Friday, November 10, 2006

11th Hour, 11th Day, 11th Month

Was when the armistice of World War One (or The Great War) took effect. Today, we call it "Veteran's Day." It might well be that the writers who came out of the crucible of that war were forged of a less pretty metal. I am going to present poems by Wilfred Owen, Alfred Lichtenstein, e.e.cummings and Siegfried Sassoon.

These were writers who held few illusions about the consequences of war. They knew well the depravity, fear, filth and chaos of battle. They lived for months at a time in muddy disease ridden trenches, they inhaled the gasses and breathed the stench of the rotting bodies with their breakfast eaten cold from a rusty can.

Wilfred Owen

Stange Meeting

It seemed that out of battle I escaped
Down some profound dull tunnel, long since scooped
Through granites which titanic wars had groined.

Yet also there encumbered sleepers groaned,
Too fast in thought or death to be bestirred.
Then, as I probed them, one sprang up, and stared
With piteous recognition in fixed eyes,
Lifting distressful hands, as if to bless.
And by his smile, I knew that sullen hall,-
By his dead smile I knew we stood in Hell.

With a thousand pains that vision's face was grained;
Yet no blood reached there from the upper ground,
And no guns thumped, or down the flues made moan.
"Strange friend," I said, "here is no cause to mourn."
"None," said that other, "save the undone years,
The hopelessness. Whatever hope is yours,
Was my life also, I went hunting wild
After the wildest beauty in the world,
Which lies not calm in eyes, or braided hair,
But mocks the steady running of the hour,
And if it grieves, grieves richlier than here.
For by my glee might many men have laughed,
And of my weeping something had been left,
Which must die now I mean the truth untold,
The pity of war, the pity war distilled.
Now men will go content with what we spoiled,
Or, discontent, boil bloody, and be spilled.
They will be swift with swiftness of the tigress.
None will break ranks, though nations trek from progress.
Courage was mine, and I had mystery,
Wisdom was mine, and I had mastery:
To miss the march of this retreating world
Into vain citadels that are not walled.
Then, when much blood had clogged their chariot-wheels,
I would go up and wash them from sweet wells,
Even with truths that lie too deep for taint.
I would have poured my spirit without stint
But not through wounds; not on the cess of war.
Foreheads of men have bled where no wounds were.
I am the enemy you killed, my friend.
I knew you in this dark: for so you frowned
Yesterday through me as you jabbed and killed.
I parried; but my hands were loath and cold.
Let us sleep now . . ."

Alfred Lichtenstein
A Prayer Before Battle

God protect me from misfortune,
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
May no high explosives hit me,
May our enemies, the bastards,
Never take me, never shoot me,
May I never die in squalor
For our well-beloved Fatherland.

Look, I'd like to live much longer,
Milk the cows and stuff my girl friends,
And beat up that lousy Josef,
Get drunk on lots more occaisions,
Till a blissful death o'ertakes me.

Look, I'll offer heartfelt prayers,
Say my beads seven times daily,
If you, God, of your gracious bounty,
Choose to kill my mate, say Huber
Or else Meier, and let me off.

But suppose I have to take it
Don't let me get badly wounded.
Send me just a little leg wound
Or a slight gash on the forearm,
So I go home as a hero
Who has got a tale to tell.

e.e. cummings
i sing of Olaf

i sing of Olaf glad and big
whose warmest heart recoiled at war:
a conscientious object-or

his wellbelov'd colonel(trig
westpointer most succinctly bred)
took erring Olaf soon in hand;
but--though an host of overjoyed
noncoms(first knocking on the head
him)do through icy waters roll
that helplessness which others stroke
with brushes recently employed
anent this muddy toiletbowl,
while kindred intellects evoke
allegiance per blunt instruments--
Olaf(being to all intents
a corpse and wanting any rag
upon what God unto him gave)
responds,without getting annoyed
"I will not kiss your fucking flag"

straightway the silver bird looked grave
(departing hurriedly to shave)

but--though all kinds of officers
(a yearning nation's blueeyed pride)
their passive prey did kick and curse
until for wear their clarion
voices and boots were much the worse,
and egged the firstclassprivates on
his rectum wickedly to tease
by means of skilfully applied
bayonets roasted hot with heat--
Olaf(upon what were once knees)
does almost ceaselessly repeat
"there is some shit I will not eat"

our president,being of which
assertions duly notified
threw the yellowsonofabitch
into a dungeon,where he died

