sarah Palin out of the White House? If that's it, I'm sure they'll have plenty of bi-partisan support. I see Mitt Romney has his hand up to volunteer already...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

You Can't Get Fooled Again

Sarah Palin told an interviewer yesterday that she would be "honored" to work with Barack Obama (despite still being concerned about his "palin' around with terrorists") because we all need to work to "progress the nation".

Query: What if the nation doesn't want to be "progressed"? It sounds suspiciously like being SimonizedTM.

Never mind the fact that her form of "progress" is really "regress", her statement sent me into a ten-minute Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome panic attack brought about by suffering through 8 years of listening to a president who had declared Jihad on the English language. I finally recovered for just long enough to put food on my family.

Watching Barack Obama give his election night speech, and then his first press conference, was a pleasure simply because I had forgotten what it was like to listen to a President of the United States speak proper English in complete sentences.

And now Sarah Palin, the "Disastah from Alaska", is climbing back into the ring, ready to pummel the still-recovering Grammar Fairy into quivering submission once more.

All I ask of Americans between now and the 2012 election is this- in the immortal words of a President-Who-Will-Remain-Nameless- "Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Armistice Day-

-John McCrae


Well how'd y'do, Private Willie McBride?
Do you mind if I sit here, down by your graveside?
And I'll rest for a while in the warm summer sun,
I've been walking all day now, and I'm nearly done.

And I see by your gravestone you were only 19,
when you joined the Glorious Fallen, in 1916,
well I hope you died quick, and I hope you died clean...
or Willy McBride, was it slow and obscene?

Did they beat the drum slowly, did they sound the fife lonely?
did the rifles fire o'er ye as they lowered you down?
Did the bugles play the "Last Post" and chorus?
did the pipes play "The Fields, and the Forest"?

And did you leave a wife or a sweetheart behind?
In some faithful heart is your memory enshrined?
And though you died back in 1916,
to that loyal heart, are you forever 19?

Or are you a stranger, without even a name?
forever enshrined, behind some glass pane,
in an old photograph- torn and tattered and stained,
and faded to yellow, in a brown leather frame?

Did they beat the drum slowly, did they sound the fife lonely?
did the rifles fire o'er ye as they lowered you down?
Did the bugles play the "Last Post" and chorus?
did the pipes play "The Fields, and the Forest"?

Now the sun's shining down on these green fields of France,
the soft wind blows gently and the red poppies dance,
the trenches have vanished long under the plow,
no gas and no barbed wire, no guns firing now.

But here in this graveyard it's still No Man's Land,
as thousands of white crosses in mute witness stand,
to Man's blind indifference to his fellow Man,
and a whole generation that was butchered and damned.

Did they beat the drum slowly, did they sound the fife lonely?
did the rifles fire o'er ye as they lowered you down?
Did the bugles play the "Last Post" and chorus?
did the pipes play "The Fields, and the Forest"?

And one final question, young Willie McBride,
do all those who lie here know why they died?
Did you really believe them when they told you the Cause?
Did you really believe that that War would end wars?

For the suffering, the sorrow, the glory, the shame,
the killing, the dying, it was all done in vain.
Young Willie McBride,
it all happened again...
and again
and again
and again
and again...

Did they beat the drum slowly, did they sound the fife lonely?
did the rifles fire o'er ye as they lowered you down?
Did the bugles play the "Last Post" and chorus?
did the pipes play "The Fields, and the Forest"?

-Eric Bogle

Friday, November 07, 2008

(Not Really) the Bulwer-Lytton Contest Winners-

“It was a dark and stormy night!"

Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, [1803–1873) was a popular Victorian writer, perhaps best remembered today for his florid, over-blown style. He was the author who penned the infamous opening sentence-

“It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents—except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”

He is immortalized by the annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, in which contestants vie to supply atrocious first sentences to imaginary novels. The following entries have appeared on the internet and are not actually contest entries, but they certainly capture the spirit of the whole thing!

So, we are proud to present-

(Not Really) the Bulwer-Lytton Contest Winners-

10) As a scientist, Throckmorton knew that if he were ever to break wind in the sound chamber he would never hear the end of it.

