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April 14th, 2006

Ruminations from the Offal Office

" On Wednesday, March 1st, 2006, in Annapolis at a
hearing on the proposed Constitutional Amendment
to prohibit gay marriage, Jamie Raskin, Professor of
Law ,at American University, was requested to testify.
At the end of his testimony, Republican Senator Nancy
Jacobs said: 'Mr. Raskin, my Bible says marriage is only
between a man and a woman. What do you have to say about that?'
Raskin replied: 'Senator, when you took your oath of office,
you placed your hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the
Constitution. You did not place your hand on the Constitution
and swear to uphold the Bible.'
The room erupted into applause. "


Hi folks,

Ruminate: Latin ruminatus, past participle of ruminari, akin to Sanskrit romantha, to chew the cud or muse upon; to go over in the mind repeatedly and often casually or slowly; to chew repeatedly for an extended period; to a chew again what has been chewed slightly and swallowed; to engage in contemplation.

I'm not spending much time this week commenting on the rumours whether the US has any serious intention in attacking Iran. There's enough of that on the news and also I'm hoping the those 'temporary inconveniences' currently occupying the Offal Office in Washington are just experiencing gas. Bush has said publicly that an attack of Iran is wild speculation. Speculation. That's a big word for Dubya. Almost as big as ruminate. Let's hope someone in front of the buttons knows what both those words mean. (On second thought, maybe we better start stocking up on duct tape. Here's another choice bit of linguistic linguini from the munsterchef:)

" I want to thank my friend, Senator Bill Frist, for joining us today . . .
He married a Texas girl, I want you to know. Karyn is with us.
A West Texas girl, just like me."
George W Bush, Nashville, Tennessee, May 27, 2004

This week I'm up at the National Folk Festival, performing with Difficult Women. I'll also be hosting the 25th Anniversary Inspired Shaddap You Face Competition. The photo above makes up part of the 'Shaddap Showbag', that goes to the winner. The photo was part of an online photography competition and is made even more poignant by the fact that the photographer, Joffieb, is from Johannesburg, South Africa.



   'Pizza is like sex. Even when its bad, its still pretty good."
(comment overheard by some nerdy kid at the World Pizza Championship Trials in the US)


'Pizza Pizza', a song I wrote twenty years ago, has been included in the soundtracks of two films about pizza in the States. The first one out of the pizzabox is called 'Pizza: The Movie', and is a documentary about the pizza culture in the US, with emphasis on the World Pizza Championships in Italy. If you have never seen some of the more acrobatic approaches to pizza twirling, your jaw will drop. Some of these guys are magicians, twirling while break dancing, spinning on the ground, loud music pumping away, cheerleaders in mini-skirts cheering them on. It's wild. Its exciting. It makes you hungry. 'Pizza Pizza' is the backing track for one of the acrobatic routines and is also played across the entire ending credits. At the moment, 'Pizza: The Movie', is only available on the film festival circuit in the US, but hopefully there will be a wider release later in the year. Here's the website with some trailers.


End of the Line for the Godfather
Italy's Top Mafia Boss is Arrested in Sicily


By Peter Popham in Rome

He had not been heard from since he was seen guiding his ancient mum into a polling booth and instructing her audibly to "put a cross on the symbol for Forza Italia". In the wake of this tightest, most nail-biting of Italian elections, Silvio Berlusconi, the man of torrential eloquence, had dried up. The nation's journalists spent the best part of yesterday waiting for the gusher to resume.

Finally, after 48 hours of silence and seven hours later than first announced, he took to the stage in his 16th-century Roman headquarters, all gilt rococo cupids, and told the press that as far as he was concerned the election had been won by nobody. . . .

And the fact that an era was passing was underlined by the stunning news, just seven minutes after Mr Berlusconi's defeat became certain, that the most wanted mafioso in Sicily, [Bernardo Provenzano], the man from Corleone who has been capo di capi for 13 years and on the run for 30 more than that, had been arrested. (article)
(thanks to Stefan A)


by David Amoruso

"He has the brains of a chicken but shoots like an angel".
Mafia chieftain, Luciano Liggio, describing Provenzano

Under Provenzano, the Sicilian Mafia once again became the invisible power and expanded it's interests while keeping clear from law enforcement. Provenzano commanded his troops via cryptic, handwritten notes transported by key members. There were occasional visits and very occasional summits with Mafia leaders, but otherwise Provenzano was a ghost, presumed dead but feared to be running the most powerful Sicilian Mafia in decades. (article)


Are Mainstream Churches Finally Standing Up to the GOP's Hateful "Christian" Blitzkrieg?
by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman

 Right-wing church movements have been a staple of American politics since well before the 1692 witch trials at Salem. But only in the past few decades has the extremist church served as the grassroots base for a new breed of corporate totalitarianism. That unholy union has been nowhere more powerful than here in Ohio, and it has finally provoked a response from the state's mainstream churches.