Christ(of His mercy infinite)
i pray to see;and Olaf,too

preponderatingly because
unless statistics lie he was
more brave than me:more blond than you.

Siegfried Sassoon


SOLDIERS are citizens of death's gray land,
Drawing no dividend from time's to-morrows.
In the great hour of destiny they stand,
Each with his feuds, and jealousies, and sorrows.
Soldiers are sworn to action; they must win
Some flaming, fatal climax with their lives.
Soldiers are dreamers; when the guns begin
They think of firelit homes, clean beds, and wives.

I see them in foul dug-outs, gnawed by rats,
And in the ruined trenches, lashed with rain,
Dreaming of things they did with balls and bats,
And mocked by hopeless longing to regain
Bank-holidays, and picture shows, and spats,
And going to the office in the train.

stripped bare of illusion those of us who know well the look on the face of war, who know it as a living greedy thing want only that our children never have to learn these vile truths.

Next time there is a vote to go to war perhaps the only people who are allowed to vote yes or no should be veterans who have been there and mothers who have sons.

crossposted at 3B's

Regional Accent Test

From PZ

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The Northeast
The Inland North
The West
The South
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

that's really about what my accent is, although with my musician's ear and gift for languages i tend to pick up regional stuff quickly.

Friday Random Ten

It's Friday already. Whew. What a week. It's also veteran's day. Time to hit the ol' iPod and hit random and see what's on the player for the morning.

The Future - - - Leonard Cohen
Papa Was a Rolling Stone - - - Temptations
Jolie Blon - - - Doug Kershaw
Something So Right - - - Paul Simon
Money Changes Everything - - - Cyndi Lauper (live in Paris)
Simple Twist of Fate - - - Bob Dylan
Never Been To Spain - - - Hoyt Axton (he wrote this one and stuff)
Bye Bye Blackbird - - - Rosemary Clooney
Georgia on My Mind - - - Billie Holiday
Every Grain of Sand - - - Emmylou Harris

Bonus Track

Addicted to Love - - - Robert Palmer

bonus bonus

Son of a Preacher Man - - - Etta James

what ya'll listening too?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Jesus Camp Closed

From The Toronto Daily News

Controversial Religious Summer Camp Closed
The documentary about summer camp where children would tearfully beg God to end abortion and bless President Bush prompted to close the camp.

The summer camp "Kids on Fire" where children would tearfully beg God to end abortion and bless President Bush, will shut down for at least several years after a documentary about the camp.

The film, showing young evangelical children steeling themselves for spiritual and political warfare, includes scenes with pastor Ted Haggard, the evangelical leader accused of gay sex and drug use.

In one scene, Haggard tells the audience, "We don't have to debate about what we should think about homosexual activity. It's written in the Bible."

Titled "Jesus Camp," the documentary sparked a negative reaction, said the camp's director.

"Right now we're just not a safe ministry," Becky Fischer, the fiery Pentecostal pastor featured in "Jesus Camp," said Tuesday.

The pastor, who has been accused of "brainwashing" the children, said she's shutting down the camp for at least several years.

Up to 100 children visited the camp each year. [1]

Oh my goodness. We will be losing ground again to the Muslims. We will not be turning out enough wildly fanatical children to be future bombers of Abortion Clinics or picketers of Military Funerals. Our supply of toughly indoctrinated homophobes might be in danger.

But wait! A ray of hope just glimmered! This is Jesus Camp!

