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February 18th, 2005

Singing Meat and Cousin George


Heaven's The Place

"Star Wars is the shout, hey,
Empire striking back, hey,
but without a doubt, hey,
This is what they lack, hey,
Jesus Christ has come, now,
For the human race,
To die in our place.
Many years ago, hey,
There in Bethlehem, hay, (boom boom!)
Jesus Christ was born, then,
Died and rose again. hey,
If we trust in him, one
Day we'll see his face
And Heaven's The Place.

(Christian cover version of Shaddap You Face, by Mrs Liz Luva, for the Clontarf Beach Baptist Church Vacation Bible School - new lyrics to original tune)

Hi lovebirds,

I hope everyone had a nice St Valentine's Day. I wrote a country-blues song called 'St Valentine's Day,' with my steel guitar, for my valentine, on the train ride back and forth from the Goulburn Blues Festival last weekend. (I knew I wouldn't be able to make it home in time to buy flowers or chocolates so I had to think of something creative.) Did you know there were three St Valentines, all of them, martyrs, and mentioned in the early martyrologies under date of 14 February? One is described as a priest at Rome, another as bishop of Interamna (modern Terni). Of the third Saint Valentine, who suffered in Africa with a number of companions, nothing further is known. But the customs associated with Valentine's Day probably had their origin in a conventional belief generally received in England and France during the Middle Ages, that on 14 February, i.e. half way through the second month of the year, the birds began to pair. (Maybe this is the long sought after answer to why that early medieval capon crossed the road?)

" For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne's day
Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate."
Chaucer, Parliament of Foules

Some folks think Valentine's Day started in the time of the Roman Empire.  In ancient Rome, February 14th was a holiday to honour Juno.  Juno was the Queen of the Roman Gods and Goddesses.  The Romans also knew her as the Goddess of women and marriage.  The following day, February 15th, began the Feast of Lupercalia. Others believed that if a maid saw a robin flying overhead on Valentine's Day, it meant she would marry a sailor.  If she saw a sparrow, she would marry a poor man and be very happy.  If she saw a goldfinch, she would marry a millionaire. (What if she was from New Zealand and saw a muttonbird?)

Latest music news: My song 'Hill of Death,' with lyrics by Louisa Lawson, which won Best Folk Gospel Song, in The Australian Gospel Music Awards, this year, will be on the upcoming compilation album, 'The Best of Australian Gospel Music.' Also, US folk legend Rosalie Sorrels latest album " Way Out in Idaho, My Last Go Around" which features a song I wrote in the early 70s, "My Home Ain't In the Hall of Fame" was nominated for a Grammy Award for "Best Traditional Folk Album"! This is the second time Rosalie Sorrels has recorded my song. (A thirty year gap in between.) Yea! Rosie! She taught me how to make Turkey Mole when I was 23. I'm glad Rosalie's kind of reclaimed 'Hall of Fame' from Texan Robert Earl Keen Jr, who also released it last year as a single, but who also happens to be George W. Bush's favourite country singer. It caused me no end of distress imagining my song being played around the White House while George W sat there perplexed trying to work out what the lyrics meant.

Favourite Reader Comments of the Week

Hi Joe,
I used to be on your mailing list but ever since I unsubscribed I've read almost all your newsletters on my co-workers computer. Funny how you don't know what you've got until it's gone. Isn't that a bad song? Anyway could you send me my own personal copy again. . . Many thanks. John F

Now, now -- don't stereotype men and women. I know women that shower like men and men that shower like women as described in your very funny bit. It's just a matter of the crap one has to put up when living in the world of someone else that's different than you -- how do you deal with getting grossed out or put out year after year after year? That's the problem. How do you reach a consensus? How do you reach mutual respect without hating each other. If anyone knows the secret, let me know! TS.

(Note: T, I think the secret lies buried within the following story which, believe it or not, I extracted from a piece of porn spam I accidently opened (yeah right!):

- I phoned up a really gorgeous ex-girlfriend of mine the other day. We lost track of time, chatting about the wild nights we used to enjoy together. I couldn't BELIEVE it when she asked if I'd like to meet up and maybe rekindle a little of that magic. "Wow!" I said "I don't know if I could keep pace with you now! I'm a bit older and a bit balder than when you last saw me!" She giggled and said she was sure I'd meet the challenge! "Yeah," I said, "Just so long as you don't mind a man with a waistband that's a few inches wider these days!" She laughed and told me to stop being so silly! She teased me, saying she thought tubby bald men were cute! "Anyway", she said, "I've put on a couple of pounds myself!" So I hung up.

