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Saturday, January 28, 2006


tall crockery

tall view visio

wide table

long view of bks from kitch

sq view painting

long view tape rec

Friday, January 27, 2006


Gosh, those acquisitive Bain-brigittes:

Fat Pickins: 0830hrs on my doorstep, and by 10:45, I'd been stripped bare of the good stuff: all the classy jazz DDs and hardbacks, *certainly* all my best paintings and prints (including my prized Mabel Hung pastels and charcoal drawings - one of which I learned was *not* Ladder Street but *Pottinger* Street - silly me - I mean, like I've only walked about thrice a month for 42 years.


And *what* abso-luverly people!!

Courteous, clean, educated, respectful, fun, appreciative ... typical that it takes *leaving* to find all this out. Murphy's Law truly working overtime.

apres saleThank you, everyone, for arriving promptly, buying decisively, having the correct change, and sympathizing so sweetly with me over having to part with my precious goodies - and I couldn't wish them a better home.

In four years I've never had so many people in my place, and I can't remember *when* I've had such fun in a crowd.

PE readerMy dears - I was positively giving  stuff away: a discerning eye for the Coltrane? "Over here, Miles live at Les Pins. No? Oh, go on have it - no one else will spot." An appreciative murmur over a deleted George Higgins? "You must know ''Trust'. No? Here, slip it into yer bag. Actually, yes, that is George's message - what did he say? Oh, so embarrassing - totally undeserved."

Bags of useless stuff still to go, tho', and it's interesting what folks do NOT want, won't even pause over:

  • Fine bone china
  • Exquisite crystal
  • Lectronic gizmos.
  • Crap music
  • kitchen stuffRice cookers, coffee makers/juicers.

    Take 2: My next sale, in a few weeks time, will only be of bed and other slim pickings, so that, mimicking the start of 'Pirates of the Caribbean', I ditch my last item as I close the door behind me and jet off into that SeaTac sunset - à la Depp's Jack Sparrow stepping delicately onto the pier as the tip of his Boston whaler sinks beneath him.

    I felt a real sadness after the last one had gone, as after a damn'd good luncheon party where everyone has been en forme and new friendships made and cool introductions made.

    I hied me down to Bagels for a comfort latte and of course who should I see but my belovèd Larry The Guitar, waiting outside Hallmark as his missus commandeered one of those gigantic musical Valentine cards with which to keep the flame alive come Feb 14.

    We talked guitar and Seabold and Bagels and agreed that my God has it really been 10 years since Busker shambled up front and regaled the assembled throng with 'Busking the Cost'.

    Vaya con Dios: The Nymph of Farewells is not making my departure easy, but when it's time to leave on that jet plane, adios it must be.

    I know my routine in London - first day there, buy up Peter Jones's poshest and raid the Camden Market, then take an ad in the Kensington Post announcing "Emigrating Sale - absolutely *everything* must go. Seeking new pastures on fair Bainbridge Island. Sooper bargains, bring the little ones, tea and cucumber sarnies will be served."

    I'll sell out, take names and contact details, and a week later phone them up and invite them over to a "Change of Mind Party" - dress code: drinking frocks, ashtrays will be defiantly in evidence, as will booze of the best and canapés courtesy of Partridges.

    Mummie dearest will phone from deepest Corfu to commiserate with my lonely existence ("Don't worry, darling, you'll soon meet some nice people.")

    Meanwhile, in the background, sounds of uncorking bubbly, the Hot Club plonking away, and ribald laughter as the Rt Hon Samantha Pelham-Warner exhorts, "That's right, Charlie, show us your knickers!".

    "Hold on Mum, just going to turn the tele down - gosh it's good to see these old Benny Hill re-runs - American TV is so-o  pedestrian.

    One of the ladies had commented that I was jettisoning a lot of jazz and was it good because her husband might be interested. I said yes so she called him up and put me on -

    "Yes," I told the gruff voice on the line, "I've got Prez, Bird, Miles, Dizzy, some Blue Note Monk-"

    "Dude, hold 'em all and put my wife back on."

    "For you."

    "I sort of thought it might be ... David, I did not understand *one* word just then."

    Efficient looking gent, razor slim fit, unsmiling, walked in and asked where were they, bought the lot but wanted to hear the Art Tatum.

    I had Jason Whitton on the machine which started up 'Alibi' before I could kill it.

    Thirty secs into the Tatum, razor smile nodded, yep, that, too.

    "What was that first one?" asked Lady-with-the-squishy-nose so I told her and put it back on and showed her the jewel case.

    "This is it", she said to her companion, "the one in the review."

    "Someone reviewed it?" I rumbled.

    "Just in a blog."

    "Good heavens, I *also* reviewed it in a blog."


    "Oh my god ... you're not ... not ..."


    "Omigod ... omigod ... Stan, this is that ... omigod ... but you're so ... *nice*."

    "Pathetic, isn't it?"

    Tristesse: When they'd all gone and I tugged the furniture - such as I'd been left - back into place, I felt a deep sadness: the white patches on the wall; hauling out the old books and pictures I'd stored in the cupboard, remembering when I'd acquired them, the places we'd hung them round the world, the scenes of happy marriage they'd gazed mute upon; the spirit in which so many of them had been given to us, to hang for a lifetime on the same London cottage wall, imprinted on our childrens' eyeballs, inspected more closely as they grew - back from boarding school, back from university, holding their own children up to admire - "Mummy used to look at that when *she* was a little girl, and I always wondered what was over that hill, what that bird was looking at."

    What's it all about, Alfie?

    The Nutrition Facts on my luncheon can of Campbell's Beef (with veges and barley) made no mention, but it sure tasted salty to me.

  • crazy laws

    Crazy Laws

    Not sure if they're true, but this nutty site talks a good game.

