Saturday, July 29, 2006

Ruby, surly mermaid expert.

Today, Ruby and I had a frank discussion about the dire implications of my lack of belief in mermaids. The transcript follows.

G: Roo, do you think mermaids are real?

R: No...wait, I do think it. And they probably don't like you, Daddy because you don't believe. Mermaids DO NOT like people that don't believe in them. They take over those people. You don't want to be taked over do you?

G: Well, no...

R: You better start believing.

G: Okay. Where do they live?

R: At the beach and in bays. They wash up everywhere, not in our country, but in Pirate Lands. And if you want to find a mermaid, Daddy, you have to work harder.

G: What language do mermaids speak?

R: They speak American! What's wrong with you? I mean they speak English, Pirate language. They're half-human and half-fish. And you're ruining mermaid kind.

G: I am?

R: Yes. Because the legend says you ruin mermaid kind by not believing. You'll be begging for mercy! Start believing in mermaids and tell your friends, too. So when the mermaids take over, they'll thank you. Better do it, Daddy.

Owen, who just ran into the room, nude: Can I have a cookie?

Ruby: Me too!

You heard it here. Start believing in mermaids, and start believing soon. For the day is neigh that all knees shall bow before our mermaid overlords. Just saying.

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Friday, July 28, 2006

Perverse and Whimsical Joshes for the Weary of Heart

Friend Geoffery has preternatural ability with Adobe Illustration and is not afraid to drop some heavy shit via light-hearteded dark four panel cartoons.

So lift your world weary head out of that bowl of shoe polish, little one, and feast your eyes on NiftyCo, a web comic that is really pretty good with funny jokes and beautiful art. Huzzah!

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Another Papa Greg debacle.

Here's another overwritten music review I wrote for my friend Chris' blog.

Some dork is going to yell at me for getting everything wrong, but I don’t care, goddamit. I am Papa Greg and I am alive and there’s nothing you Nibelungs can do to stop me.

So, my review: Neu! That’s the band, exclamation point and all. And their first album is called Neu! So, Neu! by Neu!

But first, Neu! The band.

In the late sixties Dusseldorf hatched Kraftwerk, a band run by two anal retentive jerks with a well documented history of treating other band members like shit. (And somewhere some Kraftwerk dork is probably spitting muesli through his nose all over his biking shorts. Hey, man. Read the book.)

In 1971, two Kraftwerkers got fed up, and splintered off and proceeded to rock the fuck out under the name Neu! No more Teutonic Stockhausen malarkey for Michael Rother and Klaus Dinger. These guys wanted to jam it on the one like James Brown.

“Neu!” the album is the sound of what happen when speed freaks from German find a locked groove and do it to death. Proceeding to the tracks:


This song is ONLY ONE GODDAMN CHORD FOR TEN MINUTES over a obsessive 4/4 pulse. But this chord, this chord is special. This chord is fwacka-fwacka-fwacka'd up and down like taffy. And not the cheap shitty grocery store taffy, but the good kind you buy from little shrunken apple Port-o-gee men down at the Shore. Only you're not an apple-cheeked New England tyke in Madras boardshorts, you are a haggard German speed freak in a beige linen suit, with pale blue saucer eyes and a TottenKopf bone structure.

Anyway, this is a funky stone cold jam, with the emphasis on Cold. Cold as chrome. Cold as the Bavarian wind rushing in to the crumpled frame of the old Citreon you just abandoned wrapped around a birch, but you are so spun you've decided to walk to Dusseldorf, which is 35 KM away. That doesn't matter though, because Hallogallo is karoming through your frying skull, giving you the counterpoint to face down the asphalt until you reach the outer city ring.

Cold as Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love”. But funkier.

I have a list somewhere, a list of ten women I would want to watch wiggle and jive to Hallogallo. The first would be a girl I saw dance at a party once in college. She wiggled and shimmied to a song I can’t remember, a willowy girl with brown arms and a beatific face. Her face is important here, because it was so simple and beautiful. Her features were like typography, dark and even. Jesus, A la recherche du temps perdu anyone?

Anyway, you will dance like a spring on jello. The crippled will walk and the unsighted see. The lamb will lay down with the lion and your lumbago will be transformed into a rhumba.

After the pulse of Hallogallo things switch over into more ambient domains. “Sonderangebot”, “Weissensee", “Im Glück" glide by, parading different textures, occasionally getting tense then releasing into quiet pulses.

Then everything gets all fucking crazy again. “Negativland” drifts on a rumble of ambient noise, Dinner plates, crowd noises, metal scrapes that expand into a proto-death metal guitar, something Kerry King might do in the middle of a Slayer track. The 4/4 from “Hallogallo” comes, only this time, you’re not in a disco, you’re in garbage truck.

The whole ends with the perverse “Lieber Honig” (translates into something like “Honey Darling”). A voice that sounds like it belongs to the guy you found fully clothed in tub in the upstairs bathroom, hours after you thought everyone left the party. This guy, he singing a song, to somebody who’s not there and his eyes are fluttering. Other than a radio in the other room, the rest of the house is quiet. The album crashes. So do you.

Buy it.

Stay Golden. I’m proud of you all.

Papa Greg

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Joe Frank Podcast

Joe Frank is amazing. If you've heard him, you'd remember. He might best be described Don DeLillo on the radio. He writes and produces these bizarre, paranoid, funny set pieces that he reads with his rich DJ tenor; each piece is jaw-droppingly brilliant. You can now subscribe to his podcast for free over I-Tunes. I highly, HIGHLY recommend checking it out.

Clear the afternoon. And listen.

Addenda: Actually, it's more like clear your coffee break. The stuff is, maddeningly, not archived and the current segment is only five minutes long. Sorry. Am a chump.


A blog entry made of other blog entries

This entry is constructed from sentences pulled from other Blogger blogs, using the "next blog" button. Yes, I have more time then sense.


Of course, I'm in Downtown Kingston, not in Montego Bay, where I am told, it is much nicer. This is remarkably similar to the Speed Dating concept except for the fact that you don’t actually say anything to the new singles you meet. Instead, these “pie-in-the-skiers” proclaim the bible as a book of fear rather than the guidebook of life that it is.

