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November 9th, 2007

Light-Haired Detour Off the Information SuperHighway

'Illiud Latine dici non potest'
(You can't say that in Latin)


Dear Folks,

Dolce Stil Novo (Italian for 'The Sweet New Style') is the name given to the most important literary movement of thirteenth-century Italy. The adoration of the female beauty is explicitly portrayed by the Dolce Stil Novo poet, who frequently delves into deep introspection. Petrarch and Dante are considered the fathers of the Renaissance.

The importance of the Dolce Stil Novo lies in the fact that apart from being the manifestation of the first true literary tradition in Italy, it nobilitated the tuscan vernacular, which was soon destined to become the Italian national language.

The picture that heads this newsletter is of a church announcement board in Houston (whether this is real or not, who cares!) with the words:

"Staying in bed and shouting 'Oh God!'
Does not constitute going to church.'

The first thing my partner Lin said about that was, 'Why not?'

Lin has also said one of my other favourite bits of surrealistic sexual profundity:

"I'm so busy, I could fuck air."

Think about that one.

All this raises the logical question: what do people who believe in other Deities, or Non-believers, scream out during sex?

Do Atheists yell, 'Oh . . . . NOTHING!!!!'

What about Scientists? Do they scream, 'Oh, Big Bang me, you big bitching ball of gas!'

Do Scientologists moan, 'Oh, Clear me, L. Ron!' ? or 'Oh, Xenu, you nasty alien, slam me into that fucking Volcano!'
(Can you hear Katy saying this to Tom?)

What about Buddhists? 'Roll me over, Fat Man, and grind me, Llama-style!'

Do Pagans say: 'Oh yeah! Do me, Corn God!'
Ancestor Worship: 'Take me, Great-Great-Great-Great Grandfather on My Mother's Side!'
American Indians: 'Face of Horse is coming, Great Spirit! Hy-a hy-a hy-a . . . '
Muslims: ' Oh Oh! I can't say the Name or make a Graven Image, but it feels AKBAR!'

How about Hindis? 'I am wishing you a Merry Christmas, I am wishing you a Merry Christmas!"


Frida Kahlo Look-a-Like Contest


'By far, the best touring show to make it to the shire interior, having played to packed houses at the inaugural Women's Festival. If you missed this one before, don't make the repeat error. TRULY STIRRING!' Byron Shire Echo

DIFFICULT WOMEN is doing a special show at The Artery in Fitzroy, VIC, on Saturday, December 15th, and we are once again featuring 'The Frida Kahlo Look-a-Like Contest.' This was sold out last year and this time it is open to both men and women, and there will be substantial PRIZES - but limited seating. The night also includes a full performance of DIFFICULT WOMEN at Fitzroy's most intimate and charming venue. Tickets are only $15. We are looking for contestants so if you are interested in competing, start growing your eyebrows and email me to take part or to book. Difficult Women

The font Woody Allen uses in the majority of his films' credit sequences is Windsor-EF Elongated.


Hey Joe,
Subject: Idol Image
look at this picture of Australian Idol contestant - Carl Riseley . I guess whether they like it or not, you had an image in the 80's worth being copied today by those who wants to break through today. Cheers, Mario Gentil, Magesongs Publishing website


Dear Joe,
This just came through from the ABC re Background Briefing info: "KPMG analyst Bernard Salt says that within a few years 30 percent of people will live alone. The accompanying boom in pets is a looming political reality, and may even become an IR issue. It's good news for the pet food business. Already households spend more on pets than on childcare." An 'IR issue'????? How? Cos the pets will think they are the boss? I would have thought maybe more a social issue. And more on pets than childcare? I have three pets, The Red Headed Tarts who are going to be compost if they ever stop laying eggs. The eldest is 7 and she hasn't hit henopause yet. And they talk to me, too. . . . Hugs, Jasmine

