Sunday, July 30, 2006

A cautionary tale of drunken revelry . . .

I told Laura E I'd publicly humiliate myself with this little trip in the wayback machine in return for her own drunken confessional.

One fine spring evening while I was in grad school in Richmond, Va., some of my friends noticed the general finals-induced malaise about my person and invited me to go drinking.

To set the scene, the bar was Max's and scenically wedged between the life-threatening Oregon Hills neighborhood and a downhill view of the old Virginia State Penitentiary (also know as Castle Dracula on the James). We often went there because it was a rather fast-paced execution scene in Virginia in the mid-1980's and it was a great view of the pro-death and anti-capital punishment demonstrations associated with those days.

On this particular occasion, my general attitude led me to start with a vodka gimlet and a plate of battered, fried mushrooms. After three gimlets and the mushrooms, I felt that the ice and lime twists were getting in the way of perfectly good Absolut, so I started ordering shots.

My memory of the ensuing 45 minutes is still fuzzy 22 years later, but I do remember a table full of shot glasses and the irresistible urge to question the manhood of several frat boys at a nearby table.

My next memory is that of flying through the hall of my dorm while hearing voices above me.
At about noon the next day I regained consciousness. The hangover was actually relatively tolerable since it was vodka-based and not whisky induced.
After showering and returning to he room to pass out, one of my drinking buddies came back by to fill in the blanks.
After standing up to offer some observations of the fraternity gang's ability to coexist in a manly world, I passed out, fell across the table and let the mushrooms air out, so to speak.
We had ridden to the bar in a pickup truck, and the driver apparently threatened to drive it through a car wash with me sprawled in the back like a sack of potatoes, although the rest of the group prevailed on his humanity.
The flying sensation came from being carried, face down and by each extremity, by my compatriots.
As I heard my tale of woe, I noticed that my glasses were missing. I asked if we could go back to the bar to get them.
"That's not a good idea," he said. "You're banned from Max's."
He did go get my glasses, returning with a colorful and hilarious account of the bartender's reiterated stance on my return to Max's.
Later that night, I consumed two greasy, wonderful cheeseburgers with onions and mustard and two vanilla cokes.
The State Pen was demolished a decade later. Max's was razed to accommodate urban renewal. And I sit here, gray-haired and alive to tell the tale.
The moral? Don't mix Absolut and mushrooms.

And to cap this evening's story, enjoy a little Frank Zappa. Somehow he fits the situation.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Frontier Editor's Dance Party, July 28

Yes, for the most disjointed (I wouldn't insult anyone by calling it eclectic) musical taste every weekend, it's Frontier Editor's Dance Party!

Enjoyed the pokes at it in "Sean of the Dead"

What's a little 80's between friends?

At least it isn't his git sons

Sorry, but Astrud Gilberto is a weakness of mine . . .

A little Dave Edmunds . . .

We're headed to hell in a Volkswagen bus, as my grad school roommate always used to say . . .

You can tell me maybe . . .

Sorry, but on a bad day, Carl Perkins does it better than Elvis did.

Always had a crush on Kate Bush.

Who says we can't have romance in a post-Bush apocalyptic world?

And when you thought I was a calm, rational adult . . .

A good old-fashioned American love song

Level 42

Once you get past the 80's clothing, some decent 80's pop

And the coolest TV show theme ever . . . period

One of the coolest TV show themes ever

And a little Squeeze . . .

And a final dash of the Davies brothers.

And it's pronounced 'Davis'

More Kinkiness

Working out the Kinks

Yeah, the Beatles were great, but how many time have you caught yourself singing along when this pops up on some oldies station?

Eine kleine nachtmusik

I think Mark had the right idea, and I'm going to shamelessly copy it for a few hours:

Don't have to comment if you don't want to, but just enjoy.

Thank you Cherry for inspiring this bit of nostalgia . . .

Only moments after hitting the publish key on my previous hateful whining, I remembered Cherrypie's observation on childhood toys and other things and remembered with a big crap-eating grin a couple of my adventures with toys.

For my American brethren, when my family was stationed in England, boys my age played with Action Man. Action Man was merely the English market name for Hasbro's G.I. Joe, with some suitable Commonwealth accessories added to the American G.I accessories.

I had a British Red Devils demonstration paratrooper Action Man with working parachute, but what fun is a working parachute after a few lob tosses in the air. It was far more fun to have the Red Devils paratrooper with working malfunctioning parachute with no reserve.

