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June 17th, 2005

The Humour Medicine

"The prophet courageously challenges oppressive social structures of which the church may be an integral part. The prophet is the end result of the best in the tradition and spirituality of the church, which soon, sadly, drives him or her out."
J. Milton Yinger, 1946



G'day Joe,,
I guess we can't baulk too much at naming a High School for Henry Lawson ... I remember doing a gig, some years back, for the opening of The Henry Lawson Shopping Centre, at Penrith - west of Sydney, and thinking poor old Henry didn't have too much to spend like we do: rolling trolleys of consumer goods out to the family urban assault vehicle for the long haul around the block to home! However, that all paled into insignificance when I noticed that the Birkenhead Shopping Complex, in Sydney's Drummoyne had a "Henry Lawson Business Centre"! (Of course, that might explain some of our less successful business ventures ...) Anyway, I agree that Louisa Lawson needs  a bit of stage space. She certainly pushed Henry along the productive end of his work ... and had a fine, feisty, approach to condescending male authority figures. Regards,
Bob B.

(Note: Bob, Well, this weekend was spent at the great Henry Lawson Festival of the Arts, in Grenfell, NSW, where I found Henry Lawson Way, Lawson Park Estate, Lawson Park, The Henry Lawson Birthplace, Lawson's on Main Restaurant, and even The Henry Lawson Special (Homemade Sweetcorn Chicken Soup!). The only mention of his mum was a clothing shop called Louisa's Locker, which really had nothing to do with her at all. But, as Louisa was born in Mudgee, I suppose Mudgee's the place they should really celebrate her, not Grenfell.)

Dear Joe,
RE: The Secret Language of Herrings
I was disappointed.   When the message came up on the screen, all I saw was the 'Herr' so I expected a little piece on Seventeenth Century poets, and all I got was fish. 

(Note: PM, I couldn't find any 17th century poets named Herr, but Herrick is close - hope you like it:)

Upon the Nipples of Julia's Breast
by Robert Herrick

"Have ye beheld (with much delight)
A red rose peeping through a white?
Or else a cherry (double graced)
Within a lily? Centre placed?
Or ever marked the pretty beam
A strawberry shows half drowned in cream?
Or seen rich rubies blushing through
A pure smooth pearl, and orient too?
So like to this, nay all the rest,
Is each neat niplet of her breast."

Father Joseph,
Why all this Christian-bashing in your newsletter? Don't you see the irony in calling us Christians narrow-minded? I think you are more fundamentalist than I am. Wow, perhaps you are a fundamentalist atheist!!. By your selection of "arent Christians stupid'' stories you seem to assert that the crimes and failings of some Christians (acting inconsistently with the teachings of Christ at that!) disproves the whole edifice of Christianity but that the crimes and failings of some atheists (acting consistently with the fact that atheism can provide no basis for objective morality!) should on no account be held against the philosophy of atheism. You assert that there is no absolute categories of good and evil, that all morals are merely personal, social and evolutionary constructs but then you can still might describe Christians and Christianity as absolutely immoral, repugnant and evil and a danger to humanity and not feel even a twinge of hypocrisy at the monumental illogic of your position.You seem to contend that no war in history has ever been created by non-belief. Yet, when you are told that 176 million people lost their lives in wars during the last century, created by non-believers like Stalin, Lenin, Mao and Hitler, to name only a few, you might reply that those wars fought were fought in the name of ideology and not 'atheism' as atheists'' don't fly planes into buildings or start wars." You love to castigate Christians for being "anti-science" if they deny evolution from goo to you via the zoo, and to preach that they should adapt their thinking to the "science" of our day. You might absolutely believe that life came from nonlife, yet absolutely deny the possibility of anyone rising from the dead. You won't bet $10 on the football game because a 50/50 chance isn't good enough, but you have no problem gambling with your life on the nearly impossible odds of a cell randomly generating from nothing. Free speech is one thing. But using it to push a point that has no point is pointless. At least I think so Yours, etc
Bryan P.

(Note: Bryan, I ain't bashing all Christians - just the rabid Evangelical ones that want to get rid of all the rest of us. Can you blame me? I do like your term 'fundamentalist atheist'! Except I'm not an atheist. I believe that there are as many religions as there are people. Some of us get organized in groups. And some don't. Think about it - Jesus wasn't a Christian, Buddha wasn't a Buddhist, Mohammed wasn't Islamic, and L. Ron Hubbard wasn't a Scientologist, really - how could they be? Who's going to kick them out of the group if they screw up? The real lesson of these innovators is that people have to think for themselves and find their own personal relationship with Existence. Organized religion is an ok starting place - like learning to needlepoint one of those patterns you can buy in shops - but ultimately, you have to manifest your own Designs or else you're going to be Embroidering 'Home Sweet Home' 'till you go Blind with the Stitchin'.)

