"He doesn't bark, and he knows the secrets of the deep."
- French Poet Gerard de Nerval, walking his lobster on a leash


   There are two things you can never have enough of in Ireland: Guiness and film. Our two-and-a-half week motor trip through the southern part of the island nation was so relaxing, beautiful and exhilarating, it felt like we'd been gone a MONTH and a half. There's a Gaelic expression, "Giorraionn beirt bothar", which for those of you not fluent in Irish, like me, (though God knows I tried) means, "Two shorten a road."
   This is particularly true if your wife is driving for the first time on the left hand side, and your job as "navigator" is to yell, "Too close! You're too close to the wall!!" and to get out of the vehicle periodically to ask some sweet-faced, incredibly patient store clerk how to get somewhere. (The answer is always, turn right, take the last left off the next roundabout and left again at the pub next to the new petrol station; then straight on -- you can't miss it.)
   HINT: A roundabout is just what it sounds like, and the secret to navigating it is to keep going in circles until you're absolutely sure that the sign you've chosen is really pointing you in the right direction; and even then you may get lost, but you know something? Getting lost on the rural roads of Eire is like finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and we saw plenty of those, too.
   We stayed in B&Bs, farmhouses, hotels and even Glin castle, often making our decisions on the spur of the moment. The Irish Tourist Centers were also a great help in booking ahead. In Dublin, the main office is located in a converted church.
   We visited Cork, Blarney, Cobh, Kinsale, Killarney, Dingle, Ballybunnion, Glin, Adare, Lisdoonvarna, Galway and Dublin, among other towns and cities; met poets and politicians; and yes, I kissed the Blarney stone, and it kissed back. There's much more to tell and I'll try to do so in future orbits,

"If you're looking to save the whales, call Oprah; if you're sleeping with a whale, call us." - Richard Dominick, executive producer of the Jerry Springer Show


   While we were in London, we saw a brilliant two-man show called "Stones in his Pockets" that tells the story of two Irishmen appearing as extras in an epic tearjerker being filmed by an American company in their small fishing village, and another two-man show from Australia by way of the Edinburgh Festival called "The Puppetry of the Penis."
   Ozzies Simon Morley and David Friend have been extended (if you'll excuse the expression) at the venerable Whitehall, appropriately set between Nelson's Column and Big Ben, with their hysterical "celebration of the ancient Australian art of genital origami".
   After an introduction by a saffron-robed "Gland Master" warning us "not to try this at home", they appear in hats and shoes (and very little else) to present an evening of dick tricks, or as they put it, "installations" including the Eiffel Tower ("If you look at the top, you can actually see people milling around"), the Loch Ness Monster, the Sea Anemone, the Wristwatch, Prince Philip, the Digeridoo and Kentucky Fried Chicken - which will never taste the same again.
   The results of their handiwork are projected onto a giant screen while the predominantly female audience howled with laughter and grown men winced, beholding the Joey in his Pouch (I can do that one) or attempting to coax the Mollusk out of his shell.
   As various reviewers have said: "Despite its startlingly frank content, the show is not smutty. The puerile puppeteers frolic innocently round the stage like two little boys who have just discovered what is happening `Down Under' for the first time."
   Or, in other words, "Mother of God, what manner of evil is this?"
   One 60-year-old woman, wiping away tears of laughter, came up to them afterwards at the pub next door and said: "`I've been waiting 40 years to laugh at a penis like that." Simon revealed to me that his fondest hope is to play Vegas. I know that wherever they end up next, they'll have a ball . . .

"Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." All very nice, but that's not exactly how I wanted to be 'endowed by my Creator,' if you know what I mean. - Jim Rosenberg's "Ruminations & Ponderances"


   A federal appeals court has upheld an Alabama law banning the sale of artificial penises. The law was challenged last year by six women who either sell sex aids or said they "need" them. A U.S. District Judge agreed saying it was "overly broad" and in violation of due process rights.
   But last week a three-judge 11th Circuit panel overturned the ruling saying the law, "is rationally related to the state's legitimate government interest in public morality." The penalty for selling or distributing a dildo in Alabama? Up to one year in jail and a $10,000 fine.

"In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe."
- Carl Sagan


   Critic Frank Coghlan writes deliciously scathing film reviews in the excellent Irish Times, to which I became quite addicted. Criticing "The Klumps", he wrote a paragraph that had me spitting Guiness through my nose, (although I'll never equal Mr. Cole's Guiness record of expelling a strand of spaghetti from his nose for a distance of 19 centimeters).
   "The love interest is supplied by Janet Jackson who plays a science professor (a laugh at last). Her acting range is impressive, though - she smiles sweetly when she's happy and knits her brow like an aran sweater when she's not. This makes her the star turn. Jesus wept."

"We are all walk-ons in other people's lives."
- Playwright Alan Ayckbourn


   We were in London the day John Lennon would have turned 60, a rainy day that we spent in a pub on the Westside reading papers and downing pints. In one of many articles commemorating his life, it was revealed that the last track Lennon completed on the night he died, "Help Me Help Myself", contains the lyrics, "Well, I tried so hard to stay alive/But the angel of destruction keeps on hounding me, all around..."
   Writer Robert Webb recalled that John once told him that after suffering through a rendition of "Yesterday" played by a restaurant violinist, he asked John to sign his instrument. "He couldn't understand that I didn't write the song. But I guess he couldn't have gone from table to table playing 'I am the Walrus'."