9) Just beyond the Narrows the river widens.

8) With a curvaceous figure that Venus would have envied, a tanned, unblemished oval face framed with lustrous thick brown hair, deep azure-blue eyes fringed with long black lashes, perfect teeth that vied for competition, and a small straight nose, Marilee had a beauty that defied description.

7) Andre, a simple peasant, had only one thing on his mind as he crept along the east wall: Andre creep... Andre creep... Andre creep.

6) Stanislaus Smedley, a man always on the cutting edge of narcissism, was about to give his body and soul to a back-alley sex-change surgeon to become the woman he loved.

5) Although Sarah had an abnormal fear of mice, it did not keep her from eking out a living at a local pet store.

4) Stanley looked quite bored and somewhat detached, but then penguins often do.

3) Like an overripe beefsteak tomato rimmed with cottage cheese, the corpulent remains of Santa Claus lay dead on the hotel floor.

2) Mike Hardware was the kind of private eye who didn't know the meaning of the word fear, a man who could laugh in the face of danger and spit in the eye of death -- in short, a moron with suicidal tendencies.


1) The sun oozed over the horizon, shoved aside darkness, crept along the greensward, and, with sickly fingers, pushed through the castle window, revealing the pillaged princess, hand at throat, crown asunder, gaping in frenzied horror at the sated, sodden amphibian lying beside her, disbelieving the magnitude of the frog's deception, she screamed madly, "You lied!"

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Wednesday News Headlines You May Have Missed-

I suppose that most of you have already heard that Barack Obama was elected to the Presidency last night, but our crack staff at MMB has been hard at work and, having finished off all the beer, have found a few other election-related stories the major media seems to have missed-

George Bush told reporters this morning that he has offered his congratulations to "that other guy, the one who, yuh know, beat John McCain, the same John McCain who was a prisoner of war and has served his country all his life, and uh, well, you know, I guess the country just got all Democratized on us and we gotta roll up our arms and fool me twice, right, you know? Anyone have a pretzel? I wanna give that Obama guy a pretzel."

A spokesman for Governor Sarah Palin announced that as the Governor was packing in her Arizona hotel room this morning she found an entire box full of "g"'s she has been dropping for the last two months. The spokesman said the "g's will be donated to poor, g-deprived Republicans in George Bush's home state of Texas.

Joe The (not really a) Plumber has issued a press release stating that he never liked John McCain that much anyway, and that his new 'Joe the Plumber Action Figures(tm) are now available on his website, and that his new country single, "I've Got a Plunger for You, Baby", will be available at Wal*Mart next week.

Conservative columnist Michelle Malkin notes in her column this morning that, after a full twelve hours as President-elect, "B. Hussein Obama" has not yet solved the financial crisis, made America energy-independent, or attacked Iran, and termed his Presidency "a miserable failure".

Vice President-for-Life Dick Cheney was unavailable for comment, but trucks of canned food, bottled water, and rolls of barbed wire have reportedly been streaming into the Vice President's compound since midnight last night.

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney told reporters last night that he's moving to "either Iowa or New Hampshire, or maybe both" and will begin campaigning for the 2012 election tomorrow, taking a firm stand on "all the issues that are important to everybody, whatever the polls, I mean the people, tell me they want me to be for, which I already am anyway, 100%, and always was, even when I wasn't".

Tina Fey was last seen doing blueberry jello shots in Times Square, table-dancing nude with Susan Sarandon and burning her Sarah Palin wig.




Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A Modest Proposal-

As Election Day rumbles into its final hours we are once again hearing reports of voters being mysteriously dropped from their local voting rolls, fouled-up machinery, and long lines, up to 6 or 7 hour-long lines in some places in Virginia.

I submit that this is a disgraceful state of affairs for the country that is supposed to be setting the standard for other nations to follow. I have therefor assembled a trio of Modest Proposals I hope the next President and Congress will consider-

-Automatic National Voter Registration. If you are a US citizen, you are a registered voter. Start a Federal Voter Database which is tied to your social security number. When you move your registration is automatically forwarded to your new precinct and deleted from your old one. No need to register, check local voter lists against federal lists, etc. Just a clean, everyone-is-registered system with one list.

