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September 24th, 2004

BLACK GOLD, TEXAS TEA, IRAQI MELFOOF

"I hate television. I hate it as much as peanuts. But I can't stop eating peanuts."
Orson Welles

 

Hi folks,

This was a jammed packed work week with the windup of two months of workshops, along with David Bridie, Kavisha Mazzella, Kutcha Edwards and Monica Weightman, mentoring 20 young singer-songwriters, with a big gala concert at the Darebin Entertainment Centre, in Victoria, on Sunday night, as well as four concerts at the Illarwarra Folk Festival in Jamberoo, NSW over the weekend. Although I am mighty fond of playing music, mighty fond! - one of the highlights of Illawarra was being invited to perform at the Italian lunch in Jamberoo which, for me, had more to do with food and culture, per say, than the music. I felt like I was back tongue-out in my grandma's basement. I hung out mostly with the San Giovanni Battista Association women cooking the 'Sauce de Spaghet' in the kitchen, asking asking asking questions - how much of this, how much of that - until they got sick of me - then I went outside in the back garden to harrass and pisanificate with the Calabrian men who were making the sausages and the penne and again more questions, this time about my favourite obscure ancient Italian handgame, Morra. They obliged me by giving me a spirited demonstration. (See more below about Sa Murra) I also included my own little gnocchi-making demonstration in my premiere performance of 'Joe's Newletter' live at the local Bowling Club - they generously allowed me to wander around in their kitchen as well, collecting bits and pieces. This isn't to say that I wasn't musical whenever I got the chance - from an entire solo concert of original bush ballads and John Lennon-style peace songs, a two hour round-robin of humourous songs with Bruce Watson, Martin Pearson, Mal Webb, Blue the Shearer and many other fine performers, to sitting in on mandolin, with David de Santi and L'Emigrante, Obrobini and friends. And all that was before the gala three hour concert at the Darebin Entertainment Centre back in Melbourne. Suffice to say, I slept in on Monday morning.

Favourite Reader Comments of the Week

Joe, Please add me to your newsletter. I really enjoyed your show at Jamberoo especially the gnocchi recipe! Regards K. C.

(Note: See? I told you it works! Joe's Gnocchi-Lite. They float like little clouds.)

Dear Mr. Joe Dolce,
Recently I had the pleasure of listening to you perform at the Illawarra Folk Festival, Jamberoo. I must Say that I thoroughly enjoyed the experience . You Were Fantastic!

Firstly I would like to know where I can buy any of your Cds and secondly I asked you about a sequel to your hit from the 80s that won't go away Shud Upa Your Face (sic) ! You told me it was by a Maria Venuci, would you be so kind as to tell me the name of the song . or where I can find it .
 
Thanks so much again for your wonderful contribution to a great festival , I look forward to seeing you perform live again soon , Maybe at Majors Creek ??? Adrian

(Note: Adrian, Re: MARIA VENUTI. The song she released in 1981 was called 'Listen to Your Mama' and it was co-written by US songwriter Al Styne, when he was visiting from the USA, and Eileen Russel. Maria timed the release of her song with the birth of her daughter, Bianca. Although I have never heard the song, I was always honoured and fascinated that Maria Venuti got in the spirit of the times around 'Shaddap You Face' and wanted to explain things 'from Mama's point of view.' I saved a few of her press clippings from those days. She was just recently featured in the movie 'Fat Pizza'. You might try contacting the producers of the film for further information. Here's one of the few links on the web I could find: (site)
good hunting, Joe)

True Facts
There is a new television show on a British cable called "Watching Paint Dry". Viewers watch in real-time. Gloss, semi-gloss, matte, satin, you name it. Then viewers vote out their least favorite.

Do Not Lose Hope!


The Optimism of Uncertainty
by Howard Zinn

There is a tendency to think that what we see in the present moment will continue. We forget how often we have been astonished by the sudden crumbling of institutions, by extraordinary changes in people's thoughts, by unexpected eruptions of rebellion against tyrannies, by the quick collapse of systems of power that seemed invincible.

