Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I've Located The Last Page Of The Intertunnel

I named it the Intertunnel, of course. You might call it the Interwebs, or the Hypertubes, or THE AOLs, or whatever. But no matter what you call it, it's not a place; it's more like a trip. An Alighierian trip. It starts out innocently, but it doesn't end up that way -- like a double date, or maybe representative democracy.

Maybe you start out a German tenor --August Schramm, let's say-- and there you are, standing up straight and trying to get Mozart up a stump in a concert hall where everyone can get a look at him.

But you can't leave well enough alone, can you? You get one of those cameras full of pixels and brimstone, and point it at yourself, and upload that badboy to the Intertunnel. Pretty soon you get to poking around on the Interwebs after you watch your own video on YouTube. In no time at all, you're picking Lady Gaga's merkin hair out of the Intertunnel's intellectual shower drain:

There you go, folks. We're done here. The Intertunnel is finished. Kaput, if August is tuning in. You can turn it off and go outside now. But for God's sake, don't press the print button first.

(Thanks, I think, to reader and commenter and correspondent Charles Schneider for sending that one along. I guess. Pretty sure. Maybe. Whatever)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Waiting For Godot And Belleruche

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Do Not Be Deceived; God Is Not Mocked

The morning after I shook my puny fist at the weather gods, the forecast for our neck of the woods came in looking like this:

It never reached minus twenty, but Boreas sure let it rip. The wind was blowing about thirty miles an hour. It was awesome, in the true sense of the term.

Things don't work like they should when it gets down to ten below zero. Two years ago, it was more than twenty-one degrees below zero here. It was astonishing. I looked out the window in the crepuscular morning light, and it didn't look like Earth anymore. There is a phenomenon called ice fog, where the air is too cold to hold any moisture whatsoever, and whatever humidity it's carrying turns to ice in the air, and looks like a snow flurry that doesn't move. 

Well, ten below or so is cold enough, even if it doesn't look like Neptune's weather when you look out the rimed window. My wife's car wouldn't start, and still won't. It made a sound like a dog dying of mange while gargling with bees and ball bearings. My son and I twice tried jumpstarting it. When I compressed my gloved hand over the jumper cable clamps, the rubber insulation on the grips crumbled up and blew away. I'd only seen things crack and blow away like that during Bugs Bunny shorts. I had no idea real things could act that way. The morning of the 25th, I could swear even the Intertunnel froze here. The pixels wouldn't come through the pipes, except haltingly.

The drain of the utility sink in my workshop froze and had to be defrosted. I've been unable to get the temperature in there over 45 for a solid week, no matter how much heat I dump in, but I couldn't see a danger of pipes freezing. Of course the trap for the drain is one floor down, in the area where we stack the frozen drifters we like to collect, so it froze. We had to go down there and stand underneath it with a blow dryer like deranged eskimo hairdressers to get it going again. The weather outside is like a bookie. It's all you can do to keep up with the vigorish. The principal is out of the question.

It's been a solid fifteen or twenty degrees below average here for weeks. Around here, in January, that's saying something. The weather webpage is absurd about it. First they try to tell you the world is ending, to get your attention. There's some sort of IMPENDING DOOM banner displayed most every day, and they've taken to naming snowstorms that bring a half-inch of snow that's not worth shoveling as if they're arctic typhoons. I admit it: twenty below got my attention. Then Armageddon doesn't show up -- it was only nine below, I'm certain of this because I have a thermometer that keeps low and high readings until you reset it, and I was watching it closely. Then they pretend they never said it and keep going. Later, when no one's looking, they entered it in the record of observed temperatures as minus four -- a good, solid, roomy, well-built, gilt-edged fib, because global warming, that's why.

I said the winter was a worthy adversary the other day. I was mistaken. He's a sneaky pisser, that arctic fellow, and if you see him, tell him for me I hope he gets the blind staggers and his wife runs away with the guy that drives the firewood truck.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

My Mallet Don't Ring (from 2007)

This is Provincetown, Massachusetts again. 1940 this time.

That's a working boat. By "working," I'm referring to the fact that it's used to catch critters in the ocean or haul stuff around. A working boat is not a pleasure boat. There used to be many more working boats than pleasure boats.

I love this picture. You can still go places and find people caulking the seams of a wooden boat in this manner, but it's getting pretty rare. Most boats are made of fiberglass now, and are one big lump built on a plug and them popped off like a muffin from a tin, only you keep the tin and throw away the muffin. If boats are made from wood now, they are generally "cold molded;" that is, they are laid up from epoxied layers of marine plywood.

This boat is carvel planked. That means that the planks butt up to one another, and display a smooth hull when they are complete. Other wooden boats are made lapstrake, which means each successive plank overlaps the one placed just before it, which renders the zigzag profile you are familiar with from clapboard siding on a house. Most old salts call that method "clinker," not "lapstrake." You should hear what they call you after you leave their shed.

