Friday Fives – dinner party gifts

You are hosting an intimate dinner party at your home. As your guests leave, you give them a gift:


What must read book would give as a thoughtful gift?

Animal farm.  Not just amazing, but you can knock it out in a night.

What must listen music album would you give as a thoughtful gift?

Blood on the Tracks, Bob Dylan.  Duh.

What must have kitchen gadget would you give as a thoughtful gift?

This thing.  It’s amazing.  Greatest thing in the world.


if I am cooking anything, this is out.

What life changing personal gadget would you give as a thoughtful gift?

The bible.  Just kidding.  Aside from that thing above, since we are getting all kitcheny, these tongs.

I keep two.  One small set (like the ones pictured) and a long set for greasy stuff like turning chicken or bacon, or dealing with a really hot grill.  Remember these tongs?  This is what we had growing up, and they SUCK.


almost as bad as the original can opener.  Back then, ergonomics didn’t exist, everything was just function.  Of course, this gave way to EVERYONE in the 80s having an electric can opener.  Seems extravagant, until you saw the alternative.

What else could be a thoughtful gift?

Two words for ya > upper decker.  Every guy reading this knows what this is.  Do no google it.  At least do not google image search it.  In fact, if you are a gal… just pretend this whole last question never happened.

Friday Fives – Bob Dylan edition


Do you think Bob Dylan deserves the Nobel Prize?

Yes.  I am a very, very big fan.  His writing has had as much impact in my life as any other single human.

Why a Pulitzer prize in writing for a musician?   Here is why… what author do you listen to every day?  Or even once a year?  No matter how great a book is, you read it and it’s over.  when music is great, you listen often… over and over?  you can have sex listening to music, you can’t do it on a book.  I listen to Dylan almost daily, and I can’t even say that about Alice in Wonderland!

Do you have a favorite  Bob Dylan song?

This would change annually, but of late it has been ‘Positively 4th St’.  This came from such an amazingly fruitful time (’68) that it wasn’t even put on an album.  Here is how much I love Bob – I have 6 Cds and 9 box sets and 4 dvd collections ALL that just cover his first 6 years.

How would you describe Dylan to someone who is unfamiliar?

Funny, thoughtful… folky.  In that order

Who else deserves the Nobel Prize in Literature?

The rebels and outsiders – Herman Hesse, Hunter Thompson, Henry Miller, Charles Bukowski, Jack Kerouac.

What performance artist stands a chance of also winning the Nobel  Prize?

What do you mean by performance artist?  Like… an actor or musician?  Like… a non painting artist?  Bill Murray

*** for more of my writing on Bob Dylan, here is a link to some of the pieces I have written on my music site.  Odds are, Bob comes up more than any other artist on that site.

Now, enjoy this.  Richie Havens covering Bob Dylan’s ‘just like a woman’.  Nothing better than this – the best covering the best!

Friday Fives – what’s so free about that?


What’s the biggest lie the internet has created?

 That being a journalist is easy.  Anyone can do it. Every asshat with an internet connection thinks they are the next Woodward & Bernstein.  Myself included.

Thanks to Craiglist, newspapers are disappearing.  With them goes the art of real storytelling, and editing.  Editing is everything!  I write at last 3 times as much as I publish.  Everything comes out at once in a barf like stream of consciousness.  Generally, this is after a piece has been gestating in my head for a few months (or even years).  Then, I start to knock it down.  I am always too wordy.  Is every line necessary?  After a few days of this, I often just abandon the piece as not being as clever or interesting as I thought it was.

 This is where I need and editor.  An outside voice to focus and direct me.  I haven’t one, because I am a lone wolf.  From what very, very, very little I know of the craft of writing… its 10% inspiration and the other half is perspiration (with all regards to Yogi Berra).

What free things online should everyone take advantage of?

 Geography.  Sure, you know there is porn and free music.  Those are fine things, indeed.  What about places you want to go?  Cruise the streets of Rome on your own time.  With all this google street stuff, you can walk down the thousand year old alleys of Dublin with a drink by your laptop and imagine this is where all the greats came to throw up after their 18th rendition of ‘Danny Boy’.  Haven’t you wanted to go to Spain?  Look at these buildings!  These are not photoshopped, and were designed long before LSD was stumbled upon.

