My views on politics, life, death, the army, and other things too miscellaneous to mention here. This is a personal blog. This blog is 100% factual.
Poet, Author, Journalist
Your Super-Cute Daily Terror Alert Update Will Be Forevermore:
"There are some myths and untruths surrounding the role God plays in our daily lives. To say that religion and politics do not mix, is certainly a myth, unless you ask a liberal. Anything that affects a Christian (and voting is one of them) — enters into the religious realm. Trying to separate the two is like trying to separate oil from a glass of water, it's impossible to do. "
Wednesday, March 31, 2004
The Utter Joy of Throwing Old Refrigerators Down Stairs
Special note: XTC is great for the spark, but use Roxy Music for the inevitable hang-over.
Okay, with that essential truth said, I wanted to get a little bit into a problem area in American history. Tim Cahill once wrote an article about trekking across Death Valley in a book titled "Peking Ducks are Pecking the Liver Out of My Body," and in't he mentions a "story" about The Man in The Freon Suit.
It concerns the tale of a guy living in the Old West, who constructed an insulated body suit out of fiberglass and old freon tubing in order to trek across Death Valley, a desert wasteland where temperatures routinely reach 180 degress faranheit, and where no man has ever made it across and lived to tell the tale.
The Man in the Freon Suit is a hard thing to understand, and even disturbing to a recreation reader. The essential problem with freon is that it's an unstable chemical. When it's excited though an electical current, freon reacts with dihydrogen monoxide and contracts, providing the cooling agent present in appliances like refrigerators. If old freon refrigerators are left unplugged however, the freon won't react with diHMO molecules, and expand outward, creating heat. This is essentially why we don't use freon coolant frigerators anymore.
The problem with Tim Cahill's account is that he assumes that since freon is better known as a coolant, that the man in the freon suit encountered a problem with administering the freon to his suit, and thus froze to death in the middle of death valley. This is, of course, a fabrication. What probably happened is that, without an electrical current, the heat from walking across Death Valley in an insulated, padded suit would've excited the freon molecules into creating heat 30 or 40 degress higher than the surface temperature on Death Valley, and this excessive heat promptly cooked his brain.
The moral is the same, however. Don't build a suit out of used refrigerators in order to take on Death Valley.
Which brings me to my own weird story. One day, a sorta warm day with highs in the 70's, I noticed that the thermostat upstairs read an improbable 98 degrees.
I was curious for the discrepancy, so I got a ladder, and crawled up through to the attic, where I noticed about 30 old fashioned freon style refrigerators, sitting upright, and unplugged.
While interesting, I knew that I couldn't deal with an upstairs floor 20 degress hotter than the outside, so I immediately started tossing the refrigerators down through the hole onto the upstair floor.
It didn't take to long for the commotion to awaken my roommate, given it was about 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning. My roommate shouted from downstairs:
"Hey, it's three o'clock in the morning. What the hell are you doing?"
"I'm trying to cool the house down," I said, and paused. "It's gotta be at least 20-30 degrees hotter up here in the attic than it it down there."
"What?" My roommate asked.
"It's the freon. Freon heats up when there's no electrical current..." I paused, out of breath. "For some reason, there's a shitload of refrigerators up here."
"Oh, cool." my roommate responded. "Can I help?"
And together we pushed a shitload of refrigerators out of the attic, and down the stairs, where they made bright clanging noises.
We left ten or so up in the attic, as a way to provide some amount of internal heating for the house during the winter (cuts down on the heating bill, as we have to pay heating utilities in addition to the rent).
The garbage men, strangly enough, took the refrigerators, though they won't take cardboard boxes filled with more garbage. Man, I would've loved to have seen the look on their faces!
-duckwing, at 11:36 PM
Tuesday, March 30, 2004
A Good Liar Must Always Have an Exit Strategy
I promised to write and post my super-surreal, hyper freak-out of a story today, but I lied. Sorry about that.
Or did I?
I posted my last post early this morning technically, so technically I'm totally in the clear.
So until Wendsday night, you'll have to climb aboard the Peace Train again and laugh at my terrible histrionics.
-duckwing, at 11:54 PM
Ride the Peace Train with Bill Duckwing
To all the people all around the world, fighting and bickering and stuff, I for one, call a truce.
I am tired of this strife. Somehow we must find some common ground, and if we don't, it will only mean more wars and more hatred.
That is why the UN must adopt a Universal Eternal Peace Accord. Now.
It must be signed by all the nations. And to all of the people out there who think it's dumb, I implore you, remember that you are a human being, and that you do have a heart.
Remember the Grinch. His heart started out small, and that was understandable. He had a rotten childhood. But the spirit of humanity touched him during one special holiday. It touched him and it made his heart bigger. And those guys learned to live with and accomodate each other, the Grinch and humanity.
