I've been invited to be Artist-in-Residence for three weeks, and creative director of the Brave New Works Festival 15, in Denmark, Western Australia, next March. I'll be working with local community volunteers and artists leading up to the festival weekend. Lin Van Hek is joining me as co-director in the final week. DIFFICULT WOMEN - augmented by select local artists - will perform in the final closing concert. The theme for BNW15 is WATERING THE FESTIVAL.
As you know, Australia is experiencing its most sustained drought since the early 1900s. Melbourne's reservoirs are currently at 40%, their highest level all year. But last year at this same time they were at 43%. And it looks like a hot summer ahead of us. Here are some simple watering conservation tips for your home garden that we have been successfully putting into practice for the past year. Two years ago, before water restrictions, our daily household water consumption was 720 litres. Last year, it was 360. This latter figure was well below what our suggested household quota was determined to be by Melbourne Water. But, this year, so far, it is 280. What have we been doing differently?
1. We minimize baths and share a bath (not always at the same time, but sometimes!) whenever possible. Use biodegrable shampoos and soaps, and bucket the used bathwater into larger containers scattered around the garden. When we shower, we always use a plug and do the same thing.
2. We have a insertable plastic tubs for both the kitchen sink and also the bathroom sink. Whenever possible, we hand wash dishes in CLEAR water in the plastic tubs and then transfer this water to buckets outside the door. Personally, I hate dishwashers so I wouldn't know how to advise you if you have one. Probably, just fire them. (boom boom!)
3. We use our bucketed recycled water for the plants and on our two allowed watering mornings, we primary soak the larger shrubs and fruit trees with a handheld hose.
4. Here's a tip, primarily for yang, but I don't see why yin can't do it if your back garden is private. Stop peeing in the toilet and go find a favourite fruit tree or rose bush and give it some regular hosing. This does two things: supplies moisture and nutrients to the lucky bush - and also saves you litres of daily flush water.
After awhile, all this becomes second-nature, like separating veggie scraps from recyclables. Once you get an effective and simple system in place, it's easy to stick to it. Our garden is thriving and our water consumption is way, way down. We also have a water tank on order which is a good idea for those who haven't set that in motion yet. Here is a link to the informative Melbourne Water site with interactive graphs and charts to compare present, past and future waterology. site
The final song-poem, 'Orpheo, Don't Look Back,' from my new work, 'Goodnight, Irene: The Leadbelly Ballad-Novel,' is now in the semi-finals of a large poetry competition in the US, which has a First Prize of $10,000. I really don't take winning or losing these kind of contests seriously. I enter them and then forget about them until someone contacts me. (Which isn't that often.) The only SERIOUS thing about these kind of impossible-to-measure-art-comparison sling-fests . . . is the money prize. So wish me luck. The lyric-poem is printed down at the bottom of the newsletter if you want to read it. I entered it under my pen-name, Josephus (Latin for 'he who adds.' I wonder what the Latin is for 'he who subracts?' Howardus?) There are two things about 'Orpheo, Don't Look Back,' that I especially commend to you: the first is that the perspective of the poem is from Eurydice's point of view (for a change!) - and the second, demonstrates that spiritual resonance can be effectively achieved in ways other than by habitually leaning on Judeo-Christian imagery (ie. Cohen, King, Kelly and Cave), which is getting a bit wearisome and all too predictable in pop culture lately.
I will be offering 'Goodnight, Irene: The Leadbelly Ballad-Novel,' for limited edition manuscript sale via my website as soon as I finish the second draft corrections and clear a couple of permissions. The final version has forty original songs, lyrics and music notation with chords, plus about a hundred pages of verse-novel narrative text telling Leadbelly's fascinating life story. I hope to include about 30 of Leadbelly's own songs, lyrics and music, in the Appendix, as further reference, hence the permission process, but Leadbelly's songs are freely available on the net, in excellent songbooks, and compiled on Library of Congress recordings by John and Alan Lomax, so that isn't really completely necessary. Here are the lyrics to my original songs if you want a sneak preview of the forty songs that were written in the last forty nights. (Ouch! there's that damn Biblical thing again. Stop it, Josephus! Go take a pee on your Burning Bush.): lyrics
ps. If anyone wants to pre-order one of these autographed manuscript ballad-novels, let me know, as they have to be special-order printed up by hand, one at a time.
