Faint Praise, Fast Food

A conversation by email.

Linus: How was band-we-will-not-name-here?
Pierre: Really not bad, considering the cramped conditions. The girls love them. I like them better than the Libertines.
Linus: But you hate the Libertines.
Pierre: Right.
Pierre: On Monday, CB’s Gallery has a “Secret Satan” gift exchange at the Gothic party…
Linus: Perfect, perfect. What do you get the Goth who has everything, a life? Color?
Pierre: A Happy Meal?

Posted in General Musings |

Slices of Commerce

Late on Saturday night, Sunday morning really, I’m forging back home in the cold — remember, we don’t own those wheelie things here in the City, those whaddayacallum, “cars” — from the far wastes of Bay Ridge. Bay Ridge, best known to America from its ensemble role in Saturday Night Fever, is much the same as it was then, plus the occasional tattoo and minus a reef or two of polyester. The only thing we really need to know about Bay Ridge at the moment, though, is that it is Not Near My House.

This is almost always true, no matter where you may be. Bay Ridge is nothing if not consistent; it is Bay Ridge to all people.

We’re down here in the first place following the befezzed Fisherman’s Xylophonic Orchestra for a burlesque revue on the frontier. This may or may not be sensible. If you delve enough in entertaining nights, though, eventually the Usual Spots blur a bit. You don’t appreciate the come-as-you-are downtown charm so much, and all the endless possibilities shrink to a single repetitive point: as if you’re trapped in a huge multiplex and they won’t let you leave until you’ve seen each movie at least once, every single one. And you have to see Alexander twice. No naps.

Of course once I’m here I immediately want to be back someplace real, but that’s part of the tonic. Girls in Bay Ridge still have big hair — I thought there was a law about that. The bus takes the bulk of an hour to reach the delta of Fifth Avenue, and once we’re stationed in the comfy chairs there’s a long wait while … well, let’s just say that light shows are best left to professionals. Eventually The Fisherman posts himself behind his tiki-flavor keys, the patter begins, the music flows; robes are dropped, fans are flapped, glitter is revelled, skin is spangled, undergarments are unstrung and flung; pasties whirl, and the good burlesque business eases on down the floorboards with familiar tease.

Bay Ridge follows the rule of mountains: it’s easier to get there than it is to get down. Without getting too deep into it, let’s just mention that the late bus was early and the next one was a cold hour down the pike; the R train pooped out at 36th Street, tossing us to the wolfish N and D; switching for the 4 at Atlantic/Pacific is never quite as trim as it sounds; and by the time I’m back in the hood, it’s plenty cold and I’m not getting any younger. I stop for a restorative slice at the 24-hour at-your-own-risk pizza place on Court Street. Cheapest pizza around: buck a slice, and you get what you pay for.

Linus: I’ll take a slice please.
Late Night Pizza Guy: OK. Slice. OK. Two.
Linus: What?
Late Night Pizza Guy: Two slice, OK?
Linus: No, just one, thanks.
Late Night Pizza Guy: Eh? No. Two slice OK. Two, OK?
Linus: I just want one.
Late Night Pizza Guy: Two slice, I make for you.
Linus: All right, fine, two.
Late Night Pizza Guy: OK! Two slice. Which free you want?
Linus: What?
Late Night Pizza Guy: Two slice, OK. You get free one slice.
Linus: What?
Late Night Pizza Guy: You free, one slice two slice.
Linus: No, I … uh, pepperoni.

Posted in About Last Night |

Look Backward, Snow Angel

Last year at this point it was snowing beasts and burdens. Today it’s, well, it’s the early December of a formless winter so far, no snow (occasional threats, yes) and no overarching wintry cold. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. Now and then I step outside of a sunny weekend afternoon and look at the dry trees up along Clinton Street, and it looks like October. As if the trees, who know this sort of thing, are shrugging: “Hey bro, it’s not winter yet. We’ll let you know.”

For ease in looking backward we have a new menu-toy: down on the right-hand side of this page, between the Merriment divertissements and our Col. Mustard blogroll list, there’s a link that will take you to our entry one year ago on this blog. This can keep your Pepper level up when, like this past week, we get all tired and don’t post like we oughta.

Also in cycles: last December 5 Col. J.D. shook his legendary shackshaking stuff with his band The Legendary Shackshakers at the Knitting Factory; Los Straitjackets, those surf-splendor kings of the Mexican wrestling masks, were also on the bill. Last night the Shackshakers were at Southpaw instead, and the Straitjackets headlined at Bowery Ballroom. So it must be a tradition.

Me? I was out in the darkling commerce at an Upper East Side branch of Best Buy, sweetly wheedling the sales clerk, who ended up letting me have the landside portion of my web-bought DVD order even though I couldn’t find the email I was supposed to show them. (The other three are being shipped.) I’m rarely on the Upper East Side, and I walked down through it for a mile or so as evening came on. I looked for a place to inspire dinner, but nothing rang my chimes at a reasonable price, so home it was to the warm messy apartment and a sleepy curl of Black Adder II episodes.

