Tuesday, August 31, 2004


THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST is out on DVD, and I’ve been lining up all week avoiding it. Oh, I’m sure it’s worth seeing, but I’m afraid that Mr. Gibson’s ghoulish vision might drive the image of Jeffrey Hunter from my brain. Yes, whenever I think of Jesus I see Jeffrey Hunter. (With Rip Torn as Judas, of course.)

The film was called KING OF KINGS. The year? 1961. It was directed by Nicholas Ray, of all people, who also directed REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE. Not to mention JOHNNY GUITAR and IN A LONELY PLACE.

Of course, I never got to see Jeffrey Hunter beaten to a bloody pulp by Roman soldiers, more’s the pity.

Mel Gibson missed the boat. In his harebrained pursuit of accuracy (whatever that means, beyond actors speaking in Latin and Aramaic), he forgot the fact that he was making a movie. He should have had some time-traveling future hero come back to the past and give Jesus an AK-47. Take that, Caiaphas! Eat lead, Pilate. Herod? You’re going down.

This just in from Michelle ZYR69143 from Yahoo (as is, typos and all):

“not sure if you got this message before since my Outlook crashed :/
i'm feeling very lonely lately, even though i'm a fun person and not that bad lookin :/ feels like I will never find what I'm looking for in life, does it ever happend to you ? my roomate Nikki is trying to cheer me up by asking me to go to the club with her, but I feel like staying home today because I've been there so many times and it's not as fun anymore. If you feel like chatting with me come to my page:”

And it was signed, “kisses, pam ;X”

So who is she? Michelle or Pam? And why would I want to chat with a semi-literate morose dual personality who can’t even bestir herself to go clubbing with Nikki? Tell you what, if Nikki asked ME to go clubbing with her, I would be there in a New York minute.

Just asking.

1. True
2. Nicky Hopkins

Monday, August 30, 2004

I am not on steroids, okay? Just coffee.

Still slogging through books and boxes. My wife’s stuff has arrived after two years in storage, and Amy has a lot of stuff - great stuff, mind you, but a lot of it (including 3,000-plus books). One of the treasured objects I found was an instruction pamphlet for an electric typewriter, written in Italian. How did Amy get this? Why does she still have it? I did not ask, in the interest of perhaps having sex later.

In today’s Wall Street Journal, I learned that a branding consultant group and a market research company have combined forces to conduct a survey, asking respondents “to define the candidates in terms of popular advertising brands.” Thus, President Bush becomes Bud Light and Senator Kerry becomes Heineken. It’s magical, really.

One could describe this survey as – well, a number of terms come to mind. Inane. Stupid. Insipid.

But on second thought, the survey might be on to something. It just doesn’t go low enough.

Immersed as I am in garage sale/crap/stuff mode, I thought it might be instructive to define the candidates in terms of things we already have cluttering up the joint and we’re trying to get rid of. I mean who has the time or money to shop?


Bush is burned white toast, Kerry is a stale muffin.

Bush is an eight track, Kerry is a cassette.

Bush is a deck of cards with extra jokers, Kerry a broken deck, nothing but hearts.

Bush is a partially deflated football, Kerry a hacky sack.

Bush is a thousand piece jigsaw puzzle of your favorite Disney characters, many pieces missing; Kerry is a Magic Eight Ball.

Bush is Balderdash, Kerry is Trivial Pursuit.

Bush is the Billy Blanks Tae Bo workout tape, Kerry is the Jane Fonda workout tape.

Bush is a faded Metallica tee-shirt; Kerry is a Lands End polo.

Bush is blues jeans, Kerry khaki.

Bush is a rusty screw driver, Kerry is an eyeglass repair kit.

Bush is a bent can opener, Kerry is a blender missing the blade.

Bush is a gravy-stained bolo tie, Kerry a bow tie that’s lost its clasp.

Bush is a stuffed animal missing an eye, Kerry a Barbie missing one leg.

Bush is a single stick of sugar free gum, Kerry is a breath mint, covered in lint.

Which is the bread machine, which is the treadmill, which is the half-melted candle, which the empty picture frame, which the souvenir pamphlet from Wisconsin Dells, which the bag of broken toys from McDonald’s Happy Meals?

Only time will tell, my friends, and your vote, or course.

I’ve decided it’s time for quizzes. Those of you familiar with the rich tapestry of Duck lore, by golly, this is your opportunity to win…. well, that part will come later.

(1) Duck’s Breath Mystery Theatre was the group that opened for the Ramones when they first played San Francisco. True or false?

(2) Duck’s Breath opened for a once-well known pop singer, closing our set with our signature sketch, “More Than a Box.” At its conclusion, one of this singers’ back up musicians, wandering by us on his way to the stage, said, “It’s all in the box then, innit?”

