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October 19th, 2007


Poodle Brain Euphoria


" . . . Be gentle with your fellow travellers as they move through
the world of stone and stars whirling with you
yet every one alone.
The road waits.
Do not ask questions
but when it invites you to dance at daybreak,
say yes.
Each step is the journey;
a single note the song. "
Arlene Gay Levine



Hi folks,

Scruffy - the Sex Doll for Dogs
Is your dog in heat and humping anything it can wrap its horny little legs around? Are you constantly having to pry your promiscuous pooch off the legs of guests, parents and members of your church? Protect your leg from a hump attack by getting Scruffy, a Hotdoll. Yes, it's a sex doll for dogs. It's shaped like a dog and it'll allow your tension-filled pet to go to town as much as his little heart desires, humping away until he passes out in exhaustion, leaving a wispy coil of friction-singed dog-fur smoke wafting into the air. article



Samuel L. Jackson Interprets the Selected Work of Joe Dolce

I saw a cryingly funny video last night that my brother sent me. Jonathan Ross, on Friday Night With Jonathan Ross, gave actor, Samuel L. Jackson, a copy of the lyrics to Shaddap You Face to read aloud, as though it were a script. Quentin Tarantino is sitting in the background looking a bit puzzled. Too much! myVideo 1 youTube2


My favourite Spam Subject Heading of the Week is also something the Australian Liberal Party ought to be using:

Subject: Extend Your Johnny!


FLASH!!! This unbelievable news just came in!

Supreme Court Gives Gore's Nobel Peace Prize to Bush

October 14, 2007 - Just days after former Vice President Al Gore received the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts on global warming, the United States Supreme Court handed Mr. Gore a stunning reversal, stripping him of his Nobel and awarding it to President George W. Bush instead. For Mr. Gore, who basked in the adulation of the Nobel committee and the world, the high court's decision to give his prize to President Bush was a cruel twist of fate, to say the least. But in a 5-4 decision, the justices made it clear that they had taken the unprecedented step of stripping Mr. Gore of his Nobel because President Bush deserved it more. "It is true that Al Gore has done a lot of talking about global warming," wrote Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority. "But President Bush has actually helped create global warming." article (thanks to Ramon Sender)

This week's Songwriting Workshop 7 will focus on CONTEXT and how it is simple to write strong and powerful songs once you find a context to set them in - a context that means something to you. And yes, I do take another poodle-chunk out of Bob Dylan's hindleg so get those cards and letters ready.

Two pieces of good news this week:

- LYNETTA, with French lyrics by Mario Gentil, from my album, 'The Wind Cries Mary,' has won Second Prize in the Quicklaunch Song Contest on Sonicbids: site

- SAPPHO - FRAGMENT 64, with lyrics by Sappho, from my album, 'Freelovedays,' has been included on the Wikipedia Sappho site and has been chosen as the background for a short film on her work: wikiSappho


Favourite Letters of the Week

Hi Joe,
I am an American living here in Melbourne, Australia. I have been here
10 years now and love living here even though I still love the USA
too. I import licensed rock tee shirts, I wholesale them to music
stores all over Australia. I also have a retail shop called Worn To Be Wild
621 Glenhuntly Rd Caulfield 3162. . . .
I am also creating the Beat Poets Society
which will be having Greenich Village type events in the
Rock n Roll T-shirt Hall of Fame behind the shop where anyone who is
invited may get up to the mic and read a poem play a song, act out a
play or speech or exhibit a work of art. This is a free event for
personal friends,artists and WTBW friends.
I am starting a cultural place where "active souls" can
share thoughts and ideas. This letter to you kinda makes me feel a bit
like Dean in "On The Road" because the topics are varied but I guess I
just had these thoughts on my mind and even though you are a stranger
to me I have read so many of your newsletters that I feel like I've
met you before and like you. I couldn't believe your chutstspa when you
were writing about Bob Dylan even though I wasn't offended because you
had the courage to speak your mind and you did it brilliantly. However,
your intention became clear and I undertood when I saw how much you
have been influenced by Dylan in your video, Gift, "One Iraqi Child".
Tomorrow never comes for any of us Joe, and the present moment is so
precious that we really only have time for the truth. Warm regards, Robert Marcus