The hull of this boat is probably made from oak frames with cedar planking, but there are lots of species of wood that work as well for either item. Each plank on a carvel planked boat has to be fitted to the curve of the boat, usually a multiple curve with a twist thrown in. And the inside must be "backed out" to match the curve of the perpendicular frames, and the outside must be made "fair," or shaped to remove all trace of the faceting that a series of flat planks presents. If you saw the pieces laid flat you'd think their crazy shapes could never fit together to make much of anything. The curves of a boat hull, gentle and sharp alike, are exceedingly beautiful.

The planking is fitted in a very unforgiving way. The frames are like a skeleton inside. They are usually steam bent to get them to the curved shape you need. In WW II, Liberty boats tried to improve on solid wood steam bent frames, and made massive built-up frames using the then currently newfangled epoxy to hold it all together. They were immensely strong, and they all broke. The sea requires a certain flexibility.

As I was saying, the planks must fit together very tightly on the inside edge, but be open a bit on their outboard edge, to allow the planks to be caulked to seal them from leaks properly. The boat in the picture is being refurbished, not constructed, so you can see traces of the paint that has been scraped off on the planks. The planks were usually screwed to the frames, with each screw head painstakingly countersunk and plugged with a wooden plug. The old salt would call the plugs "bungs," and would make sure the grain in the bungs ran the same direction as the plank, even though that was unlikely to make a difference. If you asked him about the bungholes while referring to them as plugholes he'd probably tell you to shut your cakehole, after your check cleared, anyway.

You can see the skein of unspun cotton in the picture as the man works it into the seam with a "crease iron" and mallet. He has all sorts of irons for all the various places on the hull, but the crease iron is for long straight runs. He works the cotton into the seam by rocking the iron, which looks like a wide chisel, back and forth, and hits it at the opportune time to set the cotton in the seams.

There was an expression then. "His mallet rings." It was a sign of respect for a man whose easy familiarity with his task and his tools manifested itself with an audible clue. The sonorous, metronomic ringing of the wooden mallet, wielded expertly on the rocking iron, marked you as a man who knew his business.

My mallet doesn't ring. I have spent my life trying to manufacture with my effort and my mind what my hands do not give me naturally. In a way, it is like manners. If you don't have them, you can pretend that you do; it is essentially the same thing in practice.

But I know it, just the same; and in a quiet moment it rankles.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Violet Days Are Here

It's ten degrees, but it won't last. The sun is retreating and dragging the thermometer with it. The violet days are here.

There was a moment before sunset when the sky and the earth and everything in, on, and between them turned this lovely purple hue. It's an indescribable color. Light through a lens fashioned from a limpid pool, frozen. It can't mean anything but cold to my eye. I don't know how many bedrooms I've seen painted this color. It's arctic looking, and the person that chose it always told me it was, you know " a warm color." Yes, it is, in the same way a walrus butthole planted on a floe is warm. To a lunatic, it might be warm.

But cold as a concept is not as bad as many make it. It is a fact, here. It will be below zero, day and night, for three days in a row. It will be ten, fifteen, maybe push twenty below zero at night. Winter is not fooling around anymore. So what.

Winter is a full time job in Maine, E. B. White said. But he lived Downeast, where it's warm compared to here. But he understood. You have to look it straight in the face, and deal with it. You can't go out in your socks and scrape the frost from your windshield with a credit card. I've made over 500 fires already, and I've only used one match, once, to do it. You have to prepare yourself for winter. It reminds you that you're mortal, and that there are seasons, and those seasons have meaning. It shows you that your life will pass you by if you're not careful. Winter is useful that way.

I see a great number of people talking about how they're going to deal with a coming apocalypse. They're going to hoard this and grow that. They're going to be the Omega Man crossed with Johnny Appleseed. Forgive me, but life is plenty hard here, and I can't help but notice you're not moving in next door to me before the apocalypse. I doubt you will the day after. If winter is too much for you, I doubt you're prepared for an army of zombie Robespierres or whatever it is you're planning for.

I can't say I like the winter. I've always been cold. Poor people are often cold, and I have been poor in my life. I'm not a fool and I don't like misery. But I respect the winter here. It's a worthy adversary, and so, goddamn it, am I. Bring it on.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Write It On A Twenty And Send It On Up

Ode To The Working Man: Tommy Tedesco

Yesterday's blast of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman corollary goodness elicited a few comments about the relative obscurity or importance, and the entertainment value, of Happy Kyne and The Mirth-Makers.

It was a joke that wasn't funny for some, or one you didn't get for others. It was mordantly funny, and a bit subversive for a devotee. I was one of those.

A commenter pointed out that Happy was Frank De Vol. Frank is one of those guys. Guys that work in Hollywood. It's almost not possible to list Frank's accomplishments. There are too many, and they're all sort of notable, and even if no longer household words, they're at least recognizable to almost any human in the United States, and plenty elsewhere, too.

