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September 10th, 2004

Imagine There's No Heaven

 

" Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will. "
George Bernard Shaw

Hi folks,

I'm on the slow road to recovery from the Plane Trip from Hell - round-trip to the States in one week, economy class, on United Airlines, 60+ hours of travel time. The very first 747 I got on, broke a 'valve' and we had to sit three hours on the runway while they tried to fix it, then another 4 hours in the terminal while they flew the part down from Sydney - and that was before we even left Melbourne. Atrocious food, five movies from an overhead video projector that had the colour so mal-aligned it was like watching 3-D without the glasses, seats that were so close together that there were only three footrests for every four seats and it was physically impossible to turn the pages of a magazine when the person in front of you had their seat reclined. (They ARE getting smaller - I'm not getting bigger.) A six hour layover in LA until they could find a plane to fill the gap. An overnight red-eye express to make up the lost connection in order to get to Ohio in time for my mother's funeral. And the flight back to Melbourne wasn't much better. The seats were roomier, but the food still would have made good soles for shoes in third world countries and this time the audio channel was defective the whole way and, owing to a headcold which I had picked up, probably from their budget chicken-flu circulation system, the four times we landed, my eardrums felt like they were going to explode and spray brain matter. I was literally deaf for about a half hour after each touchdown. WHAT????

The only saving grace was that I wore my 'Flying Doctors' t-shirt (given to me as a gift for my participation the recent benefit festival at Kalgoorlie) and a couple of the United Airlines stewardesses kept flirting with me the whole way home, asking if I was really a doctor, and a flying doctor, too? I told them the truth, that I wasn't - that I was a musician - (groan) - BUT it didn't seem to deter them, as the combination of doctor and pilot in one person must have been too aphrodisiastical for them to let go of. (One even asked me to have a drink with her during her stopover in Sydney but I told her that I had continue on as I had an important Santero operation to perform in Melbourne on a sick fruit bat in a remote part of North Carlton that was reachable only by hang glider.)

United Airlines Humour

A crowded United Airlines flight was cancelled. A single agent was rebooking a long line of inconvenienced travelers. Suddenly an angry passenger pushed his way to the desk. He slapped his ticket down on the counter and said, "I HAVE to be on this flight and it has to be FIRST CLASS." The agent replied, "I'm sorry sir. I'll be happy to try to help you, but I've got to help these folks first, and I'm sure we'll be able to work something out. " The passenger was unimpressed. He asked loudly, so that the passengers behind him could hear, "DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHO I AM?" Without hesitating, the agent smiled and grabbed her public address microphone. "May I have your attention please," she began her voice heard clearly throughout the terminal. "We have a passenger here at Gate 14 WHO DOES NOT KNOW WHO HE IS. If anyone can help him find his identity, please come to Gate 14." With the folks behind him in line laughing hysterically, the man glared at the United agent, gritted his teeth and swore, "Fuck you!" Without flinching, she smiled and said, "I'm sorry, sir, but you'll have to get in line for that, too.
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Favourite Reader Comments of the Week

I received a e-bag full of beautiful condolences re: my mother's death, and I thank everyone who sent kind thoughts. Here are few. I wish I could print them all.

Dear Joe Dolce, In your own grief you still issued a newsletter and included the message anent Daniel Morcombe, another family suffering anguish. That to me illustrates your mother's praiseworthiness. At aged 79, I can't appreciate modern music and some thinking, but on the whole I admire it; thanks for your efforts, brought to my attention by my son. . . who also marches to the beat of a different drum. JF

Dear Joe,
THAT is not born, neither does it die.
It sprang from nothing, nothing sprang from it.
Unborn, eternal, everlasting, ancient,
THAT is not killed though the body is killed.
If the slayer thinks he slays,
If the slain thinks he is slain,
Both are deluded.
THAT slays not nor is slain.
Greater than great, smaller than small,
In the heart of all creatures THAT resides,
seen only by one who is free from desire
and from grief.
Sitting still he walks far, lying down he goes everywhere,
bodyless within bodies, unchanging among changes...
How can one who is not tranquil or subdued, whose mind
is not at rest, understand THAT through mere knowledge?
 How shall an ordinary person conceive THAT being, for
whom both a buddha and a warrior are as food, and death
a condiment?
The Katha Upanishad
Heartfelt sympathy for your loss, Brother Joe, love
Ramon Sender.