We should all remember that as April Fool's approaches. I almost fell for it myself, when I called up some guys to fix my fucked up fume hood today.
"Yeah, we'll have some guy stop by on April 1st to fix your hood."
"You're fucking with my head." I said.
"I said, 'You're fucking with my head.'"
"...Why would I do that?"
"Because you scheduled it for April Fool's Day. I'm just saying that I get it."
"Your little joke there, buddy."
"No. We're actually going to come and fix your hood on Thursday."
"Right. April 1st. I get it."
And so on.
The point is, that to accomplish World Peace, we shouldn't try to fuck with each other anymore. Richard Clarke should just come clean and admit that he's a fucking liar, and doesn't really desire World Peace. Ditto Fidel Castro, and Bill Clinton (who I'm sure has some WMD's buried underneath his obscene palaces in Harlem).
I will admit that George Bush played it wrong when he said "You're either with us, or you're against us..." He should've said, "Peace on Earth, and Good Will to Men, if you're with us. If you're against us, we will kill you and enslave your women."
Because Peace on Earth isn't just some sort of pipe dream to think about, but a goal.
So I urge you to climb aboard the Peace Train, and spread the Good News, because it is spreading. And watch your own heart grow bigger by the "undertaking" (and trust me, once you're on board, you'll be doing quite a bit of that yourself).
Petition the UN now for Peace.
Note: I have another story that I'm thinking of posting tomorrow -but it's really surreal. We'll see.
-duckwing, at 12:08 AM
Wednesday, March 24, 2004
Paddling with Duck Feet: Celebrating a Year of the Apple Coda
Today officially marks the completion of the first year of my blog, the Apple Coda. By way of celebrating, I figured I'd take some time to go over a little of the history of my blog, my general intentions and reasons for creating it, and also give a few pointers for bloggers looking to make it big in whatever blogging realm that catches their fancy.
A year ago, blogs were starting to ride the crest of their popularity. Salon had started promoting their own blogs, the phenomenon had started getting picked up on by some major journalists and writers, etc. People started dissing LiveJournal for being too stupid and too accessible (Now Everyone Can Host a Website!). The War on Iraq had begun, and every single major media news outlet was out singing the praises of President Bush and his foresight for invading Iraq.
I started combing the Internet for alternative news and opinion that didn't have such a rosy take on going to war. I found it in spades. Alternet, LiberalOasis, This Modern World, etc, were the first that got my attention. But the thing that really impressed me were the blogs. Some of the better ones were updating their sites constantly with new information, new revelations, etc. Tom Tomorrow linked to Atrios at one point, and I followed the link, and I was hooked.
The thing I've always liked most about Atrios (his blog: Eschaton) was his anonymity, and the fact that he picked a really weird pseudonym. The fact that he already had a blog more popular daily than most political magazine subscriptions added to the mystique. I decided to start a blog of my own, at first based on the Atrios model for blog success.
While I had already been published by a few ezines during the big ezine fad of the late 90's, had left random comments on other sites, and participated in alt.net and chat rooms (back in the early 90's, I was pretty much resident asshole of LambdaMOO, where I could manage to get banished to Purgatory or Hell by the mods within only a couple of comments after signing on as Plaid_Guest, or D. Barrett, a singular achievement), I will admit that this was my first big foray into the wild world of internet publishing. I already knew I had a rather particular, peculiar type of voice and writing style, so I initially decided that my blog would be an Atrios style site (because it worked), anonymous but with a really stupid poster name (Duckwing), written more informally and with a little more snarky attitude than Eschaton, and hoped it would find it's own niche.
Well, the Apple Coda certainly didn't find it's own niche, and became weird almost immediately after I came up with a long, convoluted idea to have Grantland Rice interview Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice about their upcoming uber-musical "Monstrosity" (a day or two after I started the blog actually) I knew at that point that what was once a "work in progress," was something that would never really have a clear scope or clear audience. Because it was a site that featured a lot of humor or parody type posts, it would never be an authentic political blog, even one with a snarky sense of humor. It wasn't a personal blog, because I write under a pseudonym, and because half the time I completely make stuff up, and half the time I exaggerate so much that I can honestly say that for the most part everything I've written here should be taken with a monstrously huge grain of salt. And even then, I sometimes do make time to give my own true personal feelings about something (and this post is an example), so sometimes it does fall into just being a personal blog about stuff.
I eventually adopted the name Bill Duckwing, after I wrote a "personal" story that I considered a standout for the blog ("I Had a Crap Day," which is still and will always be my favorite post) and the name stuck. People really liked my moniker for some reason, so much so that most people that link to this blog inevitably credit it as "Bill Duckwing" rather than "The Apple Coda" which, as a title for a blog, annoys almost everybody.
