Monday, November 23, 2009

What would you say were your big mistakes?

As they flock in great numbers, exchanging their hard-won piles of birdseed for a volume so few of them will ever read, one hears the sad cry of the Teabag-crested American Nitwit: "Sign our books! Sign our books! Sign our books!"

By tomorrow, we will no doubt learn exactly why the abrupt departure of Sister Sarah's Tour Bus of Broken Dreams was really Obama's fault.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Franklin Stove

It's called a Franklin Stove because it's a Colonial-style drink and it keeps you warm in the winter.

THE ONLY DIFFICULT PART OF THIS RECIPE is caramelizing the sugar. Heat the sugar gently to melt it, stirring frequently. Cut the heat when it gets darker brown, before it burns. If it starts to foam, get it off the heat immediately and slowly pour in some of the cider to cool it. NOTE: Melted sugar is much hotter than boiling water so be careful about splashes.


  • 1 ½ Cups white sugar
  • 4 Cups apple cider (unfiltered)
  • ¾ C. rum, or brandy
  • juice of ½ lemon or lime
  • 1 lemon — thin round slices
  • kettle of boiling water
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp cardamom
  • pinch cloves
  • pinch black pepper

NOTE: for all spices, use fine-ground.

Caramelize the white sugar in a thick-bottomed sauce pan over a moderate heat. Stir regularly and don't let it burn. Turn heat to low once all the sugar is melted. There will be a little smoke anyway. When it approaches the dark brown of maple syrup, take it off the heat, and...

Add the apple cider — carefully. The sugar is hot, so there could be spattering. The caramel will harden when the cool cider is added.

Heat until the cider simmers and the caramel has completely dissolved.

Add the spices and stir thoroughly

Add the lemon and/or lime juice.

Scatter the lemon slices on top

Simmer gently for at least ten minutes (or move it to a pre-heated crockpot for serving later).

Ladle the mix into large mugs.

Add a shot (1 ½ ounces) of rum to each mug and serve. If it's too sweet, add some hot water, to taste.

Serves 4.

DRINK HEARTILY and discuss topics in science and liberty.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

"It can all turn on a dime..."

I was just looking at the first entry I ever posted to this blog. It concerned a piece in The Nation comparing Bill Moyers and Rush Limbaugh, and it's worth excerpting here today:

It can all turn on a dime. The mob has always been fickle. Rush can be the Voice of the People today, and an odd historical curiousity tomorrow. How to make that change? Find every outlet and every way to talk to working people about their jobs, their debts, their fears, hopes, and ideals.

We're not against Bush because he's a smug smarmy smirky ignorance-peddling son of privilege (okay, well we *are*) but more importantly because his policies are screwing up the lives of all kinds of people all over the country, and the world. We're not against Rush because he's an abusive hubristic gas-bag (okay, well we *are*) but because he's misleading people, distracting them away from the causes of the difficulties and dangers to their own lives and well-being.

Moyers has been a resource for helping the already politically-aware, as is The Nation. But Rush is reaching a huge audience that hasn't made the connection between the powers-that-be and the conditions of their own lives. That's the gap that the useless big-media teevee evening news, local and national, isn't filling. That's the missing piece.

If the people catch wise, it's all over for Rush and company.

Well how 'bout that?

Here's another quote. It's from Annie Kinsella (Amy Madigan) in the movie Field of Dreams:

There you go. America, I love you. I'm proud of you.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My pal Gordon, again

This is my pal Gordon again, playing a pair of walkie-talkies like a kind of faux-theremin. He's an enthusiastic, and oddly-talented, thereminist.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

On the trail

Some folks have commented that Obama looked a bit distracted last night, during the final debate. My guess is that he's a little worried because he still hasn't found the last of Dick Cheney's horcruxes.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Just needed to refresh my eyes...

I thought I'd take a moment here to refresh my eyes and my spirits, with a break from daily crapfest.

We hold these truths to be self-evident,

  • that all men are created equal,
  • that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,
  • that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
  • That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,
  • That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

There, wasn't that better?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Fill in the blank

So, turns out that Sarah Palin can't really see those Alaskan islands from her house, after all.

Seems that was only an... _______ ________ .

[Come on, you can do it!]

Saturday, September 20, 2008

New Rules: Etiquette

(yes, I'm stealing the format from Bill Maher)

New Rule: from now on, if someone offers you something, and you would like to have it, you can accept it by saying "Thay-inks, but no thay-inks!" and then reaching out and taking it anyway.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Well, that's just not right

Google reports:
"No results found for "Celestial Sneezings"
Someone really ought to do something about that.

Friday, August 15, 2008

I miss old time radio...

“...Live from the Rump Roast Room of the Hotel Electric, City Biscuit Bakeries — makers of Rustler's Oak-Tree Cremes, the unexpected flavor that Takes You Out Of This World, and Crocker's Golden Donuts, the familiar family favorite that Always Brings You Home Again — are proud to present an hour of fine musical entertainment with Commodore Reginald Starcher and his Blue Suit Civilian Orchestra, featuring the vocal stylings of Miss Kitty Wilt.

“Here they are with an exotic number from down South America way, No Thank You, Jerome, I Don't Care to Tango....

*   *   *

“And now, Martin Cross-Hyde and the City Biscuit Social Orchestra ask the music question, Is that a Smile in Your Pajamas, or Has the Moon Come Out to Play?...”

...and I'm not even old enough to remember it.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Sign of the times

As of this afternoon, a google search on the phrase "you voted for an idiot" returns 859 hits.

"Sign of the times" will be a continuing feature.

Update: Mon Sep 22 15:46:30 EDT 2008: As of this afternoon, the count is up to 1,310 hits.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Imaginary Nations

My friend Justin posted this at his blog:

Y'know, there's a worthwhile sociological experiment to be done: spread the word that Nigeria doesn't really exist -- it's just a hoax invented for the purpose of fake Internet rumors. Anything you hear about Nigeria is, by definition, false.

Well, I'm always willing to play along. So I looked it up, and this is what I found:

After Britain ceded independence to her colonies in that region, around 1960, there actually was a unification movement that advocated for a federal nation to be called "Nigeria". It was supposed to include Southern Niger, Biafra, some provinces from the Republic of North Cameroon, the Yoruba Free State, and Lagos-Benin.