Who was this musician?

a. Nicky Hopkins.
b. Levon Helm.
c. Billy Preston.
d. Leon Russell.

More later….

Friday, August 27, 2004

For your next barbecue, try revenge! Sweet!

Vengeance is mine, sayeth the bored.
The University of Zurich, in the current edition of the journal Science, claim (according to the Associated Press) that “[p]lanning revenge sparks enough satisfaction to motivate getting even.” Researchers used PET scans to monitor people’s brain activity during an elaborate game of double cross to find out what motivates people to punish perceived wrongdoers, even if the revenge does not bring them personal benefit, and may even cost them something.

In the game, players could choose to trust each other and share money, or could double cross another and take more than their share. Some double crosses could be chosen, others mandated by the rules of the game. When the double cross was deliberate, the double crossed chose to punish the double crosser, even when it cost them more money. Without exception.

The PET scans showed that the dorsal stratum (a part of the brain important, apparently, for satisfaction) became active among players who chose to retaliate. According to the AP, “It wasn’t an afterglow from revenge, but satisfaction from anticipating it.”

Stanford University psychologist Brian Knutson, reviewing the research, “Instead of cold, calculated reason, it is passion that may plant the seeds of revenge.”

Stop the, you know, presses.

Or I’ll kill you.

Til Death Do Us Part, Not
A South African man (sez Reuters) killed his pregnant fiancee, and then (as they say) “turned the gun on himself.” Nevertheless, they were wed.

“Johannesburg's Sowetan newspaper said family and friends wanted to remember them as a happy couple destined for a happy life together. The groom's corpse would be dressed in a cream suit and his bride's in a gown for the ceremony, at which a priest in the rural village of Ceres in Limpopo will bless the union before the two are buried.”

Cultural expert Mathole Motshekga expounded, “"In African culture, there is no death -- there is merely the separation of body and soul. …This does not mean the relationship has irretrievably broken down."

It’s nice to know that a mere murder/suicide, unlike personal hygiene or religious differenences, doesn’t interfere with the course of true love. At least not in South Africa.

DVD Tales
I spent the day doing a commentary ON a commentary by Tony Shalhoub, Brooke Adams, and sister Lynne Adams, the producing/writing/acting team behind the new independent feature MADE UP (which should be available by Christmas at a video store near you). It's a good movie. Very funny grown-up movie.

The guy distributing this movie, Len Feldman, MAY also be distributing the Duck’s Breath DVD, knock on wood. One doesn’t want to put anything in stone, not when lawyers lurk.

Still, I was gratified to be part of a DVD first - commenting on commentary. You know when you put two mirrors opposite each other, and the objects reflect each other until they’re lost in the mists of infinity? It’s JUST like that. Only audio.

Miss America
In late July, I’ve just found out, it was announced that the Miss America Pageant will no longer feature a talent competition. What? No more bad arias? Baton twirling? Recitations? First they canned Bert Parks, now this. Life sucks. Come, let us take our revenge upon them!

Unfortunate words, X in a series

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Vote early, vote often.

Stop the presses!
AP headline: “GOP Delegates Met With Anti-Bush Signs”

Rockin’ around NYC
Republicans will be milling through the streets of Manhattan next week, blue suits and red neckties clashing with the tattooed baristas in their Skechers.

What does a DC wonk who normally goes to bed at nine o’clock do in the city that never sleeps? It is a quandary. Not much number crunching goes on in the clubs, I can tell you that. Somehow I can’t see them lining up to see BOY FROM OZ, lingering over a mojito, or leafing through Cargo to see what the metrosexuals are wearing. I may lose sleep over this.

Americans big stupidheads, says top Canadian.
Carolyn Parrish, a Canadian Member of Parliament, called us “bastards” last year, because of our aggressive yet vague foreign policy. Forced to apologize for her intemperate remarks, last Wednesday she told a group of demonstrators, in regards to the planned U.S. missile defense system, "We are not joining the coalition of the idiots. We are joining the coalition of the wise.”

Confronted by Reuters, a few hours later, at first she begged them not to use the quote, but then seemed to warm to the subject, saying, "They tortured people in Iraq, they (the Iraqis) have no weapons of mass destruction. Could somebody explain to me whether you think they're idiots or geniuses?"

You may recall that spokeswoman for former Prime Minister Jean Chretien, Francoise Ducros, resigned in 2002 after calling President Bush a moron, eh?

Round at the ends and hi in the middle
Susan Sarandon, Martin Sheen, Julianna Margulies, Chad Lowe, Fisher Stevens and Andy Borowitz were among the celebrities who descended upon Ohio this August to register voters (and unseat President Bush).
If I were a Buckeye, I’d register in a heartbeat, if only for the faint chance I might get to meet Chad Lowe.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Tuesday, Welded

Oy Voy
There’s a new computer virus, the Rbot-GR, that not only installs itself on your machine, but also takes over your webcam and microphone, should you have them. Who knows? Footage of you scratching yourself in the morning may show up in some newsgroup or other. Privacy is so over. Get used to it.

