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March 4th, 2005

Sometimes You Get the Bear, Sometimes the Bear Gets You

" Give me the money that has been spent in war and I will clothe every man, woman, and child in an attire of which kings and queens will be proud. I will build a schoolhouse in every valley over the whole earth. I will crown every hillside with a place of worship consecrated to peace."
Charles Sumner


Dear Folks,

I got an email yesterday from a woman soprano in the States by the name of Jo Dolce! If that wasn't surprising enough, she is married and her husband's name is Joseph Dolce. (Is Rod Serling about to step out of the shadows and say something?) Perhaps 'Jo Dolce Sings Joe Dolce,' is in the cards for a future recital.

This Friday night - tonight March 4th - is the Enmore Theatre's gala, La Joe Dolce Vita, a special comedy and music night to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Shaddap. (Anyone who doesn't know what I'm talking about - or doesn't care - just skip over this part.) The running order is a humbling and amazing array of talented guests and clever thematic ideas, standup comedy, film and video excerpts, and even fireworks! and I will print out the program next week - but for this issue, it must remain a surprise for anyone coming to the show. Check the homepage of my website if you are interested in booking information. Also, I am making progress with the 25th Anniversary signature dessert idea I told you about a couple of months ago. I have met with one of Australia's most creative pastry chefs and, as we speak, the creative yeast is in motion to come up with something worthy of the House of Shaddap. I will keep you posted.

Favourite Reader Feedback of the Week

Hello Joe,
I've had a quick look at your website, and it will come as no surprise that I went straight to the recipe section and naturally to Joey Dolce, I dare say it will raise a few eyebrows, but I can appreciate the dish.  In the small village that my parents came from there is a certain silence due to the absence of birds and horses....they all ended up in the pot and were enjoyed with copious amounts of polenta! Enjoy the weekend, regards


(Note: Dear L.S. In Cyprus, there is an ancient - now illegal, but still secretly practiced - custom of trapping tiny songbirds - sparrows, warblers, ortolans, flycatchers and blackcaps - known as beccaficos, and serving them for an appetiser, with a glass of wine or cognac. Beccaficos are usually eaten whole, with just the feathers pulled off, placed in boiling water for eight minutes, and seasoned with a little wine vinegar and salt. Maggie Morgan alerted me to Petronius's Satyricon, which describes 'Tramalchio's Feast,' in which a Corinthian bronze donkey was rolled out, with panniers on its back, green olives in one, black in the other. Over the top of the donkey were two trays, joined together by little bridges soldered on, and they contained dormice glazed in honey and rolled in poppy seeds. Build a better mousetrap, and they will come.)

Mel Blanc
(the voice of Bugs Bunny) was allergic to carrots.

The Third Stage of American Empire
By William Rivers Pitt

There have been three stages of American empire since the creation of this nation. Each has fed the other, and each has been established and fortified by war. More importantly, each has been fortified by the vast profits derived by the few in the making of war. The first two stages did not collapse, so much as they were absorbed by the next iteration, carrying over all circumstances and attendant difficulties. We exist today within the third stage of empire, one that is sick at the core. The first stage of this American empire began with the Mexican-American war, but began to flourish at the conclusion of the Civil War. (article)

One quarter of the bones in your body are in your feet.

For the Sake of Our Children
by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

