Thursday, January 29, 2009

Coordinated Ventriloquism

At the end of a long boozy tirade about nothing in particular, Tasha said, “We should have a séance!” and everyone said, “We should.” Merrill didn’t say anything, not because he objected to séances but because he wasn’t the kind of person who said the things that everyone said. Tasha said, “Merrill! Don’t you want to have a séance?” And Merrill shrugged and said, “Sure.” And Tasha said, “You’ll host it, won’t you?” And Merrill shrugged, and blushed, and said, “Sure.”

They settled on next Saturday.

Merrill hadn’t hosted many parties, let alone a séance, and he wanted everyone to have a good time. He bought a Ouiji board at the local toy store (pausing over, but eventually passing up, the Hannah Montana special edition. He knew that the séance was a joke, but not the same kind as a blonde-wigged teenager—could it be?).

He exhumed his table from junk mail and old pizza boxes and set up the board. He planned where the snacks would go. He thought about the questions Tasha would ask and the other guys and the other girls and how he couldn’t guess what Tasha would ask or begin to guess. He practiced rapping once for yes and twice for no. Then he practiced rapping twice for yes and once for no.

In the wandering half-asleep waking of that Saturday morning, Merrill saw (or rather heard-and-saw as in a vision) the perfect final touch: a ghostly voice rising from the table, seeming to emanate from the wood somewhere between the Ouiji board and a splash of carelessly dripped salsa. So on the way back from getting snacks, he stopped by the bookstore and picked up Ventriloquism for Dummies.

Once home, Merrill thumbed through the book, not under the misapprehension that he could master ventriloquism in a day, but hoping to acquire a sufficient smattering for a half-assed, laughing attempt, which would be perfect in its own way. For this séance. Which was a laughing, half-assed thing.

He hadn’t read far when he realized the book was actually Ventriloquism for Dummies. It said that the world was full of ventriloquists, mouths tight shut, casting out their voices like fishing lines. To the dummy, fell the delicate art of hooking a line. The book instructed Merrill to feel the line hook his lips like a thought. It warned that the mistake most dummies make is not moving their mouths. A dummy should move his mouth but not his lips. His lips should resemble carved wood or a hard and shiny slab of lipstick.

The book said that the first ventriloquists were ghosts, and the first dummies were shamans. The Sumerians conducted fertility rites in which the priestess was the dummy and the ventriloquist was god, and everyone's orgasms were in everyone else’s mouths. The Egyptians took up ventriloquism next and called it mummification. The word dummy actually came from mummy.

A mummy is waiting to become a dummy for the ventriloquist of itself.

The book said that modern religions teach that everyone lives forever, but most scientists now believe that only certain professions can. The embalmers, the zorasters (the pronunciation guide indicated this rhymed with “choristers”), the electricians, the toll-takers, the zorasters (the pronunciation guide indicated this rhymed with “pastors”), the dummy/ventriloquists.

Merrill had just wanted to know how to make a voice rise out of the table, making everyone gasp like a laughing sigh and say, “This is a good party. We’re having such a good time”

Someone knocked at the door. “Come in,” Merrill called. They knocked again. Rap twice for no. Merrill opened the door, and Gary said, “Am I the first here?” Merrill said, “Yes,” but then Tasha arrived and then everyone else.

They said, “Wow,” when they saw the Ouiji board. They said, “You really went all out.” Merrill said, “There was a Hannah Montana one too, but I stuck with the classic.” Tasha said, “Oh wow,” and everyone laughed. “I stuck with the classic,” Merrill repeated.

They asked the Ouiji board more political questions than Merrill had expected and more about who would win what Oscars. He had envisioned this séance remaining in the realm of the personal. When they had enough pushing the wedge around, they turned out the lights and wiggled the table. For one moment, the table seemed to hover, while everyone’s knees knocked against their neighbors’, and Merrill almost heard a voice being squeezed out of the table, and it almost felt like it belonged to him.

When they had enough of that, they turned on the lights and talked and ate to the end of the party, their mouths in constant chewing motion like fish.

This post is an installment in a continuing series of content coordinated by theme or motif with posts from Enoch Allred of Chiltingham, John Allred of clol Town, Jon Fairbanks of Funkadelic Freestylings of Another Sort, Eli Z. McCormick and Miriam Allred of Modern Revelation!, John D. Moore of Whatnot Studios, Joseph Schlegel of Sour Mayonnaise, Sven Patrick Svensson of Sadness? Euphoria?, and William C. Stewart of Chide, Chode, Chidden. This week's theme: 'Ventriloquism'.

