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I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
I do not think that they will sing to me.

                     T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

May 29, 2005

Political Sunday.
I missed most of the political dust-ups over the last couple of weeks by the simple process of ignoring the TV sets in my rooms in Ireland And London, TV news since I got back and the front pages of the local papers as I struggle to catch up with that which needs must be done. It's actually kinda nice. What did the cartoon character Andy Capp once say? Don't lose yer ignorance. Ya can't replace it.:

To the extent that I have now caught up, let me say that I agree almost entirely with this (stupid Democrats), pretty much with this (sad and pathetic) and think this is hilarious (not to mention dead-on accurate).

That's it. I'm done. Enjoy the holiday weekend. But please remember.

[posted by Jack Curtin 10:40 am edt]



May 28, 2005

Ten things I learned while travelling.
As I noted in my last posting here, two weeks ago today, I've recently been on a week-long trip to Carlow, Ireland and London, England to drink beer because, y'know, I had to. It's what I do.

I'll have the complete story of all that (which was made possible by these folks) posted over at Liquid Diet Online in a couple of days and post the link here for anyone who doesn't visit both blogs regularly (for shame!).

In the meantime, for your edification and amusement, some interesting bits I picked up along the way:

1. More than 60,000 young British women left their homeland and came to America following World War II, marrying American GIs, which made the Brits very, very good at football (soccer) in the late '40s, not having much of anything else to occupy their free time.

2. The traditional three-tiered wedding cake most of us are familiar with was actually designed by an architect; a baker looking for something other than the flat cake was the custom was inspired by a hotel in London.

3. In the popular WW2 song, A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square, the word "nightingale" is a code word for "Ladies of the Evening," who patrolled the park and whistled at GIs to attract their attention; there are not, and never have been, real nightingales in Berkeley Square.

4. When Mongol hordes swept across Europe in the 10th-12th centuries, the custom was that the troops passed the most beautiful of the surviving women up the line to their commanders, who did the same and so forth and, since the best known of all the mongols, Genghis Khan, not only thus received the most beautiful of the beautiful, but was also quite, um, proficient at his duties, it is possible that as many as 32 million people alive today may be descended from him (I told this to one of the guys on our trip and he responded, "yeah, and I'm married to one of them").

5. Mongol fact #2: it was a tradition that these guys never changed, nor washed, their clothing, so you pretty knew much knew they were coming well in advance.

6. Ho Chi Min once worked as a waiter in a Fuller's pub in London.

7. Horse traffic in London 120 years ago moved at a pace of roughly 11 miles an hour; motorized traffic today moves at roughly nine miles an hour.

8. The recently departed Queen Mother reportedly had a direct line to a bookie from her palace digs.

9. Colonel Thomas Blood, famous as the only man to (almost) steal Britain's priceless Crown Jewels back in 1671, never got out of the Royal Palace with them, but an accomplice did and tried to escape by stuffing a long scepter and huge orb down into his tights, but was quickly apprehended ("being chased by loads of women," according to our tour guide); this is why the male privates are sometimes referred to as "the crown jewels."

10. Col. Blood was neither executed nor jailed for long, but instead pardoned by King Charles II; some say it was because Blood was such a loveable Irish rogue; others contend that the big-spending, high-living Charles was behind the whole plot in the first place.

All these facts are certifiably questionable and not to be trusted.


Stop that or you'll go blind.
That, along with the "hair on the palms" warning, was what they told you when you were just a young lad, um, exploring certain pleasurable possibilities. Well, just to prove they get you both coming and going (as it were), now there's this.

I blame it all on George W. Bush. Then again, I blame everything on George W. Bush, figuring the odds are with me.

Another thing I always do is pillage those New Yorkers I carry on European trips for cartoons that strike my fancy. This one, from the May 2 issue, seems to fit here right nicely.


Saturday's Song. There are nightingales and then there are nightingales (see "Ten Things I Learned," above).
That certain night, the night we met,
There was magic abroad in the air.
There were angels dining at the Ritz,
And a nightingale sang in Berkeley Square.

I may be right, I may be wrong,
But Iím perfectly willing to swear
That when you turned and smiled at me,
A nightingale sang in Berkeley Square.

The moon that lingered over London Town
Poor puzzled moon, he wore a frown.
How could he know that we two were so in love?
The whole darn world seemed upside down.

The streets of town were paved with stars,
It was such a romantic affair.
And as we kissed and said good night,
A nightingale sang in Berkeley Square.

When dawn came stealing up, all gold and blue
To interrupt our rendezvous,
I still remember how you smiled and said,
Was that a dream or was it true?