Sometimes easy is the way to go.

Posted in General Musings |

Nash(less)-ville: a Farewell to Juliana

It’s frustrating to watch a towering talent fade into comfortable obscurity more or less unnoticed. This is a common enough event, which is part of the ingrown sadness of the music business. Last night Juliana Nash had a last-minute goodbye party out in Williamsburg, marking a quiet shift in her musical life. Pierre and I dropped by for a quick drink and scooted just before the pesky rain began, and like so much else these days it got me to thinking.

Over dinner with the Divine Maggees a couple of weeks ago we were talking about How Things Change. The Maggees are a Maine band with a dash of Boston and a current residence in Athens, Georgia, and they’re not taking well to the South. I don’t take well to any state where folks are likely to serve you white gravy without warning, so I can appreciate their feelings.

We were talking about strategies and plans, and labels and bands, and how to get things done, and how to waste money or not, while making a difference or not. Because there comes a point — there come many points, actually — when it’s time to make changes, great or small. I put it this way: imagine you’re standing there in front of a wall. It’s a nice wall; it’s your favorite wall. You’re knocking your head against it now and then, because that’s what one does. Bang. Bang. Bang bang. After each thwack you rub your head and comment: Ow, that hurt. Or Man, that was a bad one. Bang. Whoa! One more of those and my teeth are shaking loose! Every once in a while you smack your head up there and say, Hey, that time it hardly hurt at all — I must be making progress.

In a world of vanishing mystique, disposable fads, force-feed publicity and MBA-culture focus on products rather than process, I’m not even sure there is such a thing as success in the music business any more. Except for occasional routs from the indie left field — today’s darlings are Montreal’s The Arcade Fire, and from what I’ve heard so far the band is absolutely terrific — the dance cards are tightly programmed, and filled at the whims of hands on high.

Eventually, you look up at the wall, now dented and hammered. And you say to yourself, What the hell was that about?, and go about the rest of your life with fire in the memory and bruises on the head to show for it.

Juliana Nash matches a voice of amazing range and texture with a pen shaved down to the pithy core, and adds an instinct for easy, rolling hooks. She fronted a rock band called Talking to Animals, which was signed in the ’90s to Columbia Records, warehoused for a couple of years, and then dropped. Eventually the band’s one album, Manhole, was released on Walter Yetnikoff‘s ill-fated Velvel Records, and although the CD is a fine one, that was pretty much that. “Turning into Beautiful” from Manhole is one of my favorite uptempo happy ferocious bouncy tunes EVER.

When I came to know Juliana, Talking to Animals was fading. She had phased the band into a wiser and deeper machine that layered her melancholic musing melodies with soft detailed lines and the gentlest touches of harmony, and drew out her inward silences with sympathy and care. Our modern world has no handy box to squeeze grown-up music into, and her shows became rare over time, sweet treasures buried in the calendar.

Story not over: Juliana became one of the owners of a new enterprise, Pete’s Candy Store, an unlikely music bar launched on the residential fringes of hopping Williamsburg. Pete’s is small, cozy, and unique, and as booker and den-mother she was instrumental (heh) in making it into one of the essential we-care acoustic music rooms in New York City. Now, five years and two kids after plunging in, Juliana has sold her interest in the Candy Store. The venue continues, power to it, and if a music-friendly child center opens up just outside New York anytime soon … well, let’s just say that some people are built for forward motion.

Meantime, take this moment to visit Juliana’s page on CD Baby, which (if you don’t know it already) is the best indie music store around. Her self-titled EP contains the only commercially-available recordings of Juliana’s post-Animals music, and it is rare and gorgeous stuff. The buttons on the left of that page will stream mp3 samples of the first four songs: listen. She is still, and beautiful and strong.

In other news, it’s hella windy over here and we’re all wondering if this building is going to fall down, or what: the wind is screaming past outside, and up here on the 10th floor even the kitchen is creaking.

Posted in About Last Night, Music Theory |

DJ Gone

How to turn your laid back DJ gig at The Slipper Room into One Of Those Nights:

  1. Play metal.
  2. Wear one of those “I bet you play metal” type shirts with the sleeves cut off. In winter.
  3. Keep sneaking out for a smoke when the track is ending.
  4. Suddenly have a speaker cut out in a wave of roaring static.
  5. Have the bartender come over and fix the problem. As he goes back to the bar, have him look over his shoulder, shake his head, and say to you in a loud voice, “Dude, that is a really bad place to put your water.”
Posted in About Last Night |

Thanks, Giving

Turkey in the Sky - Photo by Richard CarlsonGood Golly Miss Molly, am I fat. Yes, all right, I can hear you who know me out there chiming in helpfully, “But Linus, you were already fat.” That’s not what I mean, thanks. I was on the tubby side, in that East Coast urban could-lose-some-weight hey-who-shrank-my-old-college-clothes? category. I was not lean and mean. I was not sixly packed. The word “lissome” was rarely pointed in my direction, and if it was it wasn’t loaded.

