Friday Fives –

What is your favorite weird word in any language?

Easy – schadenfreude.  I have written about this word before.  It’s a German word meaning ‘to take pleasure in the suffering of others’.  Now, it isn’t too terribly surprising to learn the German’s have a corner on that market.  Still, though, we all live this.  You know when a ahole passes you like a lunatic and cuts you off in the process?  Even better?  Ok.  Watch this road rage clip, and stunning instant karmic retribution.  That laugh of joy and closure you hear from the lady?  That is schadenfreunde!

You know that warm, gooey feeling you get inside when you see him pulled over and getting a ticket ten minutes later?  Yeah, that is schadenfruede.  I wonder if there is any connection to the ‘Freud’ part of that word, and if there is a connection to Herr Sigmund.  Turns out, no.  The ‘fruende’ part of that word is for happiness.  I am more surprised to find that Germans have a word for happiness, than I am to discover they literally invented the idea of mocking one’s suffering.

What is a controversial book more people should read?

Well, I am a book guy.  I love books.  Got a fancy university degree just about books.  So, I can’t just give you one. Also, I am going to try and not write about Alice in Wonderland again.  God, how I do love that book. ok… so let’s talk about non Alice related books. How about two?  These are both ‘banned books‘.  However, every book worth it’s salt has been banned.  When someone once asked Keith Richards how we felt about the Stone’s records getting bootlegged (and so the band was getting ripped off), Keith replied ‘if you aren’t being bootlegged, you aren’t happening!’  I kinda feel the same way about books.

It took me a LONG time to get into reading.  When I was a kid, I was just force fed dreck.  Newbury award winnings books – just boring and sterile horse shit. I never ever saw reading as fun, or an escape, until Kermit.  Kermit was my high school buddy, and he turned me on to SO much.  He got me into Henry Miller, Salvador Dali, the Beatles White Album, Gregory, Bukowski, and so much more.

For a dense, hardcore, escapist read – go for Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer.  He was an American writer who lived abroad (quite literally… tee hee hee) in France in the 20s.  He was broke, but he was wicked smart and fun and interesting.  So, rich people would keep him afloat to keep him around.  ‘Tropic’ is a coming of age story of wanderlust on every level.  Imagine the debauchery of Charlie Sheen, but written so beautifully it’s like Maya Angelou.  Imagine ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ set in Paris.  Imagine everything Charles Bukowski ever did or wrote… first.  It is a book every 16 year old young man should read.  It’s not a quick read, by any means… but nor should it be.

For quicker fare, but just as impactful (and just as banned) is George Orwell’s Animal Farm.  It’s about the animals rising up and taking over their oppressive humans, and making an animal utopia.  Well… it starts that way, anyhow.  People who wear eyeglasses and finger their goatees thoughtfully will tell you about the analogy to the Russian revolution.  Don’t worry about all that.  The story stands just terrific on it’s own, and you will have NO trouble drawing parallels to so many things in society.  Best part of all, it’s thin.  You can knock it out in a single evening.  Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad!  It doesn’t just work as a meta study on humanity and barbarism.  It is also just a cute sweet story you could read to a 5 year old.  Not a 4 year old, though.  Seriously, that would fuck them up good.  5, though?  Yeah, he’d be fine.  Listen, kids gotta learn about tyranny from someone, amiright?

What’s an everyday grammatical thing that still kind of bugs you?

It’s – when do I use the apostrophe?  I should ask someone who has an English degree, right?  That would be me, and I still don’t get it.  They say ‘only if owns something (possessive), or is a contraction.  Well, isn’t that ALWAYS the case with it’s?

Guess what?  New rule – the only time I want to talk about apostrophe’s is if it is about Frank Zappa’s album.  SO much great, and stupid, Zappa work can be found on Apostrophe/Overnight Sensation.  First off, let’s go with this one.  Moving to Montana soon, gonna be a dental floss tycoon.  Then, listen to Frank explain, in a super catchy song, about how it is damn near impossible to get his lady off manually.  “dynamo hum, dynamo hum.  Where’s this dynamo coming from?  Dynamo Hum, Dynamo hum, I done poked and stroked till my wrist gut numb.  You may be thinking to yourself ‘there is no way in hell studios released an song about how to properly masturbate your girlfriend… and especially not 45 years ago’.  Oh yeah, baby.  They sure did.  Think of all risque Prince songs, like Darling Nikki.  How about 2 Live Crew?  Yeah, Frank was upsetting parents 30 years earlier.  Enjoy.  At work?  Oh, then turn it up really loud.

bonus fun?  That song is nowhere near the most offensive thing Frank ever recorded.  Not by a mile.

