Friday, February 27, 2015


There's a little glacier next to my house. The exhaust from the pellet stove is just enough to melt the icicles above it, and they drip and freeze immediately. It's about two feet thick, and I know I'll be looking at it at Easter.

Big things have small beginnings. Drip.

My Interfriend Glynn says he's going to retire: On Being a Writer: Downsizing the Workload
I'd be willing to retire, but I think you have to have a job first.

My Interfriend Casey Klahn is out of control: The Whole Picture
A person I like and respect asked me how I approach writing. I said I simply worked myself into whatever mood I wanted and wrote it down. Casey seems to be in a bold mood. 

Look what the winter was like for John of the River: Snow and Rain Tomorrow, Clear the Roof 
I live near Mount Washington, and I'm impressed.

My Interfriend Gagdad Bob understands the mystical nature of Kipling Ronald Dynamite: I Dream of Gagdad, Gagdad Dreams of Madonna
I like Madonna. She's managed to stay completely out of my line of sight and hearing for her entire career, which I can only ascribe to good manners on her part.

Leonard Nimoy appears to have died. Mr. Spock never will, I imagine.
Star Trek, like Star Wars, was cheesy. People get very angry if you tell them that. Few people will admit that a thing they like a lot is trivial. Mr. Spock is one of their gods.

Things are getting a little weird with ski lift tickets: Ski Resorts Experiment With Dynamic Pricing
The only economist worth knowing about is Cournot, and you don't.

Time for some holy cow: The Rockies

Holy cow.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Man Who Was Thursday

Or, in my case, The Man Who Was Thirsty. I'm busy doing stuff and junk. Hmm. I never realized I had a GoodReads page. I don't get out enough, I guess.

I'm tired of writing achingly brilliant things that nobody reads, so I decided to post mildly interesting things, because reasons. Intertunnel reasons. The Intertunnel is like the telephone game except everyone's hard of hearing and has Tourette's Syndrome. Me, I try to stay around the edges and laugh, like a food fight in the cafeteria. Here's a list of (not entirely unwonderful) wonderful things for you to peruse. You can like any one you like, but please: No wagering.

S.Weasel has discovered the greatest website in the world if you get tired of Lingscars is magnifique. 
If the Internet was a rodeo clown with delirium tremens, it would be Lings Cars

I've been listening to a ten-hour version of The Girl From Ipanema
Finally some funny YouTube comments: "I liked the part about the girl from Ipanema."

Gerard's list of journalistic cliches
It insists upon itself.

Here's a series of maps of crime by state from Business Insider
Please note Maine. No one tries pulling any shite while I'm in the state.

Here's a list of all the Alt codes for pretty much every symbol you want to type.
Note: Alt codes have nothing to do with Gender Studies.

Students at McGill University can't compute the average of a few even numbers.
They're not just in college. They're in college to become teachers.

Car surrounded by deer in Eastport, Maine.
People think this is lovely, but unless I'm very wrong, the deer are hanging around people because they're starving.That's the only reason I hang around people.

This is the greatest board game ever devised. That's why you can't buy one.

Well, sorta can't. You could if you had money, but it's solitaire for us. One of the Best Jobs in the World
My Interfriend the Execupundit has a sunny outlook on life. It's almost depressing for an Irishman to read it.

My Interfriend Thud in Liverpool builds wondrous stuff. Going Green.
I thought everything beautiful and useful was banished from the world forevermore. Thud proves me wrong by building things and having children.

Harriett reads and comments here, and I think of her as something akin to my target audience. This is the most moving tribute to an ordinary person I've ever read.
I'd rather someone asked why they didn't put up a statue to me, than why they did. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Ode to a Drywalled Hellhole

Ode to a Drywalled Hellhole

by: Wes Montgomery Burns

Though you should build a breakfast bar in divorced men's homes,
Install a concrete counter made precast,
Stitch estimates together for the sale, with loans
To fill it out, inkstained and aghast;
Although your profit be a bill of sale,
Long overdue, yet still hard with agony,
Your mortgage large uprootings from the skull
Of bald Bernanke; certes she would fail
To find her checkbook, unless she
Dreameth in aisles of DSW in the mall.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Hip Hip

I used to play this song for money. It was popular just then, or maybe it was a year or so after it was popular. We were like musical vampires, always playing somebody else's favorite song. I got my amusements where I could find them. Some of the songs were more fun to play than others. This was one of those pleasant accidents where people liked something you didn't dread on the setlist. It was certain death to play a song simply because you liked playing it. You are not the audience, and the audience can't be expected to amuse you.

