Home, Curriculum Vitae, Press & Reviews, Testimonials, Recordings, Newsletter Archive, Recipes, Gallery

Friday Nov 23rd, 2007

Never Drop Your Gun to Hug a Grizzly

'Proximo Satis Pro Administratio'
(Latin: Close enough for government work.)

Hi Folks,

I don't know if I have an intelligent newsletter this week but I sure have gotten a lot of funny stuff lately so I thought: what the hell! - a laugh's as good as taking the one-eyed snake to the optometrist.


Stephen Taberner takes us 'where no conductor has gone' under the highways and byways of Melbourne and in front of Parliament House with impromptu choir, Flashmob, singing VOTE THE BASTARDS OUT, in four-part charmony, just in time for the Australian elections. I asked Stephen once if he'd written his great activist song yet and I reckon this one is placing the horseshoe pretty near the stake. Stephen's choral group, The Spooky Men's Choir has been known to sooth the savage Mastodon but his outstanding rolling and tumbling conductosity here gets my vote for Penisaurus Whisperer of 2007. YouTube (thanks for the fine late game tackle footage to Harry Williamson.)

I've set up a 'Songwriting Workshop Archive' on my website which has easy links to the eleven songwriting workshops from my previous newsletters and the two controversial Bob Dylan essays. The link is at the top of my homepage so if anyone wants to read them all in sequence, there they are. I'll add more whenever I think of something that needs to be said, or I think of something that's worth saying about the Craft. Songwriting Workshop Archive

I'm not slacking off, believe me. At the moment I'm re-scoring my Chinese-English choral work 'Perfume Flower,' for Chinese instruments (erhu & ruan), a celesta (that's that adorable keyboard critter in Tchaikovsky s Nutcracker Suite that twinkletoes in the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy) - and a horn, trumpet, oboe & flute. Not to forget recasting the SATB choir and tweeking the string orchestra. It sounding good and is due for a performance in April 2008.

A bit of a change from the Leadbelly project I've been working on for the past two months - and a lateral cool change into a completely different kind of 'song writing' - but a change is as good as . . . well, escorting Jabba into his Hutt.

(For more contemporary Peniisaurean phraseology, see the comprehensive Wikipedia Compilation. Many brilliant examples abound such as:
ass airliner, artistic cauliflower (Finland), aspirin meatball, bologny pony, beef bayonet, blue-veined custard chucker, burrowing bishop, chili chute, cuttlefish of cthulhu, denture cleaner, drunk girls' breathalizer, dusty gazongas, eleventh finger, engine clanker, flaming staff of vengeance which conquers the sniveling flowers of pink town with medieval war bombs of gooey hysteria, flinger of our future son Muhammad who will become the head of a major corporation (ouch! fatwa-city, one time!), Hector erector the cervix inspector, Jack the dripper, love length, meat and two veg, mister mushroom head, moisture seeking gristle missile, mutton dagger, one-eyed zipper fish, My Bologna has a first name, pastrami pole vault, pink and purple station wagon of desire, pork flute, pudding slinger, purple-headed womb-ferret, purple-veined clarinet, rodeo cheeseburger, rug thumper, Sergeant Beefy McManmeat of the 33rd erectile division, single-barreled pump action protein rifle, Snuffaluffagus (foreskinned penis), squirming maggot, texas peensaw massacre, twat jockey, womb broom, tummy banana and of course, the Ten Inches of Papa Giuseppi's Root Medicine! (Would I lie to you?) YouTube

My song, 'Lynetta', sung in French, from the new album 'The Wind Cries Mary,' has won another Sonicbids song contest in the US. That's the second one in a month. People in the States seem to relate to the French language. (Or are they calling it Freedomese?) Mario Gentil translated the lyrics for me. This particular contest was a benefit to raise some money for the Mr Holland's Opus Foundation, and 'Lynetta' goes on a compilation that will be distributed at Midem, the US National Folk Alliance, in Memphis, and South by Southwest. Bonne chance, Lynetta!



