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Friday June 27th, 2008

Fantasy Poisoning

The individual woman is required a thousand times a day to choose
either to accept her appointed role and thereby rescue her good disposition
out of the wreckage of her self-respect,
or else follow an independent line of behavior
and rescue her self-respect out of the wreckage of her good disposition.

Jeannette Rankin (1880–1973)

Hi folks,

My partner Lin and I celebrated our twenty-eighth anniversary this week. I’m a big stickler for remembering these things because there isn’t an Aria Award or a Grammy Award Category for Success in a Long Term Relationship. There is no Hall of Fame, Hollywood Mile or Red Carpet for people who stay together. There is only Remembering. And Celebrating. So, to paraphrase Walt Whitman, ‘I Celebrates Ourselves.’

I am a veteran of six major live-together love affairs in my life (other than me dear ol’ mudder).  An official member of the VFW. Veterans of Fantastic Women. My first fledging de facto was for one year, then three intense ones in a row, for three years each, each of them a slam-bang doozy of an affair, then a five year marriage – another miraculous crucible of sensations, but, during the break up, I also learned why lawyer jokes are funny, and finally understood what Milton and Edvard Munch were on about. I usually had about a year off in between, to recuperate, re-grow some shrunken parts . . .  and, once again, practice, practice, practice! Then, in the manner of the Starship Enterprise, I engaged Warp Drive into Hyperspace, or something similar, and emerged through a wormhole twenty-eight years later into the future, still with the same person and still in love! Beam me up, Scott Fitzgerald!  Either I’ve found happiness or, like the health food fanatic who only eats sprouted tofu powder, I must be a gluten for punishment. (boom boom!)

I think I have some understanding now about the art of blending family love (familia) and spiritual love (entheos) with romantic love (eros)  - longterm - and will share some insights with you in Songwriting Workshop 22:  ‘The Invention of the Love Song,’  down further.


Hi Joe -
I'm one of those folks who hasn't a clue about how I got on your mailing list, but I've been very happy that I have.  I have your:  "Ye Olde Art of Criticism" piece up on my fridge, for those days when butter is simply not enough... (See Songwriting Workshop No. 4 -
 Anyway, I don't usually take time to write these kind of things (what with oilmeggedon, the amero and the corporate slave Vchip society to worry about ) but something in one of your emails has bothered me for a few weeks and I thought I would respond.
 It had to do with your discussion of the song about the two teenagers and their sexual activity.  You had that discussion directly after a joke about : " If a prostitute is robbed is that rape or theft?"   I wonder why the worry about the young girl, when the grown girl can be so dehumanized with impunity...?
Just a thought.  Keep 'em coming... Peace, Kim Baryluk, The Wyrd Sisters

(Note: Kim, thanks for calling me out on that. It was my first day with the hook. (See closing joke.)
The actual joke reads:  ‘If you have sex with a professional prostitute against her will, is it considered rape . . . or shoplifting?’
I actually omitted that joke from the newsletter at first. Then put it back in. But I had a hunch that someone would object. The concept that not paying for sex with a prostitute might be considered shoplifting seemed original to me. What I overlooked, in my rush to deadline, was the fact that the joke wasn’t constructed properly. Bringing rape into the equation is what is incorrect. Shoplifting has nothing to do with rape, it has to do with sneaking something out of a shop undetected. So, a more accurate and less offensive way to tell the joke would be: ‘If you have sex with a prostitute while she’s asleep, and leave without paying, can you be charged with shoplifting?’
Of course, if you are against the Ancient Art of Prostitution, per say -  ie. Sex for Sale - then there is no way to frame the joke at all without offending. Personally, I don’t have a problem with the Profession. A few of of my favourite ex-girlfriends were prostitutes at one time or another, (Jesus’s, too) and back in the freelove commune days of the early 70s in San Fransciso, everyone was a dusty butt (40s slang), including me – except we all gave it away, all the time,  no charge – hence the term, freelove.)

