Civilizin' Effect

Ladies and gentlemen: Cara!

I was going to introduce you all to the strange workings of my mind gradually, but I
saw this article: http://www.newyorker.com/critics/art/?040301craw_artworld. If you
aren’t interested in the state of modern art museums in London, I would skip it.
But the one line that struck me was, “Do we want museums to remind us of going to
church?” Well, no, but they do. You’re supposed to be quiet and serious and you’re
not supposed to touch anything. They even sort of look like church-lofty ceilings
supported by utilitarian white walls. They even have their zealots.

Let’s take these issues one by one. First of all, why is talking in art museums so
taboo? Do the paintings sing selections from Sunday in the Park with George, but
only if you’re really quiet? I can understand not wanting to hear the minute
details of someone’s gallbladder operation while attempting to enjoy a Georgia
O’Keefe, but why is discussion about the art one is looking at looked down upon?
(Re: last sentence-why, yes, I was an English major!)

Also, why do we have to be serious if the art isn’t? The Art Institute of Chicago
has strategically placed an oversized, Technicolor, Andy Warhol portrait of Chairman
Mao at the end of a corridor through their Chinese art collection. It’s actually
sort of, dare I say, funny.

I concede not being allowed to touch stuff, so on to the zealots. For some reason,
whenever I go to an art museum I always seem to find myself in the same gallery as
some verbose pretentious twit. He usually has some glassy-eyed girl in tow and
peppers his whispered conversation with words like “zeitgeist.” Now, to be fair,
I’m kind of pretentious when it comes to art. I like to examine the brush strokes,
consider the composition, and note the colors. I want to know about the painter,
about the time period, if there’s any interesting symbolism. But sometimes I just
think, “Nice painting,” and move on.

Before I get too wrapped up in the meaning of art and/or the place of museums in
society, I’ll just leave you with one thought:
http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/cgi-bin/WebObjects.dll/CollectionPublisher.woa/wa/largeImage?collectionSection=work&workNumber=NG6461

Nice painting.

The Best of Al (kinda)

O Readers, you faithful five, please welcome vacation fill guest host j-ko!

Our friend Al of “Blood and Thunder!” is pretty darn entertaining, no
question. However, our Al is not alone. Many of the great-ish thinkers of
our time have been named Al, and in honor of their contributions to society,
I’d like to present a little nugget of The Best of [other guys named] Al (in
alphabetical order):

Al Bundy
“Oh mighty one in the heavens who created the mountains, the seas and
beer…”

Al Franken
“Mistakes are a part of being human. Appreciate your mistakes for what they
are: precious life lessons that can only be learned the hard way. Unless
it’s a fatal mistake, which, at least, others can learn from.”

Al Gore
“During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in
creating the Internet”

Al Green
“Let’s — let’s stay together
Lovin’ you whether — whether
Times are good or bad, happy or sad”

Al Jolson
“You ain’t heard nothin’ yet, folks!”

Al Michaels
“Do you believe in miracles? Yes!”

Al Molinaro
“But that’s the two-pound family size!”

Al Pacino
“Say ‘ello to my li’l friend!”

Al Sharpton
“I wanted to say to Governor Dean, don’t be hard on yourself about hooting
and hollering. If I had spent the money you did and got 18 percent, I’d
still be in Iowa hooting and hollering.”

Finally, to make sure our beloved Al does not fall behind his mandatory
lyric posting while on vacation, I present the contents of a song for which
he (along his father, who is not coincidentally also named Al) has expressed
admiration:

Al Yankovic
“One More Minute”

Well I heard that you’re leavin’ (leavin’)
Gonna leave me far behind (so far behind)
’Cause you found a brand new lover
You decided that I’m not your kind (aahh..)