    We in WA seem to have some rum laws, including:

  • Mandatory for a motorist with criminal intentions to stop at the city limits and telephone the chief of police as he is entering the town.
  • Lollipops are banned.
  • Bremerton: You may not shuck peanuts on the street.
  • A law against having sex with a virgin under any circumstances.
  • Illegal to pretend you're the child of a rich person and entitled to his estate.
  • People may not buy a mattress on Sunday.
  • Seattle: You may not carry a concealed weapon that is over six feet in length. Women who sit on men's laps on buses or trains without placing a pillow between them face an automatic six-month jail term.
  • Spokane: TV's may not be bought on Sundays.
  • No fake wrestling.
  • And a ton more, but these tickled my fancy.

    ARIZONA: I might pop down to Cave Creek to see a pal before heading off to cactus-free Londonium, in which case I shall bear in mind that:

  • Glendale: Cars may not be driven in reverse.
  • Illegal to take naked photographs before noon on Sunday.
  • Illegal for men and women over the age of 18 to have less than one missing tooth visible when smiling.
  • Nogales: An ordinance prohibits the wearing of suspenders.
  • A possible 25 years in prison for cutting down a cactus.
  • Tucson: Women may not wear pants.
  • Not more than two dildos in a house.

  • Tuesday, January 24, 2006

    Year's Most Depressing Day

    According to a Brit psychologist, Jan 24 is meant to be our 'most depressing day'.

    There's even an equation:

    [W + (D-d)] x TQ over M x NA

    which breaks down into seven variables:

  • W) weather
  • (D) debt
  • (d) monthly salary
  • (T) time since Christmas
  • (Q) time since failed quit attempt
  • (M) low motivational levels
  • ... and (NA), the need to take action.

  • Sunday, January 22, 2006

    chinese new year

    Kung Hei Fat Choi!

  • Sunday, Jan 29th ~ Chinese New Year (of the Dog)
  • Have fun ~ checking your horoscope
  • Celebration ~ downtown Winslow, 11:30am - 4pm
  • 11:45 ~ Cooking
  • 12:15 ~ Parade
  • 12:30 ~ Dog parade
  • 12: 40 ~ Bicycle parade
  • 1:30 ~ Firecrackers
  • 1:35 ~ Lion Dance
  • 3:00 ~ Kids' stuff

    Participation by one and all is encouraged and welcome!

  • Saturday, January 21, 2006

    Bagels & Beans - Jan 21

    I thought I'd leave it late enough for a decent crowd to gather before shambling down to the Bageleria.

    I didn't myself feel like playing but I did  fancy listening to some good picking and hearty crooning and I also had an urge for a sumptuous latte and one of those half-chocolate biscottis they naughtily leave within temptation's grasp right there on the counter.

    Rolled up around 8:30 and tiens! nobody there - not a soul.

    bill and dwightAlso rolling up was Dwight so we stood outside chatting until Dwight manfully decided to fetch his guitar from the car and hold a hootenanny of one.

    At which point, a new face turned up - Bill - who also had his guitar, so the two heros sat down to compare tunings and what in their repertoires might coincide as I slunk off to buy my coffee and choc and salve my conscience by buying Dwight a raspberry flavored soda (much featured in the photos and adding a nice dollop of color).

    dwight smilingDwight has this wonderful green-colored guitar that has a lovely action and that he gets some great sounds out of.

    He has this clever way with chords so his left hand appears not be budging while all these cool sounds are flowing, and then you look closer and you see the cunning bugger is hammer-n-clawing the bass B or running a barré and trilling a tone up on treble strings to give a busy second-guitar effect.

    He's also a helluva nice guy and will share what he knows and take the time to demo how he gets the effects he does.

    bill_dwight guitarFirst few songs were Eagles - Tequila Sunrise et ilk - with both gents thrumming courteously and singing even more softly and saying nice things about each others' playing in between chantings.

    I'd not brought my guitar so I did my paparazzi thing and snapped incessantly and annoyed everyone by not knowing how to turn off the anti-red eye spotlight that blinds everyone for 2 seconds before the shutter even clicks.

    focus on MM guitar

    Then who should walk in but Mike Murray.

    dwight n mikeMike lives like all the way over in Port Townsend, but whereas I mewl about trogging the 10 minutes down to the Pegasus or up the 305 to Seabold, Mike happily chunters down to Bagels for these Friday sessions.

    trioWell, no more whispering vocals - when Mr Murray gets singing, you know about it and so do the rafters - good gritty bass and sold guitar work.

    Some wonderful songs, including a killer about someone walking in his sleep that, according to Mike, was picked up by someone who came back a few days to announce he had "fixed" - i.e. added a few more verses and generally padded it out.

    mike sepiaBraver man than me: in my book, when Mike sings a song, it stays sung - and that's all she wrote.

    Also a wonderful rendering of Frankie and Johnny that has better words than I've heard elsewhere, plus Mike's cool instrumentals.

    smoke creekOn this subject, if you look closely where Bagels keep the newspapers, you'll see CDs and cassettes by Smoke Creek and the Smelter Rats, grab yerselves one while stocks last.

    Also click around the Creek site and check out the other singers and, indeed, Mike's blog (which looks like it's been resting fallow since March '05, but if it's a choice between blogging or driving to Bainbridge, I'll go for the vehicular option).

    jim and mike murrayJim and Mike: One of my most treasured Seabold memories is of Mike and brother Jim duetting on a song about their Eastern Montana youth and something about chucking bottles out the car window.

    mike color spotBut back to the Bagel soir: for some time, it was just the three of them picking away, me wielding the camera and chatting to another guitarist who'd also ventured out sans instrument.

    The sound was so good and the atmosphere so cosy and companionable that I ended up rather relieved glad over the mysterious absence of other regulars.

    safewayAs I walked home, there were the teenagers hanging out in the carpark, there were the home-bound drivers bombing up the 305 and the diners from the Grill tottering out for a baccy fix - and there was dear old Safeway, stolid and gleaming beacon, "shining like a national guitar."