Expect a follow up story in about three days.

crossposted at 3B's

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Morning After Medicine

I'm running on only a few hours of sleep. Nights when the insomnia thing hits are tough come the morning, the horses and dogs all expect their food to be delivered (and they have every right to expect that) on time whether or not I have had a decent night's sleep.

It was especially lovely out here this morning. Homeric rosey-fingered dawn was glorious. There was a big ass Red-Tail Hawk sitting on the fence by my truck patch so I didn't have to shoo any rabbits away from my almost ready spinach rows. Barn Monster (the alpha cat) allowed me to scratch his ears (he still holds a grudge for that trip to the vet we took a while back).

There will be a crew out this morning (you know that whole "window of time" thing) that will be replacing the unstable and low-signal cables running from the system to the house, so blogging and internet access will be very light. If I have any work to be sent over the net I'll have to go to the local Starbucks to get a WiFi hookup off the laptop.

Blogging will be light or non-existant until they finish.

We Won! I'm really looking forward to seeing one particular Republican blowhard today. I'm going to cup a hand to one ear and say "I heard the voice of the people speak last night. They said for you "To Shut The Fuck Up for a couple of years." Then I think I'll giggle in his face for a while. . .

Yes, I have a mean streak.

Courtesy of The Dark Wraith (and a result of my insomnia)

"The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else."

"Theodore Roosevelt in the Kansas City Star", 149
May 7, 1918

Random Flickr Blogging (late election edition)IMG_4884

Originally uploaded by holydumb26.
EX-congressman J.D. Hayworth wanders aimlessly about as he tries to figure out what message the voters of my district were trying to send his crew cut ass.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Before I Crawl Off To Bed

Harry Mitchell has won! Jim Pederson lost but he fought hard and did better than anyone ever thought he would. The gay bashers went down. The Mexican hate machine is in full rev. We have a long road ahead.

I have critters to feed in the morning.

Election Day Random Ten (Go and Say Goodbye edition)

I'm sitting at the computer screen, phone in hand, making calls to people, reminding them what's at stake for today.

I'm about to take a break and pick up a nice old lady I was talking to yesterday. She wasn't able to arrange a ride through the republican she's supporting and I told her that I would be proud to give her a ride to the polls. I do not intend to do any persuasion or anything beyond helping a fellow citizen to the polls to exercise her right. I'm also giving her a pumpkin pie (I make the stuff I write about).

So I'm sitting here with the player on random and the first song up is

Go and Say Goodbye - - - Buffalo Springfield
Eres Tu - - - Mocedades (mexican bubble gum pop at its finest)
It's Alright Ma, I'm Only Bleedin' - - - Bob Dylan (live at the Purple Onion '66)
Dream a Little Dream of Me - - - Nat "King" Cole Trio
Euphoria - - - Holy Modal Rounders
Izinkomo Zombongo - - - Mzykanifani Buthelezi
Aoibhienis Eilies Na Cheilliagh - - - me on harp
Since You Been Gone - - - Aretha Franklin (best soul singer ever)
Come Monday - - - Jimmy Buffet
Candy Man - - - The Reverend Gary Davis
Hazy Shade of Winter - - - Bangles (fuck your judgemental shit these chicks ROCK!)

Bonus track

Saint Louis Blues - - - Bessie Smith

bonus bonus (cause one good bessie deserves another)

The Obvious Child - - - Paul Simon (try to sit still when these drums are throbbing)

So, folks, my plan is this, if the Republicans manage a theft of our election process, which I interpret to be if they do anything but get their corrupt assess handed to them (narrow margins mean they've been STEALING AGAIN) I am going to start finding a place in the street. I hope for something along the lines of the Czech Velvet protests or the Ukrainian everyone in the street standing there waiting for the theives to realize that they've been caught this time.

Who'd have ever thought the United States of America would be looking to Eastern Europe for lessons in Democracy?

Vote! Make it count!

i normally don't crosspost the random tens but today ain't NORMAL!