I went by the gym today to see if they were running any specials (they never are running specials when I am ready to join), and I peered in to check the big “Come On and Join” sign. I’m afraid I bent it. Tomorrow when they go back on regular hours all the lithe trim and early folks are going to wonder, “Hey, who bent the gym?” Now you know.

The whole immediate clan was in town, minus only littlest brother Noah, who lives in Europe, and plus little Eli, who at four stately years is the current hope of civilization and darling of all, and Eli’s Dad Bruce, who tolerates us all remarkably well. I whisked a dessert treat from the ashes of careless defeat when it turned out that Sweet Melissa was still taking orders on Tuesday night for their Chocolate Bourbon Pecan pie, which is as delirious as you might think from the name. Sister Hilary concocted the vegetarian portion of the menu — tofurkey, anyone? — and Mom, as always, did the hard hauling.

Hours later the room was littered with scraps from the fray, and the folks came out of the kitchen with a vast balloon of plastic bags and aluminum foil. “This is for you,” said Mom. Inside was half of the turkey. It hardly even fits in my house. Thus: fat.

Last year the brunt of the family was not in town; I was in the middle of the play at La Mama, and on Thanksgiving morning I had a cheery call from Gheree, one of the women in the cast, who was checking up to make sure I had something to do later on. “Uh, no, not really,” I offered, thinking to myself, I’m not a loser, I promise. I’m not not not.

That was my first last-minute adoption for Thanksgiving; an unexpected bit of light and warmth that lifts the holiday out of the reach of the confused culture at large, and puts it down at the hearth, where it’s good to sit with people as winter comes in.

Posted in General Musings |


Being a Consideration of the Disney Fabulation National Treasure, Providing an Escape Route by Which the Auguft Reader may Circumvent the Entertaining but Permanent Waftage of 100 Minutes.

The Buck Stops at the Box Office

The Attic. It is Dark. You might get eaten by a Grue.

Young Nicolas Cage: Here I am sneaking toward the leatherbound book of Gates Family Secrets. If I can just climb up these rickety ladder stairs and reach the top of this stack of dark boxes … aha! (He blows dust off a large embossed book.) Wow! Let’s see what this says. “The COMMAND.COM kernel is limited to a 64K upper bound which is –”
John Adams Gates: Benjamin Franklin Gates! Just what are you doing messing around with that DOS manual?
Young Nicolas Cage: Uh, nothing.
John Adams Gates: Nothing? You don’t belong up here!
Young Nicolas Cage: But Grandpa, I want to learn the family secrets too!
John Adams Gates: I had a real career once.
Young Nicolas Cage: Yeah, like the name “Christopher Plummer” means anything to kids today.

1832. Voiceover.

John Adams Gates (v.o.): … and the great treasuries of the Old World were lost to history. The Knights Templar gathered up these massive treasures and collected them deep underground, and pledged to watch over the wealth and the secrets of the Ancients for all of time. A secret society, the Freemasons, was formed to guide and protect the fortune, concealing it behind a dense web of curious clues until such time as the world might someday be ready for a movie like this one. Speaking of which, I play Aristotle in Alexander next, but my character doesn’t have sex with Colin Farrell.
Young Nicolas Cage (v.o.): That’s what you say now.

Secret Guy: Are you an ancestor of the Gates family?
Ancestor of the Gates Family: I am.
Secret Guy: Here’s a message from the Masons.
Ancestor of the Gates Family: “…the Secret Lies with Charlotte.”
Secret Guy: One more thing.
Ancestor of the Gates Family: Yes?
Secret Guy: Why was COMMAND.COM kept under 64K, anyway?

The Present. In the Arctic, a small team of adventurers drives through the icy wastes.

Ben Gates: We should be getting close, if our ignored and ridiculed theory is correct.
Computer: Beep beep beep
Riley Poole: The computer says — hold on — I think — wait, all right, it’s going “beep beep beep” and a homing circle is flashing red and zooming in on a set of highlighted crosshairs.
Ben: Does it mean we’re getting close?
Riley: I’m not sure, I’ll look it up.
Shaw: Hello. We two are part of the expedition. We’re definitely not the bad guys.
Ian Howe: That’s right. If we were the bad guys in this movie, would we have accents like these? Certainly not.
Audience: Isn’t that Boromir?

The Sno-Cats stop. There is a flat plain of ice, and a nearby mound of snow in the shape of a ship.

Ben: So, according to our ignored and ridiculed theory, the lost treasure ship Charlotte is right around here somewhere. Let’s look for it in the snow.
Riley: What about over there by the big mound shaped like a boat?
Ben: Nothing! Why don’t our metal detectors pick anything up?
Metal Detector: Beep beep beep
Ben: I think I’ve got something!
Riley: How can you tell?

Inside the derelict Charlotte.

