reasons to blog: #2 — finding the mummy of John Wilkes Booth

Bloggers have certainly achieved a dazzling influence in today’s world. Some bloggers claim—with some reason—to have brought down Dan Rather, for example. And I am almost certain that it was the threat of impending blogging exposure that prompted Mark Felt’s confession to having been Deep Throat.

Well, it’s time for bloggers to unite in achieving something TRULY IMPORTANT.

It is time to find the missing mummy of John Wilkes Booth.

Rather than outlining the entire mystery of the missing mummy here, I would advise all readers to spend time time googling to familiarize themselves with the case. At present it should suffice to say that Booth’s mummified remains have been missing since 1975, where they were last seen in New Hope, Pennsylvania.

I am quite confident that the vast majority of readers will find this situation intolerable. (In fact, many of you have probably spent many sleepness nights over it, as I have.) And most of you, as I, have probably felt quite impotent in the matter.

So I offer a solution: bloggers must get involved, and find that mummy!

My plan:

1. Make the entire blogosphere aware of the situation. Links to my blog are of course welcome—but I’m not in this for the credit, so feel free to voice your own concerns in your own way in your own blog. The important thing is to raise as much awareness as possible.

2. Look for the mummy! When was the last time you were in your own attic or basement? When was the last time you visited your grandparents’ house and looked in their closets? How about your neighbors? Remember, in case people find your nosiness impertinent, to be honest, for this raises awareness. If asked, say: “I’m looking for the mummy of John Wilkes Booth.” They will no longer consider you rude, but civic-minded. I promise.

3. This next step is way beyond my lowly status as a blogger with an audience of 10, but for those giants of the blogosphere: we should offer a reward. If everyone pitched in a fiver or so, and the giants five figures, we might be able to come up with a cool ten mil or so. Maybe we need more. Maybe less. The point is that we need to back up our resolve with the kind of persuasion only violence and bribery can achieve, and being a non-violent sort—we bloggers—we must resort to cold, hard cash. Unless you find the mummy in your grandparents’s closet; in which case I would expect you not to take the reward but instead accept the gratitude of your fellow bloggers.

4. Well, I haven’t yet thought of a step four, but your comments are welcome.

So there is the challenge. Are you up to it for the good of humanity and the sanctity of historical accuracy? Do you want to change the world? Do you want to see the most famous American mummy of them all find a respectable resting place rather than languish in some millionare collector’s bank vault?

The most important thing is this: I have given all of you a reason to blog, in case you didn’t have one. So blog away, and let us recover an important part of America’s heritage.

And by the way, I guess I should give you a picture, in case the mummy you find in your neighbor’s basement is NOT John Wilkes Booth.

Here he is, in 1931 (from HistoryBuff.com):

mummy.jpeg

The mummy is the one on the right.

Thank you for your attention, and happy hunting!

jj

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bourbon on my mind

This is the last weekend of my alcohol fast. Last night I watched the two documentaries about the making of The Outlaw Josie Wales which accompany the movie on the DVD (I didn’t watch the movie, though, as it didn’t quite fit my mood). There’s one scene in the movie where Josie, upon finding that the saloon hasn’t had whiskey for some time, brings in a case to the cheers and wonderment of the few remaining town inhabitants. I cheered myself. But I, unlike the lucky patrons of that saloon, had to remain thirsty.

And I remain frustrated that bourbon-wise this town is nearly a lost cause: just Jim Beam and Jack Daniel’s and a few premiums brands which will set you back 30 or 40 Euros. What I WANT is to be able to walk into a supermarket and pick up a liter of Wild Turkey 101 for a reasonable price. What does Wild Turkey 101 cost these days in the States.

It’s Google Time!