    Next date: Before I quit these shores, I'm getting Mr.Wells over here, meet the gang, do his auto-harp thing.

    I need to sink a few final jars with that hero - we've weathered some same-ish wars.

    Everyone polish up their Dylan: RW is *the* expert on that boy.

    Islander Blog

    Clever Kitsap Sun and Bainbridge Islander have wheeled out their own blog, hosted by vivacious Bainbridge stringer, Rachel Pritchett.

    We're invited to "converse" with RP, which may sound a tad twee but their hearts are clearly in the right place, so let's give it a go.

    Après Peddy: It's already got me hooked, thanks to shrewd inclusion of an email by The Man, much-missed Steven Gardner:

    "Cleaning out my e-mail and I found this. It's old news, but it's the news story from Fresno after Peddy was ordered to pay a sexual harassment claim."

    Ah yes -- should have thrown this in with my article today.

    It's the 1992 Fresno Bee story about a jury awarding a woman $150,000 for having her life upended by on-the-job sexual harassment by William Peddy.
    The deeper you dig ...

    The firing of Will Peddy over his inflated resume has been an embarassing [spelling?] and hurtful experience for our community.

    I simply cannot imagine how this could not have been picked up upon during the application process.

    Who didn't do their homework? Are they still there?

    Many have used this to illustrate why the city council was wrong to ax the human-resources position.

    I disagree.

    I believe that with a work force the size of the city of Bainbridge's, the department managers will do a better job of checking out prospective employees that a human-resources person.

    My credentials have been thoroughly checked out for every major job I've ever held, not by the well-dressed human-resources person upstairs, but by the future immediate supervisor. In my field, it takes a journalist to ask the right questions about hiring another journalist. A human-resources person would not even know the questions to ask.

    I have faith that the department heads with the city of Bainbridge will successful raise the bar in checking out prospective employees. Checking them out until the last question has been answered. So that this never happens again, ever."

    Nice one.

    The Convo will be updated throughout the day and RP is interested in all and any comments -- not just on what's in ink but whatever's going on in our own lives.

    I look forward to seeing what appears and what elbow space it carves amid the other local blogs.

    Page 9 of the Islander has Pritchett's report on Peddy's padding including a marvelous new excuse that I must remember for when next *I* am in a similar tight spots:

    "... A reference letter from the Colville mayor appeared to have a date altered from 1979 to 1978, the investigation revealed.

    When asked about the altered date, Weber stated Peddy told her he might have been trying to darken the letter to make it consistent with the rest of the type." [My darkening ].

    Oh, William - naughty naughty  boy.

    Is it my imagination, or has Will's photo - quixotic enough to start with - become increasingly mournful over the months as the evidence piled on?

    As I suspected, all this twaddle about Imperiling Papers was a load of codswallop, dreamed up to keep "Buzz" Paulson and the Sun's editorial sirens at bay as he and Sancho beat a hasty retreat.

    Real and Present Danger: Pritchett invites views on her Peddy coverage but much more lively would be a competition offering dinner for two at the Madoka for the winning entry of what those papers might have contained - and no, Jåmes, you may *not* enter. That would be unfair, albeit entertaining. Oh all right, on the judging panel, then.

    I suspect we are nearing the end of this tawdry saga, but it won't be over til the chubby butler sings one more defiant aria in our letters cols. Maybe even a contribution to christen this gleaming new blog?

    Wednesday, January 18, 2006

    Thriftstore Cowboy


    "What about fulfilment?", sings this new country star - and we have it right here in this album.

    From the astutely generous folks at Miles High Productions comes their Feb 7th release of Country/Americana poster-boy Jason Whitton's Thriftstore Cowboy.

    I'm going through a soul-searching stage vis-à-vis advance albums and returning most stuff simply because I'm running out of energy to recycle the fake enthusiasm I once pumped out.

    Atop which, I'm not *that* wild about country and most of what I hear has been done better by the giants atop whose shoulders the wannabes perch before plummeting back to singsongs on flatbed trucks at their local bullrides.

    But this Whitton fellow has something special, starting with a siren voice that's an instrument in itself, incapable of an unmusical throb or vibrato.

    Hypnotic, and grabbing me more with each re-play.

    Not to bite the hand that stacks my CD collection - and Miles High tend not to waste my earhole time - but it's interesting how spoonfed the media must be if they need telling who singers sounds like.

    In Whitton's case, he's lumped with Keith Urban, Nickelcreek, and - ulp - Tracy Chapman - none of whose vocalizing or timbre match this boy's vox - including his effortless (and judiciously sparing) falsetto.

    I'm not sure how I'd feel about working my guts out on an album, only to find myself compared to someone else.

    Not that you can complain: corner the press officer and he'll tell you,

    "Dude - Sell a ton of records and maybe we'll let you sound like yourself."

    Cain't win. But I digress.

    If I settled for the easy life of some of my peer reviewers, I'd follow the accompanying press handout and cite track 2's "I still believe in love" as an example of Whitton's talents - as opposed to simply hailing its killer opening line to "Undo the buttons on your shirt".

    As for sounding like messrs Urban Creek Chapman, JW's catchy voice is closer to James Taylor's twang with a hint of Ian Matthews.

    Either way, it's shown at its best on Track 1's superb "Alibi" - almost defining the perfect country song - and a great showcase for JW's versatile range:

    I defy your pulse not to quicken on that first kick-ass bass thump as our boy winds sinuous tonsils round the chorus's "O-h-h, why-y-y? Don’t give me that si-i-gh", ending with a velveteen murmured "Don’t give me that alib-i-i".

    And listen for the way his voice rises on "the answer's be-hind  our eyes" and again on the bridge's "And you'll _ask_ me for forgiveness."

