December 31, 2006

The Goddess That Turns the Page

Dr. X posts this from a place near Blueberry Road:

"It is time for the invocation, to atone
"For what we fear most and have not dared to face:
"Kali, the destroyer, cannot be overthrown;
"We must stay, open-eyed, in the terrible place.

"Every creation is born out of the dark.
"Every birth is bloody. Something gets torn.
"Kali is there to do her sovereign work
"Or else the living child will be stillborn.

"She cannot be cast out (she is here for good)
"Nor battled to the end. Who wins that war?
"She cannot be forgotten, jailed, or killed.
"Heaven must still be balanced against her.

"Out of destruction she comes to wrest
"The juice from the cactus its harsh spine,
"And until she, the destroyer, has been blest,
"There will be no child, no flower, and no wine.

"- May Sarton"

Slate's Top 10 for 2006

Top stories?

Sort of (Given that Republican abuses and subsequent loss of power in November was the top story of last year.) It's the top 10 most eggregious civil liberties abuses of the year.

So without further ado, let us present The Bill of Wrongs.

And as usual, see Standard Paragraph.

December 28, 2006

Tim Young 1962-2006

An Angel and a Demon Speak Together At Long Last

We don't buy human souls.
They are not yours to sell.

Nor do we save them; they
Are not in danger.

Stop being clever.

God has everything well
In hand.

We are the outcasts.

We are the elect.

We are the janitors,
The cleaning ladies,
Sopping up vomit
In a frat house sink.

We touch strangers,
Give them gifts, we
Remind, reward,

We bite and claw.
We soothe and serve.
We burn with an unknown
Shadow fire.

We are forced to forget.
We are divine sycophants,
The bitches of the heavenly
Cell block.

We are the bad boys,
The rough friends.
Mom's restless nightmare;
Her soul comfort,
Her sad defeat.

We are two sides of the same

We are pleasure and regret.
A static signal, none can forget.

We know no birth,
We know no death.
We are only ourselves.
Born of a holy loneliness,
We burst forth from a
momentary lapse.

We demand.
We serve.
We command.

Listen to us.

We give,
We take,
We watch it all roll away.

There is no experience in which we do not delight.
There is no occurrence in which we do not weep.

The rest is a mystery, of which I will not speak.
There are some things the shadow puppets must
Not know.

These are the rules.
If you have a complaint,
Take it up with the Boss.

-Timothy Jay Young


December 27, 2006

Star Power

We're not the first, but let us add our voices to the chorus: Guitar Hero II totally, utterly ROCKS!! (Just get it.) The FSL and I have been unable to post anything for the past two day -- because we're too busy rockin' the freakin' house!

December 24, 2006

And Now Our Annual Reading

Dr. X posts this from the Take-a-Photo-with-Santa line at the Stanford Mall:

"Well, it's that time of year again, time to open up Max Beerbohm's inspired A Christmas Garland, the book in which he offers Christmas wishes in the style of most of his leading contemporaries, from Kipling to Chesterton.

"So here are a few choice bits from 'The Mote in the Middle Distance' by H*nry J*m*s:

"The mote in the middle distance?" he asked. "Did you ever, my dear,
know me to see anything else? I tell you it blocks out everything.
It's a cathedral, it's a herd of elephants, it's the whole habitable
globe. Oh, it's, believe me, of an obsessiveness!" But his sense of
the one thing it didn't block out from his purview enabled him
to launch at Eva a speculation as to just how far Santa Claus had,
for the particular occasion, gone. The gauge, for both of them,
of this seasonable distance seemed almost blatantly suspended in
the silhouettes of the two stockings. Over and above the basis of
(presumably) sweetmeats in the toes and heels, certain extrusions
stood for a very plenary fulfilment of desire. And, since Eva had set
her heart on a doll of ample proportions and practicable eyelids--had
asked that most admirable of her sex, their mother, for it with not
less directness than he himself had put into his demand for a sword
and helmet--her coyness now struck Keith as lying near to, at indeed
a hardly measurable distance from, the border-line of his patience. If
she didn't want the doll, why the deuce had she made such a point of
getting it? He was perhaps on the verge of putting this question to
her, when, waving her hand to include both stockings, she said "Of
course, my dear, you _do_ see. There they are, and you know I know
you know we wouldn't, either of us, dip a finger into them." With a
vibrancy of tone that seemed to bring her voice quite close to him,
"One doesn't," she added, "violate the shrine--pick the pearl from the

Even had the answering question "Doesn't one just?" which for an
instant hovered on the tip of his tongue, been uttered, it could not
have obscured for Keith the change which her magnificence had wrought
in him. Something, perhaps, of the bigotry of the convert was already
discernible in the way that, averting his eyes, he said "One doesn't
even peer." As to whether, in the years that have elapsed since he
said this either of our friends (now adult) has, in fact, "peered," is
a question which, whenever I call at the house, I am tempted to put
to one or other of them. But any regret I may feel in my invariable
failure to "come up to the scratch" of yielding to this temptation is
balanced, for me, by my impression--my sometimes all but throned and
anointed certainty--that the answer, if vouchsafed, would be in the

"Project Gutenberg has put up the full text of A Christmas Garland here."

When Trains Were Men

Dr. X posts this from the the Bluebell Railway:

"As my sons plunder their Thomas the Tank Engine gifts today, I wondered if these toy trains had any basis in reality. Indeed they do - they all are based on real locomotives. Even the odd-looking Toby is based on an actual turn-of-the-century shunting engine.

"The most awesome engine of all just has a cameo in the series. It is the Gresley A4 Pacific which holds the world speed record for a steam-powered train. The streamlined Mallard recorded a top speed of 125 mph (Wikipedia article is here).

"I wouldn't mind having a couple of these running between San Francisco and L.A."

December 21, 2006


Dr. X posts this from a shoe:

"I'd always thought Rub-a-Dub-Dub was about a homosexual menage a trois. Fortunately for our children, it's just about a peep show. What a relief!"

Ripped from Today's Headlines

Dr. X posts this from the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show:

"First of all, this Miss USA thing is disgusting. And wrong. And dirty. And naughty. And I cannot get enough of it.

"The Daily Show brings you up to date.

"But then it got better. A lot better. (And if you don't remember that line, catch up here.)

