Friday, October 29, 2004

Well, Blessed be! I'm sure the victims are THRILLED...

PRESTONPANS, Scotland (AP) -- Accused witches -- and their cats -- executed during a wave of hysteria and religious ferment centuries ago will be pardoned on Halloween in this Scottish township.

"There'll be no witches' hats, dress-ups or that sort of thing -- it will be a fairly solemn occasion," Adele Conn, spokeswoman for the baronial court that granted the pardons, said by telephone interview Friday.

Sunday's ceremony will publicly declare pardons for 81 local people executed in the 16th and 17th centuries for being witches. The pardons have been granted under ancient feudal powers due to be abolished within weeks.

More than 3,500 Scots, mainly woman and children, and their cats were killed in witch hunts at a time of political intrigue and religious ferment. Many were condemned on flimsy evidence, such as owning a black cat or brewing homemade remedies.

Prestonpans region had recorded one of the largest numbers of witch executions in all of Scotland, said Conn, who is the "mountjoye," or official spokeswoman, for the Barons Courts of Prestoungrange & Dolphinstoun.

She said Gordon Prestoungrange, the 14th baron, granted the pardons for the convictions in the last session of his court, which is due to be abolished on November 28.

"'Most of those persons condemned for witchcraft within the jurisdiction of the Baron Courts of Prestoungrange and Dolphinstoun were convicted on the basis of spectral evidence -- that is to say, prosecuting witnesses declared that they felt the presence of evil sprits or heard spirit voices,"' the court said in its written findings.

"Such spectral evidence is impossible to prove or to disprove; nor is it possible for the accused to cross-examine the spirit concerned. One is convicted upon the very making of such charges without any possibility of offering a defense."

The court declared an absolute pardon to all those convicted, "as well as to the cats concerned."

Conn said 15 local descendants of executed witches had been invited to attend the ceremony and inaugural Witches' Remembrance Day, which will become an annual event in the township each Halloween.

"It's too late to apologize but it's a sort of symbolic recognition that these people were put to death for hysterical ignorance and paranoia," said local historian Roy Pugh, who presented evidence to the court in support of the pardons.

The last execution for witchcraft in Scotland was in 1727. Such cases were outlawed by the Witchcraft Act of 1735, which made it a crime only to pretend to be a witch.

(End of Story)

Which makes me wonder -- how many local descendants of the CATS will there be at the ceremony? Surely hundreds of thousands of offspring have come and gone.

What you sell at an affair like this? Clothing that says "My ancestor was acquitted of being a witch and all I got was this stupid T-Shirt?"

Will there be food vendors? I suppose barbecue would be right out...

Everybody have a happy Halloween, or Samhain, or whatever you call it and do for it.

Fiddlers Dream will be having their annual "Dead Folk Singers" party on Sunday from 7-9. Come sing and play the songs of performers gone before. All the proceeds go to something or other.


For the time being, all activities at Fiddlers Dream will be in the Quaker Meeting House, as the roof of Fidds' proper has sustained major water damage from the recent rains and the ceiling inside appears to be moments from caving in.

It's a catch 22; the roofers can't fix it till the place dries out; it can't dry out till it stops raining; etc. Stay tuned.


Thursday, October 28, 2004

I was riding in my car last night when the Red Sox won the series. And even though, like I've said, I'm not a Red Sox fan per se, when the last out happened and the champions were assured, I actually felt a weight lift off of me. I think most baseball fans in America did.

Ain't no curse of the Bambino anymore.


Just found out that the Quakers never bothered to call a roofer last week after I got to Fiddlers Dream for open stage and found the front of the stage underwater. It's now raining. So we're playing in the big building until further notice.


I was just thinking: now that the Series is over, and the Red Sox are champs, we can now say with great confidence that the Chicago Cubs are the biggest losers in baseball. But as a Chicago kid my hope springs eternal. GO CUBBIES!


Wednesday, October 27, 2004

This is nice, seeing as I'm the one who usually runs the joint on Thursday...


(For the record though, we don't constantly serve hot dogs and hamburgers. That sentence is BADLY worded.)


Red Sox up 3-0. Yikes!


