Sunday, September 30, 2007

La Fragata Libertad...

... is in Boston. I know I've been remiss (actually remiss-and-a-half) in my originally-stated "I'll be blogging about Tall Ship™s (since I at least know about them) while I blog about trying to figure out the contemporary world." All right, I never said that, but it's a swell sentiment, isn't it? And gosh, look:

La Libertad is the Argentinian Navy's sail training vessel, and before you start with the "Argentina has a Navy?" stuff, I'll remind you that they have submarines.
This is probably as a good a time as any to hop aboard (just pretend you're in Galway):

La Libertad is a re-e-e-eally long (301') full-rig ship. Ship-rigged vessel. Ship. That was commissioned in 1962 and has won Japan's National Institute for Sail Training's Boston Tea Pot several times. I admit that I have never heard of this The Boston Tea Pot. That Boston Tea Potty, yes. But if the U.S.C.G. Eagle has won this trophy, it must be legit. But a little, erm, random. The winning ship is the one that covers the most sea in 124 hours. Go ahead, look at the Tea Pot website. (It was not written by Yoda. It was translated for those who cannot enjoy the poetry that is Japanese sail-talk.)
The beauty of a neat trophy like The Boston Tea Pot is that you get to keep it on board until someone else wins it. Which means you have a real physical manifestation of your bragging rights that serves a useful purpose. You can actually make beverages in it.
Welcome to Massachusetts, Che!

Friday, September 28, 2007


  • It's goodbye time for another childhood memory. The New Harbor Mall in Fall River (formerly The Harbor Mall) has closed the doors to its movieplex. I haven't been there since we took the '95 crew to see Cutthroat Island, so you see I won't miss the place. I guess the Mall decided the mayoral election was enough entertainment for the former village of Troy. But you'll still have someone spilling drinks on your feet and talking loudly while you're trying to pay attention to the results.
  • Many of my Beachmates are woefully naive and lazy about economics and politics, believing that the two together mean socialism. A lot of people, though, share my scorn of the free market system championed by the so-called "neo-cons". The current free market system. The classic one is good. The one where myriad producers make useful products or provide necessary services to consumers who critically regard them and pay appropriately. Unfortunately, it's a naive construct these days, since fear is the new currency. Naomi Klein's new book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, is the eye-opener we all need. Watch her talk to John Cusack here.
  • I'm in training for nest year's Michael Scott's Dunder-Mifflin Scranton Meredith Palmer Memorial Celebrity Rabies Awareness Pro-Am Fun Race For The Cure.
  • HotMail still informs me that they are "blocking" messages from John Kerry. They insist that messages from John Kerry are "dangerous, that attachments, pictures and links have been blocked for my safety." At least they still ask me if I'd want them to show me the content. But every time I log out, they show me some crap about Brit or OJ or how to get a sexy new lover, new job, or new car. And more crap about whether my lover is cheating, my job is toxic, or my car is a lemon. And all John wanted to do was invite me to Faneuil Hall.
  • Community Development Block Grants provide, according to HUD, "annual grants on a formula basis to entitled cities, urban counties and states to develop viable urban communities by providing decent housing and a suitable living environment, and by expanding economic opportunities, principally for low- and moderate-income persons." Just in case anyone needed a refresher on that.
  • "May we be free of torture, may there be peace in hearts and minds as our kindness spreads around the world." That's the last thing you say before you're clubbed or shot by some rifle-wielding thug who doesn't care that you're just wearing sandals and a robe, and wishing him peace. I've been asked to write to the preznit and urge him to do something. Seems contacting the UN is a desperate act of hypocrisy because I'm a citizen of a country that thinks waterboarding is a nifty conversation-starter.

    (photo: BBC)

Thursday, September 27, 2007


To YTI Acting Pool.

If you might be interested in participating as outlined below...

This is a long shot, but lets see

I was emailing w/ Keri, she is working with WHALE on the Wine Festival this Friday. They are lookingfor in two people from 630pm to 730pm and then two people from 730pm to 830pm to appear in 'fancy dress' of some kind, of their choosing. They are looking to have these volunteers appear around the auction tables to generate
interest. I don't think they are looking for a major production
or performance, but just generate interest, maybe even conversation.
The volunteers would have free addmission and ability to do some sampling of wine and food as well.