Dear Joe,
As a geologist, my professional advice is, you should have had the train removed by keyhole surgery, immediately. Glad you survived. Ta for posting the tsunami stuff. . . Peter R.

(Note: Peter, in Wales, wooden love spoons were carved and given as gifts on Valentine's Day.  Hearts, keys and keyholes were favourite decorations on the spoons.  The decoration meant, "You unlock my heart!" I guess it's not exactly the same as 'You Unlock My Bile Ducts'. Sorry, but I digress.)

Dear Joe,
Your gall bladder is on the road south. Let me explain. The highway is fairly straight for the first few hundred millimetres ..... then it curves around near a big lake full of acid (lake Stomach) ..... then there's a weird intersection. You can either back-track up a dead end called Bileway or head straight South West into the Grand Intestinal Canyon. Who would you ask for directions ......... a kooky Shirley McLaine-type woman or a wise old male Indian ??? Seriously Joe....... get your Gall Bladder out before it wrecks your Pancreas.....You'll end up like Mark Latham. Seriously, I'm a musician who nearly died thru cautious stupidity.........never looked back since. Cheers David

(Note: David, you might try ye olde remedy:)

To make strong broth for sicke men
Take a pound of almonds and blanche them, and beat them in a morter very fine, then take the braines of a capon (after it has crossed the road, boometh boometh!) and beat with it, then put into it a little cream, and make it to draw & through a strayner, then set it on the fire in a dish, and season it with rose water and suger, and stirre it.

Hi Joe  :)
Whoah! Be careful! On the way home from a trip to Adelaide a few years back I had a gall bladder attack. Same story -- the male doctors wanted to chop and mop, the female doctor said drink lots of cherry juice and stop drinking so much chocolate milk. Haven't had an attack since. BUT... Some years before that, on a trip to Sydney by bus (remember the pilots' strike?) we stopped for refreshments at Goulburn. I'd been sleeping for several hours, lying across two seats with my legs up the window (don't ask -- I have no idea why) and had a terrible pain in my chest. I went into the restaurant and fainted. They called an ambulance and took me to the Goulburn Base Hospital, where I stayed for three days of observation, after cancelling the training sessions I was supposed to present in Sydney. Turned out to be nothing more than venous pooling from my dumb sleeping position, but be warned... if you sleep on the train to Goulburn, DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, SLEEP WITH YOUR LEGS HIGHER THAN YOUR HEAD AND CHEST! A friendly warning, John C.

(Note: I think John is referring to the basic US Homeland Security duck-and-cover head-up-the-arse position.)

Ciao Beppe!
 Before I 'shaddap my face', ascolti per piacere (listen please):  I turned 50 last November, compounded with the passing of my legendary Dad, Salvatore Vincent Dolce in 1997, I've decided to dig into the Dolce legacy. What my mother Viola told me this Xmas while I was visiting family in Florida blew me away. She said a professor of Genealogy told them the Dolce family genealogy is very exceptional. Originally the Dolce's were from England, but being political rabble-rousers they were asked to leave the country by order of the Queen. The Dolce's then lived in France, but were again asked to leave that country! The Dolces ended up in Sicily . . . Dáccordo, Adesso sto zitto mia faccia, (OK now I'll shaddap my face) - Joe Dolce, Los Angles, CA.

(Note: Zitto Mia Faccia? Is that how you say it? So now one of my doppelgangers from the US is claiming that the Dolce clan are really Brits? That doesn't explain my affinity to the blues. I prefer Cliff's (Dennis Hopper) explanation to Coccotti (Christopher Walken) in the film, TRUE ROMANCE. Here's the link to the script and scroll down a little ways to the Trailer Scene.

Hi Joe.
That little bit in the last e-letter from the bloke puzzled by the people continuing with P.C.s and Windows. Please don't print any more such information. Please do not draw any further attention to the fact that Apple continues producing the most flawless, effective, accessible and meaningful interface for humans. I have to TEACH special ed. kids to use P.Cs. in the school computer lab. But when providence provides, we all can engage in LEARNING when we can slip across to the single Apple in the otherwise P.C. dominated computer room. Learning is the cooperative interaction of organisms that evokes mutual evolution. OSX is designed on these principles. Windows.....historically, will be remembered as a ecological swamp for the incubation of viruses. Dom
P.S. Shaddup your face about that god damn song. Or.... please print the lyrics in the next email so we can all see what you are talking about.

(Note: Dom, Thanks for your letter and for once again reminding me that some of your generation, who was perhaps lucky not to experience the horror of man's humanity to man in the music world of the 80s, may not be familiar with the purpose and true message of Shaddap You Face. The lyrics to the song are based on true events that MUST NEVER BE ALLOWED TO HAPPEN AGAIN. Otherwise, history will repeat. WE MUST NEVER FORGET. (Or 'Lest We Shaddap, as it were.)