 Learning music is also super awesome with the internet.  I learned to play guitar long before the internet.  If I wanted to learn a long, I would have to rewind the cassette tape and listen to it over and over and over and over again.  Maybe 50 or a 100 times to figure out how they played something.  Now, I can go online and be playing the song within 5 minutes.  It isn’t just a cheat.  To me, it makes great art and great creative minds accessible

What is a hobby you can get into for almost no money?

Mylar balloon launching!

What is something that you used to be a cheap ass on, until you tried the high-quality version, and now you can’t go back?

 There is one thing I say that is so true it hurts.  I find myself repeating it almost daily in conversation – you get what you pay for.  Clothes, I guess.  Let’s start there.  All of my undershirts are polo.  I love them.  They are crazy soft, and cost about $10 each when you catch them on sale.  I won’t wear anything else, and they last for years and years.  Also, pans.

What do your friends or coworkers love, and you don’t give a fuck about?

Game of Thrones

Friday Fives – Trumpnation edition


What is never going to stop being funny?

me, hopefully.  HEY, I am serious!  I work hard to be funny.  Sure, a lot of it is natural… but like any other trait… in only succeeds if you nurture it.  You may see the greatest violin player in history.  Odds are, they are musically gifted, sure.  Odds are, also, that they have practiced more than anyone else in their peerage.  Am I comparing my ability to make people laugh in casual conversation with being the greatest violin player in history?  Sure looks that way, doesn’t it?

What piece of stand up comedy (10 minutes or less) has successfully made you cry with laughter?

Robin Williams bit on golf.  I need to find the link.  It is a 4 minute bit from him on HBO years ago doing a Scottish accent and it’s the most perfectly crafted stand up bit in history.

What joke is hilarious, but takes a few seconds to get?

Wait a second, that guy isn’t the wallet inspector! – HJ Simpson

You have five minutes to talk to your pets and they’ll understand every word you say. What do you tell them?

I need you all to start doing some chores around here.  Plus, I am giving you a designated area to crap in.  I don’t mean to threaten you, but there are a LOT of dogs who would give anything to have your spot.  Also, you know I volunteer at the dog shelter.  I could have you three shipped to the Sahara Desert in about 45 minutes.  That is all I am saying.  Do with that info what you need.

When was your biggest “I should not be laughing” moment?

Watching the GOP buckle under Trump.  For the last few years, the GOP has pretended to make an effort to show they are more than racist old rich white guys.  They even hired a token black fellow to a chair position.  They are at least smart enough to know that their demographic is slowly disappearing.  THEN… in comes Trump.  Us Liberals love Trump as a candidate, because he perfectly embodies every Republican stereotype.  Rich, White, tax-dodging, woman hating, homophobic, non-Christian phobic, openly games the system to benefit himself.  Whether or not he wins, this will haunt them.

Now, the right has two choices, and they both suck ass.  Either stand against Trump, and show some integrity… or stand with him as a good party member.  If you stand against him, you lose all your cherry GOP committee assignments, and likely funding from National.  If you stand with him, though, we will NEVER forget or forgive you for it.

Lastly, I have to say this about Trump. People love him because he doesn’t seem to be beholden to the political process.  We all know our Congress sucks balls, and has for a while.  We know they can get NOTHING done, because neither party will let their members step across the aisle to do what is right for the country.  Know why nothing gets done in Congress to benefit working class Americans?  Because corporations own the country, and they craft policy to suit their corporate needs.

That being said, why even bother to elect a human?  Since they are terrified to vote against their party… you are really only voting for that party for the next 2 or 6 years.  Looking deeper, a Congress person needs to raise $15,000 a goddamn day.  EVERY day, to be able to afford re-election.  This is why they are in the pockets of rich lobbyists… they need them to keep their jobs.  So, why not skip ALL this artifice and just elect the corporations spend the most money?  Well, in electing Trump… that is exactly what you are doing.


Friday Fives – more about the Tap


Your favorite book?

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.  You know that already, though.  Let’s mix it up, then, and say ‘Lamb: the gospel of christ according to his best friend Biff’.  I really, really like this new author.  Well… new to me.

Your favorite movie?

Big Fish.  Re-reading over this, before I hit ‘publish’, maybe I should have said ‘Spinal Tap’.  There is a 2 page diatribe down there on how great the film is, how great the actors are, and how incredible it is that they wrote and scored and improvised the film.  But… you know that movie.  You may not know ‘Big Fish’.  It is perfect storytelling.  The cinematography is stunning.  Can you imagine if Tim Burton tried to make something joyful?  Just for once?  Well, with Big Fish, he did.  Don’t worry, it still has his wife.  (Shakes fist in the air).  Don’t just watch the movie, just go buy it.  Get it in blu-ray, too.  You really want the full cinematic experience, if you can.  Don’t have blu ray yet?  Buy it… just for this movie.

