My friends at Pizza Monthly Quarterly in the US are
having a 'Passion of the Crust' contest and offering $100
to the first person who can find a celebrity face on their pizza
crust, as in the well-known 'Jesus Pizza' that was found
on Ebay in April. A winning bidder won the crust for more than
$50. (See a photo above. And also one I recently found of myself,
embedded in a pizza, that I wouldn't have spotted except that
I choked on some pepperoni, someone had to give me the Heimlich
Technique and when I coughed it up, there I was.) Perhaps
you'll want to examining your own crusts more closely? If you
spot a celebrity's face in your pizza (or in the case of a politician,
their backside), Please take a photo and send them to Lucas: firstname.lastname@example.org
FAVOURITE NEWSLETTER REMOVAL REQUEST OF THE WEEK
this is directly from Asher Treleaven
who is in no way responsible for himself
and is likely to self destruct at any given moment
happily ever after
FAVOURITE LETTERS OF THE WEEK
Random thoughts: The day was just plodding, nodding, blah-dee-blah-ing along until I read the line in your newsletter that we'll be rid of Bush within a year. Yea! ...Shit... just did the math and realized that vacuous prick will be with us until January 22, 2009. Too bad he won't just melt into a puddle on the East Room rug next November as the winner and next President is projected by the various networks 2 hours before the polls have even closed in the Pacific time Zone.
Watching the National Spelling Bee on the tube last night and there was a 13 year old girl, Isabel Jacobson, who said her favorite word is "kakistocracy": government by the dumbest people possible. Bring anything to mind? She didn't win, but I was rooting for her. She was the last girl to be eliminated in the competition. She was done in by cyanophycean, which is a type of alga. That's alga, singular, not algae, plural. She really knows her greek etymologies, asking if part of the word is from the Greek root phyto, meaning plant. Alas, she spells it cyanophy-t-i-o-n. I blame the pronouncer on the panel. We learn from a little package inserted during a lull in the Bee, that earlier in the day the finalists all went to the White House and got to meet Laura Bush, who made them spell government-related words. Don't we think it a bit unfair of her to ask preadolescents to spell words that her hubby wouldn't even be able to recognize much less spell? Keep it up, Joe. (And you can take that in any way you wish) Best, JJ
(Note: JJ, here's some more on Kakistocracy: kak·is·toc·ra·cy
by the worst persons; a form of government in which the worst
persons are in power. Government by the least qualified or most
[Greek kakistos, worst, superlative of kakos, bad; see caco- + -cracy.]
1829, "government by the worst element of a society," coined on analogy of aristocracy from Gk. kakistos "worst," superl. of kakos "bad" (which is perhaps related to the general IE word for "defecate") + -kratia "rule of," from kratos "strength, power, rule" (dictionary) (wikipedia)
Lunch with chestnuts at my mother-in-law's house in Careno on the shore of Lake Como means a walk in the forest. Frozen autumn leaves crunch underfoot. All around are chestnut hazelnut and birch trees. Below, wild cyclamen, bluebells and strawberries grow in warmer weather. It is beautiful looking back over the Lake and just before it snows incredibly still and quiet. Pointy sticks help to break the fallen chestnuts free. Then back to cook polenta over the fire. When ready it's served with cassoulet or a kid stew. The chestnuts follow - boiled and peeled and still warm dipped into marscarpone whipped with brandy and castor sugar. Caffe corretto al grappa and then a little lie down. (The left over polenta is heated up and mixed with taleggio and burnt butter and sage.) Kate
PS. Only real men cry when Alfred Deller sings.
(Note: Kate, real men also cry when they read your enviable descriptions of mealtime in Careno! I miss my grandma!!! Send me some recipes.)