To paraphrase the story behind the song: when I was younger, my mother was strict and I wasn't allowed to stay out very late, with my friends who were a little rebellious, in her opinion. I enjoyed billiards and my schoolmates and I used to play at Manny's pool parlour in Cleveland until the wee hours, often drinking and making fools of ourselves. She was worried that my grades would suffer. This constant criticism sometimes made me physically ill, having to always do what she wanted, I wasn't able to pursue the kind of enjoyment I liked, my health sometimes suffered, and I often felt silly and insignificant doing work I didn't believe in just to make money. My mother never understood this rebellious side, etc, why I didn't respect their traditional values, etc, and always asked what was wrong with me, etc, why I acted the way I did, etc, why always the long face, etc. She always reminded me that life was a blessing, etc, things were never as bad as they seemed, yada yada, and if I couldn't say something nice, then not to say anything at all. Well, I vowed that one day, in the not too distant future, I would be successful and recognized for my music, perhaps to even act in films, and own my own car. But I made a promise to myself, that I would never let the success go to my head and I would always remember the pleasures and values I enjoyed before the world recognized any modicum of success, I would remember the way I danced as a small child, and singing, which my mother always loved, (especially Dean Martin). Because, in some ways, the criticism my mother gave me had a silver lining. To repeat, one more time, on behalf of my mother: It's true that she never understood my rebellious side, but she wanted to protect me from the outside world, etc, of course, she couldnt understand why I didn't respect her more traditional values, yet here I was 30 years later, writing song lyrics based on those values, etc, and when she asked what was wrong with me, it was because she cared and was overly protective of me, as mothers always are for the firstborn child, etc, why I acted the way I did, in other words, was it something she could help with?, or was it me?, etc, why I always looked sad when the sun was shining, was it a mood or perhaps something physically wrong with me?, that some medicine or a visit to the doctor might help with, etc. She always reminded me that life was a blessing, (for which I even today and every day need to thank her, always), etc, things are never as bad as they seem, to look on the bright side, etc, and if I couldn't say something nice, then not to say anything at all, because when I point a shaddaping finger at someone else, four fingers are shaddaping back at me.

I think that's probably why I have to remind myself where I come from often by references to the song. It IS the 25th Anniversary after all. Here are the original lyrics which says all of the above much more succinctly:


1. Don't abbrev.
2. Check to see if you any words out.
3. Be carefully to use adjectives and adverbs correct.
4. About sentence fragments.
5. When dangling, don't use participles.
6. Don't use no double negatives.
7. Each pronoun agrees with their antecedent.
8. Just between You and i, case is important.
9. Join clauses good, like a conjunction should.
10. Don't use commas, that aren't necessary.
11. Its important to use apostrophe's right.
12. It's better not to unnecessarily split an infinitive.
13. Never leave a transitive verb just lay there without an object.
14. Only Proper Nouns should be capitalized. also a sentence should begin with a capital and end with a period
15. Use hyphens in compound-words, not just in any two-word phrase.
16. In letters compositions reports and things like that we use commas to keep a string of items apart.
17. Watch out for irregular verbs which have creeped into our language.
18. Verbs has to agree with their subjects.
19. Avoid unnecessary redundancy.
20. A writer mustn't shift your point of view.
21. Don't write a run-on sentence you've got to punctuate it.
22. A preposition isn't a good thing to end a sentence with.
23. Avoid clichés like the plague.
(thanks to Dai Woosnam,and for the one below)

Wilf Buttigieg from Malta's Household Tips

Sealed envelope - Put in the freezer for a few hours, then slide a knife under the flap. The envelope can then be resealed.

Use vertical strokes when washing windows outside and horizontal for inside windows. This way you can tell which side has the streaks.

Spray a bit of perfume (or a drop of aromatherapy oil) on the light bulb in any room to create a lovely light scent in each room when the light is turned on.

Candles will last a lot longer if placed in freezer at least 3 hrs prior to burning.

Cure for headaches: Take a lime, cut it in half and rub it on your forehead. The throbbing will go away.

Don't throw out all that leftover wine: Freeze into ice cubes for future use in casseroles and sauces.

To get rid of itch from mosquito bites, try applying soap on the area and you will experience instant relief.

Ants, ants, ants everywhere . . . Well, they are said to never cross a chalk line. So get your chalk out and draw a line on the floor or wherever ants tend to march.