Your favorite adaptation of a book to a movie?

 Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas.  So good it is freaky!  Depp goes FULL Hunter Thompson in this role.  Not just window dressing, either.  HST was in full cooperation with the film… well… as cooperative as someone like HST could be.  Depp lived with Hunter for months before the filming.  They became fast and close friends.  So much so that when Hunter died, Depp paid for the whole ‘launching his ashes into space from a Gonzo fist cannon that was several stories high’.  Yeah, that isn’t a typo or urban legend.  It happened, and all thanks to Johnny.  They had a kinship all along as they are both from Kentucky.

 Your least favorite adaptation ever of anything to a movie?

Being a book guy, I am always supposed to say ‘the book was better’.  However, I have almost universally enjoyed adaptations of my favorite books into movies.  I like to see the creativity of filmmakers trying to capture such an ephemeral thing.  For example, the last ‘Alice in Wonderland’ movie with Johnny Depp.  Everyone shit on it.  There are good reasons to shit on it – it WAY over featured Johnny Depp, and of course since it was Burton the lead role went to his wife.  He does that EVERY FUCKING MOVIE.  Though my praise for Depp’s acting in ‘Fear & Loathing’ is effusive… he isn’t too good in this movie.  Too hammy, just chewing up scenery being all proud of himself for looking clever.  We can blame Burton for that, though.

But… I loved it (Fear & Loathing, that is).  Here is why – everyone has told that story in various forms of film.  It’s a classic.  The Burton one, though, is a totally different telling.  It takes a story never told… which is what happens if Alice goes back to that world as an adult.  What happens?  Who is there?  Did anything, or anyone, change?  Did it ever really happen?  I think that is cool and creative.  I haven’t seen the second one, but I will.  I waited on purpose.  Since it was reviewed to badly, I knew I could wait and just buy a bluray copy for $10.  I like those (as opposed to just watching it on Amazon) because you get all the featurettes and behind the scenes stuff.

 Your first ever novel/comic book/movie character crush?

  • Editors note: Long diatribe warning

The guys in Spinal Tap.  I mean, it is just some British actors playing dumb, right?  Not remotely!  The actors are all American, and improvised the entire movie, AND wrote AND performed those songs.  It went so well that the fake band accidentally became a real band.   They released albums and recorded new music and even toured.  If you look at all these starlets today, you see Spinal Tap was more real than any of them.  Think Rhianna writes her own songs?  Think she can play and instrument?  Think she actually sings in concert?  Spinal Tap wins on every level.

In fact, those guys went on to do more movies together, and the guys wrote an entirely new music act for ‘a Mighty Wind’, which is actually a great folk album.  Got to see them live, and they played both Spinal Tap songs and a Mighty Wind songs.  That movie (another Chris Guest project) was also entirely improvised.

Why do it?  They are crazy rich.  The bass player is 40% of the voices on the Simpsons.  He probably has 100 million in the bank, and he is schlepping around from city to city playing these silly and perfect songs from 30 years ago.

My favorite thing about these guys when they did press for Spinal Tap (not known as a classic when it was released, but a stupid and pointless low budget art film)… they only did it in character.  You never got to interview Chris Guest or Michael McKean or Harry Shearer.  You could only talk to Derek Smalls, Nigel Tufnel, and David St Hubbins.  Now… we know Chris Guest as a genius filmmaker, and Harry Shearer as most of the Simpsons.  Back then, in 1980?  A bunch of improve yahoos.  Michael McKean was only known for playing Lenny in Laverne & Shirley.

Can you imagine how they got that film financed?  “I need 5 million bucks to make a movie with these unproven and unknown actors.”  Who will compose the score?  Who is your screenwriter?  Who is going to actually record the songs they pretend to sing?  You know, like we did with the Monkeys.

Well… about that.  No script.  No musicians.  No songwriters.  No famous actors.  We are just going to throw it to some improve guys. There is no screenplay, they are just going to make up the dialogue as we film.  They will write the songs themselves, and play all the instruments in the recordings.  It’s about a fake British heavy metal band that is washed up.”

