Sunday, December 31, 2006

Your results:
You are Green Lantern

Green Lantern
The Flash
Wonder Woman
Iron Man
Hot-headed. You have strong
will power and a good imagination.

Click here to take the "Which Superhero are you?" quiz...

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Our 38th president passed away died on Tuesday, so in a span of 3 days we've lost the hardest working man in show business and the only US President who was never elected as Prez or VP. In 1976 I was 18 years old so that election was the first one I voted in. I liked Ford and I voted for him -- the last time I ever voted Republican for president. I even invited Jerry and Betty Ford to my high school graduation. They didn't come -- probably afraid (as I was) that I wasn't really going to graduate -- but they sent a lovely signed card, which might have sparked my interest in autograph collecting. (I can't remember now if my first autograph was Gerald Ford or Johnny Rodriguez.)
I have two Gerald Ford autographs in my collection:

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

An E-mail conversation

Oh no, what have they done to my sweet Betty Cooper? That was the subject heading and it went from a discussion of comic book beauties to -- well, you'll see.

ZAN: Did you not read the post? They made her more contemporary to showcase their "timelessness" and "adaptablility".

ME: I read the post. The Statue of Liberty is timeless. Does that mean we should give her a facelift to make her look more like Britney Spears?

ZAN: Betty and Veronica were already sluts. I admit into evidence:

(And here he linked to a drawing of Betty, Veronica and Archie at the beach. They are enjoying the sunshine and the summer and none of them is wearing anything above the waist.)

ME: Wearing a monokini does not make one a slut.

ZAN: I think that might be part of the definition of slut.

ME: I think you might be a tad provincial. Do you think every woman on the beach in Italy and other European countries is a slut?

ZAN : If the shoe fits. . .

ME: What shoe? Generally, if you're topless at the beach you're barefoot too.

ZAN: You're generalizing.

ME: Good one, Mister Irony.
But seriously, that picture does not look like two sluts and a dude. It looks like Betty and Veronica and Archie having good wholesome American fun at the tops-optional beach.
And anticipating your question: Yes, I would tell my daughters the same thing -- if you've been dating the same boy for 50 years it's okay for him to see you topless.

ZAN: So he's been two timing them for 50 years and that's ok?

ME: He's not two-timing anybody. He's just taking his time making up his mind. So yeah, if you've been dating the same guy for fifty years -- even if it's non-exclusive -- he can see you topless.

ZAN: I can forward that to Cricket and Leah?... and mom?

ME: You can but you don’t have to, I’m putting this whole conversation up on Green Genius tonight. I would do it now but this computer at work gets all wonky when I try to blog.

ZAN: I can't wait. And btw, wonky isn't a word regardless of what google says

ME: Hmmm, that's funny. says it is: but I guess that just means is a dumb slut now that the walking dictionary is back on the job.

(And this is a reference to Zan once upon a time (when Kim and I could not find the Scrabble dictionary) calling himself the Walking Dictionary until he swore that "Gramps" was not a word -- which he still swears to this day despite the fact that it's in every dictionary ever made.)

ZAN: Dictionary dot com couldn't define themselves out of a wet paper bag. I guess I need to take the reigns again and assume my previous role.

ME: Absolutely. And as reluctant as I am to quibble with the WD himself, I think you mean "reins".

ZAN: Bah.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Old letters

I was looking through my Microsoft Word files and realized with a start that some of the letters in there are almost 11 years old.

Here's a couple from 1996 to the Post and Courier, one of my favorite penpals of the time. Evidently I didn't think much of their TV critic or their book critics.

Dear Editor

The Post and Courier really needs a TV critic.
Yes, I know you have Frank Wooten, but his columns are so full of his right-wing political opinions and constant tiresome slams at Hootie and the Blowfish, he must fancy himself an editorialist or a music critic.
One thing he definitely is not, as evidenced by Friday's spiteful and muddleheaded hatchet job on vegetarians, is a biblical scholar. He misquotes Genesis 1.28. It does not say that man shall have "dominion over the beasts of the field". And he totally ignores the next verse, Genesis 1.29, where God states: "Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat."
His characterization of vegetarians as "kooks" is just another example of Wooten using his column as a place to grind his own personal axes. And bringing Adolf Hitler into it is reprehensible. Hitler was a vegetarain, but so were Albert Schweitzer, Mahatma Gandhi and St. Francis of Assisi. What does that prove?
It proves that the Post and Courier needs a TV critic.


Robert Loy

Dear Editor;

Sometimes I wish I subscribed to your right-wing, reactionary rag just so I could angrily cancel my subscription every time you insulted my intelligence -- which is daily.
Lately your book reviews have gotten as muddle-headed as your editorial page. Alan Kovski dismisses Harlan Ellison as a "gusher of cuss words" and his writing in "Edgeworks:Volume One" as dated because it was written in the 1980's and many of his "ideological foes have faded from the limelight." (Although it appears to me that Jerry Falwell and Phyliss Schlafly and others of that evil ilk are still very much with us.)
Is Mark Twain dated? Is Ernest Hemingway? After all, World War Two and the days of riverboats on the Mississippi are over. Does Kovski know that Ellison's book "The Glass Teat" is still required reading in many college media classes even though it ostensibly concerns itself with television of the late 60s and early 70s? Ellison's writing is timeless, as evidenced by his many Hugo and Nebula Awards (for science fiction writing) his Edgar Awards (from the Mystery Writers of America) and Writers Guild of America Awards (for television script writing), as evidenced by the Edgeworks project which is reprinting virtually every word of his 40-some odd books.
That you give some narrow-minded Philistine space to call one of the greatest writers of this century a "gusher of cuss words" makes me mad.
Cancel my * never mind.


Robert Loy

New Column

This is my new column for Country Standard Time Magazine.


I should know better by now.

In fact, I do know better.

I know they’re lying when they try to lure me in, promising it’ll be different this time. I’m completely onto their game.

But somehow or other I fall for it again.

No, I’m not talking about Sarah Evans inviting my wife and me over for another “quiet, wholesome” evening at home. I’m talking about those damn lists that media people love to make, especially at this time of year. The latest one to roil my blood pressure is Time Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest and most influential records ever made. (If your systolic and diastolic are a little low, you can jump start them at

Even before I look at any of the specific albums, I can see Time has gotten off on the wrong foot with me. They’ve broken down the albums by decade and there’s only four from the 1950’s, and nothing earlier than Frank Sinatra’s “In The Wee Small Hours” from 1954. So what about Jimmie Rogers, the father of country music, and the Carter Family, the first family of country music? What about Louis Armstrong, who was more influential than R.E.M. (who are on this list twice) and AC/DC and Metallica – unless by “influential” you mean “influencing crappy garage bands who will never know more than a couple of chords.”

Well, all right, let’s take short-sightedness and rock-centricity as a given, and look at what is here.

Among the usual suspects, “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “Led Zeppelin IV”, that make briefly think this is actually a list of the most overrated albums ever, I see there ain’t much country music – one from the 2000s, two from the 90’s, none from the 80’s, 2 from the 70’s, 2 from the 60’s (although one of them is by Ray Charles, not primarily considered a country artist – and that’s the kind of thing that gives me an insight into how these lists are compiled; they probably get close to the end, and somebody realizes there’s nothing by Ray Charles and somebody else notes they could use another country album from the 60’s and voila, two birds meet their demise with one LP (“Modern Sounds in Country Music”).

No Merle Haggard, no George Jones.

Let me repeat that for you. No Haggard. No Jones. On a list of the greatest and most influential albums of the century!

So somehow country music, which has become arguably the dominant musical genre of modern times, and inarguably was one of the building blocks of rock and roll, did all this without the Hag or the Possum or the Singing Brakemen – despite the fact that you’d be hard-pressed to find any country singer worth his cheese grits who wouldn’t list one or more of these people as influences.