-Apportionment of Voting Machines Based on Local Voter Registration. It's a disgrace that there are such wildly disparate waits to vote across the country. We're going to have a fairly high turnout in our town, and FB and I waited five minutes to vote this morning. Federal Law needs to require that an appropriate number of voting machines are available in every precinct based on the number of voters in that precinct.

-Voting Week. The right of an individual to vote is the basis of our country, yet in many states many citizens have to chose between voting and keeping their jobs. Incredible, you say? Tell that to the hourly worker at Walmart who has to vote during lunch hour and finds a six-hour line in front of him/her. Do you think Walmart, or perdue is going to continue employing them if they take the afternoon off to vote? That's highly doubtful (no matter what the law says). But why should the most important collective decision our nation makes every two/four years be packed into a single 9-hour period? We need to have the polls open for at least a week, preferably 9 days, to include an opening and closing weekend. The most precious right we have is the right to vote, and we should honor it by allowing our citizens ample opportunity to assert it. What would that hurt?

It's high time America left the 19th century behind in terms of local and state-control of the basics of voting. The Federal government needs to step in and set some real standards, and take over registration. To ignore this problem is simply going to mean a continuing set of crises caused by antiquated machinery, poor funding and local political skullduggery and party thuggery aimed at disenfranchising certain blocks of voters.

Here's hoping everything goes well this time, but based on current news reports, I'm not betting on it. Enough is enough.

Monday, November 03, 2008

R.I.P. Madelyn Dunham.

Senator Barack Obama’s grandmother, Madelyn Dunhama, a central figure in his life who helped raise him during his teen-age years, died in Hawaii this morning.

Mr. Obama, who left the presidential campaign trail last week to travel to Honolulu to bid her farewell, announced the death in a statement released by his spokesman this afternoon. Her death comes one day shy of Election Day.

“It is with great sadness that we announce that our grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, has died peacefully after a battle with cancer,” Mr. Obama said in a statement. “She was the cornerstone of our family, and a woman of extraordinary accomplishment, strength, and humility. She was the person who encouraged and allowed us to take chances.”

Meet My Booky-

I am not, not, NOT going to write about politics today! So here's a great Booky Meme I stole from Mrs. Chili-

-Hardback or trade paperback or mass market paperback?

Hardback! Hardback! Hardback! Of course, that can get expensive, but since I already sell out of print books for a living, I have easy access to used hardcovers, which are usually much less expensive than they would be brand-new. I also have accounts with Daedalus and several other scholarly remainder houses, so when I do buy new hardbacks it's almost always at a deep discount.

-Bookmark or dog-ear?

Never seriously ask a bookseller this question without expecting to get slapped upside your colophon- bookmark it, baby!

-Alphabetize by author or alphabetize by title or random?

Although our stock of for-sale books is organized by category, then alphabetized by author, my own books are shelved by genre, category, sub-category, and within sub-categories (such as mysteries) I put all the titles by one author together, but I don't alphabetize them. That seems too structured... ( <- irony)

-Keep, throw away or sell?

Yes- I keep anything I think I may want or need to read or reference ever, ever again. Books that do not fit that category are either sold or given to the local library sale.

-Keep the dust jacket or toss it?

I have never understood why anyone would toss a dust jacket. On some books it's the best part!

-Last book you bought?

Trick question- I buy books in groups when I go to bookstores or order online. My last stack was new books and consisted of-

The $64 Tomato (a true tale of backyard gardening gone bad)
An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England (literary-mystery)
The Destruction of the Battleship Bismarck (history- latest addition to my fairly complete collection of books about this battleship)
The Jupiter Myth (historical mystery set in ancient Rome)
The Lobster Chronicles (Linda Greenlaw, the captain of the other sword-fishing boat featured in 'The Perfect Storm' recounts her life as a lobster fisherman in Maine)
The Perfectionist: Life and Death in Haute Cuisine (A biography of Bernard Loiseau, one of 25 French chefs to hold three stars in the Michelin Red Guide, who killed himself in 2003)
The Root of Wild Madder (a newspaper correspondent travels the bazaars and workshops of oriental rug weavers in the Middle East)
Steeplechase (mystery)

-Last book someone bought for you?

