Tuesday, January 31, 2006


What was the name of that famous American cowboy-humorist of the 20s and 30s? You know, the one who started out as a lasso artist in Wild West shows and whose routines always began, "Well, I see by the papers . . ." and who was killed in a plane crash as he attempted to fly around the world? George Will?

No, that's right, Will Rogers. Anyway, his is the kind of gentle, joshing humor I'll be aiming for whenever I blog about the Post or News.

Try this: Post business columnist Al Lewis is blogging from the Enron trial in Houston. Sorry, wrong Al Lewis. I mean the embarrassingly self-aggrandizing Al Lewis whose site is here. Al is pretty excited about the Enron trial, as you can tell by yesterday's post, "Hoping to catch a glimpse of history" ("Today, I’m catching a 3 p.m. flight to Houston in hopes of catching a courtroom seat at the Enron trial.")

Later he tells us his feelings about--don't faint--"Waiting in line for a golden ticket." ("I got in line outside the U.S. District Courthouse in Houston at 4:30 a.m. for opening arguments in the Enron trial." Bonus quote: "The Enron trial is the Superbowl of corporate fraud prosecutions." )

Is there a single newspaper person in the entire world who understands blogs?

Worse than his problems as a writer (not really), Al doesn't seem to quite get the concept of linking, which I was under the impression is an essential part of the "blog experience." Check out his main page. He never links to anything except more of himself.

Update: Matt Donegan, until quite recently a copy editor and reporter for the Dover (DE) Post, is another newspaper person who doesn't appreciate the power of the blog. Via Romenesko, who links to the feeb's site. Donegan is a disgrace to the noble profession of copy editing.

Update II: Matt wrote a piece last year about the spread of blogging in Delaware. It begins:
"The online sewing circle of news, gossip, mindlessly inept ramblings and perversion that is the blogosphere has entranced computer users in this and other countries, with Delaware displaying no immunity.

Bloggers, you know who you are.
Yes, yes we do. Fun quote: "'There’s a whole community of bloggers out on the Internet,” [some idiot] said." 'It’s a growing trend in Internet publishing.'" (Remember, this is in 2005.)

Update III: No, I don't know who the old gentleman I link to under the words "copy editing" is. But he's smiling strangely and wearing a fake beard. Ergo: copy editor.

Update IV: Have to admit it was from Al Lewis (in his regular column) and not the AP's lovely Nedra Pickler that I learned Daniel Petrocelli is Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling's lead attorney. Al doesn't mention that Petrocelli represented Ron Goldman's father in the Goldman and Brown families' civil suit against O.J. Simpson, and won a $33 million judgment (unpaid) against the murdering ex-running back. He also, incidentally, got to do what prosecutors in Simpson's criminal trial never could: get Simpson on the stand and tear him up. Petrocelli wrote about the civil trial in his somewhat grandiloquently titled Triumph of Justice; it's worth reading just for the chapters that feature O.J. answering questions under oath.

In the book Petrocelli also said that before the Simpson civil trial he'd been strictly a corporate litigator. Guess he's still doing that.

Update V: Jesus, the Post changed the byline of the AP story I linked to; it first said Nedra Pickler, I swear, but now it's a couple of other ginks. Apologies.


The Drunkablog, being of the landed gentry, is used to dealing with tradespeople of all sorts. Yesterday, for example, after attempting repairs on a leaky shower faucet in a tenant's apartment, I was forced, through no fault of my own, to call a real plubber, er, plumber.

The first one I called wore a crisp white uniform and carried a shiny metal briefcase. He looked at the faucet and after superciliously pointing out all the things I had screwed up, said he needed to check his "book" to give me an estimate. Then, after much serious thumbsucking and scribbling--

Plubber: Well, there's two ways we can go here. If you go get the [incomprehensible piece of hardware] tomorrow, I can come back and fix it for $567.70.

Me (waving palsied arms and sucking from oxygen tank): Aiiiiieeeeee!!!!

Plubber (observing coolly): The other thing is, I have that part right on my truck. We can get you fixed up right away--

Me: How m- m- m--

Plubber: That would come to $1152.70

Me: [repeats above reaction, plus involuntary (sort of) bowel movement].

Do you know how hard it is to say no to these guys? You still have to pay for them doing absolutely nothing except showing up, you're left with the same problem (it was actually worse, because he left the faucet leaking), and you still have to find someone to fix it. At 9:00 p.m. The immediate impulse is, Oh go ahead and fix the goddamn thing so I don't have to think about it any more.

But this time it was pretty easy not to do that. I mean, $1100? Get bent, wrenchhead.

So this morning I called another place, Good Plumbing Service. The guy who showed up was wearing jeans and an old flannel shirt. He carried his tools in a bucket and looked hungover. And after maybe 20 minutes of fiddling around he was done. Charge: $106.70.

Draw a lesson from this at your own risk.

Update: Why the hell haven't I named the rip-off plumbing company so other Dendrites (as Denver folks are familiarly known) can avoid them? The company is called Plumbline Services ("'Our reputation is comforting'"). Of course, the plumber who wrote the estimate failed to sign it or I'd name him too. (In-joke: Plumbline is a member of the "Tom Martino Troubleshooter Digital Network.")

Title subject to change; still scouting for bad pun

Wonderful story in the NYT about Harper Lee and the annual essay contest on To Kill a Mockingbird at the University of Alabama.

(Via a Judd--read the last paragraph of the post and the comments. I had never heard either rumor before.)

Monday, January 30, 2006

All-Drunkablog Union of the Talentless Poor

Don't have anything to say, I just want to move the previous post down the page as fast as possible. Almost horked my Cheerios when I fired up the computer this morning and got a fresh glimpse of that guy's gut. How do women not ralph their Raisin Bran at the sight of their hubbies in the a.m.? Yurck.

Wait, here's something. It's much grosser than the fake-abs story, but no disgusting pictures, so you breakfasters can eat your eggs extra runny with no worries. From the Moscow Times, a piece on a soldier hazed so bad he had to have--oh, man:

Hundreds of people rallied at the Defense Ministry over the weekend to demand the ouster of Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov over a brutal hazing that led to a conscript's legs and genitals being amputated.