Replace a word in a movie title with “Bitch”, what’s the new plot?

Kill Bitch – it’s the sequel to Kill Bill, where all the daughters of the slain samurai come back after Uma Thurman and avenge their parents.  See, she had a beef with Bill.  Whatevs, that isn’t our business.  Just note that, like in every proper Tarantino movie, zillions of ancillary characters die in the hero’s wake.  Tee hee hee.

Write us up a nice little Haiku (5-7-5). 

Arson so pretty

Fire my only friend now

Oops, Sorry ‘bout pants

Friday Fives – snitches get … well… you know

What is your favorite poem? Can you recite part of it from memory?

Easy, Jabberwocky. It’s a piece of total and utter nonsense from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Of course, the whole book is full of nonsense, but this poem is largely constructed of words that don’t exist. It’s a perfectly cromulent solution.  Below, this is just working off memory, I swear!

Twas brilling and the slithy toves

Did gyre and gimble

All mimsy were the borogroves, and the momraths outgrab

 One two, one two! And through and through

The vorpal blade went snicker snack

He left it dead and with its head he came galumphing back

 And has thou slain the Jabberwocky? Come to my arms, my frabjous boy

Calloo, calay!

Ok, that was totally and entirely from memory. Not bad, especially when you consider half the words don’t exist. There is a middle part I left out, right before the battle. However, the battle and subsequent result… I think I nailed that perfectly. Let’s see how we did?  Here is the last part, about the battle.  Yup, look above… almost nailed the second half verbatim!

One, two! One, two! And through and through

      The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!

He left it dead, and with its head

      He went galumphing back.

 “And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?

      Come to my arms, my beamish boy!

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”

It’s no big surprise, but I am not generally a fan of poems. I think it’s self indulgent blathering and navel gazing. You, of course, will then say ‘what about lyrics? You claim to love music so much… those are just poems!’ Shut up. No they aren’t. Lyrics have ae job. They are serving the song and the mood. Lyrics get up every goddamn day and go to work. Poems sit around all and don’t do shit except congratulate themselves for being so thoughtful.

Because I truly am the hero of the proletariat®, I wrote some much and put Lewis Carroll’s word do it. It’ called Dreamland. Look at these words. Beyond perfect and beautiful. Now that I have a band, I need to put that song to work. I think I forgot the music.   Anyhow, here is Lewis Carroll’s ‘Dreamland’. I should have mentioned that one above, as I have 90% of those words memorized.

When midnight mists are creeping
And all the land is sleeping
Around me tread the mighty dead
And slowly pass away

Lo, warriors, saints, and sages
From out the vanished ages
With solemn pace and reverend face
Appear and pass away

The blaze of noonday splendour
The twilight soft and tender
May charm the eye: yet they shall die
Shall die and pass away

But here, in Dreamland’s centre
No spoiler’s hand may enter
These visions fair, this radiance rare
Shall never pass away

I see the shadows falling
The forms of old recalling
Around me tread the mighty dead
And slowly pass away

 What is your favorite work of visual art? Can you sketch some of it from memory?

I love Dali, in a big way. I think he is the greatest artist of all time.  When we were in Spain, we went to his museum in Figueras and it was amazing. I think Picasso isn’t fit to clean his empty dishes. Like Alice in Wonderland, Dali had a wonderful sense of the totally absurd. This painting comes to mind, because the painting and the title of said painting are just… terrible. Today, we’ll feature a lesser known piece by Dali called “The Ghost of Vermeer of Delft, which can be used as a table”.   I don’t think that is necessarily high art. I think it’s dumb, which is why I love Dali.

If you think you don’t know Dali, you do. Take a look at this painting. It’s certainly his most iconic. Now, there is another part of the question. Could I draw it from memory? Well, I kinda think I can, and did. Take a look at the original, and my quick sketch. Teaser alert… I am not going to tell you which is mine, and which is his.

my vermeer sketch

Now; keeping in mind I have no artistic ability… or even and desire to have the abillity, this is pretty darn good!

What is your favorite piece of music? Can you sing or hum any of it from memory? Bonus points if you can sing a line of harmony from it.

