Wednesday, November 30, 2005


I was gonna blog about not having had time to blog, catalogueing all the things I did this past holiday weekend that kept me from blogging, but in point of fact the weekend was nearly a week long, and although it was packed with stuff-- including serial trips to a new mall I swore I wouldn't visit until it had been broken in and the crowd had thinned out, and multiple planned hiking trips that somehow got reduced to a single six-miler-- the fact remains that, had I really wanted to, I could have managed to get some blogging in there if I had really wanted to. More to the point, there was too much I wanted to blog about-- lying politicians who got us into a war, and then that guy out in California who admitted to being a liar . . .

And there's a subject in itself. I have yet, and don't expect ever, to stumble across the crucial piece of evidence that made Duke Cunningham confess his sins. I mean, the cover story is that it was because he had been found out, but really, folks, that's as convincing as claiming his nickname came from his love of mayonnaise. Because they're allllll taking bribes. Of course, they call them contributions, and it's all legal and above the board and disgustingly regulated to make it look as if it's all just the business of the public, but the truth is that every seat of legislation, every house of representatives, local, state or federal, is nothing but a huge brothel full of filfthy whores.

So you could see why I might have side-stepped that subject.

So, after reflecting on all of that, I have elected to favor you with a song. And not just any song, but a drinking song! It's to be sung to the tune of the Do-Re-Me- song from The Sound of Music, and I wasn't actually drinking when I made it up. I was walking from one place to another-- a loooooong walk, as I recall-- during my college days, and for whatever reason I got the Do-Re-Me song in my head, so I made this up as a way of subverting it.

Dough, I need, to buy more beer;
Ray, this drunk I used to know;
Me, and Ray, in Ray's old Dodge,
Fa, the way to liquor store;
So, I drink until I'm blind!
La-ti-da if it's not Sooo!
Ti-hee hee ha ha ha ha!
Which brings us back to Dough!

As far as I know, I have never attempted to sing this song while drinking, so I don't know how didfficult it might be, but in my experience, depending on what kind of a drunk you are, you can either sing or you can't, and if you do sing while drinking, you're not really concerned whether you can or not.

Monday, November 21, 2005

One for the Jerk

The more I read other blogs, the less I want to blog. I don't mean that in the clearly, patently offensive way it most likely sounds. It's mostly just that it's a lousy, rainy day here in lovely Charlotte, North Carolina, and the first twelve blogs I came across this morning, mainly by random chance, were either complaining that the writer never does anything fun anymore or wondering weather everyone's life begins to go sour when they enter their thirties (and I just turned 40 last week). Or it could be that mybest friend, with the best of intentions, sent me a slate of two-doxen Slate articles on why higher education is either useless of becoming useless. Slate. Where dumb assholes who can't write go to die.

But I have decided to cheer up. I baked some breadrolls, I'm gonna slice up an Asian pear (YUM!) and wash that down with some nice, cold water. In the mean time, call this a comparative study. Jerk of All Trades has spent some time posting some lyrics to his favorite power ballads, which got me thinking about a couple of my favorite lyrics. I like lyrics that are plain yet cryptic, imageric yet flat, lyrics that prove, in short, that the artist is clearly insane. Two of my most favorite are by Mark Knopfler, from the original Dire Straits album: Wild West End and Lions.

Wild West End
Stepping out to Angellucci's for my coffee beans
Checking out the movies and the magazines
Waitress she watches me crossing from the Barocco Bar
I'm getting a pickup for my steel guitarI saw you walking out
Shaftesbury Avenue
Excuse me for talking I wanna marry you
This is the seventh heaven street to me
Don't be so proud
You're just another angel in the crowd
And I'm walking in he wild west end
Walking with your wild best friend

And my conductress on the number nineteen
She was a honey
Pink toenails and hands all dirty with money
Greasy hair easy smile
Made me feel nineteen for a while
And I went down to ChinatownI
n the backroom it's a man's world
All the money go down
Duck inside the doorway gotta duck to eat
Right now feels alright now
You and me we can't beat
Walking in the wild West end
Walking with your wild best friend

And a gogo dancing girl yes I saw her
The deejay he say here's Mandy for ya
I feel alright to see her
But she's paid to do that stuff
She's dancing high I move on by
The close ups can get rough
When you're walking in the wild west end

The thing I love in particular about this lyric is that, listening to the album, it souds like Mark is singing something someone else wrote for him. Or maybe that's just me.