"Rosie ripped Trump.
"Trump trashed Rosie.
"(Wouldn't it be cool to bury them alive together?)

"And then Miss Nevada stole the show.

"Just when I think our nation cannot sink lower, just when you think it is as stupid and horrible as it can be, just when it seems we have reached the bottom - these drugged-out bi-curious beauty queens come out and totally redeem themselves.

"Thank you. Thank you. Thank you."

"I Got Bigger Problems Than Cross-Dressing Cops"

Dr. X posts this from that studio in Century City:

"Having review about 50 of his monologues now, I conclude that Craig Ferguson is to the late night monologue what Roger Ebert is to movie reviews. Man. He does this every night."

On the other hand, A Passing That I Don't Mourn

The nutjob authoritarian president of Turkmenistan, Saparmurat Niyazov has died without a successor.

From the BBC:

His influence spilled over into every sphere of Turkmen life. Even the months and days of the week were named after himself and his family.

He later declared a ban on young men wearing beards and long hair.

Opera, ballet, listening to car radios and the playing of recorded music on television and at public events was forbidden.

His book, the Ruhnama - a collection of his thoughts on Turkmen identity, history and destiny - was put on the curriculum of schools and universities.

President Niyazov was accused of spending more money on his grandiose projects - such as a huge man-made lake in the Kara Kum desert, and an ice palace in the capital Ashgabat - than on social welfare.

December 20, 2006

I Don't Get It...

Why won't they let Turkey into the EEC?

BBC NEWS | Europe | Turks acquitted over Chomsky book


The Great Man Moves On

Dr. X posts this from the Chess Palace in Long Beach:

"David Ionovich Bronstein, February 19, 1924, Bila Tserkva, Ukraine – December 5, 2006, Minsk, Belarus.

"It saddened me perhaps more than it should have to hear of the passing of the great Bronstein, whose ill-starred championship match was discussed in our blog's third post. He was an old man, and, unlike most Russian men of his generation, he died of natural causes. He found a happy marriage late in life, and won the genuine affection of millions of chess fans. His death should not be a sad event. It is not an affront to the natural order, it affirms it.

"But my sense of loss is so deep. Bronstein epitomized for me what a sportsman should be - what a man should be. His commitment to his art was no less than Beethoven's or Picasso's. And he carried his skill lightly. In his later years he would honor his opponent or the tournament organizer by playing their favorite opening, perhaps introducing an innovation or two. There is a fine obituary over at Chessbase - at the bottom there is a clip where Yasser Seirawan, the American grandmaster, tells a story exemplifying what a powerful and unique creature Bronstein was.

"On tournament results alone, Bronstein was not the greatest player who ever lived. Depending on how long a time period you measure over (this site has a pretty good system), he was one of the top 15 (average rating over 20 years) or 25 ( over 4 years) players who ever lived.

"But you can't judge Bronstein only by his rating. You see, he didn't always play to win, exactly. He was experimental. He viewed himself as a chess artist - an ugly victory was, for him, worse than no victory. When he played Samuel Reshevsky (the best American player before Fischer) in the 1953 Zurich Candidates' Tournament, the Russian coaches begged him to take the games seriously and try to win. He did, and did.

"The upside of this artistic temperament meant that, on a given day, he could play a game that would be remembered forever.
  • "There is a guy named Ljubomir Ljubojević - he's good, he was a contender for the world championship for a time in the early 80s, and he's beaten everyone at one time or another, including Karpov and Kasparov. But he is immortal because of a game he lost to Bronstein, in which Bronstein threw most of his pieces away, marched his King into the center of the board, and forced his resignation.
  • "There was this guy named Tal, who when he was young, took down Botvinnik for a while and became world champion based on pure combinatorial power. He was a human computer, able to calculate variations far beyond the grasp of most other grandmasters. He and Bronstein would get into it pretty good, as seen in this train wreck of a game, from the 1968 Russian Team Championships.
  • "Speaking of computers, Bronstein killed them. He was one of the first grandmasters to play against them, and, as Kavalek explains in the Washington Post, 'somehow, Bronstein seemed able to confuse the machines.' Here he whips MacChess in an Ilyin-Genevsky Dutch. Of these battles Bronstein said 'I truly believed that the human brain is more powerful than any electronic monster. And I did not change my mind even after playing computers for eight years.'
"Here is a story of a talk Bronstein gave at the Chess Palace in Long Beach long ago. It is full of lessons, the greatest of which is: play for joy. Reflecting on his career, I am reminded of the passage from the Tao Te Ching:

"The best athlete
"wants his opponent at his best.
"The best general
"enters the mind of his enemy.
"The best businessman
"serves the communal good.
"The best leader
"follows the will of the people.

"All of them embody
"the virtue of non-competition.
"Not that they don't love to compete,
"but they do it in the spirit of play.
"In this they are like children
"and in harmony with the World.

"He even got an obituary in the New York Times. Not bad for a kid who started his career long ago, doing railroad work, in a little town called Stalingrad."


December 19, 2006

"There Isn't Enough Vomit in the World..."

Dr. X posts this from that studio in Century City:

"Stephen Fry appears on the emergently entertaining Late Late Show featuring the surprisingly enjoyable Craig Ferguson.

"Part 1
"Part 2

"A Bit of Fry and Laurie is out on DVD, so I can replace my old UK copy that mysteriously disappeared long ago.

"In a not-unrelated development, Wikipedia now has an article on Roderick Spode, as well as the man he was modeled on."

Forward Pass Awards

Dr. X posts this from The Coryell Institute:

"As the Seahawks sink slowly in the west, one's mind turns to more meaningful things. Like passing efficiency.

"What a bizarre year. Quarterback-firing became the rage, reminding me of the slow poisoning epidemic of yore. At first no one's poisoning their husband, and then, the next you know, the thing has caught on like wildfire and the town is up to its ass in widows. It started off slow, with obvious demotions (Culpepper), then expanded to veterans not quite at the end of their careers (Bledsoe), and even journeymen who in any other year (or under any other coach) would have been considered safe in their roles (Plummer).