[pause]

Well, that was a waste of time. What did I expect in America, where availability and price for booze varies widely from state to state. I found an online retailer selling it for $33 or so, and I found a price list for the Virgina ABC ($28.95). Pennsylvania sells it by the liter only at specialty outlets, but you can get it for $21.95. I saw some online gift shops wanting $45, but I suppose that includes gift packaging and maybe even shipping. Anyway, in America you can pay anywhere from 20 to 50 bucks for the same bottle of Wild Turkey.

I guess that I shouldn’t complain, since alcohol is apparently much more strictly regulated in some American states than in Germany, where it is hardly regulated at all. But at least there I could get my Wild Turkey.

I did see a one liter bottle of Laphroaig for 39 Euros in the window of a closed tobacco shop.

That’s not relevant, is it?

JJ

apocalypse now redux

Last night I watched my new copy of Apocalypse Now Redux. It was an impulse buy from Amazon—I was ordering something else and tacked it on to the same order at the last second—as I was anxious to see the added 49 minutes.

Let me first say that I have thought about buying Apocalypse Now since getting my DVD player a year ago, simply because it would appear on my “Top Ten” list of films. But, having been late coming to DVD, I was unaware of the Redux version. I generally think that director’s cuts are a very bad idea. (Kind of like Paul McCartney going back and re-engineering Let it Be—an act for which he should have his Beatle’s license taken away. I mean, if Orson Welles were alive today, does anyone have the temerity to claim that he might issue a director’s cut of Citizen Kane? Only if he had gone completely insane.) So I was prejudiced against Redux even before I saw it.

As it stands, I feel somewhat indifferent. But on balance, Coppola should have left it alone. Aside from any small changes I might not have noticed, there were basically four significant additions to the film:

1). The sequence with Col. Kilgore (Robert Duvall) was lengthened to add a scene where Willard steals his surfboard right before boarding the PT boat. This provides some comic relief, I suppose, but comic relief in this film is—IMHO—unnecessary and unwelcome.

2). An entire sequence where the boat arrives at some outpost, being drenched in torrential rains and occupied by burned out soldiers without any commanding officer, at which the Playboy bunnies have been stranded. Willard bargains two barrels of diesel for time witht he bunnies, and a scene with Chef and Lance and two bunnies ensues. It’s bizarre—which fits the movie, I suppose—but comic and very boring. The comic relief is, again, unwelcome in this film. The very boring is unwanted in any film. Too bad that Coppola added this.

I’ve got to get more tea and make something for breakfast. So wait a few minutes.

[pause]

Okay, I’m back.

3). A lengthy sequence where the boat stops at what turns out to be a French plantation. There is a dinner scene in which several Frenchmen lecture Willard about the French presence in Vietnam and the war and bla bla bla, while Willard just listens and receives smoking glances from some widow who we know is planning to seduce him later.

If you poke around the internet a while, you’ll find that this scene is universally panned as boring, preachy and totally unnecessary. I must concede the “unnecessary” part, since the film was fine without it.

But I personally found the sequence riveting.

First of all, the dinner scene is—in keeping with the movie—so bizarre as to be almost hallucinogenic. It ranks up there with Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Eraserhead.  There are at least fifteen or twenty people around the table.  They eat their fine food and drink their fine wine while the head of the family preaches to Willard.  There are others—a young, overly emotional man sitting next to Willard; an old man, being spoon fed, at the opposite end of the table; a guy with an accordian sporadically playing wildly inappropriate music between conversation points—offering bizarre interuptions and additions to the sermon.

But the sermon (and this, I think, is what other reviewers miss) not simply a good, solid, rational explanation of why a French colonialist would wish to remain in his “home” and an indictment of American involvement.  No, while some of it might make sense, on the whole it reeks of hysteria and desperation.  This man (Marais is his name, if I’m interpreting IMDB correctly) is yet another partial lunatic in the succession of increasing lunacy as Willard approaches Kurz.  In this sense—showing a group of Frenchman, trying to hang on to their property and sanity in Vietnam in the midst of full-scale military conflict—is much more interesting and effective than the surfboard theft and bunny scenes.  Those who see