Dear Joe, Blessings upon your Mother's soul for helping to create you. Julie Lacy

Hey Joe, What beautiful photographs...what a beautiful woman. I'm sure she had much to do with your enquiring mind! david bridie

Dispiace Joe, Salute, Spiriti santi, Sta con dio, daniel kiag
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Religion

SANTERIA

I mentioned a few issues ago that Jennifer Lopez was a follower of a religious system known as Santeria. I found a good book about Santeria to read on the flight home (reading was one of the few things that kept me sane.) Santeria is a religious practice similar to Vodoun (aka voodoo). The religion centers around ancient African gods who have been assimilated as Catholic saints. 'Santeria' comes from the Spanish word 'santo' meaning saint; practitioners are called 'Santeros' (female, 'Santeras'). Its origins date back to the slave trade when Yoruba natives were forcibly transported from Africa to the Caribbean. Like Voodoo, Santeria came to the Americas with the millions of black slaves from West Africa, principally from the Yoruban tribes along the Niger River. Forced to convert to Catholicism, they were typically baptized by the Roman Catholic church upon arrival, and their native practices were suppressed. But the slaves continued their religion in secret, passing along the ancient traditions either orally or in handwritten notebooks called 'liretas'. They developed a novel way of keeping their old beliefs alive by equating the each Orisha of their traditional religions with a corresponding Christian Saint. Gradually, the Yorubans began to see what they believed were the incarnations of their gods into the Catholic saints and syncretized the two faiths. Soon the Spanish and Portuguese slaves' masters became interested in the Yoruban magic and begun practicing Santeria themselves. Today, any large city with a large Hispanic poulation has many Santeros as well as devoted Catholics because many practice both religions or a combination.

Many traditions within the religion recognize different equivalencies. For example:

Babalz Ayi - (patron of the sick) became St. Lazarus.
Shangs - (controls thunder, lightning, fire...) became St. Barbara.
Eleggua or Elegba - (messenger of the gods, controls roads, gates etc) became St. Anthony.
Obatala - (father of creation; source of spirituality) became Our Lady of Las Mercedes (Mercy), and the Resurrected Christ.
Oggzn - (patron of war and iron.) became St. Peter.
Oshzn - (goddess of love, marriage, gold, sensuality...) became Our Lady of Charity.

Some Santeria terms:

Afoche - special powder made with the ashes of a chicken.
Abiku - mischievous spirit that reincarnates in a human child who dies in early childhood.
Alabbgwanna (or El Anima Sola) - The Lonely Spirit. Used by the santeros in desperate cases, especially love problems.
Aya - midget goddess of the jungle.
Dada - god of unborn children and gardens.
Enviacion - a destructive spell that uses a 'hired' spirit to harm an enemy.
Esencia amarra hombre - man-binder essence.
Esencia de dinero - money essence.
Incubus - male spirit that seeks to mate with living women. (I can relate to that.)
Succubus - female spirit that seeks to mate with living men. (No comment.)
Locas - men dress as women.
Olokun - hermaphrodite god.
Npaka - an animal horn used to force a spirit to manifest itself.
Parada - part of the asiento when the yaguo collapses on the floor while being possessed by his orisha. (I know this state well!)
Polvos de odio - hatred powder.
Telemense nkisi - an order to a spirit to spy on somebody.
Vente conmigo - an oil or an essence used in love spells. It means 'Come with me.'
Yo puedo y tu no - an oil or essence used to overcome a person. It means 'I can and you cannot.'

Here is an easy Santeria spell that you can do at home:

To Create Differences Between Two People:
The names of the two persons are written on two separate pieces of paper and placed inside a glass of water. A piece of black cloth is tied over the glass top, which is then hidden in the farthest corner of the freezer. According to the santeros this spell would cause the end of the closest friendship or the most passionate love affair.
(site)
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Toilet Seat Rights

Men's Toilet Seat Politics Amendment 324 for Women: Learn to work the toilet seat. You're a big girl. If it's up, put it down. We need it up, you need it down. You don't hear us complaining about you leaving it down. (good point!)
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Favourite Porn Spam Mail Subject Heading

