Today is Friday the Thirteenth. My birthday. That must explain why I am the way I am. (Either that, or I was born of a jackal and had a dead twin, co-joined at the head, which was removed at birth and the knowledge kept from me . . . . . but that's unlikely.)
Anyone afraid of this day? If so, it's called paraskavedekatriaphobia, a specialized form of triskaidekaphobia, a phobia of the number thirteen. Now you know.
The origins of the connection between the number thirteen and ill fortune are similarly obscure. Many different sources for the superstition surrounding the number thirteen have been posited, the most common stemming from another Christian source, the Last Supper, at which Judas Iscariot was said to have been the thirteenth guest to sit at the table. (Judas later betrayed Jesus, leading to His crucifixion, and then took his own life.)
Some well known people died on Friday the thirteenth:
Diamond Jim Brady, Benny Goodman, Arnold Schoenberg and Tupac Shakur.
People born on Friday the thirteenth include:
Samuel Beckett, Joh Bjelke-Petersen, John Hammond, Thomas Jefferson, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen ... and Fidel Castro.
So Fidel Castro was born on the same day as me? A Libra libre. Talk about synchronicity! I wonder if that might influence my appeal to Papi to 'pull a string' with the publisher who is blocking me from recording 'Guantanamo Bay' (my adaption of 'Guantanamera'.) Esse. Vatos. Carnale.
FAVOURITE READER COMMENTS OF THE WEEK
Couldn't resist passing this on to you...I have heard people refer to Dubya as:
George W. Merkin
If you know what a merkin is then you will see why. If you don't, you can look up the word at the
following WEBSITE. All the best, Candy
RE: Open Letter to Fidel Castro
Too F-ing funny, my friend. Best, JJ
(Note: JJ, Thanks for your ongoing encouragement. I ACTUALLY sent that letter off to Cuba yesterday - with a request to have it forwarded to Mr Castro Oil himself - in care of The Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Felipe Ramón Pérez Roque, and the two biggest newspapers over there: Granma and Trabaja. (Folks, in case you didn't know, JJ is a longtime schoolmate of mine from Painesville, Ohio. But I don't think everyone in Ohio understands aussie-style irony however as I got an email from another schoolmate on my list, D.D. with simply this: DELETE !!! (Hey Donald, lighten the fuck up!)
You've outdone yourself with this issue of the newsletter, esp the plaintive missive to Fidel! I'm wondering if I should ask my Spanish/English translator friend to translate it into Spanish, but then I wondered if she would have to translate all your Spanglish back into....uhh, I'm not sure what. Anyway, I hope comrade Fidel not only gets a good laugh out of it, as I did, but joins your noble cause and tells the donut-eating, Perrier-sipping capo publishers to go jump in the Bay, or words to that effect.
I also just thought of something really awful - what if the Republican party decided to adapt 'Shaddapa Ya Face' into a campaign song for the next election?-
(yes, okay, needs work but whaddya expect?
It was written by a bunch of GOP supporters...theoretically, at least)
So, would you let them do it? Unlikely as this moral dilemma may be, I thought you should enlighten your readers as to what you should do in such a situation. (Personally, I'd tell them to stick a Cuban cigar where....no, hang on, it's the Democrats that go in for that sort of thing....maybe just a formal refusal.) Best regards, Justine S
(Note: Well, Justine, I already went through a similar moral dilemma when I found out that George W Bush, and both of his daughters' favourite country singer was Texan Robert Earl King Jr, who last year released one of MY songs, 'My Home Ain't in the Hall of Fame', as the lead single off his album, 'Gravitational Forces'. I had to logically assume, therefore, that the Bushes were playing my song around the White House. How did I feel about it? I went through a lot more toilet paper that week but I don't know if that tells you anything useful. I would much rather prefer that Dubya listen to 'Shaddap You Face' however and - hopefully - take the advice contained therein.)
Re: Che Fece(se)
Good stuff, thanks, Dennis W
Re: Che Fece(se)
Where you goin' with gun in your hand? - sorry, I couldn't help that. I'm new to your weekly missive and glad to be. Just one thing. In the 2nd line of 'Che Fece' [the poem], should the fourth word be "say" ? I'm a recovering Scot and it reads like the preposition "do" spoken in 'ma auld tung'. This is not a deal-breaker but it's completely upset my day. See, people do read your stuffisimo. Best Walter S.