Internal squabbling between the three major political parties -- the Nigerian People's Congress, National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons, and the Action Group -- scuttled the idea. A series of conflicts (the Lagos Delta war, the Biafran insurgency, the Cameroon Successions, etc etc etc) discredited all of the pro-unification advocates, and by 1963 the modern borders were pretty much set.

There's still a small pro-unity political group in the region, called "The 419" (named for the UN Security Council Resolution 419, which was to have recognized a "Greater Nigeria") but they have been plagued by corruption in their ranks, and don't have much credibility.

The idea is one of history's interesting might-have-beens.

So when you get those emails from people claiming to be from someplace called “Nigeria” — well, now you know where they got the name from. A single state in that region, well-governed, would probably have provided a lot of economic growth and stability to the whole area, and been a benefit to its neighbors and the world. Too bad it never worked out. Pretty weird speculation though, huh?

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Free Science Fiction For Everybody!

“Free Electricity for Everybody!” was the motto and goal of genius inventor and inter-dimensional refugee Nikola Tesla. That may not have endeared him to his financial backers, so we're still paying for our AC the old-fashioned way: cash for wire-delivered current.

But here in the future, at least we can enjoy a stream of other aether-borne free goods, including a weekly SF story from Escape Pod. For a couple of years now, podhost Steve Eley has been buying real high-quality SF from authors new and old, classic and up-and-coming, and putting it out each week to a loyal listener base that should include you.

Recent entries have included M.K. Hobson's “God Juice”, K.K. Rusch's “Elites”, and my personal favorite, Michael Swanwick's “A Small Room in Koboldtown” — a Hugo finalist and this year's Nebula winner. We've also been treated to a few of Jeffrey R. DeRego's tales in the Union Dues series, an unexpected angle on the behind-the-scenes lives of superheros. Eley reads many of these himself, and when he doesn't, he calls on any number of authors, sf bloggers, and other odd netizens to help out. In this regard, “Koboldtown” deserves special mention for Cheyenne Wright's invocation of the varied accents of a peculiar city that isn't too much like, say, New Orleans, oh no, not at all.

Eley's introductions and other discussions are mostly focused, considered, and on-point. You don't hear any of that “well, I've just turned on the mike, now what the hell should I talk about?” fumfering that bloats some otherwise-good podcasts. And every now and again, just for fun, he features one of singer-songwriter Jonathan Coulton's peculiar sf-themed geek-pop tunes. (Don't be surprised if Coulton's bouncy cheery-sounding “Chiron Beta Prime” becomes one of your Xmas-time holiday favorites.)

Escape Pod began by covering horror and fantasy as well as science fiction, but now has two sister podcasts, Pseudopod and Podcastle. There should be links to those from the Escape Pod site. If not, write to tell Steve that you found out about him here, and tell him to get those links up, fergoshsakes. And once you get hooked, don't forget to buy some merch or make a regular donation. It's free, yeah, but it ain't cheap, you know?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Quote for the day

“You must be the change you seek in the world.”
    — Gandhi

“...or the world will seek the bee in your change.”
    — The Sphinx

(He's terribly mysterious.)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Natural History Corner — the Papageno Bird

Report on the the mating ritual of Reclutus papagenus of Central America

by John James Autobahn

Recent behavioral observations of a little-known member of the motmot family (Momotidae) have discovered a previously unknown, and possibly unique, type of mating display.

The Papageno Bird (Reclutus papagenus) is monotypic within the genus Reclutus. Although related to the beautiful Blue-crowned motmot (Momotus momota), the drab Papageno has almost none of his cousin's flashy blue plumage, showing only a thin stripe of iridescent turquoise across the throat of this medium-sized dark brown-gray bird; along with an arrangement of concentric circles of bright blue and viridian, alternating, within the broad tips of the two elongated tail-feathers characteristic of Momotidae. The females, entirely brown-grey, lack both the tail spots and throat stripe.

What Reclutus lacks in plumage, he makes up for in talent and ingenuity. In the highlands surrounding the common border of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, the Papageno takes advantage of the rich diversity of other bird species to create his remarkable mating display. Toward the end of the dry season, in early April, the male attracts a mate in his own peculiar manner. After selecting a suitable set of tree branches, in an area crowded with other calling and displaying bird species, he perches in a secluded spot and gets to work. He begins by imitating the mating call of some other nearby species. He usually doesn't have long to wait before some outraged suitor comes to investigate the appearance of a rival in his territory. Papageno hides in the shadows, waits until the other male is about to leave, and then repeats the call. After just a few minutes of carefully-timed calls and pauses, he has the infuriated suitor perched on a chosen branch, unable to locate the intruder, calling and bobbing in a furious display of sexual jealousy and confusion.

At this point, the Papageno repeats the trick, but with the call of yet another species. Once the next male appears, he continues to tease and infuriate him, while repeating taunts of first visitor just often enough to keep him from leaving. Then it's on to a third call, to attract a third angry male.

Typically, the Papageno can attract four or five infuriated males of completely unrelated species, and, like those old plate-spinners on the Ed Sullivan show, keep them all active by dextrous timing. One particularly skilled Reclutus was observed to have nine furious males bobbing and dancing and calling for more than a hour!

Once this line-up is in place, the Papageno begins to show himself, perching in front of, and slightly below the others, swinging his distinctive long tail back and forth, in rhythm with the hoots, greeps, and wakka-wakkas of his chorus, as if conducting them. By this time however, the displaying birds seem entranced, absorbed by their combined performance, and do not seem to pay him much attention.

At this point, the female, if suitably impressed, will perch some distance away on the same branch as the maestro, and then sidle gradually towards him. After watching the show for several minutes, bobbing her head in the rhythm he has established, she may move right next to him, with contact signalling her willingness to mate. Copulation is rapid, completed in less than five seconds, but is usually repeated several more times over the course of five or ten minutes. In between these encounters, the male (like the plate spinner) must continue his tail-wagging and occasional mimickry calls in order to maintain the love chorus. Finally, once the Papagenos have mated, they fly off together to inspect and repair the female's previously-prepared nesting area, usually a secluded ground hole at the base of a tree. Soon after, the chorus breaks up, as the performers decide that they have at last driven off their rivals.

