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Friday January 26th, 2007

TURBO CHOOK

" . . And don't speak too soon
For the wheel's still in spin
And there's no tellin' who
That it's namin'.
For the loser now
Will be later to win . . .
For the times they are a-changin'.
Bob Dylan

 

Dear Folks,

Sorry for missing last week's issue but I got back from our DIFFICULTWOMEN Tasmanian tour with flu symptoms and blocked eardrums from the flight. I felt like I was underwater and channelling Beethoven in his final years. All I wanted to do was go to bed and contemplate my Ninth Symphony. But I am up and pecking at the keyboard again. One of the funniest things I discovered in Tasmania was the 'turbo chook'. This is a native hen that moves like the roadrunner and when confronted makes a honking sound like a goose. The local instructions for cooking this fowl are to boil it in a pot with a rock and when the rock is soft, throw out the chook, and eat the rock.

I was staying at some friends house on Bruny Island and they had some other guests, a couple and their child, visiting and working with them, from WWOOF - World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. This is an international network of people who correspond with each other via the internet. If you want to go somewhere on a holiday or just to change your life, you can make contact with one of these folks and negotiate staying with them in exchange for helping them work their farm. Pretty creative and very helpful for fellow free spirits. In my mid-twenties, I lived for about five years in a manner similar to this - before the internet of course - by traveling from commune to commune, making friends, and joining in the work and play. We had a little saying, 'Always leave someone's place as good or better than you found it, and you'll always be welcome back.' However, as it was also the free love era, sometimes leaving a place as good or better than you found it entailed sleeping with somebody's girlfriend or wife, and although correct on the theoretical level, it usually didn't get you an invite back, especially if you did a good job, at least by their partner. Ah well, so much for theory. www.wwoof.org

The Second Inspired Shaddap You Face Contest at the Cygnet Folk Festival, was won by Melbourne singer-songwriter, Carl Pannuzzo. In my opinion, ALL the acts should have shared an Equal First. (That's why I don't judge these things.) Carl's variation was very strong, and mucho bravo coming right after the mighty Kazastan Kowgirlz, and he combined my 'traditional' version with a honest and accurate aussie 'strine chorus. I particularly liked the interpretation done by the Kazastan Kowgirlz, who sang an a capella Bulgarian russian language version, with an brilliant choral arrangement that deconstructed the melody. The Black Nonnas with Kavisha Mazzella also made a quantum leap from the improvised variation The Nonnas entered in the National Folk Festival last year. This time, there was an actual song, with excellent new lyrics, and a tight arrangement that knocked the audience for a loop. I have decided in future to possibly dispense with the judging system for this contest as it isn't really a competition at all but a celebration of musical variation and imagination. Fortunately, we had some high definition video recording of the event so a dvd of the Cygnet Folk Festival 2007 concert plus the best of the National Folk Festival 2006 concert is certainly in the pipeline.

I am reprinting below three of my favourite letters - and my comments - from the recent Bob Dylan discussions. I hadn't planned on going any further with this topic but I LOVED these last minute letters so much I have to pass them on. One is from one of the strongest singer-songwriters around, ERIC BOGLE, so I thought other singer-songwriters who jumped all over my ass, might like to hear Eric's view.

Folks, listen up: unless you want your letter possibly printed in my Reader's Letter section, please don't write to me in reference to anything you read in my newsletter. One of the points of doing this newsletter is for debate and discussion. If you want to write me but don't want your opinions passed on, SAY SO. Otherwise, I am assuming that you are joining the discussion. Normally, I only print first names or initials, but in certain cases, I will acknowledge proper names and even website addresses of readers (never email addresses!) if I think it is appropriate. Sometimes I misread things. One of my readers, well, now an ex-reader (oops!), a woman - let's call her Roberta - who wrote me a couple of weeks ago, was so furious that I published her edited letter that she threatened me with police action, restraining orders, and even a lawsuit for defamation. As I only referred to her by her first name, Roberta, I assume she was going to instigate a class action defamation suit on behalf of all people named Roberta in the world. (Good thing I didn't refer to her as R.)

 

FAVOURITE LETTERS OF THE WEEK

Joe,
I've been following the Great Zimmerman Stramash on your latest
newsletter with some interest and no little admiration/envy for your
balls (size: Big - composition: Steel). Now, when attending a stramash,
I usually stand well back from the touchline in case any of the blood
spatters on me. Like all genuine sports fans I don't mind who my team is
beating the shit out of, providing of course it's not me, but, eschewing
the habits of a lifetime, and in spite of the fact I have a nagging
feeling that this is a mistake, today I'm going to creep nearer to the
touchline.