Our homeward step was just as light
As the dancing of Fred Astaire,
And like an echo far away
A nightingale sang in Berkeley Square.
                   Eric Maschwitz/Manning Sherwin
          "A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square"

[posted by Jack Curtin 2:30 pm edt]



May 15, 2005

Class.
I think this three week study, which begins in today's New York Times, promises to be fascinating. Here's the money quote from University of California, Berkeley economist, David I. Levine:

Being born in the elite in the U.S. gives you a constellation of privileges that very few people in the world have ever experienced. Being born poor in the U.S. gives you disadvantages unlike anything in Western Europe and Japan and Canada.


Saturday's Song. Late again.
Many's the time I've been mistaken
And many times confused.
Yes, and I've often felt forsaken
And certainly misused.
Oh but I'm alright, I'm alright
Just weary to my bones,
Still you don't expect to be bright and bon vivant
So far away from home,
So far away from home.

Don't know a soul who has not been battered,
Don't have a friend who feels at ease,
I don't know a dream that's not been shattered
Or driven to its knees.
Oh, but it's alright, it's alright,
For we've lived so well so long.
Still, when I think of the road we're travelin' on,
I wonder what's gone wrong,
I can't help it, I wonder what's gone wrong.

And I dreamed I was dying,
I dreamed that my soul rose unexpectedly,
Looking back down at me, smiled reassuredly.
I dreamed I was flying,
High up above my eyes could clearly see,
The Statue of Liberty sailing away to sea.

And I dreamed I was flying...
We come on the ship they call the Mayflower,
Come on the ship that sails the moon,
We come in the age's most uncertain hours,
And sing an American tune.
Oh but it's alright, it's alright,
Can't be forever blessed.
Still, tomorrow's gonna be another working day,
And I'm tryin' to get some rest.
That's all, I'm tryin' to get some rest.
                   Willie Nelson, "American Tune"

In George Bush's America, at the dawn of the 21st Century, can you come up with more appropriate lyrics than these? I think not.


Speaking of Willie...
...I'm on the road again as of tomorrow, a week-long jaunt to Ireland and England to visit breweries, drink beer and...well, I guess that's about it.

Things should get on a more regular schedule once I get back and settled in and, promise, I'll offer something more than just bitter political commentary. At least, that's the plan.

[posted by Jack Curtin 8:55 am edt]



May 8, 2005

When pigs start to fly.
Frank Rich is awfully good this morning. Hell, he's awfully good any morning, but today he's dead on target, skewering the fatuousness and ineptness of an institution which has gone from being our last line of defense to being (with apparently delight) an integral part of the problem:

The Washington press corps' eagerness to facilitate and serve as dress extras in what amounts to an administration promotional video can now be seen as a metaphor for just how much the legitimate press has been co-opted by all manner of fakery in the Bush years....

Watching the Washington press not only swoon en masse for Mrs. Bush's show but also sponsor and promote it inevitably recalls its unwitting collaboration in other, far more consequential Bush pageants. From the White House's faux "town hall meetings" to the hiring of Armstrong Williams to shill for its policies in journalistic forums, this administration has been a master of erecting propagandistic virtual realities that the news media have often been either tardy or ineffectual at unmasking....

The more the press blurs these lines on its own, the more openings government propagandists have to erect their Potemkin villages with impunity. "Our once noble calling," wrote Philip Meyer in The Columbia Journalism Review last fall, "is increasingly difficult to distinguish from things that look like journalism but are primarily advertising, press agentry or entertainment." You know we're in trouble when Jeff Gannon, asked about his murky past on Bill Maher's show on April 29, moralistically joked that "usually the way it works is people become reporters before they prostitute themselves." No less chastening was the experience of watching Matt Drudge, in conversation with Brian Lamb the same day, sternly criticize Fox for cutting off the final moments of the Bush news conference for Paris Hilton's reality series. When Mr. Drudge is a more sober spokesman for the sanctity of news than his fellow revelers at the correspondents' dinner, pigs just may start to fly.

[posted by Jack Curtin 8:20 am edt]



May 7, 2005

Saturday's Song (just under the wire).
One more night in a transatlantic city
And the clocks all run on someone else's time,
And the streets run so close to the houses,
But none of them run into mine.

And the people are all in a hurry
And the whiskey's as cheap as the beer.
And that skyline looks just like that postcard I sent you,
And darling, I wish that you were here.

Some folks travel for pleasure,
And other folks just born to roam.
Some folks can't stand the pressure,
And some of them never come home.

And I only go where I have to go,
And I only come home when I'm done.
And if everything's alright, then I'll be home Friday night,
Six hours ahead of the sun.

One more night in a transatlantic city
And you buy one round for everyone in sight,
And you order up the same old glass of trouble,
But trouble just don't taste the same tonight.

And the local bartender tells you all the stories,
And the local lovelies dance before your eyes.
And they call that dance old "Younger's Tartan,"
And I can't get all this mud out of my eyes.

Some folks drink when they're happy,
Other folks drink when they're dry.
Some folks drink so they won't have to think,
And some of them drink until they die.