Al Dvorin Has, Oh, You Know…
The concert announcer who gave the world “Elvis has left the building” was 81.

So Is God A Funny Lesbian Or An Old Vaudevillian?
For some reason, Hollywood is re-making OH GOD, the dreadful movie from 1977, which starred John Denver (!), with George Burns as God. Some of you may have seen it, and erased the experience from your mind.
This time around, Ellen DeGeneres will be God. Neither Mr. Burns nor Ms. DeGeneres seem capable of smiting, in my opinion.

So Why Don’t You Marry Halliburton If You Love It So Much?
Dick Cheney, speaking at a campaign rally in Davenport, Iowa, when asked about gay marriage, said, ``Lynne and I have a gay daughter, so it's an issue our family is very familiar with…. With respect to the question of relationships, my general view is freedom means freedom for everyone ... People ought to be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to.”

That’s So Gay
Russell Crowe, at a post-wrap of THE CINDERELLA STORY round of drinking in Toronto, bit his bodyguard in the ear when he (Mark “Spud” Carroll) suggested it might be time to call it a night.

Duck News
Jim Turner has his first read through this week for BEWITCHED, the major motion picture starring Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell. Turner will be playing someone in the movie, someone really important. Not as important as Will Ferrell's and Nicole Kidman's characters, but still-- who are YOU playing? Nobody, that's who. So shut up. Just shut up. I am SO tired of your attitude.

Monday, August 23, 2004

That's the sound of a man, working on a cell phone.

Senator Bob Dole has weighed in on the Swift Boat controversy, declaring that John Kerry’s wounds were “superficial,” implying that HIS wounds were real war wounds, by golly, not wimpy little scratches obtained in Viet Nam. Could that even be considered a war?

It strikes me that this kind of one-up-manship is a little unseemly, but then again, the closest I ever came to a war wound was a blister incurred when I used my draft card to sift seeds from my marijuana stash.

Contrary to what you might think from my little joke above, I wasn’t much of a party animal in the sixties. I was too busy studying and being earnest.

I never liked big concerts much. Standing upright for hours, squeezed in by young men my age reeking of patchouli oil, stoned out of my mind, listening to some endless drum solo, or ear-splitting squealing guitar – well, I came to conclude that it just was not my idea of a good time.

Later on, concerts became more sedate, as Laurel Canyon mellow chic supplanted wild-eyed roaring psychedelia. It became the practice, if one approved of a performance, to wave a lit lighter or match in the air. OF course, back then, everybody smoked SOMETHING, so the gesture had an impact.

I thought of this defunct practice recently.

I had been invited to attend a performance by Dan Aykroyd and Jim Belushi, who were performing locally (San Francisco) at some industrial function. (I work for Dan Aykroyd, kind of. Currently, I write the scripts for House of Blues Radio Hour, a syndicated weekly radio program, of which Mr. Aykroyd, in the guise of Elwood Blues, is the host.)

I couldn’t make the show, but speaking later with one of the attendees (a producer of the House of Blues Radio Hour),he told me that the corporate types attending the event all had newfangled cell phone/digital camera combos. At crucial moments, they would all raise their cell phones aloft, and snap pictures. I don’t suppose they weaved back and forth dreamily as they did this. I didn’t ask.

What a difference half a generation makes. Today, nobody smokes, but we all have digital devices that can record everything that ever happens to us, to be dumped on a hard drive, and then forgotten.

You can buy snippets of pop songs to use as your cell phone ring. (As a matter of fact, the record industry, of course, is now trying to get a piece of that action.) Well, the next time your favorite group comes to your area, get all your friends together, and program your phones to play the chorus of their smash hit. Then, when you go to the concert, and the band plays their smash hit, and the chorus comes around, call each other on the phone! And don’t answer! That would be cool! It would be like singing along, only you don’t have to do anything!

On Friday, goes the plan, I will record an Ian Shoales commentary to run over the end credits of the DVD. I will have to walk a thin line between heartless sarcasm and relentless self-promotion, but do not worry. It is a line I have walked many times before.

Does marijuana even have seeds any more?

Sunday, August 22, 2004


From Reuters: “At least $8.8 billion in Iraqi funds that was given to Iraqi ministries by the former U.S.-led authority there cannot be accounted for, according to a draft U.S. audit set for release soon.”

Maybe auditors should check the pockets before they put pants in the washer.

Is anyone buying?

…has made a movie about lesbians! Dude!

I gather from the reviews that it is accurate in every way to the lesbian lifestyle – at least the lifestyle of those lesbians with baby fever who just can’t get enough sex with men.

