Thursday, July 31, 2008


Another remake of an ancient monster movie, McCain Attacks 2008, on your televisions now. Watch as the cranky monster tries to get your attention. He will make you squirm with irritated and uncomfortable boredom as he tries to remember the statements he made the day before. Oh, he really tries to be scary as he accuses his opponent of being a socialist, a non patriot, a rock star who is somehow connected with Brittany Spears and Paris Hilton and you didn't actually hear him say it, but is there a connection there? Hmmm? Two blonde white women and a mixed race presidential candidate....naw, he didn't really say it...his ad only subliminally makes the connection if you are predispositioned to have such thoughts, and if you are, you should be ashamed of yourself! McCain would say so if you said it to his face!
Watch him lie, watch him distort the truth, watch him blurt out the first opportunistic answer on any subject that he thinks will please the audience he is pandering to at any given time!
With a cast of Karl Roves' top operatives and the publicity team that gave you George Bush Jr, who up to now held the title of the very worst scariest president ever, John McCain Attacks 2008 is in the running to deliver perhaps a real challenge to that title!
You'll squirm, You'll fidget, You will probably groan in discomfort as John McCain 2008 meanders on and on and wanders into the gutter talking to himself trying to take you and the rest of a disheartened, bored, depressed nation with him.
Here is a scene from John McCain Attacks 2008, probably one of the high points,
John McCain discovers the internet! Run, but not with any sharp objects and look both ways before crossing busy streets.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Forgive me, I don't usually do this, but my wifes niece was here for 2 weeks
and we had a baby hedgehog experience. They were hanging around ,
acting fairly tame for a few days and eating cat food on our front steps.
The niece took a few pictures and sent us one today and
gee, garsh, they were so darn cute!

Les Martyrs du Golfe d"Aden Encore.....

About a year ago, I posted a piece on this blog about a documentary film called Les Martyrs du Golfe d'Aden by the heroic film maker Daniel Grandclement. He risked his life to depict the plight of the Somalians who risk their lives for the chance to escape and get to Yemen by paying for passage on tiny boats across the Gulf of Aden.
They are treated like animals and many never make it across the Gulf. The boat owners will kill them if they think they are in danger. When they do get to Yemen, the reality is as bleak as the one they left.
Grandclement made the trip and filmed it clandestinely and created this harrowing documentary.
At the time, we were interested in getting it to a larger audience. It has been shown here in France on the France3 network a few times on the television show about the seas, Thalassa. We were able to obtain a dvd copy by writing to France3.
Meanwhile, in the year since I posted the piece, I realized that it had become the single most googled piece I had written. Then in the last few days, I noticed that I had hundreds of hits on this blog referencing the piece.
I recieved an email from an Ethiopian News Agency who wanted to find a copy to show as an educational tool, to warn those who were planning to try to go to Yemen by this dangerous method.
I tried to get as much info to them as possible and today, I noticed that a website called had published my review of the movie along with the entire documentary which opens automatically and plays well even on my extremely cranky ancient iMac. The documentary is about 58 minutes long, but the video plays well without any stalling. Unfortunately, the audio is in the original French and it has subtitles in a language that I still am not sure of. None the less, if you do speak French, the entire video is there to view and if you don't, the story is plainly told and the images are chilling.
This is a great documentary which deserves a greater audience!

Monday, July 28, 2008


Photoshop is a potentially dangerous weapon in the wrong hands.
Children should be cautioned when operating Photoshop.
If any Photoshop accidentally is spilled, wash hands immediately.
Do not look directly at Photoshop with out special protective glasses.
Ask you doctor about possible harmful side effects.

Now that I have responsibly cautioned you, I feel secure in directing
your attention to a Photoshop manipulator whose work I admire greatly.
Darkblack, go there now.
The name of the piece pictured above is Goonica.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


Two images here,
one is John McCain today, a fellow on the other side of 73 years old. The other image is John McCain in a campaign image from 2000. An 8 year old image that was used by's not news's OPINION!
They used the image on Friday to give the viewers the impression that the 8 year old footage was current footage of McCain on the campaign trail.
Now the McCain campaign and it's advisors and supporters have said all along that age was off limits. It would be unfair of Obama to use John McCains dubious possibility of being the oldest newly elected president against him.
Obama and the Democrats have respected this limit.
Today, John McCain issued a statement attacking Obama because he was too young!
In other words, 46 years old is too young to president!
He is using age as an issue against Obama and it is a pretty ridiculous issue. He tries to hide behind the shield of propriety and manners when it comes to his own advanced years and questionable health but as we have recently seen, John McCain in attack mode is becoming increasingly unhinged.
Do you think his age has anything to do with it?

