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Friday December 12th, 2008

I Thunk, Therefore I am

"Men's minds are raised to the level
    of the women with whom they associate."
Alexander Dumas

Hi folks,

President-Elect Obama has done gone and out-thunked me.

After eight years of suffering with the clunkin’ thunkin’ of George W Bush and  - correct me if I’m wrong – pretty much knowing any one of us could have done better thunkin’ – Barack Obama, who is not even in office yet – has already demonstrated superior long range thunking ability than my own.

You see, I originally voted for Hillary Clinton in the primaries. That’s right, Obama was my second choice. When Obama defeated Hillary in the primaries, I wrote in my newsletter that what I would now like is for Barack to choose Hillary for his Vice-Presidential running mate. Because, I figured – and rightly so – that we would be getting two for the price of one. (I’m talking about President Bill ‘I did not have focaccia with that woman’ Clinton, who would naturally be a VERY personal advisor.)

Instead, Obama goes and picks Smokin’ Joe Biden.  Wha?? Who he? Ok. I accepted Biden. I really liked the way he debated the Moose Woman. And he has a nice smile.

But now what has Obama done gone and done? He’s done gone and picked Hillary Clinton to be the Secretary-of-State – lawd, have mercy, a position that is actually more fundamental to REAL power in Washington than even the Vice-President. See what I mean?  Out-thunked. My dream has been realized – but in a more effective way that I imagined it.  And we get Bill ‘ I did not play hide-Airforce-One with that woman’  Clinton, too. Amazing! Only one wrong remains to be righted: Hillary, please bring back Monica Lewinsky as your personal assistant. Show the world that you’re bigger than that blue dress.

Obama's Use of Complete Sentences Stirs Controversy
In the first two weeks since the election, President-elect Barack Obama has broken with a tradition established over the past eight years through his controversial use of complete sentences, political observers say. Millions of Americans who watched Mr. Obama's appearance on CBS' "Sixty Minutes" on Sunday witnessed the president-elect's unorthodox verbal tick, which had Mr. Obama employing grammatically correct sentences virtually every time he opened his mouth.
But Mr. Obama's decision to use complete sentences in his public pronouncements carries with it certain risks, since after the last eight
years many Americans may find his odd speaking style jarring. According to presidential historian Davis Logsdon of the University of
Minnesota , some Americans might find it "alienating" to have a President who speaks English as if it were his first language.
"Every time Obama opens his mouth, his subjects and verbs are in agreement," says Mr. Logsdon. "If he keeps it up, he is running the risk of
sounding like an elitist."
The historian said that if Mr. Obama insists on using complete sentences in his speeches, the public may find itself saying, "Okay, subject,
predicate, subject predicate - we get it, stop showing off."
The President-elect's stubborn insistence on using complete sentences has already attracted a rebuke from one of his harshest critics, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska.
"Talking with complete sentences there and also too talking in a way that ordinary Americans like Joe the Plumber and Tito the Builder can't
really do there, I think needing to do that isn't tapping into what Americans are needing also," she said.
(thanks to Robyn Jones)

Robin Williams on Obama’s Election
Appearing on We Are Most Amused
with John Cleese hosting


Hey Joe,
love the letter... brightens my week, keeps me thinking!!  A couple of things...
All the talk in this weeks issue of " You can take the boy out of Italy... & you can take the girl out of Pomona, but you can't take Pomona out of the girl... That is why you should never go out with a girl from Cork!! Enjoy!! Seasons wishes.. Love light peace and laughter, Sophie McGrath

Dear Joe,
It was a pleasure to meet you and hear your fine songs at Lamb's Retreat this November.  Your workshop was not only full of useful information and quite entertaining, it was also the most original presentation I've experienced in a songwriting workshop.  You're the first person I've seen who can teach songwriting by explaining how to prepare risotto.
    While I do enjoy your very interesting and eclectic newsletters, since being in attendance at the Retreat I seem to have been added to your list a second time and am now receiving two postings of your newsletter.  Although the parable states that two heads are better than one, I often don't know what to do with the single one I've got. . . If you could keep one of me on your list, the other would be grateful.
 Thanks for it all and blessings to you in your many endeavors,  Dan Hazlett, Songwriter

A belated appreciation. My (hard to please) wife and I greatly enjoyed your show in Painesville a few weeks back. You're a one-hit wonder...but only to those who aren't paying attention! David A. Gollust, Voice of America - State Department Bureau. Previously, VOA's Senior White House Correspondent, Jerusalem Bureau Chief, and Pentagon Correspondent. Also, founding member, with Joe Dolce, of ‘The Singing Nuns’ alternative basketball team, at Harvey High School, in the late 60s.