"Rather than attempt to decipher the tangle of half-seasons and disjointed performances, I ran this year's final IAYPA stats for the teams as a whole (as a reminder Dr. X customarily excludes the last couple of meaningless games, due to the fact that they are meaningless).
  • "Our first award is for Most Effective Quarterback. It is a tie, between Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, each of whom led his team to an IAYPA of 6.8. It's virtually impossible to separate the two. Peripheral indicators are no help - Brees has thrown for 25 touchdowns, Manning for 26. Brees has been sacked 17 times, Manning 15 times. Brees's showing is certainly more surprising in the context of his career - he has had good years and bad, while Manning has been uniformly excellent. But this year, I would argue, they have been indistinguishable - in a tumultous league they have excelled at the highest level.
  • "Next, we have the Unsung Hero, the man who has demonstrated the best performance while being pounded to a jelly by opposing defenses. This year there can be no controversy - St. Louis quarterbacks, led by Marc Bulger, have posted an IAYPA of 5.6 while being sacked 48 times, an amazing feat. Only three teams (Detroit: 4.4, Cleveland: 3.6, and Oakland: 2.5) have given up more sacks. Much is due to Mr. Holt and Mr. Bruce, of course, but the Pro Bowl selection is well-deserved.
  • "This year's Lunchpail Award, given to the man who most exemplifies average performance, goes to famous NFL quarterback Bret Favre. The Packers recorded an IAYPA of 4.7 this season. Many think Favre should retire, but why? He is playing very credibly, while throwing to men on crutches and in traction. Some say going on would hurt his legacy, but I don't see it. He was born in 1969 - just running out on the field every game adds to his legend. And who would the Packers replace him with? I don't think Ingle Martin, whatever his merits, would play as well in his rookie year.
  • "The Most Improved award goes to the Chicago Bears, led by unloved, disrespected and not-sucking-so-much-lately Rex Grossman. The Bears went from having one of the worst passing games in the NFL last year to the middle of the pack (4.6). That's an enormous leap, and Grossman has to get much of the credit. Did I mention how much he reminds of Bret Favre? He's almost exactly average, too.
  • "The What Happened to You Guys? award goes, alas, to the Seattle Seahawks, who have descended from the summit to join the crowd in the NFL passing cellar (3.8, 6th-worst, between Miami at 3.9 and Cleveland at 3.6). Well, you say, that's Seneca Wallace's fault. Sure Wallace didn't play well, but neither did Hasselbeck when he was healthy. With an IAYPA of 4.6 he's in line with Grossman and Favre - good enough to play, but not the league leader he was last year.
  • "And the Ninth Circle of Hell Award goes to the Oakland Raiders. Usually there's a crowd at the bottom of the IAYPA standings and one team down there looks about as bad as any other. But the Raiders (team IAYPA of 2.5) have carved out a unique niche of futility. Look at what they've accomplished: league highs in both sacks and interceptions, and a league low in passing yardage. They've done that despite having Randy Moss on the field - physically, at least. To get numbers this bad you must screw up in every phase of the passing game, and the Raiders have been equal to the task:
    • Al Davis mandates a long-pass offense with patterns that take a long time to develop.
    • The offensive line fails to protect the quarterback.
    • The receivers run their patterns indifferently.
    • The quarterback, if he avoids the sack, rushes his throw, forcing an interception, or dumps it to a back, or throws it away.
    • To ensure that the quarterback's decisions are poor, Davis signs career trick-or-treater Aaron Brooks.
"The only way this could get better, er, I mean worse, would be if they could somehow get Jeff George on the field. But I'm sorry to report my cries have gone unanswered. Al Davis, this is my final plea: George-to-Moss! Your legacy could depend on it."

Holiday Cheer

Merry X-mas Dr. X!

December 16, 2006

I Must Get the Import License

Dr. X posts this from the international trade Situation Room at the 700 Club:

"Just another example of fundamentalist censorship. In Australia."

Just in time for Christmas...

Radar Magazine announces the 10 most dangerous toys of all time.

The editors excluded the obvious candidates: BB guns, slingshots, throwing stars, and anything else actually intended to inflict harm, and instead focused on toys with unintended consequences (like say, radioactivity!)

No word on why the "Bag-o-Glass" from Mainway Toys didn't make the grade.

Well, I'm off to scour eBay for a BB gun for my 11 month old daughter.

The Coolidge Effect

Dr. X posts this from the Kinsey Institute for Rat Sexual Studies:

"No matter how sexually exhausted and uninterested a rat is in a current mate, if a novel female is introduced, the male will rise to the occasion and perform his fertilization duties. (Fiorino, 1997) This process can be continued until the gallant rat nearly dies. The neurochemical hangover discussed above is the key to understanding the 'Coolidge Effect.' As dopamine drops, the rat loses interest in his mate and copulation ceases. When a new partner appears, dopamine soars again and the rat revives long enough to deliver more genes.

"The "Coolidge Effect" has been observed in every species tested, and is not confined to males. Female rodents also prefer to seduce new mates, (Lester, 1988) except when oxytocin is injected into key parts of their brains, as we will see in a moment. Abundant anecdotal evidence suggests that the "Coolidge Effect" also manipulates humans. As a man from sensual Los Angeles once related, "I quit counting at 350 lovers, and I'm still confused as to why I lost interest in all of them sexually so quickly. Some of those women are really beautiful." His third wife had just left him for a Frenchman.

"Unless we consciously intervene, our neurochemistry programs us for intense passion followed by emotional alienation. Helen Fisher estimates that humans are designed to stay together less than four years, the time it takes to get a child on its feet. Across 58 cultures worldwide, she found that divorce rates peaked at this point."

December 15, 2006

You Still There, Sea Lord?

Storm kills 4, cuts power in Northwest - Yahoo! News

December 14, 2006

Full Moon

Dr. X posts this from the IDS (International Death Squad) Building in Minneapolis:

On a 757 ride in steerage which I could only compare to three hours in a stress position at Guantanamo, I found a certain amount of solace in my latest Wodehouse foray, Full Moon.

This is my first attempt on a Blandings novel, and it is to the Jeeves and Wooster stories as The Oresteia is to Whose Line is It Anyway? It became necessary to diagram the characters and their relations to one another, a task abandoned after two dozen entries in the first 50 pages. (Plot summary is here.) Highly recommended.

