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Saturday, January 31, 2015

So, This Used To Be A Thing



When young people hear late Cretaceous period Bob Dylan gargling participles, or are forced to flip the channel hurriedly when the PBS begging jag starts out with the twitching corpse of Peter, Paul, and Mary, they don't really have a frame of reference for what's going on. Folk Music used to be a thing.

Not just a thing. THE thing. John Lennon wrote this song because he wanted to take a stab at the folkie thing. It wasn't really their bag. It was more like a train running on a parallel track. Liverpudlians had skiffle, their own version of folk music, but Gerry Marsden took care of that. When prospective manager Brian Epstein found the Beatles banging away in the Cavern Club, they were wearing leather clothes like Marlon Brando in The Wild One, and they interrupted their fifties proto-rock covers to have Gerry Marsden sing some scouse ballad while he stood on a packing crate because the microphone stand couldn't be adjusted. It wasn't any sort of Rock Island Line festival.

Brian Epstein signed The Silkie because he heard them playing in the Cavern Club when he dragged his Savile Row arse in for a gander at the Beatles. It's hard to say whether the Beatles or The Silkie did the cover version of Hide Your Love Away. Both versions were recorded at the same time by the same people, more or less. It's assumed that John Lennon always wanted to be someone other than himself on a given day, and that day he wanted to be Bob Dylan for a spell.

Or so everyone says. I've never seen a pop-culture vulture offer any other opinion about this record. They all agree that John Lennon wanted to be Bob Dylan because they have no idea what creative people are like. If they were in the slightest bit creative themselves, they wouldn't be writing for music magazines. It's like relying on remoras for advice on how to be a shark. John Lennon was like many people who feel an intense need to compete in whatever arena they find themselves in. It might be passive-aggressive combat, but it's very real. I get a whiff of Oh Yeah, I got yer folk music right here, Bob in this song. Like Marlon in The Wild One, he's wondering whattaya got he can rebel against.

The song was given to The Silkie to record, Lennon produced the record, McCartney played the guitar, and George kept time by tapping the top of an acoustic guitar. When it was done, Lennon called Brian Epstein, held the phone up to the speaker in the studio, and told him they had recorded a Number One hit.

The Silkie version made it to a respectable #28 in the UK, and #10 in the US. The Beatles version was part of the Help! soundtrack, which was # 1 nine ways from Sunday. Knowing how that happens is why the Beatles had a manager, I guess.


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Still More Intelligent and Less Excitable Than Jim Cantore



As my father used to say, "God love 'em."

This is what all TV weather reports look like to me, only with much less charm. This guy has it goin' on. He really knows how you're supposed to prepare for a wikid stahm comin. Let's go to the transcript he's so solicitously supplied with his video:
Order your Pizzas and Chinese Food and Buy Cases of Pspsi and Coke and Do your Grocery Shopping Don't Wait until the Last Minute Do it Right Now
I must admit that I don't keep up with nutritional advice from the government these days. Is that the new Food Pyramid? Well, as long as it's gluten-free pizza and the chopsticks are harvested in an ecologically sound manner from happy trees, I guess it will do.

Yeah. He's more tuned in to popular culture than the runt of a Kardashian litter could aspire to:
...have your iPads, iPods, Cell Phones, Laptops and Tablets Charged and have your 3G and 4G Internet Ready and when you are driving your Car Take your Time driving your car and Slow Down so you Don't Get in the Car Accident and when you are going outside Don't Walk too Far and have your Shovels, Snow Scoops, Snow Blowers, Snow Plows and Salt Trucks Ready and Drink Lots of Green Tea, White Tea and Red Tea and Drink Lots of Green Tea to keep you warm and have your Furnaces Ready and Turn on the Furnaces to keep the House Warm during the Blizzard
Funny thing was, while the weatherman was apologizing to New York for no blizzard, the snow was going by my house at 50mph or so. It started snowing inside my house, literally. Snow started to geyser straight up from the crack between the windowsill and the sash, and settled in a little drift on the sill. That was on a window that's been painted shut for fifty years, easy.