What leaps out from the history of the past hundred years is its utter unpredictability. A revolution to overthrow the czar of Russia, in that most sluggish of semi-feudal empires, not only startled the most advanced imperial powers but took Lenin himself by surprise and sent him rushing by train to Petrograd. Who would have predicted the bizarre shifts of World War II--the Nazi-Soviet pact (those embarrassing photos of von Ribbentrop and Molotov shaking hands), and the German Army rolling through Russia, apparently invincible, causing colossal casualties, being turned back at the gates of Leningrad, on the western edge of Moscow, in the streets of Stalingrad, followed by the defeat of the German army, with Hitler huddled in his Berlin bunker, waiting to die?
(article)

Bad Literature

As Fiona slowly drew the heavy velvet curtain aside, her eyes smoldered black, deep, and dark as inside the lungs of a coal miner, although it would be black in anyone's lungs if you could get in there because there wouldn't be any light, even in the pink ones of people who don't smoke. (Lou A. Waller, Norman)

True Facts  
Coca-Cola was originally green.

(Note: Now just your liver goes green.)

Put Away Your Hankies...a message from Michael Moore

" If I hear one more person tell me how lousy a candidate Kerry is and how he can't win... Dammit, of COURSE he's a lousy candidate -- he's a Democrat, for heavens sake! That party is so pathetic, they even lose the elections they win! What were you expecting, Bruce Springsteen heading up the ticket? Bruce would make a helluva president, but guys like him don't run -- and neither do you or I. People like Kerry run.

Yes, OF COURSE any of us would have run a better, smarter, kick-ass campaign. Of course we would have smacked each and every one of those phony swifty boaty bastards down. But WE are not running for president -- Kerry is. So quit complaining and work with what we have. Oprah just gave 300 women a... Pontiac! Did you see any of them frowning and moaning and screaming, "Oh God, NOT a friggin' Pontiac!" Of course not, they were happy. The Pontiacs all had four wheels, an engine and a gas pedal. You want more than that, well, I can't help you. I had a Pontiac once and it lasted a good year. And it was a VERY good year.

My friends, it is time for a reality check.

1. The polls are wrong. They are all over the map like diarrhea. On Friday, one poll had Bush 13 points ahead -- and another poll had them both tied. There are three reasons why the polls are b.s.: One, they are polling "likely voters." "Likely" means those who have consistently voted in the past few elections. So that cuts out young people who are voting for the first time and a ton of non-voters who are definitely going to vote in THIS election. Second, they are not polling people who use their cell phone as their primary phone. Again, that means they are not talking to young people . . . "
(article)

CAT STEVENS AKA YUSUF ISLAM

Such coincidences! Sunday night, I used one of Yusuf Islam's beautiful Islamic morning prayers to Allah to open my performance of 'Gift' (Jimi Hendrix-style, with feedback blues harp and Ginger Baker-style drum barrage) and then I find out that the Artist Formerly Known as ol' Cat Stevens himself has just been denied access to the US, and returned to the UK, because his name showed up on a terror watch list. (US Homeland Security hits another home run.) Yusef has been pretty vocal about Peace Peace Peace over the past five years, even re-releasing Peace Train just before the invasion of Iraq. His most recent DVD release, of a 1976 live concert, is currently topping the charts in Europe. Here's his website if anyone wants to see what he is up to.
Website

About his Entry Refusal:
Article1

Article2

A Strident Minority: Anti-Bush US Troops in Iraq

WASHINGTON ­ Inside dusty, barricaded camps around Iraq, groups of American troops in between missions are gathering around screens to view an unlikely choice from the US box office: "Fahrenheit 9-11," Michael Moore's controversial documentary attacking the commander-in-chief.

"Everyone's watching it," says a Marine corporal at an outpost in Ramadi that is mortared by insurgents daily. "It's shaping a lot of people's image of Bush."

"[For] 9 out of 10 of the people I talk to, it wouldn't matter who ran against Bush - they'd vote for them," said a US soldier in the southern city of Najaf, seeking out a reporter to make his views known. "People are so fed up with Iraq, and fed up with Bush."
(article)

Humour

A man walking along a California beach was deep in prayer. Suddenly the sky clouded above his head, and in booming voice, the Lord said, "Because you  have TRIED to be faithful to me in all ways, I will grant you one wish."

The man said, "Build a bridge to Hawaii so I can drive over any time I  want."

The Lord said, "Your request is very materialistic. Think of the enormous  challenges for that kind of undertaking. The supports required to reach  the bottom of the Pacific! The concrete and steel it would take! I can do  it, but it is hard for me to justify your desire for worldly things. Take  a little more time and think of another wish, a wish you think would honor and glorify me."

The man thought about it for a long time. Finally he said, "Lord, I wish  that I could understand women. I want to know how they feel inside, what  they are thinking when they give me the silent treatment, why they cry,  What they mean when they say 'nothing,' and how I can make a woman truly happy."