Re: Difficult Women @ The Palais
I last night found myself standing out in my cold Melbourne backyard, smoking a rollie and looking at the moon. My mind rolled back to a week spent in Daylesford with my girlfriend. We had already stayed for four nights when we decided on the spur of the moment that we deserved another. Anna had heard of the Hepburn Palais and we had seen the billposters for Difficult Women around town, so it wasn't at all difficult to decide how we would spend our Friday night. We treated ourselves to a dinner & show in a last ditch effort to enjoy our time away from work. It worked a treat. I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed the show, which would not have been complete without your performance. The really bluesy number was great [Black Mountain Blues]. We were both moved by your song ['Father'] about finding it within yourself to forgive your father. Your intro was very brave. As someone who has been estranged from his own father, I could definitely relate to the mix of emotions. Anyway, that's all. I simply wanted to say that you had connected with someone through your music. Take care, Michael H.
(Note: Michael, thank you sincerely for your comments. 'Father' is an important song for me. I have to sing it regularly in order to remind myself that transforming anger and violent impulses into creative outcomes can sometimes be real work - and also work that is never over. Ever. Singing this song on a regular basis, for me, is like a weekly A.A. meeting.)
Re: Numbers and Dates
This numbers thing all started in 2006- I thought it deserved a bit of doggerel and wrote this at the time. Regards, bigruss
If you're a numerologist,
And numbers are your go,
I'll tell you 'bout the 4th of May,
A thing that you should know.
At three seconds past two minutes,
Past the hour of 1 am,
If you haven't nodded off to sleep,
You'll find a little gem.
You'll find the time and date will be,
(Here's where you get your kicks,)
And then 05/06.
And it will never happen again.
(at least not until 2106)
" . . . David Crystal's challenge to find a place name in Canada or Australia of more than 14 letters in which no letter appears more than once had no takers. Professor Max Coltheart pointed out that "Australia is exactly the wrong country in which to look for isogrammatic places. On the contrary, it has, for example, a 10-letter place name composed of just three letters (Wagga Wagga), a 13-letter one of just four (Woolloomooloo), and a 20-letter one with just seven (Caddabarrawirracanna)." ...' Kt, Dai Woosnam (Forwarded from World Wide Words)
(Note: Ok, fellow and fella aussies, the gauntlet has been cast. Get out your mapbooks. 'I've been everywhere, man.')
Sounds Like Music to Me No. 1
Music is a friend of labor for it lightens the task by refreshing the nerves and spirit of the worker. ~William Green
Iraq's Mercenaries - With A Licence To Kill
by Johann Hari
'These private contractors can get away with murder . . . They aren't subject to any laws at all.'
Iraq is rapidly vanishing into the mists of uncollectable, unknowable news, with information travelling only as far as an Iraqi scream can be heard. But sometimes, if you peer closely, you can glimpse reality. Last week, Shia militiamen seized four "security contractors" working for the Canadian company Gardaworld. Buried in the story of this small horror is the bigger tale of a vast shift in how Western wars will be fought in the 21st century if the American right has its way - and one of the great lost scandals of this war.
These men are not "security contractors", nor are they "civilian operatives", nor "reconstruction workers". There are now more of them in Iraq than there are professional soldiers: Britain alone has 21,000 in the country, raking in $1.6bn a year.
As he scurried out the door in 2004, Paul Bremer - the first US viceroy to Iraq - issued Order 17, which exempted all mercenaries operating in the country from having to obey the law. He in effect gave these men a licence to kill - and they are using it, every day. (article)
Sounds Like Music to Me No. 2
A jazz musician is a juggler who uses harmonies instead of oranges. ~Benny Green
One Down, the Rest to Go
Libby sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison
WASHINGTON - Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison Tuesday for lying and obstructing the CIA leak investigation - the probe that showed a White House obsessed with criticism of its decision to go to war. (article)
Sounds Like Music to Me No. 3
"We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out." -Decca Recording Company rejecting the Beatles, 1962.
The Truth According to Puppetji
"Hello, Puppetji here,
Greetings all; I come to you with love in my heart and curry in my belly.
I have just returned from a long journey filled with silence, meditation, dance and yoga. The drug and weapons charges were dropped and the Turkish prison really wasn't all that bad. And thank you all for those beautiful cards and letters, especially the ones filled with cash donations. I couldn't have installed the bullet proof glass on the new Mercedes with out your divine gifts of gratitude.