ChristianMortageUSA.com Your Lending Advisor With Biblical Values

(Note: I know it's not technically porn but, for some reason, seemed obscene.)
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Kerry's Rock and Roll LP a Collectors Item

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - This could finally be the Electras' breakout year. Rare vinyl copies of their lone 1961 recording are fetching prices north of $2,000, even though the band tended to stray from the beat. Two separate CD versions of that same recording are being sold after some "Behind The Music''- style intra-band squabbling. Of course, it's not musical chops that has renewed interest in this obscure garage rock recording; it's the bassist: Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.
(article)
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Humour

The children were lined up in the cafeteria of a Catholic elementary school for lunch. At the head of the table was a large pile of apples. The nun made a note, and posted on the apple tray: "Take only ONE. God is watching." Moving further along the lunch line, at the other end of the table was a large pile of chocolate chip cookies. A child had written a note, "Take all you want. God is watching the apples."
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Zell Miller's Cracker Barrel Philosophy is All Wet
by Adrien Rain Burke

"For it has been said so truthfully that it is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us the freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. . . .It is the soldier, not the agitator, who has given us the freedom to protest." Zell Miller, speaking at the Republican Convention, 2004

That proves it. Zell Miller is definitely a few crackers short of a full barrel.

Whatever role soldiers may have played in history - in OUR history - securing freedom of the press and freedom of speech has not been one of their more striking contributions.

This is not their fault, really. The training they are subjected to is especially designed to stifle the persistent voice of rebellion that, hopefully, lives in all of us. The soldier must obey orders without question and without hesitation. In fact, they can be shot for disobeying an order. Should they later be proven right, a court martial might exonerate them. But if they die for their insubordination, their heroism will probably go unsung. And what the military code does not accomplish in supressing their individuality, is often completed by peer pressure. They are routinely constrained from expressing dissenting views while in uniform. "Theirs not to reason why, . . . ." (full article)

Letter to Zell Miller: 'You Have Betrayed Our Trust'
By Jimmy Carter
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Letter)

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It's Kerry's Fault
By John Cory

" . . . I heard the car before I saw it, broken muffler rattling and coughing engine, it zipped around the corner. I was in the middle of its path and nowhere to jump. The car slammed on the brakes - too late. I bounced up over the hood and ricocheted off the windshield, skidding to a stunned halt across the blacktop pavement. The driver burst out of the battered Corolla, an older Saudi gentleman, pacing and shouting at me as I rolled on to my knees. He sounded angry and distraught and I felt sorry for him, for the fear and guilt he must be experiencing.
 "I'm okay," I said, signalling that I was only bruised and slightly scraped. I tried to reassure him, but his shouting grew louder and angrier. A small crowd of men had gathered now, and they were laughing. I was shaken and confused by the old man's fury and the crowd's laughter.
 A Policeman appeared, sized up the situation and pointed at me. "American?" he asked. I nodded. He turned to the ranting driver and they exchanged a flurry of Arabic. I kept telling the officer that I was thankfully okay, and the old man needn't worry. The Policeman turned back to me with a smile. "You are okay?" I assured him I was just bruised and shaken, but not seriously injured. He smiled again. "That is good, because he says this is your fault." (full crazy article)

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Bush, Hitler & God

"Most folks know just enough Bible to load their pistol." Appalachian saying

At the beginning of Hitler's crusade on April 12, 1922, he spelled out his version of the warmongering Jesus: "My feeling as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter." Randall Balmer in The Nation, noted that "Bush's God is the eye-for-an-eye God of the Hebrew prophets and the Book of Revelation, the God of vengeance and retribution." (My note: So, once again, we're not really taking about the teachings of Jesus now, are we?.)
 
As Bush has invoked the Cross of Jesus to simultaneously attack the Islamic and Arab world, Hitler also saw the value of exalting the cross while waging endless war: "To be sure, our Christian Cross should be the most exalted symbol of the struggle against the Jewish-Marxist-Bolshevik spirit."
 