Golly, that question is too big. Music is my thing, and there is no song I can’t just pop off. Wait, I gotta give you something, right? Wifey was singing this when we were changing the sheets- she started singing the Monkees theme song… and it’s still in my head. Now it’s in yours. What a great song!

Since you brought up the Monkees, here are a couple of interesting facts about them. They were the first group famous for not writing, recording, and anything of their songs. Know who wrote a lot of their songs? Neil Diamond!

Here is your second tasty Monkees trvia. Jimi Hendrix first tour of him being himself (as opposed to being a side man and session man) was opening for the Monkees. Even better, he was kicked off for sucking! It makes sense if you think about it. Does a 10 year old girl wanna hear acid blues? Especially from a huge black man hopped up on everything?

What is your favorite dance form? Can you dance it yourself, however badly, or is it something for which you are mostly a spectator?

My favorite form of dancing is none. I hate to dance. Really, really do. Ask my wifey. Going to weddings kills her, because of course she wants to dance. I try, and I’ll do a couple dances, but it really makes me feel uncomfortable. I can admit this, though. When the Grateful Dead is playing live (from anywhere, a record player, on tv, in concert whatever) I will dance. Tell no one, capiche? Snitches get bitches!****

What is your favorite work of literature? Have you committed any of it to memory?

I think I have answered that in the previous questions. I have a literature degree, so books are a big deal to me. I love them. My favorite book is the ‘Alice in Wonderland’ series by Lewis Carroll. I have written about it exhaustively here. My second favorite book? Lamb, the Gospel of Christ as explained to Biff’ – by Christopher Moore

*** Snitches get Bitches®

holy shit, I just coined that this very second. Man, that was good. I need to patent that shit!

Hunter Thompson and Salvador Dali – prisoners of their own creations

I love Hunter Thompson, and Salvador Dali.  I LOT.  Like, I moved my life around for those two.  HST is a big part of why I moved to Colorado.  As for Dali, we honeymooned in Spain, partially so we could travel to Figueres to the Dali museum.  Both were worth it.  They are both huge influences and heroes to me.  Never, until recently, did I think of them together.  On a flight over the Pacific, I watched this cool documentary on Dali.  I would hyperlink it here, but I don’t remember the name of it, or the production company, or anything. To clarify, this doc had nothing to do with Hunter at all. In watching the doc, though, I had an epiphany.

On so many levels, Hunter S Thompson and Salvador Dali were the same person.

Boy, I better deliver on that one.  See, they were both creative geniuses.  They were both  HUGELY celebrated artists.  They were both starfuckers.  They were both trapped by their best creations… themselves.  They both peaked early, and spent the rest of their lives being haunted and pigeonholed by those creations.  Hunter talks about it openly below (jump ahead to the 11 minute mark, but watch the whole piece if you can.  It’s pretty good).

Basically, they had both peaked by 30.  They both did little, effectively, after that.  Hunter, for example, probably has 20 books to his name.  About 3*** were original creative works of any kind of consequence. The rest, and there are MANY, are collections of letters or short stories. (*** see below for aside on this)

Though I love just about all of Dali’s art, and most of Hunter’s full length books (remember, there are basically 3)… their best creations was themselves.  These two LOVED a spectacle.  They invented spectacle.  This was fun and awesome, likely, when they were young.  It became a prison of sorts as they aged.  You realize quickly, as Jimi Hendrix did, that people just want to see that character.  In the early days, Jimi did wild stuff to his equipment, just out of fun and passion.  Pete Townshend, too.  In time, though, people didn’t come to here Jimi play the blues.  They wanted stunts.  For Pete, they wanted to see a Strat smashed of they would have felt they never saw a full Who show.

Luckily, for all mentioned above (except Hendrix), they got to live long enough to see the futility of their creations come to haunt them.  I say ‘luckily’ not because I want them to suffer… but luckily that they had long enough lives to see the silliness of being such a one dimensional characters.

For both Dali, and Thompson… being themselves was their full time jobs.  Remember, Hunter lived to 2005, but hadn’t written anything at length of consequence since 1972.  Now, is that to say Hunter did dick all for 35 years but ride his own coattails?  Yeah, pretty much.

With Dali, we are lucky that we have a great body of work.  However, the documentary I watched strongly implied that he also didn’t do dick all after about 30.  Oh sure, you get the lobster telephone.  However, it isn’t exactly on par with the masterpiece ‘Persistence of Memory‘.  In fact, look at the irony; there is an expression used when people put in bare minimum effort and still get credit.  It’s called ‘phoning it in’.  Is there a better example in all of history than this?

