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Friday March 10th, 2006

Peace is Patriotic


When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries of life disappear and life stands explained.
Mark Twain


Dear Folks,

I've just received notice that there is going to be an International Peace Conference in Melbourne, in May, with Cindy Sheehan as one of the possible guest speakers. I don't know much more yet but I will keep you posted as I find out more details. My friend, Nadia McCaffrey, one of the Gold Star Mothers For Peace, who lost her son, Patrick, in the early stages of the Iraq War, sent me a powerful and sensitive DVD she produced, 'Journey to Peace', about a peace mission she went on to the Middle East to meet with Iraqi families who had also lost loved ones - emotional and healing meetings between families from opposing countries at war. I'm not sure if it's released commerically yet but you can find out more by going here: (website)

We've finally got the DIFFICULTWOMEN Electronic Presskit online, including a videoclip for 'River of Life', (written by ex-matriot Kiwi, Kath Tait.) A great song and a mighty fine vocal by LIN VAN HEK (even includes some footage of a homeless street accordionist we filmed in Estonia last year - not a relative of Kath's, by the way.) In the Audio section, there is also Lin's rare recording of two parts of Virginia Woolf's, 'A Room of One's Own'. (If anyone thinks they KNOW who Virginia Woolf is, based on that portrayal of her in the film, 'THE HOURS', please listen to the 'Shakespeare's Sister' excerpt and behold the incredible mind and emotional power of the REAL Virginia Woolf!) DIFFICULTWOMEN'S next shows are at the National Folk Festival, in Canberra, ACT, in April. Difficultwomen Electronic Presskit


By the way, the classic recipe I gave you last week, for the Crawfish Boil, as prepared by the Fontanas, an Italian family that settled in New Orleans in the 1850s - although, I knew it would work theoretically, I hadn't exactly made it that way myself. Until last night, that is. I followed it to the T and I can now state that it is one of the most MIND-BLOWING dishes I have ever eaten. I used fresh jumbo tiger shrimp, de-veined and shelled (instead of crawfish - I still can't find any damn yabbies!), corn on the cob and new potatoes. Cold beer to cool you off. I did, however, take one liberty: I created a 'George W Bush Variation Shrimp Boil' this time. After spreading the newspapers across the table, for all the discarded shrimp bits and corn cobs, I tore all the pages out of one of those George W Bushisms page-a-day calendars and scattered them all over the newspapers - just to give the diners something to amuse themselves with while they were burning their lips off. Trust me, folks. If you want to experience a transcendental journey to the bayous of Old Louisiana, take some time, get your 'mise en place' together, and treat yourself to this one. 'Nuff said. In the recipe section this week, I have included Huevos Motuleños, a Tex-Mex Breakfast, from Las Manitas Cafe, in Austin.

Favourite Reader Comments of the Week

You are too funny, too much, and very welcome. Love your work always, keep it coming.

Dear Joe,
I am the wife of a classmate [of yours], have your cds, you are awesome

Hey Joe,
'My Sweet, Crushed Angel' [poem] brought tears to my eyes. I'm moving house again, flying solo this time. I'm not sure where I'm going, when I find it I'll drop you a line. With love,

(Note: Carol, here's some ancient solace from Sappho:)

Tonight I've watched
the moon and then
the Pleiades
go down.
The night is now
youth goes;
I am
in bed alone.

(From Sappho: A New Translation, by Sappho, translated by Mary Barnard.)

Hi Joe,
Your info on the Iraq war is timely although I suspect that by now more like 200,000 Iraqis are dead. And John Howard calls this liberation!!! The Australian government has helped to start a civil war in Iraq and they're actually proud of it! - it's almost unbelievable. In my opinion John Howard, George Bush and Tony Blair should all be tried for war crimes. Cheers,
Peter C.

(Note: If in fact, as William F. Buckley has recently suggested, the US, Australia and the UK have placed 130,000 troops in the middle of a looming Iraqi civil and religious war, does anyone have any suggestions as to what kind right action might be required now - if any is even possible - to avert or diffuse this catharsis?)