Like Bush-ites, Hitler was fond of invoking the Ten Commandments as the foundation of Nazi Germany: "The Ten Commandments are a code of living to which there's no refutation. These precepts correspond to irrefragable needs of the human soul."
(article)
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LEFT BEHIND (Son of Right Behind)

The first volume, "Left Behind" (1995), kicks off with the Rapture-the sudden snatching up of millions of the faithful into heaven-and subsequent volumes follow airline pilot Rayford Steele and journalist Buck Williams, left behind to tough it out down here on earth through the seven-year Tribulation and the rule of the Antichrist. The 12th and final instalment (not counting a planned sequel and prequel), called "Glorious Appearing," has the return of Jesus, the battle of Armageddon and the Judgement. It sold almost 2 million copies even before its March publication; it's still tied for No. 2 on The New York Times' list-which doesn't count sales at Christian bookstores. In all, the "Left Behind" books have sold more than 62 million copies. Who's buying? Jenkins recalls a puzzled Chris Matthews asking a "Hardball" guest the same question. "I'm sure I don't have the quote exact, but it was something like 'Certainly not the people in the cities and the suburbs.' And I'm thinking, 'What does that leave? Barefoot people in the hollers handling snakes?'" Jenkins takes issue with a previous NEWSWEEK piece that called "Left Behind" a "Red State" phenomenon, but statistics from the publisher, Tyndale, bear this out: 71 percent of the readers are from the South and Midwest, and just 6 percent from the Northeast. (Hence Tyndale's sponsorship of a NASCAR racer, with the unlucky logo LEFT BEHIND.)

The "core buyer" is a 44-year-old born-again Christian woman, married with kids, living in the South. This isn't the "Sex and the City" crowd-which helps explain why it took so long for the media to notice that one in eight Americans was reading all these strange books about the end of the world. And why are so many people eager to do that?
(article)

(Note: My brother left behind (boom boom!) a copy of Left Behind in his toilet. After I wiped my left and right behinds (boom boom!), I accidentally put it in my carry-on bag, which I had purposely put in the middle of the bed so I wouldn't leave it behind. (boom boom!) Rushing to my airplane gate, so as not to be left behind (boom boom!), I mistakenly got in the Business Class queue and I was told to move to the left behind (boom boom!) the economy class passengers already in line. I tried reading Left Behind on the plane but to tell you the truth, the storyline left me behind (boom ka-boom!). What does that tell you? - That I'm obviously not a 44 year old born-again Christian woman. But I suggest that if any of my readers are amongst the tragic ones that must be left behind (boom ka-pling!) on earth and suffer the ecological consequences left behind (boom ker-pow) to us by the politics of these moronic Republican Religious Right nutcases, and we do suffer a Plague of Locusts and the like, that you might like to brush up on a few of my bug recipes (which I will leave behind). (boom ker-fizzle!)

Left Behind Parcht Locusts Recipe
This dish was discovered by William Dampier in 1687, while visiting the Bashee Islands (located between the Philippines and Taiwan). He described it in A New Voyage Round the World:

" . . .They had another Dish made of a sort of Locusts, whose Bodies were about an Inch and an half long, and as thick as the top of one's little Finger; with large thin Wings, and long and small Legs. ... The Natives would go out with small Nets, and take a Quart at one sweep. When they had enough, they would carry them home, and parch them over the Fire in an earthen Pan; and then their Wings and Legs would fall off, and their Heads and Backs would turn red like boil'd Shrimps, being before brownish. Their Bodies being full, would eat very moist, their Heads would crackle in one's Teeth. I did once eat of this Dish, and liked it well enough...."
Bug Recipes)
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KFC vs PAMELA LEE

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Actress Pamela Anderson, always game to ruffle a few feathers in the name of mistreated fowl, has lent her famous face to a billboard campaign calling for a boycott of the KFC chain of chicken restaurants.

The billboards, which were created by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, feature a photo of the television star next to the words: "Boycott KFC -- Pamela Anderson."

Underneath are the words: "Live Scalding, Painful Debeaking, Crippled Chickens" and the address of a Web site attacking the fast-food chain (http://www.kentuckyfriedcruelty.com). The billboards were going up in Los Angeles, Dallas, Boston, San Francisco and other cities, a spokesman for PETA said Wednesday.

"KFC stands for cruelty," Anderson said in a statement. "If KFC executives treated cats or dogs the way they treat chickens, they could go to prison on felony cruelty-to-animals charges."

"PETA has disparaged our brand and misrepresented the truth about our responsible industry-leading animal welfare standards," KFC spokeswoman Bonnie Warschauer said in a statement.

