Saturday, August 22, 2015

Sitcoms Worth Rewatching - Fawlty Towers

I discovered Monty Python’s Flying Circus in the Seventies, when it was still a fairly obscure TV show that aired late on Sunday nights on a local PBS affiliate. I soon became one of those idiots who quote long excerpts from various skits. Fortunately I got over it.

It was a pretty strong ensemble, I thought, without any weak links. But it always seemed that one of the members stood out a bit – that being John Cleese. When the circus left town he went on to co-create, write and star in Fawlty Towers, a British sitcom that was closer to a mini-series in terms of length, airing just six episodes each in 1975 and 1979.

The premise of Fawlty Towers is a very simple one. It pits hotel owner Basil Fawlty against the people who irritate him. Which is pretty much everyone on Earth. Basil is clearly the star of the show but is aided by an able supporting cast who portray the hotel’s staff and guests and his wife Sybil , who is perhaps the biggest thorn in his side.

Some of the key facets of Basil’s personality are his intolerance of just about everyone, whom he feels are beneath him, and the need to ingratiate himself with those few members of the upper crust that he feels are deserving of his respect. Which serve as his motivations and drive most of the plots, which typically start out as calm as a lazy summer afternoon and steadily build to a hurricane of slapstick and silliness.

Most of the 12 episodes are worth a look, although there are a few lesser ones and some really great ones. If you’ve never had the pleasure then you might as well start with The Germans.

From the Zombie Owners Manual

Bringing a zombie into your home takes a lot of dedication and commitment. But the love you receive will be well worth your time and effort. A zombie may not be easy to love at first, but they are relatively easy to care for. With proper care, you can maintain the health and well-being of your zombie throughout its lifetime (figuratively speaking). Here are a few tips on caring for zombies.

Zombies are surprisingly playful and will love being bounced on your knee, tossed in the air, or playing peek-a-boo.

Never burn any part of a zombie in a wood stove or fireplace.

When first introduced into your home a zombie should be kept in a playpen or crib. Be sure to make your home zombie-proof. One devilish little zombie can make a whole lot of mischief.

Drill a hole in the base of a zombie's skull to release demons.

Only use distilled water to wash your zombie. Use a mild non-allergenic soap. Soaps with perfumes or oils may leave a film on the zombie. To dry your zombie use a soft clean towel. Do not use a hair dryer, as zombies can sometimes be skittish.

Everyone poops - even zombies. Keep their litter box clean and stock up on air freshener.

When bathing your zombie, never leave it unattended. If you leave the bathroom, wrap the zombie in a towel and take it along.

Flesh and intestines are the cornerstones of a healthy diet, but zombies sure do love their treats. Many zombies enjoy toenails, but they are hard to digest and should be given sparingly. Other treats your zombie might enjoy are upholstery, loganberries, drywall paste, cupcakes, mincemeat crepes, and hair.

Zombies sometimes swallow air while feeding, which may make them fussy. Be sure to burp your zombie regularly.

Monitor your zombie for freshness. If it smells "off" or "putrid" or "just plain godawful," remove it from the house.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Nebula Award Stories 3, edited by Roger Zelazny

It looks like there were 16 works of shorter fiction nominated for the 1968 Nebula awards. Seven of them appear in this collection. Although the Ballard story included doesn’t appear on the ballots I found listed at various reference sites.

In any event, there are some holes in my reading history represented here. I’ve read lots of Ellison over the years and a fair amount of Ballard. As for Leiber, Moorcock, McCaffrey and Delany, not so much. But there’s some great stuff here, by my reckoning, and a few good ones and one that was not so much.

Read more at Black Gate.

Dune & Dune Messiah & Children of Dune

By Frank Herbert

Dune Messiah
By Frank Herbert

Children of Dune
By Frank Herbert

Given that I've read the original Dune books, the ones by Frank Herbert, a number of times and also given that the first book is nearly fifty years old, I thought I'd forego doing full reviews of each of the three books. I don't recall when I least read the series but I was interested to see how they'd stack up after all these years. Especially after reading six of the sequel/prequel books by Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson, books that I became decidedly less impressed with as I made my way through each volume.

