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Friday February 29th

Sacred Ass Day

"Be who you are and say what you feel because the people who mind don't matter and the people who matter don't mind." Dr. Seuss


Hi folks,

Here we are on Friday February 29th, which I think is even stranger than Friday the 13th, don't you? As Dr. Wikipedia says:

" February 29 is a date that occurs only every four years, in years evenly divisible by 4, such as 1988, 1996, 2008 or 2016 (with the exception of century years not divisible by 400, such as 1900). These are called Leap Years, and February 29 is the 60th day of the Gregorian calendar in such a year, with 306 days remaining until the end of that year. February 29 is also known as bissextile day."

Right. That's perfectly clear, ain't it? A celebration for all bisextiles. Whoever invented this calendarific defect would not be on my payroll for very long. It's like a drunken tile-setter laying a floor and he gets to the end of the job and realizes he's one tile short so he just covers up the hole with a chest of drawers. They'll only notice it once very four years when they have to dust in that corner. What about the poor bastards that are born on February 29th? They need a degree in math just to figure out when their birthday is. Also, when exactly do they celebrate it on the off years - in the nanosecond between Feb 28 and Mar 1 at midnight? 11:57, 11:58: 11:59 - here it comes - 12:00 midnight - BLOW THE CANDLES OUT! - oh - too late, missed it! And are these folks technically 25% younger than the rest of us? Or is it like the Portrait of Dorian Gray - they just look younger until one day near the end of their life they get really wrinkly all in one day?

" A person who was born on February 29 may be called a "LEAPLING". (Note: Ha!) For legal purposes, their legal birthdays depend on how different laws count time intervals. In England and Wales the legal birthday of a leapling is 28 February in common years. A person born on February 29, 1980 would have legally reached 18 years old on February 28, 1998.

"There are many instances in children's literature where a person's claim to be only a quarter of their actual age turns out to be based on counting their leap-year birthdays. A similar device is used in the plot of the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta The Pirates of Penzance. Frederic, born on February 29, was apprenticed to a band of pirates until his 21st birthday, meaning that with all the missed birthdays, until he was 84 years old. "

Arrrrrrrh! Shiver me wooden leg. Who says pirates are stupid?

Although the modern calendar counts a year as 365 days, a complete revolution around the sun actually takes approximately 365 days - and 6 hours. Hence the royal fuck up.

If I had designed the calendar I would simply have made those extra six hours a year some kind of Special Religious Holiday, or something, - like Sacred Ass Day - six hours of worship for Jesus' forgotten donkey. Now there's a subject for a thriller! The Raiders of the Lost Asshide. The Da Donkey Coat. Sacred Ass Day might look like the Mexican Day of the Dead. Except little sugar donkeys. Everyone could go door-knocking wearing a feed bucket and mule ears. Like Halloween. Donkeyween. Assween. (Sorry, I guess the Mormons already thought of that idea.)

The newsletter will be on a break for three weeks while I am working as Donkey-in-Residence at the BNW 15 Festival, in Denmark, WA. The BNW 15 Festival got a mention as one of the two Australian events during INTERNATIONAL WATER DAY.



thanks to utube i found you
1980 was along time ago
Love the hendrix tune
I am glad to be a fan again, tcsdance

Hello Dear Joe,
Thank you for reminding me I want to record "Hill of Death" on my next CD. Now I have the lyrics copied to my hard drive! I didn't realize the lyrics didn't just SOUND 19th century--they actually ARE. Bravo for setting them to music. I've got a busy touring year (Japan, Hawaii, Vermont), but the CD WILL be recorded over next autumn and winter here in LA. I will be so proud to have one of your creations on it. love, Alicia Bay Laurel

(Note: I'm happy,too, Alicia - not only for myself but also on behalf of the lyricist, Louisa Lawson, mother of Henry Lawson. Louisa was one of the most important figures of early Australian history who has been buried in the shadows of her more famous son. I'm excited to help bring her life more into the light. Small world, Alicia - see the next letter.)