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The Ventriloclysm took place on July 16, 1979; in Ljubljana, Slovenia. It was a mass protest against the corrupt communist government, which was itself a virtual puppet of the Soviet Union. It was the poet Milan Sljuc's, idea to protest using ventriloquist's dummies. He felt that the ventriloquist dummy was the perfect symbol for the Slovenien government, which was obviously under the thrall of the Soviet Union; while not a part of it, clearly the Slovenian government spoke not with its own voice, but with the voice of the Kremlin cast through it. And while one could not see Brezhnev speaking, everyone knew that it was his voice they were hearing, no matter who's mouth was moving as the words came out.
In the late afternoon, 25,000 Slovenians; many of whom were students, gathered in the city's central square. The lifted up their dummies and began to shout slogans and sing songs. Soon soldiers arrived to quash the protest, but their mere arrival did not halt the protest. Instead it caused the singing and chanting to intensify. The students waved their puppets, many of which were made in likenesses of various soviet officials, and gestured ludely with them. The military, under the command of Sergeij Pahor, began to fire into the crowd. By the time they ceased fire, 8,000 protesters were injured and 4,000 were killed; among them Milan Sljuc, who went on to become a folk hero. The 1999 Rage Against the Machine song Dummies in a Square is about the massacre.
Today, July 16th is a national holiday and day of remembrance. People gather in Ljubljana's central square with ventriloquist dummies to pay tribute to those who stood up against the communist government.

This post is an installment in a continuing series of content coordinated by theme or motif with posts from Enoch Allred of Chiltingham, John Allred of clol Town, Jon Fairbanks of Funkadelic Freestylings of Another Sort, Eli Z. McCormick and Miriam Allred of Modern Revelation!, John D. Moore of Whatnot Studios, Joseph Schlegel of Sour Mayonnaise, Sven Patrick Svensson of Sadness? Euphoria?, and William C. Stewart of Chide, Chode, Chidden. This week's theme: 'Ventriloquism'.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


I'm going to attempt a weekly feature wherein I put my iPod on shuffle and write about the first ten songs that come up. Commentary will, of course, vary depending on the song and how much I have to say about it.

1. The Raspberries-I'm a Rocker: I like this song. It embraces the the idoicy of it's lyrical conceit, and the idiocy of rock and roll. It's very unselfconscious about being a rocker. In fact it does rock. I guess that you can't mention the Raspberries without mentioning powerpop, but this certainly lives up to its title and sounds a little like a less virtuosic Boston song or some other similar 70s rock song.

2. The GZA-Duel of the Iron Mic: The GZA is the most methodical of all the Wu-Tang Clan MCs, his rhymes seem effortless, each one carefully constructed. Great guest spots from Masta Killa and Inspectah Deck make this a treat for those who enjoy excellent rapping. Though it must be said, it's mostly a vessel for said excellent rapping, and is not much of a song and doesn't offer much besides good rapping; which, with some exceptions is probably the GZAs biggest fault.

3. Jay-Z-Intro:The introduction to American Gangster, his 2007 album that was a pseudo-soundtrack to the film of the same name. As an album intro, this is fine, setting the mood and establishing the themes by using dialogue clips from the film (which I have not seen). As a stand alone track it's not worth listening to.

4. Dead Kennedys-Funland at the Beach:I like the Dead Kennedy's, but this is one of their weaker tracks. Punk's brevity is its virtue, but can some times be a hindrance as this song doesn't offer much besides Jello Biafra's always interesting warblings and an excuse for slam dancing. Knowing the Dead Kennedy's there's some satire in there.

5. Charles Mingus-Freedom: Ah, Mingus, perhaps my favorite Jazz performer/composer. This song starts of with a spoken word recitation that becomes a gospel song lamenting the lack of freedom, then changes into a bouyant jazzy instrumental passage, before returning to the gospel song. Impeccably crafted.

6. The Ramones-Questioningly: Exhibit 1B (1A would be Needles and Pins) that I use when people say that all Ramones songs sound the same. This shows the evolution in their songwriting, while still being unquestionably (ha!) a Ramones song. It's a vaguely countrish ballad (dig that lead part) that ranks as one of their best slow songs.

7. Steppenwolf-Tighten up Your Wig-Fun bluesy number with some killer organ and harmonica. Sounds off the cuff and improvised

8. The Stooges-Raw Power-Fuck yes! This album is the very definition of rock and roll debauchery. The sheer loudness and sleeziness are the quintessence of rock and roll excess. A stand out track with a killer riff.