I'm not surprised that the majority of the reaction to your rave was
vitriolic, not to say venomous. To suggest to the acolytes that the feet
of Gawd have slowly turned to clay and that for the last 20 years or so
they have been kissing lifeless dust instead of spun gold is to rob most
of them of their very reason for living, not to mention devaluing their
Complete Dylan Collection when they try to flog it on E-bay. In fact,
I'm surprised the reaction was not even more hysterical, not to say even
more venomous.....

I admit I'm not much of a fan of His Bobness, in fact I don't really
know all that much about his music, especially the later stuff. I don't
even own a Dylan CD, and that's not through any deep dislike of the man
or his music, more because of bad timing on both our parts. While he was
writing "Blowing In The Wind" "Masters Of War" etc., I was rediscovering
Scottish traditional music, and when I was rediscovering songwriting as
a social and political tool, he had metamorphosed into a country singer.
Our agendas never quite gelled you see. I'm telling you this because I
want you to view this as comments from a neutral observer (fat chance).

No, what really interests me most about this little musical contretemps
is not the quality, or lack of it, of Dylan's music, but more why your
readers reacted so strongly to your criticisms. And I've come to the
conclusion, after much deep pondering and half a bottle of Laphraoig,
that it was because it came from a fellow songwriter. If you'd been a
brickie or a plumber or some such, nobody would have given a rat's arse
about your opinions on Dylan. But Joe, it's not done to criticise a
fellow team member, not in public anyway.( I mean, supposing John Howard
started criticising George Bush? We'd have to pull out of
Iraq......).No, if you do then the criticism will just be construed by
most as envy and sour grapes, motivated by some dark hidden personal
agenda. And that's the way it turned out it seems. But of course you
knew this before you wrote your piece, hence my admiration for your
aforementioned big steel balls.

I hesitate to offer an opinion on a fellow songwriter lest I be accused
of having some dark hidden personal agenda, but I don't believe your
rave was motivated by sour grapes or envy, there was an edge of
disappointment, almost a despair amongst the anger (and bad puns) that
clearly defined your motives to me. But then, being a songwriter, I'm
just a romantic silly fool........ Regards,
Eric Bogle

PS Stramash is Scottish for shit -fight.
PPS Sorry about the sporting analogies, I've been overdosing on the Ashes series.

 

(Notes: Dear Eric, Half a bottle of Laphraoig will do that to you, mate. The problem was not finishing the other half. We wouldnt be having this conversation if you had. But I am deeply impressed by your letter and just wanted to let you know that it had the same joyous effect on my nervous system as a half a bottle of Lagavulin, my pesonal Scottish gear oil. You see, folks, Eric once told me the effect of Laphraoig whisky was like being kicked in the teeth by a peatcutter's boot. So naturally I had to try it. I was much smoother than I expected, in my opinion, more like going down on one of the Women's Peatcutter's Guild, on a warm day, in a lovely field of heather, while listening to an Eric Bogle album. . . . whilst being bitten on the arse by midges.)

 

Dear JD,
You know I read your last diatribe and all I could think of was here is a little boy who has had his illusions shattered. Here is a child who finds it unacceptable when he finds out the world isn't about him and what he thinks it is supposed to be. Mommy and Daddy are fallible and it blows his mind. Here is a man who believes another human being (dylan) should be living his life according to Dolce. so guess what? The world does not run the way we want it to, people do not behave as we would have them behave. Sometimes we need to rise up and fight the injustice of the world run amok, Bushco and that cadre is something appropriate to scream about and act on.

Dylan? No. Bob Dylan is on his own path, doing his life as he is led or driven to do it. So Dolce doesn't like it? geeeze. grow up. So you don't get it anymore... fine, move on.
You sound like you are writing about how your daddy disappointed you when you were 17 which led to an existential crisis that has screwed up your life for the next 40 years. Lord have mercy dude. He is a song and dance man. It seems there is an awful lot of energy being discharged about something that isn't really any of your business. do you know what I mean?
Bob Dylan has his own existence apart from you... (and me damn it!) Bob Dylan has his own existential Rubicon's to cross. . .

. . Dylan is living a Jungian archetype out in the world, a lightening rod for myth and mystery and inarticulate longings in our own individuation journeys.