Red sun go down way over dirty town
Starlings are sweeping around crazy shoals
A girl is there high heeling across the square
Wind blows around in her hair and the flags upon the poles
Waiting in the crowd to cross at the light
She looks around to find a face she can like.
Church bell clinging on trying to get a crowd for Evensong
Nobody cares to depend upon the chime it plays
They're all in the station praying for trains
Cogregations late again
It's getting darker all the time these flagpole days
Drunk old soldier he gives her a fright
He's crazy lion howling for a fight.
Strap hanging gunshot sound
Doors slamming on the overground
Starlings are tough but the lions are made of stone
Her evening paper is horror torn
But there's hope later for Capricorns
Her lucky stars give her just enough to get home
Then she's reading about a swing to the right
But she's thinking about a stranger in the night
I'm thinking about the lions tonight
What happened to the lions.

See what I mean? Crazy. The man is nuts.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

He Gets Mad Because He Can't Read

This dawns on me today after a failed attempt to kick back and read a book by John Krackauer about the Mormons while listening to the Guess Who (the irony of which I may or may not explain below): I have a hard time reading Krackauer. Not a hard time, really. It's not like Krackauer is difficult (in the way that, say Joyce's Finnegan's Wake is difficult), and it's not like he's a bad writer (in the way that, say, Jim Kilpatric's writing column is sometimes difficult). It's something to do with attitude.

His or mine, take your pick.

I read a couple of his books-- Into the Wild and Into Thin Air-- almost back to back a few years back, and pretty much enjoyed them, but I kept having this creeping feeling that I ought not to believe hi. It's not that I thought he was lying or anything, it's just that he has this kind of hipster, huckster tone of voice that makes me second guess him. Which was fine, with the Everest book in particular, because I would stop at some point, half thinking to myself this is bullshit, and then I would think back to te reportage I read of the events at the time, and go Oh, no, he's right, that's happened, or that's how that happened. But with the Mormon book, it's been harder, since when I have that this is bullshit impulse, ususally what I'm reading is a single source testimonial, mostly uncorroborated or uncorroboratable-- and it's early on in the book, so I don't know how things might develop-- so I'm left with the notion that this is bullshit.

Listening to the Guess Who while reading about the weird shit that Mormons do is ironic, in it's way, because the band (legend has it) almost broke up when Randy Bachman quit leading a rock-n-roll lifestyle conflicted with his newly refurbished Mormon upbringing. Only it's not ironic, because after Randy quit, Burton Cummings re-constituted the band with new members, and they went on to have several hits over the course of a few albums, and Randy started up another rock band and went back to having a rock-n-roll lifestyle anyways (hey, I tell the tale I heard told).

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Ah, Crap

I've been meaning to blog for the last week or so, but, I guess, I've been distracted.

Partly I've been distracted by the end of the political season around here. They had the elections yesterday, and, predictably, everybody who won, won, and everybody who lost, lost, and all by a margin of three or four percent of the votes cast, which represents a whopping 25% of the population of the city. Yay, Demobcracy.*

But that isn't distracting. The constant barrage of recorded messages and incompetent telemarketers boosting the candidates and the schols bonds-- more there in a moment-- now those were distracting, and every single one of them made me want to vote against whatever or whoever they were boosting. Yay, advertising.

The schools bonds got defeated, the first time a schools bonds package has been defeated in 10 years, but not the only time. Way once in a while, the bond package gets defeated, largely because the schools get a bazillion dollar bond package every year, which the school board & system then waste, usually building brand new schools on the rich side of town and vetting a few pet projects on the poor side of town for a zero sum gain in the quality of education. And we know they're gonna waste it, so that's when the way once in a while comes in. Unfortunately, when the populace does vox and turns down the ransom, the system spends the next year punishing us by screwing things up irrevocably, so that the only way out is-- you guessed it-- more money.