Hey Joe,
My brother Chris just sent me a copy of your newsletter. We lived down the street from the Grocery [in Painesville] and I guess you were a year behind me at HHS. I often think of Dolce's down the corner and wish that way of life had not disappeared, buried by super- this and super- that. After reading the issue, I poked around your website a bit and started to notice some "connections":
* I subscribe to the RSS feed from XKCD and it's the first feed I read when I open Google Reader.
* Just last night I read chapter 19 in Jimmy Buffet's A Salty Piece of Land. The chapter is titled, "And the Wind Cries Mary".
* Last month I bought a copy of Alicia Bay Laurel's Living on the Earth at the Friends of the Library book sale at the library I work at here in Arizona. A couple of years ago another copy was donated and I talked the Director into adding it to the collection. So the small rural Chino Valley Public Library has the only copy in the county-wide Yavapai Library Network. We bought the first edition when it first appeared, probably from The Mother Earth News bookstore in Madison, Ohio. Oh, okay, so it was the cover that got my attention.
* Your route to Oz was a little less direct than mine, I was on R & R (from my adventures in The Republic of Vietnam) in Sydney twice, in '68 & '69. I was too politically naive (stupid?) to protest or avoid the war before I got drafted in '66. I did get involved in the efforts to end the war with Vietnam Veterans Against the War after I got home though. I participated in the Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam in 1969 and the March On Washington, supporting NPAC's "Out Now!" campaign. It took another 5 years, but... And here we are again.

'War, huh, yeah
What is it good for'

Weird, huh? - Denny

(Note: What is it good for': absolutely nothing! Thanks to Denny for the Dr Seuss quote that leads off this week's newsletter. I went back and got out my 1964 Harvey High School yearbook and there he was. On the same page as Marcie Evans - a cheerleader and a member of the HHS Homecoming Court. But I actually had a crush on another girl in that 1964 Homecoming Court - Jeannie Kalman. A redhead. Wow. Was I smitten! Naturally, she didn't know I existed. Ok. So I was a slow starter in the girl department. But when my engine finally turned over, I started strong! My very first girlfriend - Carol Dunlop - whom I took to our Year 12 Senior prom in 1965 - was an Sophomore at Lake Erie College for Girls, down the road from our High School. She was two years older than me, a Creative Writing major there on a scholarship, and gorgeous ballerina who had once danced with Rudolph Nureyev! Her father owned Dunlop Tires. (How Jane Austen!) We drifted apart and she later had to settle for marrying Argentinian writer, Julio Cortazar, the author of Blow-Up. She also sang French folk songs to me which nudged me on the road to music. Carol was so out of my league at the time it wasn't funny. But, for some inexplicable reason, she liked me a whole lot. She wore mohair sweaters and let me make out with her in the back of my dad's car. God, I still get a tingly feeling when I see mohair!)

great piece on milton. isn't english wonderful and mysterious? without beowulf, chaucer, wycliffe, tyndall, shakespeare, cervantes, milton, ben franklin, charles dodgson, where would we be? how would we speak? btw, your other half makes gorgeous clothes. i want all of them. cheers, A. Bitch

(Note: Lin Van Hek's clothes are somewhat hard to find, but she has just started a webpage which has recent designs, modelled by our granddaughter, Jesse, and you can contact her by email for more information:) linvanhek.com

Dear Joe (and others),
Inspired by the ground-breaking research undertaken by Dr Paul Stewart, Dean of Hillbilly Studies at the University of Humpty Doo, I have been carrying out some folkloric research of my own on my travels. Many of your readers will be familiar with some of the scatological words sung by Scottish children to the tune of "Cock of the North" - to wit:

"Aunty Mary
Had a canary,
up the leg of her drawers".

Sadly the rest of the refrain has long been shrouded in mystery - until now, that is.
During a visit to Yamba, northern NSW, I interviewed a grizzled old Glaswegian crofter in his not-insubstantial bothy on the banks of the Clarence River, and finally found the missing words that have been baffling musicologists for generations. Here they are:

"It would'nae cam doon
For hauf a croon,
And it won the Victoria Cross."