Hey Joe
Subject: Re: Weasel and Eggs
....re your interesting band names in this issue, did I ever send you these? Stephen Ross

Blame TicketMaster
Hurtling Filth
Pillions of Destiny
Anthrax Bouquet
Rectal Ecstasy
Elastic Lunch
The Stinking Basilica
Burning Whimples
I Commune With Penguins
Poodle Brain Euphoria
Hyperactive Stork Butts
The Cuticle Wrenches
Feta Cheese Nightmare
Marsupial Dilemma Incognito
The Toggle Melons
Taffy-head and the Indecisions

Subject: Re: Weasel and Eggs
22. What does "sinkin piss at a mates joint and gettin paralised" actually mean? It means you'se dunno how to spell! Collyn Rivers

(Note: Colon, this is won of thoze eximples wear if u can explain wat it meens it meens u waren't thare. i spel gud - sew put a sock in et.)

Thanks for making me laugh Mr Dolce vita.
kind regards, Sally Daling (a.k.a. Walter Is On)

Subject: Re: Weasel and Eggs
Similar to the World Clock in this newsletter is "The Breathing Earth"
which is more visual and ties it all in to carbon emissions... you can
check out the stats for every country by hovering on it. christa

Hi J,
I have successfully downloaded [Shaddap You Face]. Many, many thanks for your prompt response and for your help. I was anxious to get a copy of this song. In February 1981, at the celebration of my future daughter-in-law's 21st birthday party, 'Shaddap You Face' was very popular and the youngsters danced to [the] rhythm all evening! Shortly, my grand daughter will celebrate her 21st, and I intend asking the DJ to play "her mother's song" for her. Memories are wonderful things!!!!!!!!!! Hilary

Your Weasel and Eggs newsletter was worth waiting for - with all its highs and lows! (Christ - that item from the Congo is so distressing.) Loved the Dali quotes. The Ghandi quote. Your thoughts on songwriting. I hope your shoulder will soon be 100%. Cheers, Margaret

Hey Joe,
You swiped my name from somebody else's email years ago, and I've enjoyed your newsletters ever since. You must have quite the mailing list . . . I thought you might be interested in my new project, a series of Slow Guides to Sydney and Melbourne, which inspire people to slow down and live it up. They're gently subversive and aim to influence by delight, make people more mindful of what they have and therefore more keen to preserve it. Hope you're well. All the best. Martin



Dear friends,
Last week, Burma went dark--the military shut down all internet, telephone
and communication links with the rest of the world. They did it because it
has been the pictures, blog posts, and emails--of monks brutally murdered,
journalists shot--that have done the most to galvanize the entire world on
Burma. Without that flow of information, the media is reporting dry
diplomatic processes--and each day the danger grows that the press will move
We can't allow the Burmese blackout to succeed. Avaaz.org is working to support
highly respected Burmese democracy and civil society groups by sending them
$100,000 in crucial technical and humanitarian support this week. These
groups, working in the region with the right equipment and tools, can help
bring stories out of Burma and poke holes in the blackout, shining
spotlights on the ongoing cruelty in Burma. They are desperate for help to
give humanitarian assistance to the victims of the crackdown and tell their
stories to the world before the current window of media attention passes.
Other donors take months to raise money; only we can be fast enough to meet
this urgent need. Can we raise $100,000 (75,000 Euros) in the next 24 hours
so the money can be transferred this week? Click below now to make a
donation online: donate
(thanks to Tamar Crane)