Last night I played an open mic called Essenza in Mesa. The only people there were the group that hosts the open mic and me. I liked them. They liked me too, when they weren't running outside to smoke.

Everybody just stop smoking! I'm tired of it. You're killing yourselves and you're being unintentionally rude.

That goes for all you people in Europe, too. Knock it off before I actually have enough money to come over there. I don't want my long-awaited European vacation ruined by your cigarette smoke. So all of you stop it now, so you'll have years to get used to not smoking.


I'm going to be hosting a radio show on the internet! "Zappa Universe" (what else?) will be a one-hour weekly show that showcases the life and work of Frank Zappa, the people who played with him and the people who play his stuff now, 11 years after the Great One achieved room temperature.

I'm recording the first show on Monday night; I'll keep you posted as to when it will air. It will be on www.radiofreephoenix.com, which you should be listening to 24 hours a day, even giving up sleep to do so. It's great!

Speaking of Zappa, I am trying to find an MP3 or even a record of Woody Herman playing Zappa's "America Drinks and Goes Home." If you have it, let me borrow it.



Monday, October 25, 2004

As some of you know, and even less of you care, I occasionally dabble in filk music.

"Filk" is a type of folk music that focuses on speculative fiction, i.e. sci-fi, fantasy, etc.

Most people can take about one or two songs in this genre before they want you to play "House of the Rising Sun." However, it's a viable form of folk music, and there are actually FAMOUS PEOPLE who enjoy filk music and even record it and play it.

Janis Ian has been known to show up at science fiction conventions to play music; and Country Joe McDonald (GIMME AN F!) has an entire filk album available for your dining, dancing and totally FREE listening pleasure at http://www.countryjoe.com/space.htm

It's not bad, by the way. It's not "Rubber Soul," either, but it's definitely worth a listen, and remember, it's FREE!


We went down to see our friends Ann and Marty in Willcox over the weekend, had a good time and then, on our way back we stopped at "Essence of Tranquility," a remarkably quaint oasis of hot springs in Safford.

I love this place. It's remarkably tacky, yet relaxing at the same time. It's run by an old hippie who offers "touch therapies" (read: massage) and you can soak in any of the pools there for $5 an hour.

I was amused and somewhat taken aback by a sign in each of the pool areas (most are encased for privacy, so you can use them nude, if you wish -- and I do, of course!) that said, among other things: "Please do not use the decorations as a disposal for your cigarettes and used condoms!"

Essence is a trustworthy place. You literally pay your money at the gate. There's a little box to drop your five bucks in. It is, dare I say, "cute."

And they have the most hacked-together website I've ever seen.

I recommend it.


Red Sox up two in the series. But the Cards haven't lost yet at home during the pre-season, and there are three games there. We'll see...


Friday, October 22, 2004

While I admire their enthusiasm, somehow I don't think the Chinese have this capitalism thing down quite yet...

Just read an article where Olympic hurdling gold medalist Liu Xiang has signed a deal with the Baisha Group.

The Baisha Group is China's largest manufacturer of something I'm sure is on every Olympic training table around the globe:


At least they have good reasoning for signing a runner to puff for profits:

"Everyone likes Liu Xiang and hopes he will 'soar' higher and faster, and maintain his sunny, healthy, progressive image," Baisha CEO Lu Ping said, according to the company Web site Thursday.

Name ONE smoker you know with a sunny, healthy, progressive image. You can't. At least not after they've been sucking away on filter tips for five, ten years.

It goes on to say that Liu, who won the 110-meter hurdles in Athens, is appearing in print ads and TV commercials.

I wonder what those are like:

Before you light up the track, light up a YingTong!

Overcome any hurdle...short of Lung Cancer! Smoke YingTong!

Indeed, how can people worry about stuff like Iraq and voting when there are stories like this out there?


I desperately have to pee.


So it's DEFINITELY Red Sox vs. Cardinals. Watch for scores of interviews with guys who were in the last Sox/Cards series in '67. Yaz, Gibson, hell, probably even Rico Petrocelli. Is that a great name or what?

Baseball used to be full of cool names. Clete Boyer. CLETE! Is there a more perfect name for a guy who played in a time where getting spiked by a guy's cletes was pretty much de rigeur?