It snows here, so we don't worry overmuch, but the temperature routinely goes below zero at night, and the loss of power in a blizzard would be a big deal. No heat. We can power a wood furnace in the basement using an inverter hooked up to a car battery, but the car has to be running, and you can't manage that during a blizzard. The power stayed on, and the house didn't fall over, so it was just another snowstorm.

We went out yesterday and started shoveling the asbestos snow, with no way to know how much there was. The wind had moved it around so much that it could have been anything from a foot to thirty inches. The end of the driveway defended itself ably against our assaults, but the two exchange students from across the street wandered over and outflanked the last of it. 

We're going to get another foot of snow tomorrow, and I have no idea where we'll put it. The banks are six feet high already. We'll figure out something. We always do. We just can't figure out where to get Pspsi.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

BEST. NEIGHBOR. EVAR.


There's always a lot of competition for BEST. NEIGHBOR. EVAR, of course.  When you were ten, there was that guy that used to whistle while jingling change, and he eventually wore a hole in all his pockets. Boom! Ice-cream-man money up and down his driveway, all the time. That guy was pretty sweet. Then there was that dude that had a stack of Playboys in his bathroom next to the crapper. That was pretty good. There was that guy that put down a plastic liner and flooded the back yard so we could all play hockey. He even put up lights. That guy was like a god. Not the God, but a god, surely. 

Then there was that guy with the hot wife who was always vacuuming in the nude and didn't have any drapes. Wait, that came out wrong. Pronoun trouble. The guy didn't vacuum naked, his wife did. And I meant to say that the house didn't have drapes. The wife had drapes. I guess. I'm not sure she had a head or a face or anything. Anyway, that was a pretty good neighbor. But this guy is the BEST. NEIGHBOR. EVAR.

[Thanks to faithful reader and friend Sam for sending that one along. He's the BEST. READER. EVAR. At least for today]


Monday, January 26, 2015

The Blizzard of 1899 in New York



The Great Blizzard of 1899 in New York. It's amazing that we're looking at a film of it. The oldest film I've ever found in the Library of Congress was 1898, so this must be among the first things ever filmed in New York. The Blizzard of 1899 was a big deal. Back before weather forecasts, people got caught unawares fairly often by cataclysmic weather events. The Hurricane of '38 killed a lot of people, and I have personally been in a house in Rhode Island that was blown across a salt water pond to the opposite shore. The owners just decided to leave it there, and built a foundation under it where it landed. Tornadoes killed people in the mid sixties, I think it was, in western Massachusetts. [Update: I looked it up. It was 1953. The toll was 94 dead, 1200+ injured in Worcester] The Blizzard of 1899 went into folklore because it killed a bunch of people, and it destroyed a lot of things. It was 39 below zero Fahrenheit in Ohio, still the record low. They had a snowball fight on the steps of the Florida State Capitol Building. Cape May, New Jersey, got 34 inches of snow, back when Sesame Street Scientists™ weren't abroad in the land, exaggerating for grant money, and they used an honest ruler. It was reported that there was a hard frost in Cuba, of all places. It was reported by the US Weather Service, because we owned Cuba then.

Some people in New York City won't have cable TV for twelve straight hours tomorrow, and they'll start eating each other soon after if history is any example. The feds will ladle money over corrupt city administrations to fund snowplow contracts that are paid to cronies while the snow waits for the spring to do the work. In short, if we weren't an incompetent society in all things practical, today's storm would be handled easily. But it won't, and Cuba won't freeze, I imagine. For years we'll have to listen to the same people claim today's storm was an arctic cataclysm while simultaneously saying it never happened because the computer model they cooked up ran out of ones and zeroes or something.

Back to the video. When moving pictures first became popular, it was common to simply take pictures of mundane life in and around a city or town, and then display it for the locals while charging a little money for admission. People liked seeing themselves on film, and liked seeing familiar things in a new way.