Maple Leaf Rag

Adam Fulara fingerpicks/plucks Scott Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag on a Two-Necked Electric Guitar.
Left hand piano part on one neck and the right hand piano part on the other neck!
Astounding achievement. Watch his face. He never looks at the guitar. Makes it look so effortless.
(thanks to Dai Woosnam)

Here are some other links to this amazing Polish prodigy:

Bach's Goldberg Variation No 2
Bach's Goldberg Variation No 8


Top 50 Oxymorons

50. Act naturally
49. Found missing
48. Resident alien
47. Advanced BASIC
46. Genuine imitation
45. Airline Food
44. Good grief
43. Same difference
42. Almost exactly
41. Government organization
40. Sanitary landfill
39. Alone together
38. Legally drunk
37. Silent scream
36. American history
35. Living dead
34. Small crowd
33. Business ethics
32. Soft rock
31. Butt Head
30. Military Intelligence
29. Software documentation
28. New York culture
27. New classic
26. Sweet sorrow
25. Childproof
24. "Now, then ..."
23. Synthetic natural gas
21. Passive aggression
20. Taped live
19. Clearly misunderstood
18. Peace force
17. Extinct Life
16. Temporary tax increase
15. Computer jock
14. Plastic glasses
13. Terribly pleased
12. Computer security
11. Political science
10. Tight slacks
9. Definite maybe
8. Pretty ugly
7. Twelve-ounce pound cake
6. Diet ice cream
5. Rap music
4. Working vacation
3. Exact estimate
2. Religious tolerance
1. Microsoft Works
(thanks to Stephen Ross)



I was going to pass on doing the writing workshop this week but I decided to share some insights about the project that I am currently finishing up.

It is called: 'GOODNIGHT, IRENE: The Leadbelly Ballad-Novel.'

I was looking for an original structure and I came up with the idea of one hundred or so short chapters of one or two pages each, of narrative text, somewhere between straight prose and verse-novel, with an original song to lead every chapter. This means one hundred songs. The text part can be read by itself. The lyrics can be read by themselves. They can be read together. The songs and text can be combined in performance. And Leadbelly's own songs can be threaded in and amongst for added impact. It's a great structure for a singer-songwriter-writer. I call it a 'ballad novel'. I have written thirty songs since my last newsletter. That's in one week, folks! Some of them are amongst some of the best songs I have ever composed.

Now I have never had this kind of sustained writing euphoria before and I attribute it to a couple of things that you, fellow writers and readers, may be interested in.

The first is writing within a specific context rather than just waiting for inspiration. I learned this technique when I was working with playwright Phil Motherwell who would give me ten sets of lyrics from a play and ask for ten songs. Once I understood the context of the scene, including the big picture of how the scene and the lyrics were to advance the play's narrative, it was easy to find the music. In fact most time, there would be one simple and perfect musical idea for each lyric.

The difference from working with Phil, and what I am doing now, is I am giving myself my own dramatic context - ie. the period of and around Leadbelly's life - writing my own text and lyrics to set to music. The whole ball of Madame Tussand.

For instance, one night last week, I woke up at 3 am, turned on the light, and, while still in bed, wrote five complete sets of lyrics, turned off the light, went back to sleep, woke up in the morning and set all five to music in about 20 minutes, moving from acoustic guitar, to steel guitar, to mandolin, to ukulele, to keep things fresh and interesting. As soon as I settled on a simple and suitable idea, I would quickly record it onto my computer - so I could remember it later! - and move on to the next one.

In comparison, last year, I wrote five songs in twelve months!

Here an example of one of my favourite new songs, very much like the old Dylan-in-his-prime song:

I'll Fight Jim Crow, Anyplace, Anytime

I'll leave you your dignity
And you leave me mine, (3x)
I'll Fight Jim Crow, Anyplace, Anytime.

You can break my body,
But you can't break my mind, (3x)
I'll Fight Jim Crow, Anyplace, Anytime.

Your names will never hurt me,
I pay them no mind, (3x)
I'll Fight Jim Crow, Anyplace, Anytime.