Hollywood's a weird place. It's full of people that work. They're not like the stars; they're generally pleasant, hardworking, and more or less salubrious, and have real, cultivated talents. They make the whole place go, no matter how dissipated and ephemeral the people in front of the camera or the microphone might be. Frank was no doubt considered flighty in his social circle, as he was married twice; of course his first marriage lasted 54 years until his wife passed away -- but still.

Martin Mull's show was about breaking down the wall of phony between the audience and the host, and the host and the guests, and the talent and the heavy lifting, so it's natural that he'd hire the fellows that usually sat anonymously in a studio and made the likes of Nancy Sinatra listenable for a few minutes on the radio, and use them right out front. Or misuse them, amusingly. That's a very heavy bunch of musicians acting like they're the worst wedding band you ever heard. Look in the back row. He's not wearing his glasses, but I do believe that's Tommy Tedesco playing the guitar. Tommy Tedesco is way more famous than Frank De Vol, who you never heard of. Tommy Tedesco might be twice as unheard of as Frank. If it was sorta square, but immensely popular, and it came out of the radio, Tommy played on it. Tommy Tedesco was well known for being anonymous.

Dude could play:

Hollywood is filled with lots and lots of waiters and personal trainers and dog walkers and assistants that pick up dry cleaning that are sure they're gong to be big stars tomorrow. But they are all trying to compete in the sweepstakes of the talentless. They wish to be made into demi-gods for no apparent reason, the same reason the people they work for (while grumbling and smiling) were made famous. The only skill they cultivate is acting strange and rude, which will be useful if you eventually get a three-picture deal from Sony, but just makes you a garden variety jerk in real life.

Then there are guys like Tommy Tedesco. They are truly useful, and make themselves useful to the people that have enough to worry about, dealing with the neurotic people with no real talent that get nailed like wooden figureheads on the front of hit records and TV shows and movies. The producers have to sober up the talent, so they like guys and girls that show up and get real things done when money is on the line. Guys like Tommy.

How many hit records and TV shows and movies did Tommy Tedesco have a hand in? I bet Tommy couldn't have told you. I bet he couldn't remember half of them. Hell, just look at the list at IMDB of his movie and TV work. It's insanely long. To someone my age, you could just say he's the guitar you hear twanging away in the Bonanza theme. Someone has to play that. Guys like Tommy said it might as well be them, and never did anything else but work. They weren't waiting for their big break. Every day is a big break. You'll notice that almost everything he does says "uncredited" after it. Tommy got the best credit you can earn in Hollyweird -- they write it on the lower right corner of a check.

Tommy was part of a loose agglomeration of musicians that made the Los Angeles music scene go for decades, often referred to as The Wrecking Crew. They played on every damn thing.

It's telling that Tommy Tedesco's son Denny's tribute to his father and his colleagues will likely never be widely released, because the people that had the least to do with how all the entertainment sounded --the people with their names and faces on the covers of the albums, and a bunch of guys in suits -- will never agree to the licensing of their songs for the project. It's a pound of flesh, first, last and always in the entertainment business.

Guys like Tommy Tedesco were smart, though, if anonymous. They had the distilled wisdom of everyone that's ever performed music for money:

 "If you have a request, write it on a twenty and send it on up."

Everyone did, from Barbra Streisand to Frank Zappa.

Monday, January 21, 2013

I Don't Perform Anymore. I'm A Homebody

But my wife and I have an understanding. If Happy Kyne calls and says he needs an additional Mirth-Maker, I'm outta here.

Fernwood 2 Night

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Why Be Normal?

Of course "Normal" nowadays means sitting on a bean bag chair in an office that looks like a Gymboree, with no equipment but a laptop and a fridge full of Jones soda, waiting for the boss to stop playing foosball with the fellow from the loading dock -- he plays Ultimate Frisbee if it's not raining -- and hoping he'll remember to call the angel investor and get him to cough up the second million or you're all laid off.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Immodest Mouse

If you just tuned in, those are my sons. They're homeschooled.

It's very important that the viewer understand that I'm their music teacher, but I had absofarginlutely  nothing to do with the production of this video. I did not teach them any part of this song. I was not present when it was chosen, or arranged, or overdubbed, or mixed, or compiled, or uploaded. They did it all themselves yesterday afternoon. I saw it in the same manner that you did -- finished product. I'm told that the parts they played together were done in one take.

The older one is seventeen. I have been harsh with him in the past. Brusque. Demanding. He is very even-tempered, or more likely, has learned to project even-temperament, which is better and the same thing at the same time. I can't remember the last time I raised my voice to him, or that he required any form of external discipline from me. The little one is only nine, and could wear out a stone with his relentless nature, but you can never be angry with him, because he seems incapable of malice of any kind.