Dylan's songs, albums and performances are deeply entwined with all of that even if he says its "just" a song, or an album. Yes, his words have been prophetic at times... and still. Yes he has written music that makes you weep, gasp, or laugh out loud with joy about life, or about the slyness of a line you just caught on to on some new level. I at least am often newly surprised at something I never heard before in a song I've been listening to, singing along to for 20, or 30, or 40 years. Did Bob mean what I heard? I doubt it... this is ART.  ART transcends its origins.
A good poem, piece of fiction, painting moves the listener, reader, viewer far beyond the realm of the first intent. In so doing I believe it also moves the creator.  Art also transcends technique.
Technique is not what is doing the moving, what is transcending the boundaries. That is the mystery that Dylan is tapped into... or should I say the mystery that taps in to Dylan to have its way with the listener.

In Sufi terms one would say that love is having its way with the lover through the being of that which is beloved. There are so many who have said that they don't listen to their own music, read their own books, watch their own performances, that I find it odd that you said  "In my experience, the only reason an artist doesn't like listening to their own recordings..."
And if he did listen to his own music wouldn't you consider it narcissistic?

I mean if you are looking to discover something about yourself in bashing Dylan than you will find a way to do it no matter what he does.  He has disappointed you as you see it.
But perhaps the truth is you are disappointing yourself? Perhaps you are working out your own journey through this odd rage at Bob Dylan. Why else would you spend such an inordinate amount of time and energy spewing your bitterness about something that objectively should be rather unimportant in the great scheme of things. People aren't dying, neither are whole ecosystems. So, why am I spending such an inordinate amount of time writing about this... because yes, Dylan's journey in some mysterious way, informs my own. I can't analyze it in a completely objective manner. I know it isn't the man Bob, but what is coming through him that touches something in me and keeps me moving on, inwardly and outwardly. But even knowing that on an intellectual level my heart and soul are extravagantly in love with the man.
This is how it works with mystery.

Move on, Jim, find what gives you a positive passion rather than spending so much of your journey in negative reaction against something. If you need to do that... well there is always that ass who claims to be president and his evil empire. sincerely, DW

(Notez: Deer DW, Thnax 4 riting me. my daddi dont allow me to rite peeple so pleeze dont tell him or he will beat on me agin with the broken peeces of his favorite bob dillard album that i acidently sat on when i jump on the couch.

I dont know what a 'diatribe' thing is but if it is like the poo nappy that daddi makes me ware when I am bad, I dont like them too much. I am 59 year old on aconna I eat too much LSD and listening to 'blonde on blonde' too much made me slow thinking I am told. An I accidently shattered my 'llusions, too, but dont tell my daddi 'bout that neither else he'll make me eat soap. You say bob dillard is having trouble with his 'rubicons'. I had a rubicon's cube once but I solved mine in two minutes. Maybe if bob dillard is having trouble with his, he probably slow too, and needs a special class like mine.

You kidder you, you rite something funny:

" Dylan is living a Jungian archetype out in the world, a lightening rod for myth and mystery and inarticulate longings in our own individuation journeys."

I had to wrote that out with my big pencil 'cause I liked thoz words but dont know 'xactly what they meaning. I get a headake just trying 2 'magine that. I did heard bob dillard was Jungian but didn't he changed hiz name from Zimmerberg 'cause back in the Nazi '50s, Jungians was sent to camps? That was smart of him so he didnt get caught. An I dont pretend to be any lightning rod like bob dillard and benjamin franklenstein but I put a fork in the toaster once and cause myself a lot of pain and mistery. Dang! That hurt.

You sound reel smart like you know all about psychalogy and nervous hospitals and art and stuff. My teacher told me Sigmood Froid said my harmonica is really my pee-pee but my daddi thinks he ought 2 see a psychiatrist for thinking stuff like that there. I can put my harmonica in my mouth but I cant do that with my pee-pee, although I'd like to do sometimes. And Keeth Rickards, of the Roling Stones, says art is short for arthur, but bob dillard invented the name of there band, in case you didnt know that, but you probably did cause it sound like you know lots o' stuff. I think its ok to invent other peoples names, dont you, cause I heard an Iranish poet named Dillard Thomas invented bob dillard's name anyway.

You also rited that if a kid like to listen to their own music, then they are Narcissistics. I heard of him. The teacher in the Slow School give me the colouring book about Narcissus. He was in love with hiz rear view mirror and he broke it and had 7 years bad luck and a flat tire, and got so sick to his stomach with fear that his father was going to beat on him with bob dillard albums, that he ate some white flowers to help him throw up so they named the flower after him. If you are feeling sick though you dont need to buy the flowers, you can just put two fingers down your throat like I do, or listen to those stinky new bob dillard albums. (no charge for that tip 'cause we're pen pals now.)