Ivanov, who initially played down the hazing as "nothing serious," on Friday fired the head of the military academy where the attack occurred and sent the commander of the ground forces to the school to investigate.

A doctor said the state would pay for an operation to restore the conscript's sexual organs.

Private Andrei Sychyov, 19, was tied to a chair by drunken soldiers and beaten on his legs for at least three hours at the Chelyabinsk Armor Academy on New Year's Eve. When Sychyov finally received medical treatment four days later, gangrene had spread up his legs, forcing doctors to amputate them and his genitals.

Some 400 people, including students, parents and elderly Muscovites, gathered outside the Defense Ministry with posters reading "Fire Ivanov" and "There have been worse times but none more despicable." The rally was unauthorized, but dozens of police standing nearby made no attempt to break it up. Demonstrators left peacefully after two hours.

"The demonstration came about spontaneously," organizer Marina Litvinovich said Sunday. "I posted a message saying 'Let's go and protest at the Defense Ministry' on my blog, and I was surprised by the huge feedback I got."

Litvinovich, spokeswoman for Garry Kasparov, the former chess champion turned liberal politician and director of the Foundation to Help the Victims of Terror, said she had been summoned to appear in court Monday to pay a fine for organizing an unsanctioned rally. "I took full responsibility for the demonstration," she said.

Several dozen people held a similar rally Saturday in Yekaterinburg, the capital of Sverdlovsk, Sychyov's native region.

Ivanov, who has been tipped as a likely successor to President Vladimir Putin, apparently knew nothing about the hazing until Thursday, 25 days after the incident had occurred and a day after military prosecutors confirmed it. Asked about the attack during a working trip to Armenia, Ivanov replied, "There is nothing serious there, otherwise I would have known about it.". . .

[After Ivanov had learned what actually had happened], "the chief commander was ordered to find out why officers and generals did not report to commanders in Moscow about what had happened at the Chelyabinsk academy for 25 days," Ivanov said, Interfax reported.

Ivanov fired the academy's head, Major General Viktor Sidorov, and dismissed him from military service.

He also proposed drafting legislation to severely punish those convicted of hazing. Chief Military Prosecutor Alexander Savenkov will brief the Federation Council on Feb. 6 on prosecutors' efforts to maintain order in the armed forces, said Federation Council Senator Viktor Ozerov.

Savenkov called the hazing the worst crime against servicemen that he had seen in his 20 years of service.

Seven soldiers, including three officers, were detained last week in connection with the hazing. Interfax reported Saturday that the officers and two other servicemen had been released but remained under investigation, while the final two -- including a sergeant suspected of inflicting the most harm on Sychyov -- were still in custody.

Savenkov said on Sunday that a total of 12 servicemen were under investigation. Sychyov's sister, Marina Muffert, told Ekho Moskvy radio on Saturday that her mother had received several threatening phone calls urging her to keep quiet about the hazing.

Valentina Melnikova, head of the Union of Soldiers' Mothers Committees, which protects soldiers' rights, expressed concern that those guilty in the hazing might not be brought to justice. She said military officials might pressure prosecutors to close the embarrassing case quietly. "I hope that the chief military prosecutor, Savenkov, will be able to stand this pressure," she said.

Sychyov remained in serious condition on Sunday but was showing slight signs of improvement, Ekho Moskvy radio reported, citing Anatoly Belitsky, a doctor at Chelyabinsk Hospital No. 3, where Sychyov is hospitalized.

Muffert said her brother could not speak because of an oxygen tube in his throat but was able to swallow liquids . . . .

Mikhail Sokolshchik, a doctor at the National Microsurgery Center, said Sunday that Sychyov would be offered the possibility of having his genitals restored.

"We have a severely traumatized patient who is in emergency care, and after he returns to normal we will propose to him an operation to restore his genitals," Sokolshchik said on NTV television.

"The state will pay for the operation. It won't cost the patient anything," he said.

All kinds of interesting stuff in there, at least for ignorati like me.

  • So Ivanov was "tipped" to succeed Putin? You think this could screw things up?
  • Scary phrase: "prosecutors' efforts to maintain order in the military." I knew the Russian military was in bad shape, but what the hell does that mean?
  • Fascinating interview with Kasparov on his post-chess political career here. Asked if he's ever met Putin, Kasparov says, "No, I've met enough KGB colonels in my life."

  • Couldn't find the Foundation to Help the Victims of Terror, unless the Times meant this.

  • Did find Marina Litvinovich's blog, or whatever it is. (The D-blog reads Russian, he just doesn't understand it. ) Police didn't attempt to break up the "unauthorized" rally Litvinovich "organized" (according to the Times, but which she said was spontaneous), but she has to appear in court to pay a fine for holding it. Isn't that strange?

  • So what's blogging like in Russia these days? How many are addicted to the soul-destroying habit, and can they write and publish whatever they please? Or has Google been helping out in Russia too?

  • And what in God's name do Russian bloggers talk about?

  • Funny how the the Times mentions, twice, that "the state" will pay for the repairs to Sychyov's plumbing. What, did the paper think they might try to weasel out of it? Did they have reason to?

  • "Union of Soldiers' Mothers Committees." Russkis still love their commie organization names.

  • Update: The Cheerios Question.

    Sunday, January 29, 2006

    The march of science!

    Fine article in the Post today about a liposuction procedure that produces "six-pack abs."

    Forget about sweating through endless crunches in what - face it - is probably a hopeless quest for rock-hard and rippled "six-pack" abdominals reserved for bodybuilders and the genetically gifted [and the Drunkablog--ed.].

    Throw in the towel and whip out the wallet.

    A Denver plastic surgeon, Dr. John Millard, is pioneering a technique for those willing to pay for perfection: muscle-bound torsos sculpted from the patient's own fat.

    "This is art [so, allegedly, is this--ed.]," Millard said during a recent surgery. "If he could have done this, Michelangelo would have been a surgeon."

    Millard in late 2005 learned the procedure from a Colombian artist-turned-surgeon, Dr. Alfredo Hoyos, and has performed 19 of the "high-definition liposelection" surgeries. The surgeons claim to be the first in the world to take America's most popular cosmetic surgical procedure - liposuction - from slimming technique to extreme muscle sculpture.