If I had one wish, I know what it would be. I'm not a beauty pageant contestant, so whirled peas isn't on my list, never mind near the top of it. Let the world sort out its own problems; I've got my own. Here's my one wish: I wish I'd never raised my voice, even once, to those little children, or their mother. There had to be a better way.

I can still die a happy, if defective, man, though. If the approach was not perfect, you can at least see perfection from the top floor window of our house.

(Update: Thanks to Kathleen from CT for your continuing generosity! And many thanks go out to jolie Julie, too!)

(Higher-Update: Melissa K's continuing generosity is marvelous. Many thanks!)

(Still Further Update: Thanks, Lorraine; you're a peach)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Sippican Pseudo-Scholastic Seinfeld Misadventure, Part II: Downton Abbey

I made a terrible mistake many years back. I was still talking to "intellectuals" as if they were normal, intelligent persons, instead of addressing them in the manner a French waiter reserves for people on vacation from Omaha. My error was based on a serious misapprehension, one that I was quickly disabused of. In a public forum, I mentioned that I thought Seinfeld was an entirely new and innovative kind of situation comedy, because it was the first time I could recall where every single person that appeared in a comedy show was completely, utterly, and without exception, unlikeable.

It's important to stress that I didn't mean, and certainly didn't say, that I didn't care for the characters as drawn. I don't care for lots of characters portrayed on television. You're not supposed to like some, anyway -- they're villains -- and the rest can advance a story without draping a daisy chain around your heart. That's neither here nor there. I pointed out that no one could like anyone on Seinfeld. It just wasn't possible. In real life, you'd punch every man-jack in that show --star or stand-in alike -- square in the esophagus without warning if no one was looking. Even the elderly women. Did I say even? Well, it's in the dictionary near especially, and perhaps I got confused.

The scorn that rained down on my head was well-deserved, of course, and shame on me. If you can operate a Pell grant application, but not an apostrophe, everyone on Seinfeld is wonderful. You wish they were your friends. You want to dress like Elaine, and get soup with George. You want to live a life about nothing -- and vicariously, at that.

No, you won't catch me making that mistake again. I refuse to stand here, agog, while you tell me that you find anyone or anything commendable about Downton Abbey.

It's a big hit, I hear, like Jersey Shore within shouting distance of the actual Jersey, not the ersatz one. I have seen it. I began to play interesting games with it after a while, like a bored teenager at the pool seeing how long he can hold his breath underwater. Who knew you could listen to seventeen straight hours of dialog in a teleplay and not hear one interesting thing emitted from any sentient being onscreen? It's true; I counted. I feared that the cute doggie tuchus that opens the credits would disgorge some methane and liven things up, and so ruin my streak, but it was not to be. It's turtles all the way down, and the turtles are upside down in the terrarium and they've turned white.

It is innovative, of course, if you think renting a British dustcatching country house and filming Falcon Crest in it is innovative. It achieves the vaunted Seinfeld "show about nothing" level of studied indolence by the back door; it's a show about everyone being everybody and doing everything all at once, and over and over again, too. There's a kind of sublime quality to a teleplay with the nerve to simultaneously posit that it's serious, and also that there's a character in it that was going to be an Earl but he was on the Titanic and didn't drown like a human would but caught amnesia from the cold water or something and thought he was Canadian, which is the same thing as amnesia, I think, and then he got roasted in World War I and remembered he was an Earl, but lost interest in that after a week, and drifted off. I'm surprised the writers didn't have him kidnapped by aliens and anally probed while he was at it, or have him emit spider webs from his wrists or something else more believable and compelling.

Unable to make people interesting by making them say or do interesting things, the writers try to make some people interesting by making them evil instead, as bad writers do, but they don't seem to understand evil properly and make a hash of that, too. The misbehaviors are of the quotidian variety, like a child standing next to a broken vase and averring that an eagle swooped down and did it, and asking if they might have a cookie anyway. But academics are the prospective audience, I guess, and they're used to vicious fights over vanishingly small stakes, so apparently all you have to do is have the dastards tell tales out of school and  smoke cigarettes, and they're instantly Morgan La Fay and Richard the Third, squared.

I gather the gimpy valet is supposed to be the Christ-figure in it. He's as tedious as a crown of thorns, anyway, so that's the conclusion I drew. Sanctimony is in the dictionary not too far from stoicism, after all, and le mot juste is not the modern intellectual's strong suit. After a few hundred thousand examples of his inane selfless behaviour, one's natural urge is to front anyone up to the task the thirty pieces of silver necessary to get him to lighten up a bit. But examples of ignoble nobility are as numerous as the names in a Chinese phonebook in this dreadful thing, so perhaps I'm wrong to single out anyone for calumny. They shouldn't hang separately. They should all hang together.