Your absolutely rite. I am disappointed. I dis-appointed myself yesterday. In the morning, I appointed myself as president of the Bob Dillard Pull-Your-Pee-Pee Club but in the afternoon, I resigned. (boom boom!)

By the way, my name is not Jim. (hmmmmmmm . . . you should KNOWED that if you red my newzletter . . . . . that is not very orbservent of you. Maybe you should enrol in my special school.)

xx yr penpal little joe

ps You sound like you know my daddi pretty well so maybe you will like this song I writes about him and me - in 1993. Send me 1 that u rites about your daddi so we can match them up and see whos daddi hits harder: Father Lyrics

Hi Joe,
    I just ran across your rebuttal of the pile of emails you received regarding your Dylan article. Well. First off, I completely agree with your assessment of the long, slow decay of one of the brightest songwriting talents of our age. I do, however, think he wrote (or, should I say, co-wrote) some fine pieces for "Desire". But, that not withstanding, is, in my opinion, it. I've spent I don't know how much money since then, each time he releases something, in the dying hope that there will be some evidence, some spark, some glimmer of the power of his former talent.
    Secondly, Figgy Pudding isn't all it's cracked up to be, anyway, so a Dylan recipe would probably leave me just as helplessly unsatisfied as having to sit through one more playing of "Modern Times". It's just empty calories with no core of any worthwhile substance. I am referring, of course, to both. 
    Thirdly, I have no idea who you are, or what you do, but, rest assured, I'm going to find out! Anyone who has the critical thinking faculty, combined with the chutzpah, to shout out that the Emperor is naked, is someone I want to know more about. Your remarks regarding the lack of self analysis by Dylan is on the money. How can he, in good conscience, not look at his latest work and think, -"Hhhmmm, kinda derivative...no spark...too much borrowed without acknowledgement...those ain't my melodies...didn't change 'em enough...damn, I gotta go back to the drawing board..."
    Honestly, he made his name by being a constantly evolving dynamo. Certainly, he couldn't keep up the pace of his growth from 1960 to 1968 (that's Guthrie, folk, blues, protest, personal songs, universal songs, rock, and parables). But, to let it all just collapse under it's own weight? I don't know. Probably, he doesn't know either. In my mind, he's now a pale caricature of himself.
    I don't expect him to regularly churn out masterpieces. I mean, how many "Visions of Johanna", "Chimes of Freedom", "Desolation Row", or "Blowin' In The Wind" songs can one man write? However, I would at least hope that he would try. Even that seems beyond him, now. He once said, "...he not busy being born is busy dying...". Perhaps he should go take a long look at the work he accomplished.
    He told Ed Bradley, of 60 Minutes, two years ago, that he can't do that kind of writing anymore. I think I know why. When he wrote those masterpieces, he was hungry, young, ambitious, full of idealism, full of hope, in love with beautiful women, constantly learning, had boundless energy, and he was regularly experimenting with some very strong psychedelics. Now, he's sated, old, indolent, has no idealism, no hope, has no fire, and most certainly if he tried to work with strong psychedelics now, it would kill him. His Muse has left him. He's bereft on a sea of self-importance, self-induced mystery, denial, and suspicion. It's actually very sad.
    I first saw him perform live during the Rolling Thunder Revue (the first half). I was sixteen. I was just getting into him because I'd learned that my brother and he were friends back in '61-'63. (Holy shit!! That's an incredible story that I wish my brother would write down. It's true, too. I have pictures of them together). It was a powerful concert. And this was before he started in with the whiteface routine. -The last time I saw him was two years ago. Same shtick he's doing today. Depressing. I'll never see him again. When I get the urge to gaze upon his countenance, I'll watch "Don't Look Back" or clips from the early days. His early work just might stand the test of real time. It absolutely is the best song-writing I've ever encountered.
    So, thanks for calling it as you see it and having the guts to stand up and take the punches. By the by, I find the lack of writing and thinking abilities of most of your detractors to be completely hysterical. - Do these people get to vote? Sheesh. Anyway, keep up the writing. Kind Regards,
Doug MacKenzie 

GEORGE CARLIN'S NEW RULES FOR 2007 No 1
Stop giving me that pop-up ad for classmates.com! There's a reason you don't talk to people for 25 years. Because you don't particularly like them! Besides, I already know what the captain of the football team is doing these days -- mowing my lawn.

FAVOURITE SPAM OF THE WEEK

Subject: from Gallina
I am Gallina, I am young lady of 27 years old, I live in Russia and I really want to create a strong family. Is visiting Russia in your future plans?