" . . . We know that the principal source of ozone and particulates in our air is coming from 1,100 coal-burning power plants that are burning coal illegally. They were supposed to install controls over fifteen years ago. The Clinton administration was prosecuting 75 of the worst of those plants. But this industry gave $48 million to President Bush during the 2000 campaign, and they've contributed $58 million since. One of the first things that President Bush did when he came to office was to order the Justice Department to drop all 75 of those suits. The Justice Department lawyers were shocked. This has never happened in our history before, where somebody running as a presidential candidate accepts money from a criminal and then lets that criminal off the hook. Many of you remember what happened when President Clinton pardoned Mark Rich and how indignant the press and the public was at that action. But Mark Rich was one person, and he never killed anybody. According to EPA, these 75 plants, just the criminal exceedences from these plants, kill 5,500 Americans every year. After letting these criminals off the hook, the president then went and rewrote the Clean Air Act, illegally we believe. We're suing him, we'll win the suit, but it may take ten years, and in the meantime they'll discharge what they want. I live in New York State. Most of the fish in New York are now unsafe to eat from mercury contamination. I live two miles from the state of Connecticut; in Connecticut every freshwater fish is now unsafe to eat. Last week, the Fish and Wildlife Service announced that in 19 states it is unsafe to regularly eat any freshwater fish, and in 48 states at least some fish are unsafe to eat. The mercury is coming, largely, from those same 1,100 coal-burning power plants. We know a lot about mercury that we didn't know five or ten years ago. We know that one out of every six American women of childbearing years now has so much mercury in her womb that her children are at risk for a grim inventory of diseases: cognitive impairment; mental retardation; autism; blindness; kidney, liver or heart disease. I have so much mercury in my body, I was told by Dr. David Carpenter, who is the national authority on mercury contamination, that if I were a woman of childbearing years and produced a child, that the child would have cognitive impairment, and, he estimated, a permanent IQ loss of five to seven points. There are 630,000 children born in this country every year who have been exposed to dangerous levels of mercury in the womb. . . We are living today in a science fiction nightmare, a world where, because somebody gave money to a politician, our children are brought into a world where the air is too poisonous for them to breathe. This is a world where, because somebody gave money to a politician, my children and the children of millions of other[s] . . can no longer enjoy the seminal, primal activities of their youth - which is to go fishing with their father or mother and come home and eat the fish. I live two hours south of the Adirondack Mountains. This is the oldest protected wilderness area on the face of the Earth; it's been protected since the 1880s. Today, one-fifth of the lakes in the Adirondacks are sterilized from acid rain which is coming from those same coal-burning power plants, and this president has put the brakes on the statutory requirement that those companies remove the materials that are causing the acid rain. (full article)

Human thigh bones are stronger than concrete.

Vietnam Looks to Win Agent Orange Law Suit
By Ho Binh Minh

Ho Chi Minh City - It is a classroom full of sunlight in Vietnam's southern city formerly known as Saigon, with Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck painted on the wall overlooking several computers. But one pupil writes with a pencil held between his toes, another cannot close her smiling mouth properly and the oldest of them, Tran Thi Hoan, wheels herself in and out as her legs have no calves. They are residents of Ho Chi Minh City's Peace Village 2, a state project set up in 1990 from a ward of Tu Du Maternity Hospital to help disabled children, mostly victims of the Vietnam War defoliant Agent Orange. On Monday, a New York court will begin hearing a lawsuit brought by more than 100 Vietnamese seeking compensation and a clean-up of contaminated areas from more than 30 firms, among them Dow Chemical Co and Monsanto Co, the largest makers of Agent Orange. It is the first time Vietnamese have sought legal redress since the Vietnam War ended in April 1975. (article)

Fingernails grow nearly 4 times faster than toenails.

Supreme Court Bars Death Penalty for Juvenile Killers
Associated Press

Washington - The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the Constitution forbids the execution of killers who were under 18 when they committed their crimes, ending a practice used in 19 states. The 5-4 decision throws out the death sentences of about 70 juvenile murderers and bars states from seeking to execute minors for future crimes. The executions, the court said, were unconstitutionally cruel. It was the second major defeat at the high court in three years for supporters of the death penalty. (article)

You're born with 300 bones, but when you get to be an adult, you only have 206.

For the People by the People of the World
By Jonathan Robert Banks

Imagine human society in the not too distant future where our technology is artificially alive and intelligent, mimicking the basic processes of nature itself. A technology that self replicates, repairs and evolves ever better designs and functionality all within an ecologically, sustainable and bio-friendly architecture. A technology that is involved in a symbiotic, co-creative, feedback loop with human creativity. In this world we would have a super sophisticated world wide web or its advanced equivalent, managed by super intelligent AI (artificial intelligence--nano constructed quantum computers would do the job nicely). Every citizen of this global democracy would be connected to this communications web and their interactions would be managed by personal AI. This system would be used to operate a global democracy with close to 100% participation by the Earth's citizens and practically full transparency of all governments. This is possible due to the power of molecular nano technology to build the advanced computational and communications infrastructure and the staggering power of AI to manage information moving between citizen and citizen and government and citizen. (article)
(thanks to Ramon Sender)

In 2004, one in six girls in the United States enter puberty at age 8. A hundred years ago, only one in a hundred entered puberty that early.

UN Predicts 9.1 Billion People on Earth by 2050

UNITED NATIONS - The human race is expected to swell from the current 6.5 billion to 9.1 billion people by 2050, with populations exploding in hungry developing countries and stagnating in rich nations, the United Nations predicted on Thursday. The increase of 2.6 billion people is equivalent to the combined populations of China and India today, according to the UN Population Division's "2004 Revision" report. The growth is projected to be fastest in poor countries already struggling to feed their people. But the overall trend shows a lower rate of growth than during the past 20 to 50 years, confirming previous estimates that the global population is rising but slowly stabilizing. (article)

Most dust particles in your house are made from dead skin.