I just don't know how to approach Downton Abbey. It's a huge crime against my innate Anglophilia. I mean, Bertie Wooster and Jeeves are going to show up in Downton's lobby shortly, and I'd hate to have them turned away because of the goings on there in the teens, but I really don't know how to fix my mood without some sort of purge, a cleansing of the landscape, a Downton delenda est moment. I took a flurry on the World War; hoped for great things from the Spanish Flu; was disappointed that the producers seem to have found the only Irishman that ever lived with absolutely zero charm and no knowledge of how to mix up explosives in their landlady's bathtub, and no urge to use them, either. There doesn't seem to be anything left for me to hope for, because I can't wait around long enough for the Four Weddings and A Funeral playbook to play out, and the funeral in those things never seems to have the mass grave I require in it, so I'm bound to be disappointed.

If the scriptwriters are reading, could you please dismantle Highclere manor, and build an enormous volcano-shaped pyre with its parts and pieces and denizens, and then set it alight? Thanks in advance.

Throw Laura Linney in it, when it gets going good, to appease the gods of ennui.

(Related: MPBN Establishes Phone Line To Help Downton Abbey Devotees Avoid The Pats Game. Because We All Know Girls Don’t Like Looking At Tom Brady

Also: Popular Downton Abbey TV Series Spawns New Books, Including Mrs. Patmore’s Guide To Cankles And Moribund Lady Parts )

Saturday, January 12, 2013

I Wonder If These Poor, Benighted Girls Even Know How To Take Their Own Photos Making Ducklips, Using Their Phone

Can they type with their thumbs properly? I bet their weirdo parents want them to learn to write all loopy and scribbly, too --what do you call that stuff; cursing or missive or something -- instead of communicating deep thoughts properly, with little acronyms with homophone numbers sprinkled in them.

They're ten and eleven years old, the video says. Shouldn't they be in sex education class in a locked-down school instead of learning music that doesn't even have a phat beat? The other kids are gonna think they're weirdos.

What kind of outfits are those? You can't buy them at a Hot Topic, that's for sure. Maybe they're just normal kids, and are wearing long sleeves to hide their tattoos from the squares on the Intertunnel. They probably let it all hang out when mom is out on a date and they break out the Solo cups and some decent music.

Dare I say it? I don't believe these children are socialized. However will they make their way in life? They're doomed.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

On The Street Where I Live

Erik Satie wrote his series of Gnossiennes before the turn of the 20th Century. It's a made up word, gnossiennes is. He made up the style, and the name for it, and an explanation for it died with him in 1924. He was constantly reinventing and explaining himself, each explanation making everything more cryptic along the way.

Interesting and intelligent people generally cannot explain themselves. They obfuscate by talking, the opposite of regular people. An artist's sole ability is to conjure an impression out of nothing. They are unlikely to turn off the power to do so when asked a direct question. They can't be trusted.

Number 4 Gnossiennes wasn't even published until 1968. An afterthought? Who can say. It gets me through the day some days.  Satie termed some of his compositions "furniture music." They are ambient -- part of the furnishings of a room.

I work alone, in a cold place. On days like today, the sun heaves itself into view for a moment on the shoulder of the horizon, and then collapses in a heap shortly after. The landscape is sere and frosted, and the flakes come down like ground bones. I have a mask on my face, and a clamp over my head to dull the din. The machines growl like they're wounded. When I'm able to turn it off for a moment, Satie takes his turn, producing his furniture in the room I produce furniture in. I put my hands right on the metal duct that carries the heat from the fire to the house upstairs, and I feel the residue of the sun of many Julys pass by. It is a kind of perfection.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

I Wouldn't Mind Going To Paris, To See The Parisites

We are mostly living in the ruins of civilizations we could not now make ourselves. Hope it holds out a while.

Monday, January 07, 2013

We Nurse Them With Acetylene And Ultraviolet Light

by: Sippican Cottage

Sun's beaming in the window,
There's rumbling from the floor,
We're rollicking and pulsing
Boxes dancing out the door.

Oh how our muscles ripple,
We're making twenty knots,
We're alternating; current --
We're glowing with the watts.

Pounding down the corridors,
With Bills of Lading, piled;
Our output's put the boss on ice
We're blowing out the dials.

They count the beans but can't keep up,
We're cooking with the gas;
Our arms are made from tempered steel,
Our heart is made of brass.

That brass is rolled to make a tube,
The tube is bent just so;
And when we blow that trumpet, Jack,
The girls get all aglow.

The whistle blows at five o'clock,
It's twenty-three skidoo;
The guys and gals that made that stuff,
Go out for dancing too.

They box the compass of the steps
Then swing from chandeliers;
They leave the clerks there in the lurch
Then kick it up a gear.

They pound the floor into the ground,
They swing and then they sway;
They'd drink to all their troubles,
But they've long since gone away.

They close the places late at night,
And walk beneath the stars;
Arm in arm, exchanging charms
One's Venus, one is Mars.

Mighty children spring from them,
To keep the flame alight;
They nurse them with acetylene,
And ultra-violet light.