It is not yet known whether the chorus birds ever "wise up" to this ruse, or whether the same birds can be bamboozled repeatedly. Further observations of the Papageno are anticipated in the next several years.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Chercher le pantalon...

According to an AP report, the historic Texas Governor's Mansion was severely damaged in a fire early Sunday morning. At present, the state's Fire Marshal suspects arson. I suggest he investigate whether former Governor George W. Bush may have left a pair of his pants in a closet or basement cupboard.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Slammin' at the Shrine

It's fast and mean. It's more retro than metro. It's got hard-hitting action, good-natured ultra-violence, and enough tough, sexy dames to fill a long shelf of Mickey Spillane novels. But these gals aren't sitting on anybody's shelf. They are the skating stars of Women's Flat Track Roller Derby.

Their second season Boston-area championship will be decided on Saturday, June 19 June 14, at the Shrine Auditorium in Wilmington, Mass., when the Cosmonaughties face off against the Wicked Pissahs.

You'll have a couple more chances to catch them later this summer, when the Shrine Auditorium features two more matches. July 19 will see The Boston Massacre take on the Ohio Rollergirls, and then on August 9 the Massacre wheel into action against the Arizona Roller Derby. (Clearly the Boston skaters are already winners at naming their teams.)

More information, and photos at

Yeah, years from now, when Women's Roller Derby is America's National Sport, you'll brag that you were a fan way back in '08. You know you will.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

You Can Take It With You

Years and years ago, when Massachusetts voters were considering a soda can and bottle refund law called The Bottle Bill, there was substantial opposition from an "astro-turf" lobbying group that produced a series of commercials threatening the most awful consequences if the law were enacted.

On television, we were presented with scenes of a frail elderly woman precariously making her way down a narrow steep rickety staircase with a wheeled shopping cart loaded to overflowing with returnable soda cans and bottles, headed for a certain crash, no doubt followed by death or at least a hip replacement.

On radio, we heard dire threats that massive hoards of unwashed soda cans festering in supermarket storage rooms would breed new species of venomous, plague-carrying roaches.

Finally, a clever political activist/advertising copywriter fought back with a brilliant radio ad mocking the absurdity of these panic-mongering appeals.

"If the Bottle Bill passes, old ladies will fall down stairs! If the Bottle Bill passes, old ladies will fall UP stairs! Swarms of rats and roaches will infest grocery stores! The Black Plague!"

as he built to a hysterical climax,

"The White Plague! The Greeeeen Plaaaague!! Earthquakes!!! Floods!!! Tidal Waves!!!! GODZILLA!!!!"

he shrieked before, presumably, collapsing in exhaustion and terror.

It was brilliant, perfectly timed and perfectly pitched to puncture the nonsensical claims of the anti-Bottle Bill lobby. (Just how did that old lady get all those bottles up those narrow rickety stairs in the first place?) I admired the spot at the time, and had the privilege of meeting its creator a few months later. (My apologies to him, as I no longer remember his name, and can't find the old tape cassette holding my copy of the spot.) I've never forgotten how one really good ad can hit its bulls-eye.

Right now there's a new spot promoting "portable" health care, i.e. coverage not tied to your crappy job. It's playing at YouTube of course, and it might be the Godzilla spot for this campaign. It's pitch-perfect, funny, memorable, and makes a clear simple point. It's promoting Senator Ron Wyden's Healthy Americans Act, and it could be a winner.

The Bottle Bill? It passed, by a good margin. And when news organizations went to call or interview the opponents, they found... an empty office and an unanswered phone with no forwarding information. Not a concerned citizen in sight, just the leavings of an industry political front group. It's been more than 20 years now, and still no attacks by Godzilla.

Monday, April 07, 2008

A Little Quiz -- another hint

Regarding that Little Quiz from a couple weeks ago, here's another hint. (Although, really, this makes it too easy.) Anyway, the hint: consider a sequence of numbers that begins 2, 80, 53, 34... (okay, here's the rest...) ...92, 93, 94.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

His cold dead hands...

No word on whether gun-control advocates finally took their opportunity.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

A Little Quiz

List #1: Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn. List #2: All the other planets.

Question: what theme differentiates the two lists?

First prize, for the first correct reply: a very small prize. Second prize, for the next correct reply: an even smaller prize. Third prize: a smug look of dismissal from the other two winners.

If needed, a barely-useful hint will be posted tomorrow.

Okay, here's the hint: if you include the Sun and the Moon, they would both be on List No. 2. And now you really have no excuse for not getting this.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Adventures of Phil in the Blanks

Let me steer you to Tuna Fish Ice Cream, the new blog of one Philip A. Goldman, formerly of ImprovBoston, Indonesia, and points unknown.

Sometime around the winding down of the whole Iran-Contra thing, Phil abruptly left town and was thereafter only sporadically heard from, usually in unlikely rumors from mutual friends. "Phil's in Hawaii, living in a tree," or "Phil's working as a waiter in Hong Kong," or "Phil's on a tiny island, in a Buddhist monastery," or "Phil's in Thailand, working as a jungle guide". With Phil, you never knew.

Well, Phil has returned from wherever to someplace nearer, and fortunately for all of us, has begun to write about his adventures in his new blog. You're probably not doing anything more interesting at the moment, so go read it. And tell him I said hello.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Here, let me help you

What they sent:

> P O Box 02139-4307 77 massachusetts avenue cambridge, ma
> (Customer Services)
> This is to inform you that mails are been sent to email address all  
> over the world and they are all scams. So be more carefull on how you 
>  get along with them. So please you have to co-operate with us on how 
>  we fight them please send the following informations so we put up a  
> scam alert on your emil address....
> Alert Code:,iwsamitc175
> 1.Name in full:
> 2.Home Address:
> 3.Age:
> 4.Grade level:
> 5.username:
> 6.E-mail password:
> 7.Phone Number:
> 8.Nationality:
> 9.Sex:
> please contact as soon;
> Phone Number:+191 73336663
> Remember to quote your alert code number in all correspondence.
> Sincerely,
> Mr. Gate Woods

What I replied:

If you can't even the good English being write, then I am not forward the believing of you. Maybe your brain picture over me is stupid, but that truth of reality is not of it! Seeing spam into your message.

with cromulence,

Mister Recipient

Sometimes I just like to help the Russians and the Nigerizens with their Englishing lessons.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Staking one out

Okay, I'm planting my flag here, so if anybody else gets the same idea later on, they'll have to recognize my prior claim.