Choo Choo Coleman. Not the worst ballplayer ever, but close.
Not the biggest conversationalist, either.

Actual interview:

Reporter: Why do they call you "Choo Choo," Choo Choo?

Choo Choo: I don't know, Ralph.

Reporter: What's your wife's name?

Choo Choo: Mrs. Coleman.

I can just imagine THAT double headstone:
Here lies

"Choo Choo" Mrs.
Coleman Coleman

What a guy.

Go Sox.

Have a nice weekend. I plan to.


Thursday, October 21, 2004

Wow! The impossible happened! When I said last week it would be interesting to see Boston play St. Louis in the World Series again, I really didn't think the Red Sox were gonna do what they did. NOBODY did. Of course, as I write this we still don't know who's going from the National League but at least the series will be worth watching...


I received a postcard today from a brand new modeling agency in town and I can already tell you that I won't be calling them if I ever need a model. Their amazingly stupid registration method, just to get online to view headshots, caused me to send their postcard straight into the trash.


An unanswerable question, or at least a question upon which men and women will never agree: Which is more sensitive, the clitoris or the frenum?


Back to baseball: I love how all the Boston fans on sports radio keep referring to the Yankees as the Evil Empire.


We went to see the movie "Team America" last night. It was very funny. Not as funny as I thought it could be, but definitely funny, and like "South Park" before it, the songs are hummable. HUMMABLE. Because if you sang the words, you'd get your ass kicked. Except for maybe the song sung by the Kim Jong Il puppet, entitled "I'm Ronery." (Lonely)

And I'm sure it's the only movie where you'll ever hear a deep, heartfelt love song about what a shitty movie "Pearl Harbor" was.

Plus, it's always nice to hear "Magic Carpet Ride" by Steppenwolf and it sounded REALLY good on the big theatre speakers.

Marionette sex is hilarious.


Tuesday, October 19, 2004

You know what disturbs me about the Freudian slip Bush made yesterday, where he said we cannot survive without a draft, when what he meant was that we CAN survive without a draft? The amount of time he stood there, dumbfounded, wondering why that didn't sound right. It really sounded like he slipped up and said what he meant but didn't WANT to say.


The other night my wife and I were watching PORN (we're adults, we're allowed) on pay TV and you know what? Those movies are great for doing an MST3K to. They could use a little more plot, though.


Stuff I want on DVD (none of this stuff has EVER been on DVD, and probably never will):

The Phynx
Medicine Ball Caravan (actually I wouldn't mind the soundtrack from this, either)
John Goldfarb, please come home
Quackser Fortune Has A Cousin in the Bronx
Between Time and Timbuktu: A Space Fantasy


I think the heating element on my jacuzzi is broken. I don't have the money to fix it at that moment, which is sad.


Friday, October 15, 2004

My wife's bellydance troupe, Unity in Motion, has decided to change their name. Without going into it, there are legal reasons for doing so, so Melissa, the troupe's leader, foolishly suggested that anybody who had any ideas for new names should think about it.

So Jan and I did. Heh heh heh...

So far we have about 26 names and some could actually work.

However, from the "NO CHANCE IN HELL" list, I have a couple of favorites:

Jan's Idea: The Nefertitties
Also Jan's idea: Masmoudi Blues

My Idea: Sgt. Dumbek's Lonely Hearts Club Belly Dance Troupe

We have some legitimate ones, too. We'll have to see if they use one of them.


Cards beat the Astros again. To quote Opus the penguin when faced with an unpleasant reality: No no no no no...


Both of my sons are doing remarkably well in school.

This surprises me a little. Jan always did fantastic in school but I hated it. I know I have an IQ (so I'm told) of like, 80,000 or something, but I HATED school. Proudly got out with a 2.5 GPA. Oddly enough, that was good enough to put me in the upper third of my Graduating Class. I guess they didn't like school, either.
I also had no trouble being accepted by all the colleges I applied to. Both of them.

My favorite and least favorite teachers in High School were both English teachers. The demon spawn known to me as "Mrs. Tempe," was my ninth-grade English teacher. She HATED me. She had her reasons, although they were all her fault. I had had her in eighth grade for Latin (yes, you used to be able to take Latin in Junior high). I didn't mind the Latin so much (I got a C! I'm so proud) as much as I couldn't abide by the fact that this woman had NO SENSE OF HUMOR. She didn't find jokes to be funny. At all. Not puns. Not one-liners, nothing.