Regarding the GOP (Global Orgasm for Peace) referenced in your latest newsletter, I must admit that I have, at various times in my life -- usually under the influence of too much passion and/or alcohol -- had occasion to “turn the sprinklers on before I’d finished mowing the lawn,” but never by a whole year. . .
Anyway, good to see you when you were in town. The last time I heard you play was up in your room at your parents house on Sanford St. You’ve much improved.
Best, John Jacobs, The Adworks, Inc.

(Note: John was also a founding member of ‘The Singing Nuns’ basketball team. I can’t remember where we found him, though.)

RE: The Coloured Changing Ball!!
It wont change colour!!!
ahhhH! xx Neda

(Note: It will! Keep trying. I just about gave up, too. It’s a matter of working out the correct position, very much like you know what!  Tip: Get directly below it and quickly thrust upward, while swearing in Italian.)

Dear Joe,
When I have time to read your newletter properly I love it and thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking such time and effort.
 The last joke about the young Iraqi footballer prompted me to remind you that the International Homeless World Cup is being played in Melbourne town as we speak. two pitches; one at Fed Square and one down a Birrarung Marr. 56 teams from the likes of Rwanda, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Timor Leste, United States, Afghanistan, Brazil........and of course the usual suspects such as Scotland, Ireland, the's an amazing vibe! Try and get down there before it finishes up either on Sat or Sun. All the best to you and yours, Mari Lourey
PS. Thought you were fantastic at the recent La Mama benefit by the way, believe it or not I'd never seen you live!

Hey Joe,
 (Bummer about Jimi Hendrix being dead. I only just heard.) Re. the melamine in milk info, most of it is correct. Tragically, babies who drank large quantities of powdered melamine in their "formula" were most at risk of kidney damage, both because of the quantity of melamine they were consuming and the small size of their kidneys.
 However there was a bit added on to the end of the linked info which is quite dodgy, regarding how to "tell" if a product is made in China using barcodes. The following is from one of the hoax-busting sites (Snopes, I think? Can't remember):
 Comments: The information above is unreliable and misleading, for two reasons:
There's more than one kind of bar code in use around the world. UPC bar codes, the type most commonly used in the United States, do not typically contain a country identifier. A different type of bar code known as EAN-13 does contain a country identifier, but it's more commonly used in Europe and other countries outside the U.S.
Even in the case of EAN-13 bar codes, the digits associated with country of origin don't necessarily specify where the product was manufactured, but rather where the bar code itself was registered. So, for example, a product manufactured in China and sold in France could have an EAN-13 bar code identifying it as a French product.
Looking for a "Made in XYZ" label is generally more helpful, but, particularly with regard to foods and beverages, there's no sure-fire way to determine in every case where a product or its components originated. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration mandates country-of-origin labeling on many food products [as does Australia], but there are exceptions, most notably the entire category of "processed foods." [Usually in Australia even processed foods will have some indication on them but I'm not sure what the actual laws are. ]Consumer groups are currently advocating the closure of these loopholes.
For Aussie & Kiwi readers, the following site is also very helpful:
Cheers, Justine Stewart

As always, thanks for the Good Word, Rev. Joe!
Here's Lidia: We watched her on KQED Ch 9, and she's hot! Ramon

Hi Joe,
RE: Regarding Father Deckland Letter
Love your newsletter, read it religiously (boom boom).
The letter from Father Deckland is probably some elaborate prank.
I'm in Canada myself, and Ontario is a province, not a city.
Also, the writer failed to give you a postal code.
Clearly the work of a nutter ;). Cheers, Neil Rich
PS. the grave of karl marx is a communist plot. Anon