The cover art is, in my estimation, good:

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

View With Caution

Um, this is just disturbing, hilarious, and not safe for work in a very inexplicable sort of way:

Star Trek + Nine Inch Nails = Closer

Comments from Tom DeLay's Blog

That were recorded until they figured out that wasn't such a good idea...

I complete my first wiki entry

So I went in and filled out the stub in Wikipedia for my maternal grandfather.

A few notes on this whole wiki thing:

Reasonably easy to use markup language. Adding the links to the various items was surprisingly painless, and the tags for references and such were easy. I recommend it for anyone with way too much time on their hands.

A few notes on compiling a bio on your grandfather:

I was far too young to appreciate him when he was around (He suffered from Alzheimer's by the time I was a teen, and he passed away when I was 19), but now at age 42, researching his life was fascinating stuff. I had no idea he was as well known as he was, and I had no idea there was such controversy surrounding his career.

I still have to fill out his publishing history, and find a few more references (he may have been whisked back to the US as part of Operation Paperclip, but I need to dig up confirmation), but it's a good first pass (if I do say so myself)

What brave new world that hath such hand crafted gifts from son to mother. I'm not sure if this beats the crappy ashtray I made when I was 7, but I think it'll have to do this year.

Next year: Paternal grandfather!

December 13, 2006

"Nazis. I hate Iranian Nazis."

International Conference to Review the Global Vision of the Holocaust - Wikipedia

Some Practical Advice

While enjoying the latest installment of Mack Brain, I was reminded of this passage from the book Sixguns by Elmer Keith (published in 1955):

"J. H. Fitzgerald told me of an incident he witnessed at the Chicago stock yards many years ago. A Negro cowpuncher had come east with a few car loads of steers from Colorado, and was standing by the heavy board fence looking inside at his charges. A cop came along, pulled a photograph from his pocket, made a brief comparison of it and the negro's back, then pulled a .30 caliber Luger and started started shooting the dusky cow-puncher in the back. Fitz said the big colored boy hooked one arm through the fence as he turned slowly around facing his adversary. When the Luger was empty the negro still hung onto the fence and then drew his 4 3/4 inch .45 single action Colt from his waist band and calmly asked, 'Are you through, white boy?' and shot the cop through the heart, killing him instantly. The Negro lived long enough to tell Fitz who he was and what ranch the cattle belonged to, and turn over his papers before he, too, took the long trail. A regrettable incident, due to an untrained and trigger happy officer jumping to conclusions.

"We can hardly avoid pointing out what a pip-squeak performance the Luger turned in. After the unfortunate negro had absorbed a magazine full of slugs, he not only lived long enough to kill the officer, but to untangle his business affairs."

December 12, 2006

A Fond Farewell

Dr. X posts this from Body Count Central:

"Jon Stewart for Nobel Prize. This is awesome."

Rebar for Tootsie Rolls: Shoot Me With a Kiss, Sugar Baby

I gaped into the black hole in the cold steel barrel of a 9mm Luger, its barrel a drain, a drain opening to fear and doom, like a 2AM call to an old lady’s plugged toilet in suburban Billings. But what grabbed me like two fingers up the nostrils was the look in the big brown eyes on the face of the angel that was ready to get me reacquainted with my maker: a look of betrayal, of rage, of anger, of revenge, of fear, of contempt, of determination, then a brief moment of whimsy and perhaps gas, then back to hatred, accusation and murderous intent, emotions that boiled red like vermillion borscht under a big blond cloud of hair so shining and turbulent it might have been the Turner sunset on my life.

Aethelgifu De Havilaand stood aiming that Kraut pea shooter. I’d been there in the office deep in thought and Portnoy's Problems gin, poring over the coroner’s report about the late, unlamented Hollywood sleazesack Billy Mars when she'd strutted in purposefully, sporting a tailored hunter green twill suit, matching pumps, a green brim hat with a broad black band, and an extra clip of 9mm, all of which set off her perfect fire engine lips. Her face was like marble, smooth and white as a golf club salesman, but one tear rolled down her cheek and gouged a black line from her mascara on her on face as she balanced the shooty tool in a white glove, her hand shaking slightly with tension, her eyes blinking in amazement that it was her own hand about to drill the only man she ever wanted with the steel bit of vengeance, the man known as Mack Brain, the very me himself, who'd burst through the hard candy shell of her heart by licking it enough to finally crunch through to the cherry nougat of love.

I still held the photo of Sparky Kriestenheimer leaving the ferry with what looked like a gun in his pocket, a fine, worthless reminder that I should have had a gun in my pocket. An image rattled in my head like a bee trapped in a gumball dispenser: a gloved, tapered finger pulling that metal hook and a little hunk of lead waiting patiently in the chamber to explode forward by the fall of the hammer's blow and a nickel's worth of saltpeter, sulfur and carbon, and how very little wool would slow it down, worsted or not. The only thing between me and that cold, indifferent bullet and a manila death in an office partition was the emotional state of a girl so stunning passing doves tended to smack into utility poles. And before either of us said anything I got the feeling she was about to floss me right out of the teeth of life.

One muffed word, and it was case closed. They'd hang an estate sale sign on my office: 3 bucks for a typewriter, a buck for a ratty old couch with unusual stains, a three sheaf stack of unsolved investigations, 3 cents each, and a Monkey Wards suit with a small hole over the heart needing a Latvian tailor. Three months bach rent would never get paid. A case of Guatemalan scotch would never be drunk, at least not by me. A hundred two-bit insurance scams would go awry. Twenty or thirty Kraut schemes would get on unmolested, putting the wax polish on the defeat of freedom. A soon-to-be divorcee in Emeryville would never get the snaps of her husband in bed with an infamous Chinatown entertainer simply known as “Sheleila Wu” and three or four curious and illegal electrical devices.

The silence was thicker than pea and concrete soup. I could smell her there, her scent like baby bunnies prancing through a field of fireweed, which for her was the smell of fear. Sutter street below was odd, quiet. No streetcars, swells, or streetsweepers or streetwalkers or street brokers or street mimes, at least none who were making any racket. Twilight turned deep night-blue, like the evening's valet had suggested something more formal. The wallpaper continued to be beige and overwrought. Somewhere, a chicken clucked.

Aethelgifu suddenly looked cold, dangerous and out of place, like a tiger sizing up a baby elephant seal. But even now, she was hotter than habenero pie.

