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november 26, 2002

I will never understand why American Indians are so miserable about their lot in the world, especially at Thanksgiving time. I mean who in their right mind wouldn't swap North Dakota for an annual turkey dinner with all the trimmings. I know I would. And I would throw most of Arizona into the bargain. Also, they can go to the big sales the day after and buy some sturdy leather brogues to replace those flimsy suede mocassins. The land of opportunity indeed!!
Surely this is what Sitting Bull foresaw when he said "The mighty rivers of the great plains shall run with gravy and see those huge mountains over there, they look exactly like roast potatoes, don't they. Please pass the casino.. I mean the cranberry sauce."
Today's message is dedicated to Patrick Ruth, friend and fellow paleface.
stephenb 17:25 - [Link] - Comments ()
november 25, 2002
In this world it is very easy to predict what is coming down the Pike,
but it is extremely difficult to know exactly where the Pike is, and where you should erect your Stop Sign and Traffic Lights.
For example, coming down my particular Pike I foresee a huge articulated truck full of cash bearing down on me at an incredible speed, followed closely by a small European compact driven by a slightly derranged Asian woman. Unfortunately the map in the glove compartment of my life is just a bunch of squiggly lines with no real order to it, so I'm not sure how to get to the Pike to direct the aforementioned traffic. Obviously it's very important that the truck full of cash safely finds the correct exit ramp to my bank account, while the slightly derranged Asian woman runs out of gas somewhere outside Pittsburgh.
And all I can say is, "Mapquest is absolutely worthless."
stephenb 10:35 - [Link] - Comments ()
november 21, 2002
Isn't it about time that the story of Hanzel and Gretl was updated? It
may be a fairytale but what self-respecting kid is going to be interested in this rather dour tale of Germanic child abuse?
For a start we need a few more characters, notably someone from Social Services filling out endless forms about adoption schemes and drawing up a child-supervision roster.
Woodcutter? He needs to make way for the man from Black Forest Energy Company, driving around in his BMW SUV installing solar panels in the neighborhood castles.
And surely the witch would no longer live in a little cute cottage made of candy. No, the modern witch would almost certainly make her home in a big chunk of chocolate housing development type thing.
I think I would choose Ralph Steadman to do the illustrations.
stephenb 11:26 - [Link] - Comments ()
november 19, 2002
Although I generally abhor agreeing with perceived wisdom, I cannot recommend the works of WG Sebald too highly. In times when almost every other book is entitled Somebody's Something Or Other, such as Correlli's God-Awful Mandolin or Einstein's Utterly Unreadable Pendulum, it is refreshing that there is someone like Sebald who had the sheer audacity to call his books simply Vertigo.
With the exception of Anthony Powell, WG Sebald is the only writer whose books I have enjoyed while he was still alive. What a great shame it is, then, that I am writing this after his death only because I could not think of anything else to write about and have not updated this site for some considerable period of time. But surely, when you examine them closely, that's what Sebald's books are all about.
Start with The Rings Of Saturn or Austerlitz and then read the rest.
stephenb 10:00 - [Link] - Comments ()
november 13, 2002
The following is a sample curriculum for a correspondence course in Japanese Cultural Studies that I am proposing to that venerable New England citadel of learning, the internationally famous Old Scrotum Community College.

Questions in Japanese Theater, Part One: Tradition, Perception, and Nonsense.
A systematic summary and study guide for students.
Section A:
What part of Noh don't you understand?
(a) All of it.
(b) The loud bit in the middle.
(c) Do I get free tea with this?
(d) Where are my shoes?
Answers are available by mime (mode francais) or jester (jaunty English style) and can be delivered via mutual rapid nodding or a straight saliva swap (Gaelic model in transition).
Section B:
If you have not received Section A Sub-Section IV you cannot continue with the lesson. Please contact Professor Mesmer in the gymnasium after lunch, or send a SAE to the address printed on the piece of paper slipped between pages 273 and 274 in the rather battered and dog-eared copy of 'Yukio Mishima A Life In Blood' that I left in the College Library two weeks ago.
Section C
Has Akira Kurasowa ever heard of Andrew Lloyd Webber? If not, who cares, and why? Do you think he'd be better off filming one of those sorts of things rather than adapting all that Shakespeare? Discuss. Get into argument with peers. Go home.
Section D
If you were Japanese would you be sick to death of all this Anime or whatever the Hell it's called that they are doing these days. Do you think Godzilla could beat the living crap out of all of them. Illustrate your work with reference to the Kabuki drama.
Section E
I'm sorry you've failed. That'll be $60,000 please.

stephenb 12:56 - [Link] - Comments ()
november 11, 2002
Without the shadow of a doubt the greatest story ever told, the most
fabulous science-fiction fantasy, the most epic tale, the most daring saga of an enduring quest is the Hero's journey to pay his phone bill. Not only must he locate the legendary stamp, he must also confront the evil "phone company".
Of course, the Hero can never actually slay the phone bill since it comes back to life again every month. This is why it is such an
exciting story and such an enduring myth. And it's much better than that Lord Of The Rings load of crap.
Of course, both Freud and Jung believed that the paying of a phone bill was merely a modern version of an ancient fertility rite.
Essentially they believed that primitive man owned an old and dusty tome which they called "The Phone Book". Primitive man would look in the phone book under the heading "Child Bearing Hips", and this way he was able to contact a woman and ask her to be his brood mare. If he did not pay his phone bill, well, his phone would be cut-off, and his line, as it were, would become extinct.
stephenb 09:23 - [Link] - Comments ()
november 06, 2002
Since the cost of Healthcare in the States is so high, I decided to see a Voodoo Priestess about my back problems. On the face of it this seemed like the cheapest method of obtaining decent treatment for what is an extremely annoying complaint.
So I set sail for the West Indies aboard a tramp steamer called the
Smelly Foot. The journey took several weeks and I had to bring my own lunch. When we landed in the West Indies I had to hire a guide and pack mule to ferry myself and suitcases to the jungle clearing where the ceremony to cure my persistant back ache would take place. But first I had to buy the three live cockerals who were going to have their throats slit. All in all, considering my travel costs, live stock expenses, Voodoo Priestess fee, and then tipping the hypnotic tom-tom drummers, the entire trip and remedy was extremely costly. The moral here, is that my annual HMO subscription is actually pretty good value.
stephenb 10:33 - [Link] - Comments ()
november 04, 2002
I spent the weekend in New York, staying with my friend Fiona. One of the bars we visited on Saturday night had a resident Psychic who told fortunes with tarot cards, and Fiona decided she would like to have her cards read. The Psychic told her that within twenty four hours she would experience a great sense of freedom, like some enormous burden had been lifted from her shoulders, as if a hideous demon had been exorcized and would torment her no longer.
I have no idea whether this prophecy came true because I left on Sunday morning to return home.
N.B - An interesting note about New York. The Natural History Museum contains more nudes than the Frick Collection.
stephenb 13:57 - [Link] - Comments ()