I honestly can't explain where the fucking title really comes from. I had a contest awhile back to "explain the meaning of 'The Apple Coda,' which got one response, suggesting that I was Steve Jobs promoting Apple computers. I think it was a bunch of reasons: XTC had an album called 'Apple Venus Vol. 1,' "insight as an afterthought," Garden of Eden bullshit, just liked the name phonetically. Anyway, it's pretty much as meaningful or as meaningless as you'd like to interpolate. Still, I really don't mind if people just call this site: "Bill Duckwing's Blog."
So, is this site a success or a failure? From the feedback I've gotten, I can't really tell. I've never really gotten a piece of fan mail, except from the people who say "You site fucking rocks! Please link to my site at..." I've gotten several flames, which I cherish, mostly saying either I'm a jackass for my fake neo-con/uber-authoritarian writing or calling me a coward for hiding behind a pseudonym. I get some occasional feedback, either asking me for clarification on a post, or giving their own take on something. But from the personal satisfaction I've gotten from just writing what I want to write, I call it a bona-fide success, bar-none.
And so I'll end this with tips for beginning bloggers/experienced bloggers hoping to reach a larger audience. While this will always be a small blog, I feel able and knowledgeable enough about this subject to give some advice.
Generally, you can divide blogs by type. I categorize them as follows:
1.) General Link Drop Portals: If you like this idea and feel ready to devote a massive amount of time to it, then by all means, do it. GLDP's are sites that post anywhere from 20-60 times a day, just dropping whatever sites they like or serve their political agenda. You can't get less that 500 hits a day if you keep it consistent. Keep it brief, devoid of extraneous content, and keep the post count super massive and super consistent, and you've got a blog hit on your hands.
2.) Political Blogs: Unless you can consistently say something really unbelievably unique and special, forget about being the next Atrios or Andrew Sullivan or Daily Kos. These guys started long before you came into town, and they'll be around a lot longer too. The Gold list of bloggers who have come around after these guys and make it as big as they are now is completely negligible. There are some guys that are much better than the Big Political Three in certain aspects, and none of them get even a 1/10000 of the number of hits that they get. The reason: habit. Nobody really wants to read a new political blog unless is completely exceptional. It's a comfort zone thing now in an election year 2004.
3.) Humor Blogs: Forget about it. The best bet would be to just take your best material and put it up on a static infrequently updated website. A blog can help as a rough draft of sorts, as you can read it later and determine your best material to put up on said website, but for the most part nobody is ever consistently funny enough to keep up a funny blog. Most humor blogs I've seen post at best only a couple of times a week. And the big draw for blogs is that they are updated constantly. If you don't post frequently, your regulars will stop coming by, and newbies will only see that you last updated last week, and will promptly proclaim you lazy sack of shit. Neal Pollack probably had the best one for original content (I completely discount Dave Barry, as most of the time he just links to other websites), but he ended up going on tour, killing off his blog, and depressing the shit out of himself. So the title goes to Utter Wonder, or maybe Universal Donor, as far as consistency goes. Like I said, use a blog for raw material, but if you ever want an audience, start up a website, and post your best material there. It'll work wonders.
4.) Personal Blogs: Don't read them, don't care.
Steps to bring your blog out of the woodwork:
When you know you have a really great blog, do this -
1.) Site Whore Incessantly: There is nothing quite as cool as thinking you're so the shit that you can parade your posts to other bloggers who share your viewpoint. Really -if you even think you've got the goods, go to it! The best way to do this is to say something nice about their site, or maybe something completely off-topic, and then give them a good example of your awesome intellect (say, a good post from your blog). I did this for a couple of months just for the hell of it, and I got links (and great comments urging me to stay the course) from any number of sites I initially considered myself being not worthy enough to be linked to. Including some big sites, like Neal Pollack and Liberal Oasis (which I quickly considered not worthy after the link and a heated exchange involving Joe Lieberman). You will suffer some defeats, non-responses, and the like, but who really cares? After a couple of months, I personally decided that I didn't really care how many people visited my site, or if the people I liked to read on the internet would like what I wrote on my blog. But if you want your site to be noticed, your best bet is to annoy your influences constantly with lovey-dovey emails until they requite.
2.) Be Specific: Have a platform and a coherent idea about what your blog wants to be about. As stated above, there are definite categories of blogs, and you should tailor yours accordingly. Which means, once you've decided your niche, you should tailor about 90% of your posts to that particular niche. If it's personal, scream incoherently about how your ex-boyfriend doesn't want to be friends anymore. It it's humor, don't veer too far into the realm of self-depreciation. Politics: keep it political, and don't fuck with your readers once you've established your political spectrum.
3.) Comment the shit out of more popular blogs: Also tied in with site whoring. I've never really done this, but it makes sense. Daily Kos has evolved into a group blog that routinely includes lead posts to the front page of former excessive commentators. Learn from example.