Movies like this one are more valuable to us because they show mundane life as it was. Entertainment on film from early in the 20th century isn't nearly as much fun to look at. I've noticed the same phenomenon in newspapers. A brand new newspaper is useless twaddle. An old newspaper is full of all sorts of interesting things, most of them not the news stories. When I had to fix a dormer atop the back of my house, I stripped off the shingles and found the whole thing was sheathed in newspaper. It served as a sort of primitive house wrap to keep out drafts. It was all from 1910, so I figure the dormer was an addition; the house was supposedly built in 1901. It's technically a Victorian, because the old girl was still alive, if only for a few more months. The newspaper was perfectly readable. The advertisements were the best part, and the paper on the whole served as a mute tombstone to the bustling city where it was published a century ago, which is now a disreputable place with a ghostly population that favors plywood curtains for their windows.

All in all, I prefer the real ghosts. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

I'm the Burning Bush, I'm the Burning Fire, I'm the Bleeding Volcano


That animated gif isn't from this year. This year there's been snow on the ground continuously since, since, well, let's call it forever, because I can't remember. But there's not as much as last year. It's too cold to snow. There's no ground showing or anything, but the snow is  glacial, not slide-y.

I have to pay close attention to the weather because it's hard to heat the house. I don't watch television, and wouldn't watch a TV weather report if I did. I do look at a webpage that has high and low temps projected on a calendar. Well, I did. I got to be a fairly good hand at triangulating what the actual temperature might be by using the hinky numbers they offered. I used to use one webpage, but it went full retard, hid all the temperature numbers, and covered the entire surface of the website with video thumbnails that tout YouTube videos with titles like: You won't believe what happened to this one couple while they were shoe shopping and eating artisanal cupcakes on their honeymoon! The entire page turned into linkbait crapola too stupid for Buzzfeed. The weather was around back, I guess, like it would be if you bought an elephant and fed it refried beans.

I turned it off and tried what my wife calls the Happy Funtime Weather! webpage. She calls it that because they always say it will be five to ten degrees warmer than it is. It cheers her up to see it. It's like people telling you that you look mahvelous when you're caught taking the trash out to the curb in your sweat clothes and slippers, with your hair making architectural poses and sleep seeds in your eyes. Besides, who are you going to believe, the weather channel or your lying eyes and the thermometer?

Anyway, I turned it on a few days ago, and Happy Funtime Weather! decided they'd change the site to default to Centrigade temperatures, because they're hopeless weenies, and it said it was going to be 22 below zero that day, which looked a bit off to me. It took me a few moments to figure out what had happened.

It had been 17 below zero a week ago, but that was good old Fahrenheit numbers. On the same day I got up and saw it was 17 below zero at daybreak, the Happy Funtime Weather! channel was trumpeting a story I wasn't interested in from a Maine newspaper. It said that some commissar had announced that ALL WAS WELL, and because it was so hot all the time, people in Maine shouldn't worry about their heating bills, because it was so hot. Those bills were going to be so low, because it was so hot.

I've run out of shipping pallets to burn, so I'm slowly taking apart the barbarous shelving someone built out of rough lumber all around  the basement of my house 75 years ago, and I'm burning it in the furnace.  Luckily, none of that will show up on by heating bill, which will be so low, because it's so hot.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Putting on the Ritz Cracker

Kids gotta make their own fun. They pick up all the stuff we leave lying around the house of the world, and play blocks with it as best they can. It's not up to them what kind of stuff they find to play with when they escape the playpen. Crack pipe or Rubik's Cube, they're bound to fiddle with it.

My children are a rock band in my attic. I mean that literally as well as figuratively. I have seen what other parents are subjected to when their children get old enough to make amplified noise, and it ain't pretty. My children are always delightful, and I never get tired of hearing what they play. I guess that means we left the right stuff on the living room floor. Yay us.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Epiphone Wildkat Reviews, Unorganized Hancock-Style

Epiphone Wildkat Guitar Reviews Are All the Rage



My two sons have a band called Unorganized Hancock. They've been recording music videos for a couple of years, and they perform here and there around the state of Maine where we live. It's interesting to see which of their YouTube music videos become more popular than others, and try to figure out why.