Here's an update, this is an actual ad the McCain Campaign is using today in the European Press, the picture is 25 years old! John McCain through his vanity and very bad judgement has now made his age and mental stability an issue that is fair game by
choosing to lie about it! I suppose we should be grateful that he has enough of his real hair on his head to prevent him from assaulting us with an extreme Donald Trump style comb over!
Really now, do you think age has anything to do with it? Can we talk?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Quick One While He's Away

If you haven't seen this before, take a look!
The Who, 1968 in the Rolling Stone's Rock and Roll Circus Movie....
A great band creatively pushing the limits of the genre, a mini operatic tour de force, they quite literally steal the show!
It's pretty funny stuff as well!


Frankencain speaks, you listen! Him say only latte drinkin elitist unpatriotic war losin sissies need transition team! Real he-man candidate don't need no stinkin' transistion team...Frankie already have one for the last eight years in place! Smart!
Frankencain smartest candidate!

Friday, July 25, 2008


Hey, C'mon down to Crazy Georgies Off Shore Drilling Discount Warehouse and take advantage of the last days of our End Of The Empire, Going Out Of Business, Everything Must Go Now SALE! Crazy Georgie and Mad Johnnie McCain are making deals and practically giving away everything to anyone who can make it down here to our conveniently location near you!
You want to ask yourself, "How can these guys do it?" They're Insane, the prices won't last and if you don't act now, you are going to regret not picking up off shore drilling rights at never to be repeated prices! You always dreamed of building a luxury subdivision in a National Forest? Don't dream, Buy Now! With the first 50 sales of 20,000 aces or more Georgie is giving a free , that's right, Free Presidential Pardon!
Become a donor to Georgies Presidential Library and you will have your name inscribed in an undisclosed location!
But you have to act fast and ACT NOW! These deals won't last and the prices will never be repeated. Remember, Crazy Georgie and Mad John McCain, with prices so low...


Here are two very different images. One is Barack Obama speaking to over 200,000 enthusiastic people in Berlin today. One of the issues he touched upon was his commitment to make the United States a leader in salvaging the environmental disaster we have allowed our planet to become.
The other image is the tragic oil spill in New Orleans which really is a major environmental disaster. John McCain planned to give a speech today on an oil rig off the coast of New Orleans and he had to cancel it because of the oil spill. Somedays you just want to scream.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Mr. Gramm Builds A House

Occasionally, I get very interesting emails from the blogger who posts here under the tag, The Engineer of Knowlege. Today he sent me an anecdote regarding his personal knowlege of the man who would run our economy under John McCain and the man who also ruined our economy with the legislation he has proposed and supported in his years in Republican Administrations, Phil Gramm.
In Mr. Engineers own words:

Please let me tell you a story about Phil Gramm. In the early 1980’s Phil Gramm had a house built here on the Eastern Shore of Maryland in Dorchester County close to the Chesapeake Bay. Phil did not use a local contractor, NOOOOOO, he use a contractor from Texas. (Quite the daily commute I would say) Anyway, the Texas contractor under estimated the cost to build the house by over $100,000 dollars (in 1980 dollars when he was bashing the tax and spend Democrats and putting together the Gramm / Rudman bill to make sure government worked on a balanced budget) but the contractor continued and completed the house per the contract. Yes the contractor lost over $100,000 on building Phil his house in Dorchester County, Maryland.

When asked why he did not use a local contractor to build the house Phil’s reply was, “The local contractors did not have the quality of workmanship for any of them to build him a house so he had to go with the Texas contractor.” Well gentleman, I know many of the local contractors and none of them would have messed up and under bid the job by $100,000.

Now the real question was, who was padding Phil Gramm's wallet and what did they get for it?


This is something I haven't done in a while. It's time for the featured cheese of the month! This is the beginning of the prime season to enjoy this cheese. Chaource.
It is a soft creamy cheese made from cows milk using a technique quite like the production of brie. It has a white edible rind of penicillum candidum bacteria like brie.
It has been produced in the village of Chaource in the Champaigne-Ardenne region since the middle ages. It is still only produced in a tightly controlled region in the Departments of Yonne and Aube. It was granted its AOC status in 1970.
I like this cheese very much and look forward to the summer months when it is fully ripe. It is at its peak from July through October.
It ages after prodsuction for 4 to 6 weeks. When the cheese is young, it is firm with a light creamy yellow cast. As it ages, it begins to run.
The taste is lightly salted and quite different from Brie. To me, there is a real aroma and flavor that reminds me of hay. It is a grand cheese to enjoy at the end of a meal.
It is produced in cylinders, perhaps 10cm in diameter and 6 cm in height.
It is pretty good melted on fresh baked new potatoes, but I really have never cooked with this cheese. It is a classic unique flavor and it stands alone with a good red wine.
Here is a photo of the packaging of the brand we usually get.