Hi Joe
RE: Election in Australia
Fingers crossed for a change from Right-of-Centre to Centre Right (a
pox on 'em all!). Cheers, Margret Roadknight

Dear Joe
Yep, you did it. You turned me off Neil Finn for good. He may be a fine musician (albeit a lousy lyricist) but geeze Louise, how can ANYONE with any public profile not stand up and be counted at this juncture is beyond me. Even those of us who don't have a public profile have to do our bit to dump Howard, rescue the planet, stop the war...and save water (personally I can recommend getting a plumber in - we saved about 300 litres per day just by fixing leaking taps and getting a new showerhead). I liked Crowded House when they were just a little band, a wacky offshoot of Split Enz, putting on one of the most fun and energetic live performances I've ever seen (in one of their first live shows in a little hole-in-the-wall club in Sydney in 1986) that left everyone in the audience literally jumping with the joy of being ALIVE!!!!
But it appears that their fire's gone out (despite the candle-waving) if they're content to trot out safe old hits for brain-dead "apolitical" fans who want to bury their heads in memory lane, while the maniac loose at the wheel of a racist, misogynist, materialist, environmentally rapacious 18-wheeler is on a collision course with the future of the country!!!!! (This from a band who once wrote "In the paper today/ Tales of warrin' and waste / But you turn right over the TV page". I'm still confident that they were criticising, not encouraging, such a practice.)
I still disagree with you about the whole "saying goodbye and then returning" thing - I think their motives on both counts were genuine, as they hadn't really planned on poor old Paul Hester offing himself, and it was only later they genuinely did want to recapture some of their original magic. (By the way, stop torturing yourself with crap like "Four Seasons in One Day" and "Weather With You" - two of the most banal songs ever written - the subject matter says it all - and re-listen to stuff like "Mean To Me", "Into Temptation" and "Chocolate Cake" to find out why people liked them. And another thing - I think he meant "don't kid yourself that it's over" or "don't imagine that it's over" if that helps you avoid that annoying "this song doesn't make any sense" feeling while listening to you-know-what. Which is actually a great pop song with a message of hope and optimism in the face of oppression, in my opinion - quite apt for the anti-war movement just as it is, in fact.)

Anyway, on another topic entirely, you may wish to investigate The Natural Confectionary Company's jelly snakes  website which are apparently made without artificial colours or flavours. Also they seem like a nice company (like they don't advertise during children's programmes etc etc).

Unfortunately my fabulous Frida-esque facial hair and I will be unable to make it to Melbourne [for the DIFFICULT WOMEN 'Frida Kahlo Look-a-Like Contest'] but hope it's a night of high-brow entertainment (boom boom!!!)
Cheers, Justine Stewart

Dear Joe,
Re: The Problem with Outsourcing ...
Was depressed last night so I called the Samaritans. Got a call centre in Pakistan. Told them I was suicidal. They got all excited and asked if I could fly a plane. (boom boom!!!) Alex Smith

Dear Joe,
I'm a big fan, your writing is articulate and intelligent, please keep it up, Tim from London



SEX (what's funnier than that?)

1. "I'm a terrible lover. I've actually given a woman an anti-climax." (Scott Roeben)
2. "I love sex. It's free and doesn't require special shoes." (Anonymous)
3. "Sexual intercourse is kicking death in the ass while singing." (Charles Bukowski)
4. "Despite a lifetime of service to the cause of sexual liberation, I have never caught venereal disease, which makes me feel rather like an Arctic explorer who has never had frostbite." (Germaine Greer)
5. "I think sex is better than logic, but I can't prove it." (Anonymous)
6. "For me, love is very deep, but sex only has to go a few inches." (Stacy Nelkin)
7. "Housework is like bad sex. Every time I do it I swear I will never do it again. Until the next time company comes." (Marilyn Sokol)
8. "There is nothing safe about sex. There never will be." (Norman Mailer)
9. "It's hard to be funny when you have to be clean." (Mae West)
10. "There's nothing inherently dirty about sex, but if you try real hard and use your imagination you can overcome that." (Lewis Grizzard)
11. "For flavor, instant sex will never supercede the stuff you have to peel and cook." (Quentin Crisp)
12. "Sex and golf are the two things you can enjoy even if you're not good at them." (Kevin Costner, Tin Cup)
13. "Just saying 'no' prevents teenage pregnancy the way 'Have a nice day' cures chronic depression." (Faye Wattleton)
14. "I like my sex the way I play basketball, one on one with as little dribbling as possible." (Leslie Nielsen)
15. "Science is a lot like sex. Sometimes something useful comes of it, but that's not the reason we're doing it." (Richard Feynman)
16. "If sex doesn't scare the cat, you're not doing it right." (Anonymous)
17. "Sex always has consequences. When Hitler's mother spread her legs that night, she effectively canceled out the spreading of fifteen to twenty million other pairs of legs." (George Carlin)
18. "I've tried several varieties of sex. The conventional position makes me claustrophobic and the others give me a stiff neck or lockjaw." (Tallulah Bankhead)