The Complete Calvin and Hobbes.

-What are some of the books on your to-buy list?

Oddly, I don't have a to-buy list. I buy 'em as I see 'em.

-Harry Potter, Lemony Snicket, or the velvety embrace of Death?

Harry Potter.

-Morning reading, afternoon reading, or nighttime reading?

Yes. morning reading while I exercise, afternoon reading for a break or two, and evening reading in bed.

-Do you read anywhere and anytime you can or do you have a set reading time and/or place?

Well, yes. Set times as above, but I usually carry a book with me...

-Do you have seasonal reading habits?

When we go on vacation to the seaside in June I take mysteries & history. Otherwise, no.

-Do you read one book at a time or do you have two or more books going at once?

heh heh heh... Two? What do you take me for, a piker? I have one book to read while exercising, usually two others for afternoon reading (depending on my mood), one I keep by the television for evenings, and another for bedtime.

-What are your pet peeves about the way people treat books?

All yellow-highlighters go to Hell.

-How often do you read a book and not review it on your blog? What are your reasons for not blogging about a book?

I never liked writing book reports.


I'll tag anyone who wants to play along!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Well, Isn't That SPECIAL...

Michigan woman: Supporting Obama? No treats for you!

GROSSE POINTE FARMS, Mich. (AP) — A suburban Detroit woman has decided to scare up the vote among neighborhood children by just offering treats to John McCain supporters.

Shirley Nagel of Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich., handed out candy Friday only to those who shared her support for the Republican presidential candidate and his running mate Sarah Palin. Others were turned away empty-handed.

TV station WJBK says a sign outside Nagel's house warned: "No handouts for Obama supporters, liars, tricksters or kids of supporters."

Nagel calls Democrat Barack Obama "scary." When asked about children who were turned away empty-handed and crying, she said: "Oh well. Everybody has a choice."

Fax and phone messages left at numbers for Nagel were not returned.

Friday, October 31, 2008


There's a lot more at "Yes We Carve" dot com...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Paging Godless Americans-

Believe it or not, there are still a few honorable Republicans out there. As of today, any chance North Carolina Senator Elisabeth Dole had of being on such a list just evaporated. Dole is in a fierce fight with a Democrat named Kay Hagan, and has just chosen to cross that uncrossable line into religious-hate mongering. I showed this ad to my wife who at first refused to believe that it could even be real (but it absolutely is) -

I don't care if you believe in God or not, this is just waaaaaaay over the line. If you don't think so, take a moment and substitute "Jewish Americans", or "Muslim Americans", or even "Catholic Americans" for "Godless Americans" and see how it sounds. I was so deeply offended I went over to the Kay Hagan campaign site and made a contribution, and then I wrote the Dole campaign to tell them about it.


My dear Los Angeles friend Maria has changed her middle name to "Hussein" and taken the month off to go to Nevada to work as a full-time organiser for the Obama campaign. She's blogging about it daily on her blog What Happens in Vegas. She's a wonderful writer, and it's a great read.


If you haven't yet spent ten minutes on the hysterically funny 'Palin as President' website, go there as soon as you can! All you have to do is run your cursor over the picture, and whenever it shows a link, click. He updates it with new material when new things hit the news, which makes it a place you can go over and over (not that, um, I waste any time there, nosirree..., not me.) Just don't click the red phone when it rings. Really, DON'T. (Also, don't click Bambi when he shows up in the doorway- you'll be very, very sorry if you do...).


