"There are still places where people think that the function of the media is to provide information."
(Don Rottenberg)


The recent exchange of acrimonious slurs between super-rockers Elton John and super-stone Keith Richard -- who claimed the former owes his fame to "writing songs for dead blondes," causing John to ripost that Richard looks "like a monkey with arthritis" -- reminded me of an August interview with George Harrison in the French paper Le Figaro. The former Beatle said that today's music is plagued by super groups whose tunes are "rubbish" and none of today's musicians will be remembered in 30 years. He slammed Oasis as "lame" and last year called the band's lead singer, Liam Gallagher, "the silly one." He was particularly tough on U2, referring to them as an "egocentric" band with zero talent, saying "The only thing important is to sell and make money. It's nothing to do with talent." But the good thing about the Spice Girls, the 54-year-old rocker adds, is "you can look at them."

Still, to put the blue suede shoe on the other foot, it was King Elvis, as related in a memo by an FBI agent after Presley had visited the agency, who charged that it was the Beatles that caused the decline of youth in the 1960s and "laid the groundwork for many of the problems we are having with young people by their filthy, unkempt appearance and suggestive music."

And as long as we're placing blame, wasn't it Bob Dylan who made the moptops potheads by turning them on for the first time? Just asking...




One day, John's tennis elbow was acting up and he decided to stop in and see a doctor. When he got to the office the nurse told him he could see the doctor in 15 minutes but, first he'd have to give a urine sample. John said that this was absurd but, the nurse insisted and John complied. 15 minutes later, John was ushered in to see the doctor.

"So that tennis elbow is really acting up, huh?" the doctor said.

"The nurse must have told you," said John, wondering how he knew.

"No. It was in your urinalysis." And he boasted that he had just purchased this new machine that could diagnose every physical condition with total accuracy. John didn't believe a word of this but he did agree to provide another urine sample on his check-up visit.

Two days later, John was sitting at the kitchen table with his wife and his teenage daughter. He was telling them about this ridiculous machine and then decided to have a little fun.

John peed in the bottle as did his wife and teenage daughter. Then while walking to his garage he had a brainstorm. He put a few drops of oil from his crankcase in the jar and finally choked the chicken and added a few drops of semen.

This time his urinalysis took half an hour. Finally, John was ushered in to see the doctor.

"I've got some bad news, smartass," he said. "Your daughter is pregnant, your wife's got V.D., your car is about to throw a rod, and if you don't stop beating off, that tennis elbow is never gonna heal!"




*The best way to a man's heart is to saw his breast plate open. -- Lady's room, Murphy's, Champaign, IL

*Beauty is only a light switch away. -- Perkins Library. Duke University. Durham, North Carolina.

*I've decided that to raise my grades I must lower my standards. -- Houghton Library, Harvard University. Cambridge, Massachusetts.

*If life is a waste of time, and time is a waste of life, then let's all get wasted together and have the time of our lives. -- Armand's Pizza. Washington, D.C.

*Remember, it's not, "How high are you?" it's "Hi, how are you?" -- Rest stop off Route 81. West Virginia.

*God made pot. Man made beer. Who do you trust? -- The Irish Times. Washington, D.C.

*No matter how good she looks, some other guy is sick and tired of putting up with her crap. -- Men's Room, Linda's Bar and Grill. Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

*At the feast of ego, everyone leaves hungry. -- Bentley's House of Coffee and Tea, Tucson, Arizona.

*It's hard to make a comeback when you haven't been anywhere. -- Written in the dust on the back of a bus. Wickenburg, Arizona.

*Make love, not war. -- Heck, do both, get married! -- Women's restroom, The Filling Station. Bozeman, Montana.

*If voting could really change things, it would be illegal. -- Revolution Books. New York, New York.

*To do is to be. -Descartes

To be is to do. -Voltaire

Do be do be do. -Frank Sinatra. -- Men's restroom,

Greasewood Flats. Scottsdale, Arizona.

(Thanks to Harris "Graffiti" Mike)




In collecting background research for voice work on Steven Speilberg's Dreamworks film "Amistad," which concerns the trial of 53 West African young men and women accused of murder and mutiny in 1839, I came across a curious bit of material in The American Heritage History of The Making of the Nation.

It's an "Address on the Effects of Ardent Spirits" delivered by Jonathan Kittredge in the village of Lyme, New Hampshire on the evening of January 8, 1827, and the speech, from which I quote below, seems to offer a very early example of and curious explanation for the still controversial subject of "spontaneous human combustion."

Kittredge starts by noting that "Out of the number of the intemperate in the United States, ten thousand die annually from the effect of ardent spirits. And what a death! To live a drunkard is bad enough, but to die so, and to be ushered into the presence of your angry Judge only to hear the sentence, 'Depart thou drunkard!' Ah! language fails..." Though apparently not to Mr. Kittredge, who proceeds to enumerate the causes of death: "Some are killed instantly, some die a lingering, gradual death, some commit suicide in fits of intoxication, and some are actually burnt up."

Referring to a fellow named Trotter who annotated ten such cases, "with all the proof we require to believe any event... attended by living witnesses, examined by learned men, and published in the journals of the day without contradiction," Kittredge then quoted from such to his doubtlessly enthralled audience, with punctuation apparently by the aforementioned author.