Why is it when you go after the President, it’s called “Bush-bashing?” Isn’t that sexist, or something?

From the Weekly World News: “Clinton has kept an Olsen twins scrapbook for years, has every TV show and movie they've done on video, and even has a secret shrine to them in his Harlem office, according to his friend. . . . How the Olsens will respond to Clinton's overtures is anybody's guess, but if the past is any indication, few women have been able to resist the Clinton charisma."

Why isn’t the New York Times all over this story?

I keep getting spam from some outfit called the Christian Dating Service. Do Christians need help in dating? Some kind of divine intervention?

Bill, our producer, was gone for a week on a foray to Utah and Nevada with his wife, Margaret, looking for sites of great beauty and alleged Mormon atrocities.

Waiting for feedback, via the miracle of e-mail, on rough cut from the Ducks, and production will resume.

Republicans in the Senate recommended dismantling the CIA over the weekend, perhaps to replace it with an organization a little more responsive to the whims of Republicans.

The Associated Press ran a story over the weekend about lobsters, the decline in the east coast population of which is baffling experts.

But the Associated Press also ran a story about a 105 lb. woman who just won a lobster-eating contest in Maine, scarfing down 38 lobsters in 12 minutes.

Well, there’s your problem right there, experts – anorexic women with a crustacean fetish. Keep them out of Maine, and things should get back to normal.

And Spike Lee, there’s your next movie, on a platter, with butter.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004


I read a book review on Salon.com of Washington Post reporter Jonathan Randal’s new biography of Bin Laden, OSAMA: THE MAKING OF A TERRORIST.

Laura Miller’s review contained this:

“Randal finds an old soccer buddy of bin Laden's who recalls being gently if persistently urged by Osama to attend mosque and make daily prayers more regularly. Bin Laden would stage quiz competitions among his teammates with questions on the Koran and sharia (Islamic law), but would distribute the cakes he had brought to the losers as well as to the rest.”

Doesn’t this sound like a Reality Television/game show in the making? Well, we wouldn’t do Islamic law, of course, but Bible lore, baseball stats, movie trivia…. And all you’d have to give as prizes is cakes! If we could get Osama to host, man, we’d be sitting pretty.

According to the European Environment Agency (Reuters reports) cold winters in Europe could disappear by the year 2080, thanks to global warming.

This will put a serious crimp in the St. Bernard-with-cask-of-brandy-around-neck-avalanche-rescue service industry.

Paris Hilton’s little doggy (“Tinkerbell”) has been found. Oh, and Nickie (Nicky? Nicki?) got married.

Muqtada al-Sadr accepted a peace plan Wednesda evening. He and his militia will disarm and leave their Shiite shrine hideout.

Gunfire, however, continued (according to the Associated Press) after the deal was announced.

Still coming.

It is alleged now that the vacationing guy in Australia who bought a suitcase at a flea market, which contained a trove of Beatles memorabilia, including unreleased recordings, may have been a con man. The contents of the suitcase consists mainly, apparently, of poorly scanned photographs of copies of orginaal material.

But here’s my question:

Does a trove always contain treasure? Do some troves contain, I dunno, garbage, cats, pencils? What exactly is a trove?

Lanky socialite.
Radical cleric.

Panamanian strongman.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Tuesday, Bloody Tuesday

I'm a little worried about Britney. Do you think she's all right? Ditto the Olsen twins.

President Bush announced something!
We are going to re-disperse troops, bringing military back from Korea, Germany, etc. to make them better able to travel to Korea, Germany, etc. in the future. I love America!

We have oodles of experience at re-dispersing, and are especially good at being in one place when needed somewhere else. Can we be consultants?

A seventy-something guy with long hair and beard, wearing a tartan-free spotless white kilt, and a pink tee-shirt, on which was written, "Security Monitor," in white embossed lettering.

Would you rather have a nervous 18-year-old in uniform with a loaded semi-automatic weapon monitoring your security, or the gentleman just mentioned?

Frankly, I'm at sixes and sevens.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Gar Bahj

The governor of New Mexico, Bill Richardson, has written a foreword to a new book, "The Rosswell Dig Diaries," published in a collaboration between the SciFi Channel and Pocket Books, owned by Simon & Schuster, which is owned by Viacom, which owns the SciFi Channel. And this log-rolling conglomerate seems determined to re-ignite interest in aliens, even though "The X-Files" went off the air a while ago, and really really sucked during its last season.

Apparently Gov. Richardson wants the government to re-examine the Rosswell "controversy," which, as you may or may not know, involves a downed flying saucer (more, some say), and dead alien(s). The governor, a Democrat, is joined in his plea by the executive director of the Republican Party, who told the San Francisco Chronicle that he suspects the crashed object (s)of 1947 was "something more than a weather balloon."

It's so heartening when Republicans and Democrats can agree on something.