I shall now rest on my laurels for a while. Yours sincerely, Patrick Somers
(thanks to Martin Goreing, Secretary, Top End Folk Club)

(Note: Naturally, 'drawers' has to be pronounced to rhyme with 'Cross.' For further discussion:
'Cock of the North' mudcat thread: site


Running the Numbers
An American Self-Portrait

This series looks at contemporary American culture through the austere lens of statistics. Each image portrays a specific quantity of something: fifteen million sheets of office paper (five minutes of paper use); 106,000 aluminum cans (thirty seconds of can consumption) and so on. site
(thanks to Wiz Dom)

(Note: Barbie Dolls, 2008 60x80" - Depiction of 32,000 Barbies, equal to the number of elective breast augmentation surgeries performed monthly in the US in 2006.)


The Breast Exam Project

This project is a hands on, grass roots breast cancer awareness project that everyone can get involved in. Since its inception inAugust of 2005, we have driven 57,000 miles to meet breast cancer survivors and their families and have performed at benefit concerts across the US and Canada. Besides the obvious DVD production, our mission is AWARENESS ,AWARENESS, AWARENESS and yes, EARLY DETECTION! website
(thanks to Lucie Blue Tremblay)


Texas Women, With a Strong Legacy, Size Up the Democratic Field
By Ralph Blumenthal
The New York Times

Houston - She served as first lady through her husband's two terms, suffered the indignities of his impeachment and then made history running for his office on her own.

No, not her. It was Miriam Amanda Wallace Ferguson, known as "Ma," the first woman elected governor of Texas, back in 1924.

So you'll pardon the women of Texas (and Ma Ferguson was known for her generous pardons) if they don't go all wobbly over the idea of the first female president.

Texas is no stranger to powerful women, which is why it was scarcely accidental that in Thursday night's debate, both Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama bowed to such trailblazers as former Representative Barbara Jordan and former Gov. Ann Richards.

"While all those redneck bubba cowboys were driving the cattle, the women were running the ranches," said Terri Burke, a longtime Abilene newspaper editor who was recently named executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas. article



Dear Diary,
For my birthday this year, my daughter (the dear) purchased a week of personal training at the local health club for me. Although I am still in great shape since being a high school football cheerleader 43 years ago, I decided it would be a good idea to go ahead and give it a try.

I called the club and made my reservations with a personal trainer named Belinda, who identified herself as a 26-year-old aerobics instructor and model for athletic clothing and swim wear. My daughter seemed pleased with my enthusiasm to get started! The club encouraged me to keep a diary to chart my progress.

Started my day at 6:00 a.m. Tough to get out of bed, but found it was well worth it when I arrived at the health club to find Belinda waiting for me. She is something of a Greek goddess -- with blonde hair, dancing eyes and a dazzling white smile. Woo Hoo!! Belinda gave me a tour and showed me the machines. I enjoyed watching the skillful way in which she conducted her aerobics class after my workout today. Very inspiring! Belinda was encouraging as I did my sit-ups, although my gut was already aching from holding it in the whole time she was around. This is going to be a FANTASTIC week!

I drank a whole pot of coffee, but I finally made it out the door. Belinda made me lie on my back and push a heavy iron bar into the air then she put weights on it! My legs were a little wobbly on the treadmill, but I made the full mile. Belinda's rewarding smile made it all worthwhile. I feel GREAT! It's a whole new life for me.

The only way I can brush my teeth is by laying the toothbrush on the counter and moving my mouth back and forth over it. I believe I have a hernia in both pectorals. Driving was OK as long as I didn't try to steer or stop. I parked on top of a GEO in the club parking lot. Belinda was impatient with me, insisting that my screams bothered other club members. Her voice is a little too perky for early in the morning and when she scolds, she gets this nasally whine that is VERY annoying. My chest hurt when I got on the treadmill, so Belinda put me on the stair monster. Why the Hell would anyone invent a machine to simulate an activity rendered obsolete by elevators? Belinda told me it would help me get in shape and enjoy life. She said some other shit too.