Australians Named Worst Emitters
The inventory lists CO2 emissions from more than 4,000 companies A study of the world's power stations has shown the extent to which developed countries produce more carbon dioxide per head than emerging economies. Australians were found to be the world's worst polluters per capita, producing five times as much CO2 from generating power as China. article



A Panel of Doctors

When a panel of doctors was asked to vote on adding a new wing to their hospital -
the Allergists voted to scratch it
and the Dermatologists advised not to make any rash moves.
The Gastroenterologists had sort of a gut feeling about it,
but the Neurologists thought the administration had a lot of nerve,
and the Obstetricians felt they were all laboring under a misconception.
The Ophthalmologists considered the idea shortsighted;
the Pathologists yelled, 'Over my dead body',
while the Pediatricians said, 'Oh, Grow up!'
The Psychiatrists thought the whole idea was madness,
the Radiologists could see right through it,
and the Surgeons decided to wash their hands of the whole thing.
The Internists thought it was a bitter pill to swallow,
and the Plastic Surgeons said, 'This puts a whole new face on the matter.'
The Podiatrists thought it was a step forward,
but the Urologists felt the scheme wouldn't hold water.
The Anesthesiologists thought the whole idea was a gas
and the Cardiologists didn't have the heart to say no.

In the end, the Proctologists left the decision up to some asshole
in administration.
(thanks to Michael Leone & Nadia Wright)


The White Man Unburdened
by Norman Mailer

The following essay by Norman Mailer was published in July 2003 issue of The New York Review of Books. Mailer passed away on November 10th 2007.

Exeunt: lightning and thunder, shock and awe. Dust, ash, fog, fire, smoke, sand, blood, and a good deal of waste now move to the wings. The stage, however, remains occupied. The question posed at curtain-rise has not been answered. Why did we go to war? If no real weapons of mass destruction are found, the question will keen in pitch.Or, if some weapons are uncovered in Iraq, it is likely that even more have been moved to new hiding places beyond the Iraqi border. Should horrific events take place, we can count on a predictable response: "Good, honest, innocent Americans died today because of evil al-Qaeda terrorists." Yes, we will hear the President's voice before he even utters such words. (For those of us who are not happy with George W. Bush, we may as well recognize that living with him in the Oval Office is like being married to a mate who always says exactly what you know in advance he or she is going to say, which helps to account for why more than half of America now appears to love him.)

The key question remains-why did we go to war? It is not yet answered. The host of responses has already produced a cognitive stew. But the most painful single ingredient at the moment is, of course, the discovery of the graves. We have relieved the world of a monster who killed untold numbers, mega-numbers, of victims. Nowhere is any emphasis put upon the fact that many of the bodies were of the Shiites of southern Iraq who have been decimated repeatedly in the last twelve years for daring to rebel against Saddam in the immediate aftermath of the Gulf War. Of course, we were the ones who encouraged them to revolt in the first place, and then failed to help them. Why? There may have been an ongoing argument in the first Bush administration which was finally won by those who believed that a Shiite victory over Saddam could result in a host of Iraqi imams who might make common cause with the Iranian ayatollahs, Shiites joining with Shiites! Today, from the point of view of the remaining Iraqi Shiites, it would be hard for us to prove to them that they were not the victims of a double cross. So they may look upon the graves that we congratulate ourselves for having liberated as sepulchral voices calling out from their tombs-asking us to take a share of the blame. Which, of course, we will not.article



A Punnet of Puns

1. A vulture boards an airplane, carrying two dead raccoons. The stewardess looks at him and says, "I'm sorry, sir, only one carrion allowed per passenger."