How can the people who are in charge of education be so stupid?

Anyways. So all that's past, and I can feel free to blog now, so, naturally, what happens? I think I'm coming down with a cold. It's not official yet. But the warning signs are gathering: I have been a little sneezy, I woke up stuffy this morning, and I have started having olefactory hallucinations-- smelling things that are not there, which is a slight annoyance but usually a sure sign that a virus has begun to go to work on me.

*It was a typo. Now it's a pun.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Suffer the Little Bastards

In the other blog, I have often made reference to Alton Brown of the Food Network, and of his blog. And, of course, I linked to it every time I did. I'm not gonna this time, in a spirit of refusal and solidarity and because, as I have said below, mean people suck.

Alton put (or had someone put) some buttons up on his page so that his readers could submit comments, stories, pictures, etc, which he could share through the web site and the blog (I didn't get the particulars; I missed that part of the adventure). When I clicked in today, the latest installment of the blog explained that these buttons had to be taken down, and why:

"Some of you may have noticed that the 'contact' button is gone from my web site and that my rant calling for refrigerator pics is gone. Here’s why: although many of you sent in some really nice pics and insightful, fun emails some of you decided to send vulgar, nasty, frightening messages and images. I always knew there was ugliness and meanness out there but you know what, I don’t have to give you a place to put it. So, the portal is closed and will remain so."

Having had some experience with this kind of crap, I can sympathize with the man. While it would be good to be able to strike back at the kind of mean-spirited bastards who think it's fun to screw with people over the internet, it is, perhaps, a good enough punishment to inform them that they do not matter. No one cares what they have to say, and we'd all be better off, quite frankly, without them.

If there are any super-smart programmer types out there, reading this most likely by accident, let me make a suggestion: might it be possible to create some sort of sneak-circuit or worm or whatever you call it that would allow users to deflect mean crap sent to their mailboxes and have it re-routed to a "fixer," someone who would be willing to take the craphounds task, act as something of an "enforcer?" Not a "cyber-cop." More like an ethereal terminator.

I'd be up for the job. Suffer the little bastards to come to me. I'll tear 'em a new earhole.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

More Theoretical Concerns

So this weekend I had some more revelations about the Unified Sandwich Theory. Of course, readers of this spot, and I'm not sure there are any, might be asking themselves "Just what is a Unified Sandwich Theory(UST), and of what does it consist?" Others will more likely be thinking "Why the hell am I reading this when I could be sandpapering my corneas?" This latter group, I'm thinking, will consist of those who have read my musings on the UST in the non-blog. Those in the former group I would direct to said non-blog. It's linearly arranged and not indexed, so finding the musings should prove maddeningly difficult, and so soon those readers, too, will feel like sandpapering their corneas. All things will then be equal!

The UST is my demented quest for a set of principles which might be understood to govern the creation and appreciation of a good sandwich, or maybe even a set of principles towards the creation of a perfect sandwich. Doc Nagel, of course, has been my partner in this lunatic scheme, and so far we have discovered the following:

  1. While many different combinations will produce many different and wonderful sandwiches, there is no real correlative good/bad combinations.
  2. While there are some condemnable practices-- meatballing, over-saucing, slip-layering-- some of these practices have their uses (in, for instance, the meatball sub, which requires all three of these practices in order to be a good meatball sandwich).
  3. One of the major revelations, that a UST put in practice in a chain restaurant setting can succeed or fail based on the chain, has lead me to wonder: who the fuck cares?

Which is not to say that I've given up. I'm far to sick and disturbed to just "let go" like that. And even though it might not ever lead to publishable academic writing-- and don't put it past me, I wrote about the Beatles for an academic publication, for Christ's sake-- it's still pretty fun to play with. For instance, this past weekend . . .