Hi Joe,
I always enjoy reading your electronic newsletter. Not quite sure how the connection was made but its always refreshing to get a taste of your honesty and humour amidst the heaviness that so often surrounds us. I imagine that you must be harangued, on a regular basis, about your "Whatsa matta you" days but wanted to convey the cross-cultural significance of the connection. As you well know, the song was a favourite of many Italo-Australian contemporaries. I`m in my mid-forties and played the tape on a regular basis in my late teens and beyond.
Well today, as my Filipino son Daniel and I sat down to a typical improvised (five course) Sicilian lunch with parents Gino and Frances, we reflected on how much Daniel & Gino love to listen to "Shuddupa you face" as they make their way up to Gino`s little vineyard in Kinglake West. I know from your enjoyable and quirky newsletters that you have a heart for social justice.
My wife Catherine and I have been involved in a voluntary health organization called Hands On Health for 20 or so years. Here is the WEBSITE.
It grew from a very simple need to try and provide natural therapies to people who are normally unable to access this type of care. These natural therapies are often more akin to what traditional cultures understood and valued as a road to health. My nonna still uses her herbs in preference to what her GP prescribes. We had a HOH fundraising concert just last week. You may know of singer, song-writer Kavisha Mazzella. Kavisha has been a long-time generous supporter of HOH over many years. She is a dear and generous soul. . . Auguri e abbracci, From one of your long-time admirers, Dein Vindigni

In Arab countries, the Red Cross is called Red Crescent.

Controversial US mercenary organisation, Blackwater, recently kicked out of Iraq, has it's own newsletter.
Here is a typical article:
Islamist protest in N.Y. ­ 'Mushroom cloud on way'
A New York rally by the Islamic Thinkers Society outside the Israeli consulate yesterday featured chants of "The mushroom cloud is on its way! The real holocaust is on its way!" The demonstration by the Queens-based group was monitored by the Investigative Project on Terrorism whose members noted signs including "Islam will Dominate" and a picture with an Islamic flag flying over the White House. (etc . . ) website

Subject: Fire Your Boss and Grow Your Member

American Kids, Dumber than Dirt
Warning: The next generation might just be the biggest pile of idiots in U.S. history
By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist

(Note: This recent article by Mark Morford attracted a strong response from his readers, many of them the 'dumber than dirt' kids he singles out. One such reply follows this excerpt.)

I have this ongoing discussion with a longtime reader who also just so happens to be a longtime Oakland high school teacher, a wonderful guy who's seen generations of teens come and generations go and who has a delightful poetic sensibility and quirky outlook on his life and his family and his beloved teaching career.

And he often writes to me in response to something I might've written about the youth of today, anything where I comment on the various nefarious factors shaping their minds and their perspectives and whether or not, say, EMFs and junk food and cell phones are melting their brains and what can be done and just how bad it might all be.

His response: It is not bad at all. It's absolutely horrifying.

My friend often summarizes for me what he sees, firsthand, every day and every month, year in and year out, in his classroom. He speaks not merely of the sad decline in overall intellectual acumen among students over the years, not merely of the astonishing spread of lazy slackerhood, or the fact that cell phones and iPods and excess TV exposure are, absolutely and without reservation, short-circuiting the minds of the upcoming generations. Of this, he says, there is zero doubt. Nor does he speak merely of the notion that kids these days are overprotected and wussified and don't spend enough time outdoors and don't get any real exercise and therefore can't, say, identify basic plants, or handle a tool, or build, well, anything at all. Again, these things are a given. Widely reported, tragically ignored, nothing new. . . . . . He cites studies, reports, hard data, from the appalling effects of television on child brain development (i.e.; any TV exposure before 6 years old and your kid's basic cognitive wiring and spatial perceptions are pretty much scrambled for life), to the fact that, because of all the insidious mandatory testing teachers are now forced to incorporate into the curriculum, of the 182 school days in a year, there are 110 when such testing is going on somewhere at Oakland High. As one of his colleagues put it, "It's like weighing a calf twice a day, but never feeding it." article
(Thanks to Stephen Ross)