I made love to my wife again last night. I've been checking quite a few blogs etc, and I've become curious about female ejaculation. Albuquerque sounds nice.

Ive discovered that newer product "True Lemon". Happen to be the day I had my Naturalistic Observation thing.

The grooming parlour full of barking dogs didn't help; not having any fur - after a lifetime of it - was weird and traumatic. I’m old; my dress is ripped.

Oh, I'm sick and tired of this, Bertie! She said "get back bitch I ain't givin you shit". Well someone had to bring up the Irish Republican Army!

Those are the qualities that could be expected of a newly appointed Miss Universe.

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Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Best Product Warning Ever. is the simply the best catalogue in the universe. The product warning below is why.

Our Most Powerful Magnets


If you really need unbelievably powerful magnets, here they are.
Uses include magnetic steering of nuclear particles in accelerators, levitation devices, magnetic beam amplifiers, scrap iron separators, etc.
Beware - you must think ahead when moving these magnets.
If carrying one into another room, carefully plan the route you will be taking. Computers & monitors will be affected in an entire room. Loose metallic objects and other magnets may become airborne and fly considerable distances - and at great speed - to attach themselves to this magnet. If you get caught in between the two, you can get injured.
Two of these magnets close together can create an almost unbelievable magnetic field that can be very dangerous. Of all the unique items we offer for sale, we consider these items the most dangerous of all. Our normal packing & shipping personnel refuse to package these magnets - our engineers have to do it. This is no joke and we cannot stress it strongly enough - that you must be extremely careful - and know what you're doing with these magnets.

Take Note: Two Super magnets can very easily get out of control and break fingers and even your arm if opposing poles fly at each other. If working with multiple Supermagnets, always handle one magnet at a time, secure it, then proceed to the next magnet.

The disc Supermagnets are Axially Magnetized (the top & bottom faces are the north & south poles). The poles on Supermagnet #3 are the large 2" x 3" faces on opposite sides.

We can only ship these magnets by ground UPS - they cannot be shipped via air as it will interfere with the aircraft's navigational equipment. Supermagnet #3 and Supermagnet #4 come packed in small wooden crates as shown. All Supermagnets are packed in large blocks/panels of Styrofoam and in large boxes to minimize the external magnetic field.


A music review I posted over on Chris' blog.

Here's a review I posted over at, pal Chris' music blog. I'm sure how well it works, but what the hell.

The Tubes -- (Self titled album)

When Chris, or “Kris” asked me to contribute an occasional review of old crap from my CD pile, I kind of have to ask what he thought he’d get out of it. Since I’m a pack rat and I have no willpower, I’ve got a very low threshold for purchase, something that might cause readers a lot of suffering in the long run.

Swear to Christ, last week I found myself giddy that I had found a CD of pre-war German Big Band music, and I very…nearly…got…to… the cash register.

So, that said, think of these little segments as skirmishes, and I am your platoon leader. Some of you might not make it. That’s just the risk we’re all going to have to take.

For our first outing together, I thought I’d expose you pukes to a CLEANSING FIRE. Gird yourselves, my pretties. Because we’re going to chat about the motherfucking TUBES.

Now, most people, 85% of the people…okay 90% of the people who even know who The Tubes are associate the name with the hated "She's a beauty", the embarrassing single taken from 1981’s ill-conceived abortion, The Completion Backwards Principle. For our purposes here, we’re going to have to tell those people to take the fucking gas pipe. We don’t need ‘em.

And besides, the Tubes we’re talking about are a completely different animal than those pale MTV motherfuckers from 1981. These are Model Year 1975 Tubes. The good Tubes. The ones you should love.

This is the sound of a glam big band. This is seven hippies from the San Francisco bay area spazzing out about 18 months short of when spazzing out became a gleaming commodity in the from of punk. The difference was these guys could play like angels.

Eight songs. All overproduced, overdubbed and airtight. Just a big baroque fucking mess. I love ‘em all. But, you asked for highlights. Here they are:

Track #1: Up From the Deep

A statement of purpose for the band. Vocalist Fee Waybill (a better name than your, I reckon) expounds on the virtues of the band as a good entertainment valueover a bubbling farty synth with tacky Middle Eastern flourishes. Farty synth. Right on.

Track #4: Malagueña Salerosa

A traditional flamenco showboat number, transformed into a robotic bolero. Fun song fact: the song itself is infamous for demanding the singer sustain a note for like 25 bars. Maybe not. I don’t know what a bar is. But the singer has to hold the note for a long goddamn time. Next you run into a wandering flamenco band, DEMAND that song and watch the singer crumple. Then, chuckling, light a cigar with a five dollar note.

Anyway, uh, good song.

Track #5: Mondo Bondage

Big epic semi-instrumental track with a lot CRUNCH. Nonsense lyrics about bondage. BRILLIANT.

Track #8: White Punks on Dope

You don’t know this song, and it makes me sad. So sad, I just vomited a little in my mouth. It’s like some shitty Jay McInerny novel about a poor little rich drug fiend whose parents live in Hollywood. Mysteriously, he lives in San Francisco. He plans to hang himself as so as he gets enough rope. Like Emo, but you’re supposed to laugh. Unlike Emo, the musicians are competent and rock the fuck out.

So, there you are. Buy it, don’t buy it, I don’t give a shit. It’s a great album, and now you know.

One more factoid: The guy who played keyboards on “Like a Rolling Stone” produced it. Al Kooper. Isn’t that a kick in the ass?

Stay Golden. I’m proud of you all.

Papa Greg

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

What do you do when your neighborhood is being shelled?

A playa grabs his trumpet and rocks the improv.

Here's to crazy people who live and rage in the moment, even when the world is conflagrating around them.

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Oh no.

I'm stinking up yet another corner of the internet with my pointless hogshit. Chris (disclosure: A Canadian) asked me to write music reviews for his blogKris One. The fool.


Heartening Portents

Walking past the fire station this morning, the firefighters were out washing the trucks, blasting ELO. I'm pretty sure than means something.