(Note: Gallina is Italian for a tough old stewing chook.)

 

MUSIC

THE BEATLES IN RISHIKESH

 

In February, 1968, Paul Saltzman traveled to the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's ashram in Rishikesh, India to learn meditation. His time there was profoundly life-changing. While there, he met John, Paul, George and Ringo, and over the following days, as they hung out together, he took some photographs. World renowned rock and roll memorabilia specialist Stephen Maycock, at Sotheby's auction house in London, England wrote in his introduction to the book The Beatles in Rishikesh: "Paul Saltzman's intimate and remarkable photographs; some of the best I have seen.  These are to be welcomed by both fans and historians of the Beatles alike, for these images provide a significant addition to the detail of what is a relatively little-recorded episode in the career of the most important rock group the world has known." site
(thanks to Stefan A)

GEORGE CARLIN'S NEW RULES FOR 2007 No 2
Don't eat anything that's served to you out a window unless you're a seagull. People are acting all shocked that a human finger was found in a bowl of Wendy's chili. Hey, it cost less than a dollar. What did you expect it to contain? Lobster?

 

DADDY MOJO CUSTOM CIGAR BOX GUITARS


website (thanks to Joe Bendik)

 

GEORGE CARLIN'S NEW RULES FOR 2007 No 3
If you need to shave and you still collect baseball cards, you're a dope. If you're a kid, the cards are keepsakes of your idols. If you're a grown man, they're pictures of men.

 

Dark Cloud Over Good Works of Gates Foundation
By Charles Piller, Edmund Sanders and Robyn Dixon
The Los Angeles Times

Ebocha, Nigeria - Justice Eta, 14 months old, held out his tiny thumb. An ink spot certified that he had been immunized against polio and measles, thanks to a vaccination drive supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. But polio is not the only threat Justice faces. Almost since birth, he has had respiratory trouble. His neighbors call it "the cough." People blame fumes and soot spewing from flames that tower 300 feet into the air over a nearby oil plant. It is owned by the Italian petroleum giant Eni, whose investors include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Justice squirmed in his mother's arms. His face was beaded with sweat caused either by illness or by heat from the flames that illuminate Ebocha day and night. Ebocha means "city of lights."
The makeshift clinic at a church where Justice Eta was vaccinated and the flares spewing over Ebocha represent a head-on conflict for the Gates Foundation. In a contradiction between its grants and its endowment holdings, a Times investigation has found, the foundation reaps vast financial gains every year from investments that contravene its good works.

In Ebocha, where Justice lives, Dr. Elekwachi Okey, a local physician, says hundreds of flares at oil plants in the Niger Delta have caused an epidemic of bronchitis in adults, and asthma and blurred vision in children. No definitive studies have documented the health effects, but many of the 250 toxic chemicals in the fumes and soot have long been linked to respiratory disease and cancer.
"We're all smokers here," Okey said, "but not with cigarettes."
The oil plants in the region surrounding Ebocha find it cheaper to burn nearly 1 billion cubic feet of gas each day and contribute to global warming than to sell it. They deny the flaring causes sickness. Under pressure from activists, however, Nigeria's high court set a deadline to end flaring by May 2007. The gases would be injected back underground, or trucked and piped out for sale. But authorities expect the flares to burn for years beyond the deadline.
The Gates Foundation has poured $218 million into polio and measles immunization and research worldwide, including in the Niger Delta. At the same time that the foundation is funding inoculations to protect health, The Times found, it has invested $423 million in Eni, Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. and Total of France - the companies responsible for most of the flares blanketing the delta with pollution, beyond anything permitted in the United States or Europe. Indeed, local leaders blame oil development for fostering some of the very afflictions that the foundation combats.
article

GEORGE CARLIN'S NEW RULES FOR 2007 No 4
Women, leave your eyebrows alone. Here's how much men care about your eyebrows: Do you have two of them? Okay, we're done.

MOVIES

Three film recommendations this week, no particular order of brillance, as all are great:

1. Pan's Labyrinth - they don't make them like this anymore. Two crossing storylines - a fairytale, and a war film, set in Franco's Spain. The two tales come together seamlessly into a gorgeously art directed, classic and almost Grecian tragedy. It has more intense violence than Apocalypto, but not overtly so, and will make you weep like Apocalypto will not. NOT for children but for the Inner Child! It will also remind you in a profound way of how fairy tales actually made you physically afraid when you were young.

2. The Queen - Helen Mirren portrays the Queen in a manner that helps us understand why she reacted the way she did during Diana's death - a thousand years of tradition and training which began for her as a little girl. The Royals are NOT like the rest of us. Very moving and intelligent.