    Speaking of the bridge, listen closely for that bass hum backing (previous gig: opening chorus on Kurosawa's "Throne of Blood") - pure genius.

    Drums/Percussion: One takes these backing musicans for granted until you hear it done really well, and that Jon Mattox knows from country ballad drumming. He also seems a dab hand on the swelling organ sound ("Dandelion Girl") *and* on bass *and* on guitar (acoustic, 'lectric *and* 12-string) *and* on snare, the multi-talented creep - doncha hate 'em? If I was JM's agent, I'd give him a fashionable nickname à la "Lucky" Dave Ambrose whose electric guitar shines the petals of "Dandelion Girl" - something like Jon "And" Mattox, something to annoy his multi-instrumentalist buds and rivals.

    Mattox Blog: Indeed, the ubiquitous "And" has his own blog where he quite rightly plugs this album.

    In fact, the whole band is tight and talented and the production values are right up there - I bet Whitton's pleased with this package.

    The more I listen, the more I'm convinced I'd've forked out my own greenbacks.

    Run don't walk to check it out online - here or here - and judge the maestro for yourselves - but not just "Alibi", which'll have you ordering it on the spot, but try "Fingernail Moon" for JW's ability to go delicate.

    The great thing about Whitton's twangy voice is that it carries over the backing, of which 'Sunflower' is a good example where your deep-voiced singer would have disappeared into the backing.

    The acid test is that my real deal guitar pals perk up their ears and ask me who, where and whut the heck am *I* doing knowing about this champ. Well, I'm the fake deal who gets sent these totally cool albums with each one of which my authenticity count plods a little higher.

    Don't take *my* word for it - grab a free listen and let me know what you think.

    Check out the friendly informative comment from knowledgeable Anon - thanks, pal.

    Plea: Can anyone  point me to the chords of "Alibi"? I *have* to add it to my repertoire for the next Bagels & Beans: I don't have the voice, and I don't have the guitar, but I yearn to see Chele's eyes mist over as I gaze into them and croon what any man with cojones would make a five-syllable "alib-ah-i-i-ii".

    Fame: Yee haww  - check this  out - yours truly quoted on the Whitton page. Dang - that'll teach me to post in haste and re-edit at leisure: it's my crumby first -version scribblings they're running, albeit with a link to this lengthier more thoughtful and researched assessment. (Thanks, Chip!)

    Monday, January 16, 2006

    No New Einstein

    I've often lamented the dearth of new class acts in the footsteps of the great composers, architects like Sir Christopher Wren, et co. I might now have my answer in Sheldon Hirsch's response to John Horgan in the Jan 15 New York Times Book Review.

    It seems that the reason why there hasn't been a second coming of Einstein is an example of a generalized phenomenon discussed by Stephen Jay Gould in Full House.


    As a complex system matures, it equilibrates and variation decreases.

    The entire system moves closer to a limiting wall of attainable achievement, and the bell curve of abilities and accomplishments becomes more vertical than horizontal. Standard deviations from the norm decrease.

    This explains not only the absence of a second Einstein but also of another Beethoven, .400 hitter in baseball, and 100-point game in basketball.

    The diminution of variation that typically accompanies 'the rise in general excellence' also explains the preponderance of draw games in chess, decrease in scoring in soccer and the closeness of recent presidential elections (with 'excellence' referring to campaign strategies rather than candidates), and has major implications, Gould writes, for theories of evolution.

    Saturday, January 14, 2006



    • Gaze.
    • Swoon
    • Marvel

    Soon to be your holiday destination

    (Also here)

    Double Identity

    No sooner do I append my frivolous unfunny Book Title crack at the Peddy misfortunes than I read Julie Leung's characteristically measured assessment and salute to Cathy Nickum and Althea Paulson's remarkable Bainbridge Buzz.

    Hear hear to Julie's "Thanks to the Buzz for all their work fortifying our online community."

    What a shabby farrago of tomfoolery this whole sad story has been.

    I know it feels like rubbing William K's conk in it when he's already downer than down, but Julie is right to draw attention to the Buzz's sleuthery.

    Speaking of which, are they getting the national recognition the deserve? Is this not an example par excellence  of Blog power unchained?

    Incidentally, the Title Assessor ranks Seedling & Sprouts with a 63.7% chance of bestsellerdom success, so the multi-tasking Mrs L better get to work.

    I want to see local bookshop displays locked in literary battle: the latest "Buzz" Paulson who-dunnit versus the new doorstopper in the Julie Leung 12-volume saga of everyday life of island folk.

    Hugging and  Slapping

    I've still not seen Brokeback Mountain but daily promise myself that treat.

    Meanwhile, Chip Gibbons' binary circumstantial blog is all the reading I need to keep abreast of reviews and opinions.

    Incidentally, I see that we both posted the hilarious Kickback Mountain spoof poster on the same day: me recycling an uncredited post from a Hong Kong pal, Chip being honorable and giving credit to Corey Anderson's City Pages.

    As I say, Chip's eagle-eyed choice of reviews from across the spectrum enables me to be lazy and sit back and enjoy. One in particular reminded me of a recent drastic change vis-à-vis my hugging style.

    Chip quotes Leonard Pitts' measured assessment in his Miami Herald column of Why Brokeback Mountain Threatens Some Fans, in particular

    "... that ick factor. I find myself wondering if this primeval revulsion doesn’t speak less to our antipathy toward homosexuality than to our fears about masculinity."

    I recently posted my impressions of the very funny Second Best DVD and commented on the special features commentary between Poe Pantoliano and the writer/director.

    At one point, grouchy writer Elliot and best-friend Richard (Boy Gaines) exchange a manly long-time-no-see hug about which Pantoliano passes a shrewd observation: They embrace, ending with the statutory double thump on each other's back. Pantoliano points out that the reason why men do this is - and I paraphrase - because when men hug something soft they get 'aroused', so we need the reassurance of that corrective masculine thump.