So I pulled (I pulled) your name out (name out) of my Rolodex (oohh..)
And I tore all your pictures in two
And I burned down the malt shop where we used to go
Just because it reminds me of you (dippity dippity doo)

That’s right (that’s right) you ain’t gonna see me cryin’
I’m glad (I’m glad) that you found somebody new
’cause I’d rather spend eternity eating shards of broken glass
Than spend one more minute with you

I guess I might seem kinda bitter
You got me feeling down in the dumps
’cause I’m stranded all alone in the gas station of love
And I have to use the self-service pumps

Oh, so honey, let me help you with that suitcase
You ain’t (you ain’t) gonna break my heart in two
’cause I’d rather get a hundred thousand paper cuts on my face
Than spend one more minute with you

I’d rather rip out my intestines with a fork
Than watch you going out with other men
I’d rather slam my fingers in a door (yah)
Again and again and again and again and again

Oh, can’t you see what I’m tryin’ to say, darlin…

I’d rather have my blood sucked out by leeches (leeches)
Shove an icepick under a toenail or two
I’d rather clean all the bathroom in grand central station with my tongue
Than spend one more minute with you

Yes, I’d rather jump naked on a huge pile of thumbtacks
Or stick my nostrils together with crazy glue
I’d rather dive into a swimming pool filled with double-edged razor blades
Than spend one more minute with you

I’d rather rip my heart out of my ribcage with my bare hands
And then throw it on the floor and stomp on it ’till I die
Than spend one more minute with you

T Minus 24 Hours

I was forced to flee my apartment today, ahead of a paralyzing stank. Someone was doing something with fish. I hesitate to say “cooking”, as this stank was way beyond any cooking odor I have ever in my life experienced. If it was produced by cooking, it was slow cooking, like 80 degrees for five weeks. I nearly called the fire department. I had to breathe only through my mouth while I ran to the stairs. It was like being gassed by the Germans.

It’s difficult to do descriptive justice to the smell. Imagine being trapped in an elevator with a flatulent walrus.

***

I was downtown today. I detoured through Marshall Field’s basement for purposes of personal relief, and noticed their extensive renovation. In particular, I noticed that there is now a large and elaborate dog boutique. I encourage you to investigate this profoundly entertaining store. Hurry, while they still have the sale on embroidered pillows. (“I Woof You!”, and the like. Amazing.)

***

God Bless America.

***

A BRITISH Sunday newspaper is claiming Osama bin Laden has been found and is surrounded by US special forces in an area of land bordering north-west Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Sunday Express, known for its sometimes colourful scoops, claims the al-Qaeda leader has been “sighted” for the first time since 2001 and is being monitored by satellite. The paper says the hostile terrain makes an all-out conventional military assault impossible. The plan to capture him would depend on a “grab-him-and-go” style operation.

And we all know who’ll handle that, don’t we?

(Side thought: Have you ever read a more perfectly British phrase describing their tabloids than “sometimes colourful scoops”?)

***

Still got a few Guest Host spots for the next nine days. Any takers?

Like Assholes

You vote for choice #1, drop me a line at al (at) blood-and-thunder.com.

What should I do about Blood & Thunder while I’m on vacation?

Have guest hosts! I volunteer!

Take a break. You’re supposed to be on vacation.

Post from the road. Lazy sonofabitch.

Let it die. No one cares. Asshole.




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Beastie Girls

As a general rule, I am totally content to assist you fine people in the creation of illicit copies of CDs.

This policy does not, however, apply to albums wherein your $12.99 might represent a noticeable revenue share.

You need this CD. I need there to be a sophomore effort. Our needs, happily, coincide.

At The Party
Northern State: Dying In Stereo

I went to the party
It’s never what it seems
I went to the party
Ya know what I mean?
I want to the party
Just me, a lonely MC
You can pop the cork,
Said you can twist the cap
I’m at this party
And I’m here to rap!

I went to the party, but I couldn’t get in
I asked the bouncer if he knew my girl Hesta Prynn
He said, “I know that girl, are you in that band?”
I said, “I think I’m on the list, could you stamp my hand?”