Caro Guiseppe,
Missed your missive for a coupla weeks and boy was it a breath of fresh air to have you back, particularly your liturgical disquisition on the use of the greeting, "Hey"! It touched a chord at this time because up here in Brizzie (Brisbane) there's an archbishop threatening to close down St Mary's Catholic Church for saying 'Hey' in different ways to all sorts of people such as straights and gays, blacks and whites, the differently abled...and select minority members of God's, sorry 'Hey-man's', beautifully stunning and diverse Creation.
So what happened was, rather than fight this ecclesiastical satrap, who, after all, is only taking orders from The Unholy Office in Arriverderci Roma on the complaint of fundamentalist persons (such as the pathologically wounded who take issue with you from time to time and with whom you so fabulously wickedly deal), the Arch, alias Archie, was invited to attend the signing of a treaty with the local Aboriginal Community, who after all are the original owners of the land on which the Church is built.
Instead of saying 'Hey', there was a Smoking Ceremony followed fittingly by the Eucharist, a love feast and celebration fusing the sacrifice and survival of the Aboriginal Community with that of the Person, in whose name the Church was founded. Needless to say, Arch alias Archie declined to attend because he had a prior engagement with the local Anglicans, though obviously not one in which he was allowed to share the Eucharist with them, thus attending out of politeness rather than to have a rollicking, 'take-your-mitre-off' kinda time.
I imagine that the use of 'Hey man', despite the imprimatur it has won from an American priest, would not have been considered liturgically appropriate. I hope, however, that the Kiss of Peace was lavishly exchanged: there's so much forgiveness and acceptance in bounty and cornucopic acts, than the thin-lipped calvinists amongst us, who can't, in a manner of speaking, proceed beyond liturgical foreplay, will allow, for fear that they might enjoy!
I thought it passing strange too that with half the congregation Anglican or of some other ouvre (pardon the duplication, which grammarians, like canon lawyers, will take issue with) Old Archie couldnt make it to the celebration at St Mary's, thus rolling two engagements into one while prepared to see for himself and stand up to Il Papa if necessary.
Stay beautiful and wry, Joe baby, and pray for us! Con affetto, Michele

Just Call Me Misunderstood
Folks, I’ve just discovered, on the internet, that there’s apparently some confusion about one of the key thematic lines to my song 'Shaddap You Face:'

"Shaddup You Face"
Misheard Lyrics:
Eggs and nuts are bad.
Original Lyrics:
Itsa not so bad.

But I seem to be in good company because:

"8 Days A Week"
Misheard Lyrics:
Hey, Hey Louise, I love you.
Original Lyrics:
8 days a week, I love you.

Misheard Lyrics:
You were only waiting for the Mormons to arrive.
Original Lyrics:
You were only waiting for this moment to arise.

"Day Tripper"
Misheard Lyrics:
She was a day tripper
A one leg driver yeah.
Original Lyrics:
She was a day tripper
A Sunday driver yeah.

"Eleanor Rigby"
Misheard Lyrics:
Dotting his socks with the knife when there's nobody there.
Original Lyrics:
Darning his socks in the night when there's nobody there.

"I Saw Her Standing There"
Misheard Lyrics:
...and the way she looked was beyond repair
Original Lyrics:
...and the way she looked was beyond compare

And my favourite . .  .

"And I Love Her"
Misheard Lyrics:
And if you saw my love
You'd number 2.
Original Lyrics:
And if you saw my love
You'd love her, too.