4.) Stay open minded: This is just one of those things. Keep looking for that angle. Breath deeply. It'll come to you.
Best of luck, really! I desperately want to find that one blog out there that completely blows me away. Maybe someday I'll find it, but until then, I urge that blogging really isn't quite dead or owned yet, it just feels that way, now that everyone and their sister writes a blog.
And thank you for reading.
-duckwing, at 10:35 PM
Conformity Works in Public Schools
I've noticed the whole big thing. Kerry complains (along with Ted Kennedy) about "No Child Left Behind" being underfunded. Bush is in favor of "NCLB" so of course Kerry's going to complain.
But then I thought about the kids that are far, far ahead in their classes. What about those kids?
As a former school bully, I can honestly say that nothing marks a complete conundrum for the other kids more than a kid who is way too accelerated for his own good. It causes distress and feelings of self-worthlessness, which unfortunately often results in ostracization for the "smart" kid.
It'd be a lot "smarter" if the kid just willingly dumbed down and finished his "NCLB" projects as it's required. And nothing more.
A friend of mine was mentioning to me that she bought her six year old nephew a copy of "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer," because the kid was so smart for his age that he needed more "stimulation" in order not to get too bored in the 2nd grade.
She was obviously fishing for more book titles to suggest to the kid's parents, so I sheepishly offered "Naked Lunch" by William S. Burroughs as a possibility.
But what I really wanted to say was: "How about having him read just some good old fashioned 'Dick and Jane' for a change?! What, is 'Goodnight, Moon' too dull for special kids these days?! That's what all the other kids are reading!"
A classroom is only as smart as it's stupidest kid. NCLB expects a little bit more of the stupid kids, but what about the smart kids in every classroom that are constatly paraded around the classroom like trophies, only to be ridiculed and beaten up by their peers afterhours?
The fact of the matter is that we need to better gauge the median level of our children's abilities, and instill values and frighten our children to attaining that median level. And only that level.
The truth is that conformity works in our public schools. Due to a glandular problem in elementary school, I was just stronger, bigger than most other kids in my class. It wasn't my fault. Unfortunately, the smarter kids made me feel inferior, so I used my own natural abilities to crush and deflate them. I wish I could say that it made me feel better, but unfortunately it didn't, because these kids, encouraged by their parents and their teachers, still had the audacity to initially deflate my ego in the first place.
If we do not induce strict conformity in our classrooms, I fear that NCLB will not only be an unfunded mandate, but a failure. We must encourage our children that a level playing field is not only fair for all children, but also a mandate, whether the funding is ever truly there or not.
-duckwing, at 12:13 AM
Monday, March 22, 2004
Cthulhu Fhtagn! Chick Tract!
For those of you familiar with Chick tracts (if you've ever worked a service job, I'm sure they've crossed your path a couple of hundred times before), here's a parody that I'm sure you'll enjoy.
My favorite actual Chick tract is this one. (it's really isn't a parody)
It's not even close to Halloween yet, so I'll just be anachonistic for now. But Fark generally makes it a point to post a link to it every year, so maybe the sillyness of it never really dies.
-duckwing, at 11:14 PM
They Went Their Own Way, and Nobody Cared -a Fleetwood Mac Piece From Slate
Some guy on Slate makes a case for Fleetwood Mac being the most misunderstood band ever.
And yet almost nobody has tried ripping off Fleetwood Mac's basic sound and style—even unsuccessfully. Dozens of hit records have been derived from Led Zeppelin and Shania Twain and Michael Jackson; the only Fleetwood Mac pastiche that comes to mind is the Magnetic Fields' 1999 joke "No One Will Ever Love You." Bonnie Tyler and Courtney Love have tried to evoke the white-winged-dove essence of singer Stevie Nicks—but Stevie Nicks is not the same thing as Fleetwood Mac.
The biggest reason I'd imagine bands not citing Fleetwood Mac as an influence is that bands that tend to cite anyone as a "big influence" are the same type of bands that hate bands like Fleetwood Mac.
Which is by no means to say that I haven't been a fan of Fleetwood Mac. True, I hate them now, but there was a time, back in the day, when me and my college roommate would blast Fleetwood Mac and Dave Matthews Band songs up to 11 during the last few months leading up to the end of the spring semester, and royally piss off our neighbors in the process. True, we were both incredibly high back then (our flat had a perpetual smokey haze in every room, and how my girlfriend at the time -who hated pot -didn't notice this is just one of those small but weird personal mysteries).