A Priest and a Rabbi............

A priest and a rabbi are seated together on a plane.  After awhile, the priest turns to the rabbi and asks, "Is it still a requirement of your faith that you not eat pork?"
The rabbi responds, "Yes, that is still one of our beliefs."
The priest then asks, "have you ever eaten pork?" 
To which the rabbi replies, "Yes, on one occasion, I did succumb to temptation and tasted a ham sandwich."
The priest nodded in understanding and went on with his reading.
A little while later, the rabbi spoke up and asked the priest, "Father is it still a requirement of your church that you remain celibate?"
The priest replied, "Yes, that is still very much a part of our faith."
The rabbi then asked him, "Father, have you ever fallen into the temptation of the flesh?"
The priest replied, "Yes, rabbi, on one occasion I was weak and broke with my faith."
The rabbi nodded understandingly.
He was silent for about five minutes and then said, "Beats a ham sandwich, doesn't it?"
(Thanks to Jim Testa)



" . . .But, why, in the first place, were the castrati brought into being? It all goes back a long way, to when the eunuchs of the harem were sometimes found to have sweet singing voices, to entertain their master's many consorts. Gradually it was realised that early castration of boys around the ages of 8 to 10 (who could already sing) would save their singing voices; first for the church and cathedral choirs, and, after rigorous training, for the opera: to sing male and female roles. Male roles? The heroes who were the stars of C17 and C18 opera had high voices to match their high rank, as it was then conceived. Tenors and basses sang comic parts; old men types. Female roles? Women were not allowed to tread the boards in many Catholic countries; the Popes would not permit such a thing. St. Paul said, "Let women be silent in churches", following the Judaic pattern of men being the cantors and the women sitting in the gallery!! [The castrati] were boys with outstanding singing voices who were offered by their families for castration, to preserve those voices. Mostly the boys came from very poor families, who saw nothing wrong in the practice, since it would lift them out of poverty, and we are talking what is called "Third World" poverty today. But such families were often secretive about offering their children in this way, since canon and civil law would be broken. So, the victims were castrated on the grounds of: illness, injury (wild boars were favourite), accidents. These were the excuses given, on a kind of Chinese whispers basis. The "operation" involved drugging the boy with opium, immersing him in a warm bath until he became (hopefully) insensible; then the ducts leading to the testes were severed and that was it ... if he recovered, and many did not; no aseptic procedures in those days. In the 16th century, the Vatican, noted for turning the blind eye, admitted castrati to its ranks in the Sistine Chapel. Up to that point, "Spanish falsettists" had been used for the soprano line, or young boys, before their voices were due to break. These falsettists had proved unpleasing to the ear as their voices became acidulous and over-strained, and the boys, as they approached maturity, became unruly. At the turn of that century, Pope Clement VIII favoured the castrati, whom he had heard elsewhere, sacked the falsettists and endorsed the castrati, who appeared on the Chapel roll in 1599. (more)

A flamingo can eat only when its head is upside down. 

Audio Excerpt: "I Want To Hold Your Hand" (Lennon-McCartney)

85% of the men who cheat on their wives die while having sex.

In a Metal Mood: No More Mr Nice Guy
Audio Excerpt: "Smoke On The Water"

Half of all Americans live within 50 miles of their birthplace.


The statements of the President of the United States of America should be sung with great ardor! The eloquence of our Chief Executive deserves to be honored and commemorated! So that we might demonstrate our respect, admiration & reverence, we present to you this unbreakable record - in Stereo-rific Sound - devoted solely to making a joyful noise and celebrating the words of our 43rd President. Sing along with the George W. Bush Singers!

A company in Taiwan makes dinnerware out of wheat, so you can eat your plate.



Here's a favourite recipe from Mietta O'Donnell's Italian Family Cookbook. I have fond recollections of my friend, Mietta, who owned a groundbreaking creative arts restaurant in Melbourne, before she was killed in a car accident, some years ago. I presented one of the first performances of my C.P. Cafavy songwork, When the Lips and the Skin Remember, in the large dining room at Mietta's, and my partner Lin Van Hek and I shared the stage with Booker Prize winning author KERRI HULME (who cooked me my first muttonbird), and premiered our Frida Kahlo vignette, as part of DIFFICULT WOMEN, in 1995, about a decade before Hollywood caught on.