Sample Reply: "Let me say it should not be the job of this current Baby Boomer generation to label MY generation as "dumber than dirt." The leaders of your generation are responsible for pollution and global warming increases, the near brink of nuclear war, the possible ignition of World War III in the Middle East, not passing health care, supplying terrorists with weaponry, taking money out of education and providing no safety nets for globalization. On the other hand, I was out this summer at Rock the Bells. I saw 50,000 people in my generation peacefully watching bands and rappers, not on MTV and not all over Clear Channel. I saw people of all races and colors interacting with one another. I saw people having a great time that would have rivaled any concert generations before. And most of all I saw people who were socially aware and politically active and intelligent. These are the leaders of my generation. Ask yourself whose generation is dumber than dirt and look in the mirror." Dave Madden, 23, San Francisco

Princess Aurora was Sleeping Beauty's real name.

Bioneers to the Rescue
By Kelpie Wilson


Bioneers makes connections between culture and environment. It also encourages a new approach to technology, using a concept called "biomimicry." Biomimicry is technical innovation inspired by nature's designs. One example is new tough materials that are created with a low-temperature process inspired by abalone shell. Another is identifying new medicines by observing what plants a sick chimp or monkey chooses to eat from the forest. Still another example of biomimicry is designing gardens that mimic natural ecosystems for improved productivity in a small space.
Inventor Jay Harman presented a family of designs for fans and impellers based on the natural spirals found in seashells and blossoms. My favorite was a mixer for giant municipal water tanks. When water is stored for long periods, it can stagnate and become unhealthy. Harman's mixer is tiny, barely bigger than my fist. Turning in the middle of the tank, nothing much happens at first, but over time it sets up a natural vortex in the tank that keeps the water circulating and fresh. Harman said even if you stop the mixer, the vortex will keep on spinning for days. article

Iggy Pop's real name is James Newell Osterberg, Jr. He started using Iggy after his first band in high school, the Iguanas.


1. She is not a "BABE" or a "CHICK" - She is a " BREASTED AUSTRALIAN."
2. She is not "EASY" - She is "HORIZONTALLY ACCESSIBLE."
(Note: 'Pre-loved' is good too.)
5 She does not "NAG" you - She becomes "VERBALLY REPETITIVE."
6. She is not a "TWO-BIT HOOKER" - She is a "LOW COST PROVIDER."

1. He does not have a "BEER GUT" - He has developed a "LIQUID GRAIN STORAGE FACILITY."
2. He is not a "BAD DANCER" - He is "OVERLY CAUCASIAN."
4. He is not "BALDING" - He is in "FOLLICLE REGRESSION."
5. He does not act like a "TOTAL ASS" - He develops a case of "RECTAL-CRANIAL INVERSION."
6. It's not his "CRACK" you see hanging out of his pants - It's "REAR CLEAVAGE."
(thanks to Sahyma)

In Hinduism, there are 330 million gods.


This is probably not true ( maybe it is!) but it is a magnificent example of the spin doctors art. It's almost as good as Joe Hockey saying "Their fear campaign is based on lies but our fear campaign is based on facts."

Judy Wallman, a professional genealogical researcher, discovered that Hillary Clinton's great-great uncle, Remus Rodham, was hanged for horse stealing and train robbery in Montana in 1889. The only known photograph of Remus shows him standing on the gallows. On the back of the picture is this inscription:

"Remus Rodham; horse thief, sent to Montana Territorial Prison 1885, escaped 1887, robbed the Montana Flyer six times, caught by Pinkerton Detectives, convicted and hanged in 1889".