Every Xmas I get a big rush on my song 'The Italian 12 Days of Xmas,' from my extinct dinosaur Christmas in Australia Album. This makes a good all around present: for people you love, OR people you hate. This song is now available on my double CD compilation, along with the original Shaddap You Face, and many other can't-live-with-'em and can't-live-without-'em songs - so PLEASE order early so that you will, in fact, get it before Xmas!
LETTERS FROM READERS
I look forward to your weekly blurb. I don't know if you've seen this, or whether it is too dated for the rag, but it says a lot and is worth another airing. Cheers, Terry Dwyer
(Note: Terry, I agree. I've included it in a previous newsletter but it still made me laugh again so here it is again for all those readers that weren't born yet!)
Why Can't I Own a Canadian?
Dr. Laura Schlessinger is a radio personality (in the USA) who dispenses advice to people who call in to her radio show. Recently, she said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22 and cannot be condoned under any circumstance. The following is an open letter to Dr. Laura penned by a east coast resident, which was posted on the Internet. It's funny, as well as informative:
Dear Dr. Laura:
Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the other specific laws and how to follow them:
When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?
I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?
I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness - Lev.15:19- 24. The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.
Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?
I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?
A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination - Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?
Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?
Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?
I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?
My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? - Lev.24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)
I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.
Your devoted fan,
Lin Van Hek and Joe Dolce
Lin will be reading from her work and I will be singing selections from my song-poetry settings including Death of Bach, and the works of Ovid, Cavafy and Sappho for INK as part of the Stonnington Library 'Celebrating Writers' Series in the intimate atmosphere of the old Victorian Town Hall Chambers. (Helen and Alice Garner were there last week.) This is a very tiny venue with a courtyard; perfect for poetry readings, at 80s ticket prices, so get there early for good seats as there are no reservations.
Wednesday 5th December
Old Prahran Chambers
Town Hall, cnr Chapel & Greville Sts
Doors open at 7pm
Enter through Prahran Library
$6/4, includes wine, tea, coffee or juice.
DIFFICULT WOMEN will be performing its last in-your-face show for 2007 at The Artery, in Fitzroy, VIC, on Saturday Dec 15th. Tickets are only $15. Doors open at 7 with an 8 pm start. We are looking for a few more contestants for 'The Frida Kahlo Look-a-Like Contest,' segment - open to both men and women - so if you are interested in dressing up, or booking, email me. Limited seating. info
Experts: Danger of Nuclear-Armed Iran Hyped
by Warren P. Strobel
WASHINGTON - A hostile country led by anti-American ideologues appears close to developing its first nuclear weapon and, as a U.S. election approaches, the president and his advisers debate a pre-emptive military strike. Newspaper columnists demand action to stop the nuclear peril.
The country was China, the year was 1963 and the president
was Lyndon Baines Johnson. . . .
Now it is Iran that is said to may be bent on acquiring nuclear arms, and President Bush who has declared that "unacceptable." Some U.S. officials and outside commentators are again pushing for a pre-emptive attack.
But the White House and its partisans may be inflating the dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran, say experts on the Persian Gulf and nuclear deterrence. While there are dangers, they acknowledge, Iran appears to want a nuclear weapon for the same reason other countries do: to protect itself. . .
. . . An Iranian nuclear bomb could present Israel "with the real potential for an existential threat," Ephraim Kam of the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv wrote in February. But Kam noted that Israel has its own unacknowledged nuclear deterrent - estimated at 100 to 200 warheads - larger than anything Iran could marshal for years to come. Despite Iran's "messianic religious motivations," he wrote, "it is highly doubtful that Tehran would want to risk an Israeli nuclear response" by attempting a first strike. article
Who's the Enemy?
In Iraq, It's Getting Harder to Find Any Bad Guys
by Robert Dreyfuss
Who is the enemy? Who, exactly, are we fighting in Iraq? Why are we there? And what's our objective?
Nearly five years into the war, the answers to basic questions like these ought to be obvious. In the Alice in Wonderland-like wilderness of mirrors that is Iraq, though, they're anything but.