Woman Swept Out to Sea During Proposal  . . . at Proposal Rock

A woman has been swept out to sea in the US moments before her boyfriend planned to propose. 22-year-old Leafil Alforque is still missing.
Her boyfriend, Scott Napper, took her to Proposal Rock in the state of Oregon to pop the question at a place that got its name from couples ready to marry.
Napper and Alforque had been dating since they met on the Internet in 2005.
But Alforque had arrived in Oregon on a visa from the Philippines just three days before the fateful trip to the coast, The Oregonian reported.
Napper said the tide had receded around Proposal Rock on Saturday when the couple began to walk to it. He planned to propose and give her the ring he carried in his pocket. About three metres from the rock, a wave about a metre high suddenly came toward them.
"I turned into it to keep from getting pulled under it," Napper said.
By the time he turned to find Alforque, only 1.2-metres tall and 42 kilograms, she had been caught by the receding waters.
"She was about 30 feet (9 metres) away, getting swept away," Napper said.
The 45-year-old tore off his jacket to get rid of any extra weight, and when he looked up again she was gone.
"That's the last I saw of her," he said in an interview on Wednesday, breaking into tears.
Emergency personnel called by someone on the beach arrived within minutes. Silverton's phone no longer worked after being exposed to the water.
Along with rescuers, he searched for any sign of Alforque.
"I yelled for her," he said. "I was praying to God."
At one point, he saw someone wearing red - the colour of her jacket - on the shore signalling for him. But he quickly realised it was a rescuer.
Thick fog and dangerous water conditions hampered the rescue efforts before the search was suspended on Monday.
Her 25-year-old sister, Nova Alforque, said the family hopes the body can be recovered.
"My mother is always crying, day and night," Nova Alforque said by telephone from the Philippines.
"She wants my sister back. Even if she is dead, she wants her body to bury."

Internet Porn a Sign of the Blues: Study
Spending the equivalent of a waking day a week downloading pornographic images, sending erotic emails and using webcams to engage in online sex?
Australian researchers would classify you as a cyber-sex surfer - and worry about your state of mental health.
Marcus Squirrell, from Melbourne's Swinburne University of Technology, sounded out 1,325 men who spent over 12 hours a week on internet sex sites and found that over a quarter of them were clinically depressed.
"Thirty per cent had high levels of anxiety and 35 per cent were moderately to severely stressed, which is, of course, extremely high," he told a conference in Melbourne .
The more time his respondents spent in online sexual activity, the worse their level of depression and anxiety.
But his research did not answer the big question: Are those prone to depression and anxiety more likely to become cyber-sex surfers, or does online sexual activity itself make you depressed and anxious?

What I’m Reading This Week

Dreams from My Father, by Barack Obama. Obama argues with himself on almost every page of this lively autobiographical conversation. He gets you to agree with him, and then he brings in a counter-narrative that seems just as convincing. “I first heard Barack Obama's command of the English language in his address before the Democratic National Convention. His speech brought to mind leaders of the past who had the eloquence and passion to light a fire in people with words alone. When I saw his book, I bought it to read more of his fiery, inspirational leadership. What I got instead is an insightful, sometimes painfully honest appraisal of the beginnings of that leader's life . . . .” Amazon Review

What I’m Watching This Week

Rain of the Children, Written, directed and produced by Vincent Ward. Thirty years ago, when he was only 21 years old, Ward travelled to the Ureweras, in New Zealand and documented the lives of an elderly Māori woman (Puhi) and her schizophrenic son (Niki), called an ‘other worldly’ child, by the locals. Ward returns as a fifty year old man to track down the rumour of the curse that affected Puhi, now deceased, and tells a moving story of early New Zealand Māori life and the tragic conflicts with the white settlers. Amongst other things, he discovers that Puhi had eleven children before Niki, who all died of various colonial diseases. THIS is the kind of movie that needs to be watched and celebrated - not fodder like Australia, which should be properly re-titled Australiana.

Only in America  . . .
Only in America drugstores make the sick walk all the way to the back of the store to get their prescriptions while healthy people can buy cigarettes at the front.   
Only in America people order double cheeseburgers, large fries, and a diet coke.   
Only in America banks leave both doors open and then chain the pens to the counters.   
Only in America we leave cars worth thousands of dollars in the driveway and put our useless junk in the garage.  
Only in we buy hot dogs in packages of ten and buns in packages of eight.  
Only in America they have drive-up ATM machines with Braille lettering.   
Ever Wonder . . .
Why the sun lightens our hair, but darkens our skin?   
Why women can't put on mascara with their mouth closed?   
Why don't you ever see the headline 'Psychic Wins Lottery'?   
Why is 'abbreviated' such a long word?   
Why is it that doctors call what they do 'practice'?   
Why is lemon juice made with artificial flavor, and dishwashing liquid made with real lemons?   
Why is the man who invests all your money called a broker?   
Why is the time of day with the slowest traffic called rush hour?   
Why isn't there mouse-flavored cat food?   
Why didn't Noah swat those two mosquitoes?   
Why do they sterilize the needle for lethal injections?   
Why are they called apartments when they are all stuck together?   
If con is the opposite of pro, is Congress the opposite of Progress?   
(Thanks to Bill Lempke)