Spent the day unsuccessfully trying to recycle a bunch of beer and soda bottles left over from the Duck's Breath rehearsal process. All the recycling centers I found were closed. In San Francisco! It's a scandal. I dumped them curbside in an area swarming with homeless people.

In the Chronicle feature about Gov. Richardson's musings ("The American public can handle the truth - no matter how bizarre or mundane...."), Philip J. Klass was quoted. As a longtime flying saucer buff, I was heartened to see his name again. He's been a thorn in the side of ufologists since the fifties, a kind of professional debunker and skeptic. He told the Chron: "After more than a third of a century of research, I have found no credible evidence of extraterrestrial visitors."

He brings the same zeal to flying saucer debunking that flying saucer believers bring to their belief. He's kind of a zealous anti-zealot.

Which, come to think of it, is the tone I take away from most blogs.

We were doing a show at some junior college in Oregon, oh god, twenty years ago or so. The kid in charge of the theatre had apparently forgotten there was going to be a show that night, and had locked up the light booth, forcing us to perform under house lights.

The show was free, and the junior college catered mainly to young Samoan males, for reasons I can't quite recall, but related to football scholarships. Samoans are very large people.

Samoans kept wandering in and out of the show, talking loudly with each other, and their girlfriends. Onstage, we became furious and disgruntled.

After the show, as we were packing up, the promoter, a very chipper young lady, as most college promoters seemed to be, kept telling us how great the show went.

Great? They talked all the way through it. The lighting sucked. Nobody was paying attention.

No, she insisted, it went wonderfully well. The last time the school had booked a comedy group, it seems, the Samoans had beaten them up in the parking lot.

Rave in New York Times? Not getting beaten up by Samoans? Yes, in my mind, the two are still equivalent.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Sale in Garage 2

My friends Dave and Mimi, Joshua Brody, and my wife Amy gathered together today for the sacred sacrament we call the garage sale. Much crap was unloaded on others in exchange for small amounts of money. Came away about 250 bucks to the good, I would say. Not bad.

Annoyances: the 60-something Russian lady who only wanted to pay four bucks for the blender (I asked for five), and wanted me to plug it in to see if it worked, then saying, "Giff me bag," when the deal was concluded. All requests were reasonable of course, but her attitude bothered me. This is why I'm not in retail.

It is fun, but strangely exhausting hanging out on the sidewalk for eight hours with my friends, nickel and diming our way to the successful conclusion of a business day (well, it was more quartering and dollaring our way, this being the 21st C).

Weirdness: the 70-something Chinese man who examined a weird little turtle-shaped candle holder (capacity: one thin birthday candle), on sale for a quarter, for at least ten minutes, before setting it down and walking away. He looked at nothing else. I have no idea where that candle-holder came from in the first place. A good third of the stuff I was trying to sell I HAD NO IDEA of its provenance.

Wonderful moment: An hour after the sale was over, the doorbell rang. Two breathless boys stood there, having read on one of my fliers that I had gaming systems for sale, and hoping against hope that I would still be willing to part with them. I had and would. Nintendo and Playstation (not the latest incarnations), theirs for twenty bucks. With six Nintendo games (Playstation games having been snapped up earlier, at a buck apiece- I tell you folks, I priced stuff to move).

They said they would pay, and ran back to their house, three blocks west, and ran back, showing up breathless and excited, with two ten dollar bills. I gave them the grocery bags full of goods, and felt great about capitalism, or at least the low end of it. I always love getting stuff to people who might get a kick out of it.

I saw the rough cut of the Ducks DVD. The Ian Shoales bit was cut (I'm Ian Shoales by the way), which was fine. It was a weak element, to be honest, performed hesitantly, and not quite fitting with the rest of the show. I could have done better, but time was short, and I will reserve my (erm, Ian's) best for the DVD commentary, which I can actually write, and read at a pace accustomed to me.. Memorizing Ians is a pain. Ian talks too fast. (See ianshoales.com, should you desire more.)

But damn. We sure are funny. After thirty years, you'd think I'd be jaded. Well, I am, but I still think we are really goddam funny, and deserved more than what we got. (Our personal dysfunctions had nothing to do with our lack of success! It was all Bush!)

Friday, August 13, 2004

Multi-Family Garage Sale!

Yes, that's right. I have a garage full of junk, some friends are bringing over their junk, and we are going to sit in the fog together, hoping that people will drop by, buy our junk, and put it in their garages, leaving room in our garages for the junk of the future.
The guy who owns the house left behind two locked storage spaces in the garage. After frequent pleas to him (wherever he is) via the realtor, I finally got fed up and broke down the doors. There I found mildewed clothing, disintegrating trunks full of old hunting magazines, a dozen or so rusting containers of volatile liquids, live ammunition just rolling around loose, and several needles.
I asked my neighbor if my landlord was a diabetic.
She said, "No, he was a junkie."
In the middle of hauling stuff out of the storage spaces, and hauling stuff into the garage, the realtor's rep showed up, wanting the rent money.
"Take a number pal," I didn't say.
Later, he lost his cell phone, and returned, thinking he may have dropped it at my house. I let him borrow my cell phone, and he called himself. He didn't hear it ring, so apparently he lost it somewhere else.
What a fascinating stressful life I lead!