Unorganized Hancock: The Most Famous Band You Never Heard Of

Unorganized Hancock have almost reached 50,000 YouTube views for their YouTube channel. No matter what YouTube says, their algorithms don't count all, or even a small minority of the views these videos generate. YouTube claims they count embedded views, but they don't. If you're unfamiliar with the term "embedded," it means that you watch them directly on the website that features them, without going directly to YouTube first. YouTube might count them if you're already logged into YouTube, which is uncommon when people are reading text-centric blogs and websites like mine. Actually, I doubt they count those, either.

Unorganized Hancock's Grandmother Doesn't Count, Apparently

I estimate that Unorganized Hancock has actually had well over 250,000 video views. It's easy for me to tell, because I can see how many people watch them on my blog alone. Hell, their grandmother has watched their videos more than 50,000 times. The boys have been embedded on lots of other blogs besides mine, many with much more traffic than mine. YouTube fibs, for reasons of its own. They want people to use YouTube as a social media platform, and that's that. If you've ever wondered why you find YouTube videos that say "embedding disabled by owner's request," that's why. The account holder is tired of showing the video without getting YouTube hits on his counter.

They Did A Killer Version of Take Five

Unorganized Hancock recorded Dave Brubeck's Take Five about two years ago. I re-posted it on Wednesday, a charming form of recycling, I hope. My little drummer boy was only nine when that video was made, and he was playing flawlessly in 5/4 Time with no metronome, a near impossibility at his age. His big brudder played two guitar parts, and the bass part too. The video was very well-received, and embedded at dozens of blogs and message boards. Their original dub of the song, which has a very cute joke at the beginning of it, has about 4600 views on the counter, and a hi-def upload that's straight music has another 2600. That's nonsense of course. Those videos got ten times that, easy, but let's not quibble. A broken ruler makes the same, reliable mistake. Let's go with it.

Minor Swing, By Minors, Swinging

The most popular video Unorganized Hancock has recorded, Take Five, is about to be eclipsed by their take on Minor Swing, made famous by gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt. It's a so-so take for the boys if you ask me. They were tired, and the big one had been sick, and though the audience wouldn't notice so much, I can still see it wasn't their lively best. It did OK when I posted it on this blog, and then it was forgotten. Here it is:



Epiphone Wildkat Guitar Reviews Are Now Unorganized Hancock's Biggest Fans

Minor Swing is about to pass Take Five, even though it wasn't that popular when it was posted, and we've done nothing to promote it. That's because Unorganized Hancock's version of Minor Swing made the list of the most prominent videos for people searching for: Epiphone Wildkat Guitar Reviews. It really isn't a review, or it's a far superior review than all the others, depending on your outlook on life. The Heir plays an Epiphone Wildkat Guitar that his mother and I gave him for Christmas a couple years back, using money that generous supporters of this blog put in our tipjar. The guitar is prominently displayed in the thumbnail of the video, completely by accident. That's it. Every morning when they get up, their YouTube counter tells them that somewhere between 25 and 100 people watch that video while they were asleep, because they want to see a Epiphone Wildkat Review, and the thumbnail is irresistible.

Hell, they've played Minor Swing live and done a better job:



That second video doesn't have the Epiphone Wildkat guitar in the thumbnail picture, so it has 384 views, no comments, and 10 Likes.

By this method -- or lack of a method, just YouTube madness -- Unorganized Hancock's version of Minor Swing is watched more than any of their other videos, by people who have nothing to do with me, and nothing to do with them. You get an unvarnished opinion, straight from the world that Unorganized Hancock must enter if they are ultimately to be successful. Do strangers like you? The rest is applesauce. Strangers do.