And there was the Action Man deep sea diver with working pressure hose. As long as one blew into the hose's mouthpiece, Action Man stayed on the bottom of the tub. But abruptly stopping the pressure meant a new toy: Action Man deep sea diver with working bends face pressed against the diving helmet's faceplate.

And then there was Action Man Mercury astronaut and space capsule with damaged heat shield on re-entry, but that's for another day . . . . .

Another day, another 60 cents on the dollar

Yes, I'm back from another engagement at the Sands. Wait, that was a psychotic episode from seeing Wayne Newton striking the opening gong for today's NYSE opening.

Anyway, it's been another fun-filled 72 hours as we phase in more of our fellow newspapers onto a new press. As I spent Thursday recuperating before another fine Friday at work, I was standing in line at the store when the big O caught my attention.

No, I didn't spontaneously orgasm in the checkout line. It was a copy of Oprah magazine, with Oprah dressed like Rosalind Cash in "The Omega Man" just before she had dinner and sex with Charlton Heston (where are these images coming from? Must have been the Wayne Newton thing on HNN.

And in the featured article box on the page: "Oprah and Gayle: They have a conversation and say some startling things." Or something like that.

But after my Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, the Story of O seemed positively grounded in reality after having to deal with a press crew which called to ask where your paper's plate negatives were more than an hour after you sent them and watched their disposition on line before going out to dinner satisfied that they were printing.

I want to go to that printing plant and hang a giant sign with one of my favorite lines from "Time Bandits:"


And in other news:

I'm so glad that the Israelis are near getting one of their missing soldiers back after trashing the better part of a sovereign country while pulling off the same sort of crap they did when they spend half a day trying to sink the USS Liberty in international waters in 1967.

I have no problem protecting Jews from the sort of nationalist and anti-Semitic sentiment that put Dreyfus in prison and made possible the Holocaust.

I have a real problem with the Israeli state hiding behind that protection while acting in the same manner that National Socialist Germany acted while subverting Czechoslovakia in 1938 and spending 1939 - 1945 trying to obliterate Poland and wiping out significant chunks of the Jewish population of Europe.

And lets give another hand to the American oil industry for their justification of $10 billion in recent profits: Our profit margin is not as big as that of other industries.

Who needs a big per-unit profit margin when you
in volume and hold a near monopoly on the market?

Sorry for losing thematic control of this post. I can only offer Madeline Kahn's excuse from "Blazing Saddles": Ah'm tired.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Triumph of the Will, Bush-style

Always good to read how that blithering idiot George W. Bush is protecting my rights under the U.S. Constitution

Photo caption correction

For the record, the photo I posted two days ago is, in fact, NOT Viggo Mortensen's bare ass as was brought to my attention by several women who actually seem to have seen Mr. Mortensen's ass.

The reaction from the above-mentioned bevy of females was reminiscent in many ways of Beavis going wild and screaming "BARE ASS ON TV! BARE ASS ON TV!"

Rather, after checking the records of the prodigious Frontier Editor photo archives, I have found that it was a daytime photograph of George W. Bush demonstrating that he truly is so dense that light bends around him.

Give it up for Shrub! The only human cloaking device!

Incidentally, as I was spell-checking this, 'Mortensen' brings up the replacement word 'martens,' thus indicating that he may very well be a weaselly sort. Be sure to watch his morally ambiguous turn in "Crimson Tide" for further suggestions.

The moral to this post? Don't try to be coherent after 70 hours of work and 10 hours of travel trying to implement a new and improved press system.

Friday, July 21, 2006

I was told I had to post this . . .

by Raincoaster and Alberto Gonzales, so here goes:

Viggo Mortenson, naked, during a blackout at 2 a.m.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

A few random thoughts, now that I've depressed everyone . . .

I'm standing in line next to this woman at McDonalds. She has a moustache as sharp and dark as Ronald Colman's. Her male companion turns around and asks her; "Do you want anything."

I bit my tongue to keep from saying what popped up instantaneously; "Yes, electrolysis"

And this tidbit from SNL's classic "Theodoric of York" skit series.

"What you need is a good bleeding!"

"But I'm bleeding already."

"Say, who's the barber here?"

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Ahh, another chance to use that college and graduate-level history education . . .

If the last couple of weeks in the eastern Mediterranean aren't making you nervous, then can I have some of what you're taking?

Please don't construe that I'm taking the Israel-Hamas-Hezbollah situation as some freak-of-nature event that just popped out of the ground. If you're a modernism, you can go back as far as the Balfour declaration:

"Foreign Office
November 2nd, 1917

Dear Lord Rothschild:

I have much pleasure in conveying to you. on behalf of His Majesty's
Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet:

His Majesty's Government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.