When Hillary Clinton was e-mailed for comments, Hillary's staff of Professional Image adjusters sent back the following biographical sketch:

"Remus Rodham was a famous cowboy in the Montana Territory. His business empire grew to include acquisition of valuable equestrian assets and intimate dealings with the Montana railroad. Beginning in 1883, he devoted several years of his life to service at a government facility, finally taking leave to resume his dealings with the railroad. In 1887, he was a key player in a vital investigation run by the renowned Pinkerton Detective Agency. In 1889, Remus passed away during an important civic function when the platform he was standing on collapsed."
(thanks to big fibbin' russell hannah)

Scientists say the higher your I.Q. is the more you dream.

Retrograde, Inversion and Retrograde-Inversion in Composi

'Jews Like Jesus'

Firstly, two quotes, that you may have seen recently in previous newsletters, to set the tone of this week's workshop. These both are important ideas and worth repeating in this Age of Democratic sifting-down to the lowest common denominator of wanting-desperately-to-be-liked, or behaving in such a way as to be the least-offensive-to-the-greatest-number, or the rebel variant: behaving in such a way as to be the most-offensive-to-the-greatest-number, in order to-be-desperately-liked by your own-small-inbred-cult-group.

'For a man to achieve all that is demanded of him he must regard himself as greater than he is.' Goethe

'Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing.' Salvador Dali

This week, I am going to create an entirely new song from Songwriting Workshop 8's rewrite of the lyrics to Kinky Friedman's 'They Ain't Making Jews Like Jesus Anymore.' I suggest that anyone interested in following what I am doing with this, go back and review that article before going further: (Songwriting Workshop 8)

Firstly, let's re-title the song to 'Jews Like Jesus.'. (But let me also say that the title does not have to be changed. There are plenty of songs out there with identical titles, but different themes, lyrics and music.) But I like 'Jews Like Jesus,' which is also a good title in itself, and evocative in a similar way, so why not? It also pays homage to the original, which is a good thing as we aren't trying to steal here, but to take the torch and keep on runnin'.

Next, let's create an original piece of music that suits our new theme. Take it away from the country and western gendre of Kinky's song.

Hmmmmm? What could we use?

I often turn to the principles of retrograde (backwards), inversion (upside down) and inverted retro-grade (backwards and upside down) variations to find additional themes within an existing idea. This was common in baroque times, especially in fugal writing, and even George Martin, the producer of the Beatles, used it often in his arrangements of Beatle songs. (eg The guitar solo in 'Nowhere Man' is simply Martin's inversion of the melody line which he wrote out for George who then played it.)

Eleven years ago, I composed an opera called 'Anna's Box,' from a short story by Lin Van Hek, that had extensive klezmer compositions throughout. One instrumental I came up with for that larger work will also work perfectly for 'Jews Like Jesus.' It is a retrograde and inverted retro-grade variation of that traditional jewish uber-polka, 'Havanagila.' (The tempo and dynamics stay the same, ie. slowing it down and speeding it up for dramatic effect, as you wish.) Below are the revised lyrics to fit the tune. The gypsy modality of this musical scale is eerily perfect for this new song.

Jews Like Jesus

They ain't making Jews like Jesus anymore,
The kind that stand up and say, 'Put an end to War,'
Ain't making Jews like Jesus, Jews like Jesus, Jews like Jesus,
That the earth belongs to the meek,
If you turn the other cheek,
We need more Jews like Jesus, Jews like Jesus, Jews like Jesus.

We need more of the ones that turn Water into Wine,
We need less of the ones that steal Land from Palestine,
Ain't making Jews like Jesus, Jews like Jesus, Jews like Jesus.
More of the ones that Fish,
And less Fundamentalists,
Ain't making Jews like Jesus, Jews like Jesus, Jews like Jesus.

A Jew or two more to raise the Lazarus's from their Graves,
A Jew or two less to bomb Iranians back to Caves,
Ain't making Jews like Jesus, Jews like Jesus, Jews like Jesus,
Give me one that rides a donkey,
Not one on a George Bush monkey,
Give me more Jews like Jesus, Jews like Jesus, Jews like Jesus.