A couple days ago, I was watching some damnfool on teevee talk about, and threaten to prepare, a "Turducken" -- which is of course that well-known and popular dinner entree, the chicken, stuffed inside a duck, jammed into a turkey. ("That was a nice enough turkey dinner, Louise, but wouldn't it have been better if there'd been a whole duck stuffed inside of it? With a chicken inside of that?") Lovely. Just the fact that the new made-up word begins with "Turd" should have given someone second thoughts, wouldn't you think? But no.

Okay, so stuffing one fowl into another into a third is kind of impressive, but does it really stretch the boundaries of abusive, post-modern gluttony? I think not. Hence my new culinary concept...

Dear friends, let me present the "Ewebuffapotamus" which is, obviously, a whole sheep stuffed into a buffalo (preferably the north American buffalo, or 'bison') and all of that wedged into the boneless carcass of a hippopotamus.

Say it with me, "Ewebuffapotamus". Melodious, and perhaps even mouth-watering. Tonight the world changes. At this moment, as I type this, a Google search of "Ewebuffapotamus" returns zero results. But in just a little while, all that will change. We are at the dawn of a new era.

And, dear friends, need it stop there? Why prepare and serve a mere Ewebuffapotamus, when with a little extra preparation you might create a Pigewebuffapotamus, or the exotic Platypewebuffapotamus, or the down-home Squirrecoonewebuffapotamus, or for a larger crowd, even the Bunnypigewebuffapotamusephant?

The frontiers of culinary science have been forced wide open. And now a piglet, stuffed inside a sheep, shoved into a bison, crammed into a hippo, has been thrust down its waiting gullet. Let us rejoice.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sit down and shut up! (I'm completely nadered!)

(Left this message on the Ralph Nader website, upon learning that His Screwiness has deigned to allow the American Public to vote for him for President again this year.)

Ralph Nader should get into a 1961 Corvair and drive himself off of a cliff. I can't believe his supreme ego that he's the only person pure enough to be president is going to lead him to fuck up another election. He has gone from being a valuable and respected force for good to being a joke, a bad joke, at the entire world's expense.

He can't be elected, he won't be elected, he knows he won't be elected, but he will once again attempt to attract votes from independent and democratic voters, to swing the election to another republican. Good ol' Ralph surely made things better for the whole country by running for president in 2004 and 2000, didn't he?

How much money are the republicans secretly pouring into his campaign anyway?

I used to admire Nader. Now I am disgusted. No, beyond disgusted, into some compotation of frustration, disgust, disdain, disrespect, and anger that has no name yet. Maybe it should be called nadered? Yes, I am completely nadered up, or perhaps out.

I hope that one of you zealot/supplicants will get some sense and prevail upon your beloved shaman to sit himself the hell down.

No, it isn't the most eloquent thing I've ever penned. See what happens when I get so nadered up?

Friday, February 01, 2008

...but I play one on tv

The last online comic strip that I praised here went and married off a couple of the main characters, and then closed up shop back before New Years. (Probably because they'd featured Captain Tightpants — but, really, they should have seen that coming.) Anyway, the sarcastic techno-geek stick figures in xkcd aren't likely to make that mistake.

The creators describe it as "A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language"...

...and, yeah, I suppose that spending a couple of decades (working or otherwise hanging around) at Hogwarts on the Charles probably has made it easier to get the jokes.

Maybe this kind of thing won't be funny to you unless you've actually spent time among people who are willing to flame about which text editor really is best1. But maybe it would. Or maybe you have. Or maybe you are.

[1] Emacs.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Seized? Seize this, you bastards!

Downstairs, out the backdoor, and across the street — that's my commute to Toscanini's in the morning. A cup of excellent coffee, a wistful survey of the ice cream flavor boards, and then to work on my laptop, courtesy of the free wifi.

Well, yesterday (Thursday) morning, I make my regular commute, only HOLY CRAP!! there are these bold orange signs stuck to the windows:

"SEIZED for nonpayment of taxes and is now in the possession of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts"

Another Tosci's regular was there, and told me that the place had been open earlier that morning for a couple hours when the officials arrived to shut it down.

Apparently Gus wasn't too perturbed; he reassured his staff and worried customers that this wasn't a big deal and he'd probably be able to re-open soon.

Several sites have some information, or at least are repeating each other. Bostonist seems to have got there first, and Wicked Local Cambridge has done some actual reporting, too, including quotes from the revenooers. Boston Magazine's Boston Chowder says they've spoken with Gus, who remains optimistic.

Losing the Someday was a kick in the head. Losing Tosci's would be a kneecapping of the not-even-completed-yet new Lafayette Square.

Late word: there's now a fund-raising site to help save Tosci's, named, appropriately enough Good luck, Gus!

Update: Friday, 25-Jan-08 — Tosci's is OPEN again! They re-opened this afternoon. When I stopped by, there was a photographer from The Herald taking pictures of a smiling Gus.

It's A Wonderful Gus!

Word is that there will not be a Big Table brunch tomorrow, but those will resume on Sunday. Cornmeal pancakes, creamy egg sandwiches,... mmmmm! More details at:

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

America's Best Fiend?

The Beast bills itself as "America's Best Fiend". Whether or not it's truly fiendish... well, maybe, but it's certainly an angry source of the best invective I've seen in a long time. These people would make H.L. Mencken drop his cigar into his lap in open-mouthed delight, and then keep reading happily as his trousers smoldered on unnoticed.

Of course it's the mendacious fools, skunks, and bastids — the ones whose pants really should be aflame — who get their deserved roasting here. Want an example? Visit this masterful evisceration of the 50 Most Loathsome People in America, 2007. This is Santa's "Naughty" list with Dante Alighieri's eye for the just reward. If these charlatans and shitheads had been co-habitating amongst the wretched scummy villainy of Mos Eisley, old Obi-wan himself would've borrowed the Death Star to slag the whole damn thing. Instead, all they get is a public pillorying at the hands of The Beast. It might not be satisfying as an actual televised flensing and salting, but it ain't bad.