While it isn’t my personal favorite piece, it is certainly Dali’s best known.  ‘Persistence of Memory‘ is most known for it’s iconic ‘soft watches’, though I always called them melting clocks.  Even the Simpson‘s have paid homage.  Aw heck, it looks like everyone has.

This isn’t meant to be critical in an anti-artistic sorta way.  It is more meant to be critical in a ‘huh, I never thought of it that way.  Maybe you got something there’.   Really, mostly I am just jealous.  These guys are SO impactful to my life.  I think I write this to help me better understand why. Proof of their impact on me?  My first tattoo will be a Ralph Steadman drawing of the great white rabbit from the Alice books.  I have been trimming my beard for years, but never ONCE the edges of my mustache, in hopes I can do this one day.

*** 3 books of HST.   There is Hells’ Angels, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail 1972.  That is it.  That is all you need to know about Hunter from start to finish.  Now, he has 4 books of compiled letters (I am also including ‘Better than Sex’ here) and about 10 of short story compilations.  In retrospect, that is kind of a week body of work.  However, those few books were SO good and SO influential.  Look at Lewis Carrol.  What else did he write besides Alice in Wonderland?  Nothing, really.  He was a preacher and a mathematician.  He wrote books on math.  His name isn’t even ‘Lewis Carroll’.  Carroll is a pseudonym he used for the Alice books because he was so embarrassed and mortified of what his religious math buddies would think of his silly childhood fantasy tales.

It occurs to me, years after I wrote this piece, it is now July 2019, that Hemingway was in the same boat.  Heck, he invented that boat and built it with his own hands (if you ask him, anyway).  As a young man, Hemingway was the shit, on every level  Served in both world wars, traveled the world, lived in Cuba, and bedded everyone on Earth.  In his later years…let’s say anything post 45… he is simply playing the part.  I have read a lot of Hemingway, and a lot about him.  Like Kerouac and HST, he was a god to me in my formative teen years.  Hemingway was the embodiment of ‘men want to be him, and women want be him’.  Later, though… its just kinda sad.  He lives his life as a sort of ‘greatest hits of how you perceive Ernest Hemingway to be.

Remember Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite?

I want to give Marlon Brando some credit on this front.   At no time did dude ever give a shit.  He was stone cold nuts!  See this?  Yeah, that was his own creation for his character.  Mostly out of fat laziness, as this is how he dressed on set.

Image result for marlon brando white face

Friday Fives – museum edition

What is the best painting you’ve ever seen in a museum or art gallery?

Seeing this painting in person at the Dali museum in Spain.  It is designed to be seen close, and very far.  From far, you will see a perfect Abe Lincoln.  Near.   Far.  If you have glasses, the best way to see the illusion is to take them off… or stand back 20 feet.

What was the most interesting display you’ve seen in a museum setting?

The car sculpture thing that was in the Dali museum’s courtyard.  Too weird to explain.

Have you ever been to a Children’s museum? If so have you been as a child and/or as an adult? If so did you find it more interesting as you were older?

I probably did when I was a kid.  What is cool about kid’s museums is they let you touch stuff.  In fact, they encourage it.  Not so much in the grown up museums.  Yes, I have been yelled at a few times.  One thing I often do is strand really close.  I want to see the actual marks left from the brush strokes. So, to really dig it, you need to be inches away.  Now, I don’t so this if there are a ton of people behind me.  Also, when I do this, I always hold my hands behind my back.  I want it understood I am not going to poke or touch or adjust anything.  I just wanna SEE.  Plus, I have really terrible eyesight.   So getting super duper close might just practical.  I should also note the brush strokes thing only works on oil paintings.  I learned about brush strokes and techniques in art class, and it is fascinating.

That is one of the big way they find forgeries.  An expert might be “yes, it looks exactly like an original in every sense.  However, look super closely and see the brush strokes.  They go side to side.  However, Lono ONLY painted using up and down strokes.  It’s an almost percussive way of painting, to force the oils into the canvas.  This was common practice in the late 1700’s because that Winter was a cold snap.  So, they created a technique to keep the oils from freezing on the canvas.  It is also how we can know this painting was not done in Dec of 1783 as suspected.  That was an unusually humid winter, which created – bla bla bla.   To me, anyway, that stuff is super interesting.  it is a forensic look into technique, which also teaches us about environment, weather, resourcefulness and technique

What is the most important thing you learned in a museum

Sir, please put that down… and put your pants back on.  Actually, that super stringy piece up these explains it pretty well.  I like to learn about the technique used.  To me , it is the humanity of this person and their life experience.  Here is another example, did you know Monet had bad cataracts?  Towards the end of his life, his eyes were shit.  So, when you look at the Giverny stuff, that is likely what he was actually seeing.