Right now, I'm on a big XTC kick, and I wonder why they're not bigger influences. Same with this guy. The reason is that they were both hugely influenced by bands that preceeded them (XTC: Beatles, Beach Boys....Fleetwood: cheesy ECish blues, the Carpenters, annoyingly earnest folk ballads)
An endnote, and a confession: Lindsey Buckingham was a sort of pioneer, his pickless playing was different, and inspiring to other guitar players, sorta (but my favorite song of his will always be "Holiday Road" from National Lampoon's Vacation. But thank fucking God Christine McVie never got emmulated -I'd have to drive a bolt into my skull for every song that sounded like it was influenced by "Don't Stop," so thank God there aren't any. (and if there are, please don't tell me)
-duckwing, at 7:00 PM
I think I've finally figured out my cycle as it relates to blogging. Post a bunch of stuff one week, essentially take the next week off, repeat.
The good news is that this should be a week where I post more stuff up than usual. I have a few things I want to put up here that just hit me today, as well as a retrospective on blogging as the Apple Coda approaches it's first year anniversary.
-duckwing, at 1:15 PM
Wednesday, March 17, 2004
Sports, and Boredom
Terps beat the crap out of Duke yesterday in a kick ass game.
Good for them.
I don't know how my alma mater did during "March Madness." I somehow imagine them having their asses handed to them in Round 1, due to the fact that they've always sucked at Men's Basketball -the question, how much did they suck, really? I'll have to check that out someday.
But good for Maryland. Duke Sucks.
Other than that, I'm essentially pretty bored tonight, and just wanted to post something this week, as tomorrow's St. Patrick's day, and you know where I'll be tomorrow night.
Essential Questions for me to ponder tonight (some of these are these are extremely open-ended, zen questions, so don't waste your time trying to answer them):
What's the professional job market really like right now? (I'm considering switching jobs, but for awhile it seemed like every techie my age that I knew was out of a job and collecting unemployment last year. Being in a fairly secure but boring gov't job, I've been thinking about whether things have improved enough in Techville to venture out and make some bucks in the private sector without worrying too much about being shitcanned next month.)
Is there another city that is so great that I could ignore the fact that I don't know anybody if I moved there? (I've been considering moving just to see a bit more of the country essentially, but nothing really blows my mind -mostly West Coast, or maybe Gary, Indiana -because of the tech jobs -no East Coast, because I've travelled the EC for most of my life, and if I did make another major move, it would probably be somewhere else. Unless I found an awesome job.)
Is the grass essentially greener on the other side? Yes, I can answer that.
-duckwing, at 12:03 AM
Sunday, March 14, 2004
What Good is Nostalgia if it's Crap?
Anyway, so a guy who used to rent a room at my place, about 18 or so, decided to turn it into a party pad for all his underaged drinking buddies. It ticked me off, but they usually weren't up all night, so I took it with a grain of salt.
So one day he brings some of his people over, and they're cooking dinner and getting completely sloshed (this was about 4:15 in the afternoon, on a Sunday, I think), and I'm watching the tele, on Comedy Central, just trying to take it easy before going to work the next day, and this girl, couldn't have been older than 16-17, completely wasted, falls over on the floor and asks me what I'm watching.
Uh...duh. "Revenge of the Nerds," I say.
"What? Revenge of the What? I've never heard of it."
I looked at her sternly. "Who hasn't heard of 'Revenge of the Nerds?'" I asked. "Do you live in a cave."
"Nope," she said, as she picked herself off the floor. "I think I'm going to grab another beer."
And so I turned back to the tv, and was disturbed. Never heard of "Revenge of the Nerds?" What's this world comming to? It only came out, like, say...20 years ago...
And then something that should've been obvious came up -Revenge of the Nerds was a stupid movie. Us older people were weened on it, and thought it was great, in the sense that it was great because we were weened on it. Just because it's ironic to like stupid movies now that we're older now and should know better (but obviously don't), doesn't mean stupid kids are going to understand why it's ironic at all.
-duckwing, at 8:17 PM
Thursday, March 11, 2004
A Sad Day For Philadelphia
Dave Blood, one of the original members of the Dead Milkmen, commited suicide earlier this week.
While he wasn't the most vital member of the band (I'd give credit to Rodney Anonymous or Joe Jack Talcum, depending on my mood), it's definitely a sad thing to note, and worth a retrospective on their career for old times sake.
I was crazy about these guys as a kid, they were extremely funny, and it kinda tied me in with the Philadelphia community, because there was a time when only we knew how good and funny these guys really were.
Eventually, a couple of years after their best album, "Big Lizard in My Back Yard," was released, they got some airplay on college radio, won some fans nationally, and got even bigger in the next decade (the 90's). Even though their best work was over, it was good for them to get some national attention for a change.
Music parody is an odd format, as Dr. Demento has demonstrated, and Weird Al Yanovik and Mojo Nixon particularly sucked at it. If I was going to give credit to one band in particular for at least having some fun with the genre, it would be the Dead Milkmen, but then again I'm biased.