"Don't move anything, Mack. Nothing. Especially not that. I don't want to kill you. Not till I'm ready."

"Baby, I apologize." I said.

"For what?" she asked.

"That was a shot in the dark," I said. "Bad choice of words. What'd I do?"

"I can't trust no-one," she said, girlishly, a little distracted, brushing her hair back with the barrel.

"You're gonna shoot everyone you can't trust? Is there free ammo now with every bottle of peroxide?"

"You can shut up, smart guy!" She said, and waved the pistol femininely and threateningly, like a silk hanky of death. She put another silk-gloved hand silkily around the wooden grip.

I looked at her face. Worse last sights than Aethelgifu in a fit of homicidal humors.

"You’re not a Nazi, are you, Aethelgifu?"

"And you're NOT!?"she yelled, with a clap of fresh rage. She lined up the gun on my face, her pupil bisected by raised sights, her head tilted, a bead of sweat rolling down her cheek and right past a perfect lower lip, another tear starting, mascara running, and her long blond locks falling over her other eye. "Pastely got you to set me up! I’m… you...."

I'm not proud of what I did next.

It wasn't a sudden, cat-like move that started with me leaping over the desk and ended with Aethgifu swooning in my arms, the Luger dropping on the floor with a thud; it wasn't a remark so clever and endearing, like "Shoot me with a Kiss, Sugar Baby," that a smile crept across her face and she ran to me, crying and begging forgiveness till she fell listless into my arms and we kissed sweeter and harder and steamier than two freight locomotives with a trainload of caramel colliding on the licorice tracks to the Big Rock Candy Mountain; it wasn't something darker, like taking the .32 I never carried in my shoe and gunning her down lovingly from under the desk, the light of her eyes winking out poignantly in sepia tones from under the cheesecloth over the lens.

What I actually did was faint. I wish I could say that I meant to faint, as a clever ruse, but no, maybe it was too much coffee and Mummanschnaaps on an empty stomach, but more likely it was old-fashioned cowering-type, scardey-baby fear- I blacked out and fell over like a Western Cedar with the vapors.


Before I opened my eyes I recognized the all-too familiar engines of a Dornier flying boat, droning on like Gobbels about a Little Rascals movie, winds whipping its ugly metal face. I had a headache like angry Scotsmen were using 4 lb sledges to adjust a newspaper press in my skull. I woke to see Aethelgifu tied up, gagged, facing me on the other bench, eyes as wide as Kate Smith on seeing five bowls pudding after a three hour fast, pleading with her parenthetical eyebrows, shaking her head. I was tied too, hands in front, already sick to my stomach as the Kraut plane pitched and plunged and yawed through heavy rain and pre-dawn darkness, somewhere unpleasant over somewhere else horrible.

It was a situation I preferred to being dead, but only just. How in Zombie Jesus did the Nazis keep getting me? I may be as slippery as an eel playing power forward for the Oilers, but the Huns are as persistent as a Fuller Brush man, except with Panzer divisions. Dastardly bastards. If I could just get the ropes free. But I was safe from Aethelgifu’s murderous tempest: I'd gone from the spoon back into the soup, from the fork back into the frying pan, from Curtains to window treatments.

A man inched up through the cabin. Of course: Pastley Marstonbury, Aethelgifu's war-profiteering employer, with all the charisma of last Thursday's legume loaf, escorted by his tubby little spy-pal, Sparky Kriestenheimer. They groped along lines in the open cargo bay, trying to keep balance. Marstonbury drew himself up like the caricature artist at the state fair doing a bad picture of himself and scaring off the customers.

"You may be wondering why you're still alive," said Pastely.

He leveled a revolver at me, trying to look tough. The tall, overweight, shoulderless wonder, dressed in white linen: it was like being threatened by a bowling pin. "You can thank my wife Jenny for that - she pleaded for your life. We stumbled on your little domestic spat just while we were deciding whether to kill you. So, Congratulations. You've been promoted from corpse to the next pop-quiz at Torture Middle School. "

Jenny. She'd saved my life for the fourth time, and all I'd gotten for her was a two-for one coupon for Morphine at the Owl pharmacy.

And now Pastely tickled Aethelgifu's chin with the very Luger she'd held so describably against me. A rage grew in me, a rage like never before, a rage big and angry and off-beet colored and it started to leak out of my ears and spill on my last clean shirt, and you never get that kind of rage out, not with bleach and an army of tired, diminutive Lativian house maids. That bastard was touching her. Pastley looked about as threatening as a narcoleptic hamster, but he had a gun, and a gun changes a chump to a dangerous chump faster than you can say Fatty Arbuckle. Aethelgifu turned away from him, glancing at me as if to say:

"Mack, Dear, I'm awfully sorry about all that about to shoot you business. Clearly, I was misled by Mr. Marstonbury here, who had convinced me you were a Nazi spy, when, on present evidence it can really only by deduced that he was the spy all along. What a perfect silly I am! If we ever get out of the alive, I promise I'll make it all worth your while with some special lady tips I picked up from the Raj's daughter in-law-...."

"ENOUGH!," said a German commander, slapping her and silencing the already silent silence, a tall, gaunt man with a demeanor like he was perpetually waiting for replacement upholstery for a '28 Buick.

"Where are...we? " I looked outside through a small greasy window...a dilapidated coastal town, grey and white buildings, apparently devoid of life, a few orange groves and palms.....occupied Africa?

Sparky sparked up. "Your beloved San Jose, Dr. Brain!"

"San Jose is not beloved," I countered.

"We have been planning precisely this for many months. Soon, the entire Bay Area will be under the Furher's control, part of the glorious new Reich!" Sparky snapped his heels and stumbled slightly as the Dornier lurched, landing moistly into San Francisco Bay, from where it had probably taken off a few minutes ago.

"You been eating Crazy Pie!”

"Your mockery, already superfluous, will soon be even more especially superfluous!" It wasn't the best threat, but to be fair to the Nazis, they threaten people all day, pushing around little girls and insulting old women and terrifying milk farmers and getting families to turn each other in and stabbing meter maids and bullying ice skaters and shooting innocents by the van load in the back and sometimes they simply run out of material.

"Behold!" said Sparky, a little self-consciously.