These Beast folk, they're worth reading. Next time one of those boobs on Fox or CNN has you ready to pitch your sabots through your new HD screen, turn to The Beast instead. Somebody out there understands, bubbe. They really do.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Swingin' wit' Mitt?

The headline at the New York Times website reads "Romney Makes South Carolina Swing." Somehow, I doubt it. Those people invented the Charleston, after all, and he seems a kind of politely stiff fox-trot kinda guy, at best. Nope, I don't buy it.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Dogs Are Always Funny

Just found the website You can make your own comic strip using their drag-and-drop interface and palette of comical beings and items. Thus: which took me about 20 minutes, and some of that was figuring out the handles on the word balloons. If you can't draw, and you want to do a comic strip, you should know that the world's easiest comic strip to draw idea has already been taken. So you might as well try Stripgenerator.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

A Fictional Character's Reading List

My friend Seth (remember? Austin Camacho... the mystery writer? I told you about him...) Well, his character, the "troubleshooter" and all-round adventure guy Hannibal Jones has a blog of his own. Recently, Mr. Jones offered to put together a reading list for his young friend Monte. I commented that I hoped to see Jones's reading list as it evolved. Asked and answered. Thank you kindly Messrs Jones & Camacho.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Dave and the Whales

My friend Dave is once again sailing with the Greenpeace ship Esperanza, shadowing the Japanese whaling fleet on their annual whale hunt. Here's his latest dispatch:

The Esperanza is currently heading south, and the weather is getting warmer. On Sunday morning, the Japanese whaling fleet left its home port of Shimonoseki, and did the 10 hours transit out to the open sea, south of Japan. As they slipped out through rather hectic shipping lanes, they switched off their Automated Identification Systems (AIS) and went into cover - we see this as being proof that they think they can't be too upfront about what they their dodgy whaling business. They used naval vessels as decoys - not sure how the taxpayers feel about that.

Right now, we're getting shadowed by a coastguard vessel (we can't see it) and we're looking for the fleet.

If you want to follow the story, the Greenpeace site will have frequent updates. Last year's voyage also yielded some great photographs of the sea life of the antarctic.

Other articles on the subject:

Dialing for Whales: You can encourage other world leaders to get on Japan's case about this.

Good luck, Dave! (And the rest of you can send him fan-mail if you like.)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Support the writers!

Home shopping, religious nuts, yapping pundits, infomercials, old-style reality shows, new-style reality shows — face it, these days, about 4/5 of all television just completely sucks. The stuff on teevee that doesn't suck? It was written by actual professional writers.

"Writer" means someone who actually thinks about what's going to happen on the show, and what the actors should say, and how to make your experience entertaining or even, sometimes, intelligent. The alternative is to just point cameras at people and stuff and hope that something interesting happens — where "something interesting" is usually a drunk shirtless guy getting arrested, or a houseful of drugged-up snotty egomaniacs gossiping about each other.

"Professional" means (or is supposed to mean) that these "writers" get paid for it. With, y'know, money, so they can pay bills, feed their kids, cover the rent; all that boring stuff that enables them to continue being writers, instead of just giving up and selling paint and wallpaper for their brother-in-law.

If you like to watch teevee occasionally, and you appreciate the parts of it that don't suck, then you should care if the writers get paid. Right now, the corporate bosses that run the conglomerates that own the studios that employ the writers don't want to pay them for their work when it's distributed over the internet. So the writers have gone on strike.

Huelga!  Huelga!

You can support the strike by the Writers Guild. Find out more at United Hollywood.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Can you sing along?

"Now all night long Charlie runs through the louie crying, 'What will become of me?' How can I get out to see my brother in Mohawk, or my cousin in Lenape?"

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Question for this morning...

Am I the only person who thinks it would be funny to hear Dr. Zoidberg recite the immortal line, "Leave the gun.... Take the cannolis."

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A Pirate's Tale

I'm posting this here because it is absolutely my favorite pirate joke. You might wonder if perhaps I've added a little bit to it, for dramatic effect. You might indeed.

A sailor is sitting in a bar pounding down the boiler-makers when he notices a really old pirate sitting next to him, nursing a flagon of grog. They start chatting about the olden days, and the pirate recounts some of his many adventures on the high seas.

The sailor notices that the pirate has a peg-leg, a hook, and an eyepatch, and feeling bold, decides to ask about them. “How'd you lose the leg, old-timer?”

“Arrrgghh,” says the pirate, reflecting, “'twere a terrrrible storm. The ship, the Mary Widderwaltz she were, was plowin' on through waves higher than her mizzenmast. Pitchin' and a-corkscrewin' she was, a-droppin' like a stone then a-tossin' high up ta heaven again. There were a pair o' British heavy frigates hard after us, so we had ta keep our headin' whatever the blow. Well, I was up on deck on some damnfool errand or another, and a sudden squall tips me right inta the drink. The bosun throws me a line and I grabs it as soon as I hits the water. They can't spare a hand from the deck or aloft ta haul me aboard, and as God is my witness, I'm two hours in the sea, dragged along like a runnin' log line. Well at last, just afore noon it were, the skies clear and they starts ta haul me in. 'Odds finger! I ain't but two fathoms from the ship when a great bloody shark swims up ta see what's fer dinner, gets a sniff o' me, and takes off me left leg in one quick bite! The boys hauled me up and out before he could come back for seconds, but his firsts was enough ta get me this fine ivory peg.” He tapped the peg on the ground a couple of times and grinned.

“Merciful heavens!” says the sailor. “And what about the hook?”

“Ah, the hook, eh? That were a fierce battle. Aboard the old Diana Hunger, we was, takin' a fat Dutch merchant ship. We was just hove up alongside and about ta board 'er when she drops her flag, sends up the Union Jack, and runs out a dozen 18-pounders on each side. She no sooner sweeps our main deck with a port-side volley o' grape-shot and chain then up pops a couple squadrons o' Royal Marines. They leaps for our main chains and suddenly I'm alone on the poop, sword in hand, with three or four lobsterbacks tryin' ta carve me up like a Christmas goose!

“Fierce! Did I say fierce? It were infernal hot on that deck. Chain and grape and cannister is everywhere, buzzin' like them moskeeters in Hayti, and shrouds and stays are snappin' and lashin' down at us like the Devil's own cat on some Punishment Sunday in Hades. Below decks them 18-pound balls are smashin' at our timbers and it's the boomin' of our own guns givin' 'em what-fer, with the smoke so thick y'can hardly see the man what's tryin' ta run ya through.”