Update: I forgot to mention that after my little side trip to the polls I'm going to an AA meeting. Cause for celebration or an excuse for drowning sorrows means that homie does a meeting.

Aside to Pogo from a comment thread on the pumpkin pie but really about important stuff like guitars. Eddy from S.I.R on Sunset Blvd says that the best thing to do is to replace the outlet boxes. He said that any talented amatuer can do it easily but that any pro can do it perfectly and cheap. He also said that if they charge you more than a regular house call you're getting robbed.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Finest Pumpkin Pie, Ever

I'm doing this one early so that you can test fly it before Thanksgiving. This pie is so rich, so sinfully smooth, delectable stuff that doesn't lose or compromise the beautiful taste of the pumpkin. Even you hard core pumpkin jacks out there should give this one a whirl. I'm even going to throw in my ultra-double-national-security-this-is-so-good-I-still-make-it-and-I-don't-even-drink-secret recipe for Pumpkin Liqueuer for the sauce at the end. (The liqueur ends up mostly in seasonal Pumpkin truffles). I haven't even fired up the truffle kitchen yet this year what with my busy schedule of work that actually make me money and stuff. But I still remember my promise to give some away as a prize, my promise to send a dozen to Sarah In Chicago. I also know that I am expected by family and friends to not give anything else for Christmas gifts so, all of you who are worrying about that, take heart. They will be coming. Let's all of us get through Thanksgiving first though. I haven't figured out what kind of contest to run for the truffles so, since my six or so regular readers are already in the running as winners, please leave any and all ideas in the comments. Remember that the judging process will be arbitrary and probably biased and unfair. That said; Who Wants Pie?


3 eggs
2 cups solid pack pumpkin puree
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream (the manufacturing cream at Smart & Final does nicely here)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (grind it fresh yourself)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger (OK, get this one at the store)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (use your microplane, or buy a microplane and use that)
2 tablespoons crystalized ginger, chopped small
(per pie)

Make your crust using the recipe from the peach pie. This pie filling is deserving of an outstanding crust. You can be a lazy git, all indolent and stuff, and get one from the frozen section of the supermarket and people will still rave about this pie. It's just that they will look at the cheap ass crinkly foil pie dish and, if you bring this as a guest, think you don't trust them with your dishes or they will think that you just don't fucking care what they think. So, as we say out here in the West, cowboy up and get working.

Roll out the pie crusts, transfer to the pie pan. Do something decorative and nice with the edges. I do a spiral roll all the way around the pan, then I take a three tine crudité fork and put in some scoring. This makes for a nice lip on the edge of the pie. But, knock yourself out. This is all decorative, not functional beyond the esthetic.

Beat the eggs until smooth and lemon colored. Beat in the other ingredients in order and mix until perfectly smooth. Pour into the pie shell, put a strip of foil around the edge of the pie and bake at 400° for 35 minutes. Remove the foil, sprinkle evenly with the crystalized ginger bits and bake for another 15 minutes. The center of the pie might be a little jiggly, but a knife inserted halfway to the middle will come out clean. The edge of the crust should be a perfect, golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a rack.

I serve this mit schlag (which for you barbaric uncultered types is whipped cream without any flavorings or sugar) and drizzled with a half and half mixture of Creme Anglais and the above mentioned Pumpkin Liqueur.


24 ounces fresh (not canned) Pumpkin
Fresh lemon, Juice and rind
25 ounces Rum (Havana Club, but if you don't want to support the Castro regime and are willing to compromise your quality for politics Mount Gay will do you asshole)
Sugar in equal volume to the amount of lemon juice and rind combined.

Cut the pumpkin into small squares (about 1/2") and place in a large pan on top of the stove. Completely zest a lemon with a microplane or a fine grater, then cut it and juice it. You can eyeball your amounts or you can measure. I eyeball, but I'm really fucking good at this, rate yourself honestly and behave accordingly. Do this until the pumpkin is almost covered with lemon juice. Turn the heat to medium high and cook until the pumpkin is soft and squishy. Force this through a sieve (I have one of those wonderfully handy chinahat sieves) into a large jar. Add in the rum and the sugar. Cap tightly and set in a cool dark place for at least a week. Then filter through a fine sieve lined with a cheese cloth into a bottle.