Dear Joe,
Long time reader, first time caller. I invite you to hit my web site. . . There I describe my latest book, called "Jesus, Judas and Mordy, Three good Jewish boys in Jerusalem". I hope you like the site. You may even like the book. Hugs and kisses,
Dickie Gross (website)

Hi Joe,
I'm just wanting to check that it's OK for me to have quoted you on my website and Sonicbids EPK? From one of your emails I've quoted you thus: "You are a very soulful player, and I hope one day to hear some more of this recording". Hope this is OK for me to use? Warm regards,

(Note: From The Management of Joe Dolce

Dear Ms Scales,
Thank you for your enquiry re: usage rights for quotable material from Mr Dolce.
Our rates are as follows:
1 line = $500
2 lines = 1 car and a sandwich
3 lines - a shag and a prenuptial
4 lines - to be negotiated (but unlikely as Mr Dolce hardly ever goes over three lines.)

I hope that helps with your application for funding.
The Law Offices of Dolce, Dolce, Dolce and Flywheel Pty Ltd )

A word of warning re: Yorkshire Terrier Pudding, which I'm about to try as soon as the truck gets up to operating temperature and the neighbour takes his eye off his yappy little football on legs for a second. A colleague who is the proud owner of a 40-foot floating gin palace, from which he occasionally catches some sizeable fish, attempted something similar involving a few fish, the usual white wine and lemon, herbs and spices flavouring, and the exhaust manifolds of his twin diesel engines. Let me say at this point the theory is fine, but in practice make sure there is no spillage. My colleague allowed spillage or boiling over to occur during the cooking process and the resulting gooey mess dribbled into important bits causing short-circuits, electrical spot fires and other malfunctions, such as chewing out the impellers on the water pumps. All in all, his Poisson au Manifold left him with a bill approaching the 10-large mark, and still hungry. 
Mike Edmonds


Favourite Spam of the Week

Subject: No racing hearti

Good day to you sir, No racing hearti.
Doesn't Keep You Up At Night...Steamoolent Free.
Hoo dyaa pee ills don't cause the side effects such as jitteriness.
They shall not long possess the sky - shall devour the stars only in apparition:
I couldn't read then. I couldn't write. Toyota, on the other hand, practically glows in the eyes of American consumers. I'll bear it better now --. Hath been - most familiar bird-.

(Note: Yikes! I just hope whom ever sent me this isn't in charge of operating any heavy machinery. Folks, this is what happens when you pop too many of them cactus diet pills. The synapses of the cerebral cortex get twisted with the medulla oblongata creating a toasted cheese kind of melted tofu effect in the brainpan. As far as losing weight goes, I just try to remember what someone in the music business once told me: '.. if Mama Cass had shared that sandwich with Karen Carpenter, they'd both be here today.')


Actual Domain Name Screw-ups

Some real domain names as reported in New Scientist. Obviously not what was intended. Check them out!
A database agency:  www.whorepresents.com
Knowledge site: www.expertsexchange.com
Pen retailer (Pen Island):  www.penisland.net
Therapist:  www.therapistfinder.com
Bedding plants: molestationnursery.com

(thanks to Ian Burns)


'We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions'


(Note: I've never been a big fan of Mr 'Born in the USA' but this project sounds interesting.)

'We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions' features Springsteen's personal interpretations of thirteen traditional songs (Old Dan Tucker, Jessie James, Mrs. McGrath, Oh, Mary, Don't You Weep, and others), all of them associated with the legendary guiding light of American folk music, Pete Seeger, for whom the album is named. Speaking of the origins of the new music, Springsteen said, "So much of my writing, particularly when I write acoustically, comes straight out of the folk tradition. Making this album was creatively liberating because I have a love of all those different roots sounds... they can conjure up a world with just a few notes and a few words."
'We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions' will be released in DualDisc format.

- DualDisc
Unlike regular CDs, DualDiscs are double-sided. One side contains standard CD audio; the other features DVD content, often including the album in higher-fidelity stereo or a 5.1-channel surround sound mix; lyrics, photos, and computer files; music videos, interviews, and documentaries; and anything else one might find on a regular DVD. Though DualDiscs are slightly thicker than ordinary discs, the DVD side should play in all DVD players, and the CD side should play in all CD players.