Re: Che Fece(se)
[You wrote] " . . as Bach (being a Lutheran) did not conform his Mass to the traditional catholic mass structure. But hundreds of years later, this awesome work forms one of the cornerstones of Western music.. ." For my money, it's THE cornerstone! Newt W
(Note: Newt, then the KEYSTONE has to be 'The St Matthew Passion'. Actually, there's a lot of stones in Bach's work. A whole celestial quarry.)
FAVOURITE 'REVIEW' OF THE WEEK
This is from Dai Woosnam's weekly UK newsletter:
" Now for my regular plundering of 'Joe
Dolce Peace & Love Weekly'. At his best, Joe Dolce rivals
the great Kinky Friedman in that wonderfully accurate application
of what Papa Hemingway called his IBSD (his In-Built S*** Detector).
Not much escapes his eye. And also like Friedman, JD has a nicely
unhinged quality to his humour. . . First there is a perfectly
serious and rather good - re-working of the song that is
played wall-to-wall in Cuba, "Guantanamera";
then an absorbing history lesson; and finally an inspired
and often laugh-aloud funny - "open letter" to Fidel
Castro, following the turning down of Joe's request for permission
to record it. . .
Before I got married (and that was as late as 1992) I travelled around Cuba. I recall the Cuban people with HUGE affection.. . But do you know what drove me mad? Only one thing. That BLASTED song! A song I had loved for years PRIOR to going to Cuba, having learned it in the 60s from Pete Seeger's wonderful "Strangers and Cousins" LP. But nothing prepared me for the extent it was played me in Cuba. Just me one solitary gringo turning up in a hotel reception, and that would be cause enough for a band to suddenly materialise from behind the interior palm tree in the atrium, all earnestly looking at me and singing those words just at ME, and singing them for the millionth time (yet to their great credit, singing them as though it was the FIRST time they had ever sung them). And so I was well-and-truly "Guantanamera-ed" OUT, by the time I came to leave that wonderful country. But it was typical of 'Joe Dolce Peace & Love Weekly', that as so often, it ended up teaching me something. And it was this. 'Guantanamera' actually means 'Girl from Guantanamo Bay.' Gosh! What a duffer I am! I had made no link between the bay and the song! "
One of the most persistent and cowardly arguments given by politicians for the use of carpet bombing, smart bombing, and even the atomic bombs dropped on Japan has been that it would ultimately save soldiers lives rather than have them at risk in long protracted hand-to-hand fighting on the ground.
When I hear this argument, only one word comes into my mind: DISHONOUR. Why? Because it is dishonourable for soldiers to kill innocent people, old people, pregnant women, grandparents, babies, and children - in order to minimize danger to their own lives. Soldiers are SUPPOSED to fight soldiers. In harm's way. That's what honour is all about. Not hiding behind a pram, until it's safe to go out there. The greater the damn progress in technological weaponry throughout history, the more the concept of honour has faded into the distance, replaced by expediency, and ultimately, immoral decisions by non-combatant politicians and cowards.
The Supreme Commander of the US forces during World War II, and future president of the US, General Dwight D Eisenhower was publicly AGAINST the use of atomic weapons on Japan.
"...in [July] 1945... Secretary of War Stimson, visit[ed] my headquarters in Germany . . . During his recitation of the relevant facts, I had been conscious of a feeling of depression and so I voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives. It was my belief that Japan was, at that very moment, seeking some way to surrender with a minimum loss of 'face'. The Secretary was deeply perturbed by my attitude..." - Dwight Eisenhower, Mandate For Change
"...the Japanese were ready to surrender and it wasn't necessary to hit them with that awful thing." - Ike on Ike, Newsweek, 1963
"It is my opinion that the use of this
barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material
assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already
defeated and ready to surrender because of the effective sea blockade
and the successful bombing with conventional weapons. . . . The
lethal possibilities of atomic warfare in the future are frightening.
My own feeling was that in being the first to use it, we had adopted
an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages.
I was not taught to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot
be won by destroying women and children."