A Busted Ruler Measures the Same Way, Every Time

Unorganized Hancock's version of Minor Swing currently has 77 likes. [oops, while I was writing this, the counter turned to 78] There are more comments than any other video, and they're full of enthusiastic swears in affirmation. That video has delivered more subscribers to their YouTube channel in the last month than they got in the previous year. People looking for Epiphone Wildkat reviews on YouTube are quickly becoming Unorganized Hancock's biggest audience, if only because they're the only ones that are being counted fully. It's the way the Internet works. It doesn't make a lick of sense, but no one asked us how to run it. The kids just play -- play Minor Swing -- along.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Preciso Praticar Meu Português. Never Mind. They Speak Beatles


That's from a show in Brazil called Programa do Jô. It's something along the lines of the Johnny Carson show. Oops, I mean the Leno Show. Dammit, the Letterman Show or something.

Wait a minute, I have no idea if Letterman is still on the air, either. Whatever. On Programa do Jô, a Chilean waiter serves the guests cocktails and food while they're on the air. And they have Beatles cover bands that probably don't have any idea what the words mean in the songs they're singing.
Hey, you've got to guzzle Cabernet!

Hey, you've got an ugly fiancee!

Hey, Yul Brynner hides your lunch away!

Hey, read me a book by le Carre!

Hey, you've got to give me some sorbet!
As I said, whatever. Most people have no idea what the words are, or what they're driving at. In most cases, the composer had no idea what they were driving at either. Writing songs is more a knack than a trade. You're supposed to give the audience a vague feeling one way or the other, and try to concatenate the notes so it can be hummed. That's about it.

A half-decent folk song is hard to come by these days. These Brazilian coves knew where to look.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Take Five. Now Hipster Brubeck Aficionado Approved

Firstly  let me adjust my Patagonia heritage jacket. I won't take it off, even if it's 95 degrees at the loft party. I wear it open. Totally insouciant that way. There's a hint of plaid underneath. Not in my outfit. That's entirely plaid. The hint of plaid is on my skin. I've never been outdoors in the daytime, so I'm sort of sallow, and my plaid shirt, T-shirt, tie, and underpants are starting to leave little checkerboard patterns directly on my skin. Must be all the Fair Trade dye. I'm not wearing sunglasses, of course. That would be silly. I'm wearing mountaineering glasses. Inside. At night.

Anyway, I only listen to Nepalese Dave Brubeck cover bands. You probably haven't heard of them.

When I can't find Nepalese Dave Brubeck cover bands on vinyl at my locavore Greek yogurt stand/independent music store, I'll settle for these two deck cronkites laying it down in an unheated hovel. It's Western Maine, but at least it isn't midtown. They make me want to bust a polyrhythm moby. Peace out.

[Update: Many Thanks to Kathleen M. in the Nutmeg State for her constant support of my boys' efforts via the TipJar. We greatly appreciate it.]

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Everyone Knows A Trombone Can Kill Anything


I do believe the Geneva Convention specifically mentions torture devices like trombones. It's right up there with harsh language, unsolicited head baths,  and Taco Bell food, which if I recall correctly is listed under germ warfare.

That video has a style I recognize. There don't seem to be any credits appended to it, but it sure looks like a video I ran years ago by a guy named Czarek Cwazny. I have no idea why his parents named him after the bug juice I used to spill on the carpet in the living room while watching Star Trek, but he's a talented feller. If it's not him, he should sue, or talk angrily, or something.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Play Is the School of Rules

I'm like a mind reader. I see around corners. Don't envy me. It's a curse.

On Saturday morning, the 10th of January, I posted a video of a person creeping out onto the field and interfering with a play during a Patriots football game in 1961. If it was described to you in today's terms, you'd assume that the person that did it was a jerk, seeking some sort of fleeting fame by barging in on proceedings much more important than his little life. It was nothing like that. It was kind of charming.

Now, then. Later on Saturday the 10th:



Professional football was, and should still be, unimportant. The game in the video from 1961 was a nearly meaningless exhibition of a trivial occupation being performed by people too old to pretend they were college students any more. The fellow who crept into the end zone from the throng they once allowed to stand on the field is an average guy, doing something on a lark, and slipping back into anonymity. He probably made more money at his job than all the football players, and was likely a salubrious person with an excess of twinkle in his eye. His interference in an unimportant game wasn't commendable, I guess, but it was funny, and about as antisocial as throwing toilet paper in the shrubs of that stringy lady that gives out toothbrushes and a lecture on Halloween instead of candy. No. Big. Deal. They didn't bother to play the down over. The ref signaled the game was over, and that was it. Dinner was on the table, I imagine.