And I also sat next to a crazy man on the train whose Granny is partial to snuff tobacco. Again, some kind of semiphor from the Universe.

I'm going to go buy a lottery ticket.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

An open letter to the Wife.

Dear the Wife,

Hello. How are you, my love?

Last night, I cracked the toilet seat.

You heard it crack, and touchingly, you called out from the bedroom to inquire after my health. Yes, after a hard day of work and an evening of dealing with our insufferable moppets, you still spared me a tender mercy early on a Wednesday morning, just after midnight.

As I left the bathroom after my eventide absolutions, again you called to me from your attitude of repose. “Get some packing tape and fix the damn seat. I don’t want my ass pinched in the morning.”

And so, I looked for the packing tape. I looked in all your various nests, the “crafts” box, your desk with the myriad IKEA wooden file boxes with little drawers -- each holding a tiny world of ribbon and thread and ribbon and thimble and ribbon (Dearheart, a question: Why do we NEED so much FUCKING RIBBON??).

I very gingerly picked through the piles of papers you’ve shoved under the cupboard – right up to the edge of the sink, the sink in the kitchen of the home we share, where I do the washing up, an activity that traditionally involve a certain amount of water. And yet the paper is so very close to the very moist water! What an irrepressibly zany lady you are!

Oh, the fasteners and joiners I found! Chicago screws, photo corners, tiny pins, thumbtacks, sparkle glue and grommets, brass hooks and wee hook-and-eye curiosities. Rubber stamps! Mailing labels! Envelopes of every gauge! Novelty hole punches! Japanese character stickers! And the paper stock! Handmade Japanese papers! Earnest recycled papers, the color of rain clouds. Linens and rags, engraved and embossed. Zipatone! My wife is resplendent in divergence! Resplendent in paper products! My wife, so prudent, has wisely been STOCKING UP on crafts materiel, stocking up for the day when she will begin her life’s work. Something involving a shitload of paper, I’m sure.

So, in the middle of the night, in my underpants, I looked for the tape, that my dear wife’s tender buttocks would not be pinched before I could replace the toilet seat I broke with my he-man buttocks. And I couldn’t find it. So I went to ask. Just past midnight. On a Wednesday. In my underpants.

“Can’t find the tape.”

“Oh,” you replied from our nuptial bed, where you were with our children, the fruit of our love,”look…uh… in the basket.”

“Which…basket?” Puzzles at midnight! Impudent minx!

“On the mantle.”

So to the living room I went, to the mantle. And there for some reason, was a basket. A mysterious basket, one I’d never seen before, sort of Shaker looking, filled with items so diverse that I’m not sure how you describe the set they belonged to, in a set theory sort of way. Maybe “The set of things that have absolutely nothing to fucking do with each other.” Or, “the set of things that have been chosen at random by a sleepwalker and put into a basket that is for some reason on our mantle”. Or, “the set of things that are particularly irritating to rifle through at midnight, when you’re in your underpants looking for the goddamn packing tape so your wife doesn’t pinch her ass in the morning.”

Clever woman, you were right! The tape was there! Along with a thermos and a paperback book! Now I know where to look! In the thermos and paperback book and packing tape basket. In the living room.

So, here’s hoping your ass remained unpinched this morning, trueheart.


Your Husband Greg

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Some apologies

To my Japanese host family: Sorry I took the beer.

To various shoe clerks: Sorry about my feet. They smell. I know.

To the woman with the crutches: Should have given you my seat. I was a dick. Sorry.

To that priest in Colorado that I led on: Hey, man… sorry. I was trying to avoid conflict with my Mom. Not that much of God guy. Good luck with the parish, gangsta.

To my ex-roommate Mark: sorry I took your beer and sausages.

To the Bistro: You gave me and my friend free dinner, then we stole a case of beer. You went out of business. I hope it was nothing we did.

To the Jazz Butcher: I enjoyed the show, but I was drunk, and didn’t realize Max had left the band. Sorry.

To the beer garden in Tokyo: Sorry we took your beer. We were young. We didn’t know.

To the Williams brothers: I said some uncool things for a laugh that made your status as the only black family at my High School that much less smooth. You carried yourselves with dignity, but I was a goof. Sorry.

To the man that used to stare at me on BART: Sorry if I stared back with too much of scowl. Although I have to ask what prompted you to stare at me in the first place.

To Warehouse Records: Sorry about shoplifting cassettes back in the day. To be fair, I stuck to stuff that no one else would have bought.

To Lonely Planet Publications (more specifically the long suffering general manager, Eric): Sorry for being a useless, whiney troublemaking shithead. I’m better now.

To my wife: Sorry for being a baby all too often.

To the people of St. John’s, Newfoundland: I was loud, I know. It was my first big business trip and I spazzed out.

To John Zorn: Sorry I heckled you. I had had a long day and my wife and her friend were not digging the show, and I was drunk, and Mike Patton is irritating.

To various people: My humor can get too dark, too fast when meeting people for the first time. Sorry. Self-defense or some such crap.

To Greg Q.: Sorry for spazzing out on you when you came to visit me in First Grade. My brother spurred me on for his own evil purposes.

To Mike J.: Sorry for being pathetic with you in our early twenties. God we sucked. Same for Mike H. I expect full apologies from both of you now.

To Larry: I’m sorry about your brain. But dude, imagine having someone like you as a boss. Not good for the ego.

To the City of Walnut Creek: Sorry for being stoned at work.

To the City of Walnut Creek: Sorry for using various infrastructure points as hide-outs to get stoned in.

To the crossing guard: Sorry I flipped you off. What can I say? I was ten.

To an unnamed family in Walnut Creek: Sorry about all the mailboxes ending up in the creek over several years in the early 80’s. Your son was an asshole, so it had to be done.

To Gemini and Tanner: Sorry I ignored you, guys. Irish setters need attention, I know.

To Seymour: Cats should never be forced to interface with hi-lighter pens. Sorry.

To the Irish nation: I affected some dumbass fakie Brendan Behan charming Poet Drunk bullshit in my early twenties, and that sucks. You are so much more than that. Sorry.