So of course, I went out of my way to be hilarious. People would virtually fasten their seatbelts whenever she asked me about something or whenever I had to get up and give a speech in class. She HATED me. I hated her. So I quit taking Latin.

Imagine my surprise when I walk into my English class the first day of ninth grade and discover my teacher is: you guessed it, Mrs. Tempe.

I will never forget the first words out of her mouth when we locked killer stares at each other:

"So, Mr. Tuerff, we meet again."

"I guess we do," I replied. "This isn't going to be easy."

"Nor for you," she hissed.

For the next nine months, I...drove...her...fucking...NUTS.

I won't go into everything but suffice to say that I may be the only person in history to tell a Helen Keller joke in the middle of an impromptu speech assignment that figured to be about 20% of my grade. I got a "D."

I can still see her sitting there, the class rolling on the floor, and she's back there with her straight-ass hair, cut into a hairspray helmet, peering down at her gradebook through horn-rims that she probably bought in high school in the 50s, before humor was invented, and scratching a huge "D" next to my name.

(It would take too long to type here but if you're curious, ask me some time how I got her to actually scream at me. It was the first time in my life when I realized that my powers could be used for evil.)

When we moved to Phoenix I told my folks that I would only go if they PROMISED not to move us to Tempe. This woman had made such a black mark on my soul that I didn't want to be reminded of it every waking moment.

And see? 30 years later I'm still talking about the bitch.

When I got here to Phoenix, I met the most wonderful English teacher of all time: Thelma Alderman. The very first English class I ever had here was with her and I made sure every other one I ever took was with her. She made me proud to speak English again. She had a sense of humor that never stopped. She "got" my jokes. She told even better ones--never dirty but sometimes they were simply amazing and complex. She liked humorous literature. She liked science fiction. She had Kurt Vonnegut books in her class that ANYONE could read, unlike the library at school who told me on no uncertain terms that they didn't have that "smut" in the library. (One man's smut is another man's masterpiece: Slaughterhouse Five and Mother Night were required reading in my tenth-grade English classes in Wisconsin; as was Hesse's Siddhartha, which, as you might imagine, was not available at the Paradise Valley HS library, either. But Mrs. Alderman had them all.)

She let me help write -- and even GRADE -- her Advanced Placement English class's papers. I spent almost as much time in her classroom as I did on important stuff, like drama.

I was never sure how old Thelma was because A) She smoked, which aged her a lot; B) She was eternally tan, and wrinkled like you wouldn't believe, so she looked well into her 60s but I don't think she was that old; C) She was remarkably hip for an "old" woman.

She met my dad somewhere about five years after I had her in High School and she still remembered me. Is that cool or what?

All Mrs. Tempe ever liked was seeing my ass leave the classroom.
I can only HOPE Mrs. Tempe remembers me. I hope I haunt her dreams: "I won't leave you alooooooone until you laaaaaaaaauuuuugh... BOOOOOOOOO!"


Thursday, October 14, 2004

This just in:

(I encourage you to urinate before watching this, so that you don't wet your pants)


I have no idea what this company does, but you have to see what happens when you press the button that eventually appears that says, "Sci-fi Destroy Competition."


I hate websites that don't tell you what they are instantly. This one qualifies. But you need to see that button.


Red Sox are two in the hole. Astros are one down. Looks like Cards/Yankees. I'll try not to yawn in your face.


I found out yesterday that one of my best contacts for out-of-town work when I was doing infomercials (which I'm not anymore) is doing 15 months in Federal prison for something she did over 10 years ago. (It had nothing to do with infomercials. Near as I can tell, she helped to orchestrate a drug deal.) I guess anyone can make a mistake. At least she admitted she made a booboo and she's making the best of it.

That makes two people I know who are in prison for drugs. The other person made it worse on herself by skipping out on bail and not showing up for her trial. Whoops.

She's doing eight years.

Mr. Mackey on South Park is right: "Drugs're baaad, mmmkay?"