    Patients opting for the $8,000 to $15,000 operation typically are within 10 to 15 pounds of their ideal body weight but frustrated by aging bodies that no longer respond as quickly or dramatically to exercise, he said.

    Original caption: "Patient John O'Brien is outlined before
    undergoing his fat-removing procedure." Drunkablog rewrite:
    "Do NOT look at his belly button."

    Fun quote: "'It's unbelievable,' [O'Brien] said. 'I feel like I'm looking at one of those gladiator costumes, with those plastic chest plates, or a Batman costume.'"

    (Credits: Post gutshot by Andy Cross; burning baby from the Center for Transgressive Art.)

    Update: "Columbian artist-turned-surgeon?" Now that's transgressive.

    Update II: Notice there's no "after" picture of O'Brien?

    Thursday, January 26, 2006

    All in the family

    Ward Churchill's half-brother Dan Debo sent a nice note to Rocky Mountain News editor John Temple today, which Temple duly published on his blog with the heading, "One Churchill still talks to Rocky; here's his view on Iraq war." Since poor John gets hardly any traffic*, I'll defy fair use and print the note in full:
    Hello John, how goes it in the Rockies? I confess I still read your paper on line a couple of times a week so my little letter to the editor rant goes to you if you want to print it. regards, Dan


    The polls the last few months have shown that a majority of Americans no longer support the war in Iraq. Is reality finally sinking in? We are continuing to pay for an illegal war that has taken the lifes [sic] of thousands upon thousands of innocent Iraqis and ruined the lifes [sic] of many more. Freedom on the march and the delivery of "democracy" has turned Iraq into a nightmare. Torture conducted by the "liberators" is now common and worse it has become acceptable.

    Here at home wide spread phone tapping and spying upon Americans is acknowledged and Bush tells us it's for our own safety. Professors like my brother Ward and anyone who speaks out against the governments [sic] policies and tactics are threatend [sic] and attacked. How far do you need to stretch your imagination to see mass arrests (and more) for those in opposition if the government continues on this path? It's not much of a stretch and Guantanamo is not that far away. On the other hand, they have plenty of facilities here for that already and the logistics of "rendering" prisoners overseas surely gets in the way of processing the number of prisoners that they would like, [sic]

    In the meantime there is the bigger, safer, more polite "opposition" of the democrats. If we wait for them to effect any change (which requires backbone), innocent people will continue to die. I tune into Air American [sic] radio frequently to hear just how far liberal logic twists itself. One of my favorites is their repeated demand for better body armor and other supplies for our troops. Huh? The result being that they will be better protected while killing people in an illegal war? How about some body armor for all the Iraqi children and babies? I will give my whole hearted support to any troops that refuse to fight or otherwise rebel against this war. Get the troops out and bring them home to do something useful (like help disaster victims) and the quality of their body armor will not matter.

    Americans that oppose the war need to support anti-war efforts in any way you can, [sic] Support those that speak out and defend them from attack. Use your money or your feet. Put pressure on our elected representatives to do their job for a change and "represent". Perhaps the moron in the White House can be impeached. If there is any justice we sill see him and his gang in jail someday for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

    Dan Debo High Desert , California
    That's it. Sounds just like Ward minus 20--well, five--IQ points, doesn't it? All I can find about Dan is that he backed Ward up on his story of how he came to his belief in his Indian ancestry, as quoted in the Rocky's series on Churchill last year: "Churchill has said he was 10 when his mother and grandmother passed on to him the family lore of Indian ancestry. Dan Debo, his younger half brother, backs that up. 'We were told when we were kids by our mom and grandma that we had Indian blood in us,' Debo, who lives in California, wrote to the News."

    So the only question I have is, do you think they got the radicalism from their parents? Hard to believe there could be two such doctrinaire bores in the same family otherwise. One of them would have become an insurance salesman or something. And can you imagine both of these guys at your Thanksgiving dinner? Oh, yeah, they're Indians, so they probably don't celebrate Thanksgiving, do they?

    *The Drunkablog also gets hardly any traffic, but he is pure in heart.

    Wednesday, January 25, 2006

    Drunkablog oath quickly fulfilled

    Here's an unbelievably dumb editorial from the Post today that almost catches them up to anyone who's watched CSI over the last five years:

    A man who spent more than half his life in prison for crimes he didn't commit was freed this week thanks to DNA evidence. Alan Crotzer, 45, was the fifth Florida inmate cleared by DNA in recent years.

    Whether in real life or on TV dramas, DNA evidence has proven to be a neutral tool in determining guilt or innocence. It has the potential to establish a person's innocence, as it did with Crotzer, and it can confirm guilt, as it did with Roger Keith Coleman, a Virginia man executed in 1992 for murder.

    What we have learned as science becomes increasingly more sophisticated is that the main forms of evidence on which our justice system has relied, including eyewitness testimony and even forced confessions, are too often unreliable.

    Well, that's new anyway. Our justice system relies on forced confessions. In fact, they are one of the system's main forms of evidence. The Drunkablog did not know that.

    Drunkablog swears solemn oath

    Since Lisa Jones closed down her fine RockyWatch site, where she regularly skewered Rocky Mountain News editor, publisher, owner and one true god John Temple and his minions, there's not a single blog out there keeping an eye on either Denver paper. So the Drunkablog, ever quick to seize an opportunity, has courageously decided to try to fill that gap in coverage by asking:

    Will someone please fill that gap in coverage? Thanks!

    No, really

    I'd do it myself, but I hate reading newspapers, and if there were any other way of getting regular local and state news, I wouldn't read the Denver papers at all (except Westword). In fact, after years of reading blogs, all newspapers seem mushy to me--slow, painfully cautious, pointlessly PC--hidebound. Any regular blog reader knows what I mean (he stated confidently yet without facts).

    And I'm one of those old farts who remembers long drunken Sundays reading both papers during the great days of the Denver newspaper wars in the late 90s, when one could get both the News and the Post seven days a week for a total of (around) $12 a year. Currently the Post costs $24.95 for 39 weeks (why?) and the News--wow, the News costs exactly the same. Now how do you suppose they worked that?

    Ringing declaration

    Anyway, given that someone's gotta do it, the Drunkablog, who is already at least slightly experienced in picking on Denver's newspapers (or at least, on John Temple), will somehow overcome his disdain and resume doing so to some unknown extent at some undetermined time.