There are some Pumpkin Liqueurs out on the market, they all suck. This doesn't.

Now you're set to be a real hero this holiday season. People will love the new and creative ways you work with the old tired clichéd Pumpkin. Or you can be a slacker and swipe the recipe right off of the can and plunk it into a salty, chewey frozen pie shell. Or you can even go to one of those chain places like Marie Callander's and get one of theirs already made and sitting on the shelf for a few weeks. It's up to you. You can do these dishes for real or you can just pretend to do stuff like our current president. The pictures will come out the same whether or not you really fly the plane or the mission is really accomplished. My work here is done.

find this one also at 3B's
Job Opportunities!

This is some funny stuff.

The Crazy Girlfriend Story

This was provoked by one of my favorite bloggers. John Rogers who writes the wildly unpredictable, thought-provoking, and often hilarious Kung Fu Monkey. If you've never read him, now is the perfect time to start because he has his Index Fu that lists his finest work up right near the top of the screen.

In the post that got me this morning he likens the Republicans and George W. Bush to the questionable hook-up that all of us at one time or another fall into. It instantly took me to the time, while I was working in Las Vegas, that I had a straight up batshit crazy girlfriend.

Anika (of course this is not her real name, it's not even close) was a dancer in a big, huge Vegas show that I was playing the orchestra. She had a lot of the issues dancers who work Vegas shows have. You see there are a lot of young girls who spend years enduring the discipline and pain required to study dance with the dream of dancing "Swan Lake" in New York, or being the "Sugar Plum Fairy" at a production their entire family, including their own daughters attend one perfect Christmas Eve. For what ever reason, they grow too tall, their boobs become too big for ballet, they might even just not have that Je ne sais pas, quelque chose that the dance world is looking for. These girls do have talent. They can dance beautifully. The Sugar Plum Fairy ain't happening though. It's never going to happen. A lot of these women end up dancing in Vegas. The pay's great. They are professional dancers. Here's the rub though. I don't care if the producers are spending $25 million pre-production on the show. If the girls take off their shirts, it's a tittie show. That's all it will ever be. This means if you're dealing with one of these dancers on an emotional level, there's a great deal of cognitive dissonance at play already.

This doesn't mean that I was anybody's poster child for mental health. Far from it. I was in full-blown (only ten years removed from combat) PTSD, taking every drug imaginable (and some that weren't), drinking like a fish, and dealing with my own disillusionment with the state of my career. I was in creative hell. In an orchestra that spent most of the show in the basement, playing along with a tape of singers. I first dated Anika on a bet with my sax playing buddy Rico. He bet me $400 that I wouldn't be able to get a date with the new Ice Princess who had started in the tall nude line that night.

I snuck up right before the cocktail show to see what I was up against. She certainly fit the bill for casting in the tall nude line. At about 5'10" she would top me by two inches before she put on the heels. She also had beautiful, honey blonde hair, flawless skin and then she turned from the mirror to look me straight in the face. Her eyes were astonishing. They held several shades of blue, starting light at the pupil and darkening to almost black at the edges. Ice Princess? Hah! One look, one whiff of sulpher and I knew that this girl was nothing but fire.

I figured since I was caught looking I might as well make the move. I walked up to her and introduced myself. I told her that my friend Rico had just bet me $400 that I couldn't get a date with her. Then I hit her with my closing "You can pick where we go, what we do and keep any money out of the 400 we don't spend." She said "OK, I've just moved here and I want to go shopping. There's stuff I need for my apartment." I kissed her hand like a courtier and told her that I'd see her between shows and we'd make the arrangements.