True Story

Pizza Spy

(Note: I found this interesting story in this month's Fenix Newsletter. Fenix is the Melbourne restaurant specializing in molecular gastronomy that I took my daughter to for her birthday last year.)

FBI agents conducted a "search and seizure" at the Southwood Psychiatric Hospital in San Diego, which was under investigation for medical insurance fraud. After hours of poring over many rooms of financial records, some sixty FBI agents worked up quite an appetite. The case agent in charge of the investigation called a local pizza parlor with delivery service to order a quick dinner for his colleagues.

The following telephone conversation took place:

Agent: Hello. I would like to order nineteen large pizzas and sixty-seven cans of soda.
Pizza man: And where would you like them delivered?
Agent: To the Southwood Psychiatric Hospital.
Pizza man: To the psychiatric hospital?
Agent: That's right. I'm an FBI agent.
Pizza man: You're an FBI agent?
Agent: That's correct. Just about everybody here is.
Pizza man: And you're at the psychiatric hospital?
Agent: That's correct. And make sure you don't go through the front doors. We have them locked. You'll have to go around to the back to the service entrance to deliver the pizzas.
Pizza man: And you say you're all FBI agents?
Agent: That's right. How soon can you have them here?
Pizza man: And you're over at Southwood?
Agent: That's right. How soon can you have them here?
Pizza man: And everyone at Southwood is an FBI agent?
Agent: That's right. We've been here all day and we're starving.
Pizza man: How are you going to pay for this?
Agent: I have my check book right here.
Pizza man: And you are all FBI agents?
Agent: That's right, everyone here is an FBI agent. Can you remember to bring the pizzas and sodas to the service entrance in the rear? We have the front doors locked.
Pizza man: I don't think so. (Click.)


Tom cruises to Razzies Win
By Mark Egan, Los Angeles

AND the loser is? Tom Cruise.

The A-list actor, whose blockbuster hits include last year's War of the Worlds, won the Razzie award on Saturday for "most tiresome tabloid target".

The Razzies, which parody self-congratulatory Hollywood awards like the Oscars by roasting the worst of Tinseltown, this year added the "most tiresome" category to salute "the celebs we're ALL sick and tired of". (article)



Huevos Motuleños


Tex-Mex Breakfast: Two eggs, served over black beans and a corn tortilla, topped with cheese and ranchero sauce.

This was my morning breakfast just about every day in Austin, Texas, last week. Rather than eat from room service in the hotel, I made the short brisk walk down to Las Manitas Mexican Grill and sat at the 50s style counter and ordered this dish, and American coffee. Of course, I always like to learn the recipes that move me so I paid close attention to the way it was presented, asked a lot of irritating questions, and I have come pretty close to recreating it. It is a regional variation of Huevos Rancheros, only made with black beans. Some people add ham, and even bananas, but this is the way I remember it.


Black beans, cooked and warm
Two eggs, fried (just before serving)
Soft corn tortillas, warm
Ranchero Sauce
Freshly grated cheddar cheese
Jalapeno peppers ( on the side)

- For the Black Beans

3 cups black beans
half onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
half green pepper, finely chopped
small piece of bacon, smoked ham hock, salt pork or guanciale, for some flavour
chicken stock to cover (or use a stock cube)
oil, not olive oil

Wash the black beans and sort through them, removing any stones or discoulored beans. Saute the onion, salt pork, green peppers and garlic in a little oil until soft. Add the black beans and the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook until beans are tender. Add more stock if necessary. Season to taste. Set aside and keep warm.

- For the Ranchero Sauce

oil, not olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 onion, minced
4 oz. (120 gr) chopped green chiles
1 tsp. cilantro (fresh coriander, chopped)
2 cup. canned, or fresh tomatoes, seeded, peeled and chopped
two pickled jalepeno peppers, seeds and stems removed, cut into slivers lengthwise
salt, pepper, a little sugar to taste

Drain and rinse chiles, saute with garlic and onion and when transparent, add tomatoes, jalepenos and seasonings. Cook about 5 minutes or until slightly thick. Set aside.

