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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Literally. Literally. Literally.

Okay, this "to the gates of Hell" stuff has got to stop.

You heard him today. John McCain started this linguistic disaster, but I was hoping it met the pyre with his preznitial campaign. But no, there's Vice President Biden up there today:

They should know we will follow them to the gates of hell until they are brought to justice. Because hell is where they will reside. Hell is where they will reside.


John McCain used similar language in 2007, regarding Osama bin Laden.

"We will do whatever is necessary,” McCain said in a Republican primary debate. “We will track him down. We will catch him. We will bring him to justice and I’ll follow him to the gates of hell.”


McCain was criticized at the time for this statement. But not for the right reasons. Because what Joe Biden said about the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant did not actually mean what Joe Biden apparently thought it meant.

And this observation can be documented all the way back to The Bard.




Twelfth Night is a wonderful holiday comedy that involves cross-dressing and music. Among its first spoken lines, in fact, is the famous "if music be the food of love, play on."

I'm going to borrow here from Sparknotes so you don't have to live through my own attempt to interpret Shakespeare:

In the garden of Olivia’s house, Sir Toby, Sir Andrew, and Maria—along with Fabian, one of Olivia’s servants—prepare to play their practical joke on Malvolio. Maria has written a letter carefully designed to trick him into thinking that Olivia is in love with him. She has been spying on him and knows that he is now approaching. She drops the letter in the garden path, where Malvolio will see it. She exits, while the three men hide among the trees and shrubbery.

Malvolio approaches on the path, talking to himself. He speaks of Olivia: it seems that he already thinks it possible that she might be in love with him. He is deep in a fantasy of what it would be like to be Olivia’s husband and the master of her house. He would have power over all the other servants and even over Sir Toby. Sir Toby and the others can’t help jeering at Malvolio’s pride from their hiding place, but they do it softly so that he will not overhear them and realize that they are there.

Malvolio spots the letter lying in the garden path. He mistakes Maria’s handwriting for Olivia’s, as Maria has predicted, and Malvolio thinks that the letter is from Olivia. Apparently, Maria sealed the letter with Olivia’s sealing ring to make the letter look even more authentic. To Sir Toby’s pleasure, Malvolio decides to read it aloud.

The letter is addressed to “the unknown beloved” and contains what seems to be a riddle about love (II.v.92). It suggests that the writer is in love with somebody but must keep it a secret from the world, though she wants her beloved to know about it. The first part of the letter concludes by saying that the beloved’s identity is represented by the letters M.O.A.I. Malvolio, naturally, works over the message in his mind until he has made it mean that he is the beloved (he notes, for instance, that all four of the letters appear in his own name). Sir Toby and the rest laugh at him from behind the bush.

Once he has convinced himself that Olivia is in love with him, Malvolio reads the second half of the letter. The mysterious message implies that the writer wishes to raise Malvolio up from his position of servitude to one of power. But the letter also asks him to show the writer that he returns her love through certain signs. The letter orders him to wear yellow stockings, “go cross-gartered” (that is, to wear the straps of his stockings crossed around his knees), be sharp-tempered with Sir Toby, be rude to the servants, behave strangely, and smile all the time. Jubilantly, Malvolio vows to do all these things in order to show Olivia that he loves her in return.

After Malvolio leaves, Sir Toby remarks that he “could marry this wench [Maria] for this device. . . . And ask no other dowry with her but such another jest” (II.v.158–160). Maria then rejoins the men, and she, Sir Toby, and Fabian have a good laugh, anticipating what Malvolio is likely to do now. It turns out that Olivia actually hates the color yellow, can’t stand to see crossed garters, and doesn’t want anybody smiling around her right now, since she is still officially in mourning. In other words, Malvolio is destined to make a great fool of himself. They all head off together to watch the fun.


Maria asks if it worked; Sir Toby Belch indicates that it did. She fills the gang in about the yellow stockings and crossed garters and how much Olivia will hate them. This impresses Sir Toby Belch, who says: "To the gates of Tartar, thou most excellent devil of wit!"

In English? "I'd follow you to the gates of Hell."

Sir Toby Belch is saying he respects these efforts to humiliate a common foe and that he considers Ms. Maria to be a worthy leader.

This is hardly the message our elected leaders should be broadcasting about ISIL.

But it's what it means.




And remember. The dude wielding the knife spoke English. English English.

Bet he had a great laugh over Biden's statement.

And yes. I admit it. I just like typing the name "Sir Toby Belch."




And see, look. They use the expression correctly in Outpost 3: Rise of the Spetsnaz.



This is a film that was released in 2013 and has yet to rate a Rotten Tomatoes score and has an audience approval number there of 35 percent.

And even the writers of this piece of shit can use the phrase "to the gates of Hell" in its proper context.

I wish I could find more examples of this etymology, though I think when you can reference Shakespeare to support your point, you're doing okay. But since Biden's speech is current events and all, it's rather dominating the search engines.

Just, for rat's sake, can we stop pooping all over the English language?

That's not what that means. In fact, it's the exact opposite of what you are meaning to say. GRRRRRRRR.




Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Little House I Used To Live In

the cottage

Well, periodically.




Flip Cafe would indeed be the best cuisine in town if its chefs weren't so darned scared of NaCl.

I ordered and omelet with something called "flip potatoes," which is just hash browns, but they partially steam them somehow so they come out downright fluffy. Or maybe they rice them. I don't know; there is a quality to these potatoes that are just a bit more luxurious than an eater is accustomed.

The omelet was a spinach and tomato affair topped with pepper jack cheese. It was technically excellent; fluffy, well-folded, the spinach still retained a nice bite. Not to mention: The toast is sliced from a homemade loaf.

The only thing missing was seasoning. Until I picked up the shaker, no sodium had touched my plate.

This might (and that's a BIG might) be okay for my Mom's dish, a little dish we like to call "Egg." I mean, someone who orders scrambled may not be looking for a more seasoned dish and may not mind adjusting with the salt shaker if needed.

An omelet, however, sigh. A little snowing of kosher salt sometime during the cooking would have been helpful.

Despite this overlooked detail, it is safe to say the best plate in the 'boro these days is Flip. My new goal is to try its lunch offerings.




It was a nice visit, a fine way to cap off my summer. I got to see Auntie and Uncle from Big Bear and got marched all around and up and down the Lake by my Mom. Got to see my Gramma to boot, and I finally got the friggin' Roku set up for her. Now she can watch Frasier to her heart's content.

We also took part in the human tradition of driving up to a rock in the ground with a person's name on it and saying nice things about that person.

the cottage

Yeah, that was a pretty nice week.

Friday, August 29, 2014

I'm So Glad We Had This Time Together



(I thought before that I knew how to use the iPhone's panoramic lens. I didn't. Until today. I was holding the phone incorrectly! This is pretty much the full view from the back deck of where I get to stay in Edinboro. This image is clickable to a larger view. Just click on it!)

The great musical movement that partially was born in my high school a generation behind me was called Devo.

That of my era was called The Twist-Offs.

It was fun to go to a Twist-Offs show and jump up and down a lot. They made music that was excellent for jumping up and down. But not only was it good for jumping up and down. It was good music. Well-considered arrangements. Horns. And actually thoughtful, imaginative lyrics. I am a Twist-Offs EVANGELIST. And if I still lived in Kent those boys would have had to put up with my funny face and my set list thefts now for decades. I think they play periodically in Northeast Ohio, but these guys had a real live indie record deal. I even heard one of their songs played as background during MTV's The Real World once.

Anyway, I think they were playing KentFest once or something, and they were handing out some tchotchkes. These:



Get it?

I owned two of these. One was orange, and that one I made the mistake of using as a keychain. The band's logo wore off. Luckily, my Dear Mother was in possession of this one all these years, and it has remained unblemished. She released it into my possession today, along with a boss collection of 45s (including some old joints from Illinois Jaquet and other Apollo artists, records I've been hunting down for years) and a rather interesting edition of the Akron-Beacon Journal from May 24, 1970 that I may mine for blog entries later.

So Mama brought me a treasure chest to Edinboro. Thanks Mama.