I played guitar and bass for many years. I was never technically very good, but quite enthusiastic. When I was first learning how to play a guitar, my favorite guitarist around 1970 was this man, Larry Coryell. He was and is a consummate artist. I have posted some pieces by him before, but tonight, I found this live solo accoustic performance of his arrangement of Ravel's Bolero. Pretty cool!
Larry is still playing and as good as ever if not better. He has two sons who are both performing guitarists and will be the subjuct of an upcoming documentary of his career.
This man can do it all, classical, rock, jazz and in a totally original way.
I have a Jazz Composers Orchestra set by Michael Mantler from perhaps 1969 in which Mr. Coryell plays pure manipulated feed back using a fat hollow body Gibson L-5 guitar as part of an orchestral score. Today, no one would do such a thing. If you wanted to make such a noise, you might program synthesizers. Michael Mantler wrote it all out for a big jazz band and a crazy quitarist who had to dance around his amp to physically get the different sustained tones to blast out.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Last week, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC) filed charges for the first time against a sitting head of state, charging President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan with three counts of genocide, five counts of crimes against humanity and two counts of war crimes. Fareed Zakaria had Sudan’s ambassador to the United Nations on his CNN show, GPS, to discuss the charges, which he called “a joke” and cited the U.S.’ 2002 withdrawal from the ICC treaty as an example of why Sudan does not recognize the court’s authority and will not cooperate with it:

ZAKARIA: Will your government mount a defense in the International Criminal Court?

MOHAMAD: We have no relation with the International Criminal Court. We don’t recognize its authority. We are not going to cooperate with it.

ZAKARIA: But of course, you know that other governments that did not recognize the Criminal Court were still forced to extradite their leaders. I’m thinking of Yugoslavia.

MOHAMAD: No. I don’t care about them. As far as we are concerned, we are not members. We have been told these days repeatedly that the ICC is an independent body. And so, OK, if it’s an independent body, I am not a U.N. organ. We have full right to be part of it or not. And we choose not to be part of it, like the United States.

Complicating the ICC’s ability to pursue war crimes charges, as referenced in the interview by Sudan’s UN ambassador, is President Bush’s “unsigning” of the International Criminal Court treaty in 2002. Though President Bush has publicly denounced the killings in Sudan as genocide, the administration has soft-pedaled sanctions against the Sudanese government to preserve its extensive intelligence collaboration with Sudan, once a safe haven for bin Laden that has become a crossroads for Islamic militants making their way to Iraq and Pakistan.

Obviously, the actions of the Bush Administration and the abuse of power in its actions have undermined the rule of law on a world wide scale. By placing himself above the standards of moral and ethical behavior, George Bush Jr. has lowered the bar. He has become the Enabler In Chief for human rights abuses and international hooliganism.

We are obliged to work harder to make America a NOBLE country again. It will take years to undo the mischief of this gang of scoundrels!

Censored Video!

I was going to run the video of Bush's Drunken Wall Street Comments at the Pete Olson July 18th Fundraiser in Texas, but as I went from viewing the video on the Houston KTRK TV Station Blog which first ran it, it was pulled from circulation by YouTube.
Too bad, POTUS was in fine form, rambling on inanely for a minute or so, but it was his comments referring to Wall Street getting drunk which really are worth the price of admission.
So, I have a transcript:

Wall Street got drunk, it got drunk, (it’s one of the reasons I asked you to turn off your tv cameras.) It got drunk and now it’s got a hangover. The question is how long will it sober up, and not try to do all these fancy financial instruments.

And now we got a housing issue, not in Houston, and evidently, not in Dallas, because Laura was over there trying to buy a house today. (laugher.. Crawford!)

I like Crawford, unfortunately after eight years of asking her to sacrifice, I’m now no longer the decision maker. She’ll be deciding, thanks for the suggestion! I suggest you don’t yell it out when she’s here. Later, telling her “Hey honey, we’ve been on government pay now for 14 years... so go slow!"

It’s uh.. caused me to lose my train of thought. Anyway......

The entire video runs about 2 minutes, the portion with the President runs just around a minute.

So, my take on this is that if Wall Street got drunk, then Bush and the Republican Congress were the bartenders who enabled this drunk to get into it's car and crash the economy.
In most States, it is illegal for a bartender to keep selling alcohol to a customer who is out of control. It is also the responsiblity of the bar, as has been proven in many lawsuits, to keep the patron from driving.
If the bartender keeps selling the drunk more whiskey and then lets him get in his car and crash the economy, he is liable as an accessory.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

More Was (Not Was)

I ordered the new Was(Not Was) cd, BOO from today and hope that they have it in stock here in France. What I've heard so far is great and it is great to see the Brothers Was playing together again and making new music.
In anticipation, I am posting a live performance from last year in London from the collection of Paul Murf!
The songs are a medley of 2 pieces from the 1980 record "Born To Laugh At Tornadoes".
Professor Night and Rubber Ball.
Sweet Pea Atkinson sounds great on Rubber Ball almost 28 years later. Ouch.....
Professor Night was originally sung by Doug Flieger of the Knack.
Born To Laugh At Tornadoes was a great record with guest vocal appearances by Doug Flieger, Ozzie Osbourn, Mitch Ryder and Mel Torme. The guitarist, Wayne Kramer was still an occasional member at that time.
I really enjoyed seeing this video of these guys playing some great songs from thie past! I cannot wait to see and hear some of their new music from the present!