The California Supreme Court voided around 4,000 gay marriages. SF Mayor Gavin Newsome, who is not gay, was the guy who got the gay wedding ball rolling. I don't know if this leaves him with egg on his face, or not, but his fashion layout with his wife, Kimberley, in the latest Harper's Bazarr, certainly makes him look ridiculous. The Governor of New Jersey, who is gay, never presided over a gay wedding, as far as I know, though he also is married, to a woman, who is standing by him in this moment of crisis.
In past, better days, she told a New York Times reporter that red was her favorite color (Hey, America wants to know!), but said, "I don't wear it too often because I feel it draws too much attention."

Bill Allard dropped off a copy of the raw edit of the show on VHS. I hope to view it tonight, as I write down prices on little sticky things in my cramped spidery crawl.

was 91

I hate it, don't you?
According to the LA TImes, a new Spanish-language reality show, "Gana La Verde," or "Win the Green," offers a "Fear Factor" type of contest, with winners getting a year's worth of paid assistance from immigration lawyers, who will work get the winners legal status as US citizens.
Some lawmakers are objecting, saying the show exploits and immigrants.
Lawrence Lieberman, who dramed up the show, says, "We have had no viewer complaints and no complaints from anyone who has participated in the show."
He also said, "... I can do a show that gives Maria breast implants and nobody compalins, but when I give Maria a chance to go from being a nanny to a nurse, everybody finds that objectionable."
I am with him on that, even though producers of reality shows should probably be boiled in oil.
Still, if you're going to give out prizes, instead of makeovers, and cars, and Hawaiian vacations, how about free medical coverage, paying off child support, rent money, college tuition, groceries, or a case of beer?
Give me gum, I'm yours.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

This and Damn That

Apparently, the governor of New Jersey is gay, but married (to a woman!), and has resigned. Much blog activity around this today. We do like our little melodramatic stories, we Americans. As a pundit/satirist, I suppose I should have an opinion about this. But I find myself wearying of the American taste for scandal. I feel sorry for the guy and his wife, but still, why is this any of our business?

On the bright side, it’s a relief to know that there are, in fact, gay people in New Jersey.

On the other hand, I’ve suddenly taken an interest in the Peterson trial, when I learned that Scott called his mistress from Modesto, but pretended to be in Paris with his imaginary friend, Pascal. I have no opinion about his guilt, but as a random liar, the guy is amazing. If Amber had had caller i.d? Well, it’s an argument for the positive effects of advanced telecommunication, is it not? How many lives would have been saved if he'd had a personalized cell phone ring?

So all right, I started following the blogs on the Governor of New Jersey, and found this little nugget (name in title), which states:

“The McGreevey recipe started off with a campaign rife with lies, stunts, and tricks that are the envy of every carnival con man. Into that slimy batter went an inauguration marked by the sorry spectacle of a hardly past newborn infant used as a prop in sub-freezing temperatures.”


We seem to be back in 19th C. politics.

Or at least Walter Winchell world.

I have no idea what that baby stuff is all about. Some kind of New Jersey Michael Jackson thing, I guess. (Will explore.) Somebody took a baby out in the winter for campaign purposes and caused somebody else’s face to turn purple, and somebody’s veins in the neck to stand up like taut ropes. The blogger’s veins and face, in fact.

But what if the blogger is right? Maybe McGreevey IS a big liar. So WHAT IF HE’S LYING ABOUT BEING GAY!!!!? That would mean that, IN FACT, there ARE no gay people in New Jersey!!!!

Many blogs make frequent use of exclamation marks. If I use them, rest assured, they are for ironic purposes only.

Did I mention that Duck’s Breath Mystery Theatre has a DVD coming out?

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Blog on Blogging

So anyway, Bill Allard, who is producing the Duck DVD, says that a rough cut will be coming to us (the Ducks) inside the week. Then we will put on our thinking caps, tug our forelocks, and give him "feedback." We will network. We will interface.

The show itself was quite fun. We saw people we hadn't seen in ten years or more, not only that night, but the party on Saturday, and even at another show Monday night, which proved to be a reunion of Rick and Ruby (who were as funny as ever), and a summoning of the STUPEDS (the Society To Undertake the Preservation of Endangered Dumb Songs), under the direction of my pal Joshua Raoul Brody, who were also excellent. They do covers of Neil Diamond, Queen, and tunes like "I've Never Been To Me," "Having My Baby," and "It Must Be Him," with consummate professionalism, for no apparent reason.