How is that even freaking possible?

All right, all right, I’m going to take a deep breath, try to relax. I know these lists are not meant to be definitive, they’re just to fill pages or bandwidth during the holiday season. At best all they’re meant to do is get readers thinking.

And it’s working.

Me, I’m thinking of canceling my subscription.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Thank Yahweh or Allah. . .

. . . or the Great Spirit or TV-4 Chief Meteorologist Rob Fowler or whoever's in charge of weather for days like yesterday and the day before. If it stays like this all winter -- sunny and 80+ degrees I will not complain.
As an aside to my niece Caroline: I read your offer of compromise to Winter and I must say I think that cursed season ought to jump on that deal. Allowing Jack Frost to hang around from December 15th to January 4th is more than generous on your part. The best I was willing to offer was to let him have his way on the 24th and the 25th of December -- snow if he wants to -- but be gone on the 26th.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


By the way, if you're as upset about the Marvel stamps as I am, don't e-mail them -- well, you can but they're just going to tell you to buy a stamp and send a real letter to:

Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee
Stamp Development
US Postal Service
1735 North Lynn St Rm 5013
Arlington VA 22209-6432
You might also want to mention what a spiffy-looking piece of postage She-Hulk would make:

Monday, October 30, 2006

Stamp Stuff

Back in July the US Postal Service put out a sheet of first-class (in both senses of the word) stamps honoring Superman, Batman and other DC Comics heroes. I loved the stamps (of course) and other than thinking they probably could have picked a better Wonder Woman picture I had no complaints.
Well now they've announced the new Marvel superhero stamps coming out in Summer 2007, and, hoo boy do I have complaints.

(You can get a better look at them -- along with all the 2007 commemorative stamps, including one honoring the joy of jury duty here.)

For one thing, is this the best the Marvel Universe has to offer as far as female icons? Spider-Woman was slopped together in a hurry because Marvel was afraid some other publisher was going to do something along those lines and they wanted to protect their trademark. She's never been well-done or popular. And Elektra isn't even a hero for God's sake, she's an assassin! She kills people for money; I don't think that should get you on a stamp. Why didn't they use Sue Storm, the Invisible Woman (Marvel's original super-heroine)? Or the Wasp? The Scarlet Witch, Storm, Marvel Girl, the Black Widow, the Black Cat -- even Shanna the She Devil or Aunt May Parker -- all would have been better choices than the two losers they selected.

(All right, I admit it. What I'm really disappointed about is that they didn't use my favorite 8-foot, green-skinned hottie, the She-Hulk. Now this would have made a hella stamp:)

And that's not the only problem. On the backs on the stamps they have information about the characters and artist credits -- only some are incorrect. The Sub-Mariner portrait is credited to Gene Colan and anybody can see that it's actually by John Buscema (well, anybody who's spent their life reading comics.) Captain America is credited to Johnny Romita but any fool can see that's Jack Kirby. John Buscema gets credit for the Hulk portrait and it's actually by Rich Buckler.

Speaking of the Hulk stamp, take a closer look at that one. Notice anything odd?

How about the fact that one earth's mightiest mortals has no muscles in his stomach. That's because when the genuises at the Post Office went lookingh for a picture of the Incredible Hulk -- one of Marvel's most popular characters, who has been around since 1962 -- the best one they could find was one where somebody is standing in front of the She-Hulk's cousin Bruce -- someone they digitally erased and then only halfheartedly touched up the abs. No six-pack for Dr. Banner.

Here's the original cover and the stamp:

Hey, Post Office, I suggest you put Archie and Jughead and the gang at Pop's Choklit Shop on stamps in 2008.

And I suggest you let me pick the pictures of Betty and Veronica.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

What poetry is not

It would be hard for me to pick which classic rock band I despise the most out of these three: Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, the Doors. Pink Floyd did the single worst song ever: "Another Brick in the Wall" and convinced people that there was something profound about not being to have your pudding if you didn't eat meat, or in recording Mr. Floyd calling (and hanging up on) Mr. Floyd. Led Zeppelin is just so overrated it's not funny; their best song is probably "Rock and Roll" and that sounds like a third-rate Ramones tribute band.
Then there's the Doors, and among the myriad of annoying things about them -- the name of the band, that damned organ, "Light my Fi-Yur" -- the most annoying has to be their fans, the ones who say "Jim Morrison, he was a poet, man."
No, he wasn't even a good singer. He sure as hell wasn't a poet. Poets understand the importance of making your pronouns agree. They would never write a line like "If they say I never loved, you know they are a liar."
I swear my ears just break out in a rash every time I hear that.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Book Covers

I might have mentioned my love for this book before. This book absolutely blows me away every time I read it, and I cannot wait to read it again. For me it beats Mark Twain, Fyodor Dostoevski, Harlan Ellison, Charles Dickens, Anne Tyler, Alan Moore, and all my other favorite writers. It is my favorite book of all-time and I didn't pick it up for a long time. It kept catching my eye but I didn't (and still don't) like the cover. So I kept putting it back, until one day I read the first couple of pages and couldn't stop, at which point the cover no longer mattered.

I'm not sure what my second favorite book is but it might be "Her Name Was Lola." (And if it's not my second it's definitely in the top five.) It's hard to say what this romantic comedy is about because it's about so many things -- opera, the I Ching, Hindu gods, music, love and destiny. It's heartbreaking and hilarious -- frequently on the same page. And I only picked this up because I liked the cover.

When I was a kid growing up in Richmond, Virginia, my goal was to read every book in the library. It quickly became apparent that was going to be impossible. Now I'm wondering how many magnificent, life-altering books I'm not aware of and wondering what -- if anything -- I can do about it. You can't read all of them and my experience with these two books proves once again that you can't judge a book by its cover. But how else are you supposed to judge it? And what to do about all the great ones that eluding us?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Saddam and Bush - no difference

This is from the (London) Guardian newspaper:

Terry Jones

Tuesday October 10, 2006

Dear President Bush,

I write to you in my capacity as secretary of the World League of Despots.

It is with great pleasure that I am finally able to extend an official invitation to you to join our ranks. For many years, we have watched your efforts to fulfil the requirements necessary to join our number. From the start, we were greatly impressed by your disdain for democratic principles - the way you wrested power from the democratically elected candidate in the 2000 election, and again in 2005 when you managed to swing what was clearly going to be a victory for your opponent.

Contempt for human life has always been a priority requirement for membership of the league, and I and my fellow adjudicators were well aware of your record as governor of Texas when you quadrupled the number of state executions. But your record since seizing power has surpassed even our expectations. The thousands of innocent people in Iraq, who have died so that you could fulfil your declared political objective of establishing "an American force presence in the Middle East", attest to your eligibility to join our ranks.

I cannot, however, disguise the fact that we adjudicators were extremely anxious when you announced your intention to remove from office one of our most stalwart members, Mr Saddam Hussein. However, we need not have worried. According to a recent UN report, you have ensured that there are now even more human rights abuses in Iraq than there were under Saddam. No less than 10% of those in custody are being physically or psychologically abused. Well done!

Of course, your unstinting efforts to make torture an internationally accepted aspect of human life have surpassed everything we could have ever hoped for. I don't think there is a single member of the league who could have imagined, six short years ago, that our activities in tormenting our fellow creatures would once again be recognised as acceptable, civilised behaviour, as it once was in the middle ages.

Despite these achievements, we had, until now, felt unable to extend our invitation to you because you had been unable to fulfil one of our basic requirements: the ability to carry out arbitrary arrests, imprisonment without trial, secret torture and executions at will.