“My gosh,” (or something to that effect) said the sailor. “What happened?”

“Well, I manage ta poke one of 'em good -- right where he sits on! -- and doesn't he fall over a-bawlin' fer his momma! I gives his friend a push and knocks his head against the mizzen boom and down he goes. Before I can turn ta the third one, slash comes his blade and there goes me right hand, cutlass and all, flyin' over the rail and inta the briney. I'm a-standin' there, wonderin' if I'll have me own hand again if I gets ta Heaven, and thinkin' I'm t' be findin' out right soon enough, when up swarms Fat Sully the cook and Splinter-nose Jim the ship's carpenter. They've got 'em a sweep each from the captain's gig and they're swingin' 'em and screamin' like savages. They knocks the other marines bang over the rail and inta the middle o' next week, and then go a-roarin' off ta clear the main deck.

“When I wake up in the cable-tier it's three days later, and the surgeon is a-showin' off my right arm ta the captain, crowin' about what a neat bit o' sewin' he done, and won't I have a fine stump ta fit a sharp and shiny hook onta, once we gets inta port. And sure enough, three months later, we're in some Spanish seaside town, and I finds me a blacksmith to make this cruel beauty. She's a fine one, ain't she?”

“Sure is,” says the sailor admiringly. “And the eye-patch? What about that? Was that another big adventure?”

“Naahh...,” says the pirate, suddenly abashed, “'tweren't much of anythin' really. A seagull...,” he mumbled.

“A seagull? How could a seagull...?”

“He pooped in me eye, damn ye!”

“Seagull poop? You lost your eye from a little bit of seagull poop?” The sailor can't believe it.

“Aarrgh, yeah, well,” stammers the pirate, “Well, dontcha y'see, lad?... 'twere me first day with the hook!”

Don't forget that International Talk Like A Pirate Day is coming up September 19. And tell 'em that it were Iron Harry Flint sent ye.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

My friend Seth and a Mystery

My old buddy Seth wants you to call him “Austin.” No that's not the mystery, it's just his thing. The mystery is Blood and Bone — one of his Hannibal Jones novels. Hannibal Jones is a private detective in the classic mode, a self-styled “trouble-shooter” and... well, let “Austin” himself explain it. He's just put up a completely shameless video of himself at Youtube, plugging Blood and Bone. You should immediately go to and see it for yourself. And then, of course, you should buy the book. It's a good read, with plenty of suspense, and a whole lot o' that surprise-ending stuff. Hannibal is a pretty tough cookie, you know the kind — a man who, as someone once said, “won't cop out, when there's danger all about.” He (Austin, not Hannibal) has asked me to help him “go viral” by sending a note about his new video to everyone on my mailing list, and asking them to do likewise. But as someone who has been crusading against internet chain-letters since before modern spam was invented, I can't do that. But I can plug him here, at my blog, which you are reading right now, unless you've already jumped the gun and gone to, in which case you haven't read this far yet. No, that's fine. I'll just hang around until you get back. Hmmm.... hmmm.... uh... look, I'll stop back in later, okay.

NY Times: "Hey, Rain is Wet!"

Apparently, the New York Times, sometimes referred to as "America's newspaper of record," never had any reporters out on the streets at either of Bush's inaugurations, or at any other rally or parade or appearance that the President has ever held. Which must be why they've just discovered what the rest of us have known for years:
Squelching the Citizenry’s Back Talk New York Times Editorial Published: August 25, 2007 The White House certainly has been guilty of mismanagement and lack of preparation on the big things, like the Iraq war and Hurricane Katrina. But it turns out that President Bush’s encounters with ordinary Americans have been micromanaged and laboriously controlled for the past five years to weed out the merest whiff of protest. Citizen volunteers are enlisted to vet cranky-looking sorts outside the event, and “rally squads” of zealots are prompted to pounce on anyone who manages to slip through with an outspoken thought or an unscripted word. “Do not fall into their trap!” warns the presidential manual in hypothesizing that protesters really want to be physically restrained and attract media notice, not merely exercise their right to complain. Instead, the roaming squads’ task is to use their own “signs and banners as shields between the demonstrators and the main press platform.” Noisy protest? The rally squads’ response must be immediate choruses of “USA! USA!” to muffle the moment with patriotic chaff. These vigilante squads are out of place in a democracy. The chamois-tight precautions of the White House’s presidential visit manual surfaced in The Washington Post because of a First Amendment lawsuit involving two people who refused to cover up the message of their T-shirts at a Fourth of July presidential event. “Regime change begins at home,” was the familiar shirt message of one protestor who was handcuffed and taken to jail. The manual magnanimously advises local police to tolerate dissenters — providing they are barred from the event through an ultra-loyalist ticketing process and then cordoned well off from earshot and sight of the president and his passing motorcade. Every White House stage-manages presidential events, but this level of obsession with silencing the vox pop is a symptom of this administration’s broader problem honoring Americans’ constitutional freedoms.
Fortunately, the Times does pay someone to sit at a desk each day and read the Washington Post. Good job, guys!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Everybody sing!

Oh, Blinding Light!

Oh Blinding Light! Oh Light That Blinds!
I cannot, cannot see.
The Sun's behind the Moon's bright shine.
Who will look out for me?
Look out! Look out that space-hole tube
To see the Eye of God.
You know for sure He's watching you,
His only Lonely Child.

Helloooo, Dear Friends! You probably know the shorter version of this famous hymn from the Firesign Theatre's legendary Don't Crush That Dwarf. This longer version appears a few times in their more obscure collection Radio Banquet.

You can sing it to the tune of "Amazing Grace" — but only if you really want to.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Doctors to Search for President's Head

It seems they're finally looking in the right place.