For political junkies who need one more fix, there's a great poll website called fivethirtyeight.com, which aggregates each day's polls and then comes out with broader projections. Nate Silver, the site owner, is a full-time baseball analyst-geek and uses the same computer projection techniques for the campaign that he uses to calculate a player's projected home run totals and batting average. The site is heaven for the real politico-geek, not that I visit more than, oh, nine or ten times a day. Well, ok, this past week maybe a dozen times a day, but who's counting?

Six days to go. Geez- then what are we going to talk about?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Up, Up, and Away...

The prevailing wind in the Pioneer Valley is south to north, so every spring, summer and fall the early morning and early evening sky plays host to colorful hot-air balloons which take off down toward Springfield and drift up the valley over the broad fields of corn, potatoes and pumpkins to land here in Hatfield or just to our north in Whately, short of the rocky prominence of Mount Sugarloaf.


The view from the top of Mount Sugarloaf, looking back down the Valley along the Connecticut River-


In the spring and summer, when the windows are all open, often the first warning we have of a balloon overhead is the "whooooooosh!" of the gas-powered hot-air blower pumping more hot air into the balloon.

The balloons are all followed by chase crews, who are in radio contact with the balloon pilot and drive pickups or vans pulling the trailer that the balloon will be packed up into at the end of the flight. The balloon crew carries a bottle of champagne which they present to a farmer if they land in his field.

Last summer in the early evening a balloon drifted over the house and began to come down in the soccer field of the high school across the street. As the balloon slowly descended an entire convoy of vehicles came down the street, chase truck and trailer in the lead, followed by at least a dozen cars full of people. The balloon drifted left toward some trees, and the pilot "hit the gas", making the balloon bound upward and start to drift north toward a neighboring potato farm.

The convoy of followers turned into the school's long driveway, raced around the circle in front of the school and came racing back out, tearing off down the street in the direction of the rapidly-disappearing balloon.

A number of neighbors were out on the sidewalk at this point, because you never see a convoy of cars that large chasing a balloon, and we were curious about what was going on. The mystery was cleared up when a young woman in one of the last cars leaned out the window, holding a cell-phone in one hand, and yelled to us-

"She said YES!!"


Most balloon fly-overs are far less dramatic, except for the random low-flyer who looks as if he may take the top of our chimney off. Balloons are beautiful at any time of year, but they are especially triking against the colorful fall leaves in the crisp, blue autmun sky.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

And Now for Something Completely Different...

Many of you have probably seen these already, but for those who haven't, take a moment to enjoy some-

Computer Haiku

A file that big?
It might be very useful.
But now it is gone.

The Web site you seek
Can not be located but
Countless more exist.

Chaos reigns within.
Reflect, repent, and reboot.
Order shall return.

Aborted effort:
Close all that you have worked on.
You ask far too much.

Windows NT crashed.
I am the Blue Screen of Death.
No one hears your screams.

Yesterday it worked.
Today it is not working.
Windows is like that.

First snow, then silence.
This thousand dollar screen dies
So beautifully.

With searching comes loss
And the presence of absence:
?My Novel? not found.

The Tao that is seen
Is not the true Tao until
You bring fresh toner.

Stay the patient course.
Of little worth is your ire.
The network is down.

A crash reduces
Your expensive computer
To a simple stone.

Three things are certain:
Death, taxes, and lost data.
Guess which has occurred.

Out of memory.
We wish to hold the whole sky,
But we never will.


Monday, October 20, 2008


Joe the Plumber Caught in Love Tryst with Mr. Whipple and the Maytag Repairman!

Sarah Palin Accuses Barack Obama of Wanting to Outlaw Christmas, Make Osama Bin Laden's Birthday a National Holiday, and Kill the Easter Bunny.

McCain Suspends Campaign to Deal With Current Crisis (but can't remember which one).

Obama Announces His Campaign is Buying Ad Space on Monopoly Games, Milk Cartons, & Postage Stamps.

Fox Network Announces "Who's The REAL Barack Obama?" Game Show Hosted by Tom Bergeron Will Debut This Week.

Joe Biden Strips Nude and Dirty Dances with a Donkey in Times Square in Failed Attempt to Get Anyone to Pay Attention to Him.