Global Warming: Scientists Reveal Timetable
By Michael McCarthy

A detailed timetable of the destruction and distress that global warming is likely to cause the world was unveiled yesterday. It pulls together for the first time the projected impacts on ecosystems and wildlife, food production, water resources and economies across the earth, for given rises in global temperature expected during the next hundred years. (article)

Apocalypse Now: How Mankind is Sleepwalking to the End of the Earth
by Geoffrey Lean

Future historians, looking back from a much hotter and less hospitable world, are likely to play special attention to the first few weeks of 2005. As they puzzle over how a whole generation could have sleepwalked into disaster - destroying the climate that has allowed human civilization to flourish over the past 11,000 years - they may well identify the past weeks as the time when the last alarms sounded. Last week, 200 of the world's leading climate scientists - meeting at Tony Blair's request at the Met Office's new headquarters at Exeter - issued the most urgent warning to date that dangerous climate change is taking place, and that time is running out. (article)

It's much too late to sweat global warming
Time to prepare for inevitable effects of our ill-fated future

At the core of the global warming dilemma is a fact neither side of the debate likes to talk about: It is already too late to prevent global warming and the climate change it sets off.
Environmentalists won't say this for fear of sounding alarmist or defeatist. Politicians won't say it because then they'd have to do something about it. The world's top climate scientists have been sending this message, however, with increasing urgency for many years. (article)

War on Plastic: Rejecting the Toxic Plague
By Jan Lundberg

Plastic as toxic trash is barely an issue with health advocates, environmentalists, and even those of us looking toward the post-petroleum world. Instead, "recycling" and future "bioplastics" distract people from keeping plastic out of their lives. As the evidence from our trashed oceans and damage to human health mounts, plastic can no longer be conveniently ignored. The days of naive trust and denial need to be put behind us, and a war on plastics declared now. (article)

Bush, Iraq and the Hydrogen Economy
By John Dizard
The Financial Times

There can be no one left who thinks that yesterday's elections in Iraq will have ended the political instability in the Middle East. It is now assumed even by the US military leadership that the forces in Iraq cannot be significantly decreased for years. There is going to be more and more political pressure to achieve energy independence rather than face the prospect of endless military occupations of sources of oil.

The closest thing to an independence plan produced by the Bush administration or the energy industry is the hydrogen economy. The idea is to convert our vehicles, ships, and aircraft to burn the pollution free fuel in various forms. It would solve a problem, but it could take 20 years or so.

However, hydrogen isn't a source of fuel - it's a storage medium. It is produced by expending some other primary source of energy.

The source the government, energy industry, and the automotive industry has in mind is nuclear power. We are talking about literally thousands of new nuclear facilities dedicated to the production of hydrogen through fission powered electrolysis (the splitting of water into hydrogen and oxygen gas). The hydrogen economy is really a nuclear economy. (article)


by Terry Bisson
From OMNI, April 1991. A 1991 Nebula nominee.