Why I Am No Longer a 'Brain-Dead Liberal'
An election-season essay
By David Mamet
“ . . For the Constitution, rather than suggesting that all behave in a godlike manner, recognizes that, to the contrary, people are swine and will take any opportunity to subvert any agreement in order to pursue what they consider to be their proper interests. To that end, the Constitution separates the power of the state into those three branches which are for most of us (I include myself) the only thing we remember from 12 years of schooling.
The Constitution, written by men with some experience of actual government, assumes that the chief executive will work to be king, the Parliament will scheme to sell off the silverware, and the judiciary will consider itself Olympian and do everything it can to much improve (destroy) the work of the other two branches. So the Constitution pits them against each other, in the attempt not to achieve stasis, but rather to allow for the constant corrections necessary to prevent one branch from getting too much power for too long.
Rather brilliant. For, in the abstract, we may envision an Olympian perfection of perfect beings in Washington doing the business of their employers, the people, but any of us who has ever been at a zoning meeting with our property at stake is aware of the urge to cut through all the pernicious bullshit and go straight to firearms.
I found not only that I didn't trust the current government (that, to me, was no surprise), but that an impartial review revealed that the faults of this president—whom I, a good liberal, considered a monster—were little different from those of a president whom I revered.
Bush got us into Iraq, JFK into Vietnam. Bush stole the election in Florida; Kennedy stole his in Chicago. Bush outed a CIA agent; Kennedy left hundreds of them to die in the surf at the Bay of Pigs. Bush lied about his military service; Kennedy accepted a Pulitzer Prize for a book written by Ted Sorenson. Bush was in bed with the Saudis, Kennedy with the Mafia. Oh.
And I began to question my hatred for "the Corporations"—the hatred of which, I found, was but the flip side of my hunger for those goods and services they provide and without which we could not live.
And I began to question my distrust of the "Bad, Bad Military" of my youth, which, I saw, was then and is now made up of those men and women who actually risk their lives to protect the rest of us from a very hostile world. Is the military always right? No. Neither is government, nor are the corporations—they are just different signposts for the particular amalgamation of our country into separate working groups, if you will. Are these groups infallible, free from the possibility of mismanagement, corruption, or crime? No, and neither are you or I. . .”

Note: I having been watching a tremendous dvd series called ‘The Unit,’ produced, and with many episodes written, by David Mamet, who won the Pulitzer Prize in the 80s for his play ‘Glengarry Glen Ross.’  Mamet also is a cartoonist, a columnist, an author, a screenwriter (very good), a film director (not so good) and a martial arts enthusiast (yawn). He wrote the screenplays for ‘The Verdict’ and ‘The Untouchables.’ (He also wrote the first screenplay for ‘Malcolm X,’ which was rejected by Spike Lee, but he doesn’t put that on his CV, I would imagine.) Although I often don’t agree with his views – in fact, I find him sometimes irritatingly gravitating toward being a Norman Mailer wannabe  - and one Norman Mailer per millennium is more than enough - I always find his perspective challenging and worth thinking about.


Dolce Voce
The Honey Lemon Throat Spray

Dolce Voce is a pleasant tasting honey, lemon throat spray
with a special blend of herbs and other natural ingredients that helps relieve dry
mouths and tired voices.
Singers and actors have valued Dolce Voce for years,
and now Dolce Voce is available to the general public!
So whether you are a singer, an actor, or just someone experiencing dry mouth or a tired voice,
Dolce Voce is for you!
(thanks to Alicia Bay Laurel)



Aniseed Biscotti
(twice baked)

Basic recipe:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2/ cup sugar
3 eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 teas anise oil (essence)
1 teas anise seed
3 cups sifted flour
3 teas baking powder

Preheat over to 350F.
Cream together butter and sugar.
Adds eggs one at a time.
Add cream ,anise oil, seeds, flour and baking powder and mix until a firm dough is formed.