On my recent travels I have encountered many beings from all walks of life . . . all questioning their purpose and existence. The common thread that seems to be the apparent cause of one's suffering is addiction. Yes, there are those who are addicted to the porn, the drugs and the sex . . . But Puppetji knows the truth . . . The real drug is the mind.
This is why we have mantras . . . This is why we dance and practice yoga . . . and smoke from the sacred hookah, if only for a moment to get us out of our head. Yoga is not just doing postures in a class . . . though Downward Doggie on the Mountain is my favorite, yoga is a way of life . . . where one gently moves their attention from the head to the heart. This is not a difficult task . . . it can be as easy and rewarding as transfering money from your checking account into Puppetji's sacred donation bowl. (MORE) (website)
(thanks to Stefan Abeysekera)
Watch Puppetji's Discourse
on 'The Secret'.
Sounds Like Music to Me No. 4
"Whenever you study composition you inevitably encounter Bach right off the bat. You can't get across the room without running into him and the other greats. Analyzing Bach absolutely influenced my jazz playing." - Howard Roberts - Jazz Guitar
Atheist vs.Believer Clash Ignites Audience
By Anneli Rufus, AlterNet
"Go ahead and love your enemies. Don't go loving mine." Christopher Hitchens
Visualize this spectacle: a debate between a neocon and a progressive. The subject is religion. One of them is there to defend religion, to praise God, to cheerlead for even the most devout. The other -- his opponent -- is an atheist. He skewers deities and those who follow deities. He calls them evil. Toxic. Childish. He mocks doctrine. Railing that the devout want to kill us and control the world, he is on a mission, as it were, to vanquish missions. You'd expect the liberal to be the atheist and the neocon to vouch for the devout. No-brainer, right? Well, no.
As Christopher Hitchens debated Chris Hedges in a Berkeley auditorium last Thursday night, it was Hedges who praised the pious. And it was 9/11-neocon Hitchens who railed against "Abrahamic man-made filthy propaganda," proclaiming that "human emancipation begins when this nonsense ends."
Both men are the authors of brand-new books, both of which share a basic premise. Truthdig columnist Hedges, who won an Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights in Journalism five years ago for his New York Times reportage on terrorism, has just published American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America (Free Press). Hitchens' latest is God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (Twelve), its title saucily skewering the English translation of Allahu Akbar.
While in American Fascists, Hedges lambastes fundamentalist
Christianity and what he calls its divisive good-vs.-evil, us-vs.-them
"binary worldview," he is also a Presbyterian minister's
son and has a Harvard divinity degree. Which qualifies him for
the ostensibly odd role -- a game of Twister unto itself -- of
supporting religious ritual and belief in the supernatural while
being denounced as a callow hypocrite by a world-famous colleague
who might once have agreed with him on everything. (more) (article)
(thanks to Stefan Abeysekera, again!)
Sounds Like Music to Me No. 5
"I don't know anything about music, In my line you don't have to." -Elvis Presley
FAVOURITE SPAM OF THE WEEK
From: "Alexis"@killercoke.org Subject: Lamentation?
Hello, Life Should be Full of Luxuries, yet, only a handful of people can afford the finest products, the luxuries of the elite . . . That's what killing that goddamned bitch Misery was about, now that I think about it. You got a hose, but the car you pick for the free donation has got a locking gas-cap. Sincerely, Tricia Funk
(Note: ?? Common enough gibberish spam -it went on to promote some or other product. Except for the link: killercoke.org. Curiosity led me to investigate further:
" Dear Brothers and Sisters:
We need your help to stop a gruesome cycle of murders, kidnappings and torture of SINALTRAINAL (National Union of Food Industry Workers) union leaders and organizers involved in daily life-and-death struggles at Coca-Cola bottling plants in Colombia.
In July 2001, the United Steelworkers of America and the International Labor Rights Fund (http://www.laborrights.org) filed a lawsuit on behalf of SINALTRAINAL, several of its members and the estate of Isidro Gil, one of its murdered officers. The lawsuit and campaign aim to force Coca-Cola to prevent further bloodshed and to provide safe working conditions.