2. Apocalypto - I will spend a little more time on this one, not that I think it is better than the others, but because coincidentally, I am reading a mammoth tome called 'Aztec' by Gary Jennings, that I am certain influenced the writers of the movie. I won't go into the novel just yet as I have a ways to go, but suffice to say that the movie will awaken your dormant interest in the ancient civilizations of South America. It was both co-written and directed by Mel Gibson. Anyone who reads my newsletter on a regular basis knows that I hated Gibson's last film, 'The Passion of Christ,' back in 2004, with a Passion. Probably the worst film ever made about the life of Jesus. Not even his life, really, just the death scenes. I won't go into that here. You can read all about it on my Lethal Whippin' newsletter, with a follow up on the Passion of the Post Turtle newsletter.
But this film is a ripper of a different colour. Literally. (The blood and gore, of course, are the same colour and once again there are buckets of that, but this time it doesn't overshadow the storyline.) In fact, I'm going to buy this movie on dvd when it comes out, that's how much I liked it. And I don't care if Mel Gibson directed it, or Kurosawa directed it, or who directed it. It's a dynamite film. The central lead male character is beautiful and strong, and a joy to spend a couple of hours with. So is the chief bad Wazoo. All the hyper-Maori-like Mayan warriors in this film have so many piercings, earlobe plugs, scarifications and tattoos, they make Tommy Lee look like Woody Allen.

The basic synopsis is: a small tribal village in the heart of a deep jungle is going about its business, oblivious to the larger world around them, hunting wild tapirs, and exchanging sexual entendres amongst each other as one does when tapir hunting. One quiet morning, they are overcome by a mighty legion of Mayans, their village destroyed and most of the inhabitants taken prisoner for the long trek back to the Big Smoke of stone pyramids and temples. An evil pestilence has befouled the land so the prisoners are earmarked for human sacrifice 'the 'Heart and Head Blue Plate Special' which is supposed to appease the pestilence god. Through a lucky cosmological break, our hero manages to escape, pursued by a dozen Mayan warriors through the jungle where he is rushing to rescue his wife and child whom he has hidden in a deep well to protect them from the invaders. They have no way to climb out and it is starting to rain, the well is filling up, etc - so we want him to make it back in time. The real energy, however, comes from the chase, the crack editing and cinematography, and the visual recreation of the lost world, art and fashion of the Mayan civilization. I have always loved this period anyway and it is a treat to see it finally manifest somewhat on the big screen.

What's odd is that this film was directed by Mel Gibson. Very odd. About the only thing it has in common with 'The Passion' is a paranoid world view, which Mel has obviously inherited from his dad. But despite that little hiccup, it still tears up the screen. It is a mighty action film but it is so unreligious, it's practically heretical. Every reference to organized religion whether pagan or Christian suggests corruptness, from Mayan high priests, decadent and opulent personalities as though cast by Fellini, as they fillet and behead their sacrificial victims to cheering orgistic screams of the dehumanized footy/nazi rally-style throngs; all the way up to the final arrival of the Conquistadors and the Christian missionaries, which you just KNOW means more pain and suffering for the locals. But the film is not a downer. There are too many thrills and spills for that.

There are three messages of hope in the film: Do not fear. Love will Keep You Going. Trust the Forest. Same message as in Bambi. But there are no scenes where you cry like when Bambi's mother died. (If you want to have a good cry, go see 'Pan's Labyrinth'.) But if you like running, there is more running in the last half of Apocalypto than in 'Run Lola Run' and 'The Seven Samaurai' combined. And the chase scene is like a Mayan 'French Connection'. (Are you following all these references?) Tongue-and-cheekness aside, it kept me stuck to my seat.

Gibson has abandoned Faith-in-God as his main driving soapbox, as in 'The Passion', and turned to a trusty old Save-a-Wife-and-Small-Child theme for motivation. I can relate to that one better. But what happened to God? I thought Mel was a committed Christian evangelist. He built his own church. Conducts services in original Latin. His dad talks in tongues. Well, we know that The Bible According to Gibson has earned about three-quarters of a billion dollars at the box office (before DVD sales! That's a lot of Church Collection Box takings!) and I'm sure Pastor Gibson, like the responsible Christian he is, has donated every cent of his personal earnings to charities and the homeless, like St Francis or Jesus would have done, had they made films. Right? And we also know that Apocalypto will also make more money than any REAL Christian-Who-Ought-To-Take-A-Vow-of-Poverty-If-He-Really-Wants-To-Be-Christlike has a right to make - outside the Pope, that is.