Speaking of legends who attended the same high school as did I, John Uhrich was and is one of the best drawers with whom I have shaken hands. You should visit his blog, Duck-Duck-Gorilla. The guy has apparently just started drawing comic strips to "brush up on [his] digital inking skills." (Cough HUMBLEBRAG) Watch out, Pastis!




Edinboro needs cuisine. Badly.



This is the Sunset Grill at the Edinboro Lake Resort. As you can see, it does what it says on the tin.

Serves sammiches in baskets with chips. Which is fine, and the sammiches are good, but one would think the food could match the stellar ambiance. Still. I love this place.

The Crossroads Dinor has dropped the "Dinor" and seems to do everything it can to shy away from being a diner although it has the diner car. Oh to walk in there and be able to order an open faced roast beef sammich with fries flooded with gravy. But that ain't on the menu.

No shit on a shingle for you.

And you don't want these fries. The place prides itself on fresh-cut fries, but they don't really know how to cook them.

My suspicion is that they're circumventing the step of soaking the taters first to leech out some of the starch. These fries are rubbery and weird.

Get the applesauce instead.

The best meal out of the week so far has been at the Empty Keg. Burger. Steak fries, probably from Ore-Ida. Which were delicious.

And, where they served me a true Iron City beer:



Okay, it was a Sierra Nevada. But I have to wonder how many of these glasses walk out of the place under somebody's jacket.

I said best meal "so far." We have yet to enjoy my departure breakfast at Flip. That my friends is the finest food in town. Can't wait.

(When Flip Cafe was opening, my then nearly 90-year-old Grandma DID A SOMERSAULT IN THE AIR in the middle of the sidewalk when we discovered it. She really did. I watched her do it. She jumped up in the air, kicked her legs around, and landed on her feet, and then she gave out this sort of guttural "WHOOP!" Because, you see, her Dad's nickname all his life, or at least as long as I knew him, was "Flip."

Okay, she didn't really do that. But she sure was excited about that particular serendipity.)




The evening ended for some reason with me describing to my Mom and Grandma the famous incident on The Carol Burnett Show with Tim Conway and the elephant story. I can't do it justice, so here, go see for yourself.

Thus, the title of this blog entry.

I'm sure I'm not done documenting my last summer trek to Lakeside of the year.

Gosh I need to moisturize.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Love Letters Straight From Your Heart

You need something soothing and awesome and darned near angelic tonight, don't you? Yeah, I thought so. Here ya go.



"Love Letters" was one of those cases where the deejays created a hit by preferring the b-side of the record. The intended hit in 1962 was "I'm A Fool to Want You."

Ketty Lester went on to cover the song I think should be our National Anthem: This Land is Your Land.



She had other minor hits but by 1968, her follow-up album met with little commercial success. It was clear she'd have to settle as a one-hit wonder. Ketty Lester later turned to a career in prime time television, most notably (to me, anyway) playing Hester-Sue Terhune on Little House on the Prairie from 1978 to 1983.

But this entry isn't really about Ketty Lester. It's about Joe Walsh.

"Love Letters," written by Victor Young and Edward Heyman, way back in 1945. It has been recorded my numerous artists, including The Elvis, including Boz Scaggs, including Toni Tenille, and Sinead O'Connor.

But Joe Walsh thought to do it up-tempo and kind of Caribbean on You Bought It – You Name It.



The stunning thing to me about this version is that, although Walsh approaches the material somewhat light-heartedly, it still doesn't lose its pathos. That is how well-constructed a work it is. This is up-tempo with nearly a calypso backbeat to it, and yet, the song still retains its anguish, its tortured nostalgia.

What a fabulous song. Just fabulous.

(On the album, the cover in this vein is followed by Walsh's own account of nostalgic longing, "Class of '65." The pairing of these songs is remarkably effective and surprisingly visceral for Walsh.)






That's it. I'm going shopping for the girliest looking umbrella I can find.

SWAT Team Descends onto College Campus in Response to a Man Carrying an Umbrella




Other good music news today as it appears that Prince is done screwing around with limited releases and is ready to release some material that normal Americans can actually purchase and listen to.

There was a time there when you could count on a new Prince release every summer. I considered a part of my summer, going out to get the next Prince CD. Then he got all mad at Warner Bros., and, after that, the releases were more sporadic. Then he found religion. I dunno. I lost track of him, you know?

Hopefully, these new albums will be a bit more accessible.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

A James Brown Story

I was reminded today—due mainly to promotion of the new James Brown film ongoing—of what I consider to be one of the best James Brown stories ever told, by one Jackie "The Jokeman" Martling, from the "Music of Howard Stern" special. If any story tells you who the man was, this does it.

[haiku url="http://www.adventuresintothewellknown.com/audio/james_brown2.mp3" title="James Brown on The Howard Stern Show"]

Must Be Nearly Autumn

For some reason, this feline poses more magnificently near the autumn season.

Anna Banana in a hammock
Photo credit: Ellen Smith





Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Look At My Butt

There are currently two (2) hit songs I've been made aware of today that do nothing but celebrate the callipygian nature of the song's protagonist.

And yet, Neil Young still tours.

You know, when Dana Carvey was doing his whole George Michael spoof back then, it was just that.



'Twas a spoof.

I mean do NOT. Let Carole King. Hear "Anaconda." She will break her hip kicking herself. THAT'S ALL I HAD TO DO? THAT? TALK ABOUT MY FAT ASS AND HOW GREAT IT IS? THAT'S IT? She'll be at Gerry Goffin's grave, all like Hey! Gerry! WE DIDN'T ACTUALLY HAVE TO USE ALL OF THAT POWERFUL, WELL-PLACED IMAGERY IN OUR SONGS! ASS, GERRY. THAT'S ALL THEY WANTED TO HEAR ABOUT. ASS.

What's this new song on the radio? "All About That Bass?" NO! CAROLE! Change the STATION! QUICK!

That stuff will just ruin Carole King. Please. Keep her away from it.

In other music stuff: Here is an excellent piece regarding some of the finest music of my adolescence. A really great read. I Know Times Are Changing

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Short Bobby the 14 Shingle

It is, as I had anticipated, a pleasure to be able to hike for .22 miles with an over-sized bag and hike back with a satchel full of victuals.

I first went Friday at the Grand Opening. I was too late to catch Mayor Warren, who was apparently present for the ribbon cutting. I went in first and walked around and even put a six pack of beer in my cart. However, I had a problem.

I hadn't yet eaten.

Not eating can have several effects on me, one of which is to render me utterly unable to make any decisions.

I put the beer back, walked up the street to Matthews, and had a wonderful BLT club sandwich. Then I went back to Hart's, got a cart, and put the beer back into the cart.



Then, a few other things fell into my basket.

Mushrooms. A couple of nice cube steaks. Broccoli. Some russet potatoes.

Day one at Hart's was rather successful. It's a lovely market, though I will continue to pine for the opening of the CityGate Costco (there is a BJs in the area, but why renew that membership when a Costco is approaching?) As it's trying to be of the downtown/upscale variety, you will not find Totino's Party Pizzas here, nor even Stouffer's French Bread pizza, nor much in the way of frozen zza at all. There are a few flatbreads, but not much else. One would still have to drive to Top's if, say, one wanted to stock up on those.

But it is a quality grocery. The meat is good. They have fresh fish, and many items ready to mange on right there (they have a bit of cafe seating) or for take-out. Hart's is also emphasizing local items, so you can pick up Pittsford Dairy milk, Ithaca Farms ogret (which is DELICIOUS), Flour City Pasta, etc...

Yes, I am certainly glad Hart's is here. What it does for a downtown rat like myself is to make it possible to have an entire weekend at home without ever getting in the car, without having to plan out an entire menu ahead.

Day two, Hart's:



(Did I mention their ground beef is excellent?)




Note to self: Immersion blender does not work properly unless it is, you know, immersed. Otherwise it is just a messy blender.




Also managed to solve another problem this weekend. Most of my vinyl was living in a cardboard box! Am surprised the Record Album ad Litem hasn't been knocking. Sokay boff! My records have a home now.