The plane taxied up to a concrete ramp, a huge dark ship suddenly came into view in the early morning light, its bulk cutting out the sunrise. It sported deck houses fore and aft like a tanker, and flew a Texaco logo and a big Mexican flag, and, as if to emphasize the point, the ship was festooned here and there with colorful decorations and pinatas.

The enormous rusty Mexican ship heeled over like a hippopotamus with lumbago as she kept her engines at full, turned to starboard and power up to the flats just to the East of our flying boat. I got a glimpse of her stern: the Santa Angeles, out of...Mexico City. Something was very wrong. First of all, there was no tug, or dock - she was being driven up on the beach. Second, Mexican sailors - particularly deck officers - do not commonly wear sombreros.

We were taken off the plane; me, Aethelgifu, a couple of gopher faced guards, the officer with a cold, unrefreshing gun on my neck and Pastley and Sparky giggling like a couple of bobby-soxers. Bullies and sadists - the total bastard class throughout time. I was getting mad again. When I got half a chance I'd tear out their pancreases and play organball in the nearest squash court, or better still, send them through eighth grade again.

We watched as the ship, big as a skyscraper and twice as fast, ground heavily into the beach with a soft crunch and a huge, reverberating rattle. Someone hooked a heavy cable to a bulldozer to pull the ship as far in as it would go.

"… night nighty, Brain," said Kriestenheimer. And a blindfold went on.

As the lights went out it hit me. It was more than subterfuge. We were about to be invaded. That ship was about as Mexican as a ski chalet.

Kriestenheimer kept pushing me along with the gun, toward the ship.

What to do? Nothing was obvious, and something huge and horrible was happening, like a hot air balloon deflating on top of a kiddie pool. All I could think: Act, man, act, act faster than a Barrymore with an overdue bar tab!

Then I could hear us passing an throaty diesel engine , the bulldozer, just to my right. It was Aelthefigu that gave me the opening. She suddenly screamed out: “Earthquake!”

Actually there was no earthquake. But all the meticulous German briefings went over the possibility in some detail; unfortunately for them, they were ready for just this contingency, had a plan, and immediately dropped to the ground and covered their heads.

Or so I was told. But now there was a running bulldozer right here: I felt around and climbed on the tracks, feeling around with my fingers from under the ropes till I found the controls: it shuddered like an alcoholic belly dancer as I somehow got it moving with my hands on one lever and my teeth on the throttle.

The blindfold was tight and it was all dark and linen-ny but in a second I was going forward, sensing the downward slope of the muddy beach and kept moving, kept spinning around and driving that little bulldozer until I felt the crash and shudder as the blade smacked the iron of the ship, reversed, sort of, drove hard forward again - but the Krauts weren't shooting yet.

A second. A second to save San Jose. I had a feeling I’d regret this.

Crash and crash and crash again. Finally - a huge hole opened in the brittle old ironwork: my head snapped back - and with it the blindfold, and I plowed through the sand and water right through the ship's starboard bow, the iron side tearing open with a sound already horrible enough without the mariachi band playing on the fore-deck. And suddenly, out they started to spill, not oil at all, but four or five hundred fully-equipped German soldiers, a pinata of paratroops, a dozen or two fighting around the hole to get by the dozer blade to scramble to the beach, and I had a second or two with the blade blocking when they couldn't fire into me.

I drove forward again, trying to plug the hole in the ship like stuffing mice back down a drain with a hammer. A Luger piped up behind me, bullets ricocheting off the metal seat back- must be Kreistenheimer. Pastely was hiding somewhere, Aethelgifu was out of sight. I felt the moment and started to sing, sounding the Battle Hymn of the Republic to the heavens, the transmission grinding in tune like a hurlyburly, and I shoved the blade hard in the maw again and again, cramming in a couple three unlucky Heinie troops for tar and oakum. In the chaos a few sombreros floated down from the ship and settled on the shallows, the water growing pink.

Finally, the dozer blade was stuck fast in the hole. I’d managed to solve the problem I’d just created. But now I had to run back up the flats without getting shot, hands still tied, and stumbled up the beach, bullets whizzing around by now, and I managed to get behind a huge rusty old anchor, which looked like it dated back to 49er days, but was solid enough to spit back modern gunfire.

I let out just the sort of breath you take when you don't really have time to take a breath before something else really exciting happens.

Then from under a fluke, Aethelgifu popped up like a Jack-in-the-Box, except without a bra, and holding a knife, its blade dripping with blood. She turned her deep brown eyes on me, moist with feeling. I sat there, unmoving. That silk gloved hand suddenly thrust upwards, severing the rope around my hands, and we kissed, kissed like kissing fish under the Mistletoe, her body squishy and tight against me, her lips soft and warm, her knife dropping to the beach right next to Pastely’s ghastly body, which wouldn’t have spoiled the mood except for the full company of German soliders clambering up the ship’s ladders 20 yards away, sounding like a thousand tin cups being dropped into a scrap pile. No time for the better mushy stuff now, so I just squeezed her breasts affectionately and kissed her forehead and picked up the knife.

“Stay here, Smooshy-kins.” I whispered in her ear.
“You’re mussing my hair, Macky-Moo, but if you have to save San Jose, go ahead, Skooshy-Booshy face.” She said, fighting back tears, her hands on my lips.
“Binky-boo, I’m sorry I was so slow solving this case.”
“Oh Darling! And I’m so very sorry I thought you were a Nazi-watzi!

The long cable still tethering bulldozer and ship lay on the beach. An idea popped in my head.

“Baby-Waby, I need to get on that ship. Stay here and ….“ I gave her the plan. She looked up at me like a baby doe watching a car wreck. But it couldn’t be helped.

I ran now, ran like lighting and grabbed a sombrero and started swimming close in on the sea-side of the ship, the sombrero a perfect cover, drifting innocently and festively along the waterline to the rope ladder coming off the stern quarter, and began climbing just as the storm troopers were gathering to disembark on the shore-side of the tanker. I crested the side and swung onto the deck only to face the back of a guard. No time. I slammed the sombrero over his head and strangled him with the decorative tassels. He died quiet, and somewhat festive.

“Siesta in peace, Sea-Kraut,” I said.