2. Did you hear about the Buddhist who refused Novocain during a root canal? His goal: transcend dental medication.

3. A group of friars were behind on their belfry payments, so they
opened up a small florist shop to raise funds. Since everyone liked to
buy flowers from the men of God, a rival florist across town thought
the competition was unfair.. He asked the good fathers to close down,
but they would not. He went back and begged the friars to close. They
ignored him. So, the rival florist hired Hugh MacTaggart, the roughest
and most vicious thug in town to "persuade" them to close. Hugh beat up
the friars and trashed their store, saying he'd be back if they didn't
close up shop. Terrified, they did so, thereby proving that only Hugh can prevent
florist friars.

4. Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which
produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very
little, which made him rather frail and, with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath. This made him a super calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.


How Dry We Are
A Question No One Wants to Raise About Drought
by Tom Engelhardt

Georgia's on my mind. Atlanta, Georgia. It's a city in trouble in a state in trouble in a region in trouble. Water trouble. Trouble big enough that the state government's moving fast. Just this week, backed up by a choir singing "Amazing Grace," accompanied by three protestant ministers, and 20 demonstrators from the Atlanta Freethought Society, Georgia's Baptist Governor Sonny Perdue led a crowd of hundreds in prayers for rain. "We've come together here," he said, "simply for one reason and one reason only: To very reverently and respectfully pray up a storm." It seems, however, that the Almighty - He "who can and will make a difference" - was otherwise occupied and the regional drought continued to threaten Atlanta, a metropolis of 5 million people (and growing fast), with the possibility that it might run out of water in as little as 80 days or as much as a year, if the rains don't come.

Here's a little summary of the situation today:

Water rationing has hit the capital. Car washing and lawn watering are prohibited within city limits. Harvests in the region have dropped by 15-30%. By the end of summer, local reservoirs and dams were holding 5% of their capacity.

Oops, that's not Atlanta, or even the southeastern U.S. That's Ankara, Turkey, hit by a fierce drought and high temperatures that also have had southern and southwestern Europe in their grip.

Sorry, let's try that again. Imagine this scenario:

Over the last decade, 15-20% decreases in precipitation have been recorded. These water losses have been accompanied by record temperatures and increasing wildfires in areas where populations have been growing rapidly. A fierce drought has settled in - of the hundred-year variety. Lawns can be watered but just for a few hours a day (and only by bucket); four-minute showers are the max allowed. Car washes are gone, though you can clean absolutely essential car windows and mirrors by hand.

Sound familiar? As it happens, that's not the American southeast either; that's a description of what's come to be called "The Big Dry" - the unprecedented drought that has swept huge parts of Australia, the worst in at least a century on an already notoriously dry continent, but also part of the world's breadbasket, where crops are now failing regularly and farms closing down. article


Extracts from The Profanisaurus

1. Aurora Tandoorialis n. The brightly - coloured, incandescent halo visible around the rectum of a curry enthusiast.
2. Office Meerkats - Infantile males who repeatedly sit up in their chairs to watch good looking birds walking by outside the office.
3. Bog Ostrich - person who spends the latter part of the evening with their head stuck in the lavatory.
4. Tube Strike - That time of the month.
5. Spam Castanets - labia
6. Wank Chariot - single bed normally found in student accommodation.
7. Pamela Handerson - dream date for a cruise in the wank chariot.
8. Frankston Dishwashing - pissing in the sink.
9. Gusset Typist - female masturbatress.
(Thanks to Joe Creighton)




Paul Anka was interviewed recently in SONGWRITER MAGAZINE in the States, and asked how he wrote 'My Way.'