Thanks Joe,
RE: For the thoughfully considered response to my Henson' censorship email
Indeed, it was your considered response to Kavisha's email raising the question as to whether  showing the images was a criminal case for police investigation that provoked my thoughts. Of course, artists cannot ignore the uncomfortable realities of life. In principal I have been against censorship as it is usually politically motivated, so I think that was another aspect of my disquiet over this case. It should not be a police case. My reference to Fiona Hall's work was to indicate that it was not the display of our sexuality that brought the visual images close to pornography, though I totally agree that  much of the advertising using young models invariably exploits. However, we will have to say the Henson experience got a number of us thinking and debating which is not a bad thing. I was pleased to hear that the models felt happy about the images, but I think the Vogue models do too!
 Must say I enjoyed Charles Robb's La Trobe inversion, so it is interesting that even that work of art could cause controversy because of the lack of dignity.
To finish on a warm note extolling the supremacy of Italian cooking; after 40 years of teaching, one of the paintings which stands out was done by a 16 year old of her Nono [nana] in the kitchen surrounded by all the ingredients and cooking utensils required to make pastas for the family gathering. Her grand-daughter's praise of her Nono who helped the family survive in a strange new land was a work of real warmth and beauty.  Keep the old grey matter flashing. Cheerio, Dale Dengate


The selected questions scattered below, about Australia, are from potential visitors. They were posted on an Australian Tourism website and the answers are
alleged to be the actual responses by the website officials, but if they aren't, they should be!

Actual Australian Tourism Question and Reply No. 1
 Q: Does it ever get windy in Australia ? I have never seen it rain on TV, how do the plants grow? ( UK ).
 A: We import all plants fully grown and then just sit around watching them die.

Legalise Polygamy, Says Islamic Leader

An Islamic leader in Australia is calling on the Federal Government to recognise polygamous marriages. Keysar Trad from the Islamic Friendship Association of Australia says there are polygamists in the Muslim community in Australia who would like their relationships to be legal. He has told triple j's Hack program that the women are left in a vulnerable financial position if the man dies. "If this woman has wilfully chosen to enter into this relationship and make a lifelong commitment to this person to be married, it shouldn't matter," he said.
"If it was a business and the business had four partners we'd recognise that, but why don't we recognise it when it comes to consensual relationships amongst adults?"

(Note: Folks, the best way to knock the arse out of this kind of patriarchal ‘conjugal boardroom’ thinking is simply to propose reciprocity: what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. In other words, as long as the Iman doesn’t mind one of his daughters carrying three husbands in a similar business arrangement. After all, this is Australia: an equal opportunity employer. A land where anything is possible. See the following:)

Man in Wheelchair Charged With Drunk Driving
'Everybody's got to believe in something. I believe I'll have another beer.' -- W. C. Fields

CANBERRA (Reuters) - Police in Australia have charged a man for drink driving in a motorized wheelchair after he was found to be six times over the legal alcohol limit, local media reported on Monday. Police in the tropical northern Queensland city of Cairns said the man had a blood alcohol reading of 0.31, and was so drunk he was asleep at the controls of his motorized wheelchair in a turning lane of a major highway. "It beggars belief," Police Inspector Bob Walters told the Cairns Post newspaper, adding wheelchairs, bicycles, horses and skateboards were all considered to be vehicles under the state's road laws. "It's unlawful, it is unacceptable and people should realize it could lead to a fatality," he said. Other motorists on the four-lane highway had to swerve to avoid the wheelchair, police said.

Actual Australian Tourism Question and Reply No. 2
 Q: Are there any ATM's (cash machines) in Australia ? Can you send me a list of them in Brisbane , Cairns , Townsville and Hervey Bay ? ( UK )
 A: What did your last slave die of?

Actual Australian Tourism Question and Reply No. 3
 Q: Can you give me some information about hippo racing in Australia ?  ( USA )
 A: A-fri-ca is the big triangle shaped continent south of Europe . Aus-tra-lia is that big island in the middle of the Pacific which does not... oh forget it. Sure, the hippo racing is every Tuesday night in Kings Cross. Come naked.