("Easy to assmeble" my ass. 24 screws! Drat!)






Shonda Rhimes to the White Courtesy Phone!

Violinist Plays During Brain Surgery To Help Surgeons Find Exactly What’s Causing Tremor (Elite Daily)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Hart's Eve

I have never anticipated a trip to the grocery store as eagerly as I am today.

There has been a certain disconnected sense I've had since I moved downtown, and that's not why you move downtown. You move downtown specifically to be connected. You want to walk downstairs, leave your building, and then there it is, everything in the world you could possibly need. That is the downtown experience I've always imagined. It is what my Uncle Jay and I used to call "The Dream."

But that hasn't been the case. We have coffee shops, bars, nice restaurants, a (sketchy) booze store, pizza, a beautiful gym, and a fine cinema. But we have lacked perhaps the most basic amenity a neighborhood can offer: A grocery.

Until tomorrow.

Hart's Grocery

For me on my work schedule, grocery buying has involved either a midnight run after work or I have to go get my car. I know it sounds like not that much, but I do estimate it's like 15 minutes from my front door to my car. There's no running up the street for that thing you forgot. There are no spontaneous runs to the grocery to grab something for supper.

But tomorrow, friends, is the grand opening of Hart's Local Grocers in the East End. People I talk to frequently are probably tired of hearing about it. But I'll tell you what, this is going to improve the living standard in my neck of the woods by thousands of percents.

Ya'll know where I'll be tomorrow.

I might make a few trips.




Overheard: "Football is so dangerous. I would never let my kids play football."

:: eyeroll ::




Monday, July 28, 2014

Wasn't nostalgia neat?

Ten years ago today, you and I met a man named Barack Obama.



The speech is still as stirring as it was in 2004, when I recall personally being glued to the television, watching this young man energize this crowd so effectively, and immediately registering a profound hope for the Democratic Party. We were at the time in the midst of running a lackluster ticket, and we didn't even have an inkling then of what a disgusting human being John Edwards would turn out to be. We still didn't think it would go as it did, as it was easy to perceive that George W. Bush was a dismal failure as the Premier Executive of this fine land and that we could pummel him with Fred the Elephant Boy on the ticket.

The speech also highlights what makes many Obama supporters bristle about him today. This has been a President who has often above all else tried to achieve unity, a tendency that has often cost us. But when you see him express his vision at this nascent age, and when you contemplate how he has led as President, it's difficult to deny the man's integrity.

Barack Obama is still the real deal, kids.




There was a "Photoshop Wil Wheaton" challenge on the Twitter today. My entry:

@wilw just doesn't get it. #photoshopwilwheaton



I know. Sloppy. I used Sumo Paint and really laid it on thick with the blur tool. Oh, well.

P.S. There's a Tumblr!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Upstate

Why do we sit through a polar vortex through the winter? Why brave subzero temperatures, frozen faces, wet feet and shivers, and a wintry grasp that seems never ending?

This:

landscape at the farm

If you look closely, you can see a small farm creature named Anna B. Cat making her way across the pasture.

I did warn you I'd be playing with the panoramic camera setting.




Yes, sir!

"Using drugs meant for individuals with medical needs to carry out executions is a misguided effort to mask the brutality of executions by making them look serene and beautiful — like something any one of us might experience in our final moments. But executions are, in fact, brutal, savage events, and nothing the state tries to do can mask that reality. Nor should we. If we as a society want to carry out executions, we should be willing to face the fact that the state is committing a horrendous brutality on our behalf." (U.S. 9th Circuit Court Chief Judge Alex Kozinski)




Friday, July 25, 2014

The Cheese Table and Other Adventures

This was a banner day.

The mobile phone I previously used, an LG Marquee, was originally purchased as a point-of-entry phone to a new mobile service. I did not want to buy a higher-end phone at the time until I had faith in the carrier, Ting, a Sprint MVNO that has rates a human being can actually understand. The coverage is generally good, although it can get touchy when I'm out at Gonfalon. But that is the case with many carriers; some sort of hole or triangle seems to have converged on that spot that zaps mobile phone signals.

Anyway, the Marquee has gotten mighty sluggish of late, and I decided it was time to upgrade. Today I took delivery of an iPhone 5 (one new development with Ting for the last year or so was its ability to carry certain models of iPhone). I had forgotten what a difference it can make to have a good phone. I'm sure I'll be bugging people with panoramic photographs soon enough (can't wait to shoot one out at the farm).

Dad also helped me deliver two key pieces of furniture today; my office chair and this short table that Hic found for five bucks and that my Dad stabilized mightily with extra nuts and bolts. I have needed a piece in my studio apartment to give me just a little bit more counter space. This is that piece. It's perfect.

cheese table

I will most often use the thing for preparing the cheese and Triscuits snack that so often fortifies me. So it's a "cheese table" to me. What it means though is extra counter space, an extra drawer, another shelf, and all that at a size that isn't too obnoxious.

We ended the day with blackened catfish, sweet corn from a farmer's stand that may be the best corn I've ever eaten, and broccolies right from the back yard. A bannner day, indeed. Did I mention how beautiful the weather was today?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Bring Back the Gibbet!

Gene Wilder Young Frankenstein


So...if state-sanctioned punitive killing doesn't bother you all by its lonesome...

...or if it doesn't bother you that a convicted double murderer was reported to have gasped for air 660 times over the course of 90 minutes while his botched execution commenced...he was a killer anyways, let him suffer like his victims, that sort of thing? Okay.

How about that states are now using inmates as test subjects to help formulate better ways to put citizens to death?

How much creepier does it have to get?




Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Two years ago today, a young man named Justin Warner won the coveted title of "Food Network Star" on a cable television channel called "Food Network."

When I moved to Rochester, I initially lived with my family out in farm country, and my Dad and I would watch this program. We were impressed with Justin's victory and thoroughly enjoyed his one-off, Rebel Eats. We were surprised as were many people that there was no follow-through on the show's promise, that Justin would work with guru Alton Brown to create sort of a reconstructed Good Eats.

When I moved to my own place, I ordered Internet but eschewed cable. I plopped an HD antenna in the window and dusted off the Tivo. I knew there would be things I would miss about not having proximity to cable television, first among them being Food Network.

However, I'm here to tell you that one can survive without it. In fact, these days, when I can see Food Network programming...I feel a bit overwhelmed by it.

Monday, July 21, 2014

This is Jim Rockford. At the tone leave your name and message, I'll get back to you.

"For the same price I can get an actor with two eyes." (Studio Boss Harry Cohn, upon rejecting Peter Falk's screen test for columbia Pictures. One of the wrongest guys ever.)


For a guy who gets mighty nostalgic about '70s television, whose Tivo more often than not tops out with content from MeTV, it's been quite a week. First, James Garner, primarily known as private eye Jim Rockford, dies. Second, filed under "Hollywood is out of ideas," talk of a Columbo re-tread surfaces.

Of course, when a guy as iconic as Garner discorporates, it makes a guy like me go look him up. Here are a few things I found in his Wiki you might not expect:

  • He was a veteran, having served 14 months in Korea with the 5th Regimental Combat Team in the Korean War.
  • He was a Sooners fan. Garner was a native of Oklahoma and frequently attended football games at OU. He never graduated high school but received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at OU in 1995.
  • He marched on Washington with Martin Luther King Jr. "In his autobiography, Garner recalled sitting in third row listening to King's 'I Have a Dream' speech."
  • He was a lifelong Democrat. "For his role in the 1985 CBS miniseries Space, the character's party affiliation was changed from Republican as in the book to reflect Garner's personal views. Garner said, 'My wife would leave me if I played a Republican.'"
  • Garner died one month prior to his 58th wedding anniversary. The story goes that he met her at an Adlai Stevenson political rally in 1956 and they married two weeks later.


Seems to me the guy was every bit as likeable as he seemed on the TV machine.




Aaron has mixed feelings about the idea of a Columbo remake with Mark Ruffalo in the title role. I got a better idea: Let's do Baretta first.

Now. Let's get to one more little thing you may or may not have known: One of Steven Spielberg's first jobs? Directing the first episode of "Columbo."




HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA


Creationist Ken Ham calls to end space program because aliens are going to hell anyway





Sunday, July 20, 2014

Nice Job

To the young mother I saw allowing her young towhead son to drag her around the grocery while he sang a made-up nonsensical song and seemed to be the happiest person on Earth at that moment, to you, for allowing him to pull you and for singing along right with him, I say: You're doing it right.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Rewriting History

I have lately been embarking on a new project here at the 8WK.

Doing a bit of editing.

You might think, how can you edit a blog that's been around since March 2001? It's ridiculous, you're being ridiculous, now on your bike, good chap.

Well, I can. It's a living document, that's what makes it so vital. I can fix or delete broken links. I can overhaul categories to make things easier to find. I can try to fix or replace pictures. I can edit to enforce a more cohesive editorial style. I can even add entries retroactively.

For instance, I created this nice Thanksgiving entry from 2011 by rummaging through my Twitter archive.

There are some handy add-on tools to help with such a process, including:

  • Broken Link Checker
  • Jetpack by WordPress.com
  • Multi-column Tag Map
  • Static Random Posts Widget
  • WordPress Editorial Calendar
  • WP HTML Sitemap


It just seems like something I've put so much into all these years ought to be more complete. And, it gives me a nice organizational construct with which to retrace my steps a little.

Not to mention, I'm finding lots of KITEEH PICTOORS.



Monday, July 14, 2014

Ah! Leah!

I think I was 14 the summer I was Heather's boyfriend for like a day.

13? I don't know. It was just at that age at which I was surging with that wicked new chemistry, when nothing occupied my every waking thought, action, statement, or deed except for wanting to be with a person of the opposite sex. I am amazed that any other information of any kind ever made it into my brain at that time. Such miraculous computers we carry around on our shoulders.

Heather had her look together. Her most astonishing feature was her piercing blue eyes, which she had already learned to accentuate nicely. She had kind of a schnoz, but I was into that. Her hair was bleached and blown out, she was tanned, and she wore this fur stole and somehow pulled it off even in a little lake resort town in the middle of summer. She looked like she'd feel soft, and she wore lip gloss really well.

I remember seeing a movie with a group back when the Mall had a theater, and I remember that she had to tell me to put my arm around her.

(To paraphrase, right then and there, I should have known I was through.)

A few days later or at least what seems like it in my memory, she was hanging with another kid, a dude who was taller, cooler, better lookin' than I. I remember one awkward afternoon hanging out at the picnic tables by the Lake, her friend Leah and I making awkward conversation, and Heather and her new friend canoodling. I was raging.

Leah wasn't Heather. Her hair was brown and curly and she wore glasses. She dressed in black mostly. She had acne. I knew she liked me. But I wasn't remotely interested in her, and I was pretty busy being angry and hurt about the situation going on in front of my eyes, too much so to exercise the opportunity to get to know Leah.

But Leah liked Prince.

She was a real fan, too. Like, she was an early adopter. I don't even know if 1999 was out at the time. Certainly "When Doves Cry" was way in the back of the way way back of The Vault. Leah was talking about what a great album Dirty Mind was, and I had no freakin' clue what she was talking about.

Now, it's 30 years since "Purple Rain," and that post is making the rounds on Facebook. I haven't thought of Leah in a long time, but today, when I saw the Facebook post about that milestone making the rounds, the synapses just connected. And my brain scolded me fiercely.

You really should have gotten to know Leah, dude.

Heather was such a pill.




While I'm on rememborating things (hey. look at that. I just invented a word.), today is likely the anniversary of the time I got to shake Arlo Guthrie's hand. And Studs Terkel's. And Pete Seeger's. And Josh White Jr.'s. Not much of a story to it, really; Dear Old Dad had me for the summer and we went to a free concert in D.C. to remember the birthday of one Woody Guthrie. At the break I used the fact that I was a kid to sneak back and meet me some celebrities (the backstage was not walled off, exactly).

I asked Arlo to play "City of New Orleans" (my knowledge of him and/or Woody was pretty much relegated to Arlo's Hobo's Lullaby album at the time), but he said the show was for his Dad's music. I did get an autograph from Studs, including the famous "take it easy, but take it."

I had no idea what that meant.

Anyway. I think Woody Guthrie's birthday is worth rememborating every year. The man did, after all, write the song that really should be the national anthem, after all.



Kidding.






In Other News

"This is how you play tennis without the net."






Friday, July 11, 2014

I don't know who Greg is. But he has a fan club.

greg's fan club




Must have been one of those days. I saw this today, and I saw a man taking a piss on the sidewalk in downtown Rochester in broad daylight. He wasn't hiding behind a building or anything. Right out in the open on Chestnut Street.




But, mission accomplished. The turntable has a new home.

turntable table

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Monday, July 7, 2014

What Time Is It?

"I have that shirt," I said to the liquor store checkout girl. It was the iconic 1977 Led Zeppelin tour shirt with the Icarus figure on the front.

"Everyone should have that shirt," she said.

Then she said she had to wear the G-rated version to work. I must have looked puzzled because she then explained to me that the original tour shirt included detailed sketching of the Icarus figure's junk.

"Ah," said I. "I see." Because what else does one say to that?

Speaking of which, I got Hawked the other day.

This rarely happens. I mean, usually it's "Hey, so, uh, are you related to Richard?" My standard response is a straight-faced "Yes. He is my Uncle." If I'm feeling especially plucky, I will explain to the person that yes, indeed I am, and that WE were the black sheep of the family.

But I rarely get Hawked. But the guy at the parking garage, man, he started right out with it as he made my receipt.

"So, are you a boxer?" Heh heh heh.

"Yes, of course, I'm the greatest light welterweight that ever was. That's me, yep."

(Pryor had 40 fights and one loss in his career.)

We chatted about Pryor for a bit as he finished my receipt. I said from time to time I get tagged in his pictures on Facebook (it's true). I didn't tell the fellow that among my most prized possessions is an autographed photograph of the man.

Yeah, I often have people ask after my Uncle Richard. But it's rare that someone brings up The Hawk. Good form, good sir.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Centennial Oration by Robert Green Ingersoll; July 4, 1876

One hundred years ago, our fathers retired the gods from politics.

THE Declaration of Independence is the grandest, the bravest, and the profoundest political document that was ever signed by the representatives of a people. It is the embodiment of physical and moral courage and of political wisdom.

I say of physical courage, because it was a declaration of war against the most powerful nation then on the globe; a declaration of war by thirteen weak, unorganized colonies; a declaration of war by a few people, without military stores, without wealth, without strength, against the most powerful kingdom on the earth; a declaration of war made when the British navy, at that day the mistress of every sea, was hovering along the coast of America, looking after defenseless towns and villages to ravage and destroy. It was made when thousands of English soldiers were upon our soil, and when the principal cities of America were in the substantial possession of the enemy. And so, I say, all things considered, it was the bravest political document ever signed by man. And if it was physically brave, the moral courage of the document is almost infinitely beyond the physical. They had the courage not only, but they had the almost infinite wisdom, to declare that all men are created equal.

Such things had occasionally been said by some political enthusiast in the olden time, but, for the first time in the history of the world, the representatives of a nation, the representatives of a real, living, breathing, hoping people, declared that all men are created equal. With one blow, with one stroke of the pen, they struck down all the cruel, heartless barriers that aristocracy, that priestcraft, that king-craft had raised between man and man. They struck down with one immortal blow that infamous spirit of caste that makes a God almost a beast, and a beast almost a god. With one word, with one blow, they wiped away and utterly destroyed, all that had been done by centuries of war -- centuries of hypocrisy -- centuries of injustice.

What more did they do? They then declared that each man has a right to live. And what does that mean? It means that he has the right to make his living. It means that he has the right to breathe the air, to work the land, that he stands the equal of every other human being beneath the shining stars; entitled to the product of his labor -- the labor of his hand and of his brain.

What more? That every man has the right to pursue his own happiness in his own way. Grander words than. these have never been spoken by man.

And what more did these men say? They laid down the doctrine that governments were instituted among men for the purpose of preserving the rights of the people. The old idea was that people existed solely for the benefit of the state -- that is to say, for kings and nobles.