I am reminded of something I once read that the only real Religion in Hollywood is Money. So I guess that's the second thing Apocalypto has in common with The Passion. I'm still going to buy it though! But I wouldn't touch the dvd of 'The Passion of the Christ' with a Ten Foot Crucifix. I never want to see that film again. Even Kirk Douglas didn't like that one. And he was Spartacus.

GEORGE CARLIN'S NEW RULES FOR 2007 No 5
There's no such thing as flavored water. There's a whole aisle of this crap at the supermarket. Water, but without that watery taste. Sorry, but flavored water is called a soft drink. You want flavored water? Pour some scotch over ice and let it melt. That's your flavored water.

 

POKER PLAYERS

Two couples were playing poker one evening. Paul accidentally dropped
some cards on the floor. When he bent down under the table to pick them
up, he noticed Tom's wife, Sue, wasn't wearing any underwear under her dress !

Shocked by this, Paul upon trying to sit back up again, hit his head on the table and emerged red-faced. Later, Paul went to the kitchen to get some refreshments.

Tom's wife followed and asked, "Did you see anything that you liked under there?"
Surprised by her boldness, Paul courageously admitted that, well indeed he did.
She said, "Well, you can have it but it will cost you $500."

After taking a minute or two to assess the financial and moral costs
of this offer, Paul confirms that he is interested. She tells him that
since her husband Tom works Friday afternoons and as Paul doesn't, he
should be at her house around 2 p.m. Friday afternoon.

When Friday rolled around, Paul showed up at Tom's house at 2p.m.
sharp and after paying Sue the agreed sum of $500 they went to the
bedroom and closed their transaction, as agreed. Paul then quickly dressed and
left.

As usual, Tom came home from work at 6 p.m. and upon entering the
house, asked his wife abruptly. "Did Paul come by the house this
afternoon?" With a lump in her throat Sue answered "Why yes, he did stop by for a
few minutes this afternoon."

Her heart nearly skipped a beat when her husband curtly asked, "And did he give you $500?"

In terror she assumed that somehow he had found out and after mustering her best poker face, replied, "Well, yes, in fact he did give me $500".

Tom, with a satisfied look on his face, said,
"Good, I was hoping he did. Paul came by the office this morning and
borrowed $500 from me. He promised me he'd stop by our house this
afternoon on his way home and pay me back."
(Thanks to Joan Chenery, via Dai Woosnam)

 

GEORGE CARLIN'S NEW RULES FOR 2007 No 6
The more complicated the Starbucks order, the bigger the jerk. If you walk into a Starbucks and order a "decaf grande, half-soy, half-low fat, iced vanilla, double-shot, gingerbread cappuccino, extra dry, light ice, with one Sweet-n'-Low, and one NutraSweet," ooh, you're a huge jerk.

GEORGE CARLIN'S NEW RULES FOR 2007 No 7
I'm not the cashier! By the time I look up from sliding my card, entering my PIN number, pressing "Enter," verifying the amount, deciding, no, I don't want cash back, and pressing "Enter" again, the kid who is supposed to be ringing me up is standing there eating my candy bar.

Impeaching, Prosecuting Nixon Could Have Elevated the Nation
by Amy Goodman

 One of the high points of the U.S. media was the investigation into the Watergate scandal. Now, 30 years later, with President Ford's death, the media are contributing to the cover-up they once exposed.

Most people get their news from television, yet there has hardly been any explanation of what the Watergate scandal was. This is of particular concern, given that roughly half the U.S. population was born after President Nixon resigned on Aug. 9, 1974. Gerald Ford would pardon him a month later. Rather than explain Watergate, we hear the same chorus from all the networks, that the nation needed to move beyond Watergate, needed to "heal," and that the pardon, while controversial, was needed. The pundits agree that prosecuting Nixon would have led the country in a downward spiral.

But there is another scenario. Impeachment and/or prosecution could have shown Americans that no person is above the law, that all governments must be held accountable. article

 

GEORGE CARLIN'S NEW RULES FOR 2007 No 8
Just because your tattoo has Chinese characters in it doesn't make you spiritual. It's right above the crack of your butt. And it translates to "beef with broccoli." The last time you did anything spiritual, you were praying to God you weren't pregnant. You're not spiritual. You're just high.

 

New China. New Crisis.
Will Hutton
The Observer

In the last decade China has emerged as a powerful, resurgent economic force with the muscle to challenge America as the global superpower. But, in his controversial new book, Will Hutton argues that China's explosive economic reforms will create seismic tensions within the one-party authoritarian state and asks: can the centre hold?