He said, “Step inside girl, you look all right
Hold up – do you satisfy the minimum height?
You got to be this tall to ride tonight”
I said, “I might be short, but I can still party
I can shake it on the floor like Melissa Alardi!”

I went to the party, but I’ll never go back,
Yo, the speakers were shitty and the jams were wack
This girl at the bar said, “Northern who?”
I said, “It’s Northern State, haven’t you heard of my crew?

Yo we rock the stage anyway we want,
Hell I’ll rock this party like a debutante
Riverdale’s too Kiwanis
True party people want us,
Yo, keep it real, I gotta break the seal

Close my eyes as I leave the house (close my eyes and I)
And then I’m at the party and I’m chillin out (I’m at the party and i)
And then I’m watchin my worries as they floatin by (watch all my worries just)
It’s just, there they go, slippin away now (slip away)
It’s alright if you’re feelin bad (it’s alright)
And then you’re at the party and you feel so glad (I’m at the party and I)
And you wanna know if it’s time to work or play (just don’t know if)
It’s just – should I go or should I stay now? (I should go or stay)

Yo, I called you
Yo, I didn’t get it
I didn’t hear my cell, it didn’t ring, so don’t sweat it!

I went to the party
It’s never what it seems
I went to the party
ya know what I mean?
I want to the party
Just me, a lonely MC
You can pop the cork,
Said you can twist the cap
I’m at this party
And I’m here to rap!

I went to the party, a lonely MC
All the way from Avenue D
Lookin for Katie Cassidy
I noticed this guy was starin at me
He said, “Hi,” I said, “Hi, do I know you?”
He said, “Yeah, don’t you run in that girl rap group?”
Uh huh ho, you’re the one with that liberal arts
Academic, literary kinda name, right?
I said, “Like Gorgeous George, my name is Hideous Hesta
Rhyme with pizazz, and I am the masta
Shout out to Cynthia Plastacasta
Speed up the tempo and I’ll go faster!”
Uhn! You wanna know what it’s about?
I like to party but I never go out
Mailin’ and I’m maxin’, callin’ and I’m faxin’
I need some more relaxin’, ’cause my job is real taxin’!

I got the perfect party in my mind
Y’all out on the floor, relax and unwind
And the people at the party be the NSP
No drama at the door and the drinks are free!

Close my eyes as I leave the house (close my eyes and I)
And then I’m at the party and I’m chillin out (I’m at the party and i)
And then I’m watchin my worries as they floatin by (watch all my worries just)
It’s just, there they go, slippin away now (slip away)
It’s alright if you’re feelin bad (it’s alright)
And then you’re at the party and you feel so glad (I’m at the party and I)
And you wanna know if it’s time to work or play (just don’t know if)
It’s just – should I go or should I stay now? (I should go or stay)

Yo, ya know it
Yo, like Dolly said it
Workin nine to five’ll
make you crazy if you let it!

I went to the party
It’s never what it seems
I went to the party
ya know what I mean?
I want to the party
Just me, a lonely MC
You can pop the cork,
Said you can twist the cap
I’m at this party
And I’m here to rap!

Ashcroft's America

ALBANY, N.Y. (Feb. 20) – Andre Gainey found out the hard way that in the state of New York it’s illegal to drive while watching porn. Police said that a detective in an unmarked car observed the 35-year old man from Clifton Park, New York, watching a adult movie called “Chocolate Foam” (careful) on a DVD screen while driving his Mercedes-Benz. He is scheduled to appear in court on March 17.

What is this, Russia?

Oh, No

TOKYO (AP) — Japan raised its terror alert to its highest level on Friday, mobilizing heavily armed police around airports, nuclear plants and government offices to guard against a possible attack, an official said. A National Police Agency official refused to discuss whether the government had new information about a possible terror strike. The official said riot police armed with automatic rifles would guard Tokyo and Kansai international airports and nuclear power and reprocessing facilities, but wouldn’t disclose how many officers were added. Larger police forces were being mobilized and additional checkpoints set up around the prime minister’s residence, U.S. Embassy, military facilities and national and local assembly buildings, he said. Security was also beefed up at ports, railway stations and shopping malls.