I get notices from the award-winning (though grammar- and spelling-disenhanced) Your Theatre. Their own audition notices, mostly, but sometimes other company's or if a film crew is in town or anyone needs special skills. They're a great bunch of dedicated community theater operatives who annually present a satisfying slate of entertainments, although often featuring Alan Ayckbourn or Ayckbourn-like unpleasantnesses. They refuse to do any musicals, so I'm glad to work onstage with them, do sound and lights, and enjoy productions as an audience member.
I also enjoy the opportunity to attend fundraisers for local charities. I do that because I appreciate and support the people who work in my community. Whether they're personal friends or not, I think it is my duty as a citizen to support organizations that make my community a better place. Including women's basketball. As I have mentioned elsewhere, I do lurvs me some fundraisers.
I have, however, a low opinion of gimmicky fundraisers. If I believe in a cause, then I'm more than willing to write a check. If you have a dinner with donated food and bar -- mostly bar -- to thank me for my beneficence, so much the better. But if you spend my check on face-painting mimes, loganberry chipotle mashed potato martinis, chocolate fountains, and llama rides, I start to wonder...
I know how the planning meetings go. You say you want to have a fundraiser to raise some money for your softball team. Then somebody says, Let's do a dinner. Then somebody says, Let's get Swanky McSpensive to donate his restaurant for the night. Then somebody says, Swanky won't give up his restaurant's business for a night, why don't we have him cater the dinner at the ball park? Then somebody says, We'll need a tent. That'll cost money. And then somebody says, Unless we get it donated. Then somebody says, We'll have the team be servers -- in their uniforms! We'll save money there! Then somebody says, No, we should do the dinner like you have appetizers at first base, salad at second, entree at third, and dessert at home. Then somebody says, No no no, I've got it. Screw Swanky. Drinky Sloshentoss Liquors could sponsor the whole thing. We'll have drinks at each base. Like beer and wines at first, all the way around to port and cigars at home. But, somebody says, that could be pretty expensive liability. Why don't we just do the spaghetti dinner at the VFW like last year?
Because you're up against a long tradition of zany ├╝ber-expensive gimmicky fundraisers.Yours has to stand out. Something folks'll remember so that they'll come back next year. And then you can raise the bar a little bit more, make sure it's memorable, so they better not miss next year.
Where was I? Oh.
So WHALE is having their annual fundraiser. WHALE (Waterfront Historic Area LeaguE) is often mischaracterized as obstructionist preservationists who won't tear down ugly eyesores. Mischaracterized by those who want everything torn down and ugly eyesore cinderblock Dunkin' Donuts put up. Those knuckle-draggers are often mischaracterized as forward-thinkers. WHALE has been doing this wine-tasting thing for 17 years and have decided to raise the bar one more notch by providing (see above) carefully-chosen and brilliantly-prepared costumed actors to generate ¡EXCITEMNET!1! by providing scintillating observations at the auction tables. In fancy dress.
And how exactly is somebody in "fancy dress" going to engage me to bid on a basket of jellies and seashells from RibbonSurfeit Farms while all I really want is another chicken quesadilla from the No Problemo table? Well, I'll give it a go.
But if I'm dressed better than that "fancy dress" guy...

Monday, September 24, 2007

"If you can't tie a knot, stay off the road."

Sometimes you'll see this salt shake his head and mutter, “If you can’t tie a knot, tie a lot.” It’s about contempt for over-compensation.
If someone says, “Here, make this off,” you certainly don’t want to let them down. If you’re not making the line off to a pin or cleat, and if you’ve had some training, you’ll make due with a round turn and two half-hitches ... or a bowline. Both are functional and I didn’t describe a particular instance, so don’t you come the Ashley on me, Sonny Jim.
Sometimes, I’ll find what somebody once called a “bullocks hitch” -- a snarl made off with a series of granny knots that are tied off to each other pulled taut through what looks like a sheet bend appended by a half-dozen turns and a square knot and then an (accidental) reef knot and another really tight granny knot and a half Windsor. If there are no time constraints, I break those with a marlinspike. If I have to get that misconception out in a hurry, I'll use my best tool: a sharp knife. Unfortunately, the latter option often leads to a good line being reduced to a handful of deck fluff.
Most non-judgmental boaters -- of which there are none -- tend to look upon these “knots” (and the people who tie them) as wastes. As a symptom, such sissal nests are a fine assertion of someone’s lack of confidence. Fear makes bad knots.
The same principle applies to driving.
If you don’t know the rules at a four-way stop, you’ll wave and gesticulate to tell the driver who stopped after you and to your left, “No, you go.” Yes, you may think you’re showing others that you’re a polite and nifty guy. But you’re wrong and you're aggravating the driver who does know how to drive.
Then, underway again, there's swerving fifteen feet to the other side of the road to avoid a pedestrian or biker, sometimes even on the sidewalk. Another example of “tying a lot.” To this, your ThirdMate sez: "Trust your skills." Or, more appropriately, "Learn some skills." You don’t have to careen off the on-coming traffic trying to let everyone see how careful you are about not clocking some roller skater or other. And when you swerve back into the right lane and accelerate to 65 in the 25 mph school zone to make up for lost time, you’re over-compensating again. Particularly when the kid (who's walking on the wrong side of the road to begin with) is also over-compensating for her fear by walking further into the center of the road and more slowly.
Driving isn’t as hard as making a splice sixty feet up a mast on a slippery yard in 15-foot chop with 20-knot gusts. Unless you’re driving the new Oldsmobuick SUViathan while on the phone ordering Peking Bungalow take-out with the spouse on the other line and cueing up the DVD and setting the !babymozartsongs playlist on the iPod while getting directions from the GPS and asking the kids how the game went.