Dear Joe,
RE: "Scientology"
I guess this is not really bigotry because it is "funny" and you are so charming and cheery most of the time. . . Please, you may have Scientologists reading your letters and no one needs an insult. There are still a few attacks happening but from people who can't read a book. It has been around for 55 years for a reason, but if one can't read it will take centuries to see if there is any use to it. Look at the bright side, the first century is more than half over. There is plenty of time, unless of course, the Fascists and those who ridicule Scientology make it unavailable. I am surprised a liberal person like you would hit a workable religion or any religion for that matter,
Russell S. Los Angeles

(Note: Russell, I have quite a few friends who are Scientologists so the last thing I want to do is treat them any less fairly with the Humour Medicine then any of my other friends who are vegetarians, Catholics, Buddhists, Musicians and so forth. I believe that any religious system that cannot handle humour and parody, should not be taken seriously. People that cannot laugh at themselves are dangerous (especially to fundamentalist comedians). But I believe that the majority of Scientologists have healthy senses of humour. At least the ones I know. (See the article on John Travolata immediately following.) I'm still waiting for a Scientologist stand-up comic. Any takers? Also, any belief system that has as its core, a degree of blind faith, cannot be criticised effectively with logic and argument, anyway. Humour is the best way of getting in there and jiggling their Goofy Switchs. And ALL the major religions depend on cosmic blind faith at some junction. (i.e. the well documented alien Cosmology of Scientology which is freely available all over the internet internationally. There are also tons of anti-Scientology websites - and I have NO WISH to add to them.
My approach is different. I seek to assimilate the best things about religions and learn from them. Humour is my way of minimising the parts I don't agree with or I feel are out-of-date. I remember studying the Dianetics handbook several years ago, taking extensive notes, and I am still quite interested in the concept of the Reactive Mind. Fifteen years ago, I had previously participated in the Forum, which was an evolution of Werner Erhard's est training. There are many similarities, especially with regard to engrams, and the reactive mind. Why shouldn't there be? In the late 1960s, Werner studied Scientology and L. Ron Hubbard (hereafter, referred to by his little known first name, LaFayette) became a significant influence. Scientologists to this day allegedly accuse Werner of having stolen the main ideas for est from LaFayette. When Werner set up est he considered making it a church, as LaFayette had done with dianetics and the Church of Scientology. But Werner decided to incorporate as an educational firm for profit in a broad market. The 'Reactive Mind' is an important part of EVERY major therapy there is, not to mention the Martial Arts and Mediatation. Every self-development discipline has a different way of dealing with it. It's also worth remembering that Dianetics was written in the '50s (thus the preponderance of so many terms depicting the mind as some kind of mechanical object, which must have been quite cutting edge back then). Some of the canon, like all historical canon, of course, is based on ignorance and superstition of the times. Living and Spirituality is about Change and Growth. All religious canon MUST continually be fine-tuned to keep pace with the Ascent out of Ignorance. I have my own blind faith that each of the great religious systems have something important and unique to teach us. We just have to have the courage, and humour, to stand up and challenge some of the archaic 'laws' that come along with the Vital bits. LaFayette actually said it the best himself:
"In twenty or a hundred years, the therapeutic technique which is offered in this volume will appear to be obsolete." Dianetics, Past and Future - pg 541.


LOS ANGELES--Actor John Travolta was rushed to UCLA Medical Center Monday with a near-fatal tone-scale reading of 0.5, or "grief." Travolta, who has since been upgraded to 2.5, or "boredom," was quickly revived by emergency-room technicians, attending physician Stephen Citarella said. "Mr. Travolta was in extremely serious condition when he was brought in, but fortunately, he responded well to emergency touch-assist treatment and quickly began making rudimentary wins," Citarella said. "It's just lucky that his emergent condition was discovered before he completely went out of affinity with MEST." (article)

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(thanks to Tim B, NYC)



BERLIN (AP) - A previously unknown work by Johann Sebastian Bach has been discovered in a crate of 18th-century birthday cards removed from a German library shortly before it was devastated by fire, researchers said Wednesday.

Experts say the aria for soprano and string or keyboard accompaniment composed for a German duke's birthday is the first new music from the renowned composer to surface in three decades.

Researcher Michael Maul of the Bach Archiv foundation found the composition, dated October 1713, last month in the eastern city of Weimar. The Leipzig-based foundation said there was no doubt about the authenticity of the handwritten, two-page score. (article)


Worlds Largest Collection of Musician Jokes


What do you do if your bassist is drowning?
Throw him his amp. (boom boom)

(thanks to Jim Testa)



I Never Could Be Lonely Without A Husband
Interviews by Djuna Barnes

Djuna Barnes is the author of the Surreal masterpiece, Nightwood, and here's a collection from her days as a journalist. An excerpt from her interview with America's most outrageous evangelist of the early 1900s, BILLY SUNDAY:
" Born in 1862, Billy was orphaned by his father's death in the Civil War and his mother's death soon after. By the age of fourteen, he was on his own, drifting from job to job through his home state of Iowa and playing local baseball wherever he went. . . . it is uncertain what led to Sunday's conversion, but by 1887 he had already gained a reputation for being a 'Christian' ballplayer in an age when league players were notorious drinkers, gamblers and womanisers. Sunday began his preaching as an advance man for evangelist J. Wilbur Chapman; but he soon found that his own sermons, punctuated with gyrations and gymnastics, attracted far greater crowds . . .a typical Sunday performance consisted of his theatrical impersonations of the wicked, from proud society matrons and 'phoney liberal preachers' to dancing harlots and wobbling winos -at which point in his act, he would stumble to the back of the stage and vomit before his stunned audiences. His most famous 'routine' however was his imaginary encounter with Satan and other sinners, whom Sunday - catapulting himself across the stage boards in a re-enactment of his famous baseball slide - would declare -"Out!"
('Billy Sunday Loves the Multitude, Not the Individual', from I Never Could Be Lonely Without A Husband, Interviews by Djuna Barnes, Virago Press.)