It's an example of if you don't get what you like, you better like what you get. I used to sing the little tag line at the end of this song, way up high, and it was fun for me. I was always the worst singer in the band, no matter how many people shuffled through it, but for one little minute I sang a happy little phrase that stood out that made people happy to hear it.

We'll never feel bad anymore is not a happy thing to sing. It sounds happy but it isn't. It made me happy to sing it because I wasn't. Is there more than a wistful litote to sing in this life? I don't know. Hip Hip.

[Update: Thud from Over the Water in Liverpool put the boys on his blog. Next stop, the Cavern Club!]

Friday, February 20, 2015

Will Play Guitar For Food

Of course, ultimately we all hold up our own personal signs that read: WILL _______FOR FOOD. We stand at the end of the ramp on the highway overpass of life with our bags of oranges or our Bachelor of Arts and peddle, peddle, peddle.

The way the world lets you peddle is way, way different now. Some people embrace the new way wisely, and they're well-suited to it. Tim Pierce, the pleasant fellow in the video, seems to have rolled out his video instructional channel as a vision of the whole thing right away. He's gotten tens of thousands of subscribers to his channel right quick, and for good reason. He has the only two things that matter on the Intertunnel. He can demonstrate (understatement warning) some form of  ability, and he also has evidence of what I call the magic beans: he made money at it already.

People will listen to you if you can convince them you have the magic beans, even if you're useless. People will pay attention to you in a more desultory fashion if you have a demonstrated ability. If you have both, they're an unbeatable combination.

Tim Pierce was kind to my Heir once. I'm not sure he'll ever need to move a body, but I'll take the feet if it ever comes up.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Past Is Foreign Country. They Do Things Differently There

You do not want to go to 1971.

Idi Amin just got elected on the fava beans and Chianti ticket. Sixty-six people were killed by a staircase in Glasgow. Rolls Royce went bankrupt but OPEC didn't. South Vietnam invaded Laos because they didn't have anything to do on a rainy Sunday afternoon. Fifty tornadoes killed 74 people minding their own business in Mississippi, because the tornado industry was unionized and featherbedded back then. The United Nations declared the first Earth Day because the Earth needed an agent, I guess. The Khmer Rouge started getting frisky in Phnom Penh.There was some unpleasantness in Attica State Prison. The Montreux Casino burned down during a Frank Zappa concert, prompting Deep Purple to write Smoke on the Water. Audie Murphy died and Kid Rock was born. Richard Nixon imposed a 90-day freeze on wages, which has somehow lasted until today for me.

Knowing all this, Ike Turner's hairstyle makes perfect sense.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Paperback Writer, All Shipshape and Bristol Fashion

The Moon Loungers are listed on these here Intertunnels as the "Finest wedding band in Bristol and the South West." It doesn't specify the southwest of what, exactly.

Playing at weddings is a tough gig. I've done it. I remember, distinctly, one wedding job in Newport, Rhode Island. It was held on the second floor of a converted building on a pier over the ocean. The groom and the best man were musicians, and they played as a duo around Newport at many of the same places we did. I still have a few happy bruises on my person from Salve Regina night down there.

There are always early indications of how any wedding job is going to go. Certain cues that are invisible to a newbie but a billboard for an old hand. In this case, a woman so old that she was inside-out shambled up to us with a walker, looked at me with a glass eye and the guitar player with a milky one, and asked, "What time does the orchestra start?"

The guitar player is a carpenter, and we used to work together building things from time to time. Whenever things were going really badly -- if you'd just nailed your foot to the floor; if you'd just cut through a water pipe; if you'd just fallen off a ladder; if the check bounced; if the building inspector showed up and he turned out to be a guy you beat up every day in high school; no matter what -- we'd turn to each other and ask in unison, "What time does the orchestra start?"

The groom jumped out the window halfway through our second set, by the way.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Land That Time Forgot

Apparently Saturday Night Live had a 40-year birthday party for itself. Show business folk like giving themselves praise and awards. They have the sneaking suspicion no one else would, I imagine. I didn't watch it. The show was kinda funny 40 years ago. Since then, not so much. You can only be subversive once. After that, you're bound to become hidebound. The last person to be truly subversive on the show was fired for it, a very long time ago. I knew him a very little.