We aren't fighting the Sunnis. Not any more, anyway. Virtually the entire Sunni establishment, from the moderate Muslim Brotherhood-linked Iraqi Islamic Party (which has been part of every Iraqi government since 2003) to the Anbar tribal alliance (which has been begging for U.S. support since 2004 and only recently got it) is either actively cooperating with the American military or sullenly tolerating what it hopes will be a receding occupation. . . .
We aren't fighting the Shia. The Shia merchant class and elite, organized into the mostly pro-Iranian Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council and the Islamic Dawa party, are part of the Iraqi government that the United States created and supports - and whose army and police are armed and trained by the United States. . . .
The far more popular forces of Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army aren't the enemy either. In late August, Sadr declared a ceasefire, ordering his militia to stand down; and, since then, attacks on U.S. forces in Shia-dominated areas of Iraq have fallen off very sharply, too. . .
And we certainly aren't fighting the Kurds. For decades, the Kurds have been America's (and Israel's) closest allies in Iraq. Since 2003, the three Kurdish-dominated provinces have been relatively peaceful.
We're not exactly fighting Al Qaeda any more either. Despite President Bush's near-frantic efforts to portray the war in Iraq as a last-ditch, Alamo-like stand against Osama bin Laden's army, U.S. commanders on the ground in Iraq are having a hard time finding pockets of Al Qaeda to attack these days . . . article
COLLECTION OF MIGHTY FINE COUNTRY SONG TITLES
You Can't Have Your Kate and Edith Too
Four on the Floor and a Fifth Under the Seat
Bubba Shot the Jukebox
Are You Drinkin' With Me, Jesus?
Billy Broke My Heart at Walgreens and I Cried All the Way to Sears
I'm Under the Table Over You
Am I Double Parked by the Curbstone of Your Heart?
I'm Gonna Put a Bar in the Back of My Car and Drive Myself to Drink
Welcome to Dumpsville, Population Me
If Love Were Oil, I'd Be a Quart Low
If You Can't Be Good, Son, Be Good At It
My Phone Ain't Been Ringing, So I Guess it Wasn't You
I've Been Roped and Throwed By Jesus in the Holy Ghost Corral
I Bought the Shoes That Just Walked Out on Me
She's Acting Single, I'm Drinking Doubles
Is It Cold In Here, or Is It Just You?
My Head Hurts, My Feet Stink, and I Don't Love Jesus
Thank God and Greyhound She's Gone
How Come Your Dog Don't Bite Nobody But Me?
You Ain't Much Fun Since I Quit Drinkin'
I Don't Know Whether to Kill Myself or Go Bowling
If You're Gonna Do Me Wrong, Do It Right
Thanks to the Cathouse, I'm in the Doghouse With You
I Fell for Her, She Fell for Him, and He Fell for Me
You Were Only a Splinter as I Slid Down the Banister of Life
Did I Shave my Legs for This?
I Fell in a Pile of You and Got Love All Over Me
Velcro Arms, Teflon Heart
If You Want to Keep the Beer Real Cold, Put it Next to My Ex-Wife's Heart
I Gave Her My Heart and a Diamond and She Clubbed Me with a Spade
If Whiskey Were a Woman, I'd Be Married for Sure
I Sat Down on a Beartrap (Just This Morning)
She Looks Good Through the Bottom of My Shot Glass
If You Can't Live Without Me, Why Aren't You Dead?
Mama, Get the Hammer (There's a Fly on Papa's Head)
Red Necks, White Socks, and Blue Ribbon Beer
If You Don't Leave Me, I'll Find Someone Who Will
My John Deere Was Breaking Your Field, While Your Dear John Was Breaking My Heart
I'll Marry You Tomorrow, But Let's Honeymoon Tonight
Many of you probably think I am slightly arrogant and irritating in the way I conduct these songwriting workshops. You're probably right. For years I was confused as to who I really was. There is a big difference between being a successful performer/artist - and a creative genius. Most people want to be Pearls of Great Price. But, as a response to the irritant inside its shell, the mollusk creates the pearl to seal off the irritation. The works of art are the real pearls, not the artists. The artistic genius is actually a combination of the mollusk and the irritant.
Crowded House is presently on what I call a Lazarus Reunion Tour or The Night of the Living Finn. I've already expressed my views on bands that do heavily promoted break-up tours and then a few years later do heavily promoted reunion tours. Yawn.
