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Life and Times of an itinerant slacker in Sacramento. Thrills, Spills Galore coming soon. Not to mention lots of opinions.

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Monday, June 30, 2008

Oh My Gawd Submariners Nelson & Crane!

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea!

You can watch all the episodes of that great 1960's TV classic right here on the internets. Alas, they have Battlestar Galactica, but no Star Trek. All brought to you by sponsors, with relatively short and infrequent adds.

This is soooo much easier than getting a life!

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

That Was Cool, Heh Heh

While hanging with the inlaws by Santa Cruz,I had a chance to take "Mother-of-my-great niece-but-not-married-to-my-nephew-so-maybe-not-really-a-niece" to the boardwalk,with its old wooden rollercoaster. Check out the virtual and less nauseating experience.It totally kicked ass!. You may recognize this as where Darty harry shot the "do-you-feel-lucky-today-punk" in Sudden Impact.

We liked it so much we rode it twice (and didn't get shot even once). I finally found someone who goes for my cool uncle act!

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

My Pledge

I pledge allegiance
to the malls
of the Ubiquitous States of Generica
and to the consumers,
for which it stands,
one culture,
with banality and conformity for all.

Credit to Prof. dmlaub2 who posts on the Simple Living network.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Dante’s Inferno – A Trip to Hell with Two Poets

Somehow I woke up one morning with the inexplicable desire to read Christian allegories. I think this is a continuation of my compulsion to read books that people like to pretend they’ve read and use as sources for pseudo-intellectual references.

I’ve completed Hell, part one of the Divine Comedy, and I’m working my way through Part 2, Purgatory. Since this book has been notated, analyzed and PHD Dissertated to death, I thought I’d focus on my personal reactions and reflections. After all, it’s all about me. Right?

My reading has been coached via email by a Yale Italian Literature Professor who happens to contribute to some bulletin board discussions I frequent. Finding her was a stroke of luck, although I suspect she thinks I am a shallow moron. I look at this writing like Science Fiction and political discourse in verse, while she finds a rich source of universal truths. Alas. I have also found Dorothy L. Sayers’s notes to be a big help. A lot of the action and important conversations hinge on late 13th and early 14th Century Italian politics, as well as the characters in Virgil’s works, especially the Troy-boys of the Aeneid. This takes some help to understand. And, yes I speak of the same Dorothy Sayers who wrote “The Nine Tailors”.

What the Hell?

Hell is divided into nine levels, not seven levels as I thought I had heard. The levels are not organized on the basis of the Seven Deadly Sins, although some levels do correspond to the old PLACESG (Pride, Lust, Anger, Covetousness, Envy, Sloth, and Gluttony). The penguin sisters from Cork made Kathleen memorize these in school, and I guess she taught me the list. I think the source of confusion is that Purgatory is organized according to the deadly sins. Rest assured, there are far more than seven ways to earn an eternity in Hell.

I found several of the punishments to be amusing (almost as funny as when demons tried to suffocate Homer Simpson with donuts) and actually fitting to the crimes, in a humongous exaggerated way. Shit!, I’ve just committed the sin of Envy by thinking and typing that. On the subject of my eternal soul’s well-being, I was disappointed that post-Jesus Jews did not receive any special treatment. We probably burn in our tombs with the rest of the heretics, unless our punishment is too grisly even for Dante to share.

What’s so great about Hell, anyway?

Of course the Gate of Hell’s inscription, “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here”.

Cheron ferries the damned souls (Dante calls them shades) across the river Acheron. He uses oars to power the ferry, when he’s not using the oars to beat his passengers sensless. There is no shortage of blows to the head in Hell. This was the first of several times I had to stop and ask myself, “Is this a Christian or ancient Greek allegory?”

The lustful are blown around by winds, while, one level lower, the gluttonous wallow in a mire. Gluttons need to keep low in the muck, since Cerberus (a three headed dog) roves the joint looking for sinners to chew on. I was surprised that adultery gets a relatively minor penalty when compared to taking too many second helpings. Perjaps they were anticipating Martin Luther?

Those who committed violence against their neighbors hang out in a river of boiling blood. Sounds like a recipe for czerninia, eh?