McCain Drops Palin, Begs Catherine Zeta Jones to Be His New Running Mate.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Children of the Corn-

On Sunday morning we made our annual trip with our friends and their kids to Mike's Corn Maze at Warner Farm in nearby Sunderland. Past mazes have pictured Julia Child and Louis Armstrong, and this year's maze is called "Odysseus and Polyphemus, An Odyssey in Corn" -

Ready? Let's go!

Uh oh. Which way?

Um, no, this is a dead end.

A bridge! I wonder where it goes...

Of course, it's everyone's favorite, the spud cannon!

A new feature this year is a gazebo with a camera obscura inside-

For a better view, you can climb the viewing platform-

Our friend Jeff appears satisfied with the day.

For completing the maze, finding the 24 numbered checkpoints, and getting out again, we got a free pumpkin, but not the one Jeff is sitting on!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Ready! Fire! Aim!

I was going to put up something non-political tonight, but then this came across my screen...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

My God is Bigger Than Your God, & Sarah Palin -Traitor??

A few years ago my friend Dr. Dan was fond of saying-

"My God is bigger than your God. My God can whip your God's ass".

He meant this sarcastically, of course. But earlier this week Arnold Conrad, past pastor of the Grace Evangelical Free Church, gave the invocation before a campaign appearance for John McCain in Davenport, Iowa, as follows-

"I would also pray, Lord, that your reputation is involved in all that happens between now and November, because there are millions of people around this world praying to their god — whether it's Hindu, Buddha, Allah — that his [John McCain's] opponent wins, for a variety of reasons. And Lord, I pray that you would guard your own reputation, because they're going to think that their god is bigger than you, if that happens. So I pray that you will step forward and honor your own name with all that happens between now and Election Day."

Suddenly I feel like I'm in an episode of the Twilight Zone...

- -

Here's an interesting article that appeared today. I was wondering how long it would take somebody to bring up Todd Palin and his past. Hey, if Michelle Obama is fair game, Todd Palin certainly is-

Palin around with traitors

York Daily Record/Sunday News
10/12/2008 12:45:10 AM EDT

John McCain's campaign thinks it's entirely fair to bring up the issue of whether Barack Obama is an acquaintance of a man who performed some detestable acts when Obama was 8 years old, acts that Obama has denounced. Obama has given absolutely no indication that he agrees with the political beliefs that brought them about.

Well, then, if that's so, it's entirely fair to point out that McCain's running mate has had an ongoing sexual relationship with someone who could be considered a traitor, who was part of a movement that had ties to a white supremacist group.

Or that she has ties to a minister who performs witch hunts and was responsible for the murder of a suspected witch's pet snake.

Or that McCain himself is somehow connected to the infamous suicide of the former treasurer of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, on live TV.

Or that McCain belonged to a group that had ties to Nazi collaborators and ultra-right-wing death squads in Central America.

Or that McCain is culpable for the current financial meltdown that threatens to destroy the world's economy.

Or that McCain is essentially a snake-oil salesman, a narcissistic con artist whose personal ambition trumps his alleged patriotism, a hypocrite who condemns those who secrete sleaze into our discourse while vomiting huge amounts of political bile, all while sporting that reptilian grin of his.

That would be entirely fair under the standards set forth by McCain and his running mate, Caribou Barbie.

Let's start with Sarah Palin and the allegations of having an ongoing sexual relationship with a would-be traitor.

Her husband, the Toddmeister, was a member of the Alaska Independence Party from 1995 to 2002. The Alaska Independence Party has pushed for Alaska to secede from the United States. Advocating secession could be considered treasonous. (And just plain stupid, considering that Alaska is the biggest federal welfare state in the country, getting back much more federal tax dollars than its residents pay, according to the Tax Foundation.)

The Alaska Independence Party has ties to a group called the League of the South, a neo-Confederate organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center considers a hate group with white supremacist leanings.

And Palin lives with a guy who belonged to the secessionist party.

The party proudly displays this quote from founder Joe Vogler on its Web site: "I'm an Alaskan, not an American. I've got no use for America or her damned institutions."