The Lord replied, "You want two lanes or four lanes on that bridge?" (boom boom!)
(thanx to JOE CREIGHTON)

True Facts
Homing pigeons use roads where possible to help find their way home. In fact, some pigeons followed roads so closely that they actually flew around traffic circles before choosing the exit that led them home.

AMERICA - A HATED NATION
Agence France Press

Anti-Americanism has affected previous administrations during the Vietnam war and the deployment of nuclear missiles in Europe in the 1980s, according to Melvyn Leffler, a professor of American history at the University of Virginia, in an article for Foreign Policy magazine.

"But the breadth and depth of the current anti-Americanism are unprecedented," he said.

According to a study published this month by the German Marshall Fund and Compania di San Paolo of Italy, 76 percent of Europeans oppose Bush's foreign policy. This is a spectacular 20 percentage point rise in two years.
(article)

THE CORPORATE SACKING OF IRAQ
Jim Higtower

While America's media establishment has been focused on the raging war by Iraqi insurgents and by the Bushites' attempt to enthrone a puppet government there, the neo-con laissez-faire zealots in the administration have been gleefully using this ravaged country as their own ideological playground. For years, these AynRandian theorists have longed to create their utopia of a corporate state, and they've used the IMF, World Bank, WTO and other monkey wrenches to try to implement their theories in Latin America and elsewhere. But they've never had an entire economy at their disposal... until they grabbed Iraq.
(article)

 
For All You Lexophiles (Lovers Of Words)

1. A bicycle can't stand alone because it is two-tired.
2. What's the definition of a will?  (It's a dead giveaway).
3. A backward poet writes inverse.
4. In democracy it's your vote that counts; In feudalism, it's your Count that votes.
5. A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.
6. She had a boyfriend with a wooden leg, but she broke it off.
7. Show me a piano falling down a mineshaft and I'll show you A-flat minor.
8. When a clock is hungry it goes back four seconds.
9. The man who fell into an upholstery machine is fully recovered.
10. A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum Blownapart.
11. You feel stuck with your debt if you can't budge it.
12. Local Area Network in Australia: the LAN down under.
13. Every calendar's days are numbered.
14. A lot of money is tainted. 'Taint yours and 'taint mine.
15. A boiled egg in the morning is hard to beat.
16. He had a photographic memory which was never developed.
17. A plateau is a high form of flattery.
18. The short fortune teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.
19. When you've seen one shopping center you've seen a mall.
20. Catholics who commit suicide by jumping off a Paris bridge die in Seine.
21. Bakers trade bread recipes on a knead to know basis.
22. Santa's helpers are subordinate clauses.
23. Acupuncture is a jab well done.
24. Marathon runners with bad footwear suffer the agony of  defeat. (groan.....)
(thanx to Stephen Ross)

True Facts
Amusement park attendance goes up after a fatal accident. It seems many people want to ride upon the same ride that killed someone.

Journalism Under Fire
Address to the Society of Professional Journalists
by Bill Moyers

"One of the biggest changes in my lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal. How do we fathom and explain the mindset of violent exhibitionists and extremists who blow to smithereens hundreds of children and teachers of Middle School Number One in Beslan, Russia? Or the radical utopianism of martyrs who crash hijacked planes into the World Trade Center? How do we explain the possibility that a close election in November could turn on several million good and decent citizens who believe in the Rapture Index? That's what I said ­ the Rapture Index; google it and you will understand why the best-selling books in America today are the twelve volumes of the left-behind series which have earned multi-millions of dollars for their co-authors who earlier this year completed a triumphant tour of the Bible Belt whose buckle holds in place George W. Bush's armor of the Lord. These true believers subscribe to a fantastical theology concocted in the l9th century by a couple of immigrant preachers who took disparate passages from the Bible and wove them into a narrative millions of people believe to be literally true. . . "
(article)

Your Media is Killing You
By William Rivers Pitt

" Day after day, for sixteen months, every television was filled around the clock with soap-opera entertainment passing itself off as news. The American people, deprived of substantive information about the world around them, learned that real news is only about celebrities.
Then came the greatest entertainment-as-news extravaganza of all time: The Monica Lewinski scandal and the impeachment of a President who lied about sex. As an athlete will lose muscle tone if he stays away from the gym or the playing field, so did the intellectual muscles of the media atrophy after years of avoiding the basic efforts required in their field. Why run a scoop down about the war if I can just publish this Pentagon-prepared battle assessment? Why investigate Whitewater and the death of Vince Foster when I can just regurgitate this fax I just got from the Republican National Committee's media headquarters? If I can just get in front of the camera with a salacious bit of gossip, I can become an anchor. . . "
(article)

Music

ROOTS OF THE BLUES HARP

The history of the harmonica, as we know it today, is an amazing tale which begins in the year 1821. It was then that sixteen-year-old Christian Friedrich Buschmann registered the first European patents for his new musical invention. His so-called "aura" was a free-reed instrument consisting of a series of steel reeds arranged together horizontally in small channels. An awkward design, it offered only blow notes arranged chromatically.