    To the death!

    Monday, January 23, 2006

    Ex-smoker laughs at smoking ban

    Denver Post editorial today: "Time has come for a state smoking ban."

    Public opinion polls suggest that most Coloradans favor a statewide ban on smoking tobacco in bars, restaurants and other public places. It's a matter of health and comfort.

    We hope state lawmakers will heed the sentiment and pass a bill introduced last week by Republican Rep. Mike May and Democratic Sen. Dan Grossman and co-sponsored by 24 other lawmakers.

    The measure would ban indoor smoking in private and public buildings, except for cigar bars, special enclosed lounges at Denver International Airport and 25 percent of hotel and motel rooms . . . .

    May has pointed out that when smoking was banned on elevators, people kept taking them. When it was banned on airplanes, people continued to fly.

    Um, Mike?

    Here's a pertinent quote from "Air Rage": Disruptive Passengers. The Causes and the Cures! (exclamation point sic!), a masters degree dissertation (pdf) by Peter Rolfe on the Aerospace Medical Home Page:

    Banning smoking is another factor in the chain of events leading to an incident. Smoking in a toilet accounted for 36% of all incidents described in the DETR Survey of April-October 1999, which is indicative of the level of craving. Any or all of the symptoms described above can lead to a person attempting this sometimes dangerous pastime. A cigarette end thrown down a toilet can result in an uncontrollable fire, which could destroy ultimately the aircraft.

    What's more,
    [t]he ban on smoking and the stresses of flying can lead passengers into taking another form of drug "therapy", freely available alcohol. A passenger may turn to alcohol in order to "drown" the nicotine craving, should it arise.

    Should it arise? Anyway, Mike May is right, people kept flying. They also started pounding "freely available alcohol," stumbling down to the head and and trying to blow up the plane.

    Swingin' (at the) flight attendants

    Sorry, had to use that subhead even though I have nothing else to say except that smokers probably are. Swinging, that is. At flight attendants. More often. Man, I need a cigarette.

    Update: It's so cute how Peter Rolfe says a cigarette "end" could "destroy ultimately the aircraft." Wasn't it Churchill who said, about Time's style of writing in the '30s, "backward ran sentences until reeled the mind?" No, I see it was Wolcott Gibbs in the New Yorker. Why would Churchill have anything to say about Time, aside from the fact he was on the cover a time or two? Then I guess maybe it was Churchill who said, "This is the sort of English up with which I will not put." Dammit, no again, or at least, probably not. There goes my budding career as the new Mr. Language Person.

    Sunday, January 22, 2006

    Social(ist) notes

    Been a while since I've checked in on the revolutionary pinheads of the Maoist Internationalist Movement, and huzzah! there's a new edition of "MIM Notes" (pdf). Top story: "Freedom of the press is a joke; United $nakes wanted to bomb critics in the media," about the plot by Bu$h (sorry, it's catching) to bomb al-Jazeera. Concluding paragraph:

    The claims by the imperialists that they want a free society in Iraq is a total lie. . . . Imperialists use rhetoric about humyn rights and freedom to justify their wars of aggression. In reality, imperialists themselves do the most to suppress freedom; they are the greatest violators of humyn rights. . . . Those journalists who risk their lives for truth deserve our support--whether it is Mumia Abu Jamal who sits on death row for daring to speak the truth about U.$ violence against the Black Nation, or those who in effect risk their lives to bring us the truth about U.$ imperialist crimes in Iraq.

    Mumia, check. Speaking truth to power, check. Dollar signs, check. Retarded PC spelling ("humyn"), chuck, I mean, check. Funniest line: "Aljazeera is said to be considering and exploring legal options against the administration." Brilliant! The only thing the imperialist fa$cist murderers can't stop with their murdering murderousness: a lawsuit!

    Lavishing attention on your houseplants can
    lighten the worst winter blues.

    Tookie! Tookie! Tookie!

    You can probably guess what they have to say about Tookie Williams' execution (in "Tookie another casualty of war"), but it's still too dumb not to quote a little:

    An imperialist country with internal semi-colonies, the United $nakes is unlike socialist countries that ended the oppression of national minorities. In a socialist society, however, Tookie would have been released after being encouraged to do the kinds of things he ended up doing in his final years. But since Tookie lived in a capitalist society, he was executed and murdered [neat trick--ed.]. [But] as Tookie himself expressed in his interviews, he had redeemed himself.
    Oh. Well, damn.

    Barrel of laughs

    And never let it be said that MIM lacks a sense of humor--because they, you know, kill anyone who says that. But jeez guys, can't you lighten up, just once? From a review of Shopgirl, the recent Steve Martin-Claire Danes movie about an older rich guy and a younger poor guy who are after the same, uh, gyrl, or something like that. No doubt the movie is ultra-putrid, but MIM uses its putridity (as good Maoists use everything) to instruct:

    Under the system of patriarchy that oppresses wimmin and youth, all relationships tend toward prostitution, and all sex under patriarchy is rape or based on the rape culture no matter what the character or income of the people involved.

    Now where have we heard that before?

    Photo courtesy Stickpersyn Liberation Front.

    Subjugate your knowledges

    MIM also has their usual "Under lock and key" section of "news from prisons and prisoners," but I'll just quote their mission statement (same page) on the justice system in general, which begins:

    Mim seeks to build public opinion against Amerika's criminal injustice system, and to eventally replace the bourgeois injustice system with proletarian justice. . . .
    Then they get right to building that public opinion:

    All U.$. citizens are criminals--accomplices and accessories to the crimes of U.$ oppression globally until the day U.$ imperialism is overcome. All U.$ citizens should start from the point of view that they are reforming criminals.
    They had me at "accomplices."

    Update: Earlier MIM "fun" here y here.

    Friday, January 20, 2006


    The dear darling Drunkawife was having problems getting pictures to me from Puebla. She is no longer having problems. I am. The pictures started coming in such a flood (though they're only a small hunk of the 1200 she's taken so far) that I'm confused about what's what. So just diving in:

    Sign for the orphanage the Drunkawife helped out
    at before beginning her Spanish language intensive. No
    jokes, please, about anybody's need for an English language intensive.

    An orphan. Or the Drunkawife's new lover. I forget which.