Riley: Good thing this wooden sailing ship didn’t sink over the 172 years it spent adrift in the frozen crushing icy wastes. Also, we’re lucky it was only buried under an inch of snow.
Ben: Well, they built to last back then. What’s that in the doorway?
Ian: Spider web.
Riley: “… some pig …”
Ben: Back here in the cargo hold is where we ought to find … hmm. Waitasec.
Ian: There’s no treasure here. This ship is empty.
Ben: Look! A huge hand-made meerschaum pipe in a distinctive shape with an intricately carved stem, hidden away in a velvet-lined case concealed in a keg of gunpowder, guarded by a skeleton wearing a hat that says “Captain.”
Riley: If only we could find a clue!

A clue is unearthed. It is a curious nonsense poem. They set about trying to solve it.

Ben: “… the explorer’s hall in the milky wood.” That’s enigmatic. Hmmm … Explorer could be Richard Burton. The Hall o’ Burton. What could that have to do with finding the hidden wealth and treasure of the ages? Hall-o-burton … treasure … that can’t be right. It’s no use, this is a dead end. Wait! I’ve got it! The next clue is on the back of the Declaration of Independence!
Riley: Huh?
Shaw: Huh?
Audience: Eh?
Ian: Well, I guess we’ll just have to steal the Declaration.
Ben: Huh? No way!
Riley: What?
Audience: Huh?
Jerry Bruckheimer, on the way to the bank: Ho ho ho ho ho!

Ian and Shaw pull guns. They shoot and then flee. The gunpowder ignites. Ben and Riley are trapped on the ship.

Ian and Shaw: Run! We don’t need them any more!
Ben and Riley: Let’s hide under this trapdoor! We’ll be safe there!
Riley: What’s this number written here by the trapdoor? 3263827? Where have I seen that before?
Gunpowder: BOOOOOOM.

Washington D.C.

Ben: Riley, we have to warn the authorities that Ian is going to steal the Declaration of Independence!
Riley: Didn’t he do the same thing in Lord of the Rings?

FBI: G’wan, get out!
Homeland Security: And stay out!
American History Ph.D. Abigail Chase: And don’t come back! … And here’s my number, just in case.
Ben: Now we’ll have to steal it ourselves so that Ian doesn’t get it.
Riley: If you say so, Mr. Frodo.

A Montage. Even Rocky had a Montage.

Ben: The Declaration of Independence is protected under multiple layers of bulletproof glass in a shockproof display mount with heat and motion sensors layered throughout the case. It is under constant video and seismic surveillance, with laser precision monitors and an emergency drop system to evacuate it to a sealed storage room flooded with poison gas in case anyone tries to tamper with it. There are round-the-clock Special Forces guards and a K-9 detachment on full patrol to keep it safe from thieves and tyrants.
Riley: Hasn’t stopped Bush yet, has it?
Ben: Not really, no.

They steal the Declaration of Independence. Ian simultaneously breaks in to steal it, and finds Ben a few steps ahead of his operation. Car chase. Dr. Abigail Chase is accidentally kidnapped by Ben and Riley, who save her from Ian and his goons. Ian speeds off into the night with what he does not yet know is a poster reproduction of the Declaration; our heroes flee with the original, plus Dr. Chase.

Ben: Abigail Chase. See, that’s overdetermination, right there. Because “Abigail” suggests Abigail Adams, the wife of Sam Adams, which makes sense because you’re a presidential scholar. And “Chase” as your last name communicates to the audience that this is a chase or caper picture. It’s one of the small, textural elements that makes a big-budget movie work. Also, since you’re a severe blonde who will turn into a bombshell later in the film as you loosen up, you fall into the Hitchcockian model of the hot librarian heroine, and that’s always a crowd-pleaser.
Dr. Chase: And you must be King Obvious of the Clarification People.

The Gates Homestead.

Ben: Dad?
Mr. Gates: Bill?
Ben: No, Dad, it’s Ben, the other one. Not the Microsoft one.
Mr. Gates: Well, then maybe you can help me with the computer, it’s been worthless ever since I installed Service Pack 2.
Ben: Actually, Dad, I wanted to –
Dr. Chase: But the pop-up protection is worth it, don’t you find?
Mr. Gates: Really? Do you think so? On my box the tradeoff in speed is huge. Some days I find myself typing faster than the word processor displays, and that’s on a local connection.
Dr. Chase: You didn’t install over 2000, did you? Because it’s always a mess when you do that.
Ben: ANYway. So here we have a, uh, random piece of parchment with a vital map drawn on it in invisible ink. The ink was created by the greatest and craftiest minds of American history, drawing on the combined knowledge of chemists and alchemists stretching back to the time of antiquity. How can we reveal the map? Let’s think about this.
Everyone: TRY LEMON.
Riley: I was going to suggest holding it up to the moonlight, but don’t mind me.

In the Evil Van.

Shaw: Ian, I was wondering.
Ian: Yes?
Shaw: Remember back in the Arctic Circle when we said we weren’t the bad guys?
Ian: That was a lie. We are the bad guys.
Shaw: Oh good. That explains the guns then.