The, ahem, paper of record didn't even mention him when maundering on about all the dead alums, so I will. I wrote about him ten years ago. Suicide, like true subversion, is a trick you can only pull once.  Farewell, Captain Packard.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Life Is Still Accumulated Error, and Don't Get Me Started On Sunk Costs, Either

[First offered eight years ago. Criminey. Eight]

Our internet friend Patrick down south in the Red Stick State is making a table. He's asked a question, and it was bound to bring on the logorrhea, mostly off-topic. Here's the question:
Now, since you've offered advice upon the seeking of it, how does one make all the legs on a little table come out the same size? I clamped mine together in sawing and making the dadoes and everything so they'd all be the same height and have the shelves at the same spot and everything, and one leg still came out shorter than the rest (I suspect warpage). Do I just keep sanding the others until they're evened out?
This is interesting as all get-out. We have encountered the confounding and somewhat counterintuitive "Accumulated Error."

There is a long and boring explanation of accumulated error regarding mathematics, science, and climate predictions. We need not trouble ourselves with that here, as we begin with our eyes glazed over from bending over the tablesaw. No need to keep basting them.

What we are referring to is well known to the man who must measure over and over again. If I measure a foot with a ruler, and make a mark, and then measure again from that mark, and then again and again, certain dreadful things begin to happen. First, after about 36 tries, I'll be outside, and it's snowing, and I don't want to go there. More to the point, if I am making an error -- say, the ruler is wrong -- and I continue remaking that error while using my last erroneous point to start making my next mistake, things can get really bad really quick. I said "can" get bad, but that's just an expression. They "do" get bad, and you get fired or not paid, and so forth. Your tables begin to list to port. What's happening?

Eisenhower might be the most able executive we ever had as chief magistrate. He said: "A plan is nothing; planning is everything." He understood accumulated error. You have to take into account the vagaries of constant changes.

Now, back to our table. It wobbles. Patrick is downcast. We must help.

First, Patrick, you're very cheeky to just make four legs and expect them to turn out alright. A professional wouldn't figure he'd have any sort of success doing that, and he'd make fourteen or so, hoping to get three good ones, and one that don't look half bad in the firelight. The firelight is generally cast from a lovely blaze in your winter fireplace made from the other ten legs. But you are brave, and do the crossword in pen, and we must help you.

They are all a little different. You tried, but wood is not steel, and you are not a machinist. Your pencil marks waxed and waned, thick and thin. The angle of your head changed while you were reading the markings on your tools and measuring instruments. Hell, the humidity changed and the wood decided it wanted to be closer to the size it was when the birds were chirping in it last week. You were accumulating errors, and you can barely calculate how many ways that material and those tools and your own efforts will betray you. Wood only expands or contracts across its grain, so table legs and so forth don't really get longer and shorter. A dry pine board 11 inches wide might gain or lose 1/8" in width in a week, but a 12 foot long board won't gain 1/8" in length. Tabletops move all around. Legs don't do much.

Don't fret. Make the table as best you can. Make the pieces as accurately as you can manage it. Align your joints. Center the baulks of wood in the clamps so that the center of the screw is in the center of the board you're clamping, not offset and yanking it one way or the other. Measure assembled rectangles from corner to corner diagonally, and then the opposite diagonal, and when they are the same, the thing is "square." Do your best to not let the errors accumulate; make only one mistake at a time.

It will still wobble. Mine do.

Now take that table, if it's small enough, and place it on the only thing you own that's flat, which is your tablesaw's tabletop, and wobble it. Two table legs, diagonal from one another, will not lift off the tablesaw. Leave those alone for now. Wobble the table until the other two legs are off the saw, and equalize the amount each is off the table. Use something to measure that distance between the bottom of these legs and the sawtable top. Mark that measurement on those two legs I told you to leave alone, those that WILL NOT wobble. I use a scribe, which is like a compass, to make such measurements and markings. Sand or cut to the line. Now the table will not wobble. When the table is bigger it's much harder  to find a flat surface to accommodate all four legs. Kitchen counters are generally very flat, especially if they are stone, as many are these days.Try that.

If you make a mistake cutting and measuring for the wobble, over and over, accumulated error butts in and eventually you will sand and cut your way to the top the legs, and you'll have a nifty cutting board.

By the way, accumulated error is why climate scientists tell you it's going to be 500 degrees centigrade next summer, or there will be sheets of ice stretching over the Florida panhandle -- depending on who gives them their grant money and whether their ruler has 11-1/2" or 12-1/2" inches to the foot.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Curse (Revisited)

A toymaker grown old

Moiled away, day by day.