The old idea was that the people were the wards of king and priest -- that their bodies belonged to one and their souls to the other.

And what more? That the people are the source of political power. That was not only a revelation, but it was a revolution. It changed the ideas of people with regard to the source of political power. For the first time it made human beings men. What was the old idea? The old idea was that no political power came from, or in any manner belonged to, the people. The old idea was that the political power came from the clouds; that the political power came in some miraculous way from heaven; that it came down to kings, and queens, and robbers. That was the old idea. The nobles lived upon the labor of the people; the people had no rights; the nobles stole what they had and divided with the kings, and the kings pretended to divide what they stole with God Almighty. The source, then, of political power was from above. The people were responsible to the nobles, the nobles to the king, and the people had no political rights whatever, no more than the wild beasts of the forest. The kings were responsible to God; not to the people. The kings were responsible to the clouds; not to the toiling millions they robbed and plundered.

And our forefathers, in this Declaration of Independence, reversed this thing, and said: No; the people, they are the source of political power, and their rulers, these presidents, these kings are but the agents and servants of the great sublime people. For the first time, really, in the history of the world, the king was made to get off the throne and the people were royally seated thereon. The people became the sovereigns, and the old sovereigns became the servants and the agents of the people. It is hard for you and me now to even imagine the immense results of that change. It is hard for you and for me, at this day, to understand how thoroughly it had been ingrained in the brain of almost every man that the king had some wonderful right over him that in some strange way the king owned him; that in some miraculous manner he belonged, body and soul, to somebody who rode on a horse -- to somebody with epaulets on his shoulders and a tinsel crown upon his brainless head.



An Orff Kind Of Day

Ave formosissima, gemma pretiosa, ave, decus virginum, virgo gloriosa, ave, mundi luminar, ave, mundi rosa, Blanziflor et Helena, Venus generosa.

What can I tell you. My auditory cortex was feeling graceful today.



This am how a excerpt work

gongolajdCentennial Oration
Robert Green Ingersoll

One hundred years ago, our fathers retired the gods from politics.

THE Declaration of Independence is the grandest, the bravest, and the profoundest political document that was ever signed by the representatives of a people. It is the embodiment of physical and moral courage and of political wisdom.

I say of physical courage, because it was a declaration of war against the most powerful nation then on the globe; a declaration of war by thirteen weak, unorganized colonies; a declaration of war by a few people, without military stores, without wealth, without strength, against the most powerful kingdom on the earth; a declaration of war made when the British navy, at that day the mistress of every sea, was hovering along the coast of America, looking after defenseless towns and villages to ravage and destroy. It was made when thousands of English soldiers were upon our soil, and when the principal cities of America were in the substantial possession of the enemy. And so, I say, all things considered, it was the bravest political document ever signed by man. And if it was physically brave, the moral courage of the document is almost infinitely beyond the physical. They had the courage not only, but they had the almost infinite wisdom, to declare that all men are created equal.

Such things had occasionally been said by some political enthusiast in the olden time, but, for the first time in the history of the world, the representatives of a nation, the representatives of a real, living, breathing, hoping people, declared that all men are created equal. With one blow, with one stroke of the pen, they struck down all the cruel, heartless barriers that aristocracy, that priestcraft, that king-craft had raised between man and man. They struck down with one immortal blow that infamous spirit of caste that makes a God almost a beast, and a beast almost a god. With one word, with one blow, they wiped away and utterly destroyed, all that had been done by centuries of war -- centuries of hypocrisy -- centuries of injustice.

What more did they do? They then declared that each man has a right to live. And what does that mean? It means that he has the right to make his living. It means that he has the right to breathe the air, to work the land, that he stands the equal of every other human being beneath the shining stars; entitled to the product of his labor -- the labor of his hand and of his brain.

What more? That every man has the right to pursue his own happiness in his own way. Grander words than. these have never been spoken by man.

And what more did these men say? They laid down the doctrine that governments were instituted among men for the purpose of preserving the rights of the people. The old idea was that people existed solely for the benefit of the state -- that is to say, for kings and nobles.

The old idea was that the people were the wards of king and priest -- that their bodies belonged to one and their souls to the other.

And what more? That the people are the source of political power. That was not only a revelation, but it was a revolution. It changed the ideas of people with regard to the source of political power. For the first time it made human beings men. What was the old idea? The old idea was that no political power came from, or in any manner belonged to, the people. The old idea was that the political power came from the clouds; that the political power came in some miraculous way from heaven; that it came down to kings, and queens, and robbers. That was the old idea. The nobles lived upon the labor of the people; the people had no rights; the nobles stole what they had and divided with the kings, and the kings pretended to divide what they stole with God Almighty. The source, then, of political power was from above. The people were responsible to the nobles, the nobles to the king, and the people had no political rights whatever, no more than the wild beasts of the forest. The kings were responsible to God; not to the people. The kings were responsible to the clouds; not to the toiling millions they robbed and plundered.

And our forefathers, in this Declaration of Independence, reversed this thing, and said: No; the people, they are the source of political power, and their rulers, these presidents, these kings are but the agents and servants of the great sublime people. For the first time, really, in the history of the world, the king was made to get off the throne and the people were royally seated thereon. The people became the sovereigns, and the old sovereigns became the servants and the agents of the people. It is hard for you and me now to even imagine the immense results of that change. It is hard for you and for me, at this day, to understand how thoroughly it had been ingrained in the brain of almost every man that the king had some wonderful right over him that in some strange way the king owned him; that in some miraculous manner he belonged, body and soul, to somebody who rode on a horse -- to somebody with epaulets on his shoulders and a tinsel crown upon his brainless head.

Our forefathers had been educated in that idea, and when they first landed on American shores they believed it. They thought they belonged to somebody, and that they must be loyal to some thief who could trace his pedigree back to antiquity's most successful robber.

It took a long time for them to get that idea out of their heads and hearts. They were three thousand miles away from the despotisms of the old world, and every wave of the sea was an assistant to them. The distance helped to disenchant their minds of that infamous belief, and every mile between them and the pomp and glory of monarchy helped to put republican ideas and thoughts into their minds. Besides that, when they came to this country, when the savage was in the forest and three thousand miles of waves on the other side, menaced by barbarians on the one hand and famine on the other, they learned that a man who had courage, a man who had thought, was as good as any other man in the world, and they built up, as it were, in spite of themselves, little republics. And the man that had the most nerve and heart was the best man, whether he had any noble blood in his veins or not.

It has been a favorite idea with me that our fore-fathers were educated by Nature, that they grew grand as the continent upon which they landed; that the great rivers -- the wide plains -- the splendid lakes -- the lonely forests -- the sublime mountains -- that all these things stole into and became a part of their being, and they grew great as the country in which they lived. They began to hate the narrow, contracted views of Europe. They were educated by their surroundings, and every little colony had to be to a certain extent a republic. The kings of the old world endeavored to parcel out this land to their favorites. But there were too many Indians. There was too much courage required for them to take and keep it, and so men had to come here who were dissatisfied with the old country -- who were dissatisfied with England, dissatisfied with France, with Germany, with Ireland and Holland. The kings' favorites stayed at home. Men came here for liberty, and on account of certain principles they entertained and held dearer than life. And they were willing to work, willing to fell the forests, to fight the savages, willing to go through all the hardships, perils and dangers of a new country, of a new land; and the consequence was that our country was settled by brave and adventurous spirits, by men who had opinions of their own and were willing to live in the wild forests for the sake of expressing those opinions, even if they expressed them only to trees, rocks, and savage men. The best blood of the old world came to the new.

When they first came over they did not have a great deal of political philosophy, nor the best ideas of liberty. We might as well tell the truth. When the Puritans first came, they were narrow. They did not understand what liberty meant -- what religious liberty, what political liberty, was; but they found out in a few years. There was one feeling among them that rises to their eternal honor like a white shaft to the clouds -- they were in favor of universal education. Wherever they went they built schoolhouses, introduced books and ideas of literature. They believed that every man should know how to read and how to write, and should find out all that his capacity allowed him to comprehend. That is the glory of the Puritan fathers.