Sexual Violence ‘a Tactic of War,’ UN Council Says
by Olivia Ward
Friday, June 20, 2008, by the Toronto Star

In Sudan, girls as young as four are raped by rebel forces and government-backed militias. In Democratic Republic of Congo, women are sexually mutilated by roving gangs. In Burma, they are systematically raped as part of a military offensive. Yesterday, the United Nations Security Council agreed that sexual violence against women and girls in war zones is a threat to international stability, opening the way for action against countries that condone or promote atrocities.
In a meeting called by the United States and chaired by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the council unanimously approved a resolution calling sexual violence “a tactic of war to humiliate, dominate, instil fear in, disperse and/or forcibly relocate civilian members of a community or ethnic group.”
Such violence could aggravate situations of armed conflict and “may impede the restoration of international peace and security,” it said.
Rice told the day-long meeting of some 60 countries that the vote has ended years of debate on whether rape was a security issue for the council to address.
“I am proud that today we have responded to that lingering question with a resounding yes. We affirm that sexual violence profoundly affects not only the health and safety of women but the economic and social stability of their nations,” she said.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who has spearheaded a global effort to eradicate violence against women, said survivors are often so stigmatized by their communities that they can never hope for a normal life, and are afraid to seek justice.
“Even when they do have the courage to come forward despite the humiliations this can bring, the justice system too often fails and the perpetrators run free,” he said. “This feeds a culture of impunity which does nothing to discourage more attacks.”
Canada’s deputy UN representative, Henri-Paul Normandin, said the debate “marks the beginning of a more concentrated effort on the part of the council to combat and prevent sexual violence” that is “all too frequently” used as a weapon of war.
Canada has campaigned to end sexual violence in Congo, where UN officials say they have seen the worst cases on record. And, Normandin said, “it is more than clear that in Sudan, the DRC and the Great Lakes Region (of Africa)… that sexual violence is a security problem requiring a security response.”
A recent survey of 2,000 women and girls in the West African country of Liberia found that a stunning 75 per cent had been raped during the civil wars that racked the country from 1989 to 2003. “Violence against women has reached unspeakable and pandemic proportions in societies attempting to recover from conflict,” Ban told the council. “When you adopt resolutions with strong language on sexual and gender-based violence, the UN can respond more forcefully.” He also promised “zero tolerance” for incidents of sexual abuse by peacekeepers in Congo and other war zones.

Actual Australian Tourism Question and Reply No. 4
 Q: Which direction is North in Australia ? ( USA )
 A: Face south and then turn 180 degrees. Contact us when you get here and we'll send the rest of the directions.

US Schoolgirls Make Pact to have Babies

At least 17 high-school students, many aged 16 and younger, are expecting babies after apparently making a "pregnancy pact" in the United States.
Officials in the Massachusetts city of Gloucester said nearly half of those who became pregnant appear to have entered into a pact to have their babies together over the year.
"Some girls seemed more upset when they weren't pregnant than when they were," Gloucester High School principal Joseph Sullivan told Time magazine, which broke news of the pact on its website. A high school health clinic became suspicious after seeing a surge in girls seeking pregnancy tests. Authorities are looking at whether to pursue statutory rape charges against some of the men involved. Some of them are aged in their mid-20s, including one man who appeared to be homeless. Others were boys in the school. Under Massachusetts law, it is a crime to have sex with anyone under the age of 16.

Actual Australian Tourism Question and Reply No. 5
 Q: Can you send me the Vienna Boys' Choir schedule? ( USA )
 A: Aus-tri-a is that quaint little country bordering Ger-man-y, which is...oh forget it.
     Sure, the Vienna Boys Choir plays every Tuesday night in Kings Cross, straight after the hippo races. Come naked.

Bad Guys Get More Sex, Research Shows

Bad boys really do get the girls, according to new research. This week's New Scientist says two studies in the US have found that men with antisocial personality traits are more likely to have a prolific sex life. The so-called `dark triad' traits include impulsiveness, narcissism, thrill-seeking and deceitfulness, it said. One of the studies, a survey of 35,000 people in 57 countries, found a clear link between dark triad traits and the reproductive success of males. "It is universal across cultures for high dark triad scorers to be more active in short-term mating," David Schmitt, of Bradley University in the United States, told the New Scientist. "They are more likely to try and poach other people's partners for a brief affair." Another study found that males who scored higher in the dark triad personality traits had a greater number of partners and a desire for short relationships.