I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge
of the Zionist Federation.

Arthur James Balfour"

If you're more of an expert in the region's ancient and modern colonial history, then you can take it back a little further.

And if you have an exceptionally well-developed sense of the ironic, then either point of departure should keep you well entertained for hours without end.

But watching Israel's recent efforts to recover its soldiers and stamp out Hamas and Hezbollah show that very little under the sun has changed.

In this case, the Israelis have assumed the role that the British held up to 1948. In their own charming way, Hamas and Hezbollah are reprising the role of the Stern Gang and Irgun.

And the United States, given how various segments of society have reacted in the last century toward a Jewish state in Palestine, is playing the same schizophrenic yet somewhat medicated role it has always played. In some ways, it isn't too far removed from the U.S.'s role in the British-Irish 'troubles' in the last two and a half centuries.

In fact, the U.S.-Israeli relationship has at times been pretty abusive in the mutual sense. From my family ties with the Navy, the "Liberty" incident and a few sea stories from the 1970's regarding Israeli military forces still color my opinion of that country's willingness to act in a civil manner to its friends.

And the Israeli state's fixation on Jerusalem as a capital . . . well, even we in the U.S. allow the spiritual and religious to cloud our political judgment at home and abroad. Besides, if Manifest Destiny was good enough for us in the mid 19th century, why shouldn't it be good enough for Israel now?

And there's the failure to realize that, while Jews were certainly displaced and unwanted after WW II, that there seemed to be damned little concern about displacement or desirability of Palestinians - either by the west or by Arab states - in the wake of 1948.

And we wonder how something like the current Gaza and Lebanon incursions could happen?

Not that I have any real love for Hezbollah (thank you, you worthless, heathen, pseudo-Islamic rat-bastards for killing an unarmed U.S. sailor during an airliner hijacking back in the 1980s. May you all slow-roast in hell) or for Hamas. But I can understand how such groups could form.

And, at the same time, our much-esteemed President (who probably doesn't know that Alaska doesn't occupy a mystical box just off the Pacific Northwest coast) decides he's going to declare war on terror without any grasp of who exactly organized and supported suicide attacks on American citizens. Granted, while the U.S. helped support the organizations that eventually became the Taliban and al Qaida, we probably had a right and a responsibility to conduct a rat hunt in Afghanistan despite the long-term odds of success there.

None of this is new. None of it just magically started last month. And just like in the Crusades, volumes of people will die and the sand will eventually cover the remains until the next fanatic and indifferent states and empires come along.

Friday, July 14, 2006

A few keyboard exercises before tonight's concert of inanity . . .

Folks, it's been a long week at casa de FE and chateau de Celestial Hell, so this is just a little loosening exercise. Please excuse if I drift, and feel welcome to pistol-whip me if I get too self-serving.

On Tuesday, we printed the last edition of our newspaper to come off the home office's press while saying a wonderful corporate sayonara to 11 employees who found it mildly inconvenient to drive 70 miles to a new low-paying job with the corporation.

On Wednesday, I watched the first edition of any of our three publications come off the corporation's new regional printing plant.

On Thursday, without the help of my publisher but with the more than adequate support of my group editor, I successfully fended off four local government officials whose main complaint about my editorship was that I called them in print on some stupid, rather anti-democratic stunts. In the process, I quietly but devastatingly embarrassed out paper's general business manager who thought it was funny when we were being attacked because we helpfully pointed out in print several months ago that a convicted child molester happened to be a National Guardsman.

On Friday, I waded through the detritus that American Little League baseball has become - our town is hosting the Virginia Little League championships, and I've acknowledged what I've known for years: baseball is not fun for kids anymore. But the concession stand's hot dog chili recipe was superb - plenty of garlic and onion and only a hint of some incendiary pepper sauce that should be banned as a weapon of mass gastrointestinal destruction.

And to round it out, one of my favorite song lyrics from little Bobby Dylan during his stint with the Travelling Wilburys(with the correct phonetic context):

"In Juhzee anyting's leegul as long as you don't get caught."

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Talk about the crack of doom . . .

Miss Cellania sent me to

I'm not revealing my name, but suffice it to say that the omen/anagram came with surprising rapidity and clarity: 'I'm celestial hell.'

Talk about a great way to wind down a workday.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Everyone’s a music critic, eh?

Since it’s Friday night and I’m supposed to be laying out ads on next week’s page dummies, it’s perfectly logical that I’ve decided to pull out my discs of shared files and put together a couple of hours’ music to make it all tolerable.