AND… the most important thing I learned is that England took everything.  There is a saying that the ‘Sun never sets on the Union Jack’.  That is a one sentence history of manklind.  England used to run so much of the earth that no matter where the sun was shining, somewhere in there was a provice of England.  Anyhow, because of this, England’s museums are AMAZING.  Over time, England gave all the counties back, but they kept their shit.  To go to some of the history museums in London is to travel the world in one afternoon.  Africa, India, North America, Ireland, Australia ALL those countries were owned by England.  Now, in quite a turn of fortune… they have about as much land mass as Rhode Island.

What is your most memorable trip to a museum?

Again, the Dali museum in Spain.  Dali is absolutely my favorite artist.  I believe he is the greatest painter ever.  EVER.  Perhaps I should back up.  If you are not familiar with the name, you likely know the art.  He is most famous for this painting.

I think Dali is better than Monet, Picasso, even Kincaid!  Ok, that last part was a joke.  Am I wrong, probably.  Turn me on to other artists, I would love to learn more.

Friday Fives

Good morning team.  Last week’s Fives was half hearted.  I was writing from Rome.  Very tired, and likely a bit liquored up.  House wine costs about the same as water, so you can guess which one I chose.


1. What exciting things are you doing this weekend?

well, I think I am having a birthday something or other Saturday night.  Also, hopefully meeting up with the terrific Chris Michas of Michas Guitars and get started on my custom guitar.  Also, will do a few hours of work at the dog shelter and maybe knock out the first disc of the madmen series on DVD.

Update – this happened.  Got the guitar, and it is stunning.  Take a look.


2. Share with us some travel wisdom

This is from the great Rick Steves, who is a European travel guru… ours at least.  “Be flexible. When traveling, if you find things are not to your expectations, change your expectations.”  The whole experience of traveling, the highs and lows are all beautifully summed up by that one sentence.  Rick Steves is the bomb!  We used to be Lonely Planet devotees.  In fact, I contributed to a few of their Mexico books.  However, Rick is our new guy.  Free podcast audio tours, the works!

3. Ever gone to Spring Training?

No, because I don’t care about baseball.  However, I have done the football equivalent:  training camp.  When I was a kid, my uncle would take us to the Bills training camp in Fredonia, NY.  In AZ, the Cardinals would practice at NAU, where I was going to school.  So, I would watch them.  When I moved here (to Denver), I go see the Broncos every summer when I can.  Now that they have moved camp to their HQ, they are only 3 miles away!

4. Where is the most exotic place you have traveled?

That would be a toss up between Barcelona, Spain… and Rome, Italy.  Italy was amazing, and it is everything you imagine it… but better and grander and older.  However, Barcelona was covered in architecture by this dude Gaudi.  He is AMAZING.  Ever felt passionate about building?  Check this stuff out.  He is worth traveling the world to see his work.  Imagine, quite seriously, if Salvador Dali were an architect instead of a painter.  That is what you have here.  Oh, and Dali was Spanish too.

Bonus, after spending a week at Rome, I am churched out.  Jesus, they have a church there every 20 feet.  There churches have churches.  We did the Vatican and all that.  However, this is the greatest church on Earth.  It was designed by Gaudi, and is still under construction.  It’s called the Sagrada Familia. It looks photoshopped from a Scooby Doo cartoon.  No sir, this shit is real!

5. Where is your most recent travel destination?

are you even paying attention?  Just got back from Rome.  It was amazing.  So beautiful.  So simple.  and the food changed my life.  I have never had such sumptuous food and really good cheap wine in my life.  We ate like kings, and dirt cheap, too.  Some pics are here.  By the way, in case there is any question in your mind, after spending a week in Rome, the Catholic Church is the biggest for profit racket in history.  At the Vatican, I was in some of the holiest places on Earth… and they were pushing crap everywhere.  It was also the most expensive thing we did.  They are nuts, and none of this has to do with Jesus’ message.  It’s big business, plain and simple.  If I am going to shell out money for crap, let’s just go hog wild and follow Xenu.