Things started out pretty tame. We did the courting dance. There were early signs that I should have seen though. The first Sunday while we were dating we had to go to her church. That wasn't all that bad but on the way out as we went through the handshake line with the minister and stuff she volunteered me to play harp for free. I told her that I didn't do stuff like that and she said "The Lord gave you your talent, you need to give back to the Lord." She also did the crying after sex thing. We would have wild, semi-kinky, athletic sex and before my after cigarette was halfway smoked she'd start sobbing.

It only got weirder. There was the time I was coming out of a late session (in Vegas a late session can get out at around 6:30 a.m.) to find her parked in the studio lot. Then there was the time she just showed up at my place, and let herself in with a key I didn't know she had. Then there were the phone calls. Calls during rehearsals, calls during ball games, calls while I was visiting my mother and other family.

I tried to be diplomatic and reasonable. It didn't work. I didn't quit the show because of her, I quit because I was musically bored silly and had other offers. I started doing the Vegas Turn Around circuit where we would do two weeks in Vegas, two weeks in Tahoe followed by two weeks in Reno. I would leave the stage and see Anika in the wings, waiting for me. I told her things weren't working. That I needed "time to myself." She said "You kissed me in church before God." I kept trying to break it off and she kept refusing to listen to me.

I started acting like a total shit. I fucked around openly and shamelessly. I increased my already alarming levels of substance abuse. I was rude to her. I was mean. I changed the locks. I got a new phone. I bought a new car. Then I moved to Reno.

One night I woke up to find Anika sitting on top of me. Her once flaming eyes now flat and cold, her hands around my throat. She had broken into my house, the dogs knew her and didn't raise any alarm. She was crazed. My friends had tried to warn me about her craziness. My buddy Rico (whose fault this all was remember) had even had a T-Shirt made for my birthday which said "FOOL" on the front and "KICK ME" on the back. Part of my discounting all the warning signs and warnings from my friends was being in complete thrall to this beautiful woman. Part of it was my being ashamed of being in thrall so completely. Part of it was that I knew that the pool of gorgeous, sexually adventurous women who will date short, fat, hippies who walk with a cane is not all that big and I didn't think I would ever do all that much better. Part of it was that there was a lot to love about this girl. Now she's sitting on top of me trying to choke me in the middle of the night.

I got free and away without hurting her. I never called the cops. I told her that I never wanted to see her again. I did though. About a month after that she called me to tell me that she was in therapy and that she wanted me to come and talk with her counselor and her "for closure." I went like a chump. The therapist turned out to be the shithead preacher (who she was fucking by that time) and he was trying to line me up for an exorcism or some shit like that. I ran like a scalded dog.

I only told you that story so I could tell you this one. (hat tip to Arlo Guthrie)

I became a Republican much the same way. Instead of a bet it was tax cuts. Over the years there were signs though. I ignored them. Then the Christian Right came into the tent. Then the Racists felt it was safe to spout off all their venom in public. Then the Congress started spending like drunken sailors on shore leave in Bangkok. Then the scandals started piling up one after another. Then Iraq. The Patriot Act, the torture the secret prisons. Now they are wanting to classify the torture itself which means that if they pick you up without charges, whisk you away in the dead of night and torture your ass. They will not allow you ever to have a day in court. Because you might tell your lawyer that you were tortured you will not be allowed a lawyer for reasons of national security. Wake up you fools! She's sitting on your chest and her hands are around your fucking throat!

This is how you do it. Cut it off. Now. Move to a new town, or even a new country if you must. But get away from them. They're fucking nuts. Don't take anymore calls. Ever. Not even to say goodbye. Make your own closure. Above all, do not date any of her friends. Look, I know how hard this can be. It's the only way. You will have to hurt some feelings here to save your own stupid life. You'll thank me in the end though. If she calls, tell her "NO!" Then call me, we'll go to a Suns game or something. I'll help you through this. But take it from somebody who has been there.

Get. Away. Right. Now. Tell them on Tuesday that you are not going to run with the crazy anymore.

crossposted at Big Brass Blog