They grow some whiskers when they're old,
And sit down for a spell;
Their Ercoles will take their place,
And raise a little hell.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Someday, We'll Be Together

Reader and sometime impresario Dave requested that song by the Strokes back in October, and my boys did a lively version of it back then. They decided to re-record it and show what a difference the purchase of some musical and video equipment makes. Here's the old version:

In a way, the old version is livelier, because it's, well, live; there's no overdubbing, and live performances are almost always more animated. But just look at how much more interesting to look at the new one is.

I'm working around the clock just now, and the kids weren't able to count on any input whatsoever from me. So they did it all themselves, in one afternoon, including playing the bass (***sob***fired again). They have better lighting, and an inexpensive multi-track recorder, and a proper PA system to sing through, and another guitar for a different tone, and more microphones. The original recording was just the ambient mic on a Flip camera, but now they have two cameras with higher definition, and they can record two video angles simultaneously. My readers made all that possible. Many thanks!

(Update: Thanks to Kathleen M. for her continuing support! Up-Update: Dave! Amazingly generous. Many thanks! Up-Update: Phil B! You're da best.)

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Just The Right Amount Of Cowbell

Little Feat plays Fat Man In The Bathtub. Dirtiest song about bathing I ever heard.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

2012: That Was The Year That Wasn't

I'm sorry, but The Onion isn't funny anymore.

Now, the Rumford Meteor -- that's funny right there. It's funny because it's real. All the news stories in the Meteor are from real newspapers, if you can call what passes for birdcage lining nowadays "real." The snippets are printed verbatim, with links to the whole story in all the local newspapers in Maine. The only thing changed is the headline. Let's see The Onion try that.

But then again, just living in Maine is like cheating for humor. I live here, and I'm still not sure Maine is really real. The temperatures here have a hyphen or a dash or a minus sign or something in front of them half the time. The economy is based on tourism, but everyone that lives here calls all the tourists Massholes under their breath. The radio stations play country music for some reason, even though the Arctic Circle is a lot closer than the Mason-Dixon line. Every room in every house in Maine has a ceiling fan in it, even though you can see your breath indoors from Labor Day until Memorial Day. People cook baked beans in a hole in the ground for two days and then eat them, and claim they like it. The place doesn't make a lick of sense.

My friend Aubuchon Connery, the editor, publisher, stringer, photographer, archivist, typesetter, and  pixel adjuster of the Rumford Meteor, sent along the Top 100 News Stories of 2012, and asked me to publish it, in case his press is frozen solid again until late April. I was glad to oblige;  my wife chipped his good gutting ax while cleaning a chicken breast on the counter again, and I owe him one.
 The Rumford Meteor's Top 100 News Stories of 2012


Old Town Police Run Up The Score By Simply Arresting Every Other Person In The Trailer Park
I Am A Lineman For The County. And We Have To Use Cones. So I'm Fighting With Policemen In The Gully By The Road
NBC Considering New Series: Suicidal Unfrozen Caveman Topless Coffee Shop Arson Witness In Hospital Scrubs On Bath Salts Robber 
Governor Certain He’s Responsible For Creating That Guy Whatshisname’s Job Making That Thing There
Agency Warns Mainers About “Work At Home” Schemes. “Not Working At Home Or Anywhere Else” Schemes Still OK
Telstar Students Shocked, Disoriented By Cache Of Musical Devices That Never Sent Steve Jobs 99 Cents

What Kind Of Jerk Would Publish A Faux Newspaper With Disrespectful Lampooning Of Local News Stories? 
Maine Olympic Snowboarder Injured, May Require Hipster Replacement
Mexico Fire Department's 'Save The Electric Meter Socket' Strategy Works Like A Charm
Police Seeking Two Men Who Started A Fire In Maine In January Say They Have 649,484 Suspects

Buckfield High Students Interested In Anything Else
Energy Efficiency Experts Visit Freezing Couple’s Home To Make Sure They Don’t Have Any Waste Heat From Incandescent Light Bulbs
Innovative Ellsworth Valentine Program Coaches Local Men To Wash Their Pits On February 13th

County Woman Beginning To Suspect Her Husband’s Chainsaw Collection Is Just A Bunch Of Chainsaws He Bought
Americans’ New Retirement Plan Is A Bed With A Lid

I’m A Bereaver

Students Spend 90 Percent Of Class Time Looking At Porn And Playing Games On Their School Laptops. The Other 10 Percent Doesn’t Exist, They Can’t Add, Either

Governor Makes Maine More Business-Friendly With A New Stack Of Forms 
Now They Know How Many Bombs It Takes To Clear The Aubert Hall. I'd Love To Turn You On
Wales Farmer Saddened By The Unsustainability Of Sustainable Farming
Mainers Celebrate Franco-American Day By Eating Dinner At 4:15 And Leaving A Seven Percent Tip
Actress With Maine Roots, Gray Roots On NBC Tonight
$640 Million Jackpot Has Lottery Buyers Dreaming Of How Many Lottery Tickets $640 Million Would Buy