Coca-Cola bottlers "contracted with or otherwise directed paramilitary security forces that utilize extreme violence and murdered, tortured, unlawfully detained or otherwise silenced trade union leaders," the lawsuit states. It also notes that Colombian troops connected with the paramilitaries have trained at the U.S. Army's School of the Americas (SOA) at Fort Benning, Ga., where trainees were encouraged to torture and murder those who do "union organizing and recruiting;" pass out "propaganda in favor of workers;" and "sympathize with demonstrators or strikes." (more) killercoke.org
(Note: Which goes to show that sometimes it is worth it to read Spam.)
Sounds Like Music to Me No. 6
'' It's hard to describe, because on one hand you want your solo to be spontaneous. On the other hand, I feel a good guitar solo should be somewhat of a composition in itself. So, you sort of toggle back and forth between the concept of trying to initiate flow and composing. I think it's a combination of both." - Jeff 'Skunk' Baxter - guitar - Steely Dan / Doobie Brothers
"oikumene, oikoumen, In the ancient Greek tradition oikoumene is the concept of "the inhabited world," although it had six other meanings. "A peopled place known to sustain life." Peoples in their surroundings or a habitation; landscape and architecture of places."
Real economies in imaginary places
Virtual reality is halfway here in the form of massive multi-player online role playing games like EverQuest, World of Warcraft, and Ultima Online. Outsiders think these games are silly diversions overrun by pudgy guys in dim basements pretending to be elves, but the millions of gamers themselves (many of them women) know better. This is, as the new game in town is called, our Second Life. It's old news that real things can happen in these unreal places. Julian Dibbell's under-appreciated 2001 book My Tiny Life explored the weirdness of whether a virtual rape in a virtual world was a real crime. This new book, Synthetic Worlds, goes further. It tallies up all the world-changing consequences stemming from market places in fantasy worlds. Edward Castronova is an economist who began studying the exchange rates of token money in these games, analyzing the emerging prices as powers and characters were sold on eBay. He quickly concluded that these games have robust economies as large, and as "real" as many real countries. The clincher to this tale has been the recent stampede of newbies singing up for the game Second Life when USA Today revealed that amateurs were making hard cash (US dollars) selling virtual real estate in this unreal place. This is the fantastical stacked on the implausible stacked on the unexpected, but it is all very actual. KK (book on Amazon)
The Unofficial Tourists' Guide to Second Life: The Essential Guide to an Amazing Virtual
World - with Millions of Users
Paul Carr & Graham Pond
Despite the many adult themes in Second Life, not many of the places you can visit actually come with a medical warning. Virtual Hallucinations does. 'Some people find the Virtual Hallucinations experience disturbing, particularly the voices. If you find it bothersome, just walk to the end of the clinic and click the "Stop Voices" button.' Devised by computer scientist and former physician James Cook, Virtual Hallucinations is a tool for educating people about mental illness - in particular schizophrenia. In the past, being educated about mental illness - or indeed anything else - was often a very dry, wordy experience. One of the great potentials of Second Life, however, is its ability to educated in a highly interactive, synaesthetic, kinaesthetic, and above all enjoyable ways. Cook has attempted to include in his project all the paranoia and disorder, and all the aural and visual hallucinations of the real thing. Based on the real hallucinations of two actual schizophrenia sufferers, the clinic is designed to give an accurate representation of how intrusive the voices actually are. You're not watching an avatar on screen. You are an avatar, and you're walking through a clinic going quite, quite mad. Personally we would also recommend you wear headphones. As you enter the deserted clinic where the Virtual Hallucinations Tour takes place, you click on a disc and embed the 'voices' animation in your avatar's mind. Then, with the voices drifting in and out of your consciousness . . . 'Kill yourself,' they hiss. 'Do it. What the hell. Go on, do it.' - you walk through corridors and into deserted rooms. As you go, everyday objects turn against you. Words on a poster and in a newspaper change to insult or incite you. In a mirror on the wall a reflection that isn't quite yours slips in and out of focus, returning to clarity with an anguished expression and bleeding eyes. As Dr. Cook says, please do be careful. And remember, unlike Real Life schizophrenics, you can put an end to the torture any time you like.