The clues point to Philadelphia. Ben, Riley and Dr. Chase solve the puzzles and find Ben Franklin’s Cryptographic Spectacles, which work a bit like the X-ray Specs from the back pages of comic books. Ian & Co. are in hot pursuit, and now the FBI joins the fray.

Independence Hall, Philadelphia.

Ben: … and if I use these glasses to look at the back of the Declaration it … oh look …
Dr. Chase: What? What does it say?
Ben: It says, “Why oh why didn’t I take the BLUE pill?”
Harvey Keitel: Agent Sadursky, FBI. We need to have a talk about a priceless document that lies at the heart of America today, that defines us and makes us who we are in the world, that drives us toward the light at the end of the tunnel and defends us, as a nation and a people, with the righteous force of liberty and law.
Ben: The Declaration of Independence. Here, take it. We’ve kept it safe.
Agent Sadursky: Declaration of Independence? Son, I’m talking about the PATRIOT Act. How do you think I found you so fast? I’ve been tapping your cell phone.
Riley: But you can’t do that!
Agent Sadursky: Did you see me in Bad Lieutenant?
Ben: We’ll come quietly.

FBI Headquarters.

Ben: I’m telling you. This will all make much more sense if you just get me some lemons.
Nervous FBI Agent: Sir? Telephone.
Agent Sadursky: Who is it? Tell them I’m busy.
Nervous FBI Agent: Sir, it’s a writer named Dan Brown, and he wants to –
Agent Sadursky: Holy Moley! Everybody run!

In catacombs deep beneath Trinity Church in Downtown Manhattan.

Ian: Now at last I’ve got you all. You spineless liberals with your moral flip-flops. Look where it gets you! One strong man with a gun and the will to lead comes along, and all your hard work and your education is washed away in a moment. Now, let’s head down these rickety cracked ancient dusty broken swaying stairs, and you can lead me to my treasure at last.
Riley: You … you … you gunkie!
Dr. Chase: We still haven’t forgiven you for what you did at the end of Fellowship of the Ring!
Ian: Oh really? Look, you played Helen of Troy in a blockbuster so pathetic that no one here even recognized you until I just mentioned it. At least I have fans to hate me. And as for your little friend here –
Riley: Don’t.
Ian: Why don’t we ask him about his impressive résumé? Well, Riley?
Riley: Don’t. I mean it. Stop now.
Dr. Chase: Riley? What is he saying?
Ian: Yes, your friend Riley’s big film credit –
Riley: Don’t go there. For the love of God.
Ian: — his big film credit is Gigli.
Ben: (shocked silence) That’s not true, is it? Riley, say that’s not true.
Riley: I’m so ashamed.

A section of rickety cracked ancient dusty broken swaying stairs collapses. Shaw falls to his death. Ben and Dr. Chase are thrown to a platform which begins to fall apart under their weight.

Ben: Abigail, quick. Press your upper body against my chest. Harder. Yes, good. All right, now hook your arms around my neck and grind your pelvis into mine.
Dr. Chase: Like this? Is it helping us escape?
Ben: Escape? Oh, right. OK, here, let’s jump to safety.

They jump to safety. Ian marshals the group to a deep hidden level, where an empty room confronts them. Ian is hoodwinked into a wild goose chase to Boston’s North Church; when he leaves the rest are stranded in the deep pit. When we say “stranded” we mean they are abandoned in a shaft choked with ropes, ladders, stairs, scaffolding, and construction tools, but they can’t use the handy little counterweight elevator which Ian takes to the top.

Ben: I thought he’d never leave. OK, let’s go get the treasure.

In the treasure chamber, the guttering flames reveal vast heaps of gold.

Riley: Look at all this stuff! That’s a sphinx kind of thing, over there by that heap of jewels and golden statuary. And those mummies are pristine! And that blazing ruby must be as big as a housecat!
Dr. Chase: Scrolls! Scrolls from the lost library at Alexandria!
Ben: How can you tell?
Dr. Chase: They’re overdue, these are the letters rolled up with them. Wow, your Grandfather is going to be in a lot of trouble when they catch him. He said he played Aristotle, right? Looks like he didn’t return this one right here. The letter says the fine is 10 oboloi a week.
Ben: “My Big Fat Greek Debauchery.”
Dr. Chase: It’s got pictures. Ewww, look how many people it takes to do that!
Ben: We’ve found it. We’ve finally found it. We — what’s this sled doing here?
Riley: Uh, Ben?
Ben: Yes?
Riley: I found this sign, and it says –
Ben: Oh no.
Riley: It’s –
Dr. Chase: “Property of Microsoft. Do Not Remove. I Have Read This Notice and Agree With Its Contents Y/N.”

… or is it?

Posted in General Musings |

Where the Streets Have no Mane

Yesterday, under springy gray skies fertile with threatened rain, I poke down Court Street for my weekly brunching joust with coffee.