We approved of your attempts to establish the principles of arbitrary arrest under the Homeland Security Act of 2002, but unfortunately it was still restricted to terror suspects. We appreciate that you were hampered by the US constitution, but the restrictions this imposed on your arbitrary powers kept you below the threshold requirements for qualification as a despot.

Now, however, all that has changed. At the end of last month you persuaded the Senate to pass a bill regarding the treatment of detainees. Illegally obtained evidence can now be used against suspects, even if it has been gathered abroad under torture. Anyone you care to accuse can be thrown into prison without the right to a trial or the right to represent themselves.

Officially the legislation is restricted to "enemy combatants", but you have skilfully adapted this definition to include anyone who has "purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the US". This presumably means that anyone who publicly criticises your conduct can be defined as supporting hostilities to the US. You are now free to arrest and imprison anyone you don't like. You've got it in the bag!

It is with great pleasure that we in the World League of Despots note that you have now appropriated to yourself all the powers of arbitrary arrest and torture that Saddam once enjoyed. You are now one of us. Congratulations!

· Terry Jones is a film director, actor and Python

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Speaking of media whores

I can't believe that Don McLean sold out to General Motors and let Chevrolet use the song "American Pie" in its new series of TV commercials.
And I can't believe Chevrolet would want it. I mean it's a great song but do you really want that image of people driving your car around knowing that one of the next lines is "This'll be the day that I die."?
(I don't think big business "gets" music anyway. Remember when Microsoft came out with a new version of Windows and used the Rolling Stones' "Start Me Up" to sell it? Yeah, the song about how you "make a grown man cry".)

More on Reginald Denny

Regarding my previous post, I feel kinda bad showing Reginald Denny in that picture where he's lying in the street bleeding because Reggie is definitely not a victim. But I looked all over the Internet and I couldn't find a nice non-bloody headshot of Mr. Denny. And actually that's another reason why he's my hero. After he became unwillingly famous he didn't write a book, he's not out leading forgiveness seminars, you won't see him on "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here" or any other reality show. He left southern California (he had to; the non-forgivers ran him out of town) and moved to Arizona where he became a boat mechanic (according to Wikipedia) which sounds like he retired -- I mean, how many boats are there in Aridamnzona?
The fact that he did not become a media whore is maybe even more amazing than the fact that he forgave the man who fractured his skull. I mean, I think I might get to the point where I could forgive someone for trying to kill me for no reason. But by God I'm going to get at least a book deal out of it.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Can we forgive the forgivers?

See that guy lying in the street in a pool of his own blood? His name is Reginald Denny, he used to be a truck driver in California and someday I hope to be the kind of person he is. He is my hero.
I started thinking about him last Sunday because we talked in church about the Amish and what an amazing people they are, how they are doing the unthinkable -- forgiving the man who murdered several of their children. Everybody agreed that this is the way we should be, we should all strive to be like the Amish in this respect.
I'm not spiritually evolved enough to do that, I don't think, but I hope to be someday. And I did think I should warm my fellow congregants that if you choose to forgive those who hate and harm you, most of the world -- including your friends and family -- will turn on you and harm you even worse than your enemies did. They did it to Jesus. They did it to Reginald Denny.
I guess if most people remember Mr. Denny at all today, it's because he became a symbol of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was driving his concrete truck through South Los Angeles when the Rodney King verdict came down and riots broke out. He was pulled from his truck and savagely beaten. Among other things a man named Damian Monroe Williams threw a concrete block at his head. All this happened on live television.
But I remember Reginald Denny from an appearance about a year later on "The Phil Donahue Show." He was there with the mother of his main assailant and he hugged her and held her hand. Reginald Denny did not just forgive the man who tried to crush his skull. He went to the guy's trial and asked the judge to do something for Mister Williams that Williams had not done -- show mercy.
And oh my God, the audience -- good Christian people all of them, the kind that would have been wearing WWJD bracelets if that particular piece of jewelry had been available in 1993 -- just ripped into him. How can you forgive a man who tried to kill you? they all wanted to know. That's just crazy. There must be something seriously wrong with you. One woman, I'll never forget this, said that for Denny to act the way he was acting (i.e. like Jesus) was proof that he had suffered major brain damage in the attack.
So, if you get to where you can forgive those that hurt you, God bless you. But understand that if you don't live in a community of forgivers, those around you are not going to be able to forgive you for forgiving.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

New Column

Once again the deadline for my column snuck up on me. I only had a couple of half-formed ideas about what I might write about. I got lucky again and I think this one turned out all right.
(I am putting this up the way I wrote it. Some changes were made by the editor before it ran, changes that I think weakened the piece.)

Do It Yourself

I’m not going to write a column this month. Instead, at the risk of running myself out of a job, I’m going to teach you the secret of how to write a column – or an essay or an article or a book even. The secret is that powerful.

And I know you don’t already know the secret. Know how I know? Because you have at some point asked a writer: “Where do you get your ideas?” You wouldn’t ask that if you knew the secret because that’s not the way it works at all.

Here’s the secret: Writers don’t write because they know all about a particular topic, they write because they want to know more about that topic.

In other words, writers don’t get ideas, they get questions.

Let me show you how it works. If I had written a column this month I might have written about why the Dixie Chicks were reviled for expressing their political opinions while Tim McGraw gets a pass for expressing remarkably similar sentiments. I wanted to write about this because I’m curious. Is it because the Chicks said what they said on foreign soil? Or is there some misogyny involved?

I don’t know, but I want to know. And somewhere during the writing, researching and ruminating I would have arrived at an answer that satisfied me and hopefully my readers.

I also considered – because I don’t want to give Jeff Remz another heart attack by writing about politics – a column about the song “Feed Jake” by the Pirates of the Mississippi. This is probably my second favorite country song of the 1990’s, despite the fact that it clearly makes no sense. Why am I so hard on some songs for exhibiting lyrical inconsistency and so enraptured by others? Bob Dylan probably would have come up in this one because he’s the king of dodgy lyrics. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

Why is that?

(Say it with me.)

I don’t know, but I want to know.

There you have it. Curiosity and a spell checker. You now have all the tools you need to become a first class wordsmith.

All you have to do now is practice looking wise and inscrutable when people ask you where you get your ideas.

Friday, October 06, 2006


Walking down Market Street today I saw a street musician tuning up his guitar. He had hung up a sign in his case that said: "FREEBIRD? Never Heard of it!" First it made me laugh, then it made me think -- maybe he's not joking, maybe he really is getting so many requests from misguided Skynyrd fans that he had to put up a sign to shut them up.
Or maybe he can actually play the hell out of Freebird and he's trying to draw you in. I mean, it hadn't occurred to me to shout "Freebird!" until I saw that sign.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Cool Jewelry

If you've been wondering what jewelry to wear while celebrating Banned Books Week, click here

Thursday, September 28, 2006

More recommended reading

Still celebrating Banned Books Week. Here are a few more that are always on the American
Library Association's list of most-frequently challenged books.

"James and the Giant Peach" makes book burners madder than the much gorier and disturbing "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." Why?
Well, it uses the unforgivable and traumatizing word "ass." An obviously-racist grasshopper says, "I'd rather be fried alive and eaten by a Mexican!", and there are references to snuff, tobacco and whiskey. Some censors object to the fact that it encourages children to disobey adults -- and I say if we're talking about adults like Spiker and Sponge then I say they should be disobeyed.

Shel Silverstein was a genius, no question about it. He was equally skilled at cartooning, music and writing. In the poem "Little Abigail and the Beautiful Pony," the title character tells her parents that if they don't buy her a pony, she'll die. Her parents refuse, and she does, in fact, die. Book burners, who were born without a sense of humor, think this encourages suicide. Thank goodness for the judges at the Bedford Central School District in New York. Their verdict: "Silverstein… was apparently intending to be funny." And can't you just see the censors scratching their heads and wondering what that means.