But you can probably save yourself some of that inconvenience.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

How do I get on these lists?

New Bedford's own SeaLab is celebrating the life and achievements of Lewis Temple, the blacksmith who invented a toggle-iron harpoon that made it possible to kill way more whales and make New Bedford the richest city in the world for about forty-five minutes in 1853. I hope Captain Murphy is back from fighting in The Great Spice Wars.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Talk Like A Pirate Day ... again

This year: Talk Like A Pirate as James Mason would.

Monday, September 17, 2007

"The People In My NetborHood"

I have been remiss in my responsibility to a "weblogger" who has added H.M.S. Impossible to his "blogroll."

I'm actually half-past remiss, with occasional gusts into ungracious.

When I was on dialysis, the mates got together and scraped up an iPod to help me to while away the dreary hours while my blood danced through tubes to be cleansed of toxins. Of course, on off days, I busily loaded said iPod up with musics from my huge CD and cassette collection, but only had the opportunity to download the B-side of Doug and the Slug's "Too Bad/The Move" single from Ritdong before my rubber-band-driven hi-fi turntable whirled its last. Of course, after a few thousand songs get digitized and squoze into one's earbuds, one starts looking for more. (I eventually got off the machine. The dialysis one. Not the mp3 one.)

The interweb tubes. You type in "girl" and you get Adam Ant's "Deutscher Girls" and Warren Zevon's cover of Allen Toussaint's "A Certain Girl." It was like when I was a kid kicking around the PaperBack BookSmith bargain record bin looking for mis-labeled impossibly-valuable imports the manager mistakenly stuck there. Rummaging through the musty piles of mildewed mambo records at the Island Park Flea Market. Wandering around Al Bum's in Worcester, where some kid actually recognized me as that guy from the radio. "The college radio."

But that was all last century. Analog.

I don't know how I came upon the site Armagideon Time. I really don't know. But I can make this up: I do remember I was looking for something about my old career (growing and selling orchids). And I found this. WOW! Imagine: someone who titled his web presence after one of my favorite Willie Williams songs (the Clash dub is called "Justice Tonight/Kick It Over"). (This, despite my Beloved's mistrust of fakafarians.) Comic book pedagogy. But in a good way. Engrossing erudition. Charming wit. A self-assured and singular voice. And, every post, a bunch of wicked good songs. Which I regard briefly, of course, and then buy from iTunes. Of course. Or Newbury Comics. Where Aimee Mann was my boss or something. But that's another story...

Anyhow, bitterandrew: Thank you for stopping by and honoring me in your 'roll. And thank you for your blog. You and Dr. Momentum. I know that you do not find it necessary to commit comments, so go on and join with the other 'mates here at this old rig who never leave messages. While I invite them to indulge in the wonder that is Armagideon Time.
It also gives me the opportunity to allow my solicitor, Jen Walters, to appear, sans apologia.