Some golden oldies I’d forgotten I had . . . .

“Girl from Ipanema Goes to Greenland” – God love the B-52’s. Where else are you gonna find something with a good dance beat that stands Astrud Gilberto on her head?

And “Photograph” by Astrud Gilberto – I’ll be honest. Once I was sitting in the Penny Lane Pub in Richmond, Virginia (the only place in Richmond where you can get warm beer, bump your head on the ceiling, get lard-fried fish and chips, get insulted by the publican – a good Liverpudlian to boot – and get a big plate of bangers and mash for a decent price), the proprietor put on an Astrud Gilberto CD and I rediscovered that she could actually make some moldy standards pretty tolerable when one has already had 10 pints of Guinness.

“Another Park, Another Sunday” - While many of my generation think “Blackwater” is the best Doobie Brothers song ever made, I still remember hearing this one at the tender age of 8 or 9 and thinking ‘gee, what a thoroughly depressing song but what a great melody.” Never hear it played on so-called album rock or oldies stations over here any more, though.

A whole slew of Donald Fagen – Why in hell is everyone in love with Michael Buble’ when half of Steely Dan has written, produced and sung some of the best damn jazz and torch songs of the last 30 years? Do yourself a favor – steal a copy of “The Nightfly” or “Kamikiriad” and listen to a few tracks.

“Tunnel of Love” – probably the best song that Bruce Springsteen ever did, and the one you hear the least of.

Okay, I’ve got a bit of Brian Ferry stowed away too. But even as a goofy damned teenager, I figured out on the most basic level that a Roxy Music or Steely Dan album was gonna impress the girls a lot quicker than a KISS or Aerosmith album would. I was right too - I never got my copy of “Aja” or “Siren” back. And when my son goes to his prom, I’m going to have to explain to him just how swave and deboner a white dinner jacket and black pants really are.

And then there was all the Barry Gray stuff I ‘collected.” Let me tell you; all my contemporaries walk around thinking that the them from “Scooby Doo, Where Are You” is high-class nostalgia, but it doesn’t begin to touch the theme from “Thunderbirds.”

Okay, I must really be on a low-blood sugar bender here. Time for some ice tea.

That was the week that was, even though it shouldn’t have been . . .

Okay, I’ve decided that the world has turned even more pear-shaped that normal this past week.


Ken Lay, that paragon of American business ethics and the reason that I’ll see my power bill climb at least 30 percent by the end of calendar year 2006, died this week after being found guilty of several felonies. One might think – especially former Enron stockholders and pension plan ‘beneficiaries’ – that his death was cosmic justice for tampering with American energy markets and driving thousands of people into financial ruin.
But the cosmos does have a warped and woofed sense of humor. Since Lay died before he was able to appeal his conviction, Texas law states that his conviction and indictment be vacated.
Ergo, Ken Lay was never charged with a crime, officially. Ponder that for a while.

Second, I don’t know what’s funnier about those wacky North Koreans – whether their success rate with intercontinental and theater ballistic missiles is worse than my childhood record with model rockets, or whether Shrub (thank you for that term, Molly Ivins!) really, REALLY believes that we could have taken out a successful North Korean missile launch with our own, robust, highly successful Strategic Missile Defense Initiative ‘system.” I use the word ‘system’ here very loosely.

Third . . . . hell, I don’t even want to contemplate a third. Aren’t one and two enough for a Friday night?

Go over to Raincoaster’s and watch the Charo clip or see her and me debate who’s the best Phantom pilot – Charles, Prince of Wales, or former congressman and current scumbag/federal inmate Randy Cunningham.

Either way, it's got to me more entertaining than watching me devolve into a poor facsimile of Lewis Black.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Wouldn't you know it? More notorious Virginians

Yes, Virginia has its share of famous personages - Washington, Patrick Henry, James Madison, John Marshall, Woodrow Wilson, Robert E. Lee, Confederates galore, et al.

But as my stress- and work-macerated brain recovered, I forgot some obvious ones I'd known but forgotten.

Warren Beatty and Shirley Maclaine, that wacky brother-sister duo from Richmond (my favorite run-down post-bellum, Southern capital - insert snide look here)

George C. Scott, who was actually born and raised just a few miles from my current residence and who was the center of some hilarious stories - maybe I'll regale you with a few in a day or two.

Sam Houston - when I have to listen to a Texan blather on about how great the Lone Star State is, I helpfully remind him or her that it took a questionable Virginia land speculator to make it all possible.