They forgot in a little while what they had suffered, and they forgot to apply the principle of universal liberty -- of toleration. Some of the colonies did not forget it, and I want to give credit where credit should be given. The Catholics of Maryland were the first people on the new continent to declare universal religious toleration. Let this be remembered to their eternal honor. Let it be remembered to the disgrace of the Protestant government of England, that it caused this grand law to be repealed. And to the honor and credit of the Catholics of Maryland let it be remembered that the moment they got back into power they re-enacted the old law. The Baptists of Rhode Island also, led by Roger Williams, were in favor of universal religious liberty.

No American should fail to honor Roger Williams. He was the first grand advocate of the liberty of the soul. He was in favor of the eternal divorce of church and state. So far as I know, he was the only man at that time in this country who was in favor of real religious liberty. While the Catholics of Maryland declared in favor of religious toleration, they had no idea of religious liberty, They would not allow anyone to call in question the doctrine of the Trinity, or the inspiration of the Scriptures. They stood ready with branding-iron and gallows to burn and choke out of man the idea that, he had a fight to think and to express his thoughts.

So many religions met in our country -- so many theories and dogmas came in contact -- so many follies, mistakes, and stupidities became acquainted with each other, that religion began to fall somewhat into disrepute. Besides this, the question of a new nation began to take precedence of all others.

The people were too much interested in this world to quarrel about the next. The preacher was lost in the patriot. The Bible was read to find passages against kings.

Everybody was discussing the rights of man. Farmers and mechanics suddenly became statesmen, and in every shop and cabin nearly every question was asked and answered.

During these years of political excitement the interest in religion abated to that degree that a common purpose animated men of all sects and creeds.

At last our fathers became tired of being colonists -- tired of writing and reading and signing petitions, and presenting them on their bended knees to an idiot king. They began to have an aspiration to form a new nation, to be citizens of a new republic instead of subjects of an old monarchy. They had the idea -- the Puritans, the Catholics, the Episcopalians, the Baptists, the Quakers, and a few Freethinkers, all had the idea -- that they would like to form a new nation.

Now, do not understand that all of our fathers were in favor of independence. Do not understand that they were all like Jefferson; that they were all like Adams or Lee; that they were all like Thomas Paine or John Hancock. There were thousands and thousands of them who were opposed to American independence. There were thousands and thousands who said: "When you say men are created equal, it is a lie when you say the political power resides in the great body of the people, it is false." Thousands and thousands of them said: "We prefer Great Britain." But the men who were in favor of independence, the men who knew that a new nation must be born, went on full of hope and courage, and nothing could daunt or stop or stay the heroic, fearless few.

They met in Philadelphia; and the resolution was moved by Lee of Virginia, that the colonies ought to be independent states, and ought to dissolve their political connection with Great Britain.

They made up their minds that a new nation must be formed. All nations had been, so to speak, the wards of some church. The religious idea as to the source of power had been at the foundation of all governments, and had been the bane and curse of man.

Happily for us, there was no church strong enough to dictate to the rest. Fortunately for us, the colonists not only, but the colonies differed widely in their religious views. There were the Puritans who hated the Episcopalians, and Episcopalians who hated the Catholics, and the Catholics who hated both, while the Quakers held them all in contempt. There they were, of every sort, and color and kind, and how was it that they came together? They had a common aspiration. They wanted to form a new nation. More than that, most of them cordially hated Great Britain; and they pledged each other to forget these religious prejudices, for a time at least, and agreed that there should be only one religion until they got through, and that was the religion of patriotism. They solemnly agreed that the new nation should not belong to any particular church, but that it should secure the rights of all.

Our fathers founded the first secular government that was ever founded in this world. Recollect that. The first secular government; the first government that said every church has exactly the same rights and no more; every religion has the same rights, and no more. In other words, our fathers were the first men who had the sense, had the genius, to know that no church should be allowed to have a sword; thai it should be allowed only to exert its moral influence.

You might as well have a government united by force with Art, or with Poetry, or with Oratory, as with Religion. Religion should have the influence upon mankind that its goodness, that its morality, its justice, its charity, its reason, and its argument give it, and no more. Religion should have the effect upon mankind that it necessarily has, and no more. The religion that has to be supported by law is. without value, not only, but a fraud and curse. The religious argument that has to be supported by a musket, is hardly worth making. A prayer that must have a cannon behind it, better never be uttered. Forgiveness ought not to go in partnership with shot and shell. Love need not carry knives and revolvers.

So our fathers said: "We will form a secular government, and under the flag with which we are going to enrich the air, we will allow every man to worship God as he thinks best." They said: "Religion is an individual thing between each man and his creator, and he can worship as he pleases and as he desires." And why did they do this? The history of the world warned them that the liberty of man was not safe in the clutch and grasp of any church. They had read of and seen the thumb-screws, the racks, and the dungeons of the Inquisition. They knew all about the hypocrisy of the olden time. They knew that the church had stood side by side with the throne; that the high priests were hypocrites, and that the kings were robbers. They also knew that if they gave power to any church, it would corrupt the best church in the world. And so they said that power must not reside in a church, or in a sect, but power must be wherever humanity is -- in the great body of the people. And the officers and servants of the people must be responsible to them. And so I say again, as I said in the commencement, this is the wisest, the profoundest, the bravest political document that ever was written and signed by man.

They turned, as I tell you, everything squarely about. They derived all their authority from the people. They did away forever with the theological idea of government.

And what more did they say? They said that whenever the rulers abused this authority, this power, incapable of destruction, returned to the people. How did they come to say this? I will tell you. They were pushed into it. How? They felt that they were oppressed; and whenever a man feels that he is the subject of injustice, his perception of right and wrong is wonderfully quickened.

Nobody was ever in prison wrongfully who did not believe in the writ of habeas corpus. Nobody ever suffered wrongfully without instantly having ideas of justice.

And they began to inquire what rights the king of Great Britain had. They began to search for the charter of his authority. They began to investigate and dig down to the bed-rock upon which, society must be founded, and when the got down there, forced there, too, by their oppressors, forced against their own prejudices and education, they found at the bottom of things, not lords, not nobles, not pulpits, not thrones, but humanity and the rights of men.

And so they said, We are men; we are men. They found out they were men. And the next thing they said, was, "We will be free men; we are weary of being colonists; we are tired of being subjects; we are men; and these colonies ought to be states; and these states ought to be a nation and that nation ought to drive the last British soldier into the sea." And so they signed that brave Declaration of Independence.

I thank every one of them from the bottom of my heart for signing that sublime declaration. I thank them for their courage -- for their patriotism -- for their wisdom -- for the splendid confidence in themselves and in the human race. I thank them for what they were, and for what we are -- for what they did, and for what we have received -- for what they suffered, and for what we enjoy.

What would we have been if we had remained colonists and subjects? What would we have been to-day? Nobodies -- ready to get down on our knees and crawl in the very dust at the sight of somebody that was supposed to have in him some drop of blood that flowed in the veins of that mailed marauder -- that royal robber, William the Conqueror.

They signed that Declaration of Independence, although they knew that it would produce a long, terrible, and bloody war. They looked forward and saw poverty, deprivation, gloom, and death. But they also saw, on the wrecked clouds of war, the beautiful bow of freedom.

These grand men were enthusiasts; and the world has been raised only by enthusiasts. In every country there have been a few who have given a national aspiration to the people. The enthusiasts of 1776 were the builders and framers of this great and splendid Government; and they were the men who saw, although others did not, the golden fringe of the mantle of glory that will finally cover this world. They knew, they felt, they believed that they would give a new constellation to the political heavens -- that they would make the Americans a grand people -- grand as the continent upon which they lived.

The war commenced. There was little money, and less credit. The new nation had but few friends. To a great extent each soldier of freedom had to clothe and feed himself. He was poor and pure, brave and good, and so he went to the fields of death to fight for the rights of man.

What did the soldier leave when he went?

He left his wife and children,

Did he leave them in a beautiful home, surrounded by civilization, in the repose of law, in the security of a great and powerful republic?