"It is the case 'of a woman eighty years of age, exceedingly meagre, who had drunk nothing, but ardent spirits, for several years. She was sitting in her elbow chair, while her waiting maid went out of the room for a few moments.

"'On her return, seeing her mistress on fire, she immediately gave an alarm, and some people coming to her assistance, one of them endeavored to extinguish the flames with his hands, but they adhered to them, as, if they had been dripped in brandy or oil on fire. Water was brought and thrown on the body in abundance, yet the fire appeared more violent, and was not extinguished, till the whole body had been consumed. -- The lady was in the same place, in which she sat every day, there was no extraordinary fire, and she had not fallen.'

"This, with nine other cases related by the author," Kitteredge concludes, "was a consumption of the body produced by the use of ardent spirits." Alas, no such scene will be included in Mr. Speilberg's marvelously moving film, which will be released sometime in the near future.




Where the police are British,
the cooks are French,
the mechanics are German,
the lovers are Italian,
and all is organized by the Swiss.



Where the police are German,
the cooks are British,
the mechanics are French,
the lovers are Swiss,
and all is organized by the Italians. (OK, Eric Kaye)




I am, because I forgot the name of the person who sent me this great list of oxymorons:

Act naturally, found missing, resident alien, advanced basic, genuine imitation, safe sex, airline food, good grief, same difference, almost exactly, government organization, sanitary landfill, alone together, legally drunk, silent scream, British fashion, living dead, small crowd, business ethics, soft rock, butt head, military intelligence, software documentation, new classic, childproof, "now, then ...", synthetic natural gas, passive aggression, taped live, clearly misunderstood, peace force, temporary tax increase, computer jock, plastic glasses, terribly pleased, computer security, political science, tight slacks, definite maybe, pretty ugly, twelve-ounce pound cake, diet ice cream, working vacation, exact estimate, religious tolerance, and one of my personal favorites (whoever it is): microsoft works.

(Thanks, and identify yourself.)




Dr. John, ret., recently visited a replica of Anne Hathaway's Thatched Cottage in Victoria, BC, and the tour guide made a big point of mentioning British origins of various colloquial expressions. Here's a (partial) list:

Threshold: The raised door entrance held back the straw (called thresh) which covered the stones during the winter months.

Chew the fat: The host would offer his guests a piece of bacon, which was stored above the fireplace in the parlour. The more bacon and the more fat on it the better as bacon was a measure of prosperity.

Settle down: The courting settle was a bench in the parlour where couples would sit.

Clean your plate off before you have dessert: The main course would be eaten from one side of the trencher and when you finished, you would clean off your plate with a piece of bread, turn it over, and eat your dessert on the underside of the trencher.

Square meal: The trencher was a square plate.

Blue plate special: The blue willow pattern was commonly used for plateware.

Upper crust: Since bread was sliced horizontally, the top crust (far away from the burnt parts) was considered to be the best part of the bread and was kept for special guests.

Done to a turn/done to a T: Meat was roasted until cooked, on an upright spit which had to be turned by hand.

Cupboard: The cups were hung on hooks screwed into a piece of wood.

Pitcher: A leather jug treated with tar pitch to harden it and hold its shape.

Bombed: A Bombard is a leather jug which holds 8 pints or 4 quarts. Drinking a full bombard of ale would get you bombed.

Tanked: Too many tankards of ale would do this.

Tumbler/Tipsy: Glasses were hand blown, thus flat bottomed glasses were difficult to produce. Those with curved bottoms would tend to tumble over when placed on the table, and too many tumblers of whiskey would make you a little bit tipsy.

Stone cold: The ground floors were covered with stone slabs placed directly on the earth and so they were always cold. If you spent your night on the floor of your pub, blitzed out, you were stone cold drunk.

Sleep tight: The bed frames were strung with ropes on which straw mattresses were placed. After some time the ropes would slacken and one of the young men would pull them tight.

Tie the knot: Tying the knot of ropes in the marriage bed.

Saved by the bell: To prevent persons being buried alive (when they weren't dead but merely dead drunk), a rope was tied to the wrist of the body in the coffin with a bell attached above ground, if the person awoke from the dead, the bell would ring when they moved. (Another method was to leave the putative deceased around the kitchen for a few days and see if he would awaken to the sounds of a loud, boisterous party, called a Wake.)




The Sampler strikes again: Hollywood people use the Italian "ciao" (pronounced "chow") for hello or goodbye. What's it really mean? Well, take it all the way back to the Latin "sclavus," and it meant, "I am your slave." (Sounds like Hollywood to me.) It's also National Toilet Flushing Month. What are you waiting for?




Hello/goodbye to Henry John Deutschendorf Jr., producer of the Starland Vocal Band's "Afternoon Delight," AKA, John Denver. He wanted to be the first civilian astronaut and went out with a bang like "a light in the sky." Also to people's politician Kenneth Hahn and to Mary Munday, actress and brave friend, who died on Tuesday.




Published 10/13/97

1996/2002 by Phil Proctor