What Jim Crow's selling,
You know I ain't buying, (3x)
I'll Fight Jim Crow, Anyplace, Anytime.

Jim Crow got no reason,
Jim Crow got no rhyme, (3x)
I'll Fight Jim Crow, Anyplace, Anytime.

You can catch Jim Crow
Cheatin' and Lying', (3x)
I'll Fight Jim Crow, Anyplace, Anytime.

I'll fight Jim Crow,
'Till Jim Crow lay dying, (3x)
I'll Fight Jim Crow, Anyplace, Anytime.
(words and music: Joe Dolce, 'Goodnight Irene: The Leadbelly Ballad-Novel')

Now, if I were to make the context of this song MYSELF, my own experience, and sing it like that, first of all, I probably wouldn't have been able to write it and second of all, it wouldn't ring that true. Why?

Because I have very little personal experience of Jim Crow. The Jim Crow Laws were state and local laws enacted in the Southern and border states of the United States and enforced between 1876 and 1965. I grew up in the North. These laws mandated "separate but equal" status for negros. I went to a mixed-race school in Ohio. Pretty progressive, now I think about it. In reality, in the South, Jim Crow Laws led to treatment that was almost always inferior to those provided to white Americans. Separation of drinking fountains, restaurants, toilets, etc into 'white only' and 'coloured only.' There was no separation of anything in my school - except boys and girls showers - which I protested against vigorously, by the way. (But that's another ballad-novel.)

I did have one experience of reverse Jim Crow that I drew on. Back in 1969, my long-haired psychedelic band, The Headstone Circus, had a gig in West Virginia and we stopped for lunch in a little diner. The black waitresses refused to serve us because we were white and it was against town custom for black and white to be eating together in this place. We had unknowingly stopped at a coloured-only diner.

But, look, by placing the above Jim Crow song in the context of the Leadbelly story, I can sing it authentically, as I am using it to advance the narrative of the story and also supply some of the flavour and background of Leadbelly's time. Like an actor playing a part. (Rather than an actor thinking he IS the part, ie. Dylan.) And, it so happens, that the main theme of this song - standing firm against racism - is STILL relevant today. Although no longer called Jim Crow, the inequities still exist everywhere. This is how powerful and true lyrics are written. Natural unforced metaphor.

This is my main beef with Dylan's new material, as I have explained before. He is singing as though he is a character in a blues play, or somesuch. He is reaching into his bag of imagery but pulling out blues lines and cliches that come from someone and somewhere else, don't really go anywhere worth going, have no resolution or punch, and the personae he is using, doesn't really belong to him - but he thinks it does!

First example, from Dylan's song, 'Moonlight':
"Doctor, lawyer, indian chief, it takes a thief to catch a thief,
For whom does the bell toll for, love? It tolls for you and me.'

The first line is a meaningless rhyme - both halves of the line are cliches -
and the second line, of course, is borrowed from the John Donne poem, and from Hemingway (who DID use it in a strong context for his novel of the same name). But here, Dylan doesn't say anything much different from Donne, and, in fact, Dylan's variation diminishes it:

"Therefore, never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee."
John Donne, Meditation XVII

Much better. It rings like a bell.

Second example, from the song, 'Thunder On The Mountain':
'You brought me here, now you're trying to run me away,
The writing on the wall, come read it, come see what it say.'