Palin herself hasn't distanced herself from the group. In March, she sent a videotaped speech to the group's convention thanking it for its "good work."

Palin has also suggested bringing up the issue of Obama's former minister, a man whose wacky beliefs Obama has rejected. If that's fair, let's look at one of Palin's minister buddies, a man whose beliefs she has not rejected in the slightest.

The preacher in question is a guy named Thomas Muthee, an African evangelist known for his witch-detecting skills. Muthee prayed over Palin during a service at her church, asking God to make her governor of Alaska. Palin's response? "That was awesome, Pastor Muthee!"

Leaving aside the theological question of whether God cares who governs Alaska, let's take a look at Muthee. In his hometown of Kiambu, suburb of Nairobi, in Kenya, Muthee identified a woman as a witch, claiming that she used her special powers to cause car accidents.


The pastor led a crusade against the car-accident-causing witch, which prompted police to storm into the suspected witch's home and shoot her pet python.

You can't make up stuff that good.

Anyway, the mob ran the witch out of town, forcing her to relocate somewhere else where she was apparently free to cause car accidents.

And Palin, according to the Associated Press, praises the guy. "Pastor Muthee was here and he was praying over me, and you know how he speaks and he's so bold," she said on a video making the rounds on YouTube.

Call it building a bridge to the 14th century.

Moving on to John McCain, the co-chair of his Pennsylvania campaign is a guy from suburban Philadelphia named Robert Asher, a bigwig in Republican circles.

Asher is also a convicted felon, having been found guilty of perjury, racketeering, conspiracy and bribery charges in the same case that brought down former state Treasurer Budd Dwyer in 1987. Dwyer, of course, is notorious for ending his final press conference with a .357 magnum.

McCain hasn't said anything about that, as far as I know. Nor has he said anything about the multitude of lobbyists for the industries that are currently leading the American economy down the drain who staff his campaign.

He has spoken in the past about his infamous membership in the Keating Five. If you'll recall, the Keating Five stood accused of helping savings and loan swindler Charles Keating avoid federal regulation while he defrauded investors out of more than $1 billion. Keating gave McCain and the four other senators in the group some $1.3 million in campaign contributions.

When his savings and loan collapsed, it cost taxpayers more than $2 billion.

That was a lot of money in 1989.

McCain said he learned his lesson from that, but what the lesson was remains unclear. He still pushes for deregulation of financial institutions, which is what led to the savings and loan collapse in the'80s and the current debacle that may wind up costing taxpayers more than $1 trillion.

And let's not even start on McCain's own preacher problem - such as seeking the endorsement of an evangelist who blamed gays for Hurricane Katrina and supports the state of Israel because it will bring about Armageddon.

Or McCain's membership in the U.S. Council for World Freedom, a group that ran guns to anti-government rebels in Central America and was tied to the Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980s. The group has been tied to Nazi collaborators and anti-Semites, the Associated Press reported.

The lesson, I suppose, is people in glass houses - or in the case of Caribou Barbie, glass igloos - well, you know the rest.

McCain has taken to asking, "Who is the real Barack Obama?"

The question could easily be turned around: "Who is the real John McCain?"

Did he ever have any principles or integrity? Was it all an act? Did he, as some people have suggested, sell his soul to win this election and now the Devil is screwing him over?

Back in 2000, when McCain was the victim of the kind of sleazy politics he is practicing now, he told Jim Lehrer of PBS's NewsHour, "Uh, I, I just have to rely on the good judgment of the voters not to buy into these negative attack ads. Sooner or later, people are going to figure out if all you run is negative attack ads you don't have much of a vision for the future or you're not ready to articulate it."

Sounds about right. He can't win with his ideas, such as they are. He has to resort to sleaze.

Back in March, McCain promised that he would run "a respectful campaign."

It would be more than fair to point out that he was lying.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Candidate We Can Get Behind-

BREAKING NEWS: Amid all the mud-slinging and terror-baiting, the internet is abuzz this morning with news of a surprising new Presidential candidate who is rocketing upwards in the polls!