Health Food Cafeteria Goes Out Of Business, Naturally
Emergency Readiness A Priority In Sumner, Maine, Pop. 854. Procedures Include Opening The Window And Yelling Over To The Bouchard’s Place
Royal Wedding Showed That Wearing Elaborate Hats Can Distract Other Women From Commenting On Your Horse Face And Tree Trunk Legs For A Few Minutes

Bangor Casino Running Out Of Bleary-Eyed Men In Members Only Jackets Clutching Next Month’s Rent
Nothing Says Quality Public Education Like Low Lights, Soft Music, And A Liver-Spotted Man-Hand Rubdown 
Totally Unsocialized Homeschool Weirdo Doesn’t Know Where To Buy Bath Salts Or Pot, Has 242 Year-Old Boyfriend

Bucksport High A Leader At Making Lip Dubs, Ensuring Students Are Ready For The Lucrative Lip Dub Industry After Graduation
Eighth-Grade Girl Joins Legions Of Women Worried About Plastic In The Environment Until They Want Two Pounds Of It Inserted In Their Chest
Santa Monica Mortuary Confused By Request To Embalm Dick Clark Again
Protesters Who Attended Second-Rate College Would Like People Who Only Finished Second-Rate High School To Pay Their Loans

Innovative Cooking Class Using Local Ingredients Has Excited Participants Dreaming Of Eating Four Months A Year
Local Public Grammar School Students Wish They Knew How To Read The Signs Mom Made Them Hold

Local Student Wonders When Machinist School Will Get Around To Exploring Sustainable Transgender Anarcho-Socialist Free-Range Machining
Organic Farmers Know That Consumers Don’t Mind A Little Listeria As Long As They Get It From Farmers Who Care
27 Percent Of Maine Teachers Haven't Been Accused Of Anything Yet
Bangor Faithful Gather To Pray For More Plaid Flannel Shirts
Local Legislators Suffering From Post-Traumatic Sex Syndrome. Somebody Done Hoodooed The du Houx Man
Milford Authorities Considering Ten-Day Waiting Period For Trailer Home Purchases To Cut Down On Violence
Midcoast Maine Economy Hoping For Boost From Wiping Both Ends Of Baby Boomers Until They Croak

Lewiston Public School Nutrition Director Says Kids Really Like Drinking Diet Chocolate Milk While Glaring At The Salad Bar
Governor LePage Will Mark 500 Days Into His Term With A Booklet Touting His Accomplishments If The Girl Can Get The Mimeograph Goin’

Police Shoot Naked Man Eating Another Naked Man’s Face When He Refuses To Stop And Read A Pamphlet Urging Him To Switch To Lean Protein, Whole Grains, Fruits, And Lo-Fat Dairy

Cranky Old Mainer Reviews Video Cassette Of Dave He Found At The Dump. It’s About Dave
Energy Science Education Touts Such Cutting-Edge Subjects As Fermenting Things, Windmills, And Window Glass. No Word On Alchemy, Miasmas, Phlogiston
Assistant US Secretary Of Commerce For Import Administration Tours New Balance, Wears Safety Glasses In Case There’s A Massive Shoelace Explosion
Five Candidates Vie For Chance To Collect Taxes From Rumford’s Four Remaining Taxpayers
Cape Elizabeth Librarian Wins Award For Excellence In Hiding The Ayn Rand Books
Bristol Begins “Pre-K” Education, Mulling Over Pre-Pre-K, Considering Having Obstetricians Yell Phonics Up There Between Contractions
EPA Touts The Health Benefits Of Shivering In The Dark While Unemployed
Local Mothers Want The Parts Of A Magazine Article They Can Remember Put Into The Constitution

Bowdoin Student Crusading To Ensure Maine’s Starving Families Have Unfettered Access To Leeks
Man Currently In Charge Of The Maine Department Of Revenue Says The Internal Revenue Service Is The Gestapo
Education Commissioner Certain That Shoveling More Millions Over The Festering Corpse Of Steve Jobs Will Fix The Schools
New Survey Indicates Women Earn Less Because They Answer Surveys All The Time Instead Of Working
Norway Residents Weigh In On What Sort Of Funky-Cool Downtown Shops They’d Prefer To Drive Right Past On Their Way To The Auburn Wal-Mart

Olympic Head Hopes Athletes Inspire A Generation Of Young People To Work For No Pay And Meekly Pee Into A Cup When Ordered To Do So

Saco Man Considering Donating Huge Collection Of Books He Purchased At Library Book Sales To A Library Or Something