Friday, September 14, 2007


  • SHORE SUPPORT is an organization that has been around as long as I've been in SouthCoast. They collect and distribute money and services for fishermen and their families. They've seen hard times lately, as have many fishermen, and they received $5,000 from the Bristol County Savings Charitable Foundation, so that's good news. New Bedford is the #1 fishing port in America and you'd think we'd have a few more organizations like this. Must be too busy fishing.
  • "More responsive to informational complexity, ambiguity and novelty." O rly?
  • The last time I packed my seabag and left Fall River in disgust, the names Correia, Sullivan, Viveiros, Pelletier, Whitty, and Camara were in the news. They're all still there. According to last Tuesday's primary, the Nineties never happened. Or the last seven years, whatever you call them.
  • Because the people of Fall River did exactly what they always do: The voters went in and voted for the person they thought was going to win. That way, the voters don't look like losers. Somebody explain to them that they're supposed to vote for the person they want to have win. Preferably the best person for the job.
  • On the other hand, it was speculated that the people who voted were a bunch of old people who figured it was their last chance ever to vote, so they went with what they know to provide comfort for their twilight years.
  • "The more successful we are, the more American troops can return home," he said. I thought successful meant they were coming home. Why does that remind me of the people around me saying that our town shut off the streetlamps because the government wanted to punish us for not voting to pay for streetlights?
  • There was a big "creative economy" conference in New Bedford. I know the joke ending of that sentence is "And they held it in the phone booth at the end of the hall." But really: Were members of the creative economy invited? And is "creative economy" the new "entrepreneurial"? "Entrepreneurial" is what the really successful wealthy people call people who own dollar stores. And what the rest of us call people who sell Ralph Lauren knock-offs to really successful wealthy people.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Inca Mummy Girl

La Doncella ("the maiden") is ready for her close-up at the Museum of High Altitude Archaeology. She had been imprisoned in a frigid mountaintop tomb as part of a sacrifice thing 500 years ago. Although she was accompanied by (from this article)"the boy" and "the lightning girl," she's the only one who got her own episode of Buffy.

Which features Alyson Hannigan as Willow dressed up like "an Eskimo." Another, though northern, native American. Which is clever.

Monday, September 10, 2007

S-T: A young writer suggests...

I remember these, Kristen:

Thomas Burke

died Sept. 11 in the World Trade Center, at 38.
Managing director and partner at Cantor Fitzgerald, Mr. Burke worked on the 104th floor of Tower 1. He is survived by his wife, Julia (Tweddle) '85; four sons, John, Brian, Thomas and George; his mother and father, Alexander J. Jr. '53; five brothers, including Brian J., M.D., '79 and Matthew M. '87; a sister, Nancy Burke Salter '83; and 19 nephews and nieces.
The profile of Mr. Burke that appeared in the Portraits of Grief section of the Oct. 31 edition of The New York Times noted his commitment to family: "Tom Burke's mother always had a happy birthday. Tom Burke's family never wondered where Daddy was. Tom Burke's friends never lay sick, alone."
A Mass of the Resurrection for Mr. Burke was celebrated on Sept. 28 at John Jay Homestead, Katonah, N.Y.
A trust fund has been established in Mr. Burke's memory: "The Thomas Burke Family Trust" c/o Ropes & Gray Att: Valerie Thibeau, One International Place, Boston, MA 02110

Edward A. "Ted" Brennan III

died Sept. 11 in the World Trade Center, at 37.

Mr. Brennan worked more than 11 years for Cantor Fitzgerald Securities on the 105th floor of the north tower, serving as vice president, institutional broker and salesman. A sports enthusiast, he had been a founder and captain of the Holy Cross Squash Club and a member of the Manasquam River Golf Club. He had also been a member of the Grammercy Park Republican Club of New York City. Mr. Brennan is survived by his parents; three sisters; his grandmother; two uncles; two nephews; a niece; and his girlfriend, Meghan Daly.
A memorial service for Mr. Brennan was held on Sept. 22 at St. Mark's Church, Sea Girt, N.J.
Contributions may be made in Mr. Brennan's memory to: The New York City Fire Department, Portsmouth Abbey School, The College of the Holy Cross, or the Social Concerns Committee of St. Mark's Church, Sea Girt

(I've carried these around for a few years, thought I'd pass them along. Copied from something I don't remember, probably an alumni letter. Schoolmates.)