The PETA spokesman said the billboards were the Anderson's idea and accurately described the fate of chickens at processing plants that supply KFC.

(Note: I heard that KFC is coming out with their own series of billboards protesting ecological damage to the earth due to the waste by-products of the cast off collagen and silicon implants that Pam has gone through in the past decade. Apparently implants have a half-life of about 7 million years. Eat free-range, folks. (chickens, that is! boom boom!) I wonder what kind of chooks those Santero priests use in their ceremonies? Does Aya, the midget goddess of the jungle, help them catch the low riders? Or maybe they have a special 'Spooked Chicken' Essence, something like 'I can cross the road, but chicken can't.')

Here's an old thematic favourite: archival audio of the legendary (and inebriated) Colonel Sanders as he bumbles through his own Kentucky Fried Chicken radio commercial:The Colonel 'Speaks'

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Who Said That?

It was the first day of school and a new student named Suzuki, the son of a Japanese businessman, entered the fourth grade.
 The teacher said, "Let's begin by reviewing some American history:--
 Who said 'Give me Liberty, or give me Death?' She saw a sea of blank faces, except for ... Suzuki, who had his hand up.
 "Patrick Henry, 1775." He said.
 "Very good! Who said 'Government of the People, by the People, for the People, shall not perish from the Earth'"?
 Again, no response except from Suzuki. "Abraham Lincoln, 1863.", said Suzuki.
 The teacher snapped at the class, "Class! You should be ashamed. Suzuki, who is new to our country, knows more about our history than you do."
 "She heard a loud whisper: "Fuck the Japs." 
"Who said that?" she demanded.
 Suzuki put his hand up. "Lee Iacocca, 1982."
 At that point, a student in the back said, "I'm gonna puke!"
 The teacher glares and asks "All right! Now, who said that?"
 Again, Suzuki says, "George Bush [Sr.] to the Japanese Prime Minister, 1991."
 Now furious, another student yells, "Oh yeah? Suck this!"
 Suzuki jumps out of his chair waving his hand and shouts to the teacher, "Bill Clinton, to Monica Lewinsky, 1997!"
 Now with almost a mob hysteria someone said, "You little shit. If you say anything else, I'll kill you."
 Suzuki frantically yells at the top of his voice, "[California Congressman] Gary Condit to Chandra Levy 2001."
 (The teacher fainted.)  And as the class gathered around the teacher on the floor, someone said, "Oh shit, we're fucked!"
 Suzuki responded, "Americans,.. in Iraq 2004!"

(thanks to Maqsood Alshams, SAVE-AUSTRALIA)

 

RECIPE

Baby Arancini with Pistachio Pesto

I like to make the arancini (rice balls) small - a little larger than a golf ball - so there is a better ratio of rice to crunch.

Ingredients:
leftover cold risotto rice
mozzerella or Bocconcini Cheese, cut into small cubes.
Bolognese Sauce (or STEWED CHICKEN SAUCE - see recipe index)
Pistachio Pesto (see recipe index)
2 eggs, beaten
bread crumbs
flour
best quality olive oil for frying

Method:
wet your hands (to prevent rice sticking) and press a round of rice into your palm and flatten it as thin as you can with a slight indentation in the center. Place one cheese cube and a little sauce in the centre and fold over the edges until you can seal into a ball. Press it into shape. You'll have to practice until you get the right ration of rice, cheese and sauce. After you have made the balls, dust in flour, then egg mix, then breadcrumbs, and fry in hot oil until golden brown. Drain on absorbant paper.

To serve:
On one side of the large plate, place a generous dollop of pistachio pesto. On the other side, side a large spoonful of bolonaise sauce and place three aranchini on top. Sprinkle with parmesean cheese, freshly ground pepper and shredded fresh basil leaves.

 

To Touch God

The women of Flat Rock
Church, my Grandma's sisters:
darker and stranger
than the nuns at my school.
I used to love to see
a Flat Rock Sister catch
her Spirit. Sweat flowed
from under her wig.
Her body shuddered. Arms
and legs opened to thank Jesus.
When she shouted, I longed
to lay my small hands on her
and touch God rising in waves
from her wrinkled black skin.

~ Honoree Fanonne Jeffers ~
The Gospel of Barbeque

 


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