    I have no idea if it's true but I certainly included it, and always felt a bit of a twit in the bargain.

    Being English and of dour northern stock where even delayed eye contact can be suspect, I don't think I'd *ever* hugged anyone of the same sex until my future father-in-law enfolded me in a warm embrace on being asked for the hand of his daughter.

    In Greece, everyone hugs everyone, along with stubbly rasp of cheek and a brief unselfconscious kiss.

    When, after six happy years, I was ejected from Coercia.com ("Customer Care to the Gentry"), I left so many good pals behind that I now enfold each one on our rare reunions - *minus* that silly tap.

    The exceptions are fellow Brit expat pals dotted around Seattle: with those, of course, it's a firm handshake, gaze averted.

    *Visiting* Brit pals, on the other hand, are fair sport and great fun it is, too - leaping forward and ignoring the outstretched paw to haul them to me.

    "I say, steady on, mate! Blimey, we *have* gone native!"

    On the same topic, "Wedding Crashers" has a sly jibe at that awkward protruding-bum clasp one does at the end of a dud date: that, too, has gone, replaced by firm hip grinder.

    Friday, January 13, 2006

    Title Scorer

    Back in my book publishing - and then agenting - days, it was fun sitting around thinking up beefier titles for some of the newly accepted manuscripts.

    I never contributed a single winner, but I did sell a somewhat snide piece to the top humor magazine of the time mocking those "Noun modified by Noun" titles. As it happened, those were exactly what was favored by my good friend Elleston Trevor, aka espionovelist Adam Hall, creator of the Quiller canon and such romps as "The Mandarin Cypher", "The Tango Briefing", "The Kobra Manifesto" and that ilk.

    I never dared tell him but years later he wrote from his Arizona home that he'd finally caught up with it and jolly funny it was, too, and why hadn't I sent it to him at the time?

    Here for readers who write to me for this or that literary advice is Lulu.com's tongue-in-cheek Title Scorer, and lots of fun it is, too.

    Could have done with it during our Hong Kong literary agenting days when we'd have local scribblers turning up on our Stanley doorstep with fat typescripts with turgid titles like "When Amahs Traveled Steerage" or "Turn Left for Luen Wo" or one rather good one, "Hand Signals Not Required", whatever that means.

    I think it was JM Barrie who was handed a manuscript by some excited young thing and asked for a title suggestion.

    "Tell me," asked JM, "does it feature much percussion? Timpani, perchance?"

    "Oh no, Mr Barrie, it's not that sort of story at all."

    "Brass bands?"

    "Absolutely not."

    "In that case, may I suggest 'No Drums, No Trumpets'?".

    Such a great title, I almost sat down and wrote my own story under that banner.

    Title Test

    I tested a few of my own titles under construction to check their chances of success:

    Wednesday, January 11, 2006

    kickback poster

    "As democracy is perfected, the office of President represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people.

    On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.

    - H.L. Mencken

    Menzies Frenzies

    I trust the baggage handlers and ramp workers of the International Association of Machinists (I.A.M.) are taking grim satisfaction in the disastrous - and dangerous - mess being made by the cowboys of Menzies Aviation over their bumbled Sea-Tac ground operations, for which they were hired after Sea-Tac fired the 472 IAM members to save a paltry $13.7 million. I wonder how much anyone *now* thinks has been saved, what with the delays and appalling publicity over the Menzies bunch's incompetence.

  • The 'handlers' are clearly nothing more than untrained ruffian yahoos,
    crashing their trolleys
    , gashing planes, and creating worry and chaos.

  • Their latest trick is throwing pets around. Luckily, the owner of the dog happened to be watching and complained to an Alaska gate agent. Know what the response was from the canine chucker? He admitted throwing a dog but said it was a different  one.

    I remember seeing TV coverage of the early Menzies incidents and thinking how thoroughly odiously and patronising the British spokesmen came across.

    Indeed, never have British accents sounded more archly offensive, breezily dismissing the incident(s) as a mere storm in a teacup and giving the impression of impatience and puzzlement that an American airport should have the gall to lecture *them* on standards of ground handling.

    I see from coverage of the "tossed dog" incident that a Menzies employee in the company's Seattle office is referring questions to London, but that the calls aren't being returned.

    Assuming they're using the same glib spokesmen, that's actually their best PR move....

    Meanwhile, look forward to further such incidents emerging and Alaska looking even more sheepish in the light of their shortsighted penny pinching ways.

  • Monday, January 09, 2006

    Second Best

    Perils of self-delusion

    "He didn't direct it: he just OK'd the budget"

    I'd intended to rent some macho DVD of manly derring-do but as soon as I entered Silver Screen, all self-delusion vanished.

    The place was a casting director's dream of clichéd togetherness: family ensembles with their 'March of Penguins'; Hunks with their chicks; Hunks with their hunks; Tweenie temptresses with frowning fathers; Mrs Robinsons searching out the perfect après-nosh movie.

    I thought I'd go with something French and suitably louche  but spotted the intriguingly titled Second Best including the underplayer's underplayer, Joe Pantoliano.

    I say 'including' because it's so pitch perfect and well cast that I forgot it was a movie and took everyone for the characters they portray.

    Living a third-best life myself, and this brilliant movie encapsulating everything I know and breathe, I'm not the best audience to describe what it's actually about:

    Casting: Intriguing cameos by super-model, Paulina Porizkova, *and* Patricia Hearst (Patty H of 'Tania' fame) for whom I have a soft spot, having promoted the UK edition of her story and met all sorts of underground toughies as a result.

    Special Features Commentary: Pantoliano and Weber's over-movie chatter is a gem of relaxed rambled kibitzing, although from an early comment, I got the impression that they both think that viewers watch the special features *before* the main feature, which is a bit weird.