9. Guided By Voices-Always Crush Me: I like Guided By Voices, but with the caveat that for every good song, they have two that kind of suck. This is the latter. When I say kind of suck, I mean that you can hear glimpses of the quality song that it could be, but, like this one there's just not enough. It's half a song. An acoustic guitar and voice, there's hints of a melody but it's underdeveloped.

10.Van Morrison-Comfort You: Great song. I've only recently gotten into Van Morrison, and kinda regret not listening to more of him. This is from Veedon Fleece, an album that seems kind of underrated when compared to the rest of his albums. This is a vaguely R&B/Soul influenced ballad with a great vocal performance by Van. It might be a little maudlin, but the strength of R&B and Soul is the singers ability to sell it (which I suppose is why it's called Soul), and Van really sells it here.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Eifen Deifeiffen

Eifen Deifeiffen looked out upon the world he had made, and the creations he had breathed life into. He found the sky wanting for lack of beauty, the mountains wanting for lack of grandeur, and the meadows wanting for lack of tranquility. Disgusted and ashamed with his work; he crumpled the manuscript he held, on which he had carefully drafted out the whole of this existence, and devoured it. Thus ended that existence.

Eifen Deifeiffen began anew, writing of another world in his monstrous ledger. That world is ours. And one day, he will shovel into his maw the very manuscript on which our lives have been etched into.

Today, certain sects have taken it upon themselves to stave off this apocalypse with flattery. Their sermons, if you can call them that, consist of overly generous literary critiques. The belief is that Eifen Deifeiffen himself will overhear and deem everything acceptable. Or at least refrain from eating his work. Calling themselves The Acolytes of Deifeiffen they can often be found on corners, spreading their word and the words of others. You see, they believe the Bible, Quran and other holy works, to be books within the book as it were, also authored by Eifen Deifeiffen. During the 60's the Acolytes attracted a large following, owing mainly to their inclusive atmosphere. Since then, membership has tapered off.

This has prompted the creation of a splinter sect, who see the reduced membership as a sign that no only have they failed, but that Eifen Deifeiffen stands ready to tear it apart with his teeth. This splinter sect, dubbed the Acolytes of Eifen Deifeiffen for the Reformation, believe that the world is doomed, and only through good and outstanding works they will be remembered and saved. They will be written of once again when Eifen Deifeiffen resumes his fruitless efforts.

Though they may be saved once, there will come a time when they too are consumed.The cycle will continue. Forever.

This post is an installment in a continuing series of content coordinated by theme or motif with posts from Enoch Allred of Chiltingham, John Allred of clol Town, Jon Fairbanks of Funkadelic Freestylings of Another Sort, John D. Moore of Whatnot Studios, Joseph Schlegel of Sour Mayonnaise, and William C. Stewart of Chide, Chode, Chidden. This week's theme: Eifen Deifeiffen.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The History of the Vice Cats

In 1986 Aldous Worthington, an evangelical entrepreneur with a penchant for moralizing1, grew disgusted with the debauchery he saw around him. Combining forces with J. Marsh Jones2, a high ranking member of the Department of Justice, he sought to do something about the filth and depravity that he saw his beloved America descending into. Using top secret technology, they created a crack team of anthropomorphized cats to combat the whores, the pimps, the drug dealers, the junkies, the pornographers, the socialists, the fornicators and all other servants of Satan3. Thus the Vice Cats were born.
They consisted of Drake4, the noble leader who embodied all the principles of America5. Meowmir6, the fiercest of the Vice Cats, and also the brooding loner of the group. Kewpie7, the token female. Maynard8, the comic relief and Brizz9 the whizz10 kitten. Their adventures where documented in an immensely popular Saturday morning cartoon show. Some parents felt that the show was shallow and overly moralizing11, though a petition to take the show off the air proved unsuccessful. Through it's three and a half seasons the Vice Cats battled all manner of foes, ranging from the nefarious Pimp Bitchbreaker12, the homosexual ninja clan Rooster13, and Senator Patrick Leahy14. Mid-way through 1989, in an effort to balance the budget and cut unnecessary government expenditures, the Vice Cats program was dissolved. The cartoon show was then subsequently canceled.
The Vice Cats attempted to press on independent of the government, working as private investigators in Rhode Island. They found it harder without government funding15 and soon permanently disbanded, each one going their separate ways. In 2004 the remaining Vice Cats reunited on VH1's I Heart the 80's Super Redux Explosion16. While no acrimony remained between them, the declined VH1's offer to star in their own reality show, instead opting to return to the lives they had each managed to create for themselves. Though some regard the Vice Cats as a symbol of oppressive Christian moralizing, may children remember them fondly.