    Another orphan.

    These are the stuffed toys the Drunkawife actually hauled all the way
    down to Puebla
    for the kiddies. They carry them around everywhere.

    This is what becomes of the children who aren't adopted.
    Kidding! I believe this is from the Templo Mayor in Mexico City.

    A stone carving of a shell from the Templo Mayor.

    Masks, from the same place (I think).

    The Drunkwife takes some good pictures, doesn't she? Amazing, really, given that she usually has to down a pint of McCormick's vodka just to steady her dainty but drink-palsied mitts.

    Update: For some reason none of the pictures will enlarge. Just let me find my little hammer. . .

    Update: More Mexico photos from my favorite short-bus vet here und here.

    Memories of spew

    Damn, now I'll never read A Million Little Pieces. Probably. Unless I find a copy at the DAV thrift store. Nonetheless, the Drunkablog still has an understandable interest in memoirs of drunkenness and violence.

    Right now I'm reading Mary Karr's The Liars Club (in a "10th anniversary edition" with a new forward by the author), and whether Karr is telling the truth or not, one thing is certain: she is a far better writer than the Million Pieces guy, who tends (among his merely stylistic faults) toward the Crude affectation of random Capitalization.

    Not long ago I read another drunk's memoir, Dry, by gay New York adperson Augusten Burroughs. I didn't like it much. Despite what the reviews said ("fabulously funny"; "self-deprecatingly funny"; "funny and dark"), it just wasn't very funny. It's an odd description for a drunk memoir anyway (I say humorlessly), but if reviewers are describing you as funny, you should be funny.

    A bigger problem

    When Dry opens, Burroughs is only 24, but he's fabulously successful, he does glamorous things with glamorous people, and he lives in New York, the hippest city in the world. And he drinks. A lot.

    When Dry ends, Burroughs is only 25 or 26 (he's kind of vague about when and over how long a period his story takes place), he's still fabulously successful, and he still does glamorous things with glamorous people in New York, the hippest city in the world. But he doesn't drink. At all.

    In between he has adventures, including rehab, and goes through many changes. Fine. Look, I'm sure he went through hell (and he apparently had a truly horrific childhood, which he recounts in a book called Running With Scissors), but to real, long-term drunks, Dry is lightweight stuff.

    Certain things tend to happen to drunks. They:

  • Lose family;

  • Lose jobs;

  • Lose friends;

  • Lose homes;

  • Commit or are the victims of violence;

  • Get in serious trouble with the law;

  • Fall off the wagon over and over;

  • Suffer permanent health consequences.

    None of these things happens to Burroughs (he doesn't even lose his job!), which, while wonderful for him, doesn't provide much excitement for the reader. (Burroughs does lose a friend, but to AIDS, not alcohol). Though I probably shouldn't put it this way, Burroughs is simply not a big enough or nasty enough drunk to sustain interest in his story.

    AA people probably wouldn't like me saying this. For them, if you think you have a problem with alcohol, you do, or at least you should be treated as if you do. In the boozehound world, as opposed to some others, self-identification is perfectly acceptable. It just doesn't always make for gripping reading.

    Nearly gratuitous Jack London quote!

    And now comes John Barleycorn with the curse he lays upon the imaginative man who is lusty with life and desire to live. John Barleycorn sends his White Logic, the argent messenger of truth beyond truth, the antithesis of life, cruel and bleak as interstellar space, pulseless and frozen as absolute zero, dazzling with the frost of irrefragable logic and unforgettable fact. John Barleycorn will not let the dreamer dream, the liver live. He destroys birth and death, and dissipates to mist the paradox of being, until his victim cries out, as in "The City of Dreadful Night": "Our life's a cheat, our death a black abyss." And the feet of the victim of such dreadful intimacy take hold of the way of death--John Barleycorn: Alcoholic Memoirs (1913).

    Illustration from the original edition of John Barleycorn.

    Update: Linking to a band because they have a cool name or logo does not imply familiarity with that band's music.
  • Tuesday, January 17, 2006

    "Bankrobber Dad"

    Rita Cosby makes me want to stick a finger down my throat until I fall down retching bloody green bile. Some of her recent stories: "2005: Year of the teacher-sex scandal"; "Porn pushes the technology envelope"; "Navy wife gets new 'man-nequin.'"

    Yesterday her show was live! from the Christian County Correctional Facility in Taylorville, Illinois, where she interviewed "Bankrobber Dad" William Ginglen, who gained worldwide notoriety when his three sons, one of whom is a cop, turned him in for his bankrobbery ways.

    Nothing unusual there. Pathetic prisoners, battlin' lawyers and sad families, one or all of whom sooner or later will cry bitter tears of regret. Crap, crap, crap.

    But this time, the guttural Cosby's story caught my attention. Ginglen, it turned out, robbed banks in tiny farm towns very near the ancestral Drunkablog acres, including the bank in microscopic Deland, Illinois (2004 pop: 466), just a few miles from the ancient seat of the Drunkablogs (see the family crest in the upper right-hand window? It's a duck, rampant).

    No point to all this, as you might have guessed, except maybe to post a cool picture:

    Christian County (Ill.) cornfield (photo courtesy Mason Oller).

    Update: It's incredibly weird that the Christian County website says Christian County is "in the Taylorville metro area," isn't it? Makes my brain itch, anyway.

    Monday, January 16, 2006

    Saturday Evening Post, November 28, 1964

    Cover story: "A searching report: Momentous changes sweep the Catholic Church in America."

    Speaking Out column by Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisel): "If at first you don't succeed, quit!" First sentence: "Once upon a time . . . (approximately in the year of 1314) . . . a Scottish king named Bruce became sort of psychotic" (ellipses in original).

    Affairs of State column by Stewart Alsop. First paragraph: "Bucharest: Something very important, very hard to define, and very little understood by Americans, has been happening in this part of the world. The nations of eatern Europe are becoming nations again, and the people of eastern Europe are becoming Europeans again."

    A little premature, I guess, but ultimately correct. In the beginning of the last graf, however, Alsop takes it all back: "It [Eastern European countries daring to show "national" characteristics] is not the opportunity to achieve a cheap "victory" over Communism. Communism in some form is here to stay."