Kept a self up on a shelf

Because he was perfection.

People came to give him sums

Then went away with a prize he devised

None as splendid as The One.

One day the manikin spat out his dust

And spoke: Unjust!

There will never be one fine as me

I've seen you labor every hour

Since birth, unplanned, made by your hand

You kept me for show, a quid pro quo

But you could do it only once.

Thousands pay and go away

With my form, deformed.

Lanky; squat; beautiful or full of knots.

But not me. Never me.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Festival of the Kiss

Will you thumb through the pictures when I am gone?

Will my face, made careworn and tired, be restored in your mind's eye? I cannot know what it was you ever saw in me. I cannot understand how you could know that when I said those things all people say to one another, almost without thinking, that I would really mean them. I said it and only half believed it myself, uttering such extravagant pledges of dubious value. Not for want of them being true. But I am unreliable.

There is nothing in this world but to love, and be loved in return. In a hundred years the most important man you ever met is anonymous. In a thousand everyone is. We cobbled together a life around the table where we break the bread, and for a few thousand times we were as one. I saw your face in our children's faces. You said you saw mine. The universe passed the plate, and we put in our offering. We are poor, but it's enough for anyone to give. No man could do more. No man could ask for more.

I remember when I was lying on the bed like a dead thing, and you came into the room and thought I was asleep. I wasn't asleep; I was gone from sight, and sound, and lost in a fever. I lay there in a puddle of sweat and more; my very life coming out of every pore, leaving nothing but a husk where a man used to be.

And you kissed me. I remember.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Valentine's Day 2015 Wishes From Unorganized Hancock

The Sippican Clan hates Christmas in October. We don't like going to the Walmart to look for warm gloves in late January only to find flip flops and bathing suits because winter clothes are two seasons ago in retail. But we must make adjustments for the wants and needs of the Intertunnel.

You didn't know the Intertunnel has wants and needs? You must be new around here. The Interwebs is a bunny-boiling girlfriend on the side, and don't you forget it: Well, what am I supposed to do? You won't answer my spam, you change your URL. I mean, I'm not gonna be ignored, Dan!

There's an arms race for attention on these here Intertunnels that makes Christmas sales held two weeks before Thanksgiving a mere bagatelle. If Unorganized Hancock doesn't put out their jaw-dropping, magnificent Valentine's Day 2015 wish to all their faithful supporters at least four days early, by Thursday BuzzFeed will be running Top 10 Places to Vomit on Saint Patrick's Day listicles, and the kids will be ignored.

So accept this heartfelt token of unorganized affection from my Heir and my Spare. Tell a friend, paste it onto your webpage, slam into your Facefriends account, or mash it into your Jitter feed. We can make this the official Valentine's Day 2015 wish of the Intertunnel if everyone taps their Crocs together three times and makes a wish.

[Update: Many thanks to the relentlessly pleasant Kathleen M. in the Nutmeg State for her generous support for the boys via our TipJar. It is much appreciated]
[Additional Update: Many thanks to longtime friend and supporter of Unorganized Hancock Dave R. from California for his generous donation to the boys' TipJar. It's greatly appreciated]

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Highlights of Life in Western Maine From the Rumford Meteor

Well, it's snowing. Luckily for us, it's only snowed once this year. Snowing continuously from January 2nd until tonight is still just once, right? It should stop before noon on Father's Day so we can have a barbecue, so it's no biggie, really.

It's hard to while away the hours between chipping the ice off the seat in the privy in the morning and putting the cat out at night for the seven seconds of outdoor time he requires daily. In between, we like to peruse the Rumford Meteor for all the week's events up here in the Pine Street State. Er, I meant Pine Tree State. It's nice to sit by the stove and feed in the pellets while munching on the ones that get stuck in the auger. They're like miniature pretzel rods. Anyhoo, here's the best headlines from the Meteor, so you can learn why the slogan on Maine's highway sign used to read The Way Life Should Be, before all the shotgun blasts from passing hunters turned it into "The Waif hole" with an interesting kerning structure.

To my eye, the writers of the stories on the Meteor have done a fair job of gussying up the news so it won't hurt any feelings -- like telling a man that his wife is purdy and his kids are smart, even though his wife was thrown out of the roller derby for leaving grooves in the hardwood floor, and his kids lick the bus windows on the way to the learning center, which is what I gather they call school if the kids consume more crayons than reading material. After all that work by the staff, the headline writer goes and ruins the effect by blurting out the truth like a frostback Forrest Gump or something. That's a hamfisted way to run a paper, but it's all we got until the dogsled brings the serum and last year's Globe to replenish the privy nail. Enjoy!