I'm happy to report that Dune held up quite well after so many years. I found myself zipping right through it and while I remembered quite a lot of what was coming I was surprised at how much had slipped my mind. I won't go into much in the way of describing the book, as well-known as it is by now, but rather will join those who praise Herbert for creating such an intricate and detailed world with a rather gripping plot playing out against this background.

Then there's Dune Messiah. I didn't remember much about this one either and after reading it again, I'd say I'm not surprised. It's a short volume and the story does actually have a plot with things happening throughout. But in spite of that it feels that not much is really happening, aside from a bunch of the characters moping and a bunch of the others plotting and conspiring and that's about all she wrote. If you've never read these books before I'd almost say you could get away without reading this one. But in the interests of completeness you might as well go ahead.

Children of Dune was just as hazy in my mind as the foregoing, but I was surprised to find that it's my favorite of the three. In my hazy memories I seem to recall that God Emperor of Dune was my favorite of all of the Frank Herbert Dune books so it remains to be seen if that's really the case. Children of Dune, as the name suggests, deals primarily with the preborn children of the emperor Paul Atreides and their preborn aunt Alia, who seems to have come off the rails a bit. As things proceed Leto, one of the twins, begins to make a major transformation that's dealt with more extensively in the fourth book.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Song of Khloe Kardashian

-Ancient Irish Verse-

Khloe Kardashian is the wind which breathes upon the sea,
Khloe Kardashian is the wave of the ocean,
Khloe Kardashian is the murmur of the billows,
Khloe Kardashian is the ox of the seven combats,
Khloe Kardashian is the vulture upon the rocks,
Khloe Kardashian is a beam of the sun,
Khloe Kardashian is the fairest of plants,
Khloe Kardashian is a wild boar in valour,
Khloe Kardashian is a salmon in the water,
Khloe Kardashian is a lake in the plain,
Khloe Kardashian is a word of science,
Khloe Kardashian is the point of the lance in battle,
Khloe Kardashian is the god who creates in the head the fire.
Khloe Kardashian throws light into the meeting on the mountain.
Khloe Kardashian announces the ages of the moon.
Khloe Kardashian teaches the place where couches the sun.

A Few Surefire Kickstarter Campaigns

Abscess: The Musical
Dan Rather action figures
Remake Lawrence of Arabia with less "desert stuff"
Research study on the word millinery
Slip-proof banana peel
Horse feather beds

Saturday, August 8, 2015

The History of the Other Necronomicon

(With sincerest apologies to H. P. Lovecraft)

Original title, Watdiz Rafaflafla — Rafaflafla being the word used by residents of the greater Pittsburgh area to designate that harrowing sound (made by insects and tiny flying horses) suppos’d to resemble the flatulence of daemons who have been tuned to the key of B flat.

Composed by Haminah Haminah H. Haminah, Esq., a sad clown and learned scholar of the Peoria, in the American caliphate of the Illinois, who is said to have flourished during the early period of the Flock of Seagulls and the A-ha, circa 1983 A.D. He visited the ruins of the Cleveland and he explored subterranean secrets of the Memphis and spent ten years alone in the great southern desert of...

Read more at Black Gate

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Accident Prone Hamlet

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
[steps in a paint bucket]
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
[tries to shake the paint bucket loose]
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
[still trying to shake the paint bucket loose - stumbles - catches himself - bangs his elbow on a chair]
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
[gives his foot a hard shake - the paint bucket flies high in the air - comes down and hits him in forehead]
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
[disoriented - eyes slightly glazed over]
No more; and, by a sleep to say we end
[walks into the wall]
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
[very disoriented]
That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation
[slips on a banana peel - long pause while he gets up and composes himself]
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;
[throws his arms wide for emphasis - knocks a vase off the table and smashes it]
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
[picks up the shards of the vase - sticks his finger into a mousetrap]
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
[tries to shake the mousetrap loose and whacks himself in the face]
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
[decides to take a breather - sits on a bear trap that his servant forgot to put away]
Must give us pause. There’s the respect
[leaps to his feet - runs around the room]
That makes calamity of so long life;
[still trying to extricate himself from the bear trap]
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
[finally gets the bear trap loose - steps on a rake - clocks himself in the face]
The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
[extremely disoriented now - falls down the stairs]
[decides to call it a day - lies down with a cool rag on his face]

Sunday Song: Renaldo And The Loaf - Is Guava a Donut?