The interesting thing about this particular risotto dish is the way the grated uncooked pumpkin is added at the end. Any number of fresh grated ingredients could be substituted.

330 g white of leek, shredded
30 ml oil
50 g butter
2 cups Ferron or Aborio rice
300 g pumpkin, peeled and grated
2 large chicken breasts, sliced
5 cups light chicken stock
salt and pepper

Fry the leek and rice in oil and butter. Proceed as for basic risotto i.e. gradually hot stock to the rice, a ladle at a time, stirring continuously until it is absorbed, do not leave it unattended. When nearly cooked, add the grated pumpkin. (If it is added to early it will break up and bleed colour into the rice.) Cover and remove from the heat. Take another pan and fry the chicken breast pieces in oil. Add salt and pepper. Take chicken out and deglaze pan with some stock. Spoon the chicken and the pan juice over the cooked risotto and serve. This risotto is finished with neither parmesean cheese, butter or parsley.
(from Mietta's Italian Family Recipes, by Mietta O'Donnell, published by Black Inc, Melbourne 2000.)

Next Day Leftovers

Chicken and Pumpkin Risotto Aranchini with Greek Salad

Left over cold chicken and pumpkin risotto
small quantity of tomato sauce
sharp and creamy fetta cheese
1 -2 eggs, beaten
dry breadcrumbs
finely chopped parsley
finely chopped garlic
olive oil for frying

Remove the chicken from the risotto and shred finely. Mix with the tomato sauce and the finely chopped garlic. Set aside. Mix the parsley with the bread crumbs. Form a little rice into medium sized balls in the palm of your hand. Make an indentation in the centre and add one teasp of chicken-tomato sauce mixture and a small piece of fetta. Form a lid with a little more of the rice, place over the mixture and gently seal into a ball. Roll the balls in egg mix and then in breadcrumbs. Fry in the oil until brown and drain on absorbent paper.

Greek Salad
1 green pepper (capsicum)
1 red onion
handful cherry tomatoes
cold pressed virgin olive oil
fresh lemon juice
fetta cheese

Finely slice the green pepper and red onion and place on a serving plate. Slice the cherry tomatoes long ways and sprinkle over the top. Drizzle some olive oil and squeeze some lemon juice over the top. Crumble some of the fetta cheese over. Place salad and a couple aranchini balls on a plate and serve.

During your lifetime, you'll eat about 60,000 pounds of food. That's the weight of about 6 elephants.

If you're still a bit peckish after that, you could try this one -

Bear Heart
'Sometimes you get the bear and sometimes the bear gets you.' Old Hillbilly Saying

1 bear heart
12 sage leaves
1 tsp salt
Ale to cover

Catch bear. Remove heart.
(Good luck with that part.) Cover heart with water. Boil for 15 minutes, removing scum as it forms. Remove heart from water. Cut into bite-size pieces. Put heart pieces into a small pot. Add sage. Add ale to cover and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook gently until heart is tender. Nice dish to surprise a loved one on Valentine's Day. . . . (unless you're a bear.)


Love at First Sight
They're both convinced
that a sudden passion joined them.
Such certainty is beautiful,
but uncertainty is more beautiful still.
Since they'd never met before, they're sure
that there'd been nothing between them.
But what's the word from the streets, staircases, hallways --
perhaps they've passed each other a million times?
I want to ask them
if they don't remember --
a moment face to face
in some revolving door?
perhaps a "sorry" muttered in a crowd?
a curt "wrong number" caught in the receiver?
but I know the answer.
No, they don't remember
They'd be amazed to hear
that Chance has been toying with them
now for years.
Not quite ready yet
to become their Destiny,
it pushed them close, drove them apart,
it barred their path,
stifling a laugh,
and then leaped aside.
There were signs and signals,
even if they couldn't read them yet.
Perhaps three years ago
or just last Tuesday
a certain leaf fluttered
from one shoulder to another?
Something was dropped and then picked up.
Who knows, maybe the ball that vanished
into childhood's thicket?
There were doorknobs and doorbells
where one touch had covered another
Suitcases checked and standing side by side.
One night, perhaps, the same dream,
grown hazy by morning.
Every beginning
is only a sequel, after all,
and the book of events
is always open halfway through.
~Wislawa Szymborska ~
 (View with a Grain of Sand)