Has that ever been done before then?  Roy Scheider is quite famous for improving the line ‘you’re gonna need a bigger boat’ in Jaws.  Everyone looks to that moment to prove his genius.  One sentence.  BFD.  If it were Chris Guest’s crew, they would have made up all the dialogue, built the boat themselves… and fought a real fucking shark.

 I mean, I know it is a masterpiece now… but at the time I bet they got laughed out of Hollywood.  Now, hopefully, you recognize the great McKean from Better Call Saul.  Jesus, is there anything these guys can’t do?  Listen to ‘listen to the flower people’ and tell me that song is not as good or better than anything of that era.  Also, full disclosure… I finally got my band to learn ‘Big Bottom’.  We played it at our last gig.

*bonus news, the guy behind these films, Chris Guest (Spinal Tap, Best in Show, Waiting for Guffman, For your Approval, a Mighty Wind…) has a new film out soon.  It’s called ‘Mascots’, and will be on Netflix soon.  Like everything Larry David does, you can assume it will be all improvised, and wonderfully stupid.

Friday Fives – we are bad for your health edition



What are five good health habits for one to have? 

Look at me.  Do I look like I need to be giving health advice?  Speaking of that, yesterday… I watched the same news channel report on NEW news about red wine being bad, and it being great.  This was inside 3 minutes of each other.  The anchor who reported the initial story said in his wonderful dry way “and this study will be valuable for approximately a week, until the next story comes out saying it’s all good again”.  That was the end of the morning news.  The commercial that came on immediately was a tease for their 9 am show saying “new benefits of red wine… bla bla bla”.

All the more reason you need to be watching Tom Green every morning, on news 2.

So, how about if I choose four things that CONSTANTLY change in the media about whether they are good for us or not.  Red Wine, Coffee, Eggs, Salt.

Name any four things that you want to do before you die?

See the Aurora, skydive, get back to Italy for a while, and get back to Thailand for a while.  Maybe ever.

Name three songs to which you know all the lyrics?

As a guitar player for 30 years, I know hundreds.  Impressed?  How about this, I can name 3 Dylan songs.  Why is that impressive?  Most songs have 3 verses and 2 choruses.  Not most songs… all songs.  Dylan songs have 8 to 10 verses.  It’s insane!

What were you doing two hours ago?

Driving in to the office.  I live way out in nowhere, America.   Dirt roads and such, and it’s an hour drive in.  I don’t mind it, though.  I get a lot of reading done, via books on tape.  Currently listening to ‘Secondhand Souls’ from Christopher Moore.

If you could smash and break one thing and one thing only, what would it be?

Willie Nelson’s ‘Trigger’, the most important guitar on earth.  It would be a Buddhist lesson for us all about impermanence and attachment.  Plus, just look at this thing… it won’t take a Hulk to smash it.  How nervous is his guitar tech every time he has to change the strings?

Plus, Willie is an epic stoner… so I can’t imagine he gets too emotional about anything.  Before I smash the guitar, though, I would give it to Martin and the Smithsonian to study and copy and x-ray and do whatever they want to do with it.

I got to finally see Willy live this year.  I was genuinely as excited to be in the presence of Trigger as I was with Willy.  What an iconic pair!

Friday Fives – Springfield edition


When they say there are no dumb questions, how do you challenge that fundamental assumption?

Thanks to the internet, it is kinda non issue now.  Example; when I was a kid, I thought that dinosaurs were just a theory.  Remember, I was raised Catholic, and they really don’t believe in dinosaurs.  If you ask a Christian, the party line is that dinosaur bones were placed here on Earth by the devil to trick us into not believing in Jesus.  No, really.  They tell people that.  So…um… yeah.  Those are the people running the Earth.  The Catholic church is the largest landholder on earth.

these things may be common knowledge, but they still need to be brought up from time to time.

Been to the Vatican?  I have.  It is big business, and a corporate HQ on every level.  I can talk all the shit I want, since I was raised by these asshats.  Am an atheist now.  I think the Catholics make more Atheists than GW Bush made Democrats.

Oh, since I am ranting about this… did you see Spotlight?  It’s the movie about the original investigation that unraveled the priest rapings.  Did you stay to the end after the credits?  You know how the main bad guy Cardinal was busted and kicked out?  Guess what happened after?  The pope (JP2) hired him to be a Cardinal… and so he was in the running for Pope… AFTER all this was worldwide exposed.  Everyone like JP2, he seemed so nice (especially compared to Darth Pope, his successor).  Well, I have a beef with JP2.  He went to Africa and told Africans that condoms don’t stop aids.  Motherfucker.  The entire continent is being ravaged by aids.