No. He left his wife and children on the edge, on the fringe of the boundless forest, in which crouched and crept the red savage, who was at that time the ally of the still more savage Briton. He left his wife to defend herself, and he left the prattling babes to be defended by their mother and by nature. The mother made the living; she planted the corn and the potatoes, and hoed them in the sun, raised the children, and, in the darkness of night, told them about their brave father and the "sacred cause" She told them that in a little while the war would be over and father would come back covered with honor and glory.

Think of the women, of the sweet children who listened for the footsteps of the dead -- who waited through the sad and desolate years for the dear ones I who never came.

The soldiers of 1776 did not march away with music and banners. They went in silence, looked at and gazed after by eyes filled with tears. They went to meet, not an equal, but a superior -- to fight five times their number -- to make a desperate stand to stop the advance of the enemy, and then, when their ammunition gave out, seek the protection of rocks, of rivers, and of hills.

Let me say here: The greatest test of courage on the earth is to bear defeat without losing heart. That army is the bravest that can be whipped the greatest number of times and fight again.

Over the entire territory, so to speak, then settled by our forefathers, they were driven again and again. Now and then they would meet the English with something like equal numbers, and then the eagle of victory would proudly perch upon the stripes and stars. And so they went on as best they could, hoping and fighting until they came to the dark and somber gloom of Valley Forge.

There were very few hearts then beneath that flag that did not bean to think that the struggle was useless; that all the blood and treasure had been shed and spent in vain. But there were some men gifted with that wonderful prophecy that fulfills itself, and with that wonderful magnetic power that makes heroes of everybody they come in contact with.

And so our fathers went through the gloom of that terrible time, and still fought on. Brave men wrote grand words, cheering the despondent; brave men did brave deeds, the rich man gave his wealth, the poor man gave his life, until at last, by the victory of Yorktown, the old banner won its place in the air, and became glorious forever.

Seven long years of war -- fighting for what? For the principle that all men are created equal -- a truth that nobody ever disputed except a scoundrel; nobody, nobody in the entire history of this world. No man ever denied that truth who was not a rascal, and at heart a thief; never, never, and never will. What else were they fighting for? Simply that in America every man should have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Nobody ever denied that except a villain; never, never. It has been denied by kings -- they were thieves. It has been denied by statesmen -- they were liars. It has been denied by priests, by clergymen, by cardinals, by bishops, and by popes -- they were hypocrites.

What else were they fighting for? For the idea that all political power is vested in the great body of the people. The great body of the people make all the money; do all the work. They plow the land, cut down the forests; they produce everything that is produced. Then who shall say what shall be done with what is produced except the producer?

Is it the non-producing thief, sitting on a throne, surrounded by vermin?

Those were the things they were fighting for; and that is all they were fighting for. They fought to build up a new, a great nation to establish an asylum for the oppressed of the world everywhere. They knew the history of this world. They knew the history of human slavery.

The history of civilization is the history of the slow and painful enfranchisement of the human race. In the olden times the family was a monarchy, the father being the monarch. The mother and children were the veriest slaves. The will of the father was the supreme law. He had the power of life and death. It took thousands of years to civilize this father, thousands of years to make the condition of wife and mother and child even tolerable. A few families constituted a tribe; the tribe had a chief; the chief was a tyrant; a few tribes formed a nation; the nation was governed by a king, who was also a tyrant. A strong nation robbed, plundered, and took captive the weaker ones. This was the commencement of human slavery.

It is not possible for the human imagination to conceive of the horrors of slavery. It has left no possible crime uncommitted, no possible cruelty un-perpetrated. It has been practiced and defended by all nations in some form. It has been upheld by all religions. It has been defended by nearly every pulpit. From the profits derived from the slave trade churches have been built, cathedrals reared and priests paid. Slavery has been blessed by bishop, by cardinal, and by pope. It has received the sanction of statesmen, of kings, and of queens. It has been defended by the throne, the pulpit and the bench. "Monarchs have shared in the profits. Clergymen have taken their part of the spoils, reciting passages of Scripture in its defence at the same time, and judges have taken their portion in the name of equity and law.

Only a few years ago our ancestors were slaves. Only a few years ago they passed with and belonged to the soil, like the coal under it and rocks on it.

Only a few years ago they were treated like beasts of burden, worse far than we treat our animals at the present day. Only a few years ago it was a crime in England for a man to have a Bible in his house, a crime for which men were hanged, and their bodies afterward burned. Only a few years ago fathers could and did sell their children. Only few years ago our ancestors were not allowed to write their thoughts -- that being a crime. Only a few years ago to be honest, at least in the expression of your ideas, was a felony. To do right was a capital offence; and in those days chains and whips were the incentives to labor, and the preventives of thought. Honesty was a vagrant, justice a fugitive, and liberty in chains. Only a few years ago men were denounced because they doubted the inspiration of the Bible -- because they denied miracles, and laughed at the wonders recounted by the ancient Jews.

Only a few years ago a man had to believe in the total depravity of the human heart in order to be respectable. Only a few years ago, people who thought God too good to punish in eternal flames an unbaptized child were considered infamous.

As soon as our ancestors began to get free they began to enslave others. With an inconsistency that defies explanation, they practiced upon others the same outrages that had been perpetrated upon them. As soon as white slavery began to be abolished, black slavery commenced. In this infamous traffic nearly every nation of Europe embarked. Fortunes were quickly realized; the avarice and cupidity of Europe were excited; all ideas of justice were discarded; pity fled from the human breast a few good, brave men recited the horrors of the trade; avarice was deaf; religion refused to hear; the trade went on; the governments of Europe upheld it in the name of commerce -- in the name of civilization and religion.

Our fathers knew the history of caste. They knew that in the despotisms of the Old World it a was disgrace to be useful. They knew that a mechanic was esteemed as hardly the equal of a hound, and far below a blooded horse. They knew that a nobleman held a son of labor in contempt -- that he had no rights the royal loafers were bound to respect.

The world has changed.

The other day there came shoemakers, potters, workers in wood and iron, from Europe, and they were received in the city of New York as though they had been princes. They had been sent by the great republic of France to examine into the arts and manufactures of the great republic of America. They looked a thousand times better to me than the Edward Alberts and Albert Edwards -- the royal vermin, that live on the body politic. And I would think much more of our Government if it would fete and feast them, instead of wining and dining the imbeciles of a royal line.

Our fathers devoted their lives and fortunes to the grand work of founding a government for the protection of the rights of man. The theological idea as to the source of political power had poisoned the web and woof of every government in the world, and our fathers banished it from this continent forever.

What we want to-day is what our fathers wrote down. They did not attain to their ideal; we approach it nearer, but have not reached it yet. We want, not only the independence of a State, not only the independence of a nation, but something far more glorious -- the absolute independence of the individual. That is what we want. I want it so that I, one of the children of Nature, can stand on an equality with the rest; that I can say this is MY air, MY sunshine, MY earth, and I have a right to live, and hope and aspire, and labor, and enjoy the fruit of that labor, as much as any individual or any nation on the face of the globe.

We want every American to make to-day, on this hundredth anniversary, a declaration of individual independence. Let each man enjoy his liberty to the utmost enjoy all he can; but be sure it is not at the expense of another. The French Convention gave the best definition of liberty I have ever read: "The liberty of one citizen ceases only where the liberty of another citizen commences." I know of no better definition. I ask you to-day to make a declaration of individual independence. And if you are independent be just. Allow everybody else to make his declaration of individual independence Allow your wife, allow your husband, allow your children to make theirs. Let everybody be absolutely free and independent, knowing only the sacred obligations of honesty and affection. Let us be independent of party, independent of everybody and everything except our own consciences and our own brains. Do not belong to any clique. Have clear title-deeds in fee simple to yourselves, without any mortgages on the premises to anybody in the world.

It is a grand thing to be the owner of yourself. It is a grand thing to protect the rights of others. It is a sublime thing to be free and just.

Only a few days ago I stood in Independence Hall -- in that little room where was signed the immortal paper. A little room, like any other; and it did not seem possible that from that room went forth ideas, like cherubim and seraphim, spreading heir wings over a continent, and touching, as with holy fire, the hearts of men.