Abandon hope all ye who enter here. While in most of Second Life gun ownership and wanton violence are banned, in Jessie it's pretty much mandatory. Like a virtual Wild West, Jessie lies behind the Jessie Wall, once a physical barrier, but now more of a conceptual one at which point the law stops and anarchy reigns. Gun shops litter the streets, many offering free weapons (we picked up a rather cool watermelon launcher), while all around the place are splattered American flags. Jessie is also, however, famous for its part in the so-called Jessie Wars, ugly periods in Second Life history that many Residents have likened to the wars in Iraq. As a result, perhaps it's not surprising that most of the people you'll find there are American. And pro-war. If that bothers you, stay away . . . or at least make sure you're packing serious heat.
If you're after something more spiritual, you can't go wrong with Svarga. In Hinduism, 'Svarga' is kind of temporary Paradise. It is a place where the righteous souls of those who led virtuous lives reside until they move on to their next physical incarnation. As such, with its heavenly connotations, it is a fitting description of a Second Life island created by Resident Laukosargas Svarog. What makes Svarga special is that it is the only place in Second Life with its own fully functioning ecosystem. In Svarga, clouds that rain real rain are blown across the sky. When given the right amount of rain and sunshine, flowers grow and are pollinated by bees that in turn are occasionally picked off by hungry birds. As in Real Life, the entire ecosystem is interdependent. Without the clouds, the plants would die; without the plants, the bees would die, and so on. Svarga is one of the most beautiful places in the whole of Second Life. Go there and take the tour and you will be transported round the island in something like a large half shell, which will carry you through what feels like a tropical rainforest on a particularly exotic planet. You will float past mountains, palm trees, waterfalls, and what appear to be giant fungi. You will feed the birds, play with other avatars in the castle, take part in sound experiments that generate music from chat, and at the end of it all you will feel cleansed.
Teen Second Life
Designed to protect teenagers from the more adult aspects of Second Life, this is a heavily policed environment where all but the most innocent behaviour is banned and characters are expected to behave themselves at all times. One amusing aspect of the Teen Grid is the ban on avatars removing their underwear, to enforce the no-nudity rules there. Of course, teenagers being teenagers, Residents quickly worked out that the rule could easily be circumvented by creating special underwear and clothing that was transparent. Kids today, eh?
Not all the virtual representations of the real world in Second Life [ex; virtual Dublin] are designed for fun. Camp Darfur is Second Life's very own refugee camp, created to raise awareness of the plight of the people forced to flee their homes in the troubled region of the Sudan. The first thing you notice when you arrive is the fire. Everything is ablaze - the camp is 'decorated' with simulated flames, and weapons and skulls litter the ground, reminding visitors that the camp is the product of violence and murder. And if the message weren't clear enough, there are links to the websites of aid agencies working in the area, and a huge poster reminds us of a daily death toll in the region. There are even giant video screens showing interviews with real Sudanese refugees telling their stories. If you want to show your support for the cause, you can even pick up a free T-shirt or wristband to wear in-world. A great example of how Second Life can be used to raise awareness of a serious issue. (book on Amazon)
Sounds Like Music to Me No. 7
"I started playing jazz by slowing down Tal Farlow records and analyzing his runs," - Lenny Breau - Jazz Guitar
I am a big fan of the extended dramatic series on DVD, especially
when it is well written, acted and produced. They are the 21st
Century's neo-novels. Almost like reading a few chapters every
night before bed. Some of my favourites are 'Rome', 'Spooks',
'24', 'The Grid,' 'Tru Calling,' 'Deadwood,' '4400,' 'Firefly',
'The Forsythe Saga', 'Odyssey 5,' and a host of others.