Belinda was waiting for me with her vampire-like teeth exposed as her thin, cruel lips were pulled back in a full snarl. I couldn't help being a half an hour late, it took me that long to tie my shoes. Belinda took me to work out with dumbbells. When she was not looking, I ran and hid in the restroom. She sent another skinny bitch to find me. Then, as punishment, she put me on the rowing machine -- which I sank.

I hate that bitch Belinda more than any human being has ever hated any other human being in the history of the world. Stupid, skinny, anemic, anorexic little cheerleader. If there was a part of my body I could move without unbearable pain, I would beat her with it. Belinda wanted me to work on my triceps. I don't have any triceps! And if you don't want dents in the floor, don't hand me the damned barbells or anything that weighs more than a sandwich. The treadmill flung me off and I landed on a health and nutrition teacher. Why couldn't it have been someone softer, like the drama coach or the choir director?

Belinda left a message on my answering machine in her grating, shrilly voice wondering why I did not show up today. Just hearing her made me want to smash the machine with my planner. However, I lacked the strength to even use the TV remote and ended up catching eleven straight hours of the Weather Channel.

I'm having the Church van pick me up for services today so I can go and thank GOD that this week is over. I will also pray that next year my daughter (the little shit) will choose a gift for me that is fun -- like a root canal or a hysterectomy.
I still say if God had wanted me to bend over, he would have sprinkled the floor with diamonds!!!
(thanks to Marcus Whitaker)


Obama to Reporter: I'm Sorry for "Messing Up Your Game"

In the past Barack Obama has been accused of many things -- having ties to a crooked political fundraiser, for one -- but this, I dare say, is a first. In a recent column in the Henry Daily Herald of McDonough, Georgia, reporter Nicklaus Lovelady lambasts Obama for ruining his chances with a love interest working for a rival paper. Best to let Lovelady take it from here:

'I had the looks, I had the charm and I had my eye on this pretty young thing who was doing an internship for a competing paper. It took me nearly two months of running into each other at various news events before I worked up the nerve to begin talking to her.
And then Obama shows up.
The senator made his way to SIUE one day to introduce some legislation that would increase grants for students. Prior to that, me and the girl became really cool as I let her in on a few tricks of the trade. The day Obama came, there was a huge press conference at the university's student center with about 100 people inside the conference room and hundreds more viewing the conference on a big screen in the lobby. Obama did his thing, and at the end there was segment for questions by the media.
After about five questions from different television and newspaper reporters, I stood up to ask mine.
"Wait a minute son, this is for professional media only," Obama said to me.
"What do you mean? I work for the local paper," I said with a crackling nervous voice.
"Oh, I'm sorry. I thought you were a college student. You have such a baby face," he said with an unremorseful grin.
At that point everyone in the room turned to look at me and laugh. The 800 people in the lobby laughed as my face was projected on the big screen.
Alas, the "pretty young thing" was laughing, too. And, after that humiliating episode, she was no longer interested in Lovelady's "tricks of the trade."
"Obama owes me a public apology for making me look like a court jester and for blocking my shot," Lovelady's column concludes. "Until that time, Hillary or Giuliani will get my vote."
Not about to lose Lovelady's vote, Obama, who has yet to declare whether or not he'll seek the presidency in 2008, phoned the reporter "to publicly apologize for messing up your game. I read that; I felt terrible. I didn't know there were any ladies around. I just wanted to let you know that I'm deeply sorry."
Presidential material? Definitely.'
(thanks to Stefan Abeysekera)

Note: Here's the recording of the actual phone message Obama sent: audio


The Farmer

A man owned a small farm in Indiana .
The Indiana State Wage & Hour Department claimed he was not paying proper wages to his help and sent an agent out to interview him.
"I need a list of your employees and how much you pay them," demanded the agent.
"Well," replied the farmer, "there's my farm hand who's been with me for 3 years. I pay him $200 a week plus free room and board. The cook has been here for 18 months, and I pay her $150 per week plus free room and board. Then there's the half-wit who works about 18 hours every day and does about 90% of all the work around here. He makes about $10 per week, pays his own room and board, and I buy him a bottle of bourbon every Saturday night. He also sleeps with my wife occasionally."