Why are there more Jews like St Saul out there these days?
Ones, that say, 'Thank God, I'm not a woman,' when they pray?
Ain't making Jews like Jesus, Jews like Jesus, Jews like Jesus,
Ones that practice forgiveness,
And don't return a tooth for a fist,
Ain't making Jews like Jesus, Jews like Jesus, Jews like Jesus.

By the way, the melodies that you find using these inversion techniques - unless they have already been copyrighted by someone before you uncover them - are original musical ideas - even though they are derived from existing works. I especially suggest looking very carefully through your OWN material to see how many other interesting musical threads are just sitting there, like gold in a stream, waiting to be picked up - and spun.

If you want to hear another perfectly realised example of this kind of composing, on the second DIFFICULT WOMEN album, 'Black Pepper With a Hint of Violets,' there is a song I wrote from the retrograde melody - and chord progression itself - of the well-known song, 'Michelle', by Lennon and McCartney. My version is called 'Lullabye for a Battered Child,' and although sounds nothing like the original, if you play this recording backwards, you will hear 'Michelle.' Here is the opening guitar theme comparison:.

Fewer than 1% of searchers use the "I'm Feeling Lucky" on Google's homepage.


A man wanted an attack dog to protect his business, so he visited a kennel that specialized in attack dogs. The man explained to the kennel owner that he wanted the biggest, meanest, most vicious dog in the kennel, and the owner offered to take the man on a tour of the premises. After they had been walking for a few minutes, they came upon a large dog. He was snarling loudly and biting and clawing at the cage.
"He looks like he'd be a pretty good attack dog," said the buyer.
"Well, he's not bad," replied the owner, "but I have something better in mind for you."
They continued walking around the premises, and after a while they found an even larger, meaner dog than the first. He snarled at the two men and tried to bite them through the wire on his cage.
"Ah," said the buyer. "This must be the dog you were referring to earlier."
"Well, no," said the owner. "I have something better in mind for you."
The men continued their tour. Eventually, they came upon a fairly large dog that was lying quietly on his side, licking his butt. He did not seem to notice as the men approached.
"This is the dog I had in mind for you," said the owner.
The buyer was flabbergasted.
"You're joking!" he exclaimed. "This dog seems quite tame. He doesn't act at all like an attack dog at all. Hell, he's just lying there, licking his butt!"
"I know, I know," said the owner. "But you see, he just ate a lawyer, and he's trying to get the taste out of his mouth."

Marcel Marceau's real name was Marcel Mangel.

Light-Haired Detour Off the Information SuperHighway Jokes

A Light-Haired Detour Off the Information SuperHighway suspects her boyfriend of cheating on her. She goes to his apartment to check on him, and sure enough, she opens the door to find him in the arms of a buxom redhead. The Light-Haired Detour Off the Information SuperHighway is furious and shattered by his utter duplicity. Overcome with emotion, she brings out a gun and points it at her own temple. The boyfriend yells "No, don't do it! I'm sorry! I love you!" She cocks the hammer and screams, "Shut up! You're next!"

A Light-Haired Detour Off the Information SuperHighway was walking along, when she looked up to observe a bird flying overhead. Suddenly, the bird drops a load directly over her. The Light-Haired Detour Off the Information SuperHighway says, "Good thing I had my mouth open, or that would've hit me right in the face!"

A Light-Haired Detour Off the Information SuperHighway left her car out in a hailstorm. When the storm was over she checked the car and found out it was covered with small dents. She went to the local garage and inquired how to fix the problem. The mechanic jokingly told her to blow on the tailpipe and the dents would be removed. So, she took the car home parked it and proceeded to blow on the pipe. Another Light-Haired Detour Off the Information SuperHighway came by and inquired what she was doing. She told her she was blowing on the tailpipe to remove the dents. The other Light-Haired Detour Off the Information SuperHighway responded, "That's not going to work unless you roll up the windows!"