Well, firstly, we-- El Wiferino, niece Cayla, the Dog, and myself-- made a lengthy hike around downtown Charlotte this past Saturday, ending up at a joint called Rudino's we quite like. They make very good calzones, the love of which is something La Cayla and the Wifey have very much in common, and they make good pizza, which I was dissatisfied with the first time I had it because, I have decided on reflection, I was in a picky mood that day. But this time I decided I wanted to try their take on the Grinder.

Now, there is supposedly some kind of distinction to be made between hoagies, subs and grinders, but the three times I have been presented with a set of those distinctions, it was in a chain joint of one stripe or another and the distinctions were clearly bullshit. So I don't sweat it. I figured that what got served up at Rudino's was likely to be both good and a little bit kinky, just based on the tenor of the place-- they serve 40-odd beers, the cooks bring the food to your table, they have tall tables with stools so if you feel like eating standing up you can, etc-- so I took a flyer and ordered their take on the Italian sub.

Which was quite good: spicy ham, salami, mustard, mayo, lettuce, onion, tomato, and then here's the twists: served on chiabata bread, toasted warm, and with a layer of melted provalone cheese studded with crumbled Italians sausage on one side of the bread. Totally incongruous, but hoopy!

About a third of the way into the sandwich, though, I concluded that, according to the UST, this would be the wrong choice of bread. The thing held together well enough-- and I'm talking about actual structural integrity here, people-- but only with a fair amount of tending, meaning taking three or four successive bites before putting the thing down to take a swig of beer, then poking bits and pieces back into it before picking it up for three or four more bites.

But it was good. It was sooooooooo goood! And, I thought to myself, maybe that's the thing. Maybe what I'm really after is a set of rules that are meant to be broken; a guide that allows for chiabata bread to be used in spite of it's limitations. And if a set of principles is that complex and nuanced, that flexible and meandering, what purpose would it serve? And then there's the other thing.

We went to see the Serenity movie one last time before it left the theaters (making a total of two viewings since the film premiered), and ended up having an early lunch in the food court of a mall. Based on some sheerly practical factors-- visibility of product, readiness of staff-- we ended up selecting Burger King. I normally would have ended up at the Nathan's Famous stand, usually because I know I can rely on the product, but the kids behind the counter there clearly didn't have it together at 11:18 in the morning on the Sunday of Daylight Saving Time, and had that strange combination of panic and slacking that only service in a Fast Food Outlet can provoke. Also, the Wifey wanted to try these new Chicken Fries that BK now serves up. Myself, I was hungry, and so ordered, for the third or fourth time in my life, a double Whopper with cheeze.

It was good.

Man, was it good.

Towards the end of the sandwich, which had been hot and juicy and greasy and stacked with lettuce, tomato and onion, and almost-but-not-quite dripping with mayo and mustard, I had a bite that was unsatisfying, but other than that, it was just exactly what I wanted. It wasn't one of those tasteless monstro-thick-burgers, which I have tried and have concluded that they are only made for people for whom the experience of eating a burger the size of their head can convince them that this thick slab of gray beef tastes like more than cardboard. It was good, real, fresh, greasy burger, and I loved it.

Of course, I'm good on the double Whopper for the next however long. I don't crave Burger King the way I sometimes do other foods, but still. It was good. But here's the point: back when we started this whole meshugina thing, or shortly after, I proposed banning this kind of contraption for consideration, on the grounds that a burger isn't really a sandwich. I had some kind of wacky parameters and exceptions set up that justified the separation of burger and theory, but they were clearly artificial-- what I said about the distinction between hoagies, subs and grinders? Same thing. Because a burger is a sandwich. It is even, when you get right down to it, an specifical theoretical construct. It is even, when you get right down to the very gist of it, an ethereal form of a sandwich, an archetypal, even mythic, sandwich. But how does one understand a burger. To ask which portion of the burger contains the Buddha . . .

So perhaps there should be a portion of the UST that should be firm and inflexible, indelible and eternal? But then, wouldn't that cease to be a theory? Wouldn't that ascend to the status of natural law?

And do I want to be responsible for that?

Indeed. These are the questions that try men's souls. The contradictions that speckle the universe with doubts. But I haven't given up. Nooooooo. Far to twisted for that. The merry chase goes on!