Abrupt topic change (there was a topic?):

Once, while embarked on a trip from San Francisco to Santa Cruz to do publicity for a show, Leon, Bill, and Steve ran out of gas. After hitching to a station to get some, an attempt was made to start the station wagon again, and the engine caught fire. The boys were throwing dirt on it, in a frantic attempt to put the fire out, when lo and behold, over the hill came a truck loaded with fire extinguishers. The fire was put out.
Leon, a very responsible man, felt so guilty about the damage to the station wagon that he re-wired it himself, and we took it on our next tour, where it was put in a ditch during a blizzard in Nebraska, along with the car I was driving.

Once again, topic change!

Snooping around the internet (yes, it's still around), I was checking out blogs at random to see if I'm doing this right - I mean it's not like there's a manual for this - and came across this paragraph, "Here's a picture of my toes that I took while waiting for a table ... for Sunday morning brunch."

This was accompanied by a fuzzy picture of the guy's toes.

So, apparently a blog is kind of like a diary, only you invite the world to read it, so you can't really say anything you wouldn't want the whole world to read. But some of them are also political. This is from Josh Marshall's talkingpointsmemo.com: "I just saw a preview of a study that finds the Swift Boat ads quite effective among independents in raising doubts about John Kerry's war record. And that suggests that Karl Rove will want to send more money toward the group running the ad."

Hey, I was just making fun of those ads myself!

And who is Josh Marshall? "Joshua Micah Marshall is a writer living in Washington, DC. He is a Contributing Writer for the Washington Monthly and a columnist for The Hill. His articles on politics, culture and foreign affairs have also appeared in The American Prospect, The Atlantic Monthly, The Boston Globe, The Financial Times, The Los Angeles Times, The New Republic, The New Yorker, The New York Post, The New York Times, Salon, Slate, and other publications. He has appeared on Crossfire (CNN), Hannity and Colmes (FOX), Hardball (MSNBC), Late Edition (CNN), NewsNight with Aaron Brown (CNN), O'Reilly Factor (FOX), Reliable Sources (CNN), Rivera Live (CNBC), Washington Journal (C-SPAN) and talk radio shows across the United States. He has a bachelors degree from Princeton University and a doctorate in American history from Brown University."

He's a lot more qualified than I am, obviously, to punditificate. But still, I will blog on. And I won't ask for money. Yet.

Andrew Sullivan does, and as far as I know he has a real job on the side. After thanking readers for donating, he writes on his blog: "...one of the reasons I blogged in the first place was to avoid the kind of pressure from editors or publishers or advertizers or readers that most journalists inevitably feel."

Hey, that's how I feel too! I hate when people who pay your salary have opinions about your work. How much better to have your readers give you money, and have opinions about your work. You're kind of eliminating the middle man, and the medical benefits too, I guess. Do bloggers have medical coverage?

If money is a concern, whether you need to pay off student loans by going through a process to consolidate student loans debt or you have any major loan you need
to repay then research various methods of debt consolidation for non-homeowners online.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Dog Days Blog Flogging

I've been asked to have the header of this blog reflect the content. No, I say. Bloggers must blog wild. Bloggers must blog free!
On second thought.... oh why not?.
The hottest parts of summer are called "Dog Days," supposedly because the ancients thought heat waves were caused by Sirius, the dog star. (The ancients sure were stupid, huh?)
I live in the Sunset District of San Francisco, where you can't even see the sun for most of the summer, much less the heavens. The unrelenting fog and damp get to you after awhile. It's kind of the reverse of the Santa Ana winds effect, which allegedly causes short tempers, and even murder (if Raymond Chandler's "Red Wind" is to believed).
No, the Fog Days lead to a kind of malaise and bland confusion. Is it noon? Is it midnight? Who knows? Do I care?
I even slog through the news with a kind of disinterest, leavened by rage, of course. There was an editorial in today's Chronicle, for instance, that perfectly captured the new conservative point of view. It was about John Kerry's war record, which seemed pretty stellar to me - medals, heroism, wounds. But then the Hannitys and the Limbaughs of the right (not Republican leadership of course, just their lap/attack dog acolytes) started "floating" the idea that Kerry lied in order to get his Bronze Star and Purple Heart. They didn't endorse the idea, just put it out there, in that disingenuous yet belligerent way they have.
Then a group called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth made a television ad, which used testimonials by men who supposedly served with Kerry, calling him dishonest and a liar. John McCain has called the ad despicable.
Me, I think if he earned the medals dishonestly, doesn't that mean that the whole chain of command is dishonest? Are the armed forces in the habit of tossing out medals like Mardi Gras beads?
Anyway, the editorial was by a woman from Stanford University, who weighed in on this controversy. She wrote, "Critics charge... that the ad is in bad taste is irrelevant to what his election is all about. These critics are both right and wrong. They are right that what someone did or didn't do during a four-month period in a war more than 30 years ago tells us little if anything about what kind of president that person will be."
She insisted "...it is Kerry, not his critics, who has made his Vietnam service the central issue of his candidacy...."
And she finally concluded, "...if he chooses to base his candidacy on his performance in Vietnam, fellow veterans who knew him and served with him have a right, and perhaps even a duty, to comment on that record."
In other words, if he'd just pretend his Vietnam experience hadn't happened, maybe the right wing disinformation commandos would shut up. Fat chance.
In other news, I read that White House officials, in their zeal to counter the notion that the latest terror alerts are based on pre-9/11 information, leaked the name of an al Qaeda informant, thus making his further usefulness moot. Granted, I'm a liberal, but I am totally mystified as to why anybody would support or vote for anybody in this gang of incompetent, vicious, deceptive, evil clowns.
Oh, Duck's Breath has a DVD in the works. It is politics-free, except for the bit where we put Dick Cheney in a bunny suit, and make him read HEATHER HAS TWO MOMMIES aloud at a Mormon day care center.
Wait. Do Mormons have day care centers? That's another mystery for another time.
See you at the prayer meeting!