The attention of the whole company was towards shore, and I was able to slip into the wheelhouse, grabbing the telegraph, pulling the lever and signaling the engine room for full reverse. The three deck officers came at me but they too where encumbered by their sombreros as I let the full force of my rage fly in a flurry of fists, beating the three Bosches down to the steel decks in a bloody heap. Then then ship shuddered heavily and the whole deck company fell into a chaotic pile of confused Krauts as the Santa Angeles backed at full power into the Bay again. Now I could only hide and hope that Aethelgifu got the rest of the plan in action.

She had. With the late Pastley’s burp gun on the remants of the Dornier’s crew, she forced them to drag the long loose cable connecting the bulldozer still sticking out from the hole in the bow, and the ship itself, and put the loop on the anchor as the ship steamed away at nearly 10 knots.

The cable tightened, and with a sound like a ten ton cork it snapped the bulldozer out of the hole like a drainplug. The bow opened to the sea as the ship still backed deeper in to the channel at full speed, and the Santa Angeles began to sink like the heart of whatever Republican it was that ran against Roosevelt in 1936, taking Hitler’s hopes of a dastardly sneak attack on the Bay Area into the deep.

Unfortunately, it was also taking me with her, but by this point the naval air base at Alameda woke up and a flight of Wildcats was coming to strafe the Dornier. And one of our own PBY Catalinas was coming for the Santa Angeles as she was sinking slowly, and just as the chilling waters of the Bay started lapping on my shoes and three hundred Krauts were heil-hitlering Davy Jones, the PBY landed near and sent out a rubber boat to rescue the one flat-foot, distinguishable from my total lack of swastika or sombrero.

Back in the office, the photos of the Billy Mars autopsy weren’t any more glamorous the second time. He was even dead by Hollywood standards. But the report was pretty conclusive: Mars was ventilated by a 9mm- almost certainly Sparky's. He'd got onto Kreistenheimer and Marstonbury when they tried to hire him to produce a post-Bay Area invasion propaganda film - California Über Alles - meant to pacify the new Bay Area Reichsland. Not only had he been stopped from paying me for the Errol Flynn affair, he'd been stopped from tipping me off about the whole surprise attack when he'd fallen dead off the ferry into the Bay, and he'd screwed his last talent.

I needed a drink and dragged my own butt to the Rusty Nail. I walked in that dank, overturned whaleship, smelled the century old tar, and saw a pile of angry grey laundry in a bow tie - Crumples, of course - who was about as happy to see me as if I was handing him the hospital bill for the consumption treatment for his three late daughters. He grumpily put ice in a mason jar - if that was possible - and filled it with a clear liquid of uncertain origin. He'd never poisoned me rapidly yet, and I drank a good draught which tasted something like off-market Bolivian Absynthe, but plywoodier.

Then a scent to my left: angels, pomegranates, a entirely different kind of fresh laundry, and a little bit of love-funk. I turned to see Aethelgifu, smiling, wearing a pink dress more tightly formed than a Prussian rifle drill team, and whole lot foofier.

"Shoot me with kiss, Sugar Baby?" I said.

And a bigger smile crept across her face. And then she pulled another gun.

(For your continued edification, the complete and ever incomplete Rebar for Tootsie Rolls is at

December 10, 2006

James Baker Does Not Support Our President

Dr. X posts this from the new and improved Palm Beach County elections office:

"It turns out some 'conservatives' don't like the Baker report. Richard Pearle, for example, calls it a 'monumental disappointment.' I'll pause to let that sink in.

"Now then.

"I have to wonder if Baker is regretting helping these dingbats get into power in the first place. I mean, where's the gratitude?"

The Bell Tolls for Thee

Dr. X posts this from Don Shula's champagne cellar:

"The Laird laments Dr. X's tendency to quote himself, but this is inevitable as I am so clever and observant. Take for instance, the IAYPA analysis of opening day quarterback performance which ran in this space in early September. In that note we pointed out that two men - Bledsoe and Plummer - had notably poor opening day performances and backups who looked notably good in preseason. Now both men are notably benched.

"We also noted the stellar opening day play of Rex Grossman, and contrasted it with his weak pre-season performance. Brian Griese, we observed, played awfully well in pre-season, and may have provided some motivation.

"The motivation has perhaps worn off. Grossman came out like the second coming of Johnny Unitas, so much so that John Madden likened him to Bret Favre.

"Yeah, well Madden like Daunte Culpepper, too. Grossman's IAYPAs, by game: 8.2, 10.7, 4.3, 7.5, 6.7 (this is about where Madden's comment was made - average so far: an elite-level 7.5), then -1.5, 8.7 (vs. SF), 1.4, 6.5, 5.4, 0.8, -6.1.

"The average since Madden's comment: 2.2.

"I know what you're going to ask: is he worse than Kyle Orton? Oh God no, not yet anyway. On the strength of those early performances, Grossman still has a season-to-date IAYPA of 4.3 going into the Monday night game. That's not terrible. Orton was 3.3 for the full year last year.

"Still, Brian Griese is warming up on the sidelines. The linked article has a scary quote from Grossman. 'I just am so confused why I do some of the things I do,' he says - 'what is making me do these things?' Um, dunno. Satan?

"Look for the quick hook Monday night."

Injury, Insult, Amusement

Dr. X posts this from the Empire Polo Club:

"Glad I missed that one - Seattle loses to Arizona? WTF?

"And then some poser breaks our guy's record.

"I'd be crying in my Pelligrino, but for the sheer pleasure of seeing Dallas and Indianapolis go down in flames. And the 49ers lost, too, so all Seattle has to do is win on Thursday. Yes, that's right, all Seattle has to do is win on Thursday.

"Holmgren! Make it so."

It's Damned Unfair!

Rep. Jack Kingston of Georgia has made it clear that he is put out by having to be at work five days a week, blasting the Democrat's anti-family agenda.

Here, he presses his case against having to be at work on Fox News.

I'm sorry, Congressman; does your pussy hurt?

December 09, 2006

Let's Settle This Once and For All -- NOW!

I propose a steel-cage death-match between these two nonagenarians:

Ertugrul Osman V
Otto Von Habsburg


Dr. X posts this from the server room in the basement at Widener:

"Enjoyable Fark thread about the early Internet days."