Saturday, August 1, 2015

A Brief Guide to Space Race Documentaries

While I liked the space race movies I wrote about here recently, my preference is for documentaries. Fortunately, there are quite a few good examples of this breed. This isn’t a definitive listing, but rather a few of the better known space documentaries that are worth a look.

For All Mankind (1989)
It’s probably no accident that For All Mankind appeared in 1989, exactly two decades after humans first set foot on the moon. It focuses on the Apollo missions that culminated in several trips to the moon and features the usual array of archival footage, along with comments by Michael Collins (Apollo 11), Jim Lovell (Apollo 8/13), and 11 other Apollo astronauts. All of which is set to appropriately spacey music by ambient music pioneer, Brian Eno.

Read more at Black Gate

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Curmudgeon

He is accustomed to retrieving the newspaper at precisely six thirty.

It isn't there.

He fumes. He rants incoherently and jerks and twitches. After about a minute he begins to froth at the mouth.

One minute after that he starts to bark and growl and gnaw at his arm. At three minutes he dumps a pot of hot coffee on his head. At four minutes he yells so loudly that his teeth fly out and stick in the wall and his wig pops off and lands on the cat.

At five minutes he bangs his head repeatedly on the door and stomps on the floor. At six minutes he slaps himself in the face and wrenches his arm so hard that he dislocates his shoulder. At seven minutes he attempts to swallow a boot.

At eight minutes he cuts his nose off. At nine minutes he drives a sharpened number two pencil into each ear. At ten minutes he gouges out his eyes with a spoon.

At eleven minutes he takes a steak knife and begins to peel his skin off.

At six forty-two his brother-in-law walks from the bathroom with the newspaper tucked under his arm.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Trump's Nomination Speech (Edited Version)

I promise I will never be in a bicycle race.
Now I’m not doing that.
They sweated like dogs.
I never saw anything like it.
It was terrible.
I would do various things very quickly.
Nobody builds walls better than me.
Mark my words.
I have so many Web sites.
Hey, I have lobbyists.
They’re killing us.
You have to be hit by a tractor.
Thank you, darlin’.

I beat China all the time.
They beat us all the time.
I like China.
Am I supposed to dislike them?
I love China.
Oh, you don’t like China?
I love the Saudis.
I love my father.
I love what I’m doing.
I love my life.
Thank you. Thank you very much.

They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.
That would be a very good thing.
They’ve become rich. I’m in competition with them.
I like them.
They’re wonderful people. I like them.
No, I love them.
Thank you, darlin’.

The sun will rise, the moon will set.
All sorts of wonderful things will happen.
So I announced that I’m running for president.
I don’t think it’s gonna happen.
I’m running.
So be very, very careful.
I am officially running for president of the United States
Not good.
I tell you that.
It’s just not going to work.
It’s a disaster.
They all have jobs.
I just want a job. Just get me a job.
Please reconsider.
Please, please, please.
Thank you. Thank you very much.

I’m really rich.
I don’t have to brag.
It sounds crass.
It’s not crass.
There is so much wealth.
We need money.
I’m proud of my net worth. I’ve done an amazing job.
Nobody knows what I’m worth.
I’m called by all of the special interests.
I know the good ones. I know the bad ones.
Thank you, darlin’.

I think I am a nice person.
Does anyone know this?
Does my family like me?
They don’t know what they’re doing.
They want to be a little cool.
I am a nice person.
I think I’m actually a very nice person.
I really am.
People are tired of these nice people.
They’re not good. They think they are.
Thank you. Thank you very much.