I'm not going to try to pass "Where's Waldo?" off as great literature, but for the Barney the Dinosaur demographic it is a pleasant way to pass the time and sharpen one's visual skills. But the book has been challenged because in one beach scene, a little boy is about to throw water on a sunbathing woman's back -- and (gasp!) her bathing suit top is apparently untied. This seems to me to be a perfect example of someone looking real hard for something to be upset about.
If you've ever dealt with the eyestrain involved in trying to locate that rascally Waldo, you'll know what I mean.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

More suggested reading for Banned Book Week

You might think that a book published 55 years ago would have lost its power to shock you, make you laugh or break your heart -- not to mention royally piss off the censors, but J.D. Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye" is still on the most-challenged list year after year -- ostensibly because of profanity (protagonist Holden Caulfield does like the word "goddamn") prostitution, underage-drinking, premarital sex, and tons of "morons" and "phonies."
Much has been made of the fact that this book is the favorite of nutjob assassins like Mark David Chapman and John Hinckley, and psychologists say it's because misunderstood social outcasts relate to Holden Caulfield -- and he probably is the patron saint of outcasts -- but Holden never shot any of those goddamn phonies. He really in his own clumsy way only wanted to make the world a better place -- that's why he was out there catching all those kids before they fell out of the rye.
And that's why he'll still be out there in that rye a hundred years from now, no matter how hard the book burners try to shut him up.

Here's some trivia about the book from Wikepedia:
  • Holden Caulfield's middle name is Morrisey. Although it does not appear in this book, Salinger used it in a 1946 short story featuring Caulfield called "A Slight Rebellion off Madison," that ran in the New Yorker.
  • The name "Holden Caulfield" first came to Salinger when he saw a movie theater's marquee advertising the 1947 film Dear Ruth, which starred William Holden and Joan Caulfield.
  • The word "fuck" appears in the book only six times and was sometimes given as reason for it being banned. However, in context Holden is trying to remove the word from the walls of a school and the Museum of Natural History to preserve the children's "innocence."
  • The word "goddamn" appears in the book 245 times. However and contrary to popular belief, it is not at least on every other page. (This is a little misleading, it might not be on every single page, but with 245 occurrences in 224 pages it averages out to more than once a page.)
  • Approximately 250,000 copies of The Catcher in the Rye are sold each year, with total sales at about 10 million copies. [1]
  • Is the favorite novel of Terrence Malick, Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder, Billie Joe Armstrong, David Tennant, Paul Bettany, Sarah Michelle Gellar and the late John Ritter.
  • Simon & Garfunkel originally wanted to name themselves "Catchers in the Rye."

  • "All morons hate it when you call them a moron." Holden Caulfield

Monday, September 25, 2006

Suggested reading for banned books week

Although he gets a lot of competition these days from J.D. Salinger, Judy Blume and J.K. Rowling, Mark Twain is probably the author that pisses off the book burners the most. His masterpiece "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" has been censored since it was first published in 1885 (originally people objected to the fact that pipe-smoking elementary-school dropout Huck was not a good role model, which goes to show that political correctness is nothing more than old wine in a new bottle) and still tops lists of most-challenged books year after year. Nowadays the main objection is its frequent use of the word "nigger" -- one of the two main characters is even named Nigger Jim. This is the perfect book to read during banned books week (or any time, of course) because it perfectly encapsulates how twisted and misguided the book burners are.
They say it's racist because it uses the "n word" even though they acknowledge that it is a historically-accurate depiction og the way people in Missouri talked at that time. I say there's no way in hell these people have ever read this book. No way. If anybody reads Huckleberry Finn and finds it to be racist, that person is an idiot and should be sterilized so as not to pass on idiotic genes. The truth is this book is a beautiful, eloquent plea for racial harmony and judging people not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. The part of the book where Huck decides he's going to go against everything he's ever been taught and save his black friend Jim even though he's sure it means he'll be sent to hell is one of the most powerful moments in all of literature. Nobody , not Martin Luther King, not Frederick Douglas, not Sojourner Truth, ever expressed the truth of our racial oneness half so well as Mark Twain in that passage.
And the book burners absolutely DO NOT GET IT!!!! They don't get it, and then they want to tell me I should be as narrow-minded, as clueless and oblivious and thin-skinned as they are, and they should be allowed to pick what MY children read -- and it makes me so mad I want to renounce my lifelong commitment to nonviolence and put my foot far enough up their ass to knock some sense into their foolish little minds.
But I digress.
Ernest Hemingway said, "All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn.... All American writing comes from that. There was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since." That was true when he said it in 1935 and it's still true now. If you've never read it, you need to read it -- and I know you will love it, it's hilarious, it's exciting, it's unforgettable. Please don't let the poisonous screeds of the book burners color your perception of this magnificent work of art.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Trashing Alabama

I've been a professional music critic for 12 years now. It's a lot of fun, especially when you get to review a bad record -- after all there's only so many ways you can say "This is good," but there's no limit to the ways you tear crappy artists a new one.
Here's one of my favorite reviews of one of my least favorite records by one of my least favorite bands:

Twentieth Century

Even though this is Alabama’s 500th album, it has a youthful air about it. And it’s not just the presence of bubble gummers In the Sink. . .er, ‘N Sync. . .on “God Must Have Spent a Little More Time on You” (which should probably be called “Alabama Should Spend a Little More Time Picking Their Singing Partners.”) Listen to this line from the title tune: “Oh, the Twentieth Century wasn’t all that bad / It was a time like no one has ever had . . ./ We sent a man into the sky / When he walked on the moon we were so glad.” Now you can’t get much more youthful that that; sounds like a first-grader wrote it.
Maybe Alabama is in their second childhood. Like many an Alzheimer’s victim, they tend to repeat themselves a lot. (“Life’s Too Short to Love This Fast” finds the Bama boys still in a hurry but not knowing why; 9 of the 12 songs here are about romantic love, 7 of them could easily be retitled “Gosh, I Love You.”) They tend to ramble semi-coherently about the past (“Twentieth Century”) and they sometimes think old things are new (on “I’m in That Kind of Mood” a connection between dancing and sex is discovered!). In advanced stages of senile dementia people often develop unreasonable sentimental attachments to inanimate objects, like Alabama for azure ink on “Write it Down in Blue”.
We probably should have seen this coming years ago. (Can anybody really tell any difference between “High Cotton”, “Song of the South”, “Down Home” and “Born Country”?) But research goes on, and someday we will have a cure for Alabama if not for Alzheimer’s. Call it the 21st century.

Family Tradition

Friday on my way home from work, I stopped and bought (among other things) a Star magazine for my son Dylan.
Kim asked me why and I told her it was a family tradition. My mom told me how when she was a girl she got hooked on romance and true confession magazines. When people would ask her father how come they let her read such trash, he said “Hey, at least she’s reading. And it’s none of your business”

Then when I was a lad living in Richmond I tried to check Arthur Hailey’s schlock bestseller Airport out at the library. The librarian wouldn’t let me because she said I had a juvenile card and that was an adult book. Now, I never saw my mother raise hell with too many people, but she sure got on that lady. She told her I could check out any book I liked and if I couldn’t do it with the card I had then she would make sure I got an adult card.
My parents never really got on me much about all the hours I spent reading comic books and Carter Brown books either.