- Tortillas
Either use the soft prepared corn tortillas that come in packs or else make your own.

- (To make your own Tortillas):

Masa Lista or Masa Harina Fine Cornmeal (stone ground Mexican corn, cooked with lime water)
Tortilla press (or some plastic wrap)

There is probably an infinite number of ways to make homemade tortillas but this is the quick way I do it. Mix the masa with enough water to make a dough that holds together. Roll it into a little ball about the size of a large walnut. Spread an 8 inch square of plastic wrap on a cutting board. Place the masa ball in the centre. Flatten slightly. Cover with another 8 inch square of plastic wrap and roll out into a thin tortilla. Heat up a medium size cast iron skillet (no oil). Carefully lift off the top layer of plastic wrap, place your hand on top and quickly turn the tortilla onto your hand, quickly removing the plastic wrap from the bottom. Place the tortilla in the centre of the skillet. (Once you get the hang of this, and the right thickness of the tortilla, it is easy.) Cook for a minute or two on one side and then flip over and cook the other side. Keep warm wrapped in a tea towel until ready.

To Assemble the Huevos Motulenos:

Pre-heat the griller until hot. Place one corn tortilla on an oven-proof serving plate or small cast iron skillet. Smooth a layer of warm black beans over the top of the tortilla. Place two fried eggs on top. Cover with the Ranchero Sauce. Sprinkle a generous amount of grated cheddar cheese over the top. Place under the griller until the cheese is runny. Serve immediately with extra warm soft tortillas, a side of jalepeno peppers, or tabasco sauce, and a cup of coffee!


Because We Spill Not Only Milk

Because we spill not only milk
Knocking it over with an elbow
When we reach to wipe a small face
But also spill seed on soil we thought was fertile but isn't,
And also spill whole lives, and only later see in fading light
How much is gone and we hadn't intended it
Because we tear not only cloth
Thinking to find a true edge and instead making only a hole
But also tear friendships when we grow
And whole mountainsides because we are so many
And we want to live right where black oaks lived,
Once very quietly and still
Because we forget not only what we are doing in the kitchen
And have to go back to the room we were in before,
Remember why it was we left
But also forget entire lexicons of joy
And how we lost ourselves for hours
Yet all that time were clearly found and held
And also forget the hungry not at our table
Because we weep not only at jade plants caught in freeze
And precious papers left in rain
But also at legs that no longer walk
Or never did, although from the outside they look like most others
And also weep at words said once as though
They might be rearranged but which
Once loose, refuse to return and we are helpless
Because we are imperfect and love so
Deeply we will never have enough days,
We need the gift of starting over, beginning
Again: just this constant good, this
Saving hope.
~ Nancy Shaffer ~
 (Instructions in Joy)


The Last Laugh

Prototypes for Neo-Islamic Sufi-style Humour


A baker asked the Dubya to guess what he had in his hand.
"Give me a hint," said the Dubya.
"I'll give you several hints," said the baker. "It's shaped like an egg, the size of an egg. It tastes and smells like an egg. Inside, it's yellow and white. It's liquid inside before you cook it, but gets solid if you heat it long enough. Also, it was laid by a hen."
"I know," said the Dubya. "It's some sort of cake." (boom fatwa!)


The Dubya went into the Stupid Shop. The owner came forward to help him.
"First of all," the Dubya said, "answer this stupid question. Did you see me come into your shop?"
"Of course."
"Have you ever seen me before?"
"Never in my life."
"Then how did you know it was me?" (boom fatwa!)


The Dubya put some black beans in his ears.
Then the Dubya smacked himself in the face with two fresh eggs.
Then the Dubya poured a jug of tomato sauce over his head.
Then the Dubya squirted some Cheez Whiz up his nose.
Then the Dubya placed his fat ass under a grill.
When his ears began to bubble like pork crackling, the Dubya said,
' I lied - so sue me.'
Eventually, the people got tired of eating horse crap with a glass of warm camel urine,
So they impeached his crispy ass. (boom fatwa!)