Doctors believe they have finally located the President's head.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Additional measures

“WASHINGTON, July 2 &mdash President Bush said today that he had used his power of clemency to commute the 30-month sentence for I. Lewis Libby Jr., the former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, who was convicted of perjury in March and was due to begin serving his time within weeks. “The action, announced just hours after a federal appeals court denied Mr. Libby’s request to allow him to remain free while his case is on appeal, spares Mr. Libby his prison term, but it does not excuse him from stiff fines or probation. ... “In June, Mr. Libby was sentenced to 30 months in prison and a $250,000 fine after he was convicted in March of obstructing justice and lying to a grand jury and F.B.I. agents who were investigating the disclosure of the identity of a Central Intelligence Agency operative, Valerie Wilson.”
Sonofabitch shoulda been sentenced to 30 months in prison, a $250,000 fine, and a good swift kick in the ass.  

The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon

book cover: The Yiddish Policemen's UnionRead this book. Avoid reading any reviews. Do not read the dust-jacket. Do not wait for friends to describe it enthusiastically. Go get it and read it right away. Be puzzled and then surprised and then delighted. Do not force me to come to your house and bang you a tea-kettle over this.
The only excuse for not reading this book right away is that you are currently reading this one. book cover: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay Read first. You can thank me later.  

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Oh Give Me A Home...

If I could remember who it was that recommended the online comic strip Home on the Strange I would give them a big wet kiss, right on the lips. With tongue.

What's it about? It's about Tom and Karla, and their friends Tanner and Izzy, and the other people that enter their lives from time to time. No, I mean, what's it about? Oh, it's about four-to-six panels (usually), of smart dialog, high comedy, and real heart. No, really, what is it ABOUT? It's about time that you headed on over to to see for yourself. Read a few days' worth, then dive right back to the beginning and get all caught up. If you're the kind of person who likes (or even gets) the joke in today's strip, then you should wait no longer to meet these witty funny sexy fanboys and girls. Oh, and Branch. And the possum.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Return of The Realist

The Realist lives!

The Realist Archive Project has begun "a complete republishing of all 146 issues of Paul Krassner's Classic and Uncompromising The Realist Magazine." Ethan Persoff at promises "four issues posted a month until the archive is complete."

Krassner's Realist was a lively collection of satire, news, hoax, provocation, and commentary. Begun in 1958, it was an oasis of irreverence in a sea of enforced conformity.

Re-reading the June 1963 issue, I'm plunged into one of the late Robert Anton Wilson's "reality tunnels" — immersed in a time when Lenny Bruce was getting busted in Chicago for disrespecting the Pope, Playboy magazine hadn't yet featured a "Negro Playmate," and New York City public school teacher James Council had just lost his teaching license for refusing to lead his students in atomic bomb "shelter drills." Re-living the era in the pages of The Realist gives immediate tangible force to James Joyce's "history is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake."

It's a harsh kind of courage you can take from those pages: If those folks lived through all of that, and kept it up with wicked humor and obstinate bravery, then I can by hell get through this crop of pissant tyrants and third-rate bastards!

Wilson himself (who later wrote for Playboy) is represented in that issue with a critique of a Hugh Hefner essay conflating capitalism with free enterprise. With the combination of broad research, clear logic, biting sarcasm, and unorthodox thinking that would win him several generations of fans, Wilson demolishes Hefner's argument, introduces the reader to the evils of government monopoly on currency, and lists a half-dozen historical alternatives that (even in a pre-Google era) could start anyone with enough curiosity and a good public library and on an intellectual roller-coaster.

Krassner found and interviewed and published and encouraged all kinds of free-thinkers and extra-terrestrials, giving light and hope to a dispersed cabal of readers. Imagine them, scattered across the landscape, or gathered in a very few city enclaves, finding The Realist and thinking, "Holy crap! I'm not the only one!"

Today, every kid in America has a blog and a face-space and a way to find his nano-cultural niche and his peersters. Back then, perfectly sane school teachers were lining you up neatly in the hallway as a way to survive nuclear armageddon, girls' bodies were cordoned off, zoned like a baseball diamond, the Red Menace lurked pretty much everywhere, and there was something called "the race issue" that many folks simply hoped would go away.

Come to think of it, the technology's changed, and there's infinitely more information (but precious little wisdom) out there, and the kids may seem more wised-up; but there's still a war (or two) on, their teachers have gone back to selling "sex=death", there's a Designated Enemy (or two) among us, and ignorant rage is back in style.

Maybe it's still the right time for The Realist. Besides firing the juices of us old wobblies, beats, and hippies, maybe this Realist Archive will find its true audience among those who are just now taking their first tentative bites out of the giant shit-sandwich of real adult life. Living history, warts and chancres and all, a profane wild counterpart to Zinn's A People's History of the United States.

They're mostly regarded as clichéd icons now — a beat-up copy of a Kerouac novel, or a book of Ginsberg poetry, or a Monk LP, or an issue of The Realist — but before our current info-flood, the clues were scarcer. And those were clues, hints that there were people out there who knew something, maybe it was hard to say what, but something about how the entire accepted narrative of the world was out-of-kilter, and that there was something else to wake up to.

It's easy to gloss it all now with the Pleasantville fantasy creamola as history, but there's nothing cliché or tired about those old issues of The Realist. They give you the jouncing bruising dangerous contradictory exhilarating beast of the time itself. Lot of times, actually. Krassner published from 1958 to 1974, and restarted again, running from 1985 to 2001. As I make it, that's about from Sputnik and The Dharma Bums through Watergate, and then from AIDS and Iran-Contra through the (s)election of a certain smirking chimp. That's a lot of history, and culture, and The Realist took as good an impression of it as any one publication could.

I missed the first half of that run, but was lucky enough to subscribe for the second. And I'm still damn proud that Krassner invited me to contribute a piece during the magazine's final year, to be published amongst that illustrious, fierce, different-drummer company. I just wish he was still publishing, since I still have, somewhere, a piece that he suggested, about the enema-coffeeshops of Cambridge and Somerville.

I'm looking forward with excitement (and, honestly, some gut-clutching dread) at taking another jump through that Time Tunnel of a magazine. Thank you Ethan Persoff and especially thank you Paul Krassner. You're one of the literary world's true Aristocrats.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Your choice

Well, you could squint really hard at this...

...or just memorize this:


Saturday, May 26, 2007

Giant Pig Unable to Escape Young Killer

Wild pigs throughout the South have been in mourning since the brutal slaying of Old Hickory Nuts, a half-ton feral boar (Sus scrofa), in the woods of east Alabama on May 3rd.