Admiral William D. Leahy, Chief of Staff to Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman
MacArthur biographer William Manchester has described [General Doulgas] MacArthur's reaction to the issuance by the Allies of the Potsdam Proclamation to Japan:
"...the Potsdam declaration in July, demand[ed]
that Japan surrender unconditionally or face 'prompt and utter
destruction.' MacArthur was appalled. He knew that the Japanese
would never renounce their Emperor, and that without him an orderly
transition to peace would be impossible anyhow, because his people
would never submit to Allied occupation unless he ordered it.
Ironically, when the surrender did come, it was conditional, and
the condition was a continuation of the Imperial Reign. Had the
General's advice been followed, the resort to atomic weapons at
Hiroshima and Nagasaki might have been unnecessary."
William Manchester, American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880-1964
Man of Peace Dies
Scientist Who Turned Back on A-bomb Project
by Ian Sample
Scientists yesterday paid tribute to Sir Joseph Rotblat, the nuclear physicist and Nobel peace prize winner who resigned from the Manhattan Project to become a campaigner for nuclear disarmament. He died peacefully in his sleep on Wednesday at his London home, aged 96.
Polish born, Rotblat started work on nuclear weapons at Liverpool University in 1939. He moved to Los Alamos, the US nuclear weapons laboratory and joined the Manhattan project, in the belief that a nuclear bomb was the only realistic deterrent against the Nazis who were also pursuing the bomb.
"In 1944, when I learned the Germans had given up the project, the whole rationale for my being there disappeared," Sir Joseph told the Guardian this year.
He became the only scientist to resign from the project and was accused by the US of being a spy. (more) article
You know those phone calls you get just around dinner time every night from India and such asking if you need insurance or want a different telephone service? There is a big movement happening in finding the most 'creative' way to handle these people. Here are a few examples:
CrazyWoman.mp3 (8 MB but worth it! One possessed woman!)
Stephen King Reading List 2006
I don't read a lot of Stephen King, but I like him. Primarily for his great book, 'On Writing,' about the craft of writing, but especially for his recommended reading lists. The 'Stephen King Annual Book Awards'. King does a LOT of reading of other writers' work. If it wasn't for the great blurb he wrote on the cover of the 'Red Dragon,' by Thomas Harris, ("best popular novel since The Godfather.") I would have never risked buying it in the airport lounge way back when and discovered one of the best crime thrillers ever written. This was long before 'Silence of the Lambs' and any film adaptions.) It still is my all time favourite book in this style, with much more depth and subtlety than any of the films.
So when Stephen King recommends something as worth reading, I pay attention. Of course, he's not always right for my taste, but I always investigate his recommendations - just in case. Even stumbing on one great book or writer is worth going through ten that aren't right. And he does a lot of the heavy lifting by sifting through hundreds of titles for you.
His latest recommendations include the following:
1. Best Movie Tie In - 'All the King's
Men' by Robert Penn Warren. (New film remake with Sean Penn).
2. Best Historical Novelist - Wilbur Smith.
3. Best Private Eye: Sue Grafton's alphabet books. ('A is for Alibi', etc.)
4. Best All-Around Hard Boiled Detective Stories: Michael Connelly books.
5. Best Suspense (with undercurrents of horror): Ruth Rendell (who also writes as Barbara Vine.) Recommended Books: 'A Sight For Sore Eyes', (and 'The Minotaur', as Vine.)
6. Best Horror Novelist: Bentley Little. Recommended Books: 'The Store' and 'Dispatch'.
7. Best Sci-Fi: Robert Charles Wilson. Recommended Books: 'Spin', 'Darwinia', 'Blind Lake'.
8. Best Western Writer: Larry McMurtry. Recommended Books: 'Lonesome Dove' series. 'Berrybender Narratives'.
9. Best Memoirist: Mary Karr. Recommended Books: 'The Liars Club', and 'Cherry'.
10. Best Romance: Nora Roberts. Recommended Books: 'Carnal Innocence'.
11. Best Book: 'The Ruins,' by Scott Smith. Recommended: 'A Simple Plan.'
So what have I read out of this list that I can recommend to you from MY personal experience?
Michael Connelly -'The Lincoln Lawyers'
and 'The Poet'.
Bentley Little - 'Dispatch'.
Robert Charles Wilson - everything! I never heard of him before but I LOVE him now. The two mentioned above. Also, 'Bios.' And my favourite, so far - 'Bridge of Years' - an unbelievable time travel thriller!