The true purpose of sports is not to supply the participants with enough money to buy two diamond earrings to wear under their helmet, and to afford better lawyers when they cold-cock their concubine in an elevator. The purpose of sports is not to divide up spoils. Sports are the school of rules.

It's half a joke that football players are allowed anywhere near schoolchildren to lecture them on "fitness," and character. They are, almost to man, physical freaks who abuse drugs to cheat. They have nothing to offer the average person in the way of advice. They would be valuable if they were willing to participate in the school of rules, but they're not interested. The purpose of sports in general is to train people to compete with one another under a set of rules that apply equally to everyone. You're supposed to learn that the desired outcome does not dictate the rules. You're not supposed to work backwards from desired outcomes to determine the rules on the fly, either. You learn that if you are unable to get the outcome you desire, you're not supposed to resort to violence, cheating, or much more importantly, saying you were cheated when you were not.

The purpose of arbitrary rules in sports (look it up, you have no idea what arbitrary actually means) is to level the playing field. The opposite of arbitrary rules, strictly enforced, is not fairness. Fairness is not a destination. Fairness is the journey. Fighting breaks out when there's no recourse to the rule book anymore, just special pleading to get what you want. When laws are enforced on a sliding scaled to ensure desired outcomes, they're not laws anymore. Wars are started that way.

I don't know what made me think of the trench coat defender, but a few short hours later, the coach of the Baltimore Ravens, in danger of being unable to get the outcome he wanted whether he earned it or not, charged out onto the field of play and deliberately interfered with the regular course of play.



He didn't know the rules, or more likely, the rules didn't deliver the outcome he desired, so he wanted to change them, right then and there. He charged at a ref, and appeared to bump into him, an offense that should have gotten him ejected from the game immediately, and earned a six-figure fine from the league. Instead, he was granted a free time out by the officials. He admitted -- he boasted -- that he deliberately did it to stop the game and berate the officials. He's been know to strike officials, before, to get his way, by the way.



I'm not like that referee, or all the referees in the NFL. I would have immediately ejected him for that. If he objected, physically, to the ejection, either he'd be picking up his teeth with a broken arm, or I would be. He's a jerk that knows the referee has been trained to forgive almost any behavior on his part. A coach is not expected to teach in the school of rules anymore. That referee is a better man than I am. The referees are the only people on the field that ever show the slightest bit of aplomb.

In the game on Saturday, the rules were being applied to both teams equally, and officiated fairly and accurately. The referees actually cut the loudmouth coach extra slack, literally pointing out players on the opposition and telling his defenders,"Do not cover him."  The coach didn't care. He knew he was going to lose because he's not as good at his job as the opposing coach, and never will be. So he pitched a fit, and literally interfered in the game rather than play by the rules. When he did lose, an event that was entirely due to his inability to coach, he accused the other team of cheating. He knew it wasn't true, but thought it might be useful to him personally if he said it. He knows sportswriters don't know the rules, and don't care what they are either, and they fawn over loudmouth jerks like him rather than people that play by the rules. But then again, the NFL doesn't function like a school of rules anymore. At least not any rules useful to anyone but a thug or a gambler.

Unlike the trench coat linebacker, there wasn't any charm in it. But then again, no one calls Baltimore "Charm City" anymore, do they?

[Related, from the Rumford Meteor]

Saturday, January 10, 2015

The Greatest Play In NFL History


I understand that there might be some dissenting opinions about this. You might prefer catching a wild throw against your helmet. NFL films prefers the Immaculate Reception. Tuck rules and field goals in the snow are mentioned. I'm sorry, but there can be only one. And as far as my blogpost title goes, I know it wasn't even the NFL then. The greatest play in NFL history happened in an AFL game before they merged the leagues. I don't care. It's all applesauce. Hear me out.