    A piece by Quentin Reynolds on "Churchill at 90: Twilight of a hero." Lead-in: "A correspondent who knew Sir Winston at the zenith of his greatness offers a warm reminiscence of the old lion." Both Reynolds and Churchill died the next year. Reynolds was also the plaintiff in a famous libel suit against columnist Westbrook Pegler, which Reynolds' lawyer, Louis Nizer, wrote about in his wonderful My Life in Court.

    And finally, an ad:


    Sunday, January 15, 2006

    Ten Nights in a Bar-Room: Little Mary is nailed with a whiskey glass

    Joe Morgan has come to and is arguing with Simon Slade, owner of the Sickle and Sheaf:

    "A rum-seller talk of decency!" Morgan said. "Pah! You were a decent man once, and a good miller into the bargain. But that time's past and gone. Decency died out when you exchanged the pick and facing-hammer for the glass and the muddler!"

    There was so much biting contempt in the tones, as well as the words of the half intoxicated man, that Slade, who had himself been drinking rather more freely than usual, was angered beyond self-control.

    Catching up an empty glass from the counter, he hurled it with all his strength at the head of Joe Morgan. The missive [sic] just grazed one of his temples, and flew by on its dangerous course. The quick sharp cry of a child startled the air, followed by exclamations of alarm and horror from many voices.

    "It's Joe Morgan's child!" "He's killed her!" "Good Heavens!" Such were the exclamations that rang through the room.

    (Credits: Joe Morgan from the Abraham Lincoln Historical Digitization Project of Northern Illinois University; Lorne Greene and fambly (I guess) from the German site ruhr.de; moth art from cigar-label site InStone.Inc; Hammer from The Onion's A.V. Club; old guy drinking from De Kelder's Liquor Emporium; military guy showing self-control from the Wilford Hall Medical Center (59th Medical Wing); temple from This is the Life.com; Jon Benet and balloons from E online. Finally, be careful of that "Jon Benet's Heaven" link. You'll see why, you sick *ucks.)

    Update: Other Ten Nights in a Bar-Room posts here and here.

    Saturday, January 14, 2006

    Rula and George: Together at last

    Americans of a certain age (old) probably remember Rula Lenska, the "famous actress" in Alberto VO5 shampoo commercials whom no one (in the U.S. at least) had ever heard of.

    So it was interesting to learn from a commenter to this post at Biased BBC that she is appearing on the UK's "Celebrity Big Brother" along with George Galloway--and that some very bizarre stuff is going on. The commenter linked to this BBC article about last night's "CBB" installment:
    George Galloway has been branded a "laughing stock" by a Labour opponent after the Respect MP imitated a cat on Celebrity Big Brother.

    Mr Galloway, 51, went on all fours, purred and pretended to lick cream from actress Rula Lenska's hands, as part of a task set on the Channel 4 show.

    Labour London Assembly member John Biggs accused the Bethnal Green and Bow MP of neglecting his constituents.

    But Mr Galloway says taking part in the programme is good for politics. . . .

    During a Big Brother task to see whether "humans can communicate with animals", Mr Galloway asked Ms Lenska: "Now, would you like me to be the cat?"

    He crawled on all fours and then pretended to lap from her hands as if drinking cream, after which she rubbed the "cream" from his "whiskers" and stroked his head and behind his ears.

    Earlier, Mr Galloway acted the role of "lab assistant" while Ms Lenska "read the mind" of a goldfish called Barry.
    Won't try to improve on what the commenter, Ashley Pomeroy, had to say: "This is kinky and surreal at the same time, and gives me a mental image of George Galloway MP dressed up as Frank N'Furter from the Rocky Horror Picture Show, perhaps whilst being whipped by Rula Lenska."

    Update: Yuck (in both senses of the word) alert: The Daily Ablution has the video, with added "commentary" by the big pussy himself.

    Friday, January 13, 2006

    Reasons to love MSNBC number, um, one

    On tonight's edition of "MSNBC Investigates": Forbidden relationships in the North Carolina Correctional Institute for Women.

    Turning off the TV and getting the hell away from it in . . . 3, 2 . . . 1-and-a-half . . .

    It's awful, of course, like watching the women arrested on Cops after they're put in jail, almost every one an abused drug addict or alky with no education and bad teeth.

    Awkward transition

    Much less real but a lot more fun is this old women-in-chains (as opposed to old-women-in-chains) flick. Hooray for Hollywood.

    Buy this book!

    It's funny and heartwarming and deranged, and will make you lapse into a syncope (second definition) from which you will more than likely recover. (Full disclosure: This blogger helped the author a little. She's dyslexic and transposes contiguous letters right to left. I'm dyslexic too, but the opposite way, so I just retyped the manuscript so it looked correct to me. I do not stand to profit from sales of the book, except for its author's promise to stop beating me about the head and neck with a newly empty fifth of McCormick's vanilla vodka if I give her a plug.)

    Intriguing, no?

    Intriguing, yes! Stations of the Crossed Heart won all kinds of prizes, too, but don't hold that against it. For more info e-mail: jdc@christieandbrown.com.

    Update (in Homer voice, shaking fist): Buuuyyyy iiiittttt.

    Update II: I should probably point out that the author actually doesn't even know about this plug, and didn't ask for it. If she doesn't like it I'll change it or take it down altogether.

    Top this

    Under the heading "Top Story" right now the Denver Post has Rockies work to keep Cook. Sheesh. I gotta quit reading newspapers.

    Thursday, January 12, 2006

    Deep breath

    The other day I asked a buddy if he was going to see Brokeback Mountain. He said he thought he'd wait until it came out on DVD. "You know my breathing problems [he has allergies and asthma and maybe a deviated septum or something]. It wouldn't sound too good if when the guys are going at it the whole audience can hear me breathing--huuuuuunh, huuuuuuk, huuuuuunh."

    I don't think he's a homophobe, or even worried that people will think he's gay. It's just that one time we went to see Last House on the Left, a movie which may still hold the record for sick, creepy violence, and during all the grisly scenes you could hear him over the audience's horrified silence--huuuuuuunh, huuuuuuk, huuuuunh. People were turning around to look at him. Huuuuuunh. Huuuuuuuk. Huuuuuuunh. He sounded like an axe murderer.

