(It’s time to start preparing for your summer garden. There are plenty of blogs and sites that tell you how to do this, but not many that provide information to nongardeners on making themselves welcome in their friends’ gardens. Hence this slightly revised repost from a few years ago.)

basil plants

If you know people who garden — and you don’t do it yourself — here are a few tips about making yourself welcome.

Don’t walk in vegetable beds unless they tell you it’s okay to do so. The soil in beds is usually (at least it should be) loose, which is good for the spread of vegetable roots and for water absorption. Walking on soil compacts it, which isn’t good for those roots or for absorption.

This should go without saying, but don’t pick anything unless they invite you to do so.

Don’t be pushy. If you can see they only have a small amount of something, don’t ask for it. If you do, they might give it to you, but they’ll probably resent doing so and quite possibly won’t invite you back.

It’s okay to ask if they have anything extra, but unless you can see they have a lot of what you want, don’t specifically ask for it.

If they invite you to help yourself, they’re probably assuming that you can do the gardening equivalent of walking while chewing gum. Well, unless you’re a gardener, you probably can’t. If you don’t ask for guidance you’ll quite possibly do something destructive that will induce face-palm time in your host. If you’ve never, for instance, harvested lettuce or other greens, ask how to do it.

Help out. Even small gardens require a lot of work, and gardeners appreciate those who lend a hand. They’ll appreciate even five minutes of weeding. (Unless you’re familiar with local weeds, ask what to pull and what to leave alone.)

Do all of these things, and your gardener friends will likely be generous with their produce and will very likely ask you back — especially if you help even a little.

Joke of the Day 1-22-19

Posted: January 21, 2019 in Humor, Livin' in the USA

And if you enjoyed this, you’ll probably also like Seth McFarlane’s Die, Sweet Roadrunner, Die.

Salom Mesa Espinoza

“I come from the social subsoil, and my ideas embrace political struggle. . . . to procure a revolutionary order, to leave behind justice for my equals; but the results of the political struggle in which I’ve been an actor haven’t served these ends, but on the contrary it’s served to turn me into an animal, to debase me, to corrupt and degrade the sons of the people. And as an honest man — which I’ve always wanted people to see me as — I had to break with that which life itself showed to be evil. In may case, conventional [electoral] politics.

“The legal [political] parties in which I participated were generous with me. The first, Acción Democrática, made me councilor for the Federal District and later a deputy to the Congress, and for it I spilled my blood. The second Movimiento Electoral del Pueblo, made me a deputy for the Federal District three consecutive times, and the final time nominated me and secured my election while I was imprisoned. It conducted a vigorous and and valiant campaign for my freedom, and its president doctor Luís B. Prieto harshly criticized the government and vehemently demanded my release. I’m profoundly grateful to the MEP and Doctor Prieto, and I won’t forget that.

“But for me social struggle makes sense [only] if it tends in the direction of human emancipation; and forty-four years of party militancy, surrounded in the vast majority by good people, has convinced me that we’ll never reach emancipation through political action, that the sons of the people, like me, should have nothing to do with [electoral] politics nor with government. Our mission is that of destroying the ruling political and social order so as to later construct a just order.”

–Salom Mesa Espinoza, La vida me lo dijo, elogio a la anarquía (rough translation: Life told me this, elegy to anarchy)

(quoted by Rodolfo Montes de Oca in Venezuelan Anarchism: The History of a Movement, which will go to press later this month)

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Venezuelan Anarchism front cover


Elbert Hubbard


MIRACLE: An event described by those to whom it was told by men who did not see it.


It’s hard to boil these down to a dozen, fifteen, whatever, but here goes, not necessarily in this order; and these are only the first ones that come to mind, If you’ve never seen these, I think you’ll enjoy a lot of ’em:

  • The Wild Bunch (director’s cut). Sam Peckinpah’s bloodbath western, probably the first film to ever show the true brutality of the American West. Great acting, great dialogue, great cinematography. The political subtext is priceless — absolutely right on. You walk away from this one wanting to pick up a gun and slaughter the forces of repression. The best anarchist western. Absolutely inspiring. My favorite film.
  • The Producers. Mel Brooks’ funniest film. I defy you to watch the first fifteen minutes without falling out of your seat laughing. The musical number “Springtime for Hitler” is worth the price of admission.
  • Deconstructing Harry. Yeah, Woody Allen is creepy. But he’s a genius. This extremely funny film is Woody’s “fuck you” to all those who try to dismember him. Maybe his funniest film.
  • Crimes and Misdemeanors. Woody’s realistic drama for adults, showing that evil does sometimes triumph. Widely hated because people can’t handle the truth.
  • Double Indemnity. The film that proved that Fred MacMurray is a great actor. Intricate and well plotted. One of my favorite films noir.
  • The Third Man. Another great film noir. The cinematography is incredible, as is Orson Welles in one of the starring roles.
  • The Life of Brian. The Pythons’ most coherent and funniest film. As much a political as a religious satire.
  • Apocalypse Now. The surrealistic adaptation of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness — some of the dialogue on the river is word for word. Mind boggling.
  • Platoon. Oliver Stone’s depiction of his time in Vietnam. I cried uncontrollably while and after watching this. I will never watch it again. Never.
  • Downfall. Probably the best film since 2000. A gut-wrenching depiction of Hitler’s final days in the bunker. Brilliant acting.
  • Blue Collar, with Richard Pryor, Yaphet Koto, and Harvey Keitel.  One of the most brutal, accurate depictions of corruption in working-class life and organizations ever filmed. An unacknowledged masterpiece.
  • Taxi Driver. You talkin’ to me? . . . . .
  • They Live. With — ta da! — wrestler Rowdy Rider Piper, which strips away the illusions from the everyday bullshit we’re constantly subjected to.
  • Walk Hard. Almost certainly the funniest mockumentary about musicians short of Spinal Tap.
  • Speaking of which . . . smell the glove . . . . .
  • Ran. Kurozawa’s Japanese-adapted version of Lear.
  • Throne of Blood, Kurozawa’s Japanese-adapted version of MacBeth.

Enjoy! More to come . . .

It’s always a wonderful thing to be proven wrong. You learn something when that happens.

For years, decades, I assumed Ellen DeGeneres was horrendous, to be judged by her awful TV show, cloying, idiotic, and pandering to the lowest common denominator. But my buddy Mick Berry, a brilliant writer, musician, and comedian, kept insisting that I was wrong, that DeGeneres was a great comedian.

I didn’t buy it.

Then the DJ on local community radio, KXCI, a couple of days ago played an old comedy clip by DeGeneres. It was wonderful. The jokes were crisp, inventive, and her timing impeccable. Here’s the best one:

“People are stupid. A traffic cop stopped me yesterday and asked me, ‘Do you know why I stopped you?’ . . . . . . . ‘Because of the dead bodies in the trunk?'”

K.K. Steincke


“It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.”

–Danish politician Karl Kristian Steincke c. 1937/38

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(Thanks to Quote Investigator for tracking down the origin of this widely misattributed chestnut.)