Buschmann described his new instrument to his brother as "a new instrument that is truly remarkable. In its entirety it measures but four inches in diameter...but gives me twenty-one notes, and all the pianissimos and crescendos one could want without a keyboard, harmonies of six tones, and the ability to hold a note as long as one would wish to."

Initial designs by Buschmann were widely imitated, leading to many modifications and advancements. A Bohemian instrument maker named Richter may have made the most important advancements in early harmonica design. Around 1826, he developed a variation that consisted of ten holes and twenty reeds, with separate blow and draw reed plates mounted on either side of a cedar comb. Richter's tuning, utilizing a diatonic scale, became the standard configuration of what Europeans referred to as the Mundharmonika or mouth organ.

In 1857, the history of the harmonica changed dramatically as German clock maker Matthias Hohner turned to manufacturing harmonicas full-time. With the help of his family and a hired workman, he was able to produce 650 instruments that year. Soon after, he added local workers and developed mass production techniques.

Young Hohner was an outstanding businessman and showed his marketing savvy by developing ornate cover plates bearing the producer's name.

He introduced the harmonica to North America in 1862, a move which would propel the Hohner company to its status as the world leader in harmonicas. By 1887, Hohner was producing more than one million harmonicas annually. Today, Hohner produces over 90 different models of harmonica, with a variety of styles and tunings which allows the player freedom of expression in all forms of music, from Classical and Jazz to Blues, Country and Rock, to the indigenous music of people worldwide.

True Facts
Newest trend in the Netherlands: Tiny jewels implanted directly into the eye.

Eyeing Iran Reactors, Israel Seeks U.S. Bunker Bombs
by Dan Williams

JERUSALEM - The United States plans to sell Israel $319 million worth of air-launched bombs, including 500 "bunker busters" able to penetrate Iran's underground nuclear facilities, Israeli security sources said on Tuesday.

The Haaretz newspaper said Israel sought to obtain the U.S.-made, one-ton "bunker buster" bombs for a possible future strike against arch-foe Iran's atomic development program, which the Jewish state considers a strategic threat. . .
(article)

BLACK GOLD, TEXAS TEA, IRAQI MELFOOF
Crude Dudes
By Linda McQuaig

'. . . . but to stay rich (the oil companies) have to keep finding new reserves, and that's getting tougher. Increasingly it means cutting through permafrost or drilling deep underwater, at tremendous cost. "The cheap oil has already been found and developed and produced and consumed," says Gheit. "The low-hanging fruit has already been picked."

Well, not all the low-hanging fruit has been picked.

Nestled into the heart of the area of heaviest oil concentration in the world is Iraq, overflowing with low-hanging fruit. No permafrost, no deep water. Just giant pools of oil, right beneath the warm ground. This is fruit sagging so low, as it were, that it practically touches the ground under the weight of its ripeness.

Not only does Iraq have vast quantities of easily accessible oil, but its oil is almost untouched. "Think of Iraq as virgin territory .... This is bigger than anything Exxon is involved in currently .... It is the superstar of the future," says Gheit, "That's why Iraq becomes the most sought-after real estate on the face of the earth. . . ." '
(article)

Antarctic Glaciers Melting Faster - Study

WASHINGTON - Glaciers once held up by a floating ice shelf off Antarctica are now sliding off into the sea -- and they are going fast, scientists said on Tuesday. Two separate studies from climate researchers and the space agency NASA show the glaciers are flowing into Antarctica's Weddell Sea, freed by the 2002 breakup of the Larsen B ice shelf.
(article)

Game

Sa Murra (a.k.a. Morra)
(Italian rock-scissors-paper type hand game)

(Jamberoo Murradores)

One of my dreams is to have Morra finally accepted as an official Olympic Sport. Folks, you have to see this game played to believe it. It is spine-tingling and it will crack you up!

An ancient, folk game, known by Egyptians, Greeks and Romans (who called it micatio), it is still played in many nations.

The game is played by two players ('murradores') who, showing simultaneously a number of fingers, must declare at the same time a number not higher than ten (murra). The point is won by the player who has declared the number corresponding to the sum of fingers shown by them both; the set is won by who scores first the number of points previously agreed. The match is won by who wins two of three sets.