To humanity: My plaid pants fixation is over. It was horrible while it lasted. I’m sorry.

To various waitstaff: My children are horrid. I apologize. (Though largeness of the tips should have let gratitude be felt.)

To the patrons of the men’s toilet at the Mad Dog in the Fog one night, about ten years ago: I had stomach flu. I should have stayed home. Sorry.

To my wife: We should have gone to city hall. A full Orthodox mass is a little much. I see that now. Sorry.

To the Universe: Sorry. You know why.

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Hobos! America's sweethearts!

Typical Hobo

What is it about Hobos that has captured the imagination of billions of people around this old Earth? Certainly, one only has to point to the runaway success of the Hobo-themed DaVinci Code for cashbox proof that this esoteric bunch is taking America by storm.

As of the end of 2004, 35,145,331 Americans called themselves Hobos, with 11,173,064 Alpha Hobos leading 126,232 Hobo battalions. Hobos administer themselves mostly by committees of volunteers, but do employ professionals at the higher levels of administration, and for commercial activities.

Hobo use beatings and wild Hobo clog dancing to instill values such as self-esteem, good citizenship, appreciation of the outdoors through a variety of outdoor activities such as living in ditches, carving “wives” out of bark, and stewing cigarette dog ends. Hobos are recognized for their achievements through rank advancement and various special awards.

The Hobo Motto
I got me a sack an’ a big ol’ pole and some twine

The Hobo Slogan
Save them old cans o’ beans so what to boil ‘em to make Can o’ Bean Stew

The Hobo Oath
On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to the Hobo King an and to obey the Hobo Law; to wear only one suspender; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight, at least as morally straight as one could expect from someone who sleeps in a railcar. Oh, and also to sing “I gots high friends in low places” with a jocular enthusiasm and expectorate with panache.

The Hobo Motto and Oath and Law have remained unchanged since they were first developed in 1968.

Are Hobos a secret society bent on world domination?
The Hobo society is only esoteric in the sense that they live under rail bridge in the bushes, so there’s not a lot of transparency. It’s really, really filthy down there.
In testimony before the US Senate Commerce Committee, Hobo activist Walla Walla Davey stated that Hoboism has, in the 21st century, become less a secret society and more of a "fancy pants fandango ball." At least that was what it sounded like, as Davey has very few teeth and had a corn-cob pipe clenched in his few good teeth. Non-Hobo and professor of History Dr. Dieter Salter of the university of Graz describes Hobos as a filthy bunch of stinking tramps.

Notable hobos (with their Hobo names)

Stephen Hawkings “Kid Thunder”

Dame Judy Dench “Big Elsie the Toothless Poopsie”

Charlotte Rampling “Squeaky Sue from Kalamazoo”

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger “Gapped-Toothed Olaf the Shy Mulatto”

Blur “The Sunshine Peg leg Stompers and Standing Water Submarine Band.”

Robert DeNiro “Passed Around Percy the Pleasure Lad”

Noam Chomsky “Little Grunt”

The Live Aid Controversy

Perhaps the most notorious event in Hobo history involved the 1985 LiveAid Concert. Hobos had been hired as crowd security for a fee that was said to include 30 pounds of salted pork and a ball of really strong twine. A shoving match erupted near the stage during Tears for Fears’ performance of “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” (not, as is commonly thought, "Sympathy for the Devil"). A concert patron by the name of Corky Stuart died of dysentery after eating a bowl of Hobo stew provided by one Hobo known as “Reggie the Fudge Spoon”. In later testimony Reggie the Fudge Spoon was heard to sing “Old Susanna”. The judge was forced to call a mistrial as the jury was covered in sputum by the end of Mr. Fudge Spoon’s testimony.


Sunday, July 16, 2006

An exhibition of strange statues.

They're all right here.


Ringo's eyebrow

Concerning Ringo's right eyebrow: what gives?

Here it is in full bushy glory (Sgt. Pepper's era from the looks). It's nearly slavic in its mink-like silkiness.

Now witness this freakish Greta Garbo slash. (Abby Road? Later? Pre-shaved head anyway.)

Did the Maharishi demand Ringo's eyebrow in some dark heathen Hindoo ritual?

Did Lennon in a pique of cruelty demand Ringo's eyebrow as payment for staying in the band?

What it a PCP freak-out? "The... hairy brain... must gouge it out...with... drumstick..."

Googling "Ringo's Eyebrow" has raised more questions than answers. Mostly people asking what the hell is wrong with Ringo's eyebrow.

One incurious person on some Beatles fan forum even went so far as to say "Who cares? He's Ringo and that's all that matters."

Well maybe, goddamit, he isn't Ringo. Did you ever think of that? Ever hear of Mossad, you patsy?


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Friday, July 14, 2006

Another nifty blog for you jokers.

The exploding train wreck of Japanese popular culture gets the slow mo treatment at An Eternal Thought in the Mind of Godzilla.

I'm sucker for trashy crap that fills kids heads' and turns them into slack-jawed layabouts, and the Japanese produce some of the finest trashy crap on the planet. This website is run by an American living in Tokyo, a guy bent on delivery only the trashiest and crappiest "culture". Weirdo fun!

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Currently the worst selling book on Amazon US

The LCSH Century: One Hundred Years With the Library of Congress Subject Headings System.

Currently the 4,566,718th most popular book. I'm thinking of getting it, just because it's so sad.

The worst selling music CD currently in stock is something called
That'll Flat Git It Vol. 18, at #802,568. Apparently the previous 17 volumes covered as much as anyone ever wanted to git.

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Black Flag, Bonnie Tyler, Iron Maiden, J. Geils Band, Jean Michel Jarre...

... Japan, Jason and the Scorchers, Heaven 17, Lene Lovich, Leonard Cohen, Les Rita Misouko, HAYZI MOTHERFUCKING FANTAYZEE??!?

An amazing compendium of music videos from the 80's and the early 90's cribbed from YouTube can be found here.

My day is shot.