(Note: The key give-away phrases here are: short relationships, short-term mating, brief affairs and poaching other people’s partners. Otherwise known as Broken Homes, Inc. Someone wise once said that having a lot of sexual partners doesn’t mean you’re such a hot shot lover. It just means you know when to leave. Any conman can get a lot of shagging. Smoke and mirrors, folks. Probably a lot of you out there have had the experience a VERY hot time with someone – for a week or two, or longer – and then . . . the little switch gets thrown and . .  pfffffff! BORING! So wha hoppened? It’s keeping one person satisfied over decades that actually constitutes a great lover. And it’s also not a solo flight. It takes two.)

Actual Australian Tourism Question and Reply No. 6
 Q: Can I wear high heels in Australia ? ( UK )
 A: You are a British politician, right?


Chicken Man was a common sight at bus stops in Chicago during the 50's and 60's. Put down ten cents and watch the show.
(thanks to Frank Dolce)


Harry the Harp

Harmonica Hobo

The Harmonica Man of Stockholm

Harmonicat Madness from the 50s

Larry Adler play Strauss

The Legendary Johnny Puleo (1936)

Actual Australian Tourism Question and Reply No. 8
 Q: Please send a list of all doctors in Australia who can dispense rattlesnake serum. ( USA )
 A: Rattlesnakes live in A-meri-ca which is where YOU come from. All Australian snakes are perfectly harmless, can be safely handled and make good pets.

The Invention of the Love Song

Romantic love, which has saturated every pore of contemporary popular culture for the last hundred years, and has replaced religion as the single greatest energy system in the psyche of human beings in the Western world, evolved from the practice of the Courtly Love of the Middle Ages.

From the Cathars to the Troubadours to Romantic Love

One of the most insightful works I have ever read on love, is the book, 'The Psychology of Romantic Love', by Jungian therapist and writer, Robert A Johnson.  Much of the following is paraphrased from this work, and the writings of Hilaire Belloc and John B. O'Conner.

In 'The Psychology of Romantic Love', Johnson takes us to the ancient myth of Tristan and Iseult. Tristan, a knight, was bewitched, by potion and spell, to obsession with Iseult the Fair, who was promised to another, Tristan’s king. Circumstances force the two lovers apart. Years later, Tristan meets and marries a second Iseult, Iseult of the White Hands, and attempts to settle down but can never free himself from the bewitchment of Iseult the Fair, which causes him to forsake and ignore the true love he has already achieved. Johnson uses this myth as an allegory for the way in which we do the same thing in our relationships today: become blind to the love we already have, or could have, through what I call fantasy poisoning.

One of the most powerful of the early religions of the Middle Ages was the Manchaean movement, named for the Persian prophet, Manes. In Europe, this religion became Catharism. The believers called themselves Cathars, meaning pure. By the twelfth century, entire towns and provinces in the south of France, though nominally Christian, practiced Catharism, and many of the wealthy nobility in the courts of Europe were Cathars. In France, the movement was called the Albigensian Heresy, because the movement centered in the city of Albi, in France.

One of the Cathars basic beliefs was that true love was not the ordinary human love between husband and wife but rather the worship of a feminine savior, a mediator between God and man who waited in the sky to welcome the pure with a holy kiss and lead him or her into the Realm of Light. By contrast with the pure love, ordinary human sexuality and marriage were bestial and unspiritual. Cathars believed that the love of man for woman should be an earthly allegory of their spiritual love for the Queen of Heaven.

Many Christians saw Catharism as a reform movement, a reaction against the corruption and politics within the religious hierarchy. The patriarchal church of the Middle Ages, long out of touch with the feminine soul had become materialistic and dogmatic; it offered a 'revealed' set of laws and teachings - all very rational and masculine It offered a collective experience of ritual and dogma in which ordinary people found no room for a personal experience of a living god. By contrast, the Cathars practiced an exemplary morality and offered an experience of God that was at once personal, individual and lyrical. They also returned the feminine to religion.