Now Dylan enjoys celebrity gossip magazines and I think that’s great and I buy him one whenever I get a chance.
It’s a family tradition – encouraging reading.
And loving lowbrow literature.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

An Open Letter to Goodwill Industries

Robert Loy
114 Gatewood Street
North Charleston, SC 29418

Goodwill Industries International
15810 Indianola Drive
Rockville, MD 20855

Dear Goodwill;

I spend a lot of time and money in thrift stores -- but not much in Goodwill stores anymore. It's not that I don't like your stores; I do. They're clean, well-lit, and always have a good selection of merchandise. But one of the things I like to shop for in thrift stores is T-shirts, and for some reason every Goodwill store I've ever been in separates shirts not by size but by color. I have never understood your reasoning behind this. Do you think that people go to the store desirous of purchasing a green shirt -- any green shirt, whether it be too large or too small or just right. I do not think I am alone in saying that I shop by size not color and having to dig through a bunch of shirts not in my size to get to one that is has become so frustrating that I now do most of my shopping at the thrift store up the street which is not as clean or well-lit and doesn't have Goodwill's selection but separates their shirts by sizes.
If you can explain your reasoning on this issue I would appreciate it very much.
Thank you.

Sincerely Yours,

Robert Loy

To Hell with Censorship!

More than a book a day faces expulsion from free and open public access in U.S. schools and libraries every year. There have been more than 8,700 attempts since the American Library Association began electronically compiling and publishing information on book challenges in 1990.

From September 23 to September 30 it is Banned Books Week, celebrating the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one's opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them. After all, intellectual freedom can exist only where these two essential conditions are met.

So tell the book banners to go shit in their hat.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

More censorship nonsense

I have no tolerance for censorship of any kind -- whether it's Rumsfeld and Cheney and other members of this evil regime trying to convince people that speaking out against that jug-eared moron in the white house is unpatriotic, or people cutting up old Tom and Jerry cartoons to get rid of the nicotine therein.
And the self-appointed arbiters of what we should see and think never rest, do they? They're at it again at Marvel Comics. Marvel has been reprinting a lot of its older comics and they're doing it with the 1970's Tomb of Dracula -- only they're not doing it right.
But here, read about it for yourself, then come back and we'll discuss.
In the meantime, remember the immortal (albeit paraphrased) words of Billy in "Easy Rider"
"This used to be a helluva country, man, till everybody turned chicken."

Oh, you're back from the Tomb of Dracula page? Is your mind reeling? How in the hell in 2006, at the pinnacle of human evolution, can we be so terrified of a breast, a baby bottle, mother's milk? But to show somebody slashing a woman's jugular vein, blood spurting everywhere, no problem, very entertaining in fact -- but before you die, cover up that booby! Have you no shame?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Greatest Archie Comic Ever

Here's a story about the sexiest Archie comic ever. That's not saying much, you say? Well, Archie and Betty register as man and wife at a motel and spend the evening playing footsie while wearing nothing but towels. That's pretty hot for Riverdale -- or anywhere. And the Archie people have never reprinted this story and vowed that they never will. (Maybe Veronica Lodge has threatened to sue them if they do.)

Saturday, September 16, 2006

My favorite Rogers Hornsby quote

People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.

You and me both, Rogers, you and me both.

More things that make you feel old

A couple of months ago I was trying to remember the name of an old-time baseball player. All I knew about him was that his first name sounded like it was plural instead of singular, and the only name I could come up with that fit the bill was Johns Hopkins, and I knew he was an abolitionist philanthropist not a baseball player.
Believe it or not, I racked my brain for a couple weeks trying to dredge it up out of my subconscious, but kept coming up empty-handed. Of course I tried to look it up on the internet, but "baseball player whose first name sounds plural" elicited only irrelevant babble from Google.
And then one day it hit me out of the blue -- Rogers Hornsby, the Cardinals slugger who holds the modern record for highest batting average in a season with .424 in 1924.
End of story? No, because a few days after that I was thinking about how long it had taken me to come up with the name of that baseball player whose first name sounds plural -- and I realized that I had forgotten it again. Now I was irked and I vowed that if I ever remembered that cursed ballplayer and his stupid name again I would write it down so I wouldn't have to keep driving myself crazy about it.
And one day as I was sorting out the mail, the name came to me again, and I dropped what I was doing and ran to my desk and wrote "Rogers Hornsby" on the back of a business card.
All that made me feel old, but the fact that I've already had to refer to the card -- after forgetting his name AGAIN -- makes me feel not only ancient but senile.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Things that make you feel old

I'm talking to a DHL guy and he sees the Mary Marvel wallpaper on my computer. "So, are you into comic books?" he asks, and I say "Yeah."
He says "Me too. I've got a ton of old comic books."
"Oh yeah? Like what?"
"Well, lots of old stuff, but I guess my prize is a Spawn #1."
That was when I decided to switch to FedEx.
For those of you who don't know, Spawn debuted in 1992. And an "old comic book" (at least in my dictionary) is one from before 1970.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Burning Issue

This is my new column for Country Standard Time magazine. As you'll see it has a lot to do with my post of 8-22-06. That's the great thing about being a music columnist, I can talk about whatever I want as long as I tie it in some way to music.


At the risk of sounding like an alarmist, I think we should all be a lot more upset about the news that Turner Broadcasting in England is going through every single Tom and Jerry cartoon (as well as the Flintstones and Scooby Doo) and cutting out any scenes that appear to "condone, accept or glamorize cigarette smoking."

Why? is it because toddlers in the U.K. are lighting up and having to deal with black lung as well as diaper rash?

No, but they’ve decided that such conduct is inappropriate in shows geared for children.
(So, apparently dropping anvils on your playmates heads is all right. Eating them alive, that's no problem. And you can smack them square in the face with a cast iron frying pan. Tying a piece of lit dynamite to an appendage, that’s okay too, as long as you don’t light the fuse with a cigarette.)

But, I can hear you say, that’s just cartoons – cartoons in England. Why should we care about that?

I’ll tell you why. Because if you give the priggish, self-righteous killjoys of political correctness an inch, they’ll take our entire culture. If you let them go back in time and bowdlerize our art (and don’t tell me “Tom and Jerry” isn’t art; those cartoons have stood the test of time, still popular after 50 years) they’ll be after TV and movies next. No more Hunphrey Bogart movies. No more Edward R. Murrow.

And then they’ll come after music.

First they’ll censor Kenny Rogers. From now on, the Gambler will “bum” not a cigarette but a stick of gum (sugar-free, of course.) Then they’ll go after Don Williams and tell him that he can start the day with black coffee (for now anyway) and missing his ex (in “Some Broken Hearts Never Mend”) but he’ll have to deal with his loneliness without the help of nicotine. Presumably the Statler Brothers will still allowed to watch Captain Kangaroo and play solitaire without a full deck, but they will no longer be allowed to smoke cigarettes while they count flowers on the wall.

God knows what they’ll do with “King of the Road”? My goodness, that will never do. Roger Miller not only smokes, he smokes “old stogies” that he finds on the street. How unsanitary.
And some songs just cannot be “rehabilitated.” Every copy of Patsy Cline’s “Three Cigarettes in an Ashtray” will just have to be destroyed. Likewise for Merle Travis’s “Smoke Smoke Smoke that Cigarette” and better go ahead and wipe out “Smoke Get in Your Eyes” even though it’s not about cigarettes. We just can’t take a chance with our impressionable youth.

Crazy, you say?

You’re absolutely right.

And so is being afraid of a cartoon cat and mouse.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

I've been robbed.