Lewis AND Clark - Top that one, whydontcha?

Ella Fitzgerald - Is she live? Because she sure ain't Memorex.

Bill Bojangles Robinson - I got to see his statue several times a week while in grad school in Richmond

Roy Clark - can't remember if he was a pickin' or a grinnin'

Joseph Cotten - One of four good reasons to go watch "The Third Man" (Trevor Howard, Orson Welles and Anton Karas' musical score are the others)

John Tyler - his fate after a long-winded inaugural speech in lousy weather has been a blessing to Americans who've listened to Presidents in January since.

Arthur Ashe - The anti-Jimmy Connors, not to mention the anti-Ilie Nastase and anti-every other showboating male tennis player. God bless him.

Sharyn McCrumb, who pokes delicious fun at many of the characters inhabiting my end of the Commonwealth

Thought I was going to list Stonewall Jackson, J.E.B. Stuart and others, huh?

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

A few of the Virginians in my neighborhood

It was helpfully pointed out to me by Raincoaster that I'm "The 43-Year-Old Virginian" (slightly mauled quote there). Inspired by that and her delightful neighborhood travelogue, I should give credit to some of my fellow Virginians today:

Thomas Jefferson, who helped make today's festivities possible. Give it up for Red, yeah!!!

Tom Wolfe of Richmond, who gave us "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test," "The Right Stuff" and "Bonfire of the Vanities" in addition to various essays and other works.

Seka - porn star extraordinaire (so I've been told) born right up the road (maybe a poor choice of words) in Radford, Va.

Wayne Newton - hail, hail oh squeaky-voiced, greasy, swarthy bohunk!

Now if that isn't a cultural cross section, what is?

Hey, it IS the Fourth of July . . .

It’s 1607 local (how appropriate for a Virginian?) on the Fourth of July and I’m sitting here at my extraordinarily paper-encrusted desk, recovering from a record-setting deadline performance.
Hopefully Pamela hasn’t been carried off along some branch of America’s western watershed on her July 4th weekend excursion.
And Vicus, who may well be airborne if not back in the Air Defense of Great Britain zone (we went to the Tower, which was quite sinister, and then to Heathrow, named after a prime minister – apologies to Benny Hill), I apologize for the weak beer and the pseudo-vegetarian bread wraps that pass for vegetarian fare in our fast-food establishments. But to make you jealous, I had fried squash, mushrooms, onions and bread crumbs along with some DEE-LISH garden salad greens for dinner last night.
I haven’t had any time to write anything suitably awe-inspiring or intellectually sublime in the last few weeks as we get ready to transition to a new printing press and late 20th-century computer technology. Come to think of it, maybe I never have written anything of that weight, although I thought the rat-killing limerick I wrote for Cherrypie last month had its own smarmy charm . . .
In a week and two days, I shall be chest-deep in the Virginia Little League baseball championships and wishing I had a cricket bat as a self-defense weapon. I do have to say, however, that I’ll be thinking cheerily about Robert deNiro’s discourse on baseball from “The Untouchables” as I try to find a parking place at work for two weeks. So if anyone gives me a line about team spirit , please excuse the sinister grin.
I must give Martha her due for an absolutely delightful Paul and Heather joke, the text of which I’ll reproduce here:

A journalist interviews Sir Paul McCartney:
"So, Sir Paul, do you think that you will ever
go down on one knee again?"
Sir Paul: "I'd prefer it if you called her Heather"

And since it just bubbled to the surface of my frontal lobe, an old yet still useful little joke:

“It’s a shame that he fell backward on that picket fence.”
“Wrecked him? It damn near killed him!”

Enjoy the rest of your Fourth.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Nothing like waking up on the scramble alert . . .

I's sitting up at 5:25 a.m. on a Saturday, muttering evil things about my son's inheritance because he left his cell phone alarm set, armed and on - three deadly sins when one's father has worked 60 plus hours and looked forward to his first 8-hour sleep pattern in who knows when.

After determining through squinty eyes that the smoke alarms weren't making the noise and that the house wasn't ablaze, I found the offending little piece of technology and thought I'd shut it off.

Nope. Five minutes later and I thought I was supposed to be hopping in the cockpit of the alert five fighter and lifting off from Greenland to kill Soviet bombers. Finally shut it off, though.

Luckily for him, he slept through it all. If I'm going to kill a family member, I'd much prefer to do it while they're awake and have a fighting chance of defending themselves . . . . at least until now.

Note to son, if he finds this note among my archives - turn off the cell alarm when you return from your next band trip. The life you save could be your own.