I have been afraid, for years, that this day would come.

I hope the Japanese are ready for the horrendous onslaught approaching.

I hope the death toll isn’t too high.

I hope the destruction wrought isn’t as bad as it was in New York.

I hope they can stop the attack before it begins.

I hope there’s only one attacker.

I wish the Japanese all the best.

But history shows us again and again how nature points out the folly of men.

Lord have mercy. He’s back.

B Is For Bullshit

Bias:

“French Canadians found Triumph the Insult Comic Dog to be, well, insulting — and they’re holding Conan O’Brien to blame. Triumph suggested that the Quebecois should consider learning English. After an outcry from some Canadians, the country’s government condemned the show. The scandal was front page news in Canada, with the Toronto Star calling the sketch ”hateful” and ”racist.” “

French-Canadian is a race? That’s an enormous relief to me, because I am so fucking tired of being hassled by the Man. My God, do you know what my people have been through? We had to live in Canada, for chrissake. We were banished to a hideous little corner of that hideous giant country. We were forced to learn English instead of speaking our own beloved Frog. No freebies, no handouts, no pandering.

But that’s all different now. I’m a member of a Valued Minority. Combattez la puissance! Politicians, get to kissin’ my ass. Colleges, gear up those Canuck Studies Departments. Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, build a big wall. Dammit, I demand to be treated in accordance with current Minority Rules.

Of course, I’ll trade the whole bidness for a casino. License to effin’ print money.

***

Brutal:

So I’m in physical therapy yesterday, taking clothespins out of a jar and putting them on a pole without the assistance of my most-favorite and third-favorite fingers. (Try it.) I am making pleasant small talk with the gent next to me, who appears to be filing his nails.

I inadvertently take a closer look. The man appears to have been violently separated from the last half-inch or so of his thumb. That doesn’t bother me. His thumb is somewhat scarred and gross. That doesn’t bother me either. He is using a triangular emery board to polish and smooth the exposed bone sticking out of his thumb. That bothered me so much that I had to go and lie down after typing that last sentence, and it’s been a whole day.

***

Bizarre:

As part of Operation Alligator, I purchased airline tickets this past weekend. I am enormously fond of road trips, so we have rented a car and will fly to Florida and drive back through the Barbecue Belt. No, smart guy, that’s not the Bizarre part.

Total round trip for two on Southwest, ORD to TPA: $353.

Total for two one-way tickets on Southwest, ORD to TPA: $422.

So I bought the round-trip and won’t show for the return half of the tickets, which would put my name on the big list of People Who Behave Strangely in Regard To Air Travel if I wasn’t already on it with oak-leaf clusters.

Now, I would understand if it was, say, one-way $225, round-trip $300, because people needing one-way are generally either on expense or over a barrel, but to make it cheaper to buy round-trip and n0-show? Anyone who explains this phenomenon to my satisfaction gets a postcard.

***

Boundary:

For many years, I have wondered openly and at tedious length exactly where the Decency Line is on Family Guy. This is, after all, the show that brought you a child in diapers scenting Astroglide and a particularly astonishing exchange involving a colloquial term for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, among other treasured moments.

I am proud to say that I have at long last discovered the Family Guy Decency Line.

Don’t recall the episode plot specifically, but the other night there was a moment in which a cutscene featured a street ballin’ Stewie arguing a foul call, which argument he closed with “Brotha, please.”

Eureka!

***

Befuddlement:

I prefer to write entries, then post them, then edit them. (It’s easier for me to read on the main site than in the software.) Now, those of you that have syndicated this, I have a question:

If I post the original, and then, through editing, post seven more generations before I am content, do you get eight copies? Just the final? Just the original? How does the machine know what to do, if it does?

I don’t understand any technology more complicated than spoons.

State Of The States

How cool is this?