He said he was living in France and heard a popular French song called 'Comme d'Habitude' on the radio. The lyrics were something like, ' . . . I get up in the morning, and I look at your armpit.' Very French, as he said! But he heard a different lyric to the music and asked the publisher if he could publish and rewrite it for the US market. Nothing happened for a long time. He put it on the back burner.
Years later, Anka was in Florida doing a show and Frank Sinatra called him up. He told him that he was doing one more album then quitting the business. Sinatra hated pop music, he said - rock, and Elvis. Anka remembered the French song he had once heard, found it in his files, transposed it for the piano, and began recasting the lyrics into something closer to his own idea. It was 1:00 am in the morning. He kept thinking - what would Frank say if he was writing this?

'And now the end is near . . .'

He said the song wrote itself. (This is what I have referred previously to as writing withing a clear context and creating a character within that context!)

These lyrics were a dialogue that Paul Anka himself would have never used but in the personae of how he imagined Frank Sinatra talking. He sent it to Sinatra.

Three months later, Frank Sinatra called him up and played his recording over the phone. Anka started crying.




1. Fools rush in where fools have been before.
2. To avoid duplication, make three copies.
3. It's called "take home" pay because you can't afford to go anywhere else with it.
4. Anyone can be a winner-unless, of course, there's a second entry.
5. The slower you work, the fewer mistakes you make.
6. If you look like your passport picture, you probably need the trip.
7. It's OK to let your mind go blank, but please turn off the sound.
8. Middle age is when broadness of the mind and narrowness of the waist change places.
9.When you're getting kicked from behind, that means you're in front.
10. Misers aren't much fun to live with, but they make great ancestors.
11. The real reason you can't take it with you is that it goes before you do.
12. Junk is something you throw away three weeks before you need it.
13. Hospitality is making your guests feel at home, even if you wish they were.
14. The world is full of willing people-some willing to work and some willing to let them.
15. A babysitter is a teenager acting like an adult while the adults are out acting like teenagers.
16. Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you a mechanic.
17. Experience is a wonderful thing. It enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again.
18. All the good ones, no matter what it is, are taken.
19. The one who snores will fall asleep first.
20. The length of a marriage is inversely proportional to the amount of money spent on the wedding.
21. The gifts you buy your spouse are never as good and apropos as the gifts your neighbor buys their spouse.
22. Never get overly excited about a man/woman by just the way they look from behind.
23. If you help a relative in need they will remember you the next time they are in need.
24. The probability of meeting someone you know increases greatly when you are out with someone you do not want to be seen with.
25. Some people are like blisters. They don't show up until the work is done.

(And this one is so profound, it deserves framing:)

26. Opportunities always look bigger going than coming.



I don't know what you guys are paying for gasoline....Here in California we are also paying higher, up to $3.50 per gallon. But my line of work is in petroleum for about 31 years now, so here are some tricks to get more of your money's worth for every gallon.

Here at the Kinder Morgan Pipeline where I work in San Jose , CA we deliver about 4 million gallons in a 24-hour period thru the pipeline. One day is diesel the next day is jet fuel, and gasoline, regular and premi um grades. We have 34-storage tanks here with a total capacity of 16,800,000 gallons.

Only buy or fill up your car or truck in the early morning when the ground temperature is still cold. Remember that all service stations have their storage tanks buried below ground. The colder the ground the more dense the gasoline, when it gets warmer gasoline expands, so buying in the afternoon or in the evening....your gallon is not exactly a gallon. In the petroleum business, the specific gravity and the temperature of the gasoline, diesel and jet fuel, ethanol and other petroleum products plays an important role. A 1-degree rise in temperature is a big deal for this business. But the service stations do not have temperature compensation at the pumps.

When you're filling up d o not squeeze the trigger of the nozzle to a fast mode. If you look you will see that the trigger has three (3) stages: low, middle, and high. In slow mode you should be pumping on low speed, thereby minimizing the vapors that are created while you are pumping. All hoses at the pump have a vapor return. If you are pumping on the fast rate, some of the liquid that goes to your tank becomes vapor. Those vapors are being sucked up and back into the underground storage tank so you're getting less worth for your money.

One of the most important tips is to fill up when your gas tank is HALF FULL or HALF EMPTY. The reason for this is, the more gas you have in your tank the less air occupying its empty space. Gasoline evaporates faster than you can imagine. Gasoline storage tanks have an internal floating roof. This roof serves as zero clearance between the gas and the atmosphere, so it minimizes the evaporation. Unlike service stations, here where I work, every truck that we load is temperature compensated so that every gallon is actually the exact amount.