And really, how retarded is Hayzi Fantyazee? This much:

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The Ukulele: Aural Prozac

If I every get audited, or get diagnosed with hepatitis, I'm going to hit the Ukulele hard. It conquers depression almost as well as crappy old Godzilla movies.

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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Suzanne, art dealertrix

Today I spent the afternoon reading Am I Gay?. Between questions about whether giving hand relief to a tranny rates you as a gay, I rattled off some questions to my pal Suzanne, who runs The Beholder Gallery an online no-bullshit gallery, where normal people can buy original, reasonably-priced fine art without dealing with the weirdness of a gallery.

She's also great art director.

Here's the Q&A. I did not ask her if she thought I was gay.

G: You've got a gallery, yeah? You just up and did it. Why did you do it?

S: I've always felt that the art establishment was just a little too
haughty for what is essentially a business driven by money.
Maybe I've got a chip on my shoulder for becoming a graphic designer and never wanting to play the art game seriously. But that's another story.

The Beholder was started to give people a way to connect with artists outside of the usual way. The web lets people look at their own pace and decide for themselves what they like for whatever reason.

I've sold a number of pieces to people I know are just getting into
buying art. And when someone tells me its their first piece of "real" art I get all excited, because that's really my goal.

G:Have artists responded to the web gallery concept?

S:I just got a submission today from an artist who has taken a really
established path: Yale Grad School and a bunch of NY shows.

When folks like that come to me because they like what I'm doing, I know that I must be doing something right. Some are doing it for kind of an experiment and are not sure my idea is for them, and some really get it and are helping me with shows and promotions.

G:Does it bring them closer to the collector?

S:There hasn't been that much "customer bonding" but the buyers who I do get to know are curious about the artists and vice versa.

G: Next! What sort of background do you have? Any fancy pants art training?

S:I have been working in the art-for-commerce world for about 15 years and have really enjoyed it.I was nervous at first when I started the gallery that I don't have any formal experience selling fine art, but I think that turns out to be a bonus most of the time. Sometimes I ask dumb questions, but for the most part, people are pretty understanding.

G:How do you find the artists? Right now, my fav painter on your site is Bob Bechtol. Great stuff. Perfect for say, a birthday present. For me. (And of course, Robert Hardgrave is awesome. And Katja.)

S: At first it was begging my friends and now it's almost half
submissions, which is great. Everyone has a different perspective and is in
different points in their careers, which is the fun part.

Robert Hardgrave just opened a big show at BLK MRKT in LA which is a pretty big deal. Pretty soon he won't be needing me anymore (sob) but I'm stoked that I found him before they did.

G: Have you ever rented art to porno film productions?

S: Maybe the stuff behind glass...

G: I have a dead trout in an aquarium filled with aspic. Will you unload it for me? 50/50?

S: You could try calling Saatchi, I hear he's quite a nice bloke.

G: One more question: Were you aware there's monster in
Advanced Dungeons and Dragons called a beholder? It's pretty badass, too.

S: Sweet. Maybe I can contact them to do some "cross-promotion."


I just feel like I have to say something.

There's a blog, Another Disappoinment that makes me spiral into black wino depression. It's really, really well written and very, very funny. Fuck, I'm a hack.

I may have to write a poem later. Or beat someone up. I just don't know myself anymore.

How are you?


I will always remember how my foot looked on your back as I sprinted my way to the top.

I have struck blog gold! A friend of mine has a job!

And that’s not all! He has a job that allows him to pay me money to write crappy little blog postings! Sweet Jesus!

Actually, it’ll be very, very little money, just enough to keep me in wrestling magazines and jaw breakers. But, it should be a ranty good time and perfect venue for shrieking my theories and pointing my fat sausage fingers at ALL THE GODDAMN PHONIES.

It would be for the website of a sassy national magazine that made a brief tentative debut last year, retreated, and is now coming back, spell checked and even more sassified. Mysteriously, I will not divulge its name here.

Anyhoo, I’ll be writing reviews about stuff, could books, could be music, could be toothpaste. But whatever it maybe, you know it’s going my review will be puerile and insipid! Yay me!

I’ll keep you posted.

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Sunday, July 09, 2006

Hank, a nice man who owns a gun or two

When I first came up with this little project of interviewing interesting friends, the first name on the list, writ large in all caps, was HANK.

Hank is the step-father of one of my most important friends, Abe. He's smart, a little creepy and a genuinely sweet guy. He once emailed my wife to ask if she'd like to collaborate on poems about Hannibal Lechter. He was only joking a little, I think.

A few years ago, Hank and I spent the afternoon of Abe's wedding talking under a tree, because it was fucking hot. We talked a bit about guns, along with the nature of love and the weirdness of weddings. Better than than doing the Bunny Hop by a long shot, I'd say. I've kept that conversation in the back of my mind since then, and I thought I'd ask Hank to dredge up that conversation for the blog.

Hank is also a gun owner. I don't know many gun owners, and I'm not one myself, but I'm fine with other people owning them. Just don't point that thing at me.

So Hank and I chatted via email extensively about the gun thang, so extensively in fact that this is a truncated version. You can get the director's cut over at Some People I Know. It include a funny essay Hank wrote about the more swishy, shopping side of gun ownership. I say check it out.

G: Hank, at Abe’s wedding you and I had an interesting conversation about guns. In the past few years, you’ve taken up gun ownership as a hobby. I guess a lot of people have this preconceived idea of gun owners as these reactionary Berserkers, where as you’re a thoughtful, loving guy…right?

H: I don’t like to admit that I might be a loving person. There are too many counter-examples out there in too many minds to make any of those claims. Plus, it is Plus, it is way too limiting. I would rather have people think that I am not a loving person, and that way they can be pleasantly surprised, I hope.

One thing that propelled me into the "gun world", if you want to call it that, that I am very aware of is your typical jew-boy threatened by storm trooper scenario. I can make light of it, I do make light of it, but there is some fear there too. It's that old "4 A.M. and a gang of armed thugs smash their way into my house and drag me off to the camps" mental reverberation that I have had for as long as I can remember. When I took a look at that fantasy, I realized what was most terrifying was the sense of helplessness it gave me. I wanted to be in a position to say, "OK, you might get the best of me and mine, but I am at least gonna hurt you in the process." I can say that archaic fear of the Evil Invaders has softened considerably since my home has become an armed fortress (just kidding about the armed fortress part).