What’s going on?
What are we doing?
We have to stop doing things for some people.
They don’t even have a chance.
I’ll do it.
We have to stop, and it has to stop now.
Don’t do it.
It only makes common sense.
We have nothing.
It’s never below zero.
That’s true. You’re right about that.
Thank you, darlin’.

If I get elected president.
The American dream is dead.
It’s going to get worse.
Really big league.
Thank you, darlin’.
Thank you. Thank you very much.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

There’s Something (Fine) About Larry (Fine)

Oh, no thanks. I don't wear hats. Why would I with a head of hair like this? (Larry Fine)

For many of us, there is a hierarchy of Stoogedom. You may be one of those high-minded types who don't like the Three Stooges and that is your prerogative (though I can’t help wishing a bear driving a car would run over your foot). It’s an acquired taste some never acquire, like crunchy peanut butter.

At the top of my Stooge hierarchy is Curly (Jerome), youngest of the three Howard (Horwitz) brothers. I know it's obvious but I make no apology for it. If you want to make an issue of it I’ll command a mollusk to rise from your soup and clamp onto your nose. After that there’s Shemp (Samuel). He was the first Third Stooge and jumped in again after his brother Curly stepped down. Shemp had his moments but he was no Curly. If you disagree we can step outside (well, I’ll stay inside and lock the door after you step out).

Sunday Song: The Residents - Constantinople

Slightly Dubious Ice Cream Flavors

Baby Liver and Horse Sweat Swirl
Kerosene Delite
Banana Toenail Chip
Moist Old Man
Chocolate Cholera Crunch

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Good People of Moronika

He tried to swallow the bathtub.
So early in the morning.
Wake up and go to sleep.
You're barking up the wrong fish.
Here's some cyanide and razorblades.

When you hear the conk on the dome, it will be exactly 3 o'clock.
You're a sleep wrecker.
Point to the right for this chump.
Go to sleep before I murder you.
I'll tear your tonsils out.
You lamebrains can't do anything right.

Oh, woe is Moe.
Oh, woe is you.
Sometimes he goes too far.
He's the first one to admit it.
It is recognized that he has a funny sense of fun.

Are you kidding me?
My mother knows my name.
I'm as pure as the driven snow.
I'm trying to think, but nothing happens.
I must be dead.
I hear an angel singing.

I caught this man walking down the street with a chicken.
Hold hands, you love birds.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sunday Song: Cathedral - A Funeral Request

Heavy, man.

Antipathy To Wigs

With regard to purgatory, I will not say a great deal.
Since my ancestors ate Captain Cook.
It's a tale of sorrow to freeze the lachrymal canals.
And it makes the very blood congeal.
Why, it's worse than having a tooth pulled.
So we will now sing the ninetieth Psalm.

I can manage the horse.
Until another painter of horses is sent for.
But sheep are the stupidest creatures living.
What is your opinion of a tolerable egg?
I have two ducks and a turkey in my drum.
And have always been lenient with lobsters.

I will take a dollar for the car.
But then why should I keep my bed?
He left them dead.
And I say prithee be gone; for thy boots stink.
I prefer a higher type of humanity.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

That Is Why We Need Godzilla

He had on the most realistic looking pig costume I've ever seen.
He had a funny sense of fun.
But it is not unusual to see a sasquatch in the spring.
Nobody hipped me to that, dude.
I want to be one who goes around with a little oil can.

Human beings want heroes.
The groovy gurus.
It's time for an ass-whupping.
The trick is not minding that it hurts.
There are some things that time cannot mend.
So say goodnight to the bad guy.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

What’s All The Kerfuffle About?