[Go to next column to continue reading]

"Somebody said to me,'But the Beatles were anti-materialistic.' That's a huge myth. John and I literally used to sit down and say, 'Now let's write a swimming pool.' "
- Paul McCartney


   A man in a hot air balloon realized he was lost, so he reduced altitude and spotted a woman below. "Excuse me, can you help me?", he shouted, "I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am."
   The woman replied, "You're in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground between 40 and 41 degrees north latitude and 59 and 60 degrees west longitude."
   "You must be a Production Manager," said the balloonist.
   "I am," replied the woman, "How did you know?"
   "Well," answered the balloonist, "everything you told me is technically correct, but I have no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I'm still lost."
   The woman below responded, "You must be a Producer."
   "I am," replied the balloonist, "but how did you know?"
   "Well," said the woman, "you don't know where you are or where you're going. You have risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise which you have no idea how to keep, and you expect me to solve your problem. The fact is you're in exactly the same position you were in before we met; but now, somehow, it's my fault." (From Judy Cohen)

"I started at the top and worked down."
- Orson Welles


   In another London paper was a jolly article (with pictures) about Everest climber Major Lane - part of the second British team to scale the mountain in 1976 -- who had just donated his five frostbitten fingers and ten amputated toes to the National Army Museum in Chelsea.
   Although museum spokesperson Jo Wooley commented that "The fingers and toes tell a great story and also capture a bit of the typical army humor," Lane added, "I don't think it was quite what they expected."

"Served with marinated chicken filet pieces, cashew nuts and breaded sweet corn and Caesar dressing."
- The Stag pub's Chicken Caesar, London


   As noted in Massie Ritsch's "Trail Mix" column in the L.A. Times, Democratic incumbent Bob Bacon is in a tight race with Libertarian Clifford Ham in Northern Colorado.
   "Their get-togethers with voters are invariably billed as 'meat the candidates' sessions, and joking charges of 'pork-barrel politics' have been raised. With the other two candidates hogging the attention, challenger Bill Benton complains, 'I've been sandwiched by both of them.' "
   Meanwhile, in Vermont, Karen Kerin was engaged in a battle to unseat a Republican Congressional incumbent Bernie Sanders with a platform that favors the recording but not licensing of same-sex marriages, to be performed "only in churches."
   Karen has nevertheless been described as an embarrassment to the Grand Old Party because she was actually born Charles Kerin and changed her gender after a prolonged battle with cancer. What's more, there is another Karen Kerin who is the wife of a cousin of the challenger and lives in of all places, Middlesex.
   "He, I mean she, is a nut, a fruitcake," rants the other Kerin. "She's made a mockery of my name. I'm thinking of changing it, I really am."
   And in Idaho, condemned murderer Lacey Mark Sivak is running for President with a write-in campaign aimed at returning power to the states.
   "While I may be locked up," Spivak said in a recent telephone interview reported by the L.A. Times' Massie Ritsch in "Trail Mix", "I believe I have a moral standard. I've got flaws [but] anybody who says they're perfect is lying to you."

"I asked him to lie down first so he wouldn't hurt himself when he fell down." - Psychotic Killer quote of the week from Dr. John


   It was also in the U.K. that we read of the death by his own hand of cowboy/actor Richard Farnsworth on his ranch in New Mexico, ending his suffering from cancer. He was the oldest person ever honored by an Academy Award Nomination after a long career as a stuntman and doubling for Kirk Douglas in "Spartacus"
   "I had real skinny legs," he reminisced, "I looked like a crane in that short skirt." But he eventually tried his hand at reading lines because "that ground started getting really hard."
   As a co-founder of the Stuntman's Union, I know he would have been really happy that the long AFTRA/SAG strike appears to finally be coming to a successful conclusion. Ride 'em cowboy.

"The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars."
- Jack Kerouac "On the Road"


   And among the other luminaries who were snuffed out in the past few weeks, none was more shocking than the passing of fellow Antaean David Dukes, who died suddenly of a heart attack playing tennis on his day off, filming a role in Stephen King's ABC mini-series "Rose Red" in Vancouver.
   Melinda and I worked with him recently in one of Yuri Rassovsky's wonderful science-fiction pieces for his "2000 X" radio series and saw him perform with John Vickery at the Matrix, where he was a founding member, in "Waiting For Godot". He was 55. He waits no more.
   Nor does philosopher Charles Hartshorne, who died at 103 after a life dedicated to a search for the nature of God, apparently inspired by a simple statement his mother made to him when he was a boy. "Charles", she said, "Life is big."
   A famed theologian, he was also a renowned ornithologist who posited that birds, like some people, actually sing "for the pure joy of it."

"In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life. It goes on." - Robert Frost




Phil's "Signs of the Times"

workers.jpg (8357 bytes)

Decode your answer now . . .
captioned by
Tiny Dr. Tim

2000 by Phil Proctor

Published 10/25/00