"The know the one thing that pisses me off....The Goddamn Periodic Table of the Elements!"
They were having a good time well before scatological non sequitor humor became prevalent on the internet.
"I'm thinking about going to the shore..."
That's New Jersey -Wildwood, and Atlantic City. And if the grass truly is greener on the other side, I hope the Jersey shore is that greener grass that he had in mind, after being stuck with Philly and Delaware County all those years.
-duckwing, at 11:23 PM
Who is the Dorkiest Band Of All Time?
This is actually a post I'd put up on a forum somewhere, but given I haven't posted here in awhile, I thought I'd just give it a shot and post it here.
Is there a band or singer that you consider a guilty pleasure, a band so dorky/weird, that you could label them "horribly dorky", and if so, who?
First, a couple of rules should apply:
1.) Must be Western, i.e. either from America or Great Britian. No Bjork spin-offs, or annoying Japanese girl pep bands. Reasons: it's not my culture, so of course it's weird and dorky, and I'll probably have never heard of them. (OTOH, if are from somewhere other that America or GB, feel free to pick a mainstream dorky band in your own native country, but THIS is the only exception.)
2.) You must actually like the band you pick. It should be a band you like listening to on a regular basis, except for the few dorky qualities that make you cringe and gnash your teeth (or you might also like the dorkiness, your call).
I have a band in mind, with some damn good reasons too, but because music is so annoyingly but completely subjective, I'm interested in finding what my 0.5 readers out there consider dorky but likeable in their pick. I post my pick in the comments a little later.
-duckwing, at 8:47 PM
Tuesday, March 09, 2004
A Story About Truth and Paul Cameron
Paul Cameron, as an Undergraduate at the University of Virginia
I went to my local library the other day, trying to dig up some more dirt about the old one-act play Elements of Lester Hates Phoebe, a One Act Play Starring John Gilcrest, (Third post down -and yes I know I need to incorporate permalinks at some point) It's tedious and difficult work for an abridger such as myself, as there hasn't been a critical work or doctoral thesis about the play for decades. But that day I did find something truly astounding -a dusty old copy of a "work in progress" by a young undergraduate named Dr. Paul Cameron, who seemed to be influenced enough by the original work to write his own interpretation based on the play. It was called:
"Lester Hates Phoebe, A One Act Play Starring Paul Cameron, with Numerous Annotations, a Forward, a Preface, Footnotes, and an Epilogue by Paul Cameron." -by Paul Cameron.
I was floored. As passionate as I was about the original work, I quickly changed my own work in progress to "Deconstructing Lester Hates Phoebe, a One Act Play Starring John Gilcrest."
In his own Prologue to his own book, he makes an impassioned plea against the idea of a nuclear family that hates each other, but, oddly enough, at the same time gives a stern warning to married men to be wary of the wares of homosexuals. Excerpt:
"Marital sex tends toward the boring end. Generally, it doesn't deliver the kind of sheer sexual pleasure that homosexual sex does. The most obvious example of this can be found in "Lester Hates Phoebe, a One Act Play Starring Paul Cameron", in which Lester, obviously yearning for hot gay sex, but sensing it's inherent immorality, inflicts his bitterness upon his wife, Phoebe, in cruel and very understated ways."
What is truly amazing is that Mr. Cameron decided to leave out John Gilcrest, arguably the most important aspect of LHPAOAPSJG, and flagrantly inserting himself into the role. While leaving the essential tension between Lester and Phoebe intact, Paul Cameron tends to emphasize homoerotic undertones in his dialogues not present in the original:
Lester: (sips on a cup of coffee) Mmmm...I love coffee.
Lester: Marriage is bliss, and truly the cornerstone of a perfect and holy union between a man and a woman...
Lester: Except for the fact that I'd rather have hot steaming passionate gay sex with a young sailor from India.
Lester: Don't ruin this moment for me with your questions.
Phoebe: What? Do you want to divorce me? (picks up plate)
Lester: What did you say? Sorry, I was just fantasizing about seducing a young undergraduate who moved in across the street last week. I think his name is Paul Cameron.
Phoebe: Paul Cameron? (puts down plate)
Lester: Yes. Paul Cameron, I think his name is. Oddly enough, I identify with him...
Phoebe: Yes, I know what you mean. That boy has genius...
Lester: I know.
Phoebe: Lester, do you still love me?
Lester: Oh, ho ho. Love! It'd be very easy for a normal man to love for his fellow man, erotically, if it weren't for the woman! But we must never forget -even if women are not quite as erotic to us as our pure and unbridled lust for men, we must follow God's Law -sex only for procreation, even if heterosexual sex is boring. (pauses, reflects) I shall mentor this Paul Cameron from my abode, and teach him in the ways of love, even as I love him from afar!