Flatterers are thrown into a giant outhouse pit. Something about the obsequious in filth is wonderful. When an old acquaintance of Dante’s surfaces to talk, Dante is horrified by the dried crap caked on his face. I don’t know how Hell, Inc. does this, since no one eats in hell. They must import the waste from a feedlot.

Crooked popes are placed head down in holes while their feet constantly burn. If you keep the pointy hat on, you could probably use a drill to install them. That’d be cool, heh, heh.

Crooked public officials are dropped in a pit of boiling pitch. If they stick up their head, a demon picks them up with a hook and tosses them back in. Dante gets to see an old friend get that treatment.

Thieves turn into giant reptiles and live in a pit. Cool! Dinosaurs!

Dante comes to the sad realization that almost everyone he knew in positions of authority in his beloved Tuscany appears to be in Hell.

“Sowers of Discord” are constantly being cut to pieces with swords. Possibly George Washington would have fit into this category, since he sewed discord among formally loyal British subject. Maybe God doesn’t love America more than everyone else. Nah, couldn’t be.

Traitors are frozen up to the neck in ice. If you’re a traitor, you need to be careful, because if your hole is set too close to another hole, you may find your neighbor eating your brain. I hate when that happens. Dante didn’t find that too amusing either. Virgil didn’t seem to care. Actually Virgil doesn’t seem to care about much. Maybe 1,000 years in Limbo makes you mellow.

I am plodding through Purgatory, which seems richer in allegory but leaner in theatrical entertainment. I have “Paradise Lost” on order form Amazon, so the Christian allegorapalooza will continue.

Oh, I forgot to mention… I can’t even imagine how anyone believes this crap.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. And if you say otherwise, t’hell wittya.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Chicken Pluckers - Explicit Internet Photos!!!

I'm not a chicken plucker nor a chicken plucker's son,but I stumbled across this incredible blog about the task in backyard chicken farming no one seems to want to talk about; How do you transform a yardbird into drumsticks and soup? Once I started reading this, I couldn't stop.

That's my chicken-plucking story and I'm sticking to it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

What Will You do WIth Your 15 Minutes?

If it's true that we each get our 15 minutes of fame,I tip my hat to these two young men from Scotland for their brilliant use of their moment.

Ramones & Ukeleles.. . it's like peanut butter and chocolate!

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Monday, June 09, 2008

PIRATES!! Under the Black Flag

Under the Black Flag

by David Cordingly

I just finished reading this great non-fiction book about pirates. In 1992 I saw an exhibition about Pirates in the British National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England. And, yes, the neighboring observatory does feature the Greenwich Meridian as a line of thin tiles on the observatory’s floor.

My interest in pirates was rekindled Years back I had seen an exhibit about pirates in the same museum. It turns out Cordingly was responsible for that exhibit. The exhibit was presented in the from of a giant comic book.

“Under the Black Flag tells about pirates real and imagined. He manages to integrate chapters about pirate movies and movie pirates with in-depth and entertaining descriptions of the lives, vessels and exploits of pirates and pirate hunters from the late 16th (Frances Drake) through the early 18th century (Black beard). The book is bursting with privateers, corsairs, buccaneers and British and Spanish naval and merchant sailors. After reading about the lives of merchant seamen, it’s no surprise that so many were willing to sign on with pirates.

It’s interesting that when we think of pirates, the first characters that come to my mind are Black beard and Captain Kidd, who had rather short careers as pirate captains before being killed by the British navy or the hangman. One of the reason we remember these pirates so well is that the Admiralty wasn’t shy about spreading stories about the pirates they caught, as well as waiving their iron-banded and rotting bodies in front of the seamen to place fear in that pathetic lot.

Most of the book deals with European pirates, although there is mention of the toughest pirate in the 19th century China Sea, only know as Mrs. Cheng. Not surprisingly, we don’t have a lot of details about the pirates who didn’t get caught, with the exception of the government-sanctioned privateers in the 16th and 17th century. (aside – most of the music I play could probably be a soundtrack for this story.