I’ve got the new Philip Roth in my bag, and the night before Pierre and I met this year’s Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout on tap at the Waterfront, with predictable results. The day turns out to be a bit later and thinner than one would imagine, and that’s fine by me.

Walking south toward Warren Street I hear a strange, keening, synethic drone, like the baseline beatbox browse of a dance percussion track. It’s a warm, burling sound, imprecise and enveloping. You know those urban sounds that come without an obvious source, all echo and skip? I look for street musicians playing to a backing track, perhaps, or avant hipsters grooving the afternoon to ambient electronica.

And as I pass the 24-hour deli by Bergen Street there is the source: a homeless guy sitting on a milk crate, singing into the crook of a cane, over and over: “Meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow.” His face is serene, as if this is the most ordinary thing in the world. He must be a Leo.

Posted in General Musings |

Doctor My Ears

In commerce, no one can hear you screamDear People Who Think Of Things:

Thank you for a very interesting year. I would like to congratulate you on thinking of plenty of things in 2004 that were previously unthinkable. From the USB Swiss Army knife to yesterday’s Virgin Mary in the Grilled Cheese Sandwich and beyond, you have brought us unexpected entertainment from every quarter. Just think: once upon a time and not so long ago, our lives were humdrum, gray, simple, and satisfying.

But no more. How pale the days when to read you needed a book! How trite the times when to buy a recording you needed a store that sold recordings! How glorious the present, when to buy music you simply need to go for coffee! And how wise the architects, who know that when we pay only three times what that coffee cost a few years ago it is to the benefit of our fellow man, who so grievously needs our dollars! Not that we pay the man who planted the coffee, admittedly, or who grew it, or who harvested it, or who dried it or who drove it to the storehouses; but to the man who owns the name, yes! For he is wise, and will move that money around from place to place, all right, and as it moves little pieces will fall off, just like what happens to my CD’s when I move. And soon everyone will have some! Not, admittedly, anyone who actually needs it, but the future is a bright place! And that man has a maid, surely, and she’ll get a nice Christmas bonus, fifty bucks at least! W00t! It is our Modern Society at work! And who reads books these days, anyway!

Today you have thought of something even bigger and newer and more modern than ever! From now on, I can listen to my favorite tunes just by wearing sunglasses! And hot sunglasses too, Matrix-type sunglasses, with lenses that snap up and earbuds that position along three axes so that I can choose “to control the balance of music and environment” no matter what heavy machinery I am operating or how fast I am driving! I wonder if Vin Diesel would wear them? I think they would look very good on him. I think you should give him a pair and then you can run pictures of him wearing them. This should be a good strategy for selling them! But maybe you already thought of it!

I would like more music and less environment most of the time. But as soon as I get some of that money you are moving from place to place, then I can have a lot less environment and lots more music! Let me know when I can expect some, because I would much rather have the 256 MB version with polarized lenses for $495.00 than the 128 MB version without polarized lenses for $395.00! Because bigger is better, I know. You taught me that!

Now as soon as we can get coffee into the picture, everything will be great! Keep up the good work! Also, now I think of it, Angelina Jolie would look really excellent in these as well. Since you guys are probably busy what with the new product launch and everything, I’ll tell you what, I’ll drop off a pair for her. No problem. So send me an extra one in the right colors and her address and I will take care of it! No need to worry about the plane fare either!

Your Friend,


P.S. – Please stop it with the Rolex emails already. I don’t want a Rolex. If I need to know what time it is, I check my cell phone. You have only yourselves to blame.

P.P.S. – That guy in the picture has a really big mouth. It’s kind of scary. It’s like he’s trying to eat a melon or something but he got stuck. I think the sunglasses might be hurting him.

Posted in General Musings |

Chews for Cheeses

Waiter, there's a Virgin in my toast.The cheese, on the Internet at least, does not stand alone. High-ho the dairy-O, the cheese, I repeat, does not stand alone.

You’ll have heard by now about the miraculous grilled cheese sandwich for sale on eBay, a 10-year-old bit of lunch that is minus one bite and plus one putative image of the Virgin Mary. Yes? Deep in the categorical bowels of Everything Else > Metaphysical > Psychic, Paranormal the online auction house will list this item for another five days and change. Last week the auction was removed as being silly; now, definitively, it’s back. Bidding as I write is up to $69,107.69. No word on when they’re going to try carbon-dating the thing.

Experts agree, however, that the auction is still silly.

Yes, Italy has its Shroud of Turin and in Portugal Christ periodically shows up on communion wafers. But leave it to us to see the Virgin Mary in a sandwich.

American: Hey, look. This pimento looks just like that guy from Ben-Hur.
Real Person: What guy?
American: The lead guy, you know, with the chariot. What was his name again?
Real Person: Ben-Hur?
American: Yeah! That’s it.
Real Person: Uh, OK. Actually it does a bit. That’s funny. Here, put it on my sandwich, please.
American: Naw, might be worth something — WAIT!! Oh Lord, it’s MOSES!! It’s a sign! I’ve been given a sign!
Real Person: You voted for Bush, didn’t you.