    Jenifer Tilly: An absolute hoot. Not only does she have wonderfully mobile features, but I learned from the commentary what an analytic planner she is, doing homework on the script and spotting "dead" passages where she can add her unique contributions.

  • Hilarious scene where she totally improvs a huffy exit: Boyd Gaines turns up to stay with buddy Elliot who frantically tries to shoo JT on her way. As she walks out, she stops on the porch for some badinage and then - out of the blue - smacks Elliot across the chops followed by a swipe to the urbane Gaines. Neither is expecting it, and the moment when Joe finally allows himself a (genuine) laugh is pure joy.

    Another reason to check out the commentary is that, whereas the DVD jewel case gives the movie's URL for the e-man as "secondbest dot com, it's in fact dot org.

    Well worth viewing, if only to boost one's *own* flagging self-esteem.

  • Quixote n Sancho Panza

    Tawdry Spectacle

    Fiery missives from the Nordic Peddy Jeeves, James Ølsen, (Islander Letters, Jan 7, *and* a virtual facsimile in the next week's edition), this time homing in on the delicate topic of records disclosure and the public's right to know.

    In fact, it reads more convincingly as a salute to the editorial blue pen and our equal right not to be so thoroughly bored that we turn to newsprint elsewhere.

    This Sancho Panza to William K's lugubrious Don Quixote wants us to know that, throughout last year's lively mayoral primary,

    "Sun and Bainbridge Islander reporters received complete copies of 22 police theft reports detailing 279 political sign thefts of [Peddy's] legally posted signs.

    "The Sun interestingly refused to either cover the story or to editorialize about why candidates' rights to free speech must be protected."

    Well, I can clear that one up without further ado: the Sun's refusal was from editorial know-how and plain ol' business acumen of not wanting to see its readers desert in droves.

    Alors - all 22 reports detailing no less than 279 thefts.

    Can you imagine  the sheer loneliness and lacklustre absence of a life it takes to bring a man down to that degree of obsession with that level of trivia?

    The Sirens of Kitsap: Not that the starchy Sun scribblers care: they're too busy clucking and preening over the honey-tongued Ølsen's dubbing them "editorial sirens."

    No such bouquets for Madame Mayor or our police chief or  the county prosecutor: all dismissed as having "stood wooden and paralyzed" during what Ølsen describes as a "tawdry political spectacle."

    Tawdry: A word to the wise: as long as Sancho is on the truth serum and keeping the shame alive with reminders of his rottweiler role as Peddy's 'former campaign manager', I suggest he steers clear of certain weasel words in any public utterances, 'tawdry' being very much one of them.

    Public records disclosure: yes, indeed, and the perfect cue to ponder on the tantalizing Paperwork of Peril we're led to believe lurks in the Peddy file.

    Climax: I didn't for a moment believe that any such documents exist of such fire-power that might prompt the Don into a midnight gallop out of Dodge in fear of his tawdry life.

    Now I'm not so sure: Sancho et co have made such a big deal out of these memos that when they *are* made public (and they will be), they'd better not prove of such crippling banality that we *all* saddle up and join the Buzz posse chasing P and Ø down in a rage of anticlimactic disappointment.

    Windbag versus Windmills: Meanwhile, what with the Peddy camp 'resting' between resumé refurbishments, now is the time for some astute repertory company to revive Cervantes and woo our own Man of La Mancha and his sidekick as the perfect duo for the central rôles.

    Saturday, January 07, 2006

    Government lies over torture

    "Damning documentary evidence unveiled", and it's not Dubya's lads, for a change, but my own government.

    Anyway, always happy to help beat a gagging order.

    glass onion

    Glass Onion

    How long has it been up, that website for Bainbridge's very own Glass Onion emporium to the musical gentry?

    What I've always liked is how friendly and learnèd everyone is: It's entirely thanks to the Guv'nor that my collection of Frisell is so complete and my background knowledge of each album's engineering and samplings etc so impressive.

    I won't insult you by explaining the shop's name. Of course you all remember John's growly:

    "I told you about strawberry fields,
    You know the place where nothing is real.
    Well here's another place you can go,
    Where everything flows.
    Looking through the bent backed tulips,
    To see how the other half live.
    Looking through a glass onion.
    I told you about the walrus and me-man,
    You know that we're as close as can be-man.
    Well here's another clue for you all,The walrus was Paul."

    Nice clean site, useful forward-looking section of what they're getting in when.

    Check it out. Order. Visit the bricks 'n' mortar, purchase, enjoy a coffee in the Metrion cafeteria as you ogle the tourists trudging thru the rain.

    Accomplished "Second Best"

    Just watched an extremely clever funny morbid DVD, I suppose starring Joe Pantoliano but the whole cast of Second Best is so good and pitch perfect that I forgot it was a movie and took them for the characters they portray.

    Not quite  sure what it's about, except that schadenfreude  comes into it somewhere.

    The official synopsis seems to be about failed publishing executive Elliot Kelman (Joe Pantoliano) relying on hand-outs from his mother, son, and ex-wife (the delicious Paulina Porizkova, even more alluring than when she arrived on the scene all those years back and whole forests were massacred to keep pace with demand for her poster to adorn junior common rooms from Gordonstoun to Greyfriars, Haileybury to Hurstpierpoint).

    Elliot self-publishes a dour and skilled weekly newsletter on the perils of self-delusion (that I would subscribe to in a flash) that he hires a high school kid to shove up on supermarket bulletin boards and under windshields in his New Jersey hometown.

    Elliot - classic loser's name: screenwriter/director Eric Weber gets even the finest detail right - meets sexy Carole (sexy Jennifer Tilly with *that* voice) and his newsletter begins to find an audience. Things start looking up for Elliott - until the return home of his oldest friend Richard (Boyd Gaines, very good as a prominent movie producer, and the only one of his friends to have found success).