Gore Vidal Dies Alone, Still Clutching The Phone After Spending 14 Months On Hold Waiting To Reserve A Table At Elaine’s
$756,000 Math Error Found In Westbrook School Department Budget. If Only There Was Some Sort Of School Where Residents Could Go To Learn To Add And Subtract
Kenyan Runners Huddle At Cape Elizabeth 10K Finish Line And Decide To Act Winded Until The Wazungu Show Up
Thank Goodness George Bush Isn’t President Anymore, Or We’d Have To Pay Attention To All These Dead Soldiers
24 Little Girls, And One Very Confused Local Machinist Yelling RON PAUL! Over And Over, Attend Tea Party Event In Mexico
Senator Collins’ New Husband Going To Lobby The Hell Out Of Her Until She Screams Cloture
Waldoboro Fire Department’s Save The Basement Strategy Would Have Worked If Mobile Homes Had Basements

Statistics Show That If Your Wife Agreed To Stay Pregnant For 18 Months, She’d Have Two Babies
Local Grandmother Says That Circle Solay Girl Wears Too Much Makeup
Lewiston Mayor Suggests Somali Immigrants Should Only Open Non-Prophet Businesses
New Westbrook Art Gallery’s Renovation Expected To Take Until 2017 Because The Owner’s Brushes Are So Small
New Study From Brown University Confirms That All White People Are Identical
Psychic Crime Fighter Says He Knows What Others Might Be Thinking, Which Seems Unlikely Because He’s Wearing Jorts
Local Woman On Paxil, Elavil, Cymbalta, Ambien, Ortho-Novum, And Ritalin Says She’ll Continue To Buy Organic Food Because The Other Kind Is Full Of Chemicals

High School Teacher Takes Students To Dairy Farm To See Where The Whole Milk They’re Not Allowed To Drink In School Comes From
‘David Geffen Drops Anchor Off Bar Harbor.’ I Don’t Get Out Much, So I Have No Idea If That’s A Euphemism
Dog In Workplace Wonders Why His Human Doesn’t Weep Alone Into A Tub Of Ice Cream While Looking At Her Screen Like At Home
Bullying Victim Signals She’s Ready To Begin Her Life Of Endless Praise Without Merit Now
West Paris Comic Book Magnate Has Invented Facesterbayuffingtonahoosoftunestubepressipedia, But Can’t Fit Enough Servers In His Van Down By The River To Handle Its Potential
Woolwich Solar Panel Devotee Showcases Computer That Allows Him To Estimate If Can Make Toast Before The Sun Goes Down
Portland Neo-Burlesque Show Reminds Man In Front Row That It’s Almost Time To Put Out Suet For The Birds
High School Computer Repair Wizards Say Your Computer Is Definately So Broken, And All Gayed Up With Viruses And Stuff, So Have Your Mom Buy You A New One. Duh!
Youngsters At Livermore Falls Daycare Report The New Lump Of Plastic In The Parking Lot Doesn’t Have That Many Wasps In It Yet


Town Council Desperately Tries To Explain The Arithmetic For A New School To Citizens Educated In The Current One
Wiscasset Ladies Organ Society Gets Together And Wishes More Of Their Organs Worked
Maine Forest Rangers Return From Hurricane Sandy Relief After Helpfully Showing Staten Islanders How To Gut A Moose
Two Dozen Students Offer To Eat School’s 37-Year-Old Twinkie Experiment Instead Of The New “Healthy” School Lunches
Cape Elizabeth Land Trust Purchases 60 More Acres Of Nothing And Nobody, Nowhere, With Trees On It, Because Maine’s About To Run Out Of That

Financial Planning Experts Say Mega-Lottery Winners Aren’t Financially Savvy Enough To Pour Their Payouts Into Facebook Stock At $38 A Share

Murals Deemed Too Flammable For Hospital Given To Wilton Schools. That Burn Unit Wasn’t Going To Fill Itself, You Know
Stunned Kansas City Fans Beginning To Suspect Chiefs Linebacker Didn’t Really Give A Shit About Breast Cancer, Either
Even Though We Have A ‘Dormitory Student’ President Now, Having ‘Dormitory Students’ On Your Basketball Team Is Considered Cheating In Maine
Rockland Area School Superintendent Says Truancy Is At Epidemic Levels, Or It’s Saturday And He Forgot
Long-Time Head Of Maine Organic Farmers Association Dies At 56, Serene In The Knowledge He Would Have Died At 55 If He Used Pesticides
You Could Tell Santa’s Helper In The UU Church Pageant Was A Drag Queen Because He’s The Only Person In Western Maine That Looks Even Vaguely Feminine
Vegetarian Doctor Touts The Health Benefits Of Having An Adam’s Apple Like A Third Elbow
Asperger Moms Assure The Public There’s Only Something Different About Their Children When It’s Convenient
Tom Brady Pissed He Has To Get On A Plane And Go Beat Some Sort Of Football Team They’ve Got In Jacksonburg, Alabama Or Somewhere