Dylan does not talk in broken vernacular with phrases like 'come see what it say.' He is an educated jewish boy. What would be natural to Dylan's voice would more like 'come citizens, congressmen, please heed the call.' But he is doing this here for two reasons: to make it rhyme, of course - but, more significantly, because in his mind, he is lost in a 40s blues character who believes he really talks this way. His context here is his fantasy of himself. If he were to be quoting, say 'Blind Lemon Jefferson: 'My baby got a letter, she tell me, 'come see what it say.' Here, the context is Blind Lemon Jefferson speaking - who actually talked like that. Big difference. Especially when it comes to writing consistent and powerful imagery with depth. Because if your writing personae keeps oscillating between who you really are, and who you think you are, then the imagery gets all fragmented and overly self-aware, like we see in most of Dylan's writing now days. But if your context is clear and honest, you can stay within character, so to speak, with complete abandon, and reach second, third and fourth winds with the depth and metaphor.
Compare with this verse from: 'I'll Fight Jim Crow, Anyplace, Anytime:"

'Jim Crow got no reason,
Jim Crow got no rhyme, (3x)
I'll Fight Jim Crow, Anyplace, Anytime.'

I'm using the same broken vernacular that Dylan is but I am singing in the personae of a Southern character of the times - not myself. I also use cliche in the first two lines, much like Dylan often does, but it has a sting in the tail here because it is focused in its context. I could have written a fifty different verses to this Jim Crow song above but I chose to stop at seven because these kind of songs do not have to be too long to get the point across.

The other thing I would like to share about working within a good and clear context, is the very concept of having second, third, fourth and fifth winds, into infinity. Just like a runner or boxer will find a second wind sometimes at the point of exhaustion, and all tiredness leaves him and he can go farther than it was possible to go on previous attempts, so too is it possible to push past the normal stopping point of where a musical idea usually ends - and keep going, into further and seemingly endless ideas and variations. There are an infinite number of musical-lyrical juxtapositions out there if you just go looking for them, within a strong enough context to set them in.



Red Velvet Cake


I've learned everything I know about soul food cooking from a great recipe book called 'Sylvia's Soul Food,' (and a visit to her Harlem restaurant where I once ordered one of everything on the menu, just so I could see what it was supposed to taste like ­ kind of like my own soul food tasting menu ­ no joke!). Lately, I have been reading through the Mach II version called: 'Sylvia's Family Soul Food Cookbook', which includes recipes from family and friends as well. I found this little red beauty of a cake in there, from one of Sylvia's friends, Mary M. Brown, and made it last week. Perfecto!

The Cake:
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
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2 ounces (60ml) organic red food colouring (or, if you prefer, substitute 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

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 food colouring (or 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. Use frosting to fill and frost the cake.



Acceptance Speech

The radio's replaying last night's winners
and the gratitude of the glamorous,
everyone thanking everybody for making everything
so possible, until I want to shush
the faucet, dry my hands, join in right here
at the cluttered podium of the sink, and thank

my mother for teaching me the true meaning of okra,
my children for putting back the growl in hunger,
my husband, primo uomo of dinner, for not
begrudging me this starring role -

without all of them, I know this soup
would not be here tonight.

And let me just add that I could not
have made it without the marrow bone, that blood -
brother to the broth, and the tomatoes
who opened up their hearts, and the self-effacing limas,
the blonde sorority of corn, the cayenne
and oregano who dashed in
in the nick of time.

Special thanks, as always, to the salt -
you know who you are - and to the knife,
who revealed the ripe beneath the rind,
the clean truth underneath the dirty peel.

- I hope I've not forgotten anyone -
oh, yes, to the celery and the parsnip,
those bit players only there to swell the scene,
let me just say: sometimes I know exactly how you feel.

But not tonight, not when it's all
coming to something and the heat is on and
I'm basking in another round
of blue applause.

~ Lynn Powell ~
from The Zones of Paradise. © University of Akron Press, Akron, Ohio.

(Thanks to David "Dai" Woosnam)




Rodeo Position

Two cowboys are out on the range talking about their favourite sex positions.
One says, 'I think I enjoy the Rodeo Position the best.'
'I don't think I have ever heard of that one,' says the other cowboy.'
What is it?'
'Well, it's where you get your girl down on all fours and you mount her
from behind. Then you reach around and cup each one of her breasts in your
hands and whisper in her ear,
"Boy, these feel just like your sister's."

Then you try to stay on for 8 seconds...'
(thanks to Jim Testicle)