    Not that there's anything wrong with that.

    Thank God

    Rocky Mountain News: Manure fire under control in Adams County.

    "'There is no active fire, just some cow patties we have to turn over' [Bennett fire district spokesman Branden Baalman] said."

    Update: Hate to say it, but it might be worth my while to actually read a newspaper now and then. Not only for potential burning-cow-poop posts, but for things like the Denver Post's (which is far more blog-savvy than the News) piece on Colorado vlogs, including reporter Douglas Brown's cute demonstration of the technology with his own elevator vlog.
    site map

    Tuesday, January 10, 2006

    Don't you dare make faces, you little . . .

    For your own good, another dose of old magazine, this time the March 12, 1965, Saturday Evening Post.

    First up is a Tampax ad featuring Jackie Kennedy. Amazing how only 19 months after her (first) husband's demise she: a) has run through the Kennedy fortune and has to appear in Tampax ads; and b) is doing so in such an egregiously "kicky" manner. Doesn't look good, Jackie me girl!

    Top, Jackie Kennedy; bottom, somebody else.

    Here's another ad:

    No, not the hem ad (no one can stay the march of science!); the little one, lower right corner:

    Could this tiny ad be for the same company that grew into, uh, Tidy Cat? And yes, even an itty-bitty ad like this must have cost in a magazine with a circulation at the time of (I think I read somewhere*) over 7,000,000. Still, amazing, I claim.

    Other crap

    There's a piece on an absolutely gorgeous Elizabeth Montgomery ("Bewitching Liz Montgomery"); another on Madison Avenue; a profile of composer Richard Rodgers ("Number One Melody Man"); and a wonderful true-crime piece by Roger Kahn, "The Case of the Dead Bookie." (Lead-in: "A playboy on trial, a mysterious call girl, a relentless cop and a curious trunk that went bump in the Manhattan night were the bizarre ingredients of . . . ")

    Here's the first illustration for the piece:

    Check off another blogger cliche: Ohhhhh-kay.

    *See, bloggers are too journalists.

    Update: "The well-thought-of-ables?"

    Remain calm: Colorado legislative session begins tomorrow

    Here's the Post's roundup of legislative issues, as if anyone cares. In fact, every year when I read these pre-session stories about the dire problems the legislature must address or there'll be rioting in the streets I think:

    Free breakfast!

    Most mornings during the 120-day session, various lobbying groups would have areas set up in the capitol basement where they served everything from shirred eggs, belgian waffles and fresh-squeezed orange juice to your cruddy box of stale donuts. At least, that's how it worked when I was there. The grub was mainly for the legislators, of course, but all the legislative staffs (whose offices were in the basement) managed to weasel in on it too. Pretty nice little perk for the ill-paid and often-yelled-at peons who researched and put together the bills (except when the lobbyists did it) that the reps and senators argle-bargled over. Wasn't quite enough to keep me there though, restless entrepreneur that I was.

    Another brush with greatness

    The Drunkawife would kill me if I didn't mention this. Every year the governor, whoever it is, has a Christmas party for legislators and staff at the governor's mansion. It's a fairly ritzy deal, or at least it was to me. Anyway, long before the D-a-W and I "got together" we were sort-of friends, and I asked her to go to this party with me.

    We got there and immediately set to exploring the place. It was beautiful, of course, and we looked in all the nooks and crannies we could. Finally, off in a corner away from the crowd, we found this, like, tub of brie, with all the accoutrements. Being used to more mundane cheese food products, we clapped like slow children and began stuffing our faces. The sight of each other, cheeks bulging with brie and cracker(s), was funny, so we were laughing while stuffing.

    Suddenly this little man pops around the corner and steams toward us, hand outstretched. It was Governor Roy Romer. Dialogue, please:

    RR (shaking my hand): How ya doin', how ya doin'?

    Me: Fi, tha oo. How ah oo?

    RR: Great, great. Having a good time?

    Me: Ehuf--

    RR: Great, great. Who do you work for?

    Me: Ah wor i' tha aseme.

    RR: Pardon me?

    Me: Ah wor i' the (swallow) basemeh.

    RR: You work in the basement? Great, great.

    And he was gone.

    I work in the basement. Smooth.

    Sunday, January 08, 2006

    Down Mexico way dos

    Here's another picture the Drunkawife took in Meheeco City. It's either the city jail or the Basilica of Guadalupe. I'm already getting mixed up.

    Must be the jail, huh?

    Saturday, January 07, 2006

    Cylinder heads

    All kinds of neat ancient recordings (if you like that sort of thing) at the UC Santa Barbara Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project website. I didn't even make it through the b's and found such gems as the Imperial Marimba Band with "American Pep" (1921); Arthur Collins and Byron G. Hardin's contemplative "Baboon Bungalow" (1909); "Be My Little Baby Bumble Bee" by Elizabeth Spencer and Walter Van Brent (1913); and, more lightheartedly, "Be Thou Faithful Unto Death" (190?) Fun for all!

    (via Cliopatra)

    Update: Dammit, the song links will only take you to the search page. If you check out anything, listen to "Baboon Bungalow."

    Thursday, January 05, 2006

    Things to come II

    One time I was walking past the Denver Public Library (long before it was fabulousized) on 13th Avenue where the loading dock and dumpsters used to be, and saw an old guy who looked like Commander Whitehead, the Schweppes Tonic guy, poking around in a dumpster with his cane.

    After I scared him off (kidding! but for some reason he left as I walked by muttering and throwing punches at the air), I looked in the dumpster and saw maybe half a dozen cardboard boxes full of old magazines--thrown out, probably, after they were put on microfiche.

    Spending some quality time in that dumpster, I ended up with 75 or 80 Look, Life and (mostly) Saturday Evening Posts published from 1963 to 1968.

    You're in Lileks Country

    Sucker. Yep, I'm going to start posting stuff from these mags together with my no-doubt wry comments, kind of like James Lileks does, except, you know, not funny. Or thought-provoking. Or interesting.

    Here's an example:

    Wry comment: WTF. I mean, really, WT F'n F? Does this look like fun to you? These two morons are whacking each other with big sticks. While standing in canoes. With no life jackets. And look at the poor girl, hanging on for dear life. She's terrified. This is f'n sick.