"That's the guy I want to talk to --- the half-wit," says the agent.

"That would be me,' replied the farmer.
(thanks to Terry Dwyer)




Lapin aux Olives
(Anthony's Easter Bunny)

4 rabbit legs
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
1 small carrot, coarsely shopped
1 celery rib, coarsely chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 bay leaves
2 springs of thyme, plus 1 sprig of thyme, leaves only, finely chopped
1 sprig of rosemary, plus 1 sprig of rosemary, finely chopped
1 sprig of flat parsley, plus 1 sprog of flat parsley, leaves only, finely chopped
1 tbsp (14 g) whole black peppercorns
112 cups (340 ml) white wine
Salt and pepper
14 cup (56 g) flour (for dredging), plus 1 tbsp (14g) flour (for sauce)
1 tbsp (28 ml) olive oil
1 tbsp (14 g) butter
1 tbsp (14 g) tomato paste
14 cup (56 ml) red wine vinegar
2 cups (450 ml) chicken stock
14 lb (112 g) picholine olives, pitted

Prep the Bunny:
In the large mixing bowl, combine the rabbit legs, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, bay leaves, whole sprigs of thyme, rosemary and parsley, the peppercorns, and the wine. Let marinate for 2 hours.

Cook the Bunny:
Drain the marinade and reserve the liquid and the vegetables separately. Pat the legs dry and season with salt and pepper. Dredge the legs in 14 cup of the flour. Heat the olive oil over high heat in the Dutch oven and, once the oil is hot, add the butter. Brown the legs on both sides until they are dark, golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove the legs from the pot and set aside.

Add the vegetables from the marinade to the pot and cook over high heat until they are browned and caramelized. Stir in the tomato paste and the remaining tablespoon of flour and mix well with the wooden spoon. Cook for one minute, then stir in the vinegar and the reserved marinade liquid. Cook over high heat until the liquid is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Stir in the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add the rabbit legs and reduce to a simmer. Cook over low heat for 1 hour, or until the meat is very tender. Remove the legs and set aside.

Finish and Serve

Strain the cooking liquid and return it to the pot. Return the legs to the pot and bring the liquid to a boil. Stir in the olives and the chopped herbs, season with salt and pepper and serve on a platter. Serves 4.
(from LifeStyle Cafe: Guest Chef: Anthony Bourdain)






The Autumn constellations
Begin to rise. The brilliant
Moonlight shines on the crowds.
The moon toad swims in the river
And does not drown. The moon rabbit
Pounds the bitter herbs of the
Elixir of eternal life.
His drug only makes my heart
More bitter. The silver brilliance
Only makes my hair more white.
I know that the country is
Overrun with war. The moonlight
Means nothing to the soldiers
Camped in the western deserts.

~ Du Fu ~
(One Hundred Poems From The Chinese,
translated by Kenneth Rexroth, New Directions Books, 1971)


Full Moon Rhyme

There's a hare in the moon tonight,
crouching alone in the bright
buttercup field of the moon;
and all the dogs in the world
howled at the hare in the moon.

"I chased that hare to the sky,"
the hungry dogs all cry.
"The hare jumped into the moon
and left me here in the cold.
I chased that hare to the moon."

"Come down again, wild hare.
We can see you there,"
the dogs all howl to the moon.
'Come down again to the world.
you mad black hare in the moon,

"or we will grow wings and fly
up to the star-grassed sky
to hunt you out of the moon,"
the hungry dogs of the world
howl at the hare in the moon.

~Judith Wright~









A guy goes to the supermarket and notices an attractive woman waving at him. She says hello. He's rather taken aback because he can't place where he knows her from. So he says, 'Do you know me?'

To which she replies, 'I think you're the father of one of my kids.'

Now his mind travels back to the only time he has ever been unfaithful to his wife and says, 'Are you the stripper from the bachelor party that I made love to on the pool table with all my buddies watching while your partner whipped my butt with wet celery???'

She looks into his eyes and says calmly, 'No, I'm your son's teacher.
(thanks to Bill Lempke)