Cool July Thoughts

Today, on a blog I frequent sometimes, one of the denizens, a fundamentalist christian who seems to be trolling about there, went on about the factoid that
"No two snowflakes are alike and this proves the complexity of gods creation."
How many times have you heard a simplistic statement like this? Usually followed by a self satisfied smug grin.
I offered to inform her as to how snowflakes were actually formed and the real fantastic reality of the world we live in.
So, I found these nifty pictures taken by Wilson A. Bentley in the late 1800's in Vermont. he actually coined the phrase "No two snowflakes are alike."
He was wrong and this is the explanation I put together for her:

Snow forms when water vapour is exposed to very low temperatures (such as at the tops of clouds) and turns into ice.

The “classical” snowflake has six spokes radiating out from a common centre, in the same way that the spokes of a bicycle wheel radiate out from the central hub. But this star-pattern is only one of the many possible shapes. The shapes vary depending on the temperature, closeness to other snowflakes, wind, and so on. For example, if you drop the temperature from 0°C down to -25°C, and keep everything else constant, you will see snowflake shapes running through hexagonal plates, needles, hollow prisms, plates, stellar dendrites (the “classical” star shape), back to plates again, and finishing up with solid prisms.

The forces that induce water molecules to leap from one ice crystal face to land on another ice crystal face, seem to be very reliant on the local temperature. This helps explain why there are so many different shapes.

As a snowflake falls, it tumbles through many different environments. So the snowflake that you see on the ground is deeply affected by the different temperatures, humidities, velocities, turbulences, etc, that it has experienced on the way. Most snowflakes would have slightly different flight paths, and so they would have different shapes. Of course, snowflakes that land near each other tend to have similar histories.

Wilson A. Bentley, a farmer who was born, lived and died in the small town of Jericho in Vermont was called “The Snowflake Man”. He supported this “all snowflakes are different” theory. Around 1884, at the age of 19, he became the first person to photograph a single ice crystal, by cleverly marrying a microscope to a camera, using an adjustable bellows mechanism. In 1920, the American Meteorological Society elected him to the state of Fellow. They also awarded him their very first research grant, in recognition of his “40 years of extremely patient work” - for which they gave him $25. He continued working in this field until his death in 1931, by which time he had taken 5,381 “photomicrographs” of individual snowflakes. Towards the end of his life, he said that he had “never seen two snowflakes alike”. And so the story arose that all snowflakes are different.

But in 1988, the scientist Nancy Knight (at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado) was studying wispy high altitude cirrus clouds. Her research plane was collecting snowflakes on a chilled glass slide that was coated with a sticky oil. She found two identical (under a microscope, at least) snowflakes in a Wisconsin snowstorm.

They were hollow hexagonal prisms, rather than the classical six-spoked star-shapes – but as far as snowologists are concerned, they counted as snowflakes. But if you want to be pedantic, they probably weren't identical if you were to look at the actual molecules – but at this level, is anything identical?

Since the earth was formed about 4.5 billion years ago, about a million million million million million snowflakes have fallen – but Mr. Bentley made his pronouncement of the cold hard facts after looking at just over 5,000 of them.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The pictures above are just a few of the oilrigs destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. 3 of them went adrift and were pushed over 60 kilometers from their positions.
These are physical manifestations of the truth.
But yet, to promote the idea of offshore drilling, the Republican Party and the Oil Industry are trying to use a network of lies to create myths to convince the american public that the answer to the high prices for petrol products lies in granting permission to start drilling everywhere, now!
If is is such a good idea, then why are we being lied to on such an obvioulsy bald faced fashion to promote it? Just force of habit, perhaps?
We have seen the use of fear tactics, as in Dick Cheney's assertion that the Chinese were already drilling off the coast of Cuba. This was immediately repudiated as a lie and Cheney was forced to publicly say he was "mistaken".
Of course, once a lie is deliberately released, the jackals go howling as the next week, Republican Representative "Mean Jean" Schmidt from Cincinatti made the assertion on the floor of The House of Representatives. It still is being used as a factoid by the rabid hate radio parrots.
So, now that John McCain has realized the value of promoting this quick non fix of Americas energy problems, he has jumped on the band wagon. He has made the statement that "not one drop of oil was spilled during Hurricane Katrina" and his campaign was forced to retract it the next day, but he didn't. The next day he stated that "not a single oil rig was damaged by Katrina!" a factoid easily proven wrong and there was almost 200 Million dollars of infra structure damage to the oil industry.
The statements are being trumpeted by Tom DeLay, the discredited Congressman who isa nopw a lobbyist for the oil industry. They were repeated by Congressman Blunt on CNN yesterday.
As Nancy Pelosi stated on the same program, the oil from any of this drilling won't reach American gas pumps for 10 years and will bring about a possible 60 cent reduction in prices.
The only winners here are the oil industry and their paid lackeys.
The statement that not one drop of oil was spilled by Hurricane Katrina is easily enough disproved by hard facts. If you need some real proof or know someone who is in need of a reality check, visit the site skytruth for actual satellite photos of the oil spills in the Gulf. In fact, look around at the skytruth site, it's fascinating and a great source of real documentation as to reality on the planet we live.

