FOOTBALL, n. A male religious ritual involving human sacrifice. Like most other American religious observances, the rite of football is normally observed on Sundays, and is, in fact, observed on approximately 24 consecutive Sundays culminating in the holiest day of the year, Super Sunday, a day on which all normal male activities—including, even, lexicography—grind to a halt. Football is distinguished from more mundane religious practices in that its celebrants normally worship a 60-inch screened deity and imbibe a ceremonial liquid known as “Bud,” the symbol of which, perhaps for reasons of taste, color, and odor, is a large horse.

–from the revised and expanded edition of The American Heretic’s Dictionary, the 21st-century successor to Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary

American Heretic's Dictionary revised and expanded by Chaz Bufe, front cover


An Understandable Guide to Music Theory front coverby Chaz Bufe, author of An Understandable Guide to Music Theory

Yeah, I know. This would carry more weight if I were better known, but I’m not. I think this is good advice, anyway.

Here are a few samples of my songs for you to pick apart. (A note on the first song: I am a former postal worker.)

Hemingway once said, “Write drunk. Edit sober.” That’s great advice for writing fiction and for writing songs (not so much for writing nonfiction). The takeaway is not to self-censor: knock the “what are you doing!? that’s awful” devil off your shoulder and just have fun. Who knows what you’ll come up with?

Of course, most of what you come up with won’t be good. So what? If even 5% of what you write is decent, let alone good, you’ll be ahead — you’ll have written something you wouldn’t have written if you’d self-censored. (The self-damning, self-censoring devil is far from infallible.)

Beyond that, here are a couple of other ideas:

  • Record every session where you’re trying to come up with songs
  • If you can’t record yourself and come up with something you like, play it over and over again, at least a dozen times: that way, there’s a decent chance you’ll remember it.

And another:Front cover of The Drummer's Bible Second Edition

  • Either have a lot of beats down in your head (e.g., standard shuffle, 12/8, standard rock beat, polka, samba, standard swing beat, 3-2 clave, soca, waltz) when you write songs, or listen to rhythm tracks with the various beats. (Self-advertisement: About 20 years See Sharp Press published a still-unmatched encyclopedia of beats with close to 200 of ’em on CDs, The Drummer’s Bible).

That’s it. Some people claim to come up with good songs by writing something everyday, which is plausible — and will mostly result in crap; but again, that 5% that might be good . . . — but the best ones just seem to come to you whole. They usually take no more than a half-hour to write. The two examples above being Postal and Abductee Blues.

Don’t self-censor and have fun.

 

 


Of late, the slavish sycophancy of a certain American con man’s followers has become a national scandal. Please consider the following, the doggerel of the day if you will, written by an American “poet,” and then take the very short quiz beneath it.

Heed not those alien, rabble foes,
That tear and rend our land,
Our land was built by Patriots,
Who by their country stand.

And you, today, are your land’s hope
Its savior whom traitors fear;
In you the glowing flame leaps high
That once stirred Paul Revere.

Now, name the object of this piece of poesy (bonus points for naming its author):

  1. Benito Mussolini
  2. V.I. Lenin
  3. Fidel Castro
  4. Francisco Franco
  5. Donald Trump
  6. Adolf Hitler
  7. Nicolas Maduro
  8. Josef Stalin

Scroll down to find the answer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sorry, but you (probably) missed the Glorious Leader the “poet” was slavering over: the answer is contestant #6, Hitler.

I’m also sorry that you missed out on the bonus points. The “poet” was Hannah Cushman Howe. (I’d never heard of her, either.)

She was a member of the nose-up-the-butt/nose-in-the-air brigade, and the only unequivocal reference I could find to her with a brief search was in the 1912 edition of Social Register of New York.

She was an early member of the “very fine people” so famously referenced by the current occupant of the White House. In her note to the Dear Leader, accompanying the poem, Cushman Howe said, in part, “. . . America’s enemies . . . I saw them. Jews from Russia, Poland, Italy, and Germany too.”

Just goes to show how similar goose-steppers are in all times and places.

Thanks to BoingBoing’s Love Letters to Hitler for the above-quoted “poem.”

 


“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”

–W. Somerset Maugham, quoted in Thought Catalog


“Atheism is a religion like abstinence is a sex position.”

–HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher


The Democratic debate last night was a good reality check: given how openly authoritarian Trump-TV (Fox “News”) is — a combination of butt kissing (e.g., Jeanine Pirro calling Trump “almost superhuman”), goose-stepping “patriotism” that trashes almost everything America is supposed to stand for, and punching down (encouraging knuckle-draggers to blame immigrants — people even poorer and more powerless than they are — for their misfortunes), it’s easy to give CNN a pass, as CNN is at least openly hostile to Trump.

Last night provided a timely reminder that CNN, though not as awful as Fox, is still pretty damn bad. The moderators spent most of their time trying to provoke fights between the candidates, the low point being moderator Abby Phillip — after Bernie Sanders, in a he-said-she-said denied saying that a woman could never win the presidency, and offering corroborating evidence going back decades — immediately asking Warren, “Senator Warren, what did you think when Senator Sanders told you a woman could not win the election?” As if that was a fact, not a dispute about what was said in a conversation between two people, with no witnesses.

To call Philip’s question/accusation grossly unprofessional is an understatement. CNN should have fired her on the spot.

Beyond that, the moderators appeared entirely unconcerned with military spending taking up 53% of discretionary spending, and with the U.S. spending as much on “defense” (largely on weapons and overseas bases, not even counting military-incurred debt servicing) than the next eight countries combined. Nope. They were concerned with the cost of “Medicare for all” — universal healthcare coverage.

The moderators’ questions all concerned the cost of such coverage. Never mind that the U.S. is supposedly the richest country on the face of the Earth, that every other industrialized country already has universal, free healthcare, that 87 million Americans are uninsured or underinsured, that the U.S. has worse healthcare outcomes (e.g., infant mortality) than all of those other industrialized countries, and that U.S. per-capita spending on healthcare is at minimum twice what the other industrialized countries spend, sometimes considerably more.

No. The moderators’ concern was with the “cost” — never mind the potential savings to average Americans nor what the astronomical cost is now.

They didn’t ask a single question about how much average Americans would save under Medicare for all. Not one.

Nor did they ask what possible advantage there is in having a parasitic middle man (the insurance industry) that drains off $100 billion a year in profits, and that incurs vast administrative expenses for providers in dealing with the nightmarish tangle of private insurance coverage. (Tellingly, one of the questions was about what would happen to the “workers” in the “insurance town” of Des Moines if a single-payer plan eliminated their entirely parasitic jobs.)

As for CNN, the disgraceful performance of its moderators points toward this great advice: “Follow the money.” CNN is a corporate entity designed to maximize corporate profits. While there are some good reporters and editors at CNN, it’s utterly unrealistic to expect the network to act as anything other than a corporate tool designed to preserve the economic status quo and corporate profits.


“At the moment when I saw our beloved father, Stalin, I lost consciousness.”

–Delegate to a 1930s Soviet Communist Party conference