But it is not only an individual game. Two doubles can challenge as well; in such a case, two challangers start the match and the one who wins the point defies the other adversary until he is able to have the lead. It is not an easy game; you need a lot of concentration, the capability to predict your adversary's moves and strong character and firmness not to be taken in. These talents can be acquired after you play a lot of matches.

The Rules of Morra
1 Hands must be well clear to players and referees.
2 One challanger can not play after he sees what the other has shown.
3 The point is won by the player who guesses right the sum of the fingers shown by them both.
4 If the both players guess right, the point is not assigned and the game goes on.
5 The set is won by the player who scores first 16 points in the first and the return game, a 21 in the deciding one.
6 If the both players tie the score when they miss a point to win, they play a 5 points tie-break
7 The match is won by who wins two of three sets.
8 Players can not challenge referees' decisions.
9 It is an individual game, but you can also play with a mate against two others, as they do in the Championships at Urzulei.
10 In such a case, two challangers start the game and the one who wins the point has the lead till he loses it.

Short 2 Mb .mpeg movie of actual game being played:
Morra in Action.mpeg

Recipes

Gozleme
Anatolian Flat Bread

I learned this recipe by watching some Turkish women in a tent up at Jamberoo last weekend. I made it myself last night. Almost perfect. I added some queensized olives to the plate just to create more intensity of flavour ('cause I'm an intensity of flavour kind of guy.)

For the Dough:
120 g strong unbleached flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil or melted butter
60-90 ml lukewarm water

For the Filling:
fetta cheese, (strong salty flavour is important) crumbled finely
some silverbeet leaves, with the stems and veins removed, torn into one-inch pieces.

Sift the flour with the salt into a bowl. Make a hollow in the middle and pour in the oil and water using your hands to draw flour in from the sides. Work the mixture into a dough and knead well. Divide it into 4 pieces and roll them into balls. Place on a floured surface, cover with a damp cloth, and leave them to rest for about 20 minutes.

Now roll the balls of dough into flat rectangular shapes. Approx 30 x 20 cm. Place a fine layer of cheese on one half of the rectangle, sprinkle some silver beet pieces over, and fold in half. Press flat. Heat the griddle, wipe it with a little extra oil of butter, and slap one of the rectangles on to it. User your fingers to shift the dough about, making sure it browns and buckles. About a minute or two. When the first side is done, flip it over and cook the other side. Place on a board, cut into 2 inch squares with a sharp knife and squeeze fresh lemon juice over the top. Eat while hot. Serve with some large queen sized olives on the side for extra bite.

Note: You can also fill this with sauted minced beef or lamb, or add some freshly sliced mushrooms, as well as the cheese.

SWEET

IRAQI MELFOOF

3 cups almond
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp ground cardamon
2 tbsp rose water or orange blossom water
1 package fillo pastry

Grind the almonds and mix together with all the ingredients. The mixture should be moist.
Cut the fillo in 3 parts and cover with a damp towel. Take one piece of fillo and fold it about 2 inches from the bottom up. Insert a pencil in the fold. Put one tablespoon of the mixture and roll. Push the 2 sides to the middle and slide the pencil out. Bake in a preheated over at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, until light golden in color.

 

~~~

("Less Talent, More Skin" -- CNN headline about the Miss America pagent this past weekend)


 
No More Clichés
   
Beautiful face
That like a daisy opens its petals to the sun
So do you
Open your face to me as I turn the page.
 
Enchanting smile
Any man would be under your spell,
Oh, beauty of a magazine.
 
How many poems have been written to you?
How many Dantes have written to you, Beatrice?
To your obsessive illusion
To your manufactured fantasy.
 
But today I won't make one more Cliché
And write this poem to you.
No, no more clichés.
 
This poem is dedicated to those women
Whose beauty is in their charm,
In their intelligence,
In their character,
Not on their fabricated looks.
 
This poem is to you women,
That like a Shahrazade wake up
Everyday with a new story to tell,
A story that sings for change
That hopes for battles:
Battles for the love of the united flesh
Battles for passions aroused by a new day
Battles for the neglected rights
Or just battles to survive one more night.
 
Yes, to you women in a world of pain
To you, bright star in this ever-spending universe
To you, fighter of a thousand-and-one fights
To you, friend of my heart.
 
From now on, my head won't look down to a magazine
Rather, it will contemplate the night
And its bright stars,
And so, no more clichés.
 
~ Octavio Paz ~



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