G: Well, I can relate to that, but it's really pretty much an abstract fear, isn't it? I mean in this day and age?

H: Yes, if you mean for most law-abiding citizens in the US or other parts of the post-industrial world. But in many places in the world, involving I would say a majority of the people who are alive today, it is a very real fear, a real possibility in their lives. I remember a few years ago on a Saturday afternoon there was a rumor in the town I live in that there was a gang of kids robbing stores in the malls north of here. A rumor, unsubstantiated by anyone in authority, but many of the shops in town closed because of it. As New Orleans demonstrated, any place may be only one natural disaster away from adventures with armed bad guys. I remember a quote from Orwell that I find speaks to this issue: "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men are prepared to do violence on their behalf." He was talking about wars between nations, but my feeling is now that everyone should be prepared to defend himself or herself.

That whole thing is the dark side of why I learned to shoot, and why I am a happy gun owner today. Of course there were other sides too.

When I turned fifty I made a list of things that I wanted to learn and study. Ball room dancing and French were on that list, but those interests died on the dance floor so to speak. Learning to shoot and learning computers are thriving.

G: Can you say something about how it actually happened in your life?

H: I am, as you note above, a thoughtful person, in that I like to think about things I am doing, learn a bit about them and let my motivation grow or not in the process. Someone gave me a copy of a book called Boston's Gun Bible which I found fascinating and in fact reviewed on Amazon. From there it was just a question of learning. To buy a gun in this country you usually have to have a federally licensed firearms dealer. I met a wonderful guy nearby here who is a real "there is no such thing as a dumb question" guy. A very decent and generous guy, who pointed me in the right direction. And I was lucky enough to find a master of the shooting arts, in fact quite locally at the Chabot Gun Club in Oakland. This man, John Maunder, is a life-long student of fire arms and shooting, and a real old-fashioned gentleman and honorable being. He has also been unbelievably kind to me and generous with his time. I have yet to meet anyone who shoots seriously who fits the stereotype you mentioned. I am constantly made happy by how kind and welcoming these folks are. John never lets any of his students forget that shooting is a potentially lethal pastime, so you have to be calm, cool, collected, humble and all those virtuous things or you are gonna be in deep dog-doo.

I am politically progressive, but I believe strongly that people should learn how to shoot, how to defend themselves. To me, the liberal knee-jerk reaction to guns is every bit as thoughtless as the right�s knee-jerk reaction to gay marriage. Thoughtless and very damaging. It is almost impossible where I live in California to get a permit to carry a concealed gun, but if it were possible, I would do it.

G: How did people you’re close to react to your nascent gun thingie?

H: My wife Thea has had a terrible time with it. She has a visceral reaction to guns that borders on terror. Sadly for her, her husband, her sons Abe and Alex, and her sister Colleen’s husband and son are all gun owners and enthusiastic shooters. I would say Mac (Greg: Hank's son) is probably squeamish on the subject, but he is somewhat at home with his dad’s weird interests.

My colleagues at work have turned out to be either current or former fire arms aficionados. That surprised me, but it no longer surprises me.

G: Meaning?

H: OK, here’s a story. A woman friend of mine who is a kind of archetypal Berkeley liberal invited me to have coffee with her cause she had something she had been thinking about and she wanted to ask me my opinion. Her question was: “What do you think about guns?” When I heard this my heart sank because I immediately thought we would get into one of those heated discussions that people on opposite sides of an issue tend to have. Turned out she had been doing a lot of thinking and reading on her own and had herself decided she needed to learn how to shoot! That really surprised me, but I think it is where people get to if they face the facts.

G: Did you grow up with guns? Did your father or any relatives hunt? When and how and why did your interest pique? What sort of instruction have you had?

H: Until I was nine I lived on top of a mountain in eastern Pennsylvania in a little town with about 12 families. Everybody hunted, except my Swiss dad, who preferred fly fishing! I have since reclaimed my Swiss heritage by learning to shoot, because Switzerland has no other army except for its armed citizens. That whole William Tell thing is not just some cute Disney cartoon to them, but a very serious founding myth.

I have taken a number of classes at different places, and I go to the range for practice. Like anything else, it requires total devotion to get really good at, and my total devotion is directed elsewhere, so I am at peace with that decision and glad that I have some minimal competence with fire arms.

G: Obviously, guns are a semiotician’s wet dream. When you first started handling and firing guns, did you ever get freaked out, like “Holy Fucking Shit! I AM

H: Yes, yes and more yes. It is ceaselessly drummed into me that you better realize that you have a lethal machine in your hands when you have a fire arm. You better be healthily scared too. My teachers go by the strict ethic that there are no accidental shootings. The person who shoots someone else “accidentally” is always responsible for it.

I have become more respectful of the warrior ethic. We are taught that such a thing no longer exists, that the trenches and machine guns of WW I killed it off. But as an ideal to strive for, embracing honor, integrity, courage, a spirit of service, it’s not bad. I have found these qualities are highly valued among my “gun totin’ friends”. It’s very much a reputation-based culture. It doesn’t seem to matter what your politics or religion is. If you demonstrate those values, you get respect. There are apparently an awful lot of overweight,. middle aged guys out there who see themselves as warriors, and try in some measure to live up to an ancient ideal.

Well Greg, I know you are dying to ask me some more, but I have to go now. Let’s meet real soon and flap our jaws some more, OK good buddy?

G: That’s an affirmative, my strange friend.


New Sweet ass link.

Blog special agent G. of the RCMP has hooked me up with the sweet ass (a phrase I'm slowly weening myself from)
Hoopty Rides, a blog about dangerous industrial crafts you can do at home and get chemical burns on your face, leaving you a bitter shut-in who the neighbor children call Mr. Grilled Cheese-face.