    Update. Brushes with greatness: My father used to see Commander Whitehead on the train into New York back in the 60s. He always looked just like he did on the bottle. His wife wrote a memoir of their life together titled The Beard and I.

    Dad also occasionally saw Peter De Vries, the hilarious chronicler of suburban Connecticut and author of the immortal line (in Reuben, Reuben), "Somewhere, a duck quacked," in the bar car. Dad spent a lot of time in the bar car.

    Update II: Lileks was on the radio today. He said Warhol was wrong. Everyone will actually be Hitler for 15 minutes.

    Update III: Just realized I don't actually have a "Things to come I" post. What an idiot.

    Update IV: Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that the ad is from the August 24, 1965 issue of Look. See? Idiot.

    The Drunkablog is moving to Canada!

    Agence France Press today:
    Free drinks may improve the health and lives of homeless alcoholics and reduce their run-ins with police, according to a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

    Seventeen chronic alcoholics who drank upwards of 46 [freakin' sic] glasses a day over the past 35 years, including cheap substitutes such as mouthwash that often led to unconsciousness, were offered a glass of wine or sherry each hour, from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm at an Ottawa shelter over five to 24 months. . . .

    "Once the craziness of their alcoholism is under control, their wasted lives on the street turned around, they're interesting people and all that destructive behavior is behind them," [study author] Turnbull said.

    "They'll never be fully integrated into society, but they'll be less of a drain and even contributors."

    So a thus-far unrealized dream of mine--not just to be less of a drain on society, but actually to be a non-fully integrated contributor to it (while drunk!)--is finally within reach.

    (Via Drudge, who also links to another mot for the Pat Robertson blooper reel: "Robertson says Sharon's stroke is God's punishment.")

    Wednesday, January 04, 2006

    Pizza & mussels

    Does that sound like a hot combo to you? Because it's the new food craze that's sweeping Denver:

    Well, "sweeping" may be an exaggeration. And "craze" is definitely a lie. In fact, the concept is peculiarly disgusting and I've never seen more than a couple of (pervie-looking) people inside. But it looks like a chain, doesn't it?

    And what does the ampersand mean?

    Pizza "&" Mussels. Is that supposed to mean pizza "&" a side of mussels? Or maybe "pizza & mussels (mussels available at separate undisclosed locations)?" Or maybe it just means pizza "with" mussels. But if it means pizza "with" mussels, why doesn't the sign just say "pizza with mussels?" Hmmm?

    So I googled "pizza with mussels" and found only this comment (scroll a little) in the Washington (D.C.) City Paper, about the apparently unsarcastically named restaurant Pizza Paradiso:
    The [pwm] was another disaster. Eight large mussels in its [sic] shells sat unappetizingly on the pizza. The mussels oozed so much liquid that the pizza was another soggy mess. To top it off, one of the mussels was dead.
    Pizza "&" diseased mussels! Yum!

    Down Mexico way

    The late unpleasantness with Dell (see post below) prevented me from informing Drunkablog readers if any that the Drunkawife had left for Puebla, Mexico for her third round of Spanish immersion in as many years. Being the soppy pinkish fellow-traveling freak that she is (luv ya, hon!), the D-a-W actually arrived a week before classes started so she could help out at an orphanage.


    Anyway, she's got the good camera (I have this one), and promises lots of pics of which I will post an as yet undetermined number (i.e., the ones I like). Here are a couple on account, from Mexico City:

    Is speaking the Drunkawife: "Casa de los Azulejos (Tile House), just down the street from my hotel."

    Is not funny the Drunkawife: "John?"

    Tuesday, January 03, 2006

    Farmer in the Dell

    My computer broke. Last week the CD and DVD drives started acting hinky. They wouldn't open without several pressings of their respective buttons (as it were, and pip pip) and the CD drive required a handsomely manicured fingernail prying at the door as well.

    But not to worry. My Dell warranty was still in force.

    I'm so sorry

    But, yes, this is a Dell rant. Just a small one. And unlike Jeff Jarvis in his famous anti-Dell, er, episodes last summer, I'll at least try to be funny.

    But won't succeed

    Actually, Jarvis's fight with Dell was like Gladiator except with more disemboweled bodies (and disembodied bowels) flying around, and well worth reading, which I say even though I've never liked Jarvis's blog much. (It's probably indispensable and all that, but he's always sounded like some old-fogey spaceman droning on about "the future" and why it's so important for you to hear what he has to say about it. Sample quote from just today, about tagging blog posts:

    But this isn’t just another valentine to just another cool online trend; we’re so over that. No, tags have a larger lesson to teach to media. They present a clear demonstration that the web is not about flat content. The web is about connections and the value that arises from them if you enable people to collect and communicate. In the old, big, centralised, controlled world of media, a few people with a few tools - pencils, presses and Dewey decimals - thought they could organise the world and its content. But as it turns out, left to its own devices, the world is often better at organising itself.
    See what I mean?)

    Get to the f'n story

    No biggie, really. I called Dell:

    Tech: Blah-blah-blah, [crackle-crackle] is Steeff, how may I help you?

    Me: I'm all alone?

    Steeff: Stay calm! Put down [crackle crackle] breathe deeply! Give me phone number so if we are disconnected I will [crackle crackle] back!

    Me: Are you on a cell phone?

    Steef: No, I am not [crackle crackle] phone.

    So I give him my phone number and he asks me all the questions the automated system has already asked, having to repeat each question at least twice through the static. Finally we get to the computer. I have just opened up the tower and--we're cut off. I wait for him to call back as promised. Over an hour. Then I call. This time I wait less than 25 minutes for another tech.

    It's Jerry!

    Jerry: Blah-[crackle-crackle], my name is Jerry, how may I help you?

    Me: I got cut off with the last tech. He said he'd call back but--

    Jerry: We [crackle-crackle] call out. There is problem with [crackle].

    Me: Oh.

    Later, after Jerry has guided me through reseating all the plugs, and asked me to do "just a little soldering" inside the tower and maybe "machine" a few parts, he says,

    Jerry: Still there is only amber light blinking? Now we have completely different problem!

    And we did, with the ignition or the carburator or whatever. But with my next-day service I had to wait only five days for the tech to show and replace all the stuff that needed replacing. That's the story. Thanks.