For more than 2,000 years, China's conceit was that it was the celestial kingdom, the country whose standing was endowed by heaven itself and whose emperors tried to reproduce heavenly harmony on Earth. All China basked in the reflected glow; foreigners were barbarians beyond the gilded pale who should not be allowed even to learn the art of speaking and writing Chinese.

When I first visited China in the autumn of 2003, such articles of Confucian faith seemed very far away, submerged by the lost wars and the 26 humiliating treaties of the 19th century, subsequent communist revolution and now the economic growth to which Beijing's motorway rings and Shanghai's skyline are tribute. This was a new China that had plainly left behind obeisance to the canons of Confucianism and the later cruelties of Mao. More than three years and a book later, I am less convinced. article (thanks to Maireid Sullivan)

 

GEORGE CARLIN'S NEW RULES FOR 2007 No 9
If you're going to insist on making movies based on crappy, old television shows, then you have to give everyone in the Cineplex a remote so we can see what's playing on the other screens. Let's remember the reason something was a television show in the first place is that the idea wasn't good enough to be a movie.

GEORGE CARLIN'S NEW RULES FOR 2007 No 10
When I ask how old your toddler is, I don't need to hear "27 months."
"He's two" will do just fine. He's not a cheese. And I didn't really care in the first place.
(thanks to Ramon Sender)

 

RECIPE

John Howard's BBQ Turbo Chook
(Wartime Ration Recipe, adapted from an actual recipe by Barbara Bush)

1 2 1/ 2 to 3 pound Turbo Chook drawn and quartered *
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon motor oil *
1 teaspoon salt
1 /2 teaspoon ground black pepper TU
1 clove garlic, minced
2 1 /2 cups water
1 cup coarsely chopped onion
1 /2 to 3 /4 cup granulated sugar
1 /2 cup butter
1 /3 cup Freedom mustard *
1 /4 cup cider vinegar
1 /2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 1 /2 cups tomato sauce
6 to 8 tablespoons lemon juice
1 /2 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 large rock from Baghdad

Place turbo chook in a plastic zip top bag. Set in a shallow dish. For marinade, stir together 3 tablespoons lemon juice, oil, salt 1 /2 teaspoon black pepper, and garlic. Pour over chicken. Add Baghdad rock. Close bag. Marinate in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours, turning often. (You can also turn the contents in the dish. Boom boom.)

In a saucepan, combine water, onion, sugar, butter, mustard, vinegar and 1 /2 teaspoon pepper. Bring to boiling, reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce, Worcestershire, 6 to 8 tablespoons lemon juice, and red pepper. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered for 50 to 60 minutes or until reduced to about 4 cups.

Meanwhile, drain turbo chook, baste rock and discard the marinade.

In a grill with a cover, arrange preheated coals around a drip pan. Test for medium heat above the pan. Place turbo chook, bone side down, on grill rack over drip pan. Place rock on top. Cover and grill for 4 - 5 hours * or until rock runs bright red when pierced with a 50 mm shell *. Brush often with barbecue sauce the last 10 minutes of grilling.

To plate, discard the chook, and serve the rock, with additional red sauce.

Satisfies any number of young recruits.

(*In times of Peace, you can substitute ordinary chicken for turbo chook, flowerchildren for recruits, olive oil for motor oil, Dijon mustard for Freedom mustard, omit rock and 50 mm shell, cut grilling time to 30 minutes, and eat the chicken instead.)

 

" I would like to remind
the management
that the drinks are watered
and the hat-check girl
has syphilis
and the band is composed
of former SS monsters
However since it is
New Year's Eve
and I have lip cancer
I will place my
paper hat on my
concussion and dance. "

~ Leonard Cohen ~
'The Music Crept By Us'

 

 

 

THE FINAL HURRAH

BACKWARDS

I want to live my next life backwards:
You start out dead and get that out of the way.
Then you wake up in an assisted living facility feeling better every day.
Then you get kicked out for being too healthy.
Enjoy your retirement and collect your pension.
Then when you start work, you get a gold watch on your first day.
You work 40 years until you're too young to work.
You get ready for High School: drink alcohol, party, and you're generally promiscuous.
Then you go to primary school, you become a kid, you play, and you have no responsibilities.
Then you become a baby, and then...
You spend your last 9 months floating peacefully in luxury, in spa-like conditions - central heating, room service on tap, and then...
You finish off as an orgasm.
(thanks to Bill Lempke)


 

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