Tuesday, October 12, 2004


I am a dyed in the wool Cubbies fan. But due to a typical Cubbie collapse at the end of the season, they're staying home for the playoffs this year.

I'd like to see the Red Sox and the Astros in the World Series.

It'll probably be the Yankees and the Cardinals, and then I really won't give a rat's ass.

Boston/St. Louis would be fun, 'cause it would bring back memories of the '67 series between those two clubs, and Tim McCarver, the Cards' catcher back then, is the Fox Sports commentator for the World Series, and I'm sure they can find Bob Gibson somewhere and try to get his reaction and he'll tell them all to fuck off and then he'll slug somebody.

Gibson was one of the greatest pitchers I've ever seen but he didn't have much tolerance for the sports media. Probably still doesn't.

But for now I'm a Sox fan. GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Red Sox.

Gotta vote for the underdog.

They're a different kind of world series loser. They've been in the WS quite a bit (last time was in 1986) but they've not won in what, 86 years? The Cubbies haven't been in the world series since 1945. They lost. The last time they won was 1908. That's long enough for all the guys on the team and their CHILDREN to die.

No doubt about it, if the Sox win this year, the official title of "loveable losers" will go for all time to the Chicago Cubs.

Wait until next year...


I haven't been to a sports event in a long time because my family HATES THEM.
Last game I went to was a Diamondbacks/Giants game two years ago when my pal Bill Schuch came down from SF. Curt Schilling pitched for the good guys. Somebody won.

Baseball's funny that way. If you go to enough games you eventually forget who did what, who won what, unless something really monumental occurs. Like a no-hitter or a Home Run milestone or something like that.

I can remember going to Wrigley Field five or six times when I was a kid and the thing that really stands out in my mind is NOT the score of the games but the fact that at one of the games, I'm thinking 1966, they were selling small pizzas that came in boxes with different Cubs' pictures on them. The box said, "Collect 'em all!" like you were really gonna take a pizza-greased box home and keep it.

As I recall, my friend Eddie Herndon, who I went to the game with, got a greasy picture of Ernie Banks. Lucky son of a bitch. I got stuck with Joey Amalfitano. Typical.

Not that it mattered much. When you're nine and a baseball fan you're in awe of anybody who has the ability to even catch batting practice in the major leagues. They're all heroes at that point, even though most of them would soon be forgotten, or the butt of jokes, and not in the Hall of Fame with Ernie Banks.
I probably thought having a greasy picture of Joey Amalfitano was pretty cool.

At Commiskey Park, where the White Sox played until a few years ago when they finally built them a new park under the threat of a physical collapse of the old stadium, there was this old vendor who you could hear all over the park yelling, "RED HOTS!! GETCHA RED HOTS!" I remember having to ask my dad what a "red hot" was. (It's a hot dog.)

The guys at Wrigley always called them "hot dogs," which may explain why I went to more Cubs games. At least I understood the language.


Thursday, October 07, 2004

Driving around during this primary and general election time, if I didn't know better I'd think I was in the 1940s and baseball players were running for office.

So far, I've seen Pee Wee Reese running for constable and Ted Williams for the Health Board. Even stranger, just about everywhere I see a Ted Williams sign, there's another sign urging people to vote for Prop 400.

(Those of you who know your baseball get the connection. For those of you who don't, Ted Williams was the last hitter to finish a season with a batting average over .400. That was about 60 years ago, so you get an idea how hard it is to hit that damn ball.)

Who's next? Babe Ruth for house? Ty Cobb for Sherriff?

This is why I like election time. I love the names that pop up. My absolute favorite is a lady who's running for State House for the downtown area, whose name is Oksana Komarnyckyj. I'm presuming the "J" is silent and I have no IDEA how to pronounce the rest of that last name.

I couldn't resist so I looked her up. In spite of the name she's American as apple pie -- a native New Yawkah. Comes from Ukranian roots, which explains that Ellis Island of a spelling for the last name, which incidentally she married into. I shudder to think what her maiden name is. About the only thing I couldn't find out about her was how she pronounces Komarnyckyj.

I'm encouraged, though by the amount of ethnic diversity I'm seeing in the names of the people running for State House. Up in our neighborhood a younger lady named Rano Singh is running. She's an ex-school teacher so you know she's pro-education, as am I, so I'll be voting for her.