To warrant inclusion, I must have either left the airport grounds or gotten out of the car in the state for purposes other than claiming the state.


Try it!

(Thanks, Barb!)

Eli's Coming

Take a knee, team, and listen up.

This is it.

This is what we practice for all year.

This is what makes all the pain worthwhile.

This is the big one!

This is what it’s all about!

This is for all the marbles!

This is the great-grand-daddy of them all!

This is the showcase of the immortals!

This is WhiskyFest!

Rookies! You don’t know what you’re facing! Here’s a little taste — my 2003 season-ending letter to the team:

The third annual WhiskyFest Chicago convened at the Hyatt Regency March 27th, bringing more than 250 different whiskies together with roughly 1,000 people who paid $75 apiece to get slopped on exquisite brown liquor.

I assembled a team: two Scotch fans, one bourbon drinker – your narrator – one fence-straddler, and a lone female delegate who prefers her booze with ice cream but hasn?t declined an opportunity to get sloshed since the age of fifteen.

We registered, received keepsake tasting glasses, and signed a note confirming that we had been advised to avoid driving home. Veteran drinkers all, we hit the buffet before joining the line. Excitement ran high as we carbo-loaded (note, organizers: carbohydrates and protein serve as alcohol padding, but fruit just makes one drunk faster) and got in line, clutching our glasses and nearly giddy.

The doors opened and we surged through on a wave of men in suits. (I estimate WhiskyFest attendance at 80% male.) We had spent the preceding half-hour working out strategic vectors to the tables we most wanted to hit while they still had promotional goodies. I nabbed a handsome Knob Creek keychain, henceforth employed as a Christmas ornament. The class of the giveaways was Maker’s Mark: lowball glasses with the bottom dipped in the famous red wax. Cool pieces, which you should NOT put in the dishwasher because the result is expensive.

The tables were rented by distilleries, and usually featured more than one sampling product; i.e., the Jack Daniel’s table had Old No. 7, yes, but also Gentleman Jack and Single Barrel. The sample size ran from a third to a half a shot.

The tasting procedure varied:

Four of us followed the Helpless Male method: Approach table. Ask for one sample. Note pourer’s cleavage. Be flirted into sampling all bottles. Stagger to next table.

The girl chose the Angry Girlfriend Shopping method: Approach table. Ask which bottle costs the most. Point, consume, move, repeat.

These carefully executed strategies led, early on, to this exchange:

Scotch Drinker: I’m pretty lit.
Fence-Straddler: Yeah, me too. How long we been here?
Bourbon Drinker: (consults watch) Fourteen minutes.

We needed to stop drinking half a shot every two minutes, so we thought we’d attend a seminar. The Scotch drinkers chose ‘The Effects Of Aging Scotch’ (given, amusingly, by an aging Scot), while we others chose to go hear Fred Noe, the great-grandson of Jim Beam, extol the virtues of small-batch bourbon. We enter. There are four ominous wineglasses at each seat.

Fred Noe resembles Santa’s younger brother. He is the current touring ambassador of Jim Beam, and he has the most astounding way of explaining the mechanics of distillation or the linkage between taste and smell without coming off like Frasier Crane – the only tastemaster I have ever listened to who could pull that off. We tasted quite a lot of Knob Creek, Basil Hayden, Booker’s, and Baker’s. All were, I recall, excellent. We also tasted ‘white dog’, which was not. It is unaged bourbon – I’d guess what we’d call ‘White Lightning’ – which smells of corn and tastes of sweet kerosene. It was the only sample no one finished.

More drink was had after the seminar, which is why this is a review of the event rather than comments on the actual samples and their nose, color, finish, etc. I really don’t remember, and my notes are things like ‘Sherry Cask!!! 🙂 🙂 :)’ and ‘Invade Norway!’.

WhiskyFest is well worth your time and $75, even though the final lesson is that the adage ‘Good stuff doesn’t give you a hangover’ is brutally untrue.

Play like a champion.

Let’s have a prayer.