They were still the Boston Patriots at that point, and didn't have a home. The picture is Babe Parilli heaving a duck to a patch of infield grass with no one standing on it in Fenway Park. That's where the vagrant Patriots used to play. They also played at Harvard Stadium, and at Boston University's Nickerson Field, on Commonwealth Ave heading towards Brookline. They were the half-a-joke of Boston Sports. No one cared about any kind of football in Boston, and three-quarters of New England were Giants fans, anyway.

Bye, bye, Babe, we hardly knew ye. On to the video. They're playing the Dallas Texans. No, you heard that right. I think the Dallas Texans are the Kansas City Chiefs now, or perhaps they're the Dallas Cowboys, after being the Kansas City Whatevers for a while, I can't remember and can't be bothered to look it up.

I've had a lot to do with the Boston, er, New England Patriots over the years, all strange. I almost died in their driveway. I once stood on the fifty yard line of their new stadium while a half-dozen of us decided to change a thirty-year-old NFL rule, and did. One of my friends owns the crappy Astroturf endzones from the old stadium they had in Foxboro, before they built that stripmall thing they have now. I broke my ankle once, and attended an event at their stadium by being thrown over the chain link fence by my friends. Don't misunderstand; I showed up with the broken ankle. My roommate used to counterfeit press passes and stand on the sidelines.

At any rate, my intimate knowledge of the Patriots is a testament to the fact that they were nobodies, because I'm a nobody. But sometimes, nobodies have a profound effect on things, don't they?


I know Seattle likes to think that the people in the stands are their twelfth man, but talk is cheap, son. Get out there and make a play, or put a sock in it.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Hey Giuda


The world is a wonderful place chock full of interesting people. There are like, twenty-three of them. Maybe twenty-two. Anyway, if you poke around, it's not 100 percent douchebags downloading navigation apps into their "smartphones" while walking into parking meters.

I'd be hard pressed to recall the last time I saw something truly new. No, really, I mean it. It's been decades. Everything touted as new is a retread, and generally a degradation of the thing it copies.
Don't feel bad about the smartphone thing. At least it's a step up, intellectually, from jingling change in your pocket.

I remember distinctly the first time I saw a workable digital camera, the first time I saw Microsoft Office, the first time I heard the modem blast of dial-up Internet connection, the first time I had a usable cell phone, the first time I got yelled at by Nuvi, and the first time I played Doom. Nothing new has happened since any of that, and everything that's tried to beat them has been worse. And Justin Bieber is just Frankie Avalon, except I gather Frankie Avalon knew how to sing a little; but I really don't know, because I'm not that old, and I know I'll never get so old that I have time to waste listening to either of them.

I like new things. Since there aren't any, I just look for intriguing versions of old things. A roomful of guys in Bologna singing Beatles songs is intriguing enough, I guess.

[Backstory, previously on Sippican Cottage: It Won't Be Long , and More Beatles Bolognese]


Tuesday, January 06, 2015

It's Always a Good Day When You're Above the Lawn


That's Cyrille Aimee, who's some sorta French chick, so, she's like, automatically hot. It's like a law or a rule or something. Can't control her hair. Smokes cigarettes that Germans in a snowbank on the Eastern Front would turn down, I imagine. I bet she eats snails. Not in a restaurant, either. Just finds them in people's fish tanks and eats them. She speaks English because she went to college at SUNY Purchase, which I hear now has some faculties and gymnosiums and a reflectory to eat in, where you think about what you could have done with the tuition money. It doesn't seem to have done her any harm.

The song is written by Peggy Lee, of all people, and her then-husband, Dave Barbour, who was a alcoholic jazz banjoist, of all things. You'd drink pretty heavily, too, if you were in that close proximity to someone playing the jazz banjo. 