A Light-Haired Detour Off the Information SuperHighway, about to go on a date, goes into the drug store to buy some condoms - just in case. She walks up to the pharmacist and asks, "How much for a box of condoms?" "They're one dollar for a box of three," he replied, "Plus eight cents for the tax."
"Oh," she said, "I wondered how they kept them on."

One day a Light-Haired Detour Off the Information SuperHighway decided that she had had it with the "Dumb Light-Haired Detour Off the Information SuperHighway" jokes going around. As a result, she decided she would show all the sexists that Light-Haired Detour Off the Information SuperHighways really are smart, so she set out to learn the capitol of each of the states of Australia. A few days later, armed with her new-found knowledge, she overheard the water cooler talk among some co-workers; again brazenly laughing over the lack of Light-Haired Detour Off the Information SuperHighway intellect. Having had her fill, our buxom Light-Haired Detour Off the Information SuperHighway interrupted the group and advised she could prove to them that all Light-Haired Detour Off the Information SuperHighways were not dumb. She said she could give the capitol of any state, and taken aback by her confidence, a gentleman asked her to name the capitol of the state of Victoria.

With a few moments of thought, as confident as could be, she smiled and gleefully stated "V"!

Catoptrophobia is a fear of mirrors.


Cane Rat

I recommend paying a paltry few dollars and downloading the 'Congo Cookbook' compiled by a returned Peace Corps Volunteer - 500 pages of very interesting to completely outrageous ideas. Here's one that is reminiscent of mediaeval cuisine:

Cane Rats or Grasscutters (Thryonomys swinderianus or Thryonomys gregorianus) are common throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. They are valued for their tasty high-protein meat, particularly in Western Africa. Elsewhere, species of field mice are caught and eaten. It should be noted that the species of rats and mice that are valued as a food source in Africa are those that live in the wild (in fields, forests, grasslands, and the like) and not those that live among human populations in villages, towns or cities, which are viewed as pests to be killed and disposed of. Traditionally cane rats are caught in the wild and consumed in rural areas or sold in urban markets like any other bushmeat. Over the past two decades farmers in several African countries have begun raising grasscutters as mini-livestock. Grasscutter meat is usually used in the typical African soups and stews, or roasted.

Place a dozen smoked cane rats (the small field-rat type) in fresh water and soak for 30 minutes.
Prepare a sauce of tomato, onion, pimento and palm oil in a large skillet.
Drain the rats and remove skin and other inedible portions.
Fry for about 20 minutes, turning occasionally until well-cooked.

A true connoisseur eats them piping hot, bone and all!!!
Serving tips: Usually offered as an hors-d'ouvre, they also are delightful arranged on a platter of carrots, lettuce, and cauliflower. Or just slide them on a hot dog bun . . (This recipe originally comes from the Zaire cookbook "Where There is No McDonald's" . . .)

Before that little snack, you might like to try this simple drink to get you in the mood:


Place a bottle of the vodka of your choice, and a wet glass, in the freezer overnight.
To serve: pour a healthy dose of vodka into the iced glass and add one crushed fresh kaffir lime leaf.

There is an old saying that the taste of bitter foods discourages the appetite.

So if you are trying to cut back on the inevitable second helpings of Cane Rat, have a big glass of vodka with kaffir lime leaf first. (Optional: Top up with some Bitter Lemon soft drink and ice if you don't like it neat, or for a cool change.)


If God would stop telling jokes
I might act
~ Tukaram ~
(Love Poems From God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West
by Daniel Ladinsky)




Bono, the lead singer of the band, U2, is famous throughout the entertainment industry for being more than just a little self-righteous.

At a recent U2 concert in Glasgow, Scotland, he asked the audience for total quiet. Then, in the silence, he started to slowly clap his hands, once every few seconds.
Holding the audience in total silence, he said into the microphone,

"Every time I clap my hands, a child in Africa dies."

A voice with a broad Scottish accent from the front of the crowd pierced the quiet......
"Well, stop doin it then, ya evil basturd !"
(thanks to Margret RoadKnight)