Phoebe: Oh, Lester!
Lester: Oh Phoebe, I hate you so much!
On second thought, I'm not sure how much Mr. Cameron's testimony contributes here to my own book, Elements of LHPAOAPSJG. I guess I'll have to think it over, and perhaps even burn the book in the center of the UVa library, if absolutely necessary. We'll see...
-duckwing, at 1:12 AM
Friday, March 05, 2004
Make Fun of Dr. Paul Cameron Super Tuesday!
Once upon a time, Neal Pollack came up with a nifty idea that would spur the liberal blogging community to action. The idea basically, was to take a public media figure who routinely makes an ass out of himself, and dedicate a day in which all bloggers in all parts of the country and yes, the world, to partake in making fun of him or her (although at this point it's all been guys, so I might have to conclude that only guys have the capacity to make jackasses of themselves in public).
I think it started with Bill O'Reilly, although I was a blogging infant at the time (if indeed this blog was even conceived). The best one that I participated in was "Appropriate Michael Savage's name for your own purposes" day, because of the fact that he had sued some websites like Michael Savage Sucks for libel or something else pretty stupid. My entry, a stupid one (no permalinks, scroll down to the second post on the page) about going out with MS to his favorite San Francisco restaurants, got linked by any number of blogs far more popular and interesting than this one is (Neal Pollack, Blah3, Matthew Tobey's Blog, UtterWonder, Atrios, MichaelSavageSucks itself, etc.), and it not only generated a ton of hits for me (only surpassed by the time I got word of Steve Bartman's name -Seventh post on the page, this time - before it appeared in the papers, and was Google listed for it), but also fostered a sense of community spirit for me in the blogging community that is sometimes lacking. It was also the most fun I've probably ever had while writing for this site.
My point is that it's something that obviously should be repeated, and psh at Suckful has graciously decided to fill the hole left by Neal Pollack in this regard in ordering our community to once again attempt to make fun of a silly, lunaticish kinda right-winger, this time Paul Cameron, most noted lately for his article essentially saying that homosexuality should be abhored because it is so compelling and sexy, that we'd all be having homosexual sex if it we're for tradition, procreation, and custom.
I won't even bother debating this point. It's stupid. I'm a heterosexual man, and I know enough about my own sexuality to realize that this argument is completely insane. The question is, why doesn't Paul Cameron realize this?
Anyway, rather than argue this from a political framework, let's just make fun of him, k? Post your entry for "Make Fun of Dr. Paul Cameron Day" on Tuesday, March 9th, email psh to get a link on his front page, and you'll be all set. I'll link to you too if you let me know. And get the word out -make it a movement. Mine will be up on Monday night, postdated to Tuesday morning for your convienience, and I promise it'll be hillarious.
Also, read my latest track, "A Dinosaur in Berlin," posted below, because it's good, and also be sure to enter the SA contest before March 26th (I've heard they're looking in particular for some MS Paint artwork featuring either Pikachu or elpintogrande on Nazi War Tanks), or you won't be getting any pink nipple cream for your birthday this year.
-duckwing, at 10:14 PM
Thursday, March 04, 2004
A Dinosaur in Berlin
(Note: this was an entry I sent in to SomethingAwful for their contest. I essentially structured it around one of the suggestions they had that it have something to do with a dinosaur in Nazi Germany. If posting my entry here disqualifies me, then so be it. I can always find myself a Hello Kitty dildo somewhere else.)
It was a mad and gray day in hell, or perhaps it was Nazi Germany, circa 1938, and I was alone, trying to tie my undone shoelaces before untying them again and then starting over. This was a misguided attempt to avoid the sick and sorrowed eyes of my fellow passengers as my train rolled into Berlin.
“C’est Berlin! C’est Berlin! C’est Vrai!” -screamed my French fellow beside me, obviously confused and feeling out of place in Nazi Germany, circa 1938. As he jumped out of his seat and pressed his entire face against the glass of the window, I more or less juxtaposed his feelings with my own, and savored the irony, as I imagined myself in better times at a café in Gay Paris –enjoying token biscuits and fine French wine, and perhaps also the favors of a select number of dirty French prostitutes.
The passenger across from my adorable traveling companion yelled –“Niene Eicht Vin Stein!” Which essentially means, “Please Be Quiet, I am trying to Concentrate!” in German, but my Frenchman did not understand.
Because Orwell was not French, we must stop for a moment and appreciate the “naiveté” of the French people. The Frenchman did not understand that this German passenger could call the SA goons on him, and have him arrested, simply for being French. It was, for a native European comprehending other Europeans, simply incomprehensible. So, needless to say, even if the Frenchman did understand German, he would have simply ignored this warning, and continued along with what he was doing.