But drinking just gives me amnesia,
And the devil has a list of those who run.
Run, win, place, and show, and nowhere to go,
Six hours ahead of the sun.

Run, win, place, and show and nowhere to go,
Six hours ahead of the sun.
                    Steve Goodman, "Six Hours Ahead of the Sun"

Why this one? First off, I loved Steve Goodman, the best small room music act I ever saw and I saw him every time I got the chance.

He used to come to the old Main Point in Bryn Mawr, outside of Philadelphia, and play two shows. The first would start at 8pm, and, supposedly, run about 90 minutes. Two hours-plus was more the norm, which meant that the folks waiting outside for the 10pm show had a long wait ahead of them, especially since, between shows, he'd duck across the street to Mallory's Bar and have a couple of beers with those of us from the first show who knew the procedure.

The second show would start between 11 and 11:30 and run...well, it depended. Virtually everybody in the music business loved Goodman as much as I did. As their own shows would end in venues all around the area, they'd congregate at the Main Point. By 1am, there were often 15-20 people, some of the top acts of the day, up there on stage with Goodman, jamming away.

So, great memories are part of the reason...then there are the lyrics.

The clocks all run on someone else's time
And the streets run so close to the houses,
But none of them run into mine...

And you buy one round for everyone in sight
And you order up the same old glass of trouble
But trouble just don't taste the same tonight...

And if everything's alright,
Then I'll be home Friday night,
Six hours ahead of the sun...

I never lived that sort of life, but I suspect there's about as accurate a picture of what it must be like living and working on the road as you're likely to find in this one song.

Words, man. I love 'em. Especially simple, everyday words, used to say something which is both ordinary and striking, all at the same time.

Six hours ahead of the sun...

Perfect.

[posted by Jack Curtin 11:20 pm edt]



May 4, 2005

"If people wanted to hear a bunch of filthy remarks from the First Lady, they would have elected John Kerry."
Laura Bush, the gift that keeps on giving. The Borowitz Report takes the story the next logical step.

Borowitz is good for a laugh virtually every time out. I highly recommend signing up for his daily newsletter.

[posted by Jack Curtin 11:25 am edt]



May 2, 2005

Comments of a desperate housewife.
Yesterday, my cartoonist pal Rob Davis and I poked some fun at our manly president's, um, manliness in our weekly political cartoon, but after what Laura said Saturday night, maybe we weren't. Even if she was (presumably) kidding--I have no doubts that she was when she talked about Big Bar, the mother-in-law from hell--there sure seemed a nice, biting edge to the whole bit.

Hey, just for fun, try and imagine what Rush, Sean and the always sweet and happy Brit Hume would be saying today if a Democratic First Lady had made a joke about anybody, much less her husband, milking a male horse.

[posted by Jack Curtin 11:25 am edt]



May 1, 2005

Saturday's song (on Sunday).
Hey, we're flexible around here.

Some days I feel like my shadow's casting me
Some days the sun don't shine
Sometimes I wonder what tomorrow's gonna bring
When I think about my dirty life and times

One day I came to a fork in the road
Folks, I just couldn't go where I was told
Now they'll hunt me down and hang me for my crimes
If I tell about my dirty life and times

I had someone 'til she went out for a stroll
Should have run after her
It's hard to find a girl with a heart of gold
When you're living in a four-letter world

And if she won't love me then her sister will
She's from Say-one-thing-and-mean-another's-ville
And she can't seem to make up her mind
When she hears about my dirty life and times

Some days I feel like my shadow's casting me
Some days the sun don't shine
Sometimes I wonder why I'm still running free
All up and down the line

Gets a little lonely, folks, you know what I mean
I'm looking for a woman with low self-esteem
To lay me out and ease my worried mind
While I'm winding down my dirty life and times

Who'll lay me out and ease my worried mind
While I'm winding down my dirty life and times

                    Warren Zevon, "Dirty Life & Times"

Zevon wrote this one, from his great last album, The Wind, during the last six months of his life. If asked, and if I could sing, I could readily offer it up as my answer to the traditional "How are ya?" greeting all too many mornings of all too many days and weeks.

Just a great damned song.


Comic Book stuff.
Here are a pair of links which visitors to our little corner of cyberspace who still relish graphic storytelling and/or remember fondly the four-color fantasies of the halcyon days might appreciate.

Last Sunday's New York Times Book Review had this insightful essay about contemporary comics and, of all sites, How Stuff Works offers up a fascinating look at William M. Marston, creator of Wonder Woman which gives you the skinny about all those bondage and domination themes which ran through the early stories.

Fun reading for a rainy morning, assuming it's raining where you are. And morning.

Whoops! Here comes another damned deadline. Gotta run...

[posted by Jack Curtin 8:25 am edt]



Archived.
The complete April 2005 postings have been archived here.

[posted by Jack Curtin 4:50 pm edt]

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