1. Ironically, Worthington was arrested in 1997 for soliciting from an undercover male cop. He reportedly requested that the officer pull the wad of dollar bills that were to be used as payment from Mr. Worthington's buttock, among other lude acts.

2. Whose appellate court nomination was contested on the basis of him being a horrible person, though an admittedly good father and passionate lover.

3. Homosexuals

4. After the Vice Cats disbanded, Drake attempted to join the military, but was denied because he wasn't old enough (though the government technology accelerated their aging, his birth certificate still said he was only 5). He joined the police force in Providence, RI and is currently a lieutenant.

5. Truth, liberty and small government.

6. Unbeknownst to the Vice Cats and all involved, Meowmir suffered from crippling depression. In 1992 he took his own life.

7. After unsuccessful attempts to launch a modeling or singing career, Kewpie became a prostitute. She currently earns six figures as a call girl for customers with unusual fetishes (specifically Furries)

8.Maynard has enjoyed bit of a renaissance of late, appearing in guest roles and cameos in several movies. In 1999, he was cast as Dexter in Quintin Tarentino's Double Death, a role that garnered him much acclaim (including a Golden Globe nomination). He continues to act to this day.

9.Brizz went to MIT and graduated top of his class, he is currently working on alternative energy research.

10. In a puntacularly lame recurring joke, Brizz wet himself once every episode.

11. Some feel that the show was so over the top with its moralizing that it had to be satire.

12. Pimp Bitchbreaker had a 1996 hit single with his song "Run Dem Hoes". He was later implicated in the murder of Tupac Shakur, but was never formally charged.

13. The clan was actually called The Cock, but the name was changed to appease the network censors.

14. D-Vermont

15. And high-tech jets

16. Featuring Carrot Top and a thoroughly bizzare commentary on New Order.

This post is an installment in a continuing series of content coordinated by theme or motif with posts from Enoch Allred of Chiltingham, John Allred of clol Town, Jon Fairbanks of Funkadelic Freestylings of Another Sort, John D. Moore of Whatnot Studios, Joseph Schlegel of Sour Mayonnaise, and William C. Stewart of Chide, Chode, Chidden. This week's theme: 'Vice'.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Exerpt from a Novel

“We are all eunuchs!” He said. His voice at once prideful and dangerous, but also tinged with melancholy.

Thursday, January 08, 2009


Maxwell the fish sat1 on the bottom, looking up at the top of the water, which to him seemed the graceless lid of some infinite jar that concealed from him the rest of the world. He didn't know what was outside, or if anything was outside at all, but that was a risk with consequences he was fully willing to accept. He didn't dare tell anyone for fear of being mocked2. On days when he was feeling reckless, he would swim as close to the surface as possible almost grazing it with his fins. When he was feeling melancholy, he would sit listlessly on the bottom, looking up. Today he was reckless. Today he had woken up with purpose3. Today was the day he was going to change everything4!
He swam upwards. Closer and closer to the glassy surface, speeding up as he went, for if he didn't he knew that he never would break through the barrier. Eventually he did, coming to the surface. It was beyond his comprehension; the vast, untapped potential of everything that lay before him. There was a beach with palm trees swaying in the breeze5. He swam toward it, his tiny fish heart swelling with the majesty of this new world he had uncovered. He briefly considered going back and trying to convince others to come with him. But he knew they wouldn't, so he swam toward the beach, his excitement with the untapped potential that lay before him surpassing his sadness of abandoning his friends and family.
He set his fin on the beach, feeling the the fin grains of sand on his scales6. Maxwell looked back at the sea, "Soon they'll come" he though to himself.

1. Or rather swam in a static manner, as fish don't really have the necessary equipment to sit in the way we understand it. Semantics aside, Maxwell's manner of swimming as such, roughly corresponds to sitting.
2. Either for his foolishness in daring to leave the water, or for his hubris is thinking that he was special and "on to something".
4. Talk about hubris!
5. Concepts of "beach" and "trees" are foreign to Maxwell, but with you and I being familiar with them, I will use them for the sake of simplicity.
6. It is the reader's whim to decide if Maxwell is a species of fish that can survive out of water, an amphibian who doesn't know it, or something else.

This post is an installment in a continuing series of content coordinated by theme or motif with posts from Enoch Allred of Chiltingham, John Allred of clol Town, Jon Fairbanks of Funkadelic Freestylings of Another Sort, John D. Moore of Whatnot Studios, Joseph Schlegel of Sour Mayonnaise, and William C. Stewart of Chide, Chode, Chidden. This week's theme: 'Exodus'.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Hilarious Joke, as Found on a Laffy Taffy Wrapper V

A Jerk and his caddy walk into a bar.