Monday, August 09, 2004

A Little History

I hope that was chirpy enough.
I must say I don't quite get this whole blogging thing. Don't we have enough damn pundits as it is? At least they get paid for their opinions. What do bloggers get out of it besides flame and glory?
Me, I'm doing it for the love.
So: some background. Duck's Breath Mystery Theatre, for those who don't know, is a comedy group. We began life in Iowa City in 1975, semi-officially. Before that, we had existed in various forms and with various members, assembling mainly in the student union at the University of Iowa to do more or less impromptu performances of Dan Coffey's plays. When we put up posters, they would announce that we were the Iowa Playwright's Ensemble, or Duck's Breath Mystery Theatre, or some other random name. I believe (I am not sure) that I am responsible for the Duck's Breath moniker. In retrospect, we probably could have done better. But then, in retrospect, all of us could have done a lot of things better.
Dan and I had been in the Playwright's Workshop graduate program. Bill and Leon were in the Directing Program. Jim was a troubled young undergraduate, rudderless, at risk, prone to setting small fires on the edge of town. Out of pity, we took him under our wing.
All of us (except Jim) were about to graduate (I have the most degrees, by the way, two MFAs in Theatre and English, from the Famous Writers Workshop; this has not made me any money), we decided to create our own opportunities, and take our little "skit group" to....
Well, our choices boiled down to Pittsburgh (we had our reasons), Minneapolis, or San Francisco. Having had enough of winter, we opted for SF, which was full of beatniks and hippies, as far as we knew, at once hip enough to laugh at our humor, and gullible enough to think we were hip.
Up to that point, we had been performing three sets a night at an Iowa bar called Gabe and Walkers, charging (help me on this boys) fifty cents admission (?). We'd split the gate, and get all the beer we could drink. The world was our oyster.
We asked Steve Baker to be our manager. He was a reporter at the time (for a Quad City paper), and had written a nice feature about us. Flattery will get you everywhere with the Ducks! Poor fool, he said "Yes," and before you knew it, we were all piled into various vehicles, and caravanning across America like gypsies in search of a scam.

Friday, August 06, 2004


This is the semi-official blog for Duck's Breath Mystery Theatre; I say semi-official, because I am the designated blogger (me being Merle Kessler). It's a hideous responsibility, like owning rabbits.

The reason for this blog is to drum up excitement for NOT DEAD YET, the Duck's Breath DVD, celebrating our 30th year as a homegrown theatre of the surreal. Since I am only 28 years old, our existence is clearly a miracle of sorts.

I would like to start counting down the days until the DVD is released, but who the hell knows when that will be? We hope to have it out before Christmas, but then the fine folks in hell hope that somebody will give them a nice glass of ice water.

Still, you never know.

Dick Cheney could confess that HE had the weapons of mass destruction all along. He came across them in the attic while rummaging for an old defribillator. He will donate them to Halliburton, which will convert them into plowshares, sell them to the Iraqi people at a substantial mark up, and peace will reign for a thousand years. Praise Bush!

I may even start to feel the John Kerry Excitement everybody's talking about.

In the meantime, pray for us.

Next time, I will relate some amusing anecdotes about life on the road. Or not.

Yer pal,

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

The Ducks

That is Dan Coffey in the rear, then the ever-youthful Jim Turner, me in the middle, looking pained, then Leon Martell, and Bill Allard in front.

Inaugural Message

I don't know exactly what "inaugural" means, in this context. I guess "first." Consider this that message.