Bandmate Nick Seymour has been living in Dublin and apparently has developed some strong views about the 'Not good, John' Australian election. Good on him! Somebody's thinking.
But, Neil Finn, commenting to the Daily Telegraph last week, allegedly said this:
"I'll be happy if Nick stays off politics; he has become quite agitated about the Australian election . . . Politics is best kept off stage. Whenever musicians or actors start on it, the population immediately turns off."
Not Good, Neil.
See, folks, when artists that I know and have worked with, talk like idjuts in public, it tends to push that big red button right down there at the base of my reptilian brain stem.
Let me say that this statement is fucked on every level: grammatically, philosophically, morally - and it is also completely untrue! Has Neil been living in Nick's Cave?
First of all, who is this 'population' he is talking about?
Is he referring to Crowded House fans?
I thought I was part of the population. Excuse me.
Is he speaking for any of you out there?
Are you part of Neil's population?
And which artists, by the way, who drag politics onto the stage, is the so-called population, staying away from in droves?
I thought Michael Moore, Sean Penn, Peter Garrett, Midnight Oil, Neil Young, Green Day, Marilyn Manson, Bruce Springsteen, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Susan Sarandon, Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, Woody Guthrie, Mapfumo and Mtukudzi (from Zimbabwe), Kev Carmody, Archie Roach, Judy Small, Eric Bogle, The Dixie Chicks, Metallica, Jimi Hendrix, Joni Mitchell, Richie Havens, Peter Paul and Mary, The Sex Pistols, Kurt Weil, Martin Sheen, Aristophanes: (LYSISTRATA - which means, "she who disbands armies"), Kevin Costner, Tim Robbins, Tony Shalhoub, Jude Law, Anthony Hopkins, Kate Winslet, Mark Ruffalo, Billy Bragg, U2, REM, The Weavers, Jefferson Airplane, The Doors, Coldplay, Arlo Guthrie, Burns Sisters, John Butler Trio, Public Enemy, John Mellencamp, Allen Ginsberg, Lenny Kravitz, George Michael, Radiohead , Alec Baldwin, Jessica Lange, Ed Harris, Woody Harrelson, John Cusak, Mike Farrell, Robert Altman, Barbara Streisand, Ed Asner, Danny Glover, Oliver Stone, Sheryl Crowe, Harry Belafonte, Jane Fonda, Kevin Spacey, Joan Cusak, Gillian Anderson, Kim Basinger, Jennifer Aniston, Jackson Browne, Ed Norton, Don Cheadle, Jill Clayburgh, Peter Coyote, Kevin Bacon, Matt Damon, Vincent D'Onofrio, David Duchovny, Olympia Dukakis, Charles S. Dutton, Mia Farrow, Laurence Fishburn, Chevy Chase, F. Murray Abraham, Jeananne Garafalo, Elliott Gould, Ethan Hawke, Eric Roberts, Helen Hunt, Anjelica Huston, Samuel L. Jackson, Tea Leoni, Bonnie Raitt, Carl Reiner, Julia Roberts, Lily Tomlin, Heath Ledger, Dustin Hoffman, Richard Gere, Spike Lee, Rosario Dawson, Pearl Jam, Chryssy Hynde, The Beastie Boys, Viggo Mortensen, Ani DiFranco, Madonna, Lou Reed, Sandra Bernhard, Renee Zellweger, Robert Redford and me, to name a few -
- not to mention the goodly percentage of Hip Hop artists, the immensely unpopular JOHN LENNON, that 20-seat fringe artist, PINK, and even The bloody Eagles, who presently have the Number One album in the US, the UK and Australia, 'Long Road Out of Eden,' with titles on it like 'I Dreamed There Was No War,' 'Frail Grasp on the Big Picture, 'No More Walks in the Woods,' which have strong environmental and anti-war protest themes - AND ALL THEIR FANS - I thought all of these folks were part of the population?
So which population, exactly, is being turned off by artists who talk politics on stage, Neil?
I know for certain that Right Wing Republicans in America and George W Bush supporters over there don't like it too much. Especially when it's directed at them. I also suspect that John Howard don't like it. Especially when it's directed at him. These folks prefer their entertainment 'white' and 'polite'.
No, Neil Finn wasn't speaking on behalf of me and anyone I know. Not any of my population.