Help Me Out Here!

So, more summer fun! It's time for Barbecue. I have been doing a bit in the yard now that we finally have stretches of perfect summer weather. I've been doing Maigret de Canard quite a bit for guests and last week we had a big dinner for a few other couples and made many brochettes on skewers. I have a lot of Jamaican Jerk seasoning and marinated chicken and also did tandoori Indian chicken brochettes. We had an assortment of merguez and pork with prunes....They are great because they cook fast and if you have a lots of side dishes, there really isn't any pressure on the chef.
On Sunday night, I tried to do traditional American style barbecue ribs. Here in France, American style barbecue sauce is considered an exotic inported speciality mystery ingredient. I have never seen it in a store.
So, I made my own. I started with a cup or so of ketchup. I jazzed that up with Worchester Sauce and a minced garlic. I used a good dollop of commercial caramel and some soy sauce. I tasted the results and thought it was in the right direction, but tame, so I added a few drops of my most lethal hot sauce: The very deadly Dave's Insanity Sauce. I tasted it and it made my nose run! This was a good sign......
So, I took my ribs...travers de porc in France and precooked them by boiling them in a pot with peppercorns, chopped up fresh bay leaves, fresh fennel and dill.
When I was ready to cook them, I fired up the grill and cooked them slowly with the sauce glaze and I have to admit that they were pretty good. We had them with sweet corn on the cob.
I need some guidance, though. My precooking comes from my years in the restaurant business. That's the way we did ribs at a big place in Toledo I was head chef at. We put the ribs in a big pot and dumped in a box of McCormicks Pickling Spice Mix. The ribs were always moist and tender and the only thing you worried about was the perfect glaze.
If you have any ideas about barbecuing ribs, let me know. I also would like any recipe regarding American style barbecue sauce. I cannot go to the Kroger and get a bottle of Hunts.........
I will keep y'all informed of my research and progress!
Thank you!!!!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Bike Trip #4,332

Here is a very nice panoramic view of the Chateau d'Hautefort as seen from below in the valley by the small stream, La Beauze. This is one of my favorite bike rides. I think it is about 30 kilometers total with a lot of nice hills.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Stop patting your self on the back America. Y'all thought this was the first real grown up, post racist real world adult presidential election in your history. Forget it.
The nation is still a traumatized troubled adolescent, trying to convince itself that it isn't racist and like the classic cycle of traumatized behavior, the abuse repeats from generation to generation.
We've come a long way in the almost 60 years since the first battles to integrate American Society were fought. White America still lives with all of it's negative stereotypes and in this presidential election, they are all being trotted out of the closet of hate to attempt to influence the voters.
I felt, when I first became of aware of Barack Obama and realized that he would be a real candidate in this election, that it would take a miracle to elect him. I do believe in miracles, but it is not by passive wishing that a miracle like this can occur.
This is a battle and every piece of ammunition is being used by both sides. I would like to believe that for the greater part, the forces of Obama are guided by truth.
I only have to read the paper and the news on the internet to realize that the Republican campaign has very little basis in the truth. I listen to and read the words of Rush Limbaugh and see the manevolent distortion and manipulative lies that are used to influence the American public.
I believe in miracles, I believe in the physical manifestation of great ideas when thay are shared by a group of people willing to work for them. I believe that Barack Obama can become the next president of the United States.
That is why, I was so extrememly upset by the cover of the New Yorker Magazine and the lame attempts of the editor to explain his decision to run the illustration depicting Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle as Middle Eastern, Radical Black Panther terrorists. The hemming, hawing, the constant spin of explaining why it is intelligent ironic humor that should be obvious....?
Listen, you don't step on a dream. If you believe in miracles, you don't create a roadblock. Honestly, the only reply I can come up with to the editor of the New Yorker and his attempts to spin his way out of this controversy is a very ironic "FUCK YOU!"

Forgive my extreme irony, and my utter admiration to the cartoonist, Horsey in todays Seattle Post Intelligfencer for drawing the cartoon that was in my head!

Monday, July 14, 2008

au armes et caetera

La Marseielle reinvented by Serge Gainsbourg.
Au Armes et Caetera............
Happy Bastille Day!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Thomas Disch R.I.P.

Today, I learned that on July 4th, one of my favorite modern American authors, Thomas Disch committed suicide at the age of 68 in his apartment in New York.