    Natch, Elliot’s feelings of inadequacy and squandered potential zoom to the surface and there is a really painful scene in a posh restaurant as he reads out his latest pamphlet - in fact, all the readings are timed and delivered perfectly by Pantoliano, in whom I've not actually taken much interest, looking as he does like a mad scientist or some total loser.

    Anyway, I intended to go out and see a movie or write to my mum or cook a decent dinner or learn a bit more of a Dowland lute piece or ... a heap of things, all of which fell by the wayside because of this drat clever film.

    I couldn't spot a single duff line or moment.

    Of course, I'm not going to go round recommending it to anyone: a) No one I know is remotely a loser or interested in watching a movie about one - even this funny, and b) I don't want to face a grilling from my A-type aggressively competitive acquaintances who'll demand to know what I was doing even glancing at something with a depressing title like "Second Best." They themselves would avert their eyes and hurry on lest even lingering in the area attract bad joss and negative vibes.

  • Clever clever THINKFilm
  • Clever composers John Leccese, Tom O'Brien, Craig Cobb, Joe Weber, and Nathan Wilson (tho' I'm not sure why they needed *quite* so many musical cooks)
  • Clever Lina Todd for first-rate casting.

    Wasn't it Woody Allen who described sex as the most fun you can have without laughing? In a way, Second Best is the wittiest movie I've seen without actually smiling all that much. Laughed out loud a couple of times, mind you, which I rarely do on my own. And nor did my eyes well with tears, which *always* happens on my own for the best movies.

  • Intelligent Creationism - Wal-Mart style

    Oh how funny - surely an inside saboteur? I can't believe a rank-and-file drone would have the nouse to think up such an offensive jape.

    Wal-Mart's web site had the cheek to link the DVD of the Boulle novel, Planet of the Apes to movies about African-Americans such as Martin Luther King, Tina Turner, Dorothy Dandridge and Jack Johnson.


    By Hermès, I bet there were red faces and rough questions in the behemoth's boardroom. Serve 'em right.

    Of course, it's right in line with their racist credo and I've no doubt they're furious to have been caught out.

    All grist to the mill for the various noble bodies dedicated to bringing this bunch to heel.

    I shall inspect the DVD rack most closely when they finally set up shop in the NASCAR Poulsbo pit-stop.


    ~ The Oz Version ~

    While we're getting our knickers in a twist over Intelligent Kwanzamatics and the rest of the howz-yer-father, here just in from my homie in the Land of the Eucalyptus is a vaguely amusing take on how it all began for the beaut folks who brought us Don Bradman, Ned Kelly, Barry Humphries and, of course, Crocodile Dundee.

    Some of the nuances might slip by Stateside readers but the basic ocker humor shines thru.

    Genesis Down Under

    In the beginning God created day and night.
    He created day for footie matches, going to the beach and BBQs.
    He created night for going prawning, sleeping and BBQs.
    And God saw that it was good.
    Evening came and morning came and it was the Second Day.
    On the Second Day, God created water - for surfing,
    Swimming and BBQs on the beach.
    And God saw that it was good.
    Evening came and morning came and it was the Third Day.
    On the Third Day, God created the Earth to bring forth plants - to provide malt and yeast for beer and wood for BBQs.
    And God saw that it was good.
    Evening came and morning came and it was the Fourth Day.
    On the Fourth Day God created animals and crustaceans
    For chops,sausages, steak and prawns for BBQs.
    And God saw that it was good.
    Evening came! and morning came and it was the Fifth Day.
    On the Fifth day, God created a Bloke - to go to the footie,
    Enjoy the beach, drink the beer
    And eat the meat and prawns at BBQs.
    And God saw that it was good.
    Evening came and morning came and it was the Sixth Day.
    On the Sixth Day, God saw that the Bloke was lonely
    And needed someone to go to the footie, surf, drink beer,
    Eat and stand around the barbie with.
    So God created Mates, and God saw that they were good Blokes.
    And God saw that it was good.
    Evening came and morning came and it was the Seventh Day.
    On the Seventh Day, God looked around at the twinkling barbie fires,
    Heard the hiss of opening beer cans
    And the raucous laughter of all the Blokes,
    Smelled the aroma of grilled chops and sizzling prawns
    And God saw that it was good ... well almost good.
    He saw that the Blokes were too tired to clean up and needed a rest.
    So God created Sheilas - to clean the house, bear children,
    Wash, cook, and clean the BBQ.
    And God saw that it was not just good, it was better than good:
    It was Bloody Brilliant!


    One of the responses I received was from a pal in Perth, OZ:

    "A mate of mine had a Girlfriend who said to him one morning, "If you don't have something wrapped up for me out the front tomorrow, Christmas morning, that goes from 0-150 in 5 seconds, I'm out of here!!!"

    Out she went next morning, and there was a lovely big wrapped package with a beautiful bow around it.

    She excitedly opened it and there inside was ... A brand new set of bathroom scales!!"

    Friday, January 06, 2006


    Wednesday, January 04, 2006

    boat man drawinglacquer chest

    Moving Sale

    ~ Everything will  go: To a good home or the dumpster ~

    Long live blogs - and long live the Net - I'd announced two fine pieces here and in a trice they've been snatched up ... by the same good folks who welcomed - nay, guided - us to the Island back in 1995.

    What's *really* nice is that they're buying the cabinet and armoire, not for them but for my own girls' eventual homesteads.

    cowboyCash note: I'd better be forward-looking and invest the generous price I've been offered in case my chickadees maintain the paternal knack for penury. That way, when it comes time to retrieve the heirlooms, the cash'll be there in Arctic Monkey construction stocks or Bamboo Dragon Communications & Tableware.

    hk printRight - that's the big stuff gone, but I'll keep the pics here show the caliber of stuff I'm flogging.