"They're made out of meat."
"Meat. They're made out of meat."
"There's no doubt about it. We picked several from different parts of the planet, took them aboard our recon vessels, probed them all the way through. They're completely meat."
"That's impossible. What about the radio signals? The messages to the stars."
"They use the radio waves to talk, but the signals don't come from them. The signals come from machines."
"So who made the machines? That's who we want to contact."
"They made the machines. That's what I'm trying to tell you. Meat made the machines."
"That's ridiculous. How can meat make a machine? You're asking me to believe in sentient meat."
"I'm not asking you, I'm telling you. These creatures are the only sentient race in the sector and they're made out of meat."
"Maybe they're like the Orfolei. You know, a carbon-based intelligence that goes through a meat stage."
"Nope. They're born meat and they die meat. We studied them for several of their life spans, which didn't take too long. Do you have any idea the life span of meat?"
"Spare me. Okay, maybe they're only part meat. You know, like the Weddilei. A meat head with an electron plasma brain inside."
"Nope. We thought of that, since they do have meat heads like the Weddilei. But I told you, we probed them. They're meat all the way through."
"No brain?"
"Oh, there is a brain all right. It's just that the brain is made out of meat!"
"So... what does the thinking?"
"You're not understanding, are you? The brain does the thinking. The meat."
"Thinking meat! You're asking me to believe in thinking meat!"
"Yes, thinking meat! Conscious meat! Loving meat. Dreaming meat. The meat is the whole deal! Are you getting the picture?"
"Oh my. You're serious then. They're made out of meat."
"Finally, Yes. They are indeed made out meat. And they've been trying to get in touch with us for almost a hundred of their years."
"So what does the meat have in mind?"
"First it wants to talk to us. Then I imagine it wants to explore the universe, contact other sentients, swap ideas and information. The usual."
"We're supposed to talk to meat?"
"That's the idea. That's the message they're sending out by radio. 'Hello. Anyone out there? Anyone home?' That sort of thing."
"They actually do talk, then. They use words, ideas, concepts?"
"Oh, yes. Except they do it with meat."
"I thought you just told me they used radio."
"They do, but what do you think is on the radio? Meat sounds. You know how when you slap or flap meat it makes a noise? They talk by flapping their meat at each other. They can even sing by squirting air through their meat."
"Omigod. Singing meat. This is altogether too much. So what do you advise?"
"Officially or unofficially?"
"Officially, we are required to contact, welcome, and log in any and all sentient races or multibeings in the quadrant, without prejudice, fear, or favor. Unofficially, I advise that we erase the records and forget the whole thing."
"I was hoping you would say that."
"It seems harsh, but there is a limit. Do we really want to make contact with meat?"
"I agree one hundred percent. What's there to say?" `Hello, meat. How's it going?' But will this work? How many planets are we dealing with here?"
"Just one. They can travel to other planets in special meat containers, but they can't live on them. And being meat, they only travel through C space. Which limits them to the speed of light and makes the possibility of their ever making contact pretty slim. Infinitesimal, in fact."
"So we just pretend there's no one home in the universe."
"That's it."
"Cruel. But you said it yourself, who wants to meet meat? And the ones who have been aboard our vessels, the ones you have probed? You're sure they won't remember?"
"They'll be considered crackpots if they do. We went into their heads and smoothed out their meat so that we're just a dream to them."
"A dream to meat! How strangely appropriate, that we should be meat's dream."
"And we can mark this sector unoccupied."
"Good. Agreed, officially and unofficially. Case closed. Any others? Anyone interesting on that side of the galaxy?"
"Yes, a rather shy but sweet hydrogen core cluster intelligence in a class nine star. Was in contact two galactic rotations ago, wants to be friendly again."
"They always come around."
"And why not? Imagine how unbearable this galaxy would be if one were all alone with no-one to talk to but meat."
(Thanks to Ramon Sender)



Cousin George W in Cumin Sauce

"In 1971, after the Congo was renamed Zaire and the statues of King Leopold II and Stanley had been removed from their places of honor to a dump outside the city, European food had been replaced, especially at the presidency, by authentic African dishes. Autenticité had become the order of the day. Goat, porcupine, huge river catfish, and monkey meat -- called by the Zairians, but only by the Zairians, cousin -- had replaced filet mignon." (William T. Close, Leaving Africa)

* one or two pounds of monkey meat (or George W Bush) , cut into large bite-sized pieces
* two or three cloves of garlic, minced
* two onions, finely chopped
* juice of two limes or lemons, and/or a tablespoon of vinegar
* one chile pepper, cleaned and chopped
* three or four tomatoes, chopped (or canned tomatoes)
* two cans tomato paste
* three or four teaspoons of cumin
* African Hot Sauce, or cayenne pepper or red pepper to taste
* black pepper to taste
* salt to taste
* several mint leaves (optional)

In a large pot, bring the monkey meat to a boil in a inch of water. Cover and reduce heat.
While the meat is cooking, make a sauce by combining all the remaining ingredients in a separate pot. Bring to a slow boil. Turn off heat. Add the sauce to the meat. Simmer until meat is done, and then simmer some more. Serve with a side of bananas. (While you're enjoying this dish, put 'My Home Ain't In the Hall of Fame' on your CD player and try to work out the lyrics.)


The moon is full tonight
an illustration for sheet music,
an image in Matthew Arnold
glimmering on the English Channel,
or a ghost over a smoldering battlefield
in one of the history plays.
It's as full as it was
in that poem by Coleridge
where he carries his year-old son
into the orchard behind the cottage
and turns the baby's face to the sky
to see for the first time
the earth's bright companion,
something amazing to make his crying seem small.
And if you wanted to follow this example,
tonight would be the night
to carry some tiny creature outside
and introduce him to the moon.
And if your house has no child,
you can always gather into your arms
the sleeping infant of yourself,
as I have done tonight,
and carry him outdoors,
all limp in his tattered blanket,
making sure to steady his lolling head
with the palm of your hand.
And while the wind ruffles the pear trees
in the corner of the orchard
and dark roses wave against a stone wall,
you can turn him on your shoulder
and walk in circles on the lawn
drunk with the light.
You can lift him up into the sky,
your eyes nearly as wide as his,
as the moon climbs high into the night.
~ Billy Collins ~
 (Picnic, Lightning)