The novelist Thomas M Disch once observed: "America is a nation of liars, and for that reason science fiction has a special claim to be our national literature." However, the power of reality so intruded that Disch took his own life at the age of 68, leaving an array of work, from stories a few sentences long to a sprawling horror novel by way of witty poetry, children's fiction, opera librettos and an offbeat way with criticism as he leapt "from one literary frogpond to another".

Born in Des Moines, Iowa, where his father, Felix, sold magazines, he was partly educated by his mother, Helen, and brought up in Fairmont and St Paul, Minnesota. He readily memorised poetry at high school and discovered that "the golden age of science fiction is 12, the age when we begin to read it". A variety of jobs included being an undertaker's nightwatchman before he moved to New York, where army service intervened in 1957.

Out of kilter with that, he endured a few months' psychiatric incarceration before return to Manhattan. That experience, combined with brooding upon childhood Catholicism, fuelled stories written while working as a theatre usher, among other things, before an insurance job funded architecture studies at the Cooper Union and New York University, from which he dropped out in 1962 when Fantastic Stories accepted a piece.

After two years' copywriting, Disch wrote full time as "a beachcomber on a semi-global scale" in Mexico, London - as one of the "new wave" SF writers published by Michael Moorcock's New Worlds magazine - Italy and Turkey. His first novel, The Genocides (1965), anticipated current concerns: "Nothing gave the yield per acre that corn did; nothing but rice gave as much nourishment per ounce. Land was at a premium now." The Earth is covered by one huge, hideously rooted plant, and a surviving, feuding group of humans forage like "worms, crawling through an apple".

In Camp Concentration (1968), conscientious objectors are given a form of syphilis, the theory being that it heightened their creativity even if it shortened their lives. While 334 (1972), chronicling a dystopian New York of the 2020s, is not as engaging, The Puppies of Terra (1966) describes a mankind under others' leash by means of "pure electromagnetic phenomenon" while taught by one Roxanna Proust, whose skin "scrunched into a great delta of wrinkles, as though from the pressure of squeezing out the tears". During the confused narrative of Echo Round His Bones (1969), a clone is instantly "manmitted" to Mars.

Throughout the 1960s Disch continued to publish stories: The Asian Shore (1970) was an apparent travelogue that mutates splendidly, at some length, into a man's becoming fully Turkish after donning a local outfit made from "a heavy wool-rayon blend of a sickly and slightly iridescent blue, the muted, imprecise colour of the more unhappy breeds of pigeon". Brief, complete stories included Vapors (reprinted in the collection Getting Into Death, 1974): "She wondered, as she stepped into the tub, whether he had told her his real name. Was it only his resemblance to the other one that made her feel like this? Had she only, perhaps, dreamed the whole splendid thing?"

Further leapfrogging included poetry, gradually recognised for such witty conceits as A Turkish Holiday, formed entirely from book titles, while Edwardian book spines lend "our walls their rich red-browns/As of fence posts steeped in creosote".

Disch lived with fellow poet Charles Naylor, first in London, and then in Manhattan from the 1970s. They collaborated - somehow - on a solid, historical novel, Neighbouring Lives (1980), about the Chelsea of Thomas Carlyle, of which Anthony Burgess wrote: "The very devotion which they expend on their multiple subject matter makes for a reluctance to move on, clip, slash, subordinate detail to the elan of true fiction."

With The M.D. (1991), Disch attempted Stephen King-style horror, but the words slackened across 550 pages, unlike the truly shocking The Businessman (1984): unable to shake off his murdered wife, Bob Glandier sires a child upon her, the hideous foetus itself soon a ghost, all far from Disch's popular children's book The Brave Little Toaster (1980, filmed by Disney in 1987).

Few might enjoy all of Disch, and he always looked forward, even creating a computer text adventure game, Amnesia (1986), not wanting to become somebody who, Norma Desmond-like, haunted conventions in hopes of continued recognition. Beset, however, by Naylor's death in 2005, an upstate home's flooding, a fire, illness and an eviction threat, he shot himself. One can only echo his ode on Philip K Dick's suicide "with so much juice/Still to be squeezed, with all that doom could do /To force new bloom from the pollardings/Of late middle-age".

Disch, who leaves three brothers and a sister, once wrote a charming ballad about a rattlesnake in Christ's manger; The Word of God, a novel told by the deity, has just been published.

I can only recommend that if you are interested in great but difficult writing, full of dark imagination and speculations about man and our future, you could try to find some of his work. His novel, Wings Of Song published in 1978, was a masterpiece but was mostly returned. In it you will find a future America, a land of disintegration that somehow manages to evoke our present. His novel 334 is still to me like what Dickens would have written if he had written speculative science fiction. In the last few years, he wrote a blog and it is fascinating to glimpse the rich darkness of his imagination and the elegance of his writing. It still is on line.