Pope Innocent III declared Catharism a heresy and drove it underground by relentless crusades. But like every powerful idea that is driven underground, it reappeared in another form - a supposedly 'secular' form. The teachings and ideals of the Cathars suddenly reappeared in the cult of courtly love, in the songs and poems of the troubadours and in the 'romances'. Some cultural historians believe that courtly love was a deliberate 'secular' continuation of Catharism, that the knights and ladies who first practiced courtly love were Cathars continuing their religious practice under the guise of a secular cult of love. To outsiders it looked like a new and elegant way to make love, to woo and flatter pretty damsels but for the inside who knew the code it was an allegorical and outawed practice of Catharist ideals.

The religion of the Cathars and its offspring, courtly love, are carriers of the most magnificent fantasy in the Western mind,  the fantasy that romantic love carries for us today. But this awesome fantasy is no illusion: all fantasy is reality, reality expressed in symbol and flowing from an ineffable source. Catharism is the fantasy of finding ones lost soul. It is the wondrous fantasy of discovering that the inner world is real, that the soul is real, that the gods are real and that we can truly find that world, that beauty, that communion with the gods. Many folks would agree that romantic love is a 'fantasy' but they would not know how great a thing they say - for as it is a fantasy, it is also a truth, a truth that we can live if we will understand it on the right level. The truth behind fantasy has to be earned. To find that reality, we must look behind the fantasy and its symbols; we have to give up trying to live the Catharist and courtly fantasies literally - outside ourselves, with mortal people in the temporal world - and live this fantasy's truth as an inner event, an inner fact.

From the Cathar period onwards, in Western Culture, there has been a romantic paradigm overlaid upon a more primal and clearer way of understanding the world and relationships between people. The troubadours, or as they are commonly called today, 'folk singers' and popular singers, are the descendants of the Catharist or Albigensian resistance movement.


St Dominic was appointed by Pope Innocent III as the first Inquisitor.  The initial Inquisition was more formally known as The Congregation of the Holy Office. Its aim was simple: to seek out and eradicate the remaining Albigensian heretics, and the Pope entrusted the implementation of the Inquisition to the Dominican monks (The Order of Preachers) and their leader, Dominic.

Some of us might recall the well-known French folk song about St Dominic, ‘Dominique,’ (Dominique, nique, nique,  s'en allait tout simplement . . . ) which was a smash pop hit in the 60s for Soeur Souire, ‘The Singing Nun.’ Here is her original tune  - with my new lyrics that tells of her tragic story:


" Dominique, nique, nique
S'en allait tout simplement
Routier pauvre et chantant
En tous chemins, en tous lieux,
Elle ne parle que du bon Dieu,
Elle ne parle que du bon Dieu."

"Dominique, nique, nique . . "
Sang that voice we knew so well,
Her story here I'll tell:
Such a sweet and sad refrain,
Jeanine Deckers was her name,
Jeanine Deckers was her name.

Born in Belgium in the 'Fifties,
With a manner shy and hushed,
As a young girl at the Art School,
She held the watercolour brush.

Then renouncing all possessions,
To the Convent she did go,
Until the world saw 'Soeur Sourire'
On the 'Ed Sullivan Show'.

Yes, in Nineteen Sixty-three,
'Dominique' was Number One,
To her Order, she donated
All the profits from the song.

She won the Grammy Award
For the year's Best Gospel Song.
She was called a 'One Hit Wonder',
She was called 'The Singing Nun'.

Sudden fame took her by the hand
And led her into the deep,
So uncomfortable performing,
Tranquillizers helped her sleep.

Soon she left her Convent tunics,
For the modern clothes again,
And met dear Annie Pescher
Who became her lifelong friend.

She criticised the Church,
In a protest voice so bold,
When she wrote 'The Golden Pill'
Praising God for birth control!

They built a school in Belgium
Where autistic kids could go,
But the Tax Department closed it
For the claim they said she owed.