Brian Williams Taking Time Off to Look for the Blue Max NATO Gave Him for Shooting Down Bin Laden

Last Four Copies of the Magna Carta Displayed to the Last Four People in London Not Named Patel

Tom Brady Casually Mentions To Roger Goodell That There’s Always the Same Amount of Air in the Goddamned Trophy

Maine to Receive Yet Another Foot of Snow. Meteorologists Wonder How This Might Affect New York City

Portland Cited Among Top Cities for Gay Traveling. Critics Say They Should Be Required to Dribble the Ball Every Two Steps Just Like Everyone Else

Authorities Rush to Scene of School Bus and Log Truck Crash to Make Sure All the Apple Laptops Are OK

Lincoln County Historical Association Trying To Figure Out Where To Display A Signed Devo Concert Poster

April Is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. If You’re Unaware You’re Being Sexually Assaulted, Maybe You Should Lose Some Weight

Hollywood Casino Revenue Dips When A Guy Pays His Rent Instead

College Starts Sustainable Agriculture Farm On The Site Of A Sustainable Organic Dairy Farm That Went Out Of Business

Many more at the Rumford Meteor

Update! I just checked the weather report. Hmmm. Al Gore must be in town. Ah, well, that's the beauty of Maine. It's reliable:

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Unorganized Hancock: The Birf of Rock 'n Roll

My two sons, AKA Unorganized Hancock, are working on all sorts of new things. Wonderful things. The Heir finished a recording two days ago, and I made him play it for me ten straight times. Then I made him play it for me ten straight times, ten straight times. There's no video to go with it just now, so they can't put it on the Unorganized Hancock page yet. 

I collect different sets of viewers here on this blog. People rinse me out of their hair from time to time. I speak disparagingly of their iPhone, or the TV they keep over their fireplace, or the powder blue and cocoa brown color scheme in their kitchen, and they don't understand that I mean nothing by it. People give me a rest for a spell, and then return when they figured I've had enough time to simmer down and have started insulting an entirely different set of people. Either that, or they've painted over either the cocoa brown or the powder blue by then.

For that reason, many people only know Unorganized Hancock from their recent videos, like More, or Take Five. The video that serves as a Epiphone Wildkat Guitar Review, Minor Swing, has passed all their other videos, as I expected it would. Strangers seem to like Unorganized Hancock videos better than my friends do for some reason, present company excepted. I don't know why that is. But true strangers see videos like Minor Swing and their jaw drops a bit, even though it's a so-so take.

It's profoundly dangerous to look at YouTube comments. They're the modern version of Medusa. But Osgoode left this comment on the Minor Swing video last night:
Phenomenal. Absolutely phenomenal - considering some of the material on here, this should be 4,00703.00 views. Unorganized Hancok. I'll remember that name.
Amen, brother. I absolutely adore the fact that he pledged to remember their name, and spelled it wrong right out of the gate. That's the Internet, in all its majesty. It's like driving a Formula One car with a tiller.

The kids have been making videos for about three years now. I thought they were always good, and they've certainly gotten much better, but they were recorded in such a rudimentary fashion that the viewer had to perform mental arithmetic to figure out how good they were. The Internet is being professionalized, and you're not allowed to make viewers do sums anymore. It occurred to me that new readers might not have seen where the whole schtick came from.

Way back when, reader Dave demanded that the kids play a form of Stump the Band, and offered them money if they would do it. He was as good as his word, and many people have followed his lead and supported the kids via our TipJar over in the right hand column, for which we are very grateful. Unorganized Hancock performs using equipment purchased by my readers. They wouldn't be able to perform at all, otherwise. It's really as simple as that. In a large way, you've all had as much to do with whatever they've been able to accomplish as I have.We got away from true Stump the Band, because there was always a hint of hostage video in the kids eyes while I was recording them. I didn't want anything to be forced. The Spare Heir is still only eleven, and he was only eight years old in some of the earliest videos we made of him playing the drums.

But that wasn't truly the birth of Unorganized Hancock. With apologies to my wife and her lady parts, two-and-a-half years ago, this was the birth of Unorganized Hancock:

[Note: Many thanks to Jeffrey H. from Alabama for supporting the kids via the Tipjar]
[Update: Many thanks to Ray Vee from South Cee for his generous hit on the TipJar. It is much appreciated]