Turn dough onto work surface and work into two logs approx 24 inches long, adding more flour if neccesary for logs to hold their shape.
Place logs on ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 40 minutes, or until golden brown.
Remove from oven and while still warm, cut diagonally with a serrated knife into 1/4 in thick slices. Return slices to cookie sheet and bake for an additional five minutes,  flip over and bake the other sides for 5 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container. Nice dipped in red wine after a meal!  4-5 dozen
(Thanks to Mario Batali, 'Holiday Food' for his grandmother’s recipe and to my sister, Kathy Gentiluomo, for the hands-on lesson!)

(Note:) Star Anise, or Star Anise powder, might be an intersting substitution!)

Biscotti de Mosai
(Mosaic Pistachio, Hazelnut and Choc Chip Biscotti)

3 1/2 cups flour, sifted
1 teas baking powder
1 teas salt
4 large eggs
2 large egg yolks, plus 1 egg white for glaze
2 cups granulated sugar, plus 1 1/2 tables for glaze
2 teas vanilla extract
12 ounces choc chips (or coarsely chopped bitter sweet or dark chocolate)
2 cups hazelnuts, chopped coarsely
2 cups unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped

Whisk flour, baking powder and salt and set aside. Beat eggs, egg yolks, and 2 cups sugar until pale and thick, about 2-3 minutes.  Beat in vanilla extract followed by dry ingredients and then the nuts and chocolate, until the dough is thoroughly mixed.
Preheat oven to 325F. Lightly grease two large baking sheets.
Using floured hands, shape each portion of the dough into a log about 10 inches long and 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Divide the logs up onto the two baking sheets about 3 inches apart.  In a small bowl, beat the egg white with a fork until frothy. With a pastry brush, glaze each log and then sprinkle with 1 teas sugar.
Bake the logs until lightly golden brown, frim to the touch and just beginning to crack slightly, 20 - 25 minutes. Allow the logs to cool a little on the baking sheet. Reduce oven to 200F.
With a sharp serrated knife, slice the biscotti slightly on the bias into 1/4 inch slices. Lay the slices on the baking sheets in a single layer. Return to the oven and bake again for 5 -10 minutes on each side until they are golden brown. Be careful not to burn them. Cook on the rack the furthest away from heat source. Cool and store in an airtight container.
(Thanks to Gina de Palma, 'Dolce Italiano'.)

Italian Almond Cookies

basic recipe:
200g almond meal
200g caster sugar
2 egg whites
1/4 tsp almond essence
Icing sugar

Mix the almond meal with the sugar in a bowl. Add the egg whites and essence and mix thoroughly. Roll into balls approximately 3cm in diameter. Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper leaving some room for spreading. Flatten slightly and sprinkle with icing sugar. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.

Heat the oven to 150ºC/300ºF. Bake until very light golden brown, approximately 20 minutes. Cool on racks. Store in an airtight container.

Variation 1.  Whisk one egg white, dip the balls into the whites and coat with flaked almonds and/or press a whole almond into the centre before baking.
Variation 2.  Add two tables spoons (or more) of lemoncello and some grated lemon zest to the mix. Brush with wash of egg whites and sprinkle some sugar over the top before baking.

Tip:  If you accidently scorch the bottoms of the cookies due to baking on the lower tray or the oven set a little high, assuming the rest of the cookies are perfect, you can always grate away the slightly  burnt bottoms. I use a small nutmeg grater and just gently rush it over the burnt areas until the tones match up.

Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime;
therefore, we must be saved by hope.
Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense
in any immediate context of history;
therefore, we must be saved by faith.
Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone;
therefore we are saved by love.

~ Reinhold Niebuhr ~
 (Excerpt from The Irony of American History)

Newsletter Archive  and  Recipe Index

“ Joe Dolce.  Best musician ever. Although a talented performer who has been recording for more than 25 years, he is responsible for one of the greatest songs of all time, Shaddap You Face". The Urban Dictionary

Listen to some excerpts via the link below:
Joe Dolce Electronic Press Kit


Papa Ooh Mow Mow