· Thomas Michael Disch, science fiction writer, born February 2 1940; died around July 4 2008

The Art of Dying

Mallarmé drowning
Chatterton coughing up his lungs
Auden frozen in a cottage
Byron expiring at Missolonghi
and Hart Crane visiting Missolonghi and dying there too

The little boot of Sylvia Plath wedged in its fatal stirrup
Tasso poisoned
Crabbe poisoned
T.S. Eliot raving for months in a Genoa hospital before he died
Pope disappearing like a barge in a twilight of drugs

The execution of Marianne Moore
Pablo Neruda spattered against the Mississippi
Hofmannsthal's electrocution
The quiet painless death of Robert Lowell
Alvarez bashing his bicycle into an oak

The Brownings lost at sea
The premature burial of Thomas Gray
The baffling murder of Stephen Vincent Benét
Stevenson dying of dysentery
and Catullus of a broken heart

-- Tom Disch

Friday, July 11, 2008


Here's an interview with George Bush Jr. from 2006 that was shown live on Irish television. It was and will never be shown on American network news. It was Banned and if you watch you will understand why the administration would not let it be shown!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


So, it's the hieght of summer and I'm working against time. I think I have to go to the Chateau and work for two weeks at the end of next week for the Vendenge Verte.
We have a guest here and are trying to be good hosts and then there's this bicycling thing...and assorted incidents with dogs, neighbors who want to store hay in my barn, barbecues...etc.
I have a lot of ideas for posts, but I haven't had time to sit down at the cranky old computer and write. I will tomorrow, though...after I bike to Ayen Bas!
Tonight, though, I am posting a video of Roky Erikson, performing his song Two Headed Dog live in 1980.
Roky should have been a huge star. He had a huge hit in 1965 with his band from Austin, Texas, The Thirteenth Floor Elevators called You Gonna Miss Me.
He had a huge soulful voice and a manic delivery and a band that really was ahead of its time in its truly grungy authentic way. Then in 1966, Roky was busted for possession of marijuana. Being a punky white rock musician in Texas, things l;ooked grim as far as sentencing. His lawyer advised him to plead insanity. He did expecting to be senttenced to counseling and treatment. Instead he was committed to an institution on Texas and subjected to years of electro shock and drug therapy. When he was finally released in the mid 70's, it was clear that the mans brains had been severely scrambled by the system. He was totally unable to cope with the day to day reality of the real world.
One thing though that wasn't affected...his sheer raw talent. He still had his voice and his ability to write and perform great songs. The subject matter of the songs changed. He wrote about Zombies, Aliens, Lobotomies, Ghosts, Alligators and Two Headed Dogs, billiantly.
Roky became a legend and a group of supporters became his life support system and made it possible for him to keep recording and performing. Roky is around 60 now and he is still writing great rock songs and performing with the manic energy of man half his age.
In 1983, I performed his song I Walked With A Zombie and I still take requests....

Monday, July 07, 2008

What America Wants...brought to you by FOX NEWS

On the day after the Columbian hostages, Ingrid Betancourt, 3 American Mercenaries and 11 Columbian Military Personell, FOX NEWS reported that perhaps the fact that John McCain was in Columbia that day, there just might possibly have been a connection.
After all they are a news service and we expect a news service to give us real news, right? We count on FOX NEWS to give America what they want! America doesn't want leaders who want to sit down and waste time with fancy diplomatic negotiations! We want a straight talkin man of action and they don't make them any more!
John McCain and Ronald Reagan were the last of a breed. They don't negotiate and sit around drinking tea and eating scones, dotting the i's and crossing every t on a sissy little treaty!
America wants a leader who can walk into the middle of the FARC stronghold in the Columbian jungle armed only with a Ginzu steak knife and sneak up behind the FARC commander and whisper in a chilling voice which inspires utter cold fear, "Cut the bullshit, beaner. Let the hostages go, now..."
This is the kind of man of action America wants and FOX NEWS can give it to them!
Aren't you glad America has FOX NEWS instead of boring, depressing real news?

Saturday, July 05, 2008

A Mission Truly Accomplished

In a 1998 interview, Osama bin Laden, the Saudi Terrorist organizer of the 9/11 World Trade Center Destruction and figure head leader of the Al Qaeda Movement, listed as one of his many grievances against the USA, that "Americans have stolen 36 Trillion Dollars from Muslims by purchasing oil at absurdly low prices".
At the time of the interview, crude oil was $11.00 a barrel.
He said at the time that he felt the real price should be arouind $144 a barrel.
This month heralded the altime high of $146 a barrel, a 13 fold increase in the price in the ten years since bin Laden made his statement.