With huge torrents of cash from Richard Mellon Scaife, the Ahmanson family and other super-rich ultra-rightists, the fundamentalist church has formed the popular network that has spawned the Bush catastrophe. The totalitarian alliance between pulpit, corporation and military is unique in U.S. history.

With contempt for the Constitution, and unholy opposition to separation of church and state, ultra-rich ultra-right preachers like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, self-proclaimed messiahs like Rev. Moon, and sanctimonious errand boys like Ralph Reed and Grover Norquist, have turned America into a "Christo-fascist" empire whose twice-unelected executive claims Divine right to rule. When it comes to their views on violence, empire, greed and intolerance, these are the most un-Christian men in America. It's no accident that George W. Bush's first words about the war to follow 9/11 had to do with a "Christian Crusade" against Islam. And, instead of consulting his father, a former President, W. chose to consult "a higher father."

That this evil network of mega- churches, cults and electronic Elmer Gantrys would prove profoundly corrupt should also come as no surprise. These are the moneychangers that Christ kicked out of the temple. The ultra-orthodox cash flow from Jack Abramoff to "godly" legislators like Tom DeLay and Ohio's Bob Ney has suffered not the slightest diversion toward true spirituality. The movement even has its own sex symbol in Ann Coulter, the "Harlot of Hate" who reaps huge sums in places like Ohio's World Harvest Church for talking nasty while dressed in mini-skirts that would get minors arrested off urban street corners.

The real mystery in all this has been an almost total silence from the religious mainstream. In recent months a number of statements have finally come from interdenominational organizations worrying deeply about global warming. The desecration of God's Creation is pretty far along. But the liberal denominations finally seem to see the curse of CO2.

The liberal United Church of Christ is also finally questioning the theft of Christ's legacy for ungodly GOP purposes. The idea that Jesus would hate gays, not want them to marry, love the death penalty and sanction wholesale slaughter in oil-rich nations has always stretched the imagination even of the irreligious. Finally, the actually religious seem to be speaking out. (article)


Iraq and the Legacy of Abraham
by James Carroll
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are referred to as Abrahamic religions, a description aiming to head off the clash of civilizations by emphasizing a common connection to the patriarch whose name means ''father of multitudes."

Yet Jews, Christians, and Muslims are more than mere cousins. The imaginative breakthrough represented in the story of Abraham offers a first measure of the meaning of human existence. If his descendants were more fully in touch with that meaning, Iraq would be a different place today, and the religions would not be on the cusp of war.

Abraham's story comes to us from Genesis. What makes it important is all that precedes it. The Bible begins as a set of creation myths, narratives about Adam, Eve, Cain, Abel, Noah, the Flood, the tower of Babel -- anecdotes that few contemporary readers take in any literal sense. They are stories from the era of ''once upon a time," and they define the concern of the Creator as extending to the entire scope of creation.

But at the end of the 11th chapter of Genesis, something new happens, a shift from the universal to the specific, from timelessness to ''that time then"; from never-never land to a particular locale -- a bridge of land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. One day on our calendar, a specific individual, whom scholars believe actually to have existed, became the subject of the biblical text. That was the true beginning of the world-view we take for granted.

''Leave your country, your family, and your father's house for the land I will show you," God said to this person. ''I will make you a great nation. I will bless you and make your name famous, so it will be used as a blessing."

The call of Abraham marks the beginning of human historical consciousness, a direct consequence of the revolutionary affirmation that God meets human beings by meeting one human being at one time, and at one place. The God who addresses Abraham in effect orders him to leave the realm of the purely mythical for ''the land I will show you." (article)




The Iran Plans
by Seymour M. Hersh
The Bush Administration, while publicly advocating diplomacy in order to stop Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapon, has increased clandestine activities inside Iran and intensified planning for a possible major air attack. (article)

How Crazy Are They?
By William Rivers Pitt

Democracy Be Damned - Republicans Need Another War
by Thom Hartmann
George W. Bush is at it again. And this time he wants to be able to use nukes. (article)

Stop Bush Before He Attacks Iran
by Jesse Jackson
Here we go again. The administration says ''regime change'' is needed. (article)



Bill's Brain-Boggling Bits

Money isn't made out of paper, it's made out of cotton.

The Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper.
The dot over the letter i is called a "tittle".

315 entries in Webster's 1996 Dictionary were misspelled.

The 'spot' on 7UP comes from its inventor, who had red eyes. He was albino.

On average, 12 newborns will be given to the wrong parents, daily.

Warren Beatty and Shirley MacLaine are brother and sister.

Chocolate affects a dog's heart and nervous system; a few ounces will kill a small sized dog.

Orcas (killer whales) kill sharks by torpedoing up into the shark's stomach from underneath, causing the shark to explode.

Most lipstick contains fish scales.

Ketchup was sold in the 1830s as medicine.

Upper and lower case letters are named 'upper' and 'lower' because in the time when all original print had to be set in individual letters, the 'upper case' letters were stored in the case on top of the case that stored the smaller, 'lower case' letters.

Leonardo da Vinci could write with one hand and draw with the other at the same time ... hence, multi-tasking was invented.

Because metal was scarce, the Oscars given out during World War II were made of wood.

There are no clocks in Las Vegas gambling casinos.

The name Wendy was made up for the book Peter Pan; there was never a recorded Wendy before!

There are no words in the dictionary that rhyme with: orange, purple, and silver!

Leonardo Da Vinci took 10 years to paint Mona Lisa's lips.

A tiny amount of liquor on a scorpion will make it instantly go mad and sting itself to death.

The mask used by Michael Myers in the original "Halloween" was a Captain Kirk mask painted white.

By raising your legs slowly and lying on your back, you can't sink in quicksand.

The first product Motorola started to develop was a record player for automobiles. At that time, the most known player on the market was the Victrola, so they called themselves Motorola.

Celery has negative calories! It takes more calories to eat a piece of celery than the celery has in it to begin with. It's the same with apples! 

Chewing gum while peeling onions will keep you from crying!

The glue on Israeli postage stamps is certified kosher.

Guinness Book of Records holds the record for being the book most often stolen from Public Libraries.
(thanks to Bill Lempke)



Bill Graham's Collection of T-Shirts, Posters and Concert Memorabilia

A great site for anyone who was there - and anyone who'd like to be! There is a 24 hour radio program playing the best of live recordings from Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Band, The Byrds and many others. (site)
(thanks to Joe Crieghton)




Chestnuts with Flaxseed Oil and Garlic

Chestnut season is upon us once again. Here is a simple discovery that my partner Lin Van Hek made the other day:

fresh chestnuts
flaxseed oil
garlic, chopped finely
salt to taste

Cut an X in the chestnuts (so they don't explode!) and either roast in the oven, on a hot plate, on the griller, under the griller, or on the stove in a cast iron skillet.
Mix some fresh organic flaxseed oil with the garlic. Peel the chestnuts and dip in the garlic oil. Salt to taste.

Chestnut Hummus

fresh chestnuts
flaxseed oil
garlic, chopped finely

Boil some chestnuts in water for about 30 minutes. Allow to cool. Cut each chestnut in half and scoop the flesh out with a small teaspoon. Mash the chestnut meat with flaxseed oil and chopped garlic until a smooth hummus-like dip is achieved. Salt to taste. Drizzle some flaxseed oil over the top and serve with toasted ciabatta, and fresh carrot, cucumber and celery sticks. An optional squeeze of lemon or a little paprika.

Probably more chestnut recipes will be forthcoming over the next couple of weeks until the season is over but if you can't wait, here are some recipes from last year:

Spaghetti with Italian Sausage, Chestnuts and Sauteed Beet Greens

Dried Fava Bean and Chestnut Soup (Favi e Castagni Vugghiuti)

Sauteed Beet Greens and Chestnuts, with Mashed Potatoes, Gravy and Corn-on-the-Cob

Roast Chestnuts with Chestnut Pesto

Chestnut Pure Lynette




Do sad people have in

It seems
They have all built a shrine
To the past
And often go there
And do a strange wail and

What is the beginning of

It is to stop being
So religious



Bill's Brain-Boggling Extra Bit
Donald Duck comics were banned from Finland because he didn't wear pants.