I ordered 'Big Love' last year from the US - it sounded interesting. An HBO series about a Mormon under-the-radar polygamous family who have moved into a conservative middleclass suburb, trying to live the American dream, struggling to balance the needs of seven kids, three wives, three separate houses, and one husband-in-chief, Bill Paxton. It MIGHT sound creepily patriarchal but I assure you the women characters are fantastic, especially First Wife, Jeanne Tripplehorn, and the drama between the primary family of four is brilliant. Not to mention the extended twisted family members who still live on the break-away Latter Day Saints compound in the old traditional way, led by patriarchs, Harry Dean Stanton (and his fourteen year old bride, amongst others) and his rival, aging Bruce Dern and his five older wives. (The ratio of strong women characters to male characters is about five to one.) The series credits Tom Hanks as one of the executive producers and you can see his quirky acting style stamped all over it. 'Big Love' has finally made it to Australian television (SBS, as it's far too hot for commercial TV) but I recommend watching it in uninterrupted sequence on DVD. (website)
Click on picture below for a sample TV Ad for a polygamist variation of Viagra:
WOMEN IN ART
Here is a truly awe-inspiring multi-media which morphs 150 years of portrait painting into a seamless Ode to the Goddess! Ticket refunded if not thrilled!
SYRIAN CHICKEN WITH GINGER & LEMON
(Here's a dish I enjoyed recently at Jill Watson's house. It's brilliant. She learned it from the Sunday Age (which goes to show sometimes it is worth it to read the newspaper - her personal modifications are in brackets.)
2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1 tsp ground turmeric
size 14-16 free-range chicken, cut into 8 pieces (or use a mixture of breast and thigh fillets cut into large chunks)
100ml olive oil
2 brown onions, thickly sliced
100g fresh ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
5 cloves garlic, bruised with the back of a knife
2 small red chillies, split (or sliced thinly so that everybody gets some)
2 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 pinches saffron threads (or powder)
12 tsp cumin seeds
5 sprigs thyme
1 lemon, juiced and zest finely grated
2 tsp honey
100g currants (we reduced the proportion of currants, as they made the dish a bit too sweet)
2 tbsp vegetable (or chicken) stock powder
12 bunch coriander leaves
cooked couscous or rice, to serve
Combine salt, cumin, cinnamon, pepper and turmeric in a large plastic bag. Add chicken pieces and shake to coat.
Heat olive oil in a large heavy-based pan over high heat. (Works well in electric frypan.) Add chicken and brown on all sides. Remove from pan and set aside. Add onions, ginger, garlic and chillies to pan and cook for 3 minutes, adding a little more oil, if necessary. Add tomatoes, saffron, cumin seeds and thyme and cook for 2 minutes.
Return chicken to pan and add lemon juice and zest, honey, currants, stock powder and enough water to just cover chicken. Cover with a lid and simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes. Uncover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until chicken is tender and cooked through and sauce is slightly reduced. Stir in coriander. Serve with couscous or rice.
THE FINAL HURRAH
A Florida Senior Citizen drove his brand new Corvette convertible
out of the dealership.
Taking off down the road, he floored it to 80 mph, enjoying the wind blowing through what little hair he had left.
"Amazing!" he thought as he flew down I-75, pushing the pedal to the metal even more.
Looking in his rear view mirror, he saw the Highway Patrol behind him, blue lights flashing and siren blaring.
'I can get away from him - no problem!' thought the elderly nutcase as he floored it to 100 mph, then 110, then 120 mph.
Suddenly, he thought, 'What the hell am I doing? I'm too old for this nonsense!' and he pulled over to the side of the road and waited for the trooper to catch up with him.
Pulling in behind him, the trooper walked up to the driver's side of the Corvette, looked at his watch and said,
"Sir, my shift ends in 30 minutes. Today is Friday. If you can give me one reason why you were speeding that I've never heard before, I'll let you go."
The man, looking very seriously at the trooper, said,
"Years ago, my wife ran off with a Florida State Trooper. I thought you were bringing her back."
"Have a good day, Sir," said the trooper. (boom boom!)
(thanks to Bill Lempke)