Another reminder. If there is a gasoline truck pumping into the storag tanks when you stop to buy gas, DO NOT fill up--most likely the gasoline is being stirred up as the gas is being delivered, and you might pick up some of the dirt that normally settles on the bottom.

Hope this will help you get the most value for your money.
(thanks to Sahyma)


Cowboy Wisdom

1. Don't squat with your spurs on.
2. Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.
3. Letting the cat out of the bag is a whole lot easier than putting it back in.
4. If you're riding ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it's still there.
5. Never drop your gun to hug a grizzly.
6. If you get to thinking you're a person of some influence, try ordering somebody else's dog around.
7. Never kick a cow chip on a hot day.
8. When you give a lesson in meanness to a critter or a person, don't be surprised if they learn their lesson.
9. Never slap a man who's chewing tobacco.
10. When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.
11. When you're throwing your weight around, be ready to have it thrown around by somebody else.
12. Don't worry about biting off more than you can chew. Your mouth is probably a whole lot bigger than you think.
13. Always take a good look at what you're about to eat. It's not so important to know what it is, but it's good to know what it was.
14. It don't take a genius to spot a goat in a flock of sheep.
15. Go after life as if it's something that's got to be roped in a hurry before it gets away.
16. Never get up before breakfast. If you have to get up before breakfast, eat breakfast first.
17. Never miss a good chance to shut up.
18. There are more horses asses than horses.



African Soul Food Zebra and Greens in Peanut Sauce

The ancient Roman Empire included all of Northern Africa. Here's an old Dolce Zulu family recipe. (Probably. If you go far enough back. Ask Robert Leakey.) If your butcher can't get you fresh zebra (try the Melbourne Zoo), you can substitute kosher giraffe, but it won't taste the same.

' . . Of wild flesh, the favourite is that of the zebra; it is smoked or jerked, despite which it retains a most savory flavour.' Chapter XVIII - Village Life in Africa

Palm oil (peanut oil, or hippopotamus fat will substitute)
1 pound Zebra meat
1 cup peanut butter, or peanuts
Lots of greens: cassava leaves, kale, collard greens, or turnip greens, stems removed and cleaned.
African hot sauce (or cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes. See recipe below.)

If you are using peanuts, make your own peanut butter by removing the shells and roasting the peanuts on a baking sheet in a hot oven or on the stove, stirring often. Remove the skins. Place in a saucepan with enough water to cover and bring to a slow boil, stirring often. Reduce heat. Crush peanuts with a potato masher.

Bring greens to boil. In a separate pot, saute meat in oil, reduce heat. Add greens to meat, cover and simmer for an hour. When greens are nearly cooked, pour out most of the water and add the peanut butter paste and spices. Simmer on very low heat.

Serve with Fufu. (Yam, plantain or cassava balls, served as a substitute for bread. Polenta will subsitute.)

African Hot Sauce
1 doz red hot peppers
1 small green pepper (bell pepper)
1 clove garlic
1 medium onion
2 cans tomato paste
4 tble vinegar
1 teas salt
1 teas sugar

Remove stems and seeds from peppers. Careful! Wear gloves and do not touch your eyes or the genitals of a lion. If this should happen, wash your hands with soap and water quickly, and run like fuckin' hell. Pound peppers, garlic and onions in a mortar and pestle. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and simmer for an hour or two. Add cayenne pepper. Put in jars and refrigerate.


I gave myself to him,
And took himself for pay.
The solemn contract of a life
Was ratified this way

The value might disappoint,
Myself a poorer prove
Than this my purchaser suspect,
The daily own of Love

Depreciates the sight;
But, 'til the merchant buy,
Still fabled, in the isles of spice
The subtle cargoes lie.

At least, 'tis mutual risk,-
Some found it mutual gain;
Sweet debt of Life,- each night to owe,
Insolvent, every noon.

~ Emily Dickinson ~



proximo sed nolo fumigare
(LATIN: Close, but no cigar)