Then in Nineteen Eighty-five,
Times were destitute and black,
Jeanine Decker and Annie Pescher
Made their suicidal pact.

"Dominique, nique, nique . . "
Sang that voice we knew so well,
Her story here I tell:
Such a sweet and sad refrain,
Jeanine Deckers was her name,
Jeanine Deckers was her name.

Jeanine Deckers' song, 'Dominique,' celebrates one of the men most responsible for the destruction of the very spiritual movement which led to the essence and creation of the troubadours, folk singers, music and romances so omniscient and important to our present culture. Yet and still, what attracted me to 'Soeur Souire' and the song back in 1963, when I was sixteen years old, wasn't really the lyrics (my French wasn't all that good at the time! - I didn't even know what the song was about) as much as the sound of Jeanine Deckers' trembling and clear soprano and her wonderful and high spirit, which represented, at least to me, all that could be sweet and innocent and true and beautiful in the world.

How courageous that she should ultimately renounce the Dominican Convent, cast off her nun's habit, and turn against the Catholic Church as a repressive institution, in her later songs, choosing instead to live her life in pursuit of a romantic ideal, with her closest friend, Annie Pescher, until - ironically and tragically - financial pressure and persecution of the State, in the role of the Belgian Tax Department, would contribute so significantly to their final pact of suicide.

Note: For further information on St Dominic, the Cathars and the original French lyrics to ‘Dominique,’:

Actual Australian Tourism Question and Reply No. 9
 Q: I have a question about a famous animal in Australia, but I forget its name. It's a kind of bear and lives in trees. ( USA )
 A: It's called a Drop Bear. They are so called because they drop out of gum trees and eat the brains of anyone walking underneath them. You can scare them off by spraying yourself with human urine before you go out walking.


Dolce dell'Anguillara

Dolce I dell'Anguillara was an Italian condottiero, a member of the Anguillara family of northern Lazio. In 1424 he fought against Jacopo Caldora, general of Braccio da Montone, in the battle of L'Aquila. In the 1430s he fought for Alfonso V of Aragon and for the Republic of Venice. In June 1442 Dolce was hired by Francesco Sforza to fight against the Pope, and two years later he crushed a Papal-Neapolitan force under Francesco Piccinino at Montolmo. In 1446, after spurring the town of Nepi to rebellion, he was excommunicated by Pope Nicholas V, but he was pardoned soon afterwards. The following year he was again under Sforza, taking part in the Wars in Lombardy. In March 1449, while preparing to besiege Monza, he was ambushed by Carlo Gonzaga and fatally wounded. He died at Pavia.

Actual Australian Tourism Question and Reply No. 10
 Q: Can you tell me the regions in Tasmania where the female population is smaller than the male population? ( Italy )
 A: Yes, gay nightclubs.
(thanks to Terry Dwyer)

Mobile phone battery dead? Try dancing

LONDON (Reuters) - What do you do if you are stuck in a field at a pop festival but there's trouble ahead because your mobile phone's battery is about to run out?
Thanks to a new gizmo, you now just need to face the music and dance. Mobile phone operator Orange said on Tuesday it had teamed up with GotWind, a firm specializing in renewable energy, to produce a recharger powered by dance energy alone.The portable kinetic energy chargers will be given a test run at this year's Glastonbury Festival, the world's biggest greenfield music and arts celebration that begins on a farm in Somerset on Friday. Orange said the prototype chargers weigh the same as a phone and are about the size of a pack of cards.Attached to the user's arm, they employ a system of weights and magnets which provide an electric current to top up charge in a storage battery. This can then later be used to recharge the phone.
"We wanted to create a fun, engaging and interactive product which would encourage users to have a laugh while charging their mobile phone and at the same time test out a new energy-efficient prototype," said Hattie Magee, Head of Partnerships at Orange UK.