Dust Tracks on a Road
by Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes are my two favourite writer's from the legendary Harlem Renaissance of the '40s. Hurston is the author of the staggeringly beautiful Their Eyes Were Watching God, and I also have a book of short stories of hers called, Spunk. Dust Tracks on a Road, is her hard-to-find autobiography, but you might find it on http://www.abebooks.com. Excerpt:
" I discovered that I was extra strong by playing with other girls near my age. I had no way of judging the force of my playful blows, and so I was always hurting somebody. Then they would say I meant to hurt, and go home and leave me. Everything was all right, however, when I played with boys. It was a shameful thing to admit being hurt among them. Further more, they could dish it out themselves and I was acceptable to them because I was the one girl who could take a good pummelling without running home to tell. The fly in the oinment there, was that in my family, it was not ladylike for girls to play with boys. No matter how young you were, no good could come of the hing. I used to wonder what was wrong with playing with boys. Nobody told me. I just mustn't, that was all. What was wrong with my doll-babies? Why couldn't I sit still and make my dolls some clothes?
I never did. Dolls caught the devil around me. The got into fights and leaked sawdust before New Year's. They jumped off the barn and tried to drown themselves in the lake. Perhaps, the dolls bought for me looked too different from the ones I made up myself. The dolls I made up in my mind did everything. Those store-bought things had to be toted and helped around. Without knowing it, I wanted action."
(Zora Neale Hurston, Dust Tracks on a Road, Virago Press, 1942.)


(Note: Zora might have liked some of these creepy Shykids creepy corner dolls. "Stand one in the 'naughty' corner of a room, against a couch, on the porch or anywhere you like and watch the reaction of your guests or just enjoy: (site)


Q: What did the German watch repairer say to his watch that would only go 'tick, tick, tick'?
A: Ve have vays of making you tock.
(boom boom!)

Cult of Ana

They call her "Ana." She is a role model to some, a goddess to others - the subject of drawings, prayers and even a creed. She tells them what to eat and mocks them when they don't lose weight. And yet, while she is a very real presence in the lives of many of her followers, she exists only in their minds.
Ana is short for anorexia, and - to the alarm of experts - many who suffer from the potentially fatal eating disorder are part of an underground movement that promotes self-starvation and, in some cases, has an almost cult-like appeal.
Followers include young women and teens who wear red Ana bracelets and offer one another encouraging words of "thinspiration" on Web pages and blogs.
They share tips for shedding pounds and faithfully report their "cw" and "gw" - current weight and goal weight, which often falls into the double digits. They also post pictures of celebrity role models, including teen stars Lindsay Lohan and Mary-Kate Olsen, who last year set aside the acting career and merchandising empire she shares with her twin sister to seek help for her own eating disorder.
"Put on your Ana bracelet and raise your skinny fist in solidarity!" one "pro-Ana" blogger wrote shortly after Olsen entered treatment.

Word Play

Dijon vu - the same mustard as before.
Practice safe eating - always use condiments.
A hangover is the wrath of grapes.
Does the name Pavlov ring a bell?
Condoms should be used on every conceivable occasion.
She was engaged to a boyfriend with a wooden leg but broke it off.
When a clock is hungry, it goes back four seconds.
You feel stuck with your debt if you can't budge it.
A lot of money is tainted - It taint yours and it taint mine.
(thanks to Stephen Ross)



1) You walka pasta da bakery.
2) You walka pasta da candy store.
3) You walka pasta da Ice Cream shop.
4) You walka pasta da table and fridge.
(thanks to Lucky Oceans)


1 1/2 lb. scungilli (pulp of conch), thinly sliced
3 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 small onion, sliced thin
1 stalk celery, minced
2 cups canned tomatoes
2 tablespoon tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon basil, crushed
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper seeds
Boil scungilli about 15 minutes and drain.  Place scungilli, oil, garlic, onion and celery in large skillet and brown well.  Remove garlic, add tomatoes, tomato sauce and salt.  Cover and cook slowly until scungilli seems well cooked.  Add oregano, basil, bay leaves and hot pepper seeds and cook 5 minutes longer.  Hot pepper may be omitted or a smaller quantity used, if so desired.  Serve hot with pasta of choice.




colored child at carnival:

Where is the Jim Crow section
On this merry-go-round,
Mister 'cause I want to ride?
Down south where I come from
White and coloured can't sit side by side.
Down south on the train
There's a Jim Crow car.
On the bus we're put in the back -
But there ain't no back
To a merry-go-round!
Where's the horse
for a kid that's black?

~ langston hughes ~