I didn't notice it until I was organizing my comic books to go to the Baltimore convention next weekend, but somebody has stolen about 80 bronze and silver-age comics from me. I knew something was wrong when I opened the boxes and a couple of comics were sticking and crushed down as though someone had brought the lid down fast -- something I never do. Then I saw that the following comics were gone from my DC collection:
Action 356,358,362,367,369,,372,379,413, 415, 416, 417, 443,446, 454,457
Adventure 312,324,343,349
and these from my Marvel collection:
Avengers 29,46,80 Annual 2
Captain America 104,107,108,,114,115,118
Captain Marvel (V1) 5-13
Captain Savage and his Leatherneck Raiders 3,17
Conan 38,43
(13) Daredevil (V1)-19,20,31,33,34,43, 46,47,49,114,208
Defenders 21,23,36,37,39, Annual 1
Fantastic Four (v1) 58
Fantasy Masterpieces – 2,4,9,11
Fear 13,18,19
Howard the Duck – 3-12,14, 16-21

I am heartsick and not so much for the loss of the comic books -- I'm more of a reader than a hard-core collector and none of them are in good enough shape to be worth a lot of money -- but because it had to be done by someone who knew where to look for these things, someone I trusted and had as a guest in my home.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Anniversary Eve Thoughts

Tomorrow Kim and I will commemorate 13 years of wedded bliss. I was feeling pretty good about us and our future -- until I read an article in The Week magazine that said that wives lose interest in sex after 4 years of marriage and men are still going strong after 40.
That was pretty terrrifying, so I've decided to give up reading -- and burn that issue before Kim sees it.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Something else I don't understand

So, I take my youngest daughter Cricket along with her brother Dylan to Subway on Friday night. She got the same thing she always gets, the same thing she has gotten every single time she's ever gone to Subway -- a Ham and cheese on white with a couple quarts of vinegar. I even pointed out to her that Subway has lots of different sandwich possibilities and asked her if she was ever going to try anything else there. Her answer: "Nope."
Okay, fine, you find something you like and you stick with it, I don't have a problem with that. But tonight I fixed a pizza for dinner -- a ham and cheese pizza. Cricket crinkles her nose and says, "Is that ham?" I say yes and she decides to have carrots for dinner instead. I asked her why she wasn't having pizza and she says "I don't like ham." I reminded her of Friday night at the subway and her undying devotion to ham, and she says, "Well, I like it on sandwiches but not on pizza."
Okay, fine, your taste buds are unreliable, I don't have a problem with that. But 45 minutes after she opted for carrots, she comes downstairs and wants me to fix her something else to eat.
Now that I have a problem with.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

I don't get it

Why does everything have to turn out more difficult than you thought it was going to be?
ESPECIALLY home repair.
And I know I can't tell a socket wrench from a circular saw; "Lefty-loosey, righty-tighty" is just doggerel to me cuz I have a hard time with concepts like left and right; so I expect home repair to be difficult, but DAMN!
I have spent my entire Saturday trying to put a piece of rubber on the bottom of my garage door, so that when it rains (as it seems to just about every day lately) the garage won't flood and seep into my office. I sit here 48 dollars poorer and with no rubber on my garage door -- no metal either -- carpal tunnel from drilling through aluminum (what numbskull called this stuff "soft metal?) and praying it doesn't rain.
I started out by cutting a piece of the rubber under-the-garage-door stuff I need, cuz I don't speak hardware and I don't know what it's called, but at the hardware store they just look at my doohickey and say "Where did you get this?" and I have to say it's an under-the-garage-door-rubber thing, and they have something sort of like that, but it's for wooden doors, is your door wooden? A quick surreptitious phone call home lets me know that my door is metal. (And yes, I know I should have noticed some time during the seven years I've lived here; I told you I was bad at this.)
At the big home improvement store all the way across town they have lots of garage door rubber stuff, but nobody will talk to me, and I just buy the most expensive thing they have -- which may not sound economically foolish but is actually a frugal move on my part; past experience has taught me that only the most expensive thing has a chance of working and it's cheaper to just buy that right off the bat than buy something cheaper and then have to come back for the pricier piece.
(Pretty shrewd, huh?)
Back home, of course, the rubber doesn't fit in the old metal so I have to unscrew all the old metal -- and it's not really screws holding it up, it's whatever you use when you use a wrench, so it takes forever with a pair of pliers (which is the only tool I really understand other than a hammer) then comes the drilling in the new aluminum and the sweating and the cursing and finally the darkness with the job as yet unfinished.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Another odd book in my collection

Now this is a treasure. It's got all those songs and poems kids love to sing and recite -- stuff like "Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts" and "Miss Lucy had a steamboat" and everybody's favorite "There's a place in France where the naked ladies dance."
But wait. That's not all. You also get: "Beans, beans, the musical fruit!" and of course "Found a peanut" and the timeless holiday classic "Jingle bells, Batman smells."
And that's still not all. You get all the regional variations of these odes as well as place and date of origin (when known).
Fascinating stuff. It's out of print now unfortunately, and I bet you if they ever bring it back it will be in a heavily-censored version. There's no way you could put out a book these days with page after page of songs about burning down the school, killing the teacher and flushing her body down the potty.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

You'll thank me later.

Here's some advice for all you job seekers -- do NOT send your resume to your prospective employer by certified mail -- or registered mail or express mail or anything other than good old first class. What are you hoping to accomplish? Do you really think that people are going to think your resume is impressive because you put extra postage on it?
All you've done is piss off the guy who has to stand in line at the Post Office to pick up your unnecessarily complicated crap. And you don't want to piss off that guy cuz every time I get one like that I take it the Human Resources department and say "Here's another knucklehead who doesn't have a job but is spending four dollars and sixty-four cents to mail something that should have only cost him thirty-nine cents. If he's that foolish with his own money, imagine what he would do if he had any control over the company's assets. Is this the type of person we want working here?"
And the HR people will sigh and reassure me once again that they have never hired anybody who sent in their application via certified mail.
So don't do it.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Here's something else that has lodged itself in my memory for some reason.
I was in the third grade. I was walking around the neighborhood with my cousin Sue. I was telling her a story about something that happened in school that day. My teacher Mrs. Sobel had said something about the month -- which was December -- and she said that "December" was a long word.
I told Sue that was ridiculous. "December" was not a long word. "Dictation" was a long word. And Sue laughed at me.
I think that's why I remember this incident. It was embarrassing. I was trying to show off my vocabulary to cousin Sue and I couldn't figure out why she laughed at me.
Still can't, to tell you the truth, I mean "Dictation" is longer than "December."

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Let's all smoke

Personally I love seeing cartoon characters smoke. Here's Fred Flintstone at the Bedrock Quick Stop picking up a pack of Winston:


So Turner Broadcasting in England is going through every single Tom and Jerry cartoon as well as the Flintstones and Scooby Doo, and cutting out any scenes that appear to "condone, accept or glamorize cigaertte smoking."
Why? is it because toddlers in the U.K. are lighting up and having to deal with black lung as well as diaper rash?
No, it's one tight-ass, priggish, bluenose, self-righteous, killjoy son of a bitch objected, said such scenes "were not appropriate in a cartoon aimed at children."
So, apparently dropping anvils on your playmates heads is all right. Eating them alive, that's no problem. And you can smack them square in the face with a cast iron frying pan -- as long as you don't smoke while you do it.
Damn, this makes me so mad!
And I can't get over the fact that all it takes is one asshole to ruin it for everybody. Well, I guess I should by now. That's the same reason you can't find "The Catcher in the Rye" on most school library shelves.
Bad enough that Disney wants to bury "Song of the South", but going back and gutting these works of art that are still popular after 50 years because we're so uptight nowadays just burns me up. Cuz you know what's next -- Humphrey Bogart and all the great old movies where everybody smokes, then the drinking, then anybody in any video entertainment anywhere who looks like they might be enjoying themselves.