One month after 9/11, the New York Times wrote of possible “nightmare” scenarios that would deliver bin Laden’s goal. Neela Banerjee warned that among the “misguided decisions” that would put oil supplies at risk would be “that the United States attacks Iraq.” The Times included this quote in its story:

“If bin Laden takes over and becomes king of Saudi Arabia, he’d turn off the tap,” said Roger Diwan, a managing director of the Petroleum Finance Company, a consulting firm in Washington. “He said at one point that he wants oil to be $144 a barrel” — about six times what it sells for now."

bin Laden didn't have to become "King of Saudi Arabia" to achieve his goal. Through the Bush administrations tragically misguided poliicies, we handed it to him. The chain of events surrounding the decision to invade Iraq sank the nation into trillion dollar debt to pay for the war crippled the dollar and caused oil prices to soar astronomically as a result.

Anne Korin, the co-director of the Institure for the Analysis of Global Security testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee last May. In her testimony, she reminded Congress:
"[A]bout ten years ago, Osama bin Laden stated that his target price for oil is $144 a barrel and that the American people, who allegedly robbed the Muslim people of their oil, owe each Muslim man, woman, and child $30,000 in back payments. At the time, $144 a barrel seemed farfetched to most.

I would like to impress upon this Committee that $144 a barrel oil will be perceived as a victory for the Jihadist movement and a reaffirmation that the economic warfare component of its campaign against the West is a resounding success. There is no need to elaborate on the implications of such a victory in terms of loss of U.S. prestige and our ability to prevail in the Long War of the 21st century."

I really don't like saying this, but to me, it sounds like Osama bin Laden is the person who really can say "Mission Accomplished!"

Je suis la.........

This is kind of neat.... a panorama shot from a walnut plantation on a high hill near here. Walnuts are one of the main agricultural products of this region. The road that cuts through here is labled La Route de la Noix.
It starts with a close up of Hautefort, across the valley and you can see the chateau which is one of the great chateaux of the Dorgogne with a formal hill top garden overlooking the very well preserved village below. Hautefort was started in the 13th century and continued until the 16th. It was destroyed by the Germans in WW2 and rebuilt by an American Woman. There is quite a lot of history, the original owner was Bertrand LeBorn, the first of the Troubadours, the warrior poets.
The style of the village and chateau ranges from medieval to Baroque.
Then the camera goes across around the valley and focuses for a few seconds on the Citie de Clairvive, a social institution from the 20's. A small community on a hillside in high art deco style dedicated to rebuilding lives. People live there and learn new trades and have access to counseling and education. It's pretty remote as everything is here. If there was a road, you could drive or bike there in a short time, but there are no straight lines in the Dordogne.
We go there in the spring because part of the social program is gardening and they have the best greenhouses I ever seen. A huge complex of art deco glass greenhouses totally self contained which offer garden vegetables and flowers at the best prices.
The camera swings around and focuses for a few seconds on our village, Badefols d'Ans and its 11th century donjon tower and chateau. Badefols has been around since the Romans and the church was supposedly founded by St. Cloud, a son of the legendary Merovingian King, Clovis around 600 ad.
Badefols is a very well preserved town, the heart of it is crowded with architecture from the middle ages until the early 19th century. Commerce? We have a nice Hotel, a small but very good little restaurant, a very mediocre bakery, a little market open at very unpredictable hours and a family run sawmill.
Then the camera continues full circle...somewhere in this sweep, on a forested hill in the distance, I am sitting, typing this post in an old farm house recued from collapse and decay.......

One Nation Under A Groove

Just for your summer enjoyment, one of the coolest songs ever recorded.
The Band is Funkadelic and the year was 1978...........

Friday, July 04, 2008

This Machine Kills Fascists!

Happy 4th Of July, America. This is a 1945 film of Woody Guthrie performing his simple but eternal anthem for a country that existed as an ideal, a nation built on dreams...
This Land Is My Land, This Land Is Your Land!
Will that dream ever be realized?
Will the ideal ever become perfected in the flesh?

Woody Guthrie inscibed the words on his guitar, This Machine Kills Fascists!
Do you think he could even get it past airport security today?
Do you think he would even be allowed to board a plane?

This land was made for you and me.........................

Thursday, July 03, 2008

tEknicKLe diFFiKULtyS

Posting has been rather erratic here. It's hard working around summer storm power outages...and having to shut the computer down when a storm approaches....lately when ever we get a good one, we invariably lose power for a few hours.
Then, there was the general internet outage that lasted 2 days this week. Everyone around here was affected.
Last but not least, my 10 year old iMac is beginning to show its senility. I somehow have defied the basic laws of physics and stuffed OSX in it and pushed the memory to the max, but it gets really cranky on hot days.
I'd sure love to get a nice new iMac with a lot of memory and keep it running for another 10 years...but that's a wish for the future.
I think my brain is on summer vacation, I really enjoy the disciplne of writing this blog and the opportunity to express myself and communicate to the readers who stumble across it.
But, it's summer and I find myself taking long bike trips, and the work of gardening here...we have a massive vegetable garden in progress...and a commitment to landscaping take up most of my days. Am I complaining? Ha!
So, here is a little bit of Detroit, 1970, the greatest band in America for a few short months...The MC5 performing Looking At You
A return to more serious idiocy tomorrow! I promise!