After Drake, Henry Morgan was probably the greatest British pirate. He enjoyed the semi-legitimate label of privateer, invading and occupying several Spanish treasure ports around 1670 to 1675. After peace broke out between Spain and England, Morgan continued harassing the Spanish and French, until he was arrested by the Admiralty, and sent to London as a prisoner. Rather than facing trial, he was knighted by the king, and returned to Jamaica in the role of Lieutenant Governor, where he drank himself to death in a couple of years. Morgan’s exploits in the Spanish treasure ports are unbelievable, involving all sorts of deceptions, confused oxen roaming around battlefields,and,best of all, a pantomime pirate ship. It all reads like something out of Monty_Python's_Flying_Circus .

An entire chapter is devoted to the exploits of Ann Bonny and Mary Read, two female pirates-in-drag who served aboard the ship of Calico John Rackham, but after capture in Jamaica, were tired separately from the male pirates. The testimony from crew and passengers of ships their group had boarded proved that these women were true pirates. They were amazing characters. After being sentenced to hanging (even the judges were impressed with their pirate bona fides) they both admitted they were pregnant. The sentences were reprieved after examination. Ann Bonny died in prison of a tropical fever soon thereafter, however nothing is known of the fate of Mary Read or her child.

This book overflows with great stories like these (including Captain Kidd & the buried treasure).
Be not a scalawag. Iffen ye be wantin ta read bout pirates, This be yer treasure.

Arrghhhh, That be me story and to it I be stickin.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The Black Gate of Gondor

Yet another reason why they don't let mathematicians become King of all Men.

song chart memes
more graph humor and song chart memes

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Which Girls Cry?

I couldn't resist this chart. This website reminds me of all those years in consulting.

song chart memes
more graph humor and song chart memes

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

I Know What You Were Doing in 1974

song chart memes
more graph humor and song chart memes

Man, I was fast as lightning.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Mark Twain’s Roughing It

I have always wanted to read this book, so when I saw a paperback copy of “Roughing it” at the SPCA used book sale, I coughed up the $1.75 and jumped in. It was wellworth the money. I recommend this book, however, you might want to overlook the chapters about Hawaii, which suck. The rest of the book is great.

I enjoyed the mildly self-effacing humor that runs through most of the book. I recommend this book for anyone interested in the old west or in mark Twain.

The story is told in an autobiographical manner, although I am sure plenty of what’s written fantasy. The story starts with Twain’s leaving St Joseph to act, for three months, as secretary for his brother, the appointed Secretary of the Nevada Territory. He stayed in the west for seven years. The book includes over seventy chapters, but can be divided into a few sections; the stagecoach trip, Brigham Young’s Mormon Kingdom, Nevada territory, California, Hawaii, and a brief and funny description of the genesis of Twain’s speaking career.

The book starts with a detailed account of the provisions Twain and his brother gathered for the trip, most of which they jettisoned in St Joseph, due to the limited luggage allowance for the stagecoach. The trip out west is a series of stories of the rogues and ruffians who made their lives in and around the stations stretched every 20 miles or so from St Joseph to Sacramento. These chapters introduce the underlying theme of the story, which is Twain’s reluctance to exert effort except when absolutely necessary and the failures he experiences whenever he tries to do anything. His unapologetic manner in these issues is what makes the book engaging.

Twain was amazed by the Mormon kingdom Brigham Young had established in America, and he was uncomfortable with the Mormon ways especially polygamy. I suspect he never dared set foot anywhere Deseret after this book was published. In an appendix he provides a damning account of the Mountain Meadows Massacre,where militias under the control of Joseph Smith committed a dastardly crime.

Life in Nevada and California is described as an unending string of almost becoming a millionaire, and then losing everything. I wonder if, when Twain wrote this in 1871, he had any premonition that this personal cycle of almost boom and total bust would haunt him throughout the rest of his life. The Nevada chapters include a lot of almost technical descriptions of mining techniques, which helped me understand some of the strange leftovers from 19th century prospecting I have seen while hiking in the Sierra foothills.

I will not speak of the chapters set in Hawaii, beyond saying that they sucked totally, and Twains revulsion and fascination with the what he viewed as the often nude and libertine of the natives . It’s hard to believe the same author wrote “Letters from the Earth” later in his life.

Overall, I found this to be a good read, although it tends to drag in some places. There are anecdotes that are simply too good to miss.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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I must enjoy shouting into a vacuum, but I think about getting my act together one of these days. My mom says I am very handsome and intelligent.

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