In a few moments I was in the park, where are gathered the accomplishment of a century. Our fathers never dreamed of the things I saw. There were hundreds of locomotives, with their nerves of steel and breath of flame -- every kind of machine, with whirling wheels and curious cogs and cranks, and the myriad thoughts of men that have been wrought in iron, brass and steel. And going out from one little building were wires in the air, stretching to every civilized nation, and they could send a shining messenger in a moment to any part of the world, and it would go sweeping under the waves of the sea with thoughts and words within its glowing heart. I saw all that had been achieved by this nation, and I wished that the signers of the Declaration -- the soldiers of the Revolution -- could see what a century of freedom has produced. I wished they could see the fields we cultivate -- the rivers we navigate -- the railroads running over the Alleghanies, far into what was then the unknown forest -- on over the broad prairies -- on over the vast plains -- away over the mountains of the West, to the Golden Gate of the Pacific. All this is the result of a hundred years of freedom.

Are you not more than glad that in 1776 was announced the sublime principle that political power resides with the people? That our fathers then made up their minds nevermore to be colonists and subjects, but that they would be free and independent citizens of America?

I will not name any of the grand men who fought for liberty. All should be named, or none. I feel that the unknown soldier who was shot down without even his name being remembered -- who was included only in a report of "a hundred killed," or "a hundred missing," nobody knowing even the number that attached to his august corpse -- is entitled to as deep and heartfelt thanks as the titled leader who fell at the head of the host.

Standing here amid the sacred memories of the first, on the golden threshold of the second, I ask, Will the second century be as grand as the first? I believe it will, because we are growing more and humane. I believe there is more human kindness, more real, sweet human sympathy, a greater desire to help one another, in the United States, than in all the world besides.

We must progress. We are just at the commencement of invention. The steam engine -- the telegraph -- these are but the toys with which science has been amused. Wait; there will be grander things, there will be wider and higher culture -- a grander standard of character, of literature and art. We have now half as many millions of people as we have years, and many of us will live until a hundred millions stand beneath the flag. We are getting more real solid sense. The schoolhouse is the finest building in the village. We are writing and reading more books; we are painting and buying more pictures; we are struggling more and more to get at the philosophy of life, of things -- trying more and more to answer the questions of the eternal Sphinx. We are looking in every direction -- investigating; in short, we are thinking and working. Besides all this, I believe the people are nearer honest than ever before. A few rears ago we were willing to live upon the labor of four million slaves. Was that honest? At last, we have a national conscience. At last, we have carried out the Declaration of Independence. Our fathers wrote it -- we have accomplished it. The black man was a slave -- we made him a citizen. We found four million human beings in manacles, and now the hands of a race are held up in the free air without a chain.

I have had the supreme pleasure of seeing a man -- once a slave -- sitting in the seat of his former master in the Congress of the United States. I have had that pleasure, and when I saw it my eyes were filled with tears. I felt that we had carried out the Declaration of Independence -- that we had given reality to it, and breathed the breath of life into its every word. I felt that our flag would float over and protect the colored man and his little children, standing straight in the sun, just the same as though he were white and worth a million. I would protect him more, because the rich white man could protect himself.

All who stand beneath our banner are free. Ours is the only flag that has in reality written upon it: Liberty, Fraternity, Equality -- the three grandest words in all the languages of men.

Liberty: Give to every man the fruit of his own labor -- the labor of his hands and of his brain.

Fraternity: Every man in the right is my brother.

Equality: The rights of all are equal: justice, poised and balanced in eternal calm, will shake from the golden scales in which are weighed the acts of men, the very dust of prejudice and caste: No race, no color, no previous condition, can change the rights of men.

The Declaration of Independence has at last been carried out in letter and in spirit.

The second century will be grander than the first.

Fifty millions of people are celebrating this day. To-day, the black man looks upon his child and says: The avenues to distinction are open to you -- upon your brow may fall the civic wreath -- this day belongs to you.

We are celebrating the courage and wisdom of our fathers, and the glad shout of a free people the anthem of a grand nation, commencing at the Atlantic, is following the sun to the Pacific, across a continent of happy homes.

We are a great people. Three millions have increased to fifty -- thirteen States to thirty-eight. We have better homes, better clothes, better food and more of it, and more of the conveniences of life, than any other people upon the globe.

The farmers of our country live better than did the kings and princes two hundred years ago -- and they have twice as much sense and heart. Liberty and labor have given us all. I want every person here to believe in the dignity of labor -- to know that the respectable man is the useful man -- the man who produces or helps others to produce something of value, whether thought of the brain or work of the hand.

I want you to go away with an eternal hatred in your breast of injustice, of aristocracy, of caste, of the idea that one man has more rights than another because he has better clothes, more land, more money, because he owns a railroad, or is famous and in high position. Remember that all men have equal rights. Remember that the man who acts best his part -- who loves his friends the best -- is most willing to help others -- truest to the discharge of obligation -- who has the best heart -- the most feeling -- the deepest sympathies -- and who freely gives to others the rights that he claims for himself is the best man. I am willing to swear to this.

What has made this country? I say again, liberty and labor. What would we be without labor? I want every farmer when plowing the rustling corn of June -- while mowing in the perfumed fields -- to feel that he is adding to the wealth and glory of the United States. I want every mechanic -- every man of toil, to know and feel that he is keeping the cars running, the telegraph wires in the air; that he is making the statues and painting the pictures; that he is writing and printing the books; that he is helping to fill the world with honor, with happiness, with love and law.

Our country is founded upon the dignity of labor -- upon the equality of man. Ours is the first real Republic in the history of the world. Beneath our flag the people are free. We have retired the gods from politics. We have found that man is the only source of political power, and that the governed should govern. We have disfranchised the aristocrats of the air and have given one country to mankind.

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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Pomp and Circumstance

I've probably told you this story before, but: In or around 1998, I was interviewing for a job, and the boss asked me if I had any siblings.

I said, "No." Then I took a beat.

Then I said "Wait. Yes. Yes, I do."

They hired me anyway.

It was the first time since the birth of my brother in 1995 that I'd had to face the question. Prior to that, I'd spent 27 years as an only child. Thus my outlandish reply. I'm amazed Suzette didn't pull my arm behind me and kick me in my ass while she threw me out the back door.

Anyway, today, said kid brother, who once was smaller than my forearm (I know because that's where I held him), granulated from high school.

We were all offered a out from sitting on those uncomfortable field house chairs for two hours, but heck with that. After knowing this person for the first 18 years of his life, I wasn't going to miss this benchmark.

It turned into the best weekend I've had all year. Family, friends, loved ones were here. There was good food. Not to mention the XRIJF was wrapping up.

That was quite a weekend. Thank you.


Also, KITTEH!

blackie lounging



Saturday, June 21, 2014

Hot Blooded

My Dad and I find that the best stuff at the Xerox International Rochester Jazz Festival is usually at the little venues on and around Winthrop Street. Probably the best acts around last year were at the Little Theater, whereas when I took him to tour the currently not-open Hart's Local Grocers, we found a nice jazz combo performing standards at the 2Vine next-door. Vocalist was Lindsey Holland. You can find what the 2Vine has in store for the rest of the week, re: Jazz Festival, here.

I got to hear the Lou Gramm sound check in the afternoon and scoped out another observation about the neighborhood: If the sign in the window is an indication, Stromboli Express will be moving across the street and will become "Stromboli Restaurant." My hope is that this means you'll be able to grab a beer with your slice. I also hope it won't mean that long pants are required. All that pizzeria could use is permission to draw from taps. Much more ambiance than it already has could poke a hole in it.

Anyway, we arrived in front of the Lou Gramm Band stage just in time to hear the epic classics and, not to mention, just in time to miss the sappy power ballads. They played "Hot Blooded." They played "Jukebox Hero." I was happy.

Here was my view.

Jazz Fest Lou Gramm Band




Please pray for my yogurt. It's really starting to lose its whey.




"Pee, for lack of a better word, is good. Pee is right. Pee works." (Gordon Gekko, urologist)