Monday, August 21, 2006


Well so much for that resolution. I said I was going to write something here every day and I just plain forgot yesterday. Sorry. I got caught up in my fantasy baseball games. There are three weeks left in the regular season, and I've got one team that's all but clinched their division, one team that's completely out of contention and three more scrambling for a playoff berth. (And if you think 5 fantasy baseball teams is too much, feel free to sign my wife's petition.)
Here's the way things look for my best team:

West Division
Gotham City Gargoyles13700.6500W47-2-026628.2368.86744.3
Perez Hilton101000.5003L46-4-026442.0555.06613.7
Mac Daddy81200.4005L14-6-026717.7279.36840.8
Swingers Inc.81200.4005L13-6-006329.2667.86803.5
East Division
Charlie's Chumps11900.5504W16-3-046997.00.06408.8
Layeth the Smackdown91100.4506L22-7-026762.3234.76758.7
sir bucky91100.4506L34-6-036659.7337.36819.3
Mad Dogs81200.4007W24-6-026743.3253.76885.3

I think everything's pretty self-explanatory, but if you don't know PF is "points for" (or the total number of points we've scored all year.) PA is "points against" "Back" is how far back (in points you are from the person who has the most points. But ultimately points are less important than standings and as you can see I'm standing in first.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Today's history lesson

Recognize this handsome chap? That's Tycho Brahe, a famous Danish astronomer. You can read more about him here, but his major contributions to astronomy were:

  1. He made the most precise observations that had yet been made by devising the best instruments available before the invention of the telescope.

  2. His observations of planetary motion, particularly that of Mars, provided the crucial data for later astronomers like Kepler to construct our present model of the solar system.

He evidently also made some contributions to rhinoplasty as well. While at the University of Copenhagen in 1566 Brahe allegedly challenged a fellow student to a duel with swords in a dispute over who was the better mathematician. Brahe's nose was partially cut off, and he was said to wear a gold and silver replacement upon which he would continually rub oil. He also according to Cecil Adams "didn't marry the mother of his eight children, employed a dwarf as a jester, kept a pet elk (which died after breaking a leg while going downstairs drunk), dabbled in alchemy, and tyrannized the local peasantry. After his royal patron died of excessive drink he managed to tick off everyone in Denmark, had his subsidies revoked, and eventually found it wise to leave the country."

But he is most famous for the way he died. His death occurred on October 24th, 1601, eleven agonizing days after his bladder burst at a banquet attended by royalty. Evidently it was considered bad manners to take a pee break while amongst the peerage. (Some revisionists are now trying to say that he may have died from mercury poisoning -- which I guess would be ironic for an astronomer -- but don't you believe it. He died from an overdose of urine after knocking back too many Tuborg Golds.) He is believed to be the only man in history to have died of this cause, but I have come close on many occasions -- usually in a traffic jam.

Friday, August 18, 2006

You can't go home again -- except when you can.

I don't have near as much time to read as I used to, so what I've been doing a lot of is rereading -- I mean, reading stuff that I know I will love cuz I've already read and loved it before. It's interesting cuz some of the stuff I haven't read for decades. Most of the time I impress myself with my impeccable taste, but some things don't hold up as well as others.
So for that reason I was a little nervous about going back and rereading Carter Brown. I loved these books; I had dozens of them -- Carter was nothing if not prolific. I remembered them as being funny, sexy, exciting and all about 120 pages so you could read it in a couple hours. And those covers by Robert McGinnis -- well, I didn't know his name then, but i sure recognized his style. They were the sexiest things I'd ever seen.
I'm happy to report that although not as witty as I remembered them, they are miles above other detective books as far as repartee goes. They're not as sexy either, in fact it all seems very tame, but that's okay, cuz I enjoy innuendoes and double entendres and those things our culture seems to be losing the ability to appreciate as we get clubbed over the head almost hourly with blatant sex and violence. They still have those great McGinnis covers -- and they're still sexy as hell -- the mysteries are compelling, the characters are well-drawn. But I can't force myself to plow through 120 pages of it.
Cuz I hate adverbs. Adverbs to me are the sign of a lazy writer who couldn't be bothered to find the right nouns and verbs and so propped up his prose with those damn adverbs. Hey, I'm all for free speech and everything but it wouldn't bother me a bit if adverbs were banned from the English language. And as much as I hate adverbs, that's how much Carter Brown adores them. He has several on every page. Think I'm exagerating? I'll pick out a page at random from the closest Carter Brown book (which happens to be The Sad-Eyed Seductress).
Here we go, here are the adverbs on page 48:
"bellowed angrily" (how else is somebody going to bellow?
"looked at him nastily"
"I said shortly"
"watched me doubtfully"
"I said carefully"
"he said icily"
"he said heavily"
At that is typical. Every page is laden with a-bombs and I find myself flinching at each one and cringing at the one I know is coming up real soon.
So I can't recommend Carter Brown books -- well, except for the covers. McGinnis is the man!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

What is wrong with people?

In the last two nights I've heard three of my beloved family members say they can't wait for winter.
It's a world gone mad.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I'm not eating that

I know as a recovering vegetarian I'm probably prejudiced, but is there any food more disgusting-sounding that baby back ribs? It sounds like you're about to devour an infant, starting right around the spine.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Not only are they crooked, they're stupid too!

So, we recently had the pleasure of buying a new car from Gene Reed Toyota. (And by "pleasure" I mean ginormous pain in the arse.) Everybody knows what crooks car salesmen are, so that won't come as a surprise to anyone. But evidently they're so stupid they don't even know how to pump gas. The guy said he would fill the car up after we signed our life away to obtain it, and I didn't realize till I was almost home that he had only "filled" it a little more than halfway. So I took it back a few days later. A different guy went to put petrol in the Prius. (By now it was only 3/8ths full.) He came back and said there must be something wrong with my gas gauge cuz it only took a couple gallons. I scheduled an appointment to get the car serviced. But I figured I might as well try and see if I could get any gas in it. I could. At Citgo I put in 16 dollars worth.
So I called them up. And they said just bring in your receipt we'll reimburse you. So I went back again, but wouldn't you know it, the cashier had left for the day. But come on back again another day and we'll damn sure have it for you. So now I've gotta go back again.
I know I'm stupid to believe them -- and stupid for burning up more than 16 dollars worth of gas trying to get these weasels to do the right thing.
Now if I was just crooked as well as stupid I could be a car salesman.

Monday, August 14, 2006

the root of all art

Anybody know where I can get 250 dollars quick? I just found out my favorite comic book artist Gene Colan is retiring (at age 84, comic artists didn't get pensions in those days), but before he does he's doing one last round of commission sketches for the baragin price of two hundred and fifty bucks -- seriously, it used to be 400. This is the guy who gave the world Howard the Duck and Tomb of Dracula. A bargain at twice the price.
Any suggestions?

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Old Girlfriends, Part Two


Picking up where we left off:

I don’t remember exactly where I met Laura Brown either. Either my memory is getting as bad as my eyesight or neither of these two ladies made much of a first impression.
Quite possibly I met Laura B in Summer school that year too. Certainly the girl was no genius. Unlike Cindy, she wasn’t that much of a looker either. She wasn’t ugly – although some people – most memorably my brother John – kept telling me she was – but she did have big teeth.
Now that I think about it I’m pretty sure I did meet her at Summer school. She must have been a friend or at least an acquaintance of Cindy’s. I don’t remember there being any jealousy in my relationship so I don’t think we did much flirting or anything while I was with Cindy, but we must have got together after Cindy got put on restriction. Maybe I was concentrating on Laura when Cindy got off restriction and that’s why we didn’t have the big finish.
I’m not even sure how long it lasted but I don’t think it was long. I don’t remember going out with her, just hanging out at her house. I remember going with her to pick out an anniversary card for her father to give to her mother, don’t know why he couldn’t pick his own card.
And I remember that I broke up with her to pursue somebody else (don’t ask me who) and when that didn’t pan out I called her up and suggested we get back together. She said okay but then called me immediately right back and said on second thought, she would pass on my generous offer.
I saw her once during the early 1980s when I was working a temp job moving furniture around at some company she worked for. I pretended I didn’t recognize her and she either did not recognize or she did a pretty good job of pretending herself.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Another Odd Book in my Collection

This book is just what it looks like, a collection of bathroom graffiti collected by a scholar with a lot of time on his hands. It makes me kinda sad, cuz I can't remember the last time I read anything clever or witty on a bathroom wall. Just the same old "For a good time call. . . " and "Here I sit broken-hearted. . . " but back in 1967 you could find a great graffito like:

"A toast to a German virgin -- Goesintight!"