I think he was probably referring to Crowded House fans. Some of them, not all of them. I imagine many, like Nick Seymour, are starting to exercise their grey matter and get angry about what's really going on in the world, besides how many seasons are in one day. (By the way, there are more than four per day in Melbourne - at least nine, the last time I counted.)
I would recommend that all these other good folk, who dreamlessly sing 'Don't Dream, It's Over,' while waving their 'Farewell to Crowded House' candles, (in vain, it would seem!) light a farewell candle, instead, for some of the population being murdered in Iraq, Israel, and Palestine - and go and hire the DVD, 'Mephisto' - the story of an actor who tried to keep politics off the stage, during Nazi Germany.
World Body Warns Over Ocean 'Fertilization'
To Fix Climate Change
LONDON - Countries gathered under an international accord on maritime pollution have warned against offbeat experiments to tackle climate change by sowing the sea with chemicals to help soak up airborne carbon dioxide (CO2).1113 05
Parties to the London Convention and London Protocol declared that they hold authority over such experiments, and "large-scale operations" of this kind "are currently not justified," according to a statement issued on Monday.
Several controversial experiments have been carried out or are being planned to "fertilize" areas of the sea with iron or urea to see whether this encourages the growth of plankton.
Much of the CO2 emitted by fossil fuels is dissolved by the sea from the atmosphere.
In turn, microscopic marine plants at the sea surface absorb some of the CO2 through photosynthesis. When they die, they fall to the ocean floor, thus potentially storing the carbon for millions of years.
Defenders of fertilization say that carbon pollution is so far out of control that a swift fix is needed to avert catastrophe for the climate system.
By accelerating plankton growth, carbon could be massively sucked out of Earth's atmosphere, reducing the warming effect of this greenhouse gas, they argue.
But marine biologists and climate scientists say the experiments are hedged with environmental peril, such as the risk that runaway algal growth could starve swathes of the ocean of oxygen. article
Red Devil Cake
(Getting by without red food colouring)
This is a variation on the Red Velvet Cake I told you about in a previous newsletter. I want to thank my daughter, Blaise for naming it. You see, when you don't use red food colour, and go with the beet juice, which is the healthier alternative, you dont get the bright red colour that you can achieve with food colour, especially if you use the darker ingredients such as cocoa powder and raw sugar. (Drat! I'm still working on it so dont give up hope.) But meanwhile, this variation is equally satisfying in a different way and the kids actually like it better - simply because you put red snakes in between the layers!
2 1/4 cups sifted flour
2 teas cocoa powder
1 teas baking soda
1 teas baking powder
1 teas salt
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick or 75 g) unsalted butter
1 cup buttermilk
2 ounces (60ml) beet juice, (either from a can of pickled beets, or else boil up some beets, grate the boiled beets into the water, let steep for half hour and strain)
1 teas white vinegar
1 teas vanilla.
A packet of red snakes.
1 8 oz packet (240 ml/gr) cream cheese 1/2 cup (1 stick or 75 g) unsalted butter 1 pound (500 g) icing sugar 1 teas vanilla extract 1 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. In a medium bowl, sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream sugar with butter. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Alternate adding flour with buttermilk to the cream, eggs and sugar mixture, stirring. Beat in the beet juice and vinegar. Beat in the vanilla. Spread batter evenly in the pans. Bake 20 to 30 minute until a wooden toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Turn out onto wire racks to cool.
Prepare frosting, in a large bowl, cream the cream cheese and butter. Beat in the icing sugar until fluffy. Beat in the vanilla. Stir in the pecans.
Frost the first layer. Place the red snakes flat on the surface around the edge so that the heads stick out. Put the top layer of cake on and frost, making sure to keep the snake heads visible and clear.
Feel free to decorate the top with whatever toys and lollies strike your fancy.
(Note: I'm sure they use red food colouring in the red snakes, so I guess you can't win. If anyone knows a recipe for red snakes made with beet juice, let me know!)
THE FINAL HURRAH
Australian Humor, Texas Rancher
A man walks into his bedroom with a sheep under his arm and
"Darling, this is the pig I have sex with when you have a headache."
His girlfriend is lying in bed and replies, "I think you'll find that's
a sheep, you idiot."
The man says, "I think you'll find that I wasn't talking to you."
(thanks to Andoy)