The guy who runs it is an editor for Make Magazine, the bible of dangerous and pointless electronics project (that I'm too chickenshit and incompetent to try) for the home mad scientist.

It's got hot rods!

Someday, I'll have a hot rod. After we get rid of the kids' car seat and I learn how to drive stick.


On a troubling side note, my children have been exposed to two whole hours of Canadian programming this morning. What gives with our children's programming deficit with Canada?

By my reckoning:

-- Calliou
-- The satanic Doodlebops
-- Franklin
-- Anne of Green Gables (I barfed in my mouth a little bit when I wrote that)
-- Miffy
-- Degrassi repeats (which are admittedly AWESOME)
-- George Shrinks
-- Rolie Polie Ollie
-- etc, etc, ad infinitum

My three year old told me he wanted his own toque this morning. Have we gone too far in letting this menance into our homes?

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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Fred, a hotrodder

Ich bin ein pachuco.

Friendly friend Fred is a hot rodder. He has raised a lowly ’64 Beetle unto the realm of SWEETASS thanks to impudent arc welding and liberal application of mid 30’s Ford parts and the disk brakes of a 914. His Stink Bug is apparently a Grand National Roadster Show class winner. I’m sure that’s something very nice.

Meanwhile, I drive a 98 Honda Accord automatic, also pretty sweet. Especially the carseats. NICE.

So I thought I’d interview Fred about his ride, but he was cagey. “Just ask me weird stuff otherwise it’ll be boring” he said. I’d like to apologize for the results now. The Q & A follows…

G: Fred, I’ve been wondering about movie stars. Like, smiling
all the time must get tedious. At what point does smiling just become a straight muscle memory thing rather than an emotional response? Does Tom Hanks enjoy smiling?

F: I'm glad you asked this intrepid question. That is why you are my hero. Life has it's way of balancing out our actions. For every action, there is an equal reaction.

Now, for every smile Tom gives, there is a grimace.


Tom - Yes, I loved the Da Vinci Code too...

Tom - No, I will not do a Bosom Buddies Reunion...

I also think, because smiling is such an emotional action, sincerity
plays a big role the amount of fatigue experienced in serial smilers.
Think endorphin release when you get to shake the hand of a lovely lady
versus the amount of energy needed to control the fight-or-flight
mechanism while entertaining a certain Dick Cheney.

G: You own a sock-it-to-me type modified Volkswagen. (My father-in-law HATES Volkswagens, by the by. He’s a Ford man.) Did hot rodders in the sixties juice up Volkswagens, or is this some recent stoner thing? Do you smoke pot? Did you dodge the draft, too, you commie rat?

F: Homely cat ? No, I haven't seen any lately.

But, you zay zomesing about zisss . . VOLKSWAGON. YA ! It iz der
PEOPLES KAR ! YES ? No ? Even TODAY... I drive a nice Zpecimin to Verk.

G: Fred, why do you think Japanese culture created Sumo? Do you think those guys are studly, or are they simply counting on being big blubbery mountains to get the gig done?

F: Your cultural metaphors secrete me. What your really asking me here is if I would like to go see a movie with you, right ?

G: Fred, I can’t really grow in sideburns. Do you think
this would have affected my social standing in Victorian times?

F: I have to look deep into my magic HISTORICAL-RETORICAL Orb Globe...
Going back.... Back... back...
Oh dear... Your social standing seems to have / will / did remain..
ahem... sordid.

G: Can a modern ballet danseur get away with a juicy jete
for the sake of the jete these days, or do you think that postmodernism has rendered technical skill pointless?

F: pointless POINTLESS ??
You - of all people - The very mention of a single wasted movement,
a betrayal of all I feel about YOUR virtuoso performance last night !!
YOU, in the darkened theater - bursting effortlessly into the light -
as if you where the Michael Jordan of the AILES DE PIGEON.

G: I want a car stereo. Any suggestions?

F: Just make sure you get speakers. This time.

G: What’s your URL?

F: You are so nasty.

(Photo purloined from the VW Trends website. That is Fred, and that is the Stink Bug.)


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

A-ha! The Tables Turned!

y blog pal Kimananda has dropped a load of questions on me. Granted, I asked her to, because I thought they'd be easy. Ha! Not the case. Apparently not everyone has adopted my half-ass and lazy interview style.

Anyway, my answers are below. Feel free to cringe.

1. You have been given the opportunity to become any person whom you've mentioned on any of your blogs. Who do you become and why?

Um, this is an odd question. Do I become wholly that person, thus unaware that I'm still me? Or do does my ego manifest as a sneaky little gnome guy, hiding out and monitoring the show? Do I get to carve "Motorhead" into the brain of the victim?

Um, I suppose Nabakov would be the most interesting personality to inhabit. He had an interesting life and from his writing I'd guess his innerlife was pretty phatasmagoric. Nice place to visit for 24 hours. Or Lemmy, 'cause of the chicks.

2. One of your listed interests is 'reading while eating'. What is
your favorite and your least favorite book/food combination, and why?

Chinese seems to work for most books, because the flavor isn’t so insistent that you can’t ignore when you have to. Really amazing food of course deserves full attention (though conversation is always given). A memorable meal/book combination was back in my financially strapped days: a friend of a friend did a favor for a guy who worked in a hoity-toity liquor store. In payment, the liquor employee gave my aquaitance a carton filled extremely expensive, extremely stolen French wine, a bottle of which somehow ended up in my dingly little house. I read “Pale Fire” and while eating a baked chicken breast stuffed with spinach and feta and this purloined amazing wine that tasted stolen. And it was raining. Nice.

Cereal is bad for most books, unless they’re kind of dumb and pointless.

Note: Books that stay open on their own are best for eating to.

2. You know many fun facts about many well-known people…tell us five fun facts about yourself. Be creative, yet honest.

a. I have a gimp wrist. My left hand can’t rotate to a palm-up position. The farthest it’ll go is with my thumb pointing up in a “nice to meet you” position. I could never be a really good waiter.

b. Won a pony when I was four in a drawing at the Walnut Festival. The beast was named Billy Blazer and his back was bowed. My parents were not horse or pony people and so were a bit put-out by the whole thing.