6 cups homemade chicken stock
1 cup water
2 oz dried porcini mushrooms
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup finely minced onion
2  cups Carnaroli rice (or arborio, or vialone nano)
1 cup white wine
12-14 oz fresh mushrooms (button, cremini, shiitake, or a mix), sliced
50g unsalted butter
3/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
Black pepper, to taste

The best way to make chicken stock is to make it the day before. Ask your butcher for a couple of chicken carcasses which will cost you about a dollar. Break them up, cover with water, add a bay leaf, and some peppercorns. Bring to a boil, skim off the scum that rises to the surface, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the meat falls off the bones. Turn off the heat and let the stock and bones cool down, covered.  Strain through a sieve and put the strained stock in the fridge overnight. The next morning, the fat will have solidified and just lift it off. (Either discard it or save it – it’s called ‘schmaltz’ - an essential ingredient for making matzo balls.)

Season the broth to taste with some salt and bring it to boil in a large pot and set aside at a simmer on the stove. Boil the cup of water, add the dried mushrooms, and set aside. Heat oil in a heavy pan. Add onion, and sauté until soft. Stir in the rice, making sure to coat each grain, and let toast for 1-2 minutes. Stir in the wine and when the liquid is absorbed, begin adding hot broth, 1 ladleful at a time, letting each bit of liquid be absorbed. Monitor this stage like a hawk! A lapse of concentration here makes the difference between a good result and a great result. Do not get distracted or bored. Stay with your risotto!  In the meantime, when the dried mushrooms are soft, strain and reserve the liquid. After 3 cups of broth are added, add in the mushrooms and soaking water, being careful to leave behind the sediment in the bottom of the measuring cup. After 5 cups of broth are added, stir in the fresh mushrooms. Continue adding one more cup of broth, reserving 1/4 cup. Stir until mushrooms have given off their liquid and almost all of the liquid in the pan has been absorbed by the rice. The rice should be firm to the taste (al dente)- neither hard in the centre, nor overcooked. (You’ll get the hang of it.) Remove pan from heat. Add butter and cheese, stir vigorously for 2 minutes, cover and let rest for 10 minutes.  Serve immediately, with finely chopped parsley.

(Note: Next day, make Arancini, by rolling cold risotto into small balls, then in beaten egg, coat in breadcrumbs and fry until golden.

See also:  Risotto Con Funghi in Flagrante Delicto - from the Oct 2003 newsletter
(c.1500, "resplendent," from Medieval Latin,. flagrantem (nom. flagrans) "burning," prp. of flagrare "to burn," from L. root *flag-, corresponding to PIE *bhleg- (cf. Gk. phlegein "to burn, scorch," O.E. blæc "black"). Sense of "glaringly offensive" first recorded 1706, probably from common legalese phrase in flagrante delicto "red-handed," lit. "with the crime still blazing," also: in the midst of sexual activity.)

Ode I. 11

      Leucon, no one’s allowed to know his fate,
      Not you, not me: don’t ask, don’t hunt for answers
      In tea leaves or palms. Be patient with whatever comes.
      This could be our last winter, it could be many
      More, pounding the Tuscan Sea on these rocks:
      Do what you must, be wise, cut your vines
      And forget about hope. Time goes running, even
      As we talk. Take the present, the future’s no one’s affair.

~ Horace ~



A pirate walked into a bar and the bartender said, 'Hey, I haven't seen you in a while. What happened? You look terrible.'
'Arr what do you mean?' said the pirate, 'I feel fine.'
Bartender, 'What about the wooden leg? You didn't have that before.'
Pirate, 'Arrr well, we were in a battle and I got hit with a cannon ball, but I'm fine now.'
Bartender says, 'Well, OK, but what about that hook? What happened to your hand?'
Pirate says, 'Arr I was in another fight. When I boarded the other ship me hand was cut off in a sword fight.  I got fitted with a hook. I'm fine, really.'
Bartender says, 'What about that eye patch?'
Pirate says, 'Arrr ah, one day we were at sea and a flock of birds flew over. I looked up and one of them shit right in me eye.'
'You're kidding,' said the bartender, 'you lost an eye just from bird shit.'?
 Pirate says, 'Arrr, well no, it was my first day with the hook.’
(thanks to Marcus Whitaker)