"Stand up close. The next man might have holes in his shoes."


"Don't write on our walls. We don't shit in your notebooks."

Friday, August 11, 2006

Odd books in my collection

I have a lot of books. Some of them are the same bestsellers on everybody's shelf. And some of them aren't.
Here's an example of the latter category.

What, why are you looking at me like that? This is a scholarly work written by a doctor -- well, a podiatrist, but podiatrists are doctors.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

My songwriting career

I was going through the Microsoft Word files on my hard drive and I found this, simply titled "C&WSong". I honestly don't remember writing it. It obviously needs quite a bit of work, the rhyme scheme and meter go to hell after the first verse and I don't know of any country songs with the word "manifestations" in their lyrics, but it gave me a chuckle and I hope it will for you too.

She says she's leaving me cuz I never let my feelings show.
I wasn't trying to hide 'em; it's just I didn't know
How deep and wide they ran inside me
And I was afraid of what would happen
If I just let 'em go.

I can't ignore 'em now, her hand is on the door;
But I don't have any practise; I don't know how long
And how loud and how wet and how strong
To make these outward manifestations of the inner man.

So look in my eyes and tell me:
Are these teardrops?
Tell me when I've cried enough
and I'll do my best to stop em

Look at me; I'm walking the floor,
Don't that tell you something?
And if you're in love I've heard it said
You can't eat or sleep, well, just look here --
Ain't I wide awake?
And didn't I just put down my sandwich?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Christmas in July

Why do people send those stupid e-mails, you know the ones about how you can receive cash or gifts or answered prayers or good luck forever just for forwarding e-mail to people, or some sick kid with cancer who gets three cents every time you pass on her hard-luck story to some friend with more compassion than common sense. It seems people just can't wait to buy the biggest bunch of bull they can find.
More to the point, why do they send them to me, when they know I'm going to do what I always do, hit "reply all" and send them the relevant link debunking all that nonsense. What's weird is most people don't care it's true or not. I got one last night from somebody wanting me to sign an e-mail petition to Congress to stop them from voting to give Social Security to illegal aliens. I sent her the Snopes link, explained that wasn't what Congress was voting on -- and she writes back to tell me "It doesn't hurt to send 500 (or more) emails to them just for a reminder of how the American public feels." I think Congress already thinks we're gullible idiots, we don't have to e-mail and confirm them in that opinion.
Anyway, this brings me to one of my favorite e-mails. Around Christmas last year they had one going around about some little girl with cancer wanting to meet Santa, getting money for her treatment from from some omniscient billionaire who evidently watches everybody in the world and gives the little girl a couple pennies everytime sometimes forwards her e-mail. (What a chintzy billionaire, why can't he just pay for the kid's chemo without cluttering up my inbox?) I debunked it over and over, and a former co-worker sent me the following, which absolutely cracked me up.
(The modern attention span being what it is, I doubt you'll be to make it all the way through the following -- you probably even skipped some of my intro, didn't you? -- but you ought to at least read enough of the beginning to get the gist of the BS and then skip down to the red parts. If you want to read it all, feel free, of course.)

Happy Holidays!

This is touching, prayers can do miracles...

I cried a few tears over this maybe you will also. Love you and Merry Christmas.

Always believe in MIRACLES!!Three years ago, a little boy and his grandmother came to see Santa at Mayfair Mall in Wisconsin. The child climbed up on his lap, holding a picture of a little girl. "Who is this?" asked Santa, smiling. "Your friend? Your sister?"
"Yes, Santa," he replied. "My sister, Sarah, who is very sick," he said sadly.
Santa glanced over at the grandmother who was waiting nearby, and saw her dabbing her eyes with a tissue."She wanted to come with me to see you, oh, so very much, Santa!" the child exclaimed. "She misses you," he added softly.
Santa tried to be cheerful and encouraged a smile to the boy's face, asking him what he wanted Santa to bring him for Christmas.
When they finished their visit, the Grandmother came over to help the child off his lap, and started to say something to Santa, but halted. "What is it?" Santa asked warmly.
"Well, I know it's really too much to ask you, Santa, but .." the old woman began, shooing her grandson over to one of Santa's elves to collect the little gift which Santa gave all his young visitors. "The girl in the photograph... my granddaughter well, you see ... she has leukemia and isn't expected to make it even through the holidays," she said through tear-filled eyes. "Is there any way, Santa…any possible way that you could come see Sarah? That's all she's asked for, for Christmas, is to see Santa."
Santa blinked and swallowed hard and told the woman to leave information with his elves as to where Sarah was and he would see what he could do.
Santa thought of little else the rest of that afternoon. He knew what he had to do. "What if it were MY child lying in that hospital bed, dying, "he thought with a sinking heart, "this is the least I can do."
When Santa finished visiting with all the boys and girls that evening, he retrieved from his helper Rick the name of the hospital where Sarah was staying. He asked the assistant location manager how to get to Children's Hospital.

"Why?" Rick asked, with a puzzled look on his face.Santa relayed to him the conversation with Sarah's grandmother earlier that day.
"C'mon.... I'll take you there," Rick said softly.Rick drove them to the hospital and came inside with Santa. They found out which room Sarah was in. A pale Rick said he would wait out in the hall.Santa quietly peeked into the room through the half-closed door and saw little Sarah on the bed. The room was full of what appeared to be her family; there was the Grandmother and the girl's brother he had met earlier that day. A woman whom he guessed was Sarah's mother stood by the bed, gently pushing Sarah's thin hair off her forehead. And another woman who he discovered later was Sarah's aunt, sat in a chair near the bed with weary, sad look on her face. They were talking quietly, and Santa could sense the warmth and closeness of the family, and their love and concern for Sarah.
Taking a deep breath, and forcing a smile on his face, Santa entered the room, bellowing a hearty, "Ho, ho, ho!"
"Santa!" shrieked little Sarah weakly, as she tried to escape her bed to run to him, IVtubes intact. Santa rushed to her side and gave her a warm hug. A child the tender age of his own son -- 9 years old -- gazed up at him with wonder and excitement. Her skin was pale and her short tresses bore telltale bald patches from the effects of chemotherapy. But all he saw when he looked at her was a pair of huge, blue eyes. His heart melted, and he had to force himself to choke back tears.
Though his eyes were riveted upon Sarah's face, he could hear the gasps and quiet sobbing of the women in the room. As he and Sarah began talking, the family crept quietly to the bedside one by one, squeezing Santa's shoulder or his hand gratefully, whispering "thank you" as they gazed sincerely at him with shining eyes.
Santa and Sarah talked and talked, and she told him excitedly all the toys she wanted for Christmas, assuring him she'd been a very good girl that year. As their time together dwindled, Santa asked Sarah if there was anthing special he could do for her.
She turned to Santa and said "Yes, could you shove a lump of coal up Robert Loy's ass for me, that fucker has been telling people that I don't exist and the 3 cents that I get for every e-mail that gets forwarded for telling my story has gone down a bunch. I bet that granola munchin, beer swilling, son-of -a-bitch will even edit this e-mail, if I wasn't so tired from my chemo I'd kick his ass myself.
So Santa went and told one of his reindeer to put a "Contract" out on Robert Loy. And the last anyone heard, the proctologist was pulling antler splinters from Robert Loy's ass. And everyone, but Robert Loy, lived happily ever after.