Cardinal Law (the one who the movie was made about, and was kinda the center of the entire global rape conspiracy) is STILL a Cardinal.  Yes, they say things like ‘disgraced’ cardinal… but he is STILL in office.  That means that motherfucking rapist asshole is STILL in the running to be pope.  Remember, it wasn’t just that priests were raping.  It was that the church knew for decades and looked the other way.  I don’t get why.  I mean, it’s obvious no one wants that kind of publicity, but why not discreetly get rid of these guys?  As an atheist, and aspiring Buddhist, I don’t believe in heaven or hell.  I do believe that these motherfucking monsters will rot in hell.

I would also be remiss if I didn’t point out that ‘Cardinal Law’ would be a great name for a sitcom.  Two Vatican cops working the beat.  One is old school, by the rules, and other is a reckless roustabout.

In closing on this rant, I really like and respect this new pope.  If this guy was around when I was a kid, I might still be Catholic.  He is a good man, and he walks the walk that he talks.

  • wow.  I had no idea that was rant was coming.  It was like the post where Fife Symington’s name come up and I went on a 5 page bender.  Wonder why I will never, ever, ever be a Republican?  Study Fife. Fuck that guy, too.
  • *** let’s just take this offline.  I want to say I am not anti-church or necessarily religion.  I think the community aspect of it is wonderful… at the local micro scale.

 What is your best “Adulting like a player” move?

I have no idea what that question means.  May I refer to an old post I wrote about ‘adult content’ warnings.  That means, as you know, boobies.  Sadly, boobies aren’t real adult content.  That is just nature we have been repressed into being ashamed of. Real adult content is chores and going to work every day and mowing.

What is something under $50.00 that makes your life better?

 A song.  I am amazed that I can be driving to work and think of a song.  I can then own it and be listening to it 30 seconds later for $1.29.  I know this sounds a little ‘get off my lawn’, but getting music used to mean biking 4 miles to Tower Record to buy a new cassette for $10 (which was exorbitant 35 years ago).  Think of it, the price hasn’t changed for a CD or full album online – it’s $10.  Also, worse part… cassette audio SUCKED.  You notice there has never been a hipster movement bringing back cassettes.  For some reason, the technology always cut off the top end.  There was simply no treble for 25 years.  I suppose it was compression that isn’t different from what CDs do.

What was okay 40 years ago but not okay now?


What is your most unusual life hack?

I have been advised by my legal counsel that answering ‘arson’ again here would be ill advised.  This is prolly more peculiar then unusual, but I am pretty obsessed with keeping my phone clean.  Not the physical thing itself, but the computer. I use two different free cleaning apps, make sure to restart my phone at least twice a day, and pull my battery out about once a month.

In fact, stop what you are doing now and pull your battery off your phone, if you can.  Yes, I know you don’t want to take the case off, but do it.  See, as long as your battery is in, your phone is on.  Always.  It doesn’t turn off, it just ‘sleeps’.  That means TONS of apps are running 24/7.  Also, to save space on your phone, dump the Facebook app.  That thing takes many megs of storage.  Like, 30 CDs worth.  And… it is always spying on you.  Literally, they just found out it ‘listens’ to everything you do on the phone… every text you make.  A lady found she was talking to a friend on the phone.  When she got off the phone and went to Facebook, she got ads based on her conversation.

I know this sounds like tinfoil hat discussions, but it’s true.

Facebook says that its app does listen to what’s happening around it, but only as a way of seeing what people are listening to or watching and suggesting that they post about it. 

The feature has been available for a couple of years, but recent warnings from Kelli Burns, mass communication professor at the University of South Florida, have drawn attention to it.

Professor Burns has said that the tool appears to be using the audio it gathers not simply to help out users, but might be doing so to listen in to discussions and serve them with relevant advertising. She says that to test the feature, she discussed certain topics around the phone and then found that the site appeared to show relevant ads.

 I am not saying don’t use Facebook.  I use it every day, but not that stupid app (that is also snooping on your pics and texts and web history).  I just bookmarked

Lastly, I know of what I speak.  I worked in the cell phone business for 20 years.