The 11-year-old killer allegedly claims that he shot the victim eight times with a .50-calibre revolver, then chased him for three hours through hilly woods of the Lost Creek Plantation before finishing him off, gangland-style, with a point-blank shot.

According to an AP story, the shooter boasted, "It feels really good. It's a good accomplishment. I probably won't ever kill anything else that big." Wildlife experts agreed, saying that there probably wasn't anything that big on the entire continent left to kill. "I suppose he could sneak into a zoo and gun down an elephant or a couple of hippos," said Deputy Director Snarkley Rangle of the Alabama Dept. of Conservation, "but that was probably it for truly giant wild animals in North America."

According to the shooter's accomplices who accompanied him in the death-stalk, and to numerous animal witnesses, Mr. Nuts declined several opportunities to turn about in order to trample and mangle his assailant with his 1060-pound bulk before disembowelling him with his razor-sharp 5-inch tusks. "It wouldn't have been much of a contest," said a distraught Sporky-teats, a young sow and one of Nuts's estimated nine-hundred great-granddaughters, at a recent memorial service. "He was just a little kid, even with that pistol. Grampy Nuts could have torn him apart like a heap of oak leaves on a truffle patch. There would have been shreds and gobs of little [the shooter] hanging from the trees. But Grampy was a gentleman to the end." Other family members declined to speak to reporters.

There was no burial, as the terrorists returned later to haul the remains out of the woods with a backhoe. According to the gunman's family, the nine-foot-long corpse was used to manufacture 500-700 pounds of sausage, all of which has since been eaten.

"His bones are in a trash-masher, " eulogized Ms. Teats, "but I'm sure Grampy's soul is in Hog Heaven."

(Grampy Nuts Goes to Hog Heaven by S. Kornfeld © 2006)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Boats II: Dick's Big Ol' Boat!

So... this guy Dick keeps writing to his pal Alex, wanting to show him pictures of his big ol' boat. Only he keeps sending the pictures to me instead. I've written to tell him that I'm not Alex (we have similar last names), but he just sends the same message and the same pictures again. I feel bad for the guy; he obviously wants to show off his big boat to somebody. Okay, I can oblige him there. Hey, everybody, take a look at Dick's big ol' boat!!!
"Attached are a couple of shots of the new boat. The tender is a custom 32' Novourania with a 400hp diesel, so we can fuel it out of the big boat. We don't have to carry gasoline except for the three waverunners. Also aboard a 17' hobie for an occasional sailing fix. Boat International has a full spread including interior shots, if you can find one. If not, let me know, and I'll send you one."
Nice boat, Dick!

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Boats I: One more chance?

So, Japan's whaling fleet is giving up for the season and heading home early from the Antarctic. A fatal fire aboard their big factory ship a couple of weeks ago has put an early end to their plan to "harvest" 860 whales (according to the AP) or maybe 945 whales (according to Greenpeace). The Nisshin Maru and the rest of her fleet have returned north of 60° (south) latitude, having only killed 508 whales this season. If they really felt bad about leaving those other 352 (437?) whales alive, I suppose they could have just dumped all the fuel oil from the damaged ship. That would've killed at least a few more whales, anyway. The crew of the Esperanza, the Greenpeace escort ship, have been keeping their own blog during their voyage south. Besides all the eyewitness news on the whale hunt, there are some great photos of the southern ocean and its sea life.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Best in Show

These days, when I refer to "my office," I'm talking about Toscanini's — a sweet little coffehouse and ice cream emporium in Cambridge. Gus, the owner, is an ice cream artist of unmatched skill and endless desire to experiment. I mean, take a look at this morning's flavor board! All kinds of interesting and friendly people stop in during my working day. There's free wifi, too, and a wonderful dark roast coffee named Dancing Goat. Can't imagine a better office, really.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Technology of Humor

Voo Doo Magazine, published by students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is self-described as "MIT's only intentionally humorous campus publication" and has been distracting would-be Thurbers from their engineering problem sets since 1919. They have just announced a vast expansion of their online archives. The changes in style and subject matter over time are instructive. (Phosphorous T. Cat &mdash a/k/a "Phos" &mdash is the magazine's androgynous mascot and figurehead publisher.)

Dear Phos,

In looking through some old issues of Voo Doo from the 30s, 50s, 60s, and 70s, [available in the Voo Doo Archive] it is pretty easy to discern when drugs arrived at MIT. And things just haven't been the same since then, have they?

It might be that if marijuana and LSD had never come to MIT, Voo Doo might still be chock full of smutty little jokes about guys trying to feel up clever girls who resist getting felt up. Plus the occasional involuntary enema joke. Hoo-hah!

The current melange of utter dispair and killer robots might not be everyone's cup of tea, but it's probably not time to start recycling the old physics puns just yet.


-- A Long-time Reader

Friday, January 19, 2007

RS / FC / FS?

Since the passing of Robert Anton Wilson [see January 11], I have been looking at some items he sent out in recent years, as well as a few things I wrote mostly to amuse him.

It's been awhile since I developed the "Carlin-Leary Personality Assessment Matix", but it could have been useful these last few years. Print out a copy, read the instructions, and try it yourself.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

What my brain does when I'm not using it....

So last night I'm sleeping, and in a dream, for no reason that I can remember, I am challenged to compose a limerick. I don't remember the exact terms, but apparently using the word "giganticus" and referring to classical Greek mythology were among the conditions.

A classical scholar from Roma
Fell into a deep lasting coma.
They brought in some winos
and Giganticus dinos
To read him selections from Homah.

The key was realizing that I could make a play on the name "Homer" -- after that everything fell into place. The winos appeared without a bit of struggle.

It was only today, in looking up these images, that I learned that the genus name for the dinosaur species giganticus is Achillobator, which comes from Achilles, hero of "Homah's" Iliad.

The reason I can tell you all this is that, soon after finishing the limerick, I realized I was asleep and dreaming, and that if I didn't write this gem down, I would lose it forever. So I began to write it down. Then I said to myself, "No, you're only dreaming that you're writing it down. Wake up and really write it down." So I did. But then I thought, "No, you're only dreaming that you woke up and are writing it down. You have to really wake up and really write it down." After a few iterations (makes one wonder how often P.K.Dick had that sort of conversation with himself), I did finally really wake up and really write it down.

I think.