March 25, 2010

Oneway Ticket to Anywhere

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March 22, 2010

King Dork is Partridge to Andromeda Klein's Scooby

John Griogair Bell posts a lengthy, esoterically-informed reflection on the similarities and contrasts between King Dork and Andromeda Klein.

(His Andromeda Klein review has been republished in Sekhet-Maat's journal Lion and Serpent, v. 15 n.1. That's a .pdf link, by the way.)

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March 21, 2010


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March 16, 2010


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March 15, 2010


As a little kid, quite a lot of my time was spent listening to and telling what we called "dirty jokes."

Some of these were straightforward and followed a familiar logical pattern, and were thus easily construed, even by me. For example, the endless variants of the "mommy mommy" joke, in which parental euphemisms for sex organs result in a punchline when used by an ingenuous child upon observing, say, mommy's monkey eating daddy's banana.

Most, however, were, and remain, unfathomably obscure, the result of my own naivety in such matters compounded by countless retellings by other naifs. They took the form of jokes, and we all laughed vigorously at the punchlines (which we could identify because they came at the end, and were related with an imitation of a "knowing" emphasis.) But as I understood and remembered them, they made very little sense. Reverse engineering them to try to arrive at the original joke is sometimes possible. Every now and again, I'll accidentally happen on the original joke, slap my forehead, and exclaim something like "oh, so that's why she was in the closet with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!" (Something I'd been wondering about for thirty years or so.) A great many of such puzzles remain unsolved. I'm pretty sure, in most cases, it's better that way.

The popularity of "mommy mommy" jokes, and their comprehensibility, isn't hard to explain. It is an exaggerated, satirical recapitulation of a very common, relatable situation, in which parents and the society they represent attempt to obscure the truth with euphemisms. It's enjoyable to observe that whole system come crashing down. Also, of course, it's an excuse to say "swear words," which is always fun, regardless of whether the story in which they occur makes any sense.

Most of these jokes are too gross and nasty to cite here even in mangled form. However here's a very tame example, which I, as a five-year-old, placed in my mental "dirty jokes" file because it involved underwear.

The original joke was one of those "good news/bad news" jokes. As I learned much later, this is how the real joke went:

Staff sergeant: okay men, listen up. I've got some good news, and I've got some bad news.

First the good news: after three weeks in this godforsaken trench, I'm pleased to report that we finally have a change of underwear.

Now, the bad news: Murphy, you change with Maseroni, Jones, you change with Parkinson…

Here's the joke as I remember it being told to me, and as I told it many many times throughout my childhood:

Army guy in a war: I have some good news and some bad news.

First, the good news: we were changing our underwear.

Now, the bad news: Michelangelo.

It always got a laugh, I swear. Must have been the underwear.

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When you were just a baby, those days when you were happy...

Larry turns up some interesting old photos, including a pretty funny one with me in it from way back when.

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March 09, 2010

You can't live without salt, you know.

I've got to assume that the bill linked in this post on the Reason blog prohibiting the use of any salt at all in the preparation of food at all restaurants in New York state has to be a satirical "modest proposal"-type bill meant to underscore the absurdity of food-banning legislation. I mean, right?

ADDED: well I guess I was wrong. The guy who sponsored this is evidently a dedicated anti-salt activist.

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London, the crouching monster, like every other monster has to breathe, and breathe it does in its own obscure, malignant way. Its vital oxygen is composed of suburban working men and women of all kinds, who every morning are sucked up through an infinitely complicated respiratory apparatus of trains and termini into the mighty congested lungs, held there for a number of hours, and then, in the evening, exhaled violently through the same channels.

The men and women imagine they are going into London and coming out again more or less of their own free will, but the crouching monster sees all and knows better.

-- Patrick Hamilton, The Slaves of Solitude.

I don't know if that's the absolute best opening for a novel that I've ever read, but it sure is up there.

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March 08, 2010


I just came across Reading for Robin, a new book blog with a touching origin:

My mom passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on February 2, 2010. As people gathered to mourn her death, the topic inevitably turned to books. Her friends remarked that she had always been the one they looked to for recommendations. I know that I certainly went to my mom first whenever I needed a new book to read. Now that she’s gone, she has left behind a devastated husband, two devastated children and countless devastated friends. But she has also left behind her reading list. On it are 50 books and authors she intended to read. While she may not still have the chance to get to them all, I do. And I will. And it will all be chronicled here on “Reading for Robin.”

I may not still have my mom, but at least I still have her advice on what to read.

King Dork is on Robin's list, and Tom's father's reading list is posted as well, which is how I was google-alerted to it. I have to admit, the whole thing got me a little choked up.

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March 04, 2010

I'm Looking at You, Entire World

Andromeda and Booklist against the world.

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With Your Love

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