Those Were Mostly Trumped Up Charges

Dr. X posts this from the Arctic Roadrunner, over a nice order of onion rings:

"Rumors that some Steller alumnae have become violent cannibal rapists are untrue, mostly. It is well-known that we have the problem fairly-well under control, or at least reasonably contained within the 'beige zone'.

"Unavailable for comment:

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

"Let me just say this to 'Representative Thomas Anderson', if that is your real name. We presume you are innocent.

"However. If you are, in fact guilty, you will become the biggest asswipe to have ever passed through the halls of our alma mater.

"We wish you, your family, and your legal defense team the best. We look forward to either your complete exoneration, or else a formal abasement ceremony following your release.

"Should you choose to not perform the abasement ceremony, one will be performed for you, featuring a life-sized cutout of Roseanne Barr with your face pasted on it."

December 08, 2006

To the unindicted members of the Steller class of '82:

Our number has fallen by none.

[Edit: do I mean the class of '84, or does the paper have his age wrong? Who has a yearbook?]

[Update: to the best of my knowledge, no member of the Steller classes of '82, '79, or '85 has been indicted or arrested for anything. I've corrected the posting.]

Next: Robot Drama Majors

Suave Robots Mix Cocktails in Vienna - Yahoo! News: "Wurzer's favorites from years past include a robot that scrounged drinks from passers-by, and one that offered to light visitors' cigarettes but ending up smoking them itself."

December 07, 2006

Annus Horribilus Quarterbackus

Dr. X posts this from the NFL Institute for Non-Parametric Evaluation of Quarterback Performance:

"Here is a list of quarterbacks who are 1) still in their starting job and 2) are above the NFL IAYPA average of 5.4 yards:

"Peyton Manning (7.2)
"Drew Brees (7.1)
"Carson Palmer (7.0)
"Philip Rivers (6.4)
"Marc Bulger (6.4)
"Tom Brady (5.6)

"That's it. I doubt if there's ever been a year where more quarterbacks got knocked out of their jobs. McNabb (7.4) was leading before he got knocked out. Romo (7.2) is off to a white-hot start, and already has a lot of attempts."

December 04, 2006

No Medal For You

Dr. X posts this from the War College of Amsterdam:

"The Dutch are planning to give an insignia to their troops who served at Srebrenica. This has been criticized, but it can take its place with other insignia of honor, such as the "Merde! nous sommes entourés!" plaques issued to Dien Bien Phu survivors, the Alfred E. Neuman buttons given to Bay of Pigs veterans, and the helicopter-illustrated whoopie cushions given to participants in Operation Honey Badger.

"Seriously, this was a military cluster-fuck of amazing proportions by modern western standards (although it is not in the top 1000 all-time, as every single one of those is from the Eastern Front in WWII).

"You know why we don't taunt weak NFL defenses by calling them 'Dutch Peacekeepers'? Because it's too insulting."

The Internet is Cool

Dr. X posts this from the comfort of his living room:

"Have you every thought about writing a big essay for the blog, and then discovered The New York Times had already written it? Cool."

December 03, 2006


Dr. X posts this from the hot tub in his 30-room bullet-riddled mansion:

"Weird. Just sitting here, I was wondering to myself - is there a history somewhere of the Miami drug trade?

"Yes, yes there is. A new documentary, 'Cocaine Cowboys' is coming out, well, right now. (A big pdf of another good article is here.)

"The thing about Scarface and Miami Vice is - they really weren't exaggerating. Miami was fucking crazy. This Calvin Trillin piece celebrates Edna Buchanan, the Pulitzer Prize-winning correspondent who documented much of the madness for The Miami Herald. I read Buchanan's first book many years ago, and it is a masterpiece.

"The SFStation piece about 'Cocaine Cowboys' says: 'Jon Pernell Roberts who provides a plethora of interviews throughout Cocaine Cowboys reveals just how lucrative the cocaine trade was with accounts of burying large bags of money in his backyard because there was nowhere else to put it...'

"Makes you wonder how much is still out there, buried in backyards by guys getting on their last flight to Medellin."

Steve Martin, Educator

Dr X. posts this from the media lab at Google, where bright young things puzzle over how to make that little Youtube box compatible with that big Google Video box:

"My kid asked me what a mummy is.

"I played him 'King Tut'.

"In case you missed it, here is what Steve Martin had to say about it in 2004."

A Fine Send-Off

Dr. X posts this from CSETI's secret installation at Amici's in Mountain View:

"Reading Saucer Smear is a little sadder experience these days, as many veteran UFO investigators are dying off, having never found the proof they sought so diligently.

"But the faithful remain faithful, and it heartened me to read this letter from one of their longtime readers:

" '...Too bad about your late contributing editor, dear old Karl (Pflock). He was a fun fellow and a good ufologist. He will be missed. Did he tell you about the Confidential UFO Project he had been working on for several years, sworn to secrecy, and that has now been left unfinished, possibly forever, upon his death?'

"That brought a tear to my eye.

"So here is an idea for a movie: a group of UFO and paranormal researchers have known each other for many years. They frequent the same conventions and trade shows, they review each others' books in each others' newsletters, and generally scratch out a living from the racket. They're hacks, and they've made their peace with that.

"Then one day, the Dean of the group, a genial old skeptic, is talking with a younger researcher. The kid has come up with something odd and interesting involving the Air Force and a secret report. He plays a tape from the 1950s - radio transmissions from a fighter jet that disappeared. Sure sounds like it ran into something hard to explain. They part, promising to stay in touch.

"A few weeks later, the Dean learns the young man has died in a car crash. Drunk driving, the report says. But the kid didn't drink. And he notices that someone is following him..."

December 02, 2006

War: A Summary

I post here a recent note from a cousin, a daughter of my uncle Duane. You will recall he was crippled by a fighter attack while serving as a navigator in B-17 raid over Norway in 1943.

"When I was growing up my Dad would have nightmares and we would here him yell out. I always thought that he was re-living when he got hurt. However, years later I found out that he was yelling for the people on the ground who would be killed.

I don't think that people ever get over war."

December 01, 2006

Just to Bring You Up to Date

Dr. X posts this from the Exotic Poisons Resource Center, which is not affiliated with any organization, in Langley, Virginia.

"Just to bring you up to date:
"And you know who's mad as hell about this? Putin.

"So shut up, unless you want some."