Larry McMurtry - everything! The finest American western writer alive. Start with the 'Lonesome Dove' books (4). Also, 'Buffalo Girls' (Calamity Jane), 'Zeke and Ned', and 'Anything for Billy' (Billy the Kid).
Scott Smith - 'The Ruins'. No chapters. A continuous, one sitting read. 'Does for Mexican vacations what Jaws did for the ocean.'
But, if you haven't discovered the original 'Red Dragon,' by Thomas Harris, read that one before anything!
The Evolution of Song
Folks songs are supposed to evolve over time. Why do you think copyright eventually expires? The restriction recently imposed on me forbidding me to record my adaption of 'Guantanamera' into 'Guantanamo Bay' shows how paranoid publishers have become in the past two decades. This is the way it used to be:
I included a version of 'If You Want to Be Happy' on my very first album, in 1980, with some new lyrics, with an Italian-flavour to them. Mainly because I couldn't remember the original lyrics and this was before the days of the internet when it was easier to track down these kind of things. I also did not ask permission to change the lyrics.
'If You Want to Be Happy' was written by Frank J. Guida and was originally a Number 1 hit for Jimmy Soul. Born on August 24, 1942 in Weldon, NC, Jimmy Soul became a preacher at the age of seven and performed gospel as a teenager, becoming known locally as "the Wonder Boy." His talent was noticed by Frank Guida, engineer of the legendary Norfolk sound, and was recruited to record some of the calypso-based songs that Guida had hand-picked for one of his other hit artists, Gary U.S. Bonds. Soul's only two charting hits were both Bonds' cast-offs, 1962's "Twistin' Matilda" and 1963's number one hit "If You Wanna Be Happy."
"The calypso influence is most evident in many of Guida's productions," says U.K. writer Brian Walsh, current working on a book on "The Norfolk Sound." "It is possible to trace the origins of the melodies to numerous songs from Trinidad 'If You Wanna Be Happy' is an amalgam of two songs, the most famous being 'Ugly Woman.'"article
After my album was released in America, I received this letter from the legendary Frank Guida himself! -
'"If You Want to Be Happy" has got to be as good if not just a wee better than 'Shaddap You Face'. Frankly I never dreamed anyone could come up with such a great and incredibly different arrangement. Sure, the new lyrics are excellent but the whole Italo-Anglo melodic fusion is absolutely fantastic. As a hard-nosed and proud Italian-American, I do not in anyway find it offensive or demeaning. Would you believe that I am a charter member of the National Italian American Foundation and not more that two weeks ago, I informed our president in Washington, D.C., Frank Stella, that Joe Dolce's next release would be one I wrote!!' Frank J. Guida
Photos of celebrities . . . eating. (Hey?
Something to do, if you're bored.)
(thanks to John Jacobs)
Baccalà Alla Senape
(Baccalà with Mustard)
Mustard is relatively uncommon in Italian cooking. It will serve 4.
* 1 1/2 pounds soaked, skinned baccalà
* 1/2 cup unsalted butter
* An onion, finely minced
* 1 cup meat broth
* 1-2 tablespoons mustard (to taste)
* Salt and pepper to taste
* 1/2 cup flour
* 1 1/2 cups boiled rice
* Minced parsley for garnishing
Boil the baccalà for 10-15 minutes (figure 10 minutes per every inch - 2.5 cm - of thickness of the fish, measured at its thickest point), drain it, and cut it into bite- size pieces, picking out the bones.
Cover and keep warm. Meanwhile, cook the rice and prepare the sauce: Sauté the onion in the butter, and when the onion has turned a light gold, strain the butter into a small pot (you can discard the onion). Whisk the broth, mustard, salt, pepper, and half the flour into the butter and heat the sauce over a low flame, stirring and whisking more flour into it if need be it shouldn't be liquid, but it shouldn't be too thick either.
Lay a bed of rice in your serving dish, arrange the baccalà over it, pour the sauce over it, sprinkle the parsley over it, and serve with a vegetable or a tossed green salad.
The Final Hurrah
Two Sperms Went Into a Bar
One day two Sperms were swimming vigorously and one Sperm asks
"How much further do we have until we reach the egg??"
The other Sperm replies: "I dunno, but I think we just
passed the tonsils!!
(thanks to Joe Stead)