Monday, January 05, 2015

In Conformity With the Severe Discipline of My Country


Within this recess was found a human skeleton, of which the hand still grasped a lance. Conjecture has imagined this the remains of a sentinel, who preferred dying at his post to quitting it for the more ignominious death, which, in conformity with the severe discipline of his country, would have awaited him. -- Pompeiana, by Sir William Gell

When I was a kid, they built a concrete highway through the woods, from nowhere to noplace in particular. When I gold older and went feral, we used to drag race on it in the evenings. We painted stripes on it and everything. Drag racing on a deserted highway was already twenty-five years out of date, but everything in my life was always that way. Life was a live baby born to a stillborn mother.

Eventually the highway was connected to other things, and things happened around it whether they should have or not. They should have called it the chicken and the egg highway. You could put a highway from Hell to Purgatory and people would move there from Paradise, because: Hey, highway!

The highway killed the other highway that had no business being there two generations before. The pizza place with the picnic tables still hung out the pennant flags to flap themselves to their component atoms, unseen, while the cars went kachunk-kachunk-kachunk over the new pavement, just out of reach forevermore.

There was a time in the fall, after the leaves had scurried to their winter homes on the ground, when you could see a ghostly billboard way out in the woods as you went by doing seventy, easy. RED COACH GRILL. It was made to tempt men in fedoras to peer out of their beater car windows and find a place to squat in an ersatz captain's chair, eat pot pie, and wash the dust of their sales route out of their mouths with Seven and Sevens until the million knots in the pine swam before their eyes.

The sign stood in the woods like a sentry in Pompeii and told only the deer, in runes no one understood anymore, that they could have it all back.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

I Set Up A Web Camera To Document The Building Of My Last End Table


Why yes, I do use a giant buzz saw with the blade installed backward in it. Why do you ask?

As you can see from the screen capture thumbnail, three of the fingers on my hands are webbed. Comes in handy when I'm trying to hold on to screws while using my cordless drill. It's not supposed to be cordless, I just cut the cord off accidentally when I was using the chop saw; but those buggers are expensive, so I keep using it that way. Takes a long time to set a screw, but it sure gives me big wrist muscles. That's why I'm able to carry an entire lift of  2x4s on my shoulder over to the table saw that I bought at Snidely Whiplash's yard sale.

This, people, is why women want me, and men want to be me, and children are warned to stay away from me. 


Friday, January 02, 2015

The Most Subversive Band I Ever Heard


No God and no religion can survive ridicule. No political church, no nobility, no royalty or other fraud, can face ridicule in a fair field, and live.  Mark Twain

When you get right down to it, I'm kind of a little sh*t. A coward, too. But I've always been a brave sort of coward. I appreciate cowardly courage when I see it.

I've never been one for a full frontal assault on anything. I believe in going around to the side door, jiggling the knob, and trying the window. There's always a pile of dead guys right in front of any machine gun nest. It's smarter to go around back and put a skunk in the pillbox than to charge right at it.

The Turtles were the ultimate example of a skunk thrown at a pillbox. They don't say they're trying to do anything but participate. They have an obvious affection for the music they're sorta kinda playing. Kinda. Sorta. They're delivering a funhouse version of a familiar thing. Everything about them is normal, but wrong a little. Bent a bit. When Howard Kaylan smiles at the camera, there's a pull my finger quality about it. He's a Cheshire Polecat. It's an in-joke that no one's in on. It's just as fun as the things they mimic, but it's taken to another level. It's the basement level, but still, it's another level.

I used to play pop music covers for a semi-living. We mostly played dreck, because pop music is 99 percent dreck, and I'm not sure what the other 1 percent is because I turned the radio off before it really got going. But somehow I loved it. I didn't care that it didn't cure cancer. I didn't care that it was stupid. People liked it, so I played it, and I pretended to like it so they could pretend to like me, too. But I can assure you that I liked every minute of playing Happy Together, and She'd Rather Be With Me, because it's way past pop music. It's both the carrot and the stick, ground up together and baked in a pie, served hot. 

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Happy New Year From Sippican Cottage's Spare Heir



My eleven-year-old son is the last person on the face of the Earth to produce animations in Microsoft Paint. He may also be the first, but there's no way of knowing one way or the other. At any rate, Happy New Year to everyone. Hope it's a good one for you and yours.