    Open House Moving Sale: Next chore, place classified adverts in Review and Islander for Sat/Sun, Jan 28 and 29, 9-5pm.

    armoireGroan - the thought of the hordes piling in with their insulting haggling for my bijoux items, already reduced to a pittance. Meanwhile, of course, there's little Suzie round the corner feeding cutlery and cassettes into Uncle Ned's voluminous poacher's jacket.

    I foresee foresee several sales over the weeks until, like the start of 'Pirates of the Caribbean', I sell my very last objet d'art just as I close the door behind me for SeaTac - à la Depp's Jack Sparrow stepping delicately onto pier as the tip of the dinghy siks beneath him.

    catYes - bad luck, everyone - off the market goes the lovely lacquer chest that was given to me as a callow youth in 1967.

    My mama assured me even then that it was valuable and not to be treated like my usual junk.

    But no need panic - there is a ton of stuff to go:new territories, hong kong

    Gillray printFurniture

    Music + CD racks

    Paintings (some really very good)

    fishesKitchen stuff, incl very nice crockery

    Books - what I don't flog to Half Price or 2xSold.

    Our tastes are too refined over here: I took a huge box into Eagle Harbor and was handed most of them back with a check for a measly $16 for those that'd passed muster.

    I didn't even bother to take 'em home: Went straight to the 2:05pm ferry, over to the smoke, cab up to Twice Sold - et voilà! They snatched the lot up - all but a Kazantzakis paperback and Ciari's Browser's Dictionary (which I *gave* to the pretty girl behind me who said it looked 'interesting'). $58.89 in my paw.

    michelangeloPlenty more books on my shelves to dump - including some rare 1st-editions and art books.

    gatelegComputer table and all the stereo gizmo attachments.

    A gorgeous gate-leg folding table - damn, I hate to see that go off to some vulgar parlour

    Jug showing stages of drunkennessStuff like a jug I've toted around the world and which belonged to my father's Yorkshire side of the family. Sat on my Gan Gan's solid northern furniture, mute display of the stages of getting tipsy.

    It took me yonks to pluck up courage to ask to see it, which I was allowed, all the while being lectured in that loovleh West Riding lilt on the perils of over-imbibing.

    Made the whole operation sound *too* glam for words and left me yearning for my first pint (or three).

    chestBed and mattress (I don't actually think people in this hygienic country *favor* doubling up where others have lain)

    gymAssorted garments (see above, ditto)

    Indoor gym that does actually work and folds up neatly, altho' I just keep it there for watching junk TV: no exercise, no Idiot Box.

    shelvesAlso all those wiry baskets you see around - v useful for magazines and horrid bills that can jolly well wait til the bank balance looks healthier.

    antelopeGardening implements and a rather nice Philippino relaxing chair that has weathered very well on my slender verandah.

    pictureIkea shelves - Once I've dumped their contents.

    Dash it  - there's some good stuff up for grabs.

    Exactly the mega-bargains I used to cruise for, praying for some hapless creep like me, down on his uppers, reduced to jettisoning good stuff for thievery prices.

    Monday, January 02, 2006

    Tot Torturer Now a Dad

    Interesting tip-off from my favorite and prolific fact feeder, Anon, pointing me to the Sunday Mirror story on Bulger basher Rob Thompson, now a father himself.

    The good thing about grotesque developments like this is that both subject and search are kept alive thanks to the press leaping on the wagon, be it sister UK rag, the Sun (complete with tasty pic of the angelic vengeful mother), or faraway Australian.

    Ugh - a murderer's mite. I know *I* wouldn't fancy going thru life under the cloud of fruit of *either* sadique 's loins.

    So yes, RT is married, living secretly oop t'north where even "the tot's mother has no idea of his evil past." What a terrible shock when she finds out - talk about bad blood.

    I remain astounded that, despite the Web's soi-disant prowess as revelator of dark deeds, the murderers *still* haven't been outed. But there's a chink of light: seems that Thompson et femme "split before the baby was born after a series of rows", which means there'll be a soupçon of grudge there waiting to ooze out when the coast is clear.

    Honestly, such a farce: every gossip rag in the UK must know where they're holed up, but covering their derrières because of the legal bindery about not grassing on the new identities. But you'd think some foreign paper could accidentally-on-purpose drop a few clues, or even some half-awake neighbour put two and two together and start the ball rolling. They can't be *that* thick up there ....

    I mean, let's see what we know just from this Mirror piece:

  • Thompson's bird's gave birth in the last year but knows nowt "of his evil past".
  • They argued and split up, but RT still visits at the mother's home [my emphases].

    Like, hello out there. Wakey-wakehh ... does this ring a bell with anyone's mates or neighbours?

  • Thompson lives pseudonymously in the North of England, in the same town where he met the girl.
  • He's met her parents.
  • 1999: he was "close" to a girl in the same Barton Moss secure unit in Eccles, Lancs. That can't be too hard to check into - a few quid under the table for someone to go through the files and come up with a name, address, etc.
  • Thompson has an office job. Zero mileage there. Work colleagues never have a clue about each other.
  • Thompson's also been nicked for shoplifting but was "released when his personal protection officer intervened."

    This means someone must have wondered "Hullo 'ullo, what's going on here?" and delved deeper.

  • Thompson's fooled around with heroin "in an attempt to erase the horror of his childhood."

    Aww - poor lamb ... the horror of *his* childhood.

    But it sounds as if we can snatch a crumb of comfort from neither lout quite enjoying his full  night's sleep à la that Ovaltine advert.

  • Maman Bulger, the fragrant Denise Fergus, is meant to have actually tracked Thompson down and stared into those shifty eyes - another avenue for clues and a chance for some gallant blades to find favor with la belle by attending to business on her behalf.

    Alas, as a sleuther dragnet, not the Net's finest hour ... but there's time, and subtle developments like the arrival of Thompson junior add to the momentum.

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