We need different cultures in the state house for no other reason than to scare the old whities who still wonder why we ever freed the slaves, why we don't just close all the damn schools since we're old and don't need them anymore, and why we can't behead anyone we don't like in the public square like the Muslims do. Dammit.

(The above paragraph on how old people in the State House think is a PARODY. Sort of. So if you're gonna get mad, only get SORT OF mad. And write me only SORT OF a complaint. Thanks. Sort of.)

I've never been too politically active except when it appears that I'm about to be infringed. I remember writing a letter some years ago to the state government when some old biddy from Mesa introduced a bill that was so badly written it would have outlawed nudity anywhere outside your house and a doctor's office. In effect, it actually outlawed parts of several religious ceremonies and of course, any opportunity to actually enjoy oneself a la buffo.

I wrote about that one, and apparently so did quite a few other people because the proposal was tabled and the withered shrew who wrote it was voted out shortly thereafter.

So, regardless of whether you can pronounce your favorite candidate's name, please go out and vote on November 2. It's my birthday and I want a new president for my birthday. Help make it so.


Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Finally, some good news!

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Nudists, grab your yoga mats and head for San Francisco.

City prosecutors on Wednesday said it was not illegal to perform naked yoga in the city -- even at the crowded tourist destination of Fisherman's Wharf.

Prosecutors dropped charges against a limber nudist, known locally as the "Naked Yoga Guy," who made a habit of striking yoga poses in the buff in order to promote a book and his lifestyle.

The Naked Yoga Guy, whose name is George Monty Davis, had stripped to stretch near Fisherman's Wharf, prompting a public complaint. But prosecutors decided they had a weak public nuisance case against him because local laws do not bar public nudity.

"Simply being naked on the street is not a crime in San Francisco," said Debbie Mesloh, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office.

"To bring a case, a person would have to exhibit lewd behavior, block traffic or impede pedestrians on a sidewalk, something along those lines."

In another case involving a Los Angeles teenager who dropped his pants to expose his bottom, or "moon," passing motorists from a nearby sidewalk, a California appellate court ruled nudity itself is not a crime, Mesloh said.


Now, I guess the DOWN side of this is that it's now October. If there's one thing you don't want to be in San Francisco this time of year, it's nude. Still. It will be interesting to see if anybody takes this information to heart and just starts walking the streets naked.

True, they have those bike races and marathons every year where there are entire groups of nude people who run/ride as a group. But can nude-friendly establishments and cafes be far behind?


I'm a nudist. I have been since I was 13. I enjoy lounging whenever possible without my clothes among friends who like to do the same. Lately I haven't had much of an opportunity but I'm always on the lookout.


Monday, October 04, 2004

I played the Prescott Folk Festival yesterday and after all these years my goofy songs are starting to stick with people. I had a good score of folks ask me when I was playing, and I didn't even know most of them. Those who knew better avoided my show. Quite a few newbies were there, though, and appeared to be entertained.

My album is coming along. Really. I'm headed for Scott Hallock's this weekend to record some more. Problem is it's been so long I don't remember what I've recorded already. I'll have to ask him.


One of my best pals has officially labled me a non-geek because I'd never heard the term "radio-telescope" before. Is that all it takes to be called a non-geek? (See below, a post or two ago.)

But I AM a geek. I'm a Zappa geek -- Big time. Beatle geek -- Certainly in the majors, although maybe not a starter. Folk geek wannabe. Getting there.

Admittedly, though I like science fiction in large doses, I am NOT a sci-fi geek. I barely know my Heinlein from my heinie.


The Diamondbacks actually ended their season by winning about half of their last 12 games, including four of the last six. Still, they sucked.

And after Steve Finley's dramatic grand slam to get the Dodgers into the post-season, it's highly unlikely Fins will be using his free-agent status to come back HERE again next year.

I betcha Randy Johnson's gone as soon as the trade period starts.

I betcha Richie Sexson says "bye bye" too.

It's gonna be a looooooooong season next year.


Even worse, my Cubbies aren't even in the postseason. Now THAT is something, as a Chicago-area native, I have come to expect.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?