"How could you do that to me? You really fucked me back there. I know I should've used the pitching wedge." The Jerk says.

"Sorry man, I made a judgement call." The caddy replies

The men order beers. The bartender places them on coasters.

"I can't believe I even asked you for advice." The jerk say, drinking his beer.

"That's the thing with advice, you don't have to take it."

"Yeah man, but I need your advice, that's why I bring you. You can't just fuck me over that like."

"Look it was a mistake." Said the caddy as he finished his beer. The bartender took their empty glasses away. The jerk and the caddy knew that their friendship had been changed, in some way neither of them could fully articulate. They sat in the bar, melancholy overtaking them as they looked at the rings of condensation left on the coasters.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Chinese Democracy

During the summers of my youth, my mother had the habit of playing music incredibly loudly to rouse us out of bed. It met with varying degrees of success. But the morning she played "Welcome to the Jungle" was an epochal moment. It was (at the time) the most rocking thing I'd ever heard1. Loud, decadent and intense. It was perhaps the finest example of rock and roll that I had heard. And Appetite for Destruction remains high in my esteem to this day.
Now, after 17 years, Guns and Roses
2 have finally released the much anticipated Chinese Democracy, a record that bears more resemblance to the Use Your Illusion records that came out in 19913. It is lengthy, overwrought and lacks the lean, punchy songwriting of Appetite4. This isn't to say that it is a bad album. The first three songs in particular are excellent hard rock, with Better being the standout. Sadly the record descends into a tedium of lackluster ballads. Chinese Democracy lacks the swagger5 of the best of Guns and Roses songs, choosing instead to focus on hamfisted introspection.
But perhaps the biggest detriment is the fact that Chinese Democracy must not only live up to an album that has bloated into legendary status6, but the fact that Chinese Democracy itself has attained a kind of legendary stature for not existing and being frequently delayed. The album we have today can't possibly live up to its long gestating expectations. This creates an interesting contradiction, the artist can't match the expectations for his previous work and can't match the expectations for something that doesn't yet exist. The completion of the long delayed project then becomes bittersweet; no matter how good it may be, it can never equal it's imagined greatness.

1. Ironically, the record was soon banned in our house owing to my mother's disapproval of the record's lyrical content
2. As presently constituted by Axl Rose and whomever he finds to play with.
3. I have not heard these records in their entirety, though this is not an attempt to form a hierarchy.

4. This is probably attributable to the fact that Axl Rose is the principal songwriter and creative force. Whereas the old Guns and Roses was a band in the truest sense, today's is one in name only.
5. This can be said of a lot of contemporary rock music (I don't particularly mean this in a pejorative "all new music sucks", rather as an observation). In fact this may be why Fall Out Boy is successful.
6. The frequently aforementioned Appetite for Destruction.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Putin's Eggs

Vladimir Valdimirovich Putin sat at the breakfast table, reading the morning paper. He was particularly perplexed by that morning's Blondie, which he found incomprehensible. Were he Mr. Dithers, he would have had Bumstead executed long ago. Observing his butler, Grigory, enter the room, Vladimir folded up his newspaper.
"Good morning Vladimir Valdimirovich, I trust you slept well?" Grigory asked.
"Very well Grigory Ivanivich." he replied
"Is there anything of note in the paper?"
"Bumstead continues to be insufferable."
"It is his way, sir. What would you like for breakfast this morning?"
"I think I would like eggs this morning."
"Very well, how would you like them prepared?"
"Over easy."
Putin looked out the window and contemplated failure. Moments later, Grigory returned bearing a plate on which two eggs had been placed on a bed of green lettuce, for this was Putin's preferred way of eating them. He placed the plate in front of Putin, the translucent yolks reflecting the pale sunlight. But the yolks did not move. Tentatively, Putin bumped the table with his leg, hoping to elicit some movement from the yolk, some assurance that the delicate balance of the universe had not been destroyed. The eggs did not move. Putin gazed at them, a deep melancholy welling in the pit of his soul. He felt as though the eggs were a great cosmic eye reflecting back at him some greater truth that he could not comprehend.
"I know sir, it disturbed me as well." Said Grigory.
Vladimir shot him a perplexed look.
"The eggs, sir. Their stillness."
Both men continued looking at the eggs, lost in their own ponderings. They would have remained that way for hours had Putin not grabbed them and eaten them, the yolks dripping down his chin and through his fingers.