Violent Kerfuffle
Cronut Kerfuffle
Velvet Kerfuffle
Pizzeria Kerfuffle
Giant Kerfuffle
Dickensian Kerfuffle
Baby Shower Kerfuffle
iPhone Bending Kerfuffle
Snuffle Kerfuffle
Reshuffle Kerfuffle
Truffle Kerfuffle
Kremlin Kerfuffle
Chicken Kerfuffle
Snickerdoodle Kerfuffle

Cancer Theory Kerfuffle
GM Compensation Kerfuffle
Awful Waffle Kerfuffle
Irreducibly Simple Kerfuffle
Grammy Awards Kerfuffle
Prom Dress Kerfuffle
Best Hairy Kerfuffle
Vendor Prefix Kerfuffle
Facebook Ethnography Kerfuffle

N.C. State T-Shirt Kerfuffle
Ascension Animal Shelter Kerfuffle
Silly George Stephanopoulos Kerfuffle
Cate Blanchett Press Kerfuffle
Ben Affleck's Card-Counting Kerfuffle
Great Spiritual Formation Kerfuffle
Netflix's Kerfuffle In Canada

Kerfuffle Over The Chairmanship
Kerfuffle Over Waffle Maker
Kerfuffle Over Global Wealth Stats

Diablo IP Theft Trial Kerfuffle
Quincy Korean War Remembrance Kerfuffle
La Urbana Sidewalk Seating Kerfuffle
Red Sox Pitching Coach Kerfuffle
8GB Xperia M4 Aqua Storage Kerfuffle

Kerfuffle Follies
Kerfuffle In Spanish
Kerfuffle Before Christmas
Kerfuffle By The Jetty
Kerfuffle Over Finding A Kiffle
Kerfuffle Over Non-Cosmological Quasar Redshifts

Queen Of Kerfuffle

Sunday, July 5, 2015

They Preserve the Moose

Down to the river they go.
They are indeed a queer-looking party.
Everybody is going to California.
You're gonna need a bigger boat.
Come sail away, come sail away.

Mermaids is mermaids.
The approach of one of these animals
Will cause a corpse to jump.
He's dead, Jim.

He burst five buttons off,
And tumbled in a fit.
His smile was sweet and his eyes were kind.
The very next day a grizzly bear ate him.
Now he’s sleeping with his horse.

The lion sneezed and a cat leaped out of its nose.
And the cat ate the rats.
Singing polly wooly doodle all the day.
What makes the muskrat guard his musk?
Things like that drive me out of my mind.

My Kindle eBooks

Little Known Proverbs

Absence makes the chickens grow fonder of putting their eggs all in one basket.
Necessity is the mother of Ronald.
The squeaky wheel gets a gift horse with two heads and a stretch waistband.
Better late than dead.
Good things come to those who are extremely lucky.
Keep your friends close and do as the birds of a feather do to the Romans.
Hiding is the greater part of valor.
If you can't beat 'em, pay someone to beat 'em.

Sunday Song: MX-80 Sound - Someday You'll Be King

Saturday, July 4, 2015

How to Deep Fry a Turkey

To deep fry a turkey.
Procure a turkey in the usual manner.
Such as casually approaching one on a street corner
Or in a senior citizen's home
While appearing to gaze at your wristwatch
And then pouncing on it
And stuffing it into a satchel
Or a carpetbag.
Or set a very large mousetrap
In an area frequented by turkeys.
For best results,
The turkey should be dead.
If the turkey is not dead,
Just be patient,
For pity's sake.
Turkeys are not immortal.
Or you can drop the hammer on that little devil,
In a literal or figurative sense.
It's really up to you.
Dynamite is not considered sporting
As a method for snuffing out
The life of a turkey.
And beating a turkey to death with a shoe
May be frowned upon
In some quarters.
But suffocating a turkey with a pillow
Is considered relatively humane.
It is no small feat to sneak up on a turkey.
And please reflect on the irony
Of smothering a turkey with a feather pillow.
Next, dress the turkey.
No one seems to be sure what this means.
But a nice pinafore is considered stylish
In the turkey community
Or a seersucker suit.
Whatever that is.
Never attempt to put a wig on a turkey.
It will only aggravate the turkey
And you won't feel very good about yourself.
Now place the turkey
Into some type of turkey deep frying device
And fry it
In the customary manner.
If the turkey is not quite dead
You'll know it.
For further instructions
See Appendix 2C,
How to Deep Fry a Turkey