“Ein! Ein!” yelled the German this time, pointing at my friend, and, of course, the SA goons broke through the windows and entered the passenger car, taking us quite by surprise. They quickly but noiselessly (at least after they had finished breaking through the windows, I suppose) encircled our French hero, pinning him to the ground. The Frenchman did not even have enough time to say “Merci!” before the brown shirts had put a brown paper bag over his head, effectively blinding him to the sight of poor, pitiful Berlin, and pinning his arms behind his back as he was led off the train.
A minute later, our train came to a full stop outside Berlin Station. Close by were Berlin’s unique downtown stores and shopping malls. I bought a cheese steak, a paperweight, and a diet Coke at the local Food Court, and frowned heavily upon what had happened in the last 15 minutes.
I had managed to avoid detection, but it was just luck. And when you’re a double agent, luck is an unreliable proposition. Skill and finesse are the tools most necessary to being a double agent in Nazi Germany, and luck is for those lucky people out there who are just born that way. Fuck Luck.
As I was leaving the Food Court, I came across my probation officer, Herr Sven Ausfahrt, a typical blond haired blue eyed German, the kind Hitler liked to call “the Swedish Race,” in a book entitled Mein Kampf, which literally means, “On a Fast Train in Berlin, Never Stopping.”
“Bonjour,” he said, and I could feel his steel eyes boring into my head, my heart, and deep into the impenetrable dark recesses of my soul. “How are you today?” he quipped, as only a Superman with Nietzschian undertones could suggest.
“Hi,” I said. I could not speak.
“Klein eint isht dopplesaur en groppenhowserfeurer…” he stated, without emotion. It meant: “I know you are a double agent working with the Americans, but this does not upset me.” He gestured up to the old clock tower, known as Big Ben to the natives, an apparent suggestion that the war would soon be over anyway.
I stood silent.
“Vest en c’est vie en beautiful, no?” -he said again, raising his intonation, so that it would be clear to me that he was asking me a question.
What was my favorite dinosaur in Nazi Germany?
And I looked back at the clock tower, then back at Herr Ausfahrt, and somehow answered Tyrannosaurus Rex.
-duckwing, at 8:24 PM
For the most part, I feel pretty confident in my skillz as a writer, and in my knowledge of current events and Ameican culture, to warrant feeling that I could make a living doing this.
Then reality sinks in sometimes, and I realize I'm just a complete ass.
Sorry. While a justification/explanation might seem necessary here, I won't give one.
-duckwing, at 10:27 AM
Tuesday, March 02, 2004
Fabio, Death of a Presidency, and Cool
What really bugs me about Reality TV is how alien it is.
I caught the last half hour or so of "Average Joe 2: Hawaii" last night, and I was annoyed by one thing, really. Not the fact that Brian or Bob or whoever the Bostonian guy was lost the chick after taking her to Fenway Park, which was total fucking blasphemy, but the whole Fabio thing.
She tells the guy she picked that she once dated Fabio, and the guy responds by kicking sand castles all over the place and splashing in the water for a bit. He tells us that every guy watching this would understand why it's over between them.
Is there any guy out there who wouldn't be in freaking hysterics at the mere mention of Fabio?
I mean, really. During a storm, and with trepidation, she brings this up. If I was this guy, after I was finished being doubled over in pain from diaphragm spasms, I'd be like, "Oh shit...Really? Ah fuck, this just kills me. Could you do me...(cough)...just one small favor? Could you just go ahead and beat the shit out of me right now, cause my self-esteem is just shattered. Better yet, you'd better kill me. But before that, make sure you give Fabio a call and see if you could get him come out to Ft. Lauderdale to console my family."
Anyway, that was weird.
National Politics: I'll never understand politics, try as I might. At this point, in trying to guess who'd win in November -Kerry vs. Bush, I'll go with Imus. The Imus challenge -who he picks has to win. In 2000, he picked Bush. This year he switched and picked Kerry, and so will I. But Kerry just seems like a bunch of damaged goods. So does George Bush. It feels like a race of losers, and whoever winds up the biggest loser out of the bunch will lose the election. Or maybe ends up winning the race. You Americans are funny with your attitudes and perceptions. Rather than second guess you guys, I'll just take the Imus challenge.
As for Cool, I'll give you my music pick of the week: Fats Waller: Anything by Fats Waller. Along will Jelly Roll Morton, he transitioned the bridge between ragtime and swing. Except Fats Waller was funny, and absolutely one of the most entertaining performers America has ever recorded. Not only that, he was an enormously talented piano player (not too many better, for my money, as far as jazz goes -and it goes a long way -listen to that staccato!) Add to that the fact that he doesn't really sound dated at all, despite the fact that his recordings are now 70-80 years old. Tempted to go off on a tangent about how he compares with our contemporary music scene, but I won't segue that way tonight.
-duckwing, at 9:20 PM