Friday, September 7, 2007


  • I"ll just never feel the kind of panic they're trying to convey about anthropogenic global climate change when the host is a fourteen year-old. Here's the site for The 11th Hour."
  • There is a candidate in Fall River (or "Th'city o'Fawrivvah") who is not being forthright. I have yet to hear him discuss this issue directly. You would think such disclosure would be easy for a representative of a certain lifestyle in this day and age, when such labels are easily admitted and a source of pride to some. Sure, I understand we live during a time when some people are condemned and scorned because of it. Particularly in "Th'city o'Fawrivvah" where people aren't familiar with that way of life, don't like to talk about it, may be insensitive and can be cruel to people like you. The people who elect you need to know, need to know that you are honest and forthright. Maybe some of them are waiting to admit it themselves. I understand that it may be none of my business, that such details mean nothing to someone who just wants to do a good job. But if you can't be honest with your constituents, are you truly being honest with yourself? It's not a crime, Al! Say it loud, say it proud: "I AM A REPUBLICAN!"
  • I figured it out. The problem with the SouthCoast. If you know that somebody once got a job because they held an election sign, you assume that everybody got their job because they did something that's not related to their job, and thus they must not be qualified for the position they were patronaged. And that gives you the right to tell anybody their job, even if you don't know anything about it, because nobody really knows anything about their job. It's called civic involvement.
  • REYKA! REYKA! REYKA!You went from the darling darling darling Hafdis Huld to the Yecchspliferous One (who's just as annoying as Bjork is to some). I'll help make it easier to swallow by continuing to play this:

Thursday, September 6, 2007

from Wallbank's Compendium of Knowledge

William McKinley, the 25th American President and inventor of Mc'N'Cheese™, was shot on this date in 1901 by the Anarchist Leon Czolgosz. Czolgosz, often described as "a dirty smelly Anarchist" by other dirty smelly Anarchists, suffered from a debilitating over-abundance of z's which led to his eventual melancholy and lifelong infatuation with Emma Goldman. Not the Socialist portrayed by Maureen Stapleton in that movie as many believe, but Emma "Saucy" Goldman, the Silk-Stockinged Cleveland Chanteuse. Sure, he hung around chatting up the fiery Socialist, but who wouldn't?

McKinley begrudgingly waged the Spanish-American War in order to open up the Mexican bandito caricature market and so that North Americans could freely indulge in cubanos, tequila, and pig roasts. He was the first President to announce his candidacy while appearing at a burlesque show hosted by a huge-jawed un-funny has-been, a tradition still popular among Republicans to this day. McKinley was shot at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo NY. That Exposition kind of sums up the American idea of what "Pan-American" means. The instigators had wanted to hold the Pan-American Exposition as far north as Happy Valley-Goose Bay Labrador, but Canadians balked at hosting a celebration of North-South friendship so far from South. McKinley himself wasn't too keen on getting shot in a place called Happy Valley, so he proposed the etymologically-significant Buffalo-Goose Compromise, where America -- now a major player in the Expo game -- would choose to stay far from the brown people and Canada would never mention anything about it.

McKinley's assassination not only gave Sarah Vowell some nifty filler for her Assassination Vacation memoir, but also made way for Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt. "Teddy" was the first president to shout non sequitur health and employment advice when confronted with questions about politics. For instance, when a congressman asked Roosevelt about plans for his Panama Watersplash Fun Park, "Teddy" answered: "Bully! Drink your milk and get a good job that makes you good and tired every night -- shoeing horses or shoveling dung. Vote Republican, by cracky!"

Captain Wallbank’s Compendium of Knowledge is not intended to be used as reference material for school projects, masters theses, magazine and newspaper articles, partisan hack radio talk shows, commencement addresses, valedictory speeches, catechism classes, or, especially, as an authorized authority for bets involving someone buying someone a drink.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Carrying a "flop movie" prop collier to Newcastle

Completely seaworthy and built just the way it would have been 200 years before, the new Bounty was the real star of the flop movie when it was released in 1962.

-The Shields Gazette (full article)

That's my jacket there with Tarita Teriipaia. (It's there, up under the "About Me.") A costume in a flop movie. Now, there's a title for an autobiography.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Start the School Year Right! Culture and History

Jimmy Carter has dedicated his life after the White House to conflict
resolution around the world. Presidents George Bush the elder and Bill Clinton
have campaigned together on behalf of communities devastated by Hurricane
Katrina. So how does President George Bush junior imagine spending his
retirement years?
"I can just envision getting in the car, getting bored,
going down to the ranch," he says. He also has big plans for making money. "I'll
give some speeches, to replenish the ol' coffers," says Mr Bush, who is already
estimated to be worth $20m. "I don't know what my dad gets - it's more than
50-75 [thousand dollars a speech], and "Clinton's making a lot of money".

-- Guardian UK

Can anyone define "replenish the ol' coffers"? And does it have anything to do with filling the dark vile emptiness of your soul with humane selfless acts of redemption, working to repair the Constitution you broke, and apologizing to grammar? How about bringing back the almost 4000 Americans who died in iRaq?