We kept the poor old bastard in the backyard for the month we owned him. He used to come stare at us at the picture window while we watched TV. Haunting.

c. Tried out for the American quiz show Jeopardy a couple years back. Aced the test, but freezed up on the screen-test portion. It was a weird experience that still seems dreamlike to me. I may have to blog about it.

d. My three-year old son is getting his tonsils out soon and the thought of him going under scares the living crap out of me.

e. I’m overweight and it vexes me to no end. I worked with a personal trainer for a while and had good results but gave it up because I found watching TV and eating ice cream like a barn yard hog a lot more fun. Am ramping up to take another crack at this “health” thing I hear so much about.

3. Bastard of Art, or Bastard of Commerce. You can only choose one. Which do you choose, and please justify your answer.

Easy, I think. I’d have to say “Art”. “Commerce” is just how keep shoes on the children’s feet and a chicken in the pot.

What I’d call my “Art” is the little worlds I detour into. Some of that gets routed onto my blog, very occaisionally some gets into my work. Other crap is probably too idiosyncratic to make sense to most people. My long suffering wife gets glimpses into it and she seems to get a kick out of seeing my mind work. I write, I draw, I tell idiotic little stories to friends. It’s the aspect of my personality I get the most satisfaction from and I’m most protective of.

I worry about losing that as I get older.

5. You've started interviewing real people. Who tops your dream list of interviewees, and what would be the main topic of conversation?

God. (That's an interjection, not the interveiwee.) Um, I'd have to say Sterling Hayden. He was the actor that played the insane Air Force general in Dr. Strangelove and the corrupt Irish cop that Michael Corlone kills over dinner in the Godfather. He was an instinctive actor that dominated any scene he was in, but genuinely hated the acting process. He liked sailing boats and he took his kids on a six month South
Seas cruise on his yacht without telling his ex-wife. Obviously not something I condone, but still...ballsy.

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John. A filthy puppeteer.

My friend John hustles puppet. Hand puppets. Sock puppets.
The sort of puppets one associates with church youth groups and poignantly under-funded hunting safety awareness programs in small, rural school districts.

These are those sorts of puppets, only with syphilis and model airplane glue addictions. Vulgar, profane, angry puppets; puppets that lead innocents astray.

John is a founder of the Harvey Finklestein Institute, a think tank that develops original and nasty things for cheap puppets to do while adults watch. The Institute is currently running shows in its home base of Chicago, as well as recently opening “Sock Puppet Showgirls” in New York (yes, it’s an all sock puppet adaptation of Eszterhas’ masterwork).

Below, I ask John a bunch of questions about filthy puppets. It may be boring. I just don’t know. Join us, won’t you?

G: Congrats on the opening. And Harvery Finklestein is
now in...New York? Is that right? I'm confused.

J: Thanks. Harvey Finklestein is indeed in NYC, "Harvey Finklestein's
Sock Puppet Showgirls" running since May 13. In Chicago we just opened "UU7: A Magician Never Tells His Tricks", which has received an overall pan by the critical community! Ha!!! I guess people in mascot costumes tea-bagging other people in mascot costumes isn't for everybody!

G: Um, John, holy shit, you've built a career on the back of a filthy hand puppet! What is the genesis of the Harvey Finklestein

J: Beer and a sock puppet version of Oedipus Rex, from there the flower bloomed. We then did a sock puppet version of the MGM film "Showgirls", told in 45 minutes

G: Has any audience members died in a gruesome or unsettling way during a performance?

J: Not that I know of. But once people showed up with home made t-shirts and pennants on sticks that they waved during the show.

G: From where does Harvey "make"?

J: His penis

G: Are there multiple Harveys?

J: No, there can be only one Harvey Finklestein. That's why he's kept in a plastic Ziplock freezer bag.

G: Does he get laundered much?

J: Never been washed, I guess that's why he's so filthy! Did I just say

G: Has Harvey evolved over time?

J: Yeah… he started out as a "Damn-it!" Doll, then he turned into a
loud-foulmouthed-insulter, and finally to a dirty and perverted puppet who speaks with an english accent (which I believe gets worse as time goes on. A-heh.

G: Have you ever had any walk-outs or outrage from tight-sphinctered types?

J: Yes. Last friday 10 minutes in a couple walked out - no refunds. The first show (a-heh) a group of six left after a young lady was overheard to utter "I can't handle this! I've got to get out of here." No outrage as of yet.

G: Have any confused people ever brought their kids to see the lovely puppets?

J: People have asked if HFSPS was for kids. And this happened when we were playing at midnight.

G: You’ve got a new production, UU7: A Magician
Never Tells His Tricks
, that just debuted in Chicago.
What the hell is it about?

J: It's a parody of the James Bond genre.

G: Now with uu7, you're incorporating life-sized puppets and a live band. At any point in conceiving the production did you find yourself thinking, "Wow. This has potential of being
really gay"?

J: No, but now I do.

G: Were any things taken out because of excessive gayness?

J: Yes. All the (a-heh) stuff about you.

G: Are there jugglers or cat trainers?

J: We're working on that.

G: So now you’re running a two-city empire. Do you
spend a lot of time in New York?

J: No. Once every couple of months maybe for two nights. Last October I commuted from Chicago to do the show on weekends for three weeks, which lost it's appeal during the second week, as I blew projectile vomit pizza chunks into the just opened La Guardia airport mens room at 6 am on a monday morning.

G: Do New Yorkers have a different response to the show?

J: Yes. they are willing to pay $15 at the box office.

G: As an impresario, do you get to wear a cape and monocle now?

J: How did you guess?

G: Do you interject (a-heh) randomly in conversation?

J: Yes, of course

G: Several years ago on our shared birthday, you and I
protested irrational traffic patterns on during the
morning commute. We stood on Pleasant Hill Road with
signs, shaking our fists at traffic. I think we made adifference. What about you?

J: I sleep better at night thinking we did, always have.
If that wasn't the right thing to do, then there's just something plain
ol' wrong in this America we live in.

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