Here’s the bulk of the auction description by Diana Duyser, 52, of Hollywood, Florida. If it makes your brain squirt out of your ears, just skip it and head down to the rest of the post.

You are viewing an extroidinary out of this world item!! I made this sandwich 10 years ago, when I took a bite out of it, I saw a face looking up at me, It was Virgin Mary starring back at me, I was in total shock, I would like to point out there is no mold or disingration, The item has not been preserved or anything, It has been keep in a plastic case, not a special one that seals out air or potiental mold or bacteria, it is like a miracle, It has just preserved itself which in itself I consider a miracle, people ask me if I have had blessings since she has been in my home, I do feel I have, I have won $70,000 (total) on different occasions at the casino near by my house, I can show the recipts to the high bidder if they are interested, I would like all people to know that I do believe that this is the Virgin Mary Mother Of God, That is my solem belief, but you are free to believe that she is whomever you like, I am not scamming anyone, I would like all potinetal bidders to know that this has gained alot of attention from media personell around the country, On Tuesday November 16, 2004 the Miami Herald will feature a story in thier paper on this phenomon, Also Today which is November 15, 2004 The story of The Virgin Mary In The Grilled Cheese will be aired on Channel 4 News here in South Florida, The story has been told nationwide on radio stations ect. I also would like all onlookers to understand why I am choosing to keep the high bidders ID private, I listed this once before and had all kinds of emails some were nice and funny comments but many were cruel intended, and vindictive, I ignored them but, I do not wish to subject potiental buyers to this form of invasion, The last time this was listed there were over 80,000 viewers, Like I said I recieved alot of emails that were down right cruel intended, I do not care I will not read them anyhow, but you should not waste your time being vindictive, I am asking that only serious questions about the item be emailed to me, not jokes or ridiclous comments, If you have a genuine question please do feel free to email, I am not scamming anyone I am selling this item proivided that there is a serious bid with a payment, SERIOUS BIDDERS ONLY! DO NOT BID IF YOU INTEND TO RETRACT THE BID OR FOOL AROUND, THERE IS NO RESERVE ON THIS AUCTION!! I AM STARTING IT OUT AT THE BOTTOM LINE PRICE THAT I INTEND TO SELL THIS ITEM FOR!!

There is a period in that entry — just one. Can you find it? Hint: it’s in a misspelling. Admittedly that doesn’t cut it down much, but the period itself is correctly placed. Kinda.

But That’s Not All!: Nothing succeeds like success, and imitation is the sincerest form of profiteering. A quick spin through some of the delectables and accoutrements available on eBay this afternoon via a search for grilled cheese:

  • For you dotcom dreamers, there are domain names aplenty. And aplenty. And aplenty more.
  • Ask yourself: what self-respecting Net Christian could be without a Virgin Mary grilled cheese sandwich email address this holiday season?
    • Jesus Christ, this sure is a great deal. I mean, a blessed email domain name with over 1 GB of space to do what ever you choose. You can hold 1000′s of pictures and 100′s of illegally downloaded Creed and Mercy Me tracks. An offer like this only happens once. Can’t beat a deal like this. If a piece of burnt toast goes for $70,000 plus, then this should pull atleast a grand. Come on now. Be a good christian and buy this email so you can chat it up with all the nuns. Winner of auction will recieve the password to the email account VirginMary.GrilledCheese@gmail.com. Act now and go straight to Heaven.
  • It's either Elvis C or Buddy H, spit and image.Virgin Mary not your cuppa cheddah? eBay has already taken down one of the Wesley Snipes cheese sandwich listings, so the given link may not last long. For a long chalk less than $69K you can own Jesus (or is it Elvis?) in the grain of a wood chest, though I think it looks more like Hugh Jackman. This one is definitely The King, though, insofar as it is anything at all apart from burnt toast. Or try the other Elvis, auctioned incognito (but you can just tell). George Bush has a way of miraculously appearing in places he wasn’t invited; why not on bread? If that’s too white even for white bread, proceeds from the print sales of the less-known ODB grill cheese sam’ich benefit the “Hustlas Need a New Set of Wheels” Foundation. Or skip the vagaries of chance entirely, and have these inspired artists create a custom work for you in the bakery product of your choice. Free butter!
    • Not Food! ART! High Carbs! Virgin-esque! Elvis, perhaps the furthest fella from “Baby Jesus’ Mom”, he has finally returned via Grilled Cheese Sandwich – this time Grilled a la Monterrey Jack on fresh Sourdough. Peppered just right! — Beware of EBay-ers trying to scam you with butterless and tasteless art. This is the real deal! And probably the King Himself would have loved to have been displayed on if it weren’t a peanut and butter sandwich … I 100 percently guarantee that I’ve merely altered the bread to resemble Elvis Presley. And in my opinion this appears to be the man himself’s image on slightly burnt sourdough.
    • Recently we have also done a Pop Tart of Madonna and we are working in the studio now to produce a Ho Cake of Britney Spears. We have a lovely portrait of JLo done in muffins. Our Tara Reid Pop Outs uh, overs are to die for … We even have a Texas Sopping Toast with portrait of Anna Nicole Smith. — It is well known that the Florida economy needs a boost after all those hurricanes and we are certain our Lady appeared in Florida to stop all the damage and also help the Bush family win the election because they think God is on their side. If you want Rye or Pumpernickle that will be extra. Can also work with specialty donuts and cakes.
  • Can this really be the prodigal sock, returned at last? In the Days of the Sandwich, anything can happen.
    • Once I saw The Grilled Cheese Virgin Mary image … within a few moments this sock re-appeared after being gone for over 2 years. I often ponder the journey of the sock, but only the Cotton One truly knows. I do, however, have no doubt this is a very lucky sock and may bring someone great happiness and/or great fortune. Size: Large
  • For the DIY Christian, a blue-state Connecticut sort offers a Virgin Mary grilled cheese printing kit. If you’re not so good with your kitchen hands, pick up a manual to create the grilled cheese itself (“Small moves, Ellie”). One grilled-cheese-sandwich kit started at $1.5 million, but it has been taken down by alert eBay staffers. In fact, I wouldn’t count on any of these links being good for more than a day or so, so click fast.
  • If God plays with dice after all, you might run lucky with a Tennessee seller who will make you a grilled cheese sandwich from scratch. Imagine the fame and fortune if there should be a Virgin Mary image in it!
    • This is a real auction for a grilled (more like fried) cheese sandwich. There is no picture because this is a future sandwich. Your sandwich will be made for you by me under the strictest sanitary conditions I can manage. If when it is done it has a image of the Virgin Mary then you can resell it and make a mint or be blessed by it. It could come out like the famous sandwich now on eBay and have what looks like Marilyn Monroe on it. It will contain two pieces of white loaf bread, one piece of Kraft American cheese and that is all. It will have a couple of dill slices in the package with it but sealed in their own baggie. The sandwich will come to you in an air tight container and be delivered via priority mail. Whether or not you will want to eat the sandwich when it gets to you it will be up to you! I will not be responsible for any food poisoning from eating old sandwiches! I would like to make enough money from this auction to pay for my condo.
  • Eat, drink, and be Mary.
  • I would really like to apologize for that last joke. Sorry.
  • TOO LATE — you’ve missed the premiere agnostic grilled cheese sandwich, #1 in a limited edition of 250. But #2 is already up for sale; check back for further offerings. Pity they aren’t running as high as 666, eh? But perhaps a Libertarian grilled cheese can fill your plate instead.
    • This happened on election night 2004. As I was watching the elections, my stomach started festering for some comestibles. A grilled cheese sandwich was in order. Anyway, I cooked one up like grandma used to make me and low and behold there it was – an exact map of the USA with the election ending map. The cheese was right in the cheesey states and the burnt was in the burnt for a second term states. My jaw just dropped and hit the pan. I kept the slice as a reminder of the sad evening. (This item is not for consumption – lack of liberty as a spice just doen’t taste good).
  • Blade IV: The SliceIt’s all about accessories: we know that, but how often we forget. Once you’ve dropped your hard-earned wad for the Virgin Mary grilled cheese sandwich, what then? You aren’t going to eat it. Ewww. Not even Divine would do that. Fortunately a Kentucky craftsman has prepared a holder for your blessed cheese sandwich. You’ll need a knife to cut it, too, if cutting is ever in order.
    • This item will hold your newly purchased Virgin Mary cheese sandwich, or you can be prepared for any forseen up coming miracle sandwiches. If bid exceeds $5000.00 I will include some cotton balls to help cushion your sandwich and a poorly copied picture of “THE” Virgin Mary grilled cheese sandwich. … I really hate to part with it, but with the current economic conditions and never ending bills, I must sell.
  • Ken risks all in a morality passion play, in which the evil faux-Barbie tempts him with the Cheese of Knowledge. No, Ken, no! That’s not really Barbie! Look at the hair, Ken! Stay true! And beware the plush green Gumby — he has forgotten the face of his father, and wears the face of the Cheese.
  • Not everything on eBay is about the sandwich.
  • Mysterious ways? Maybe if you look at it right, the cheese sandwich actually has something to say about good works. Maybe this cheap and tawdry moment of low-rent religion and savage idol worship will speak softly and insistently to those who truly do love their God, and the great land of creation all around them. Perhaps — nah, never mind.

Newsday tries to shed a little sensible light on the Holy Cheese Sandwich, for whatever that’s worth: give us any three dots and you’ll have a face, not the hand of God. But then they probably think evolution is correct and real as well, so all ye faithful, be sure not to listen. Damn monkeylovers.

I haven’t met this here Tucker, but I think he speaks for us all on the subject. (Incidentally, the ghost-in-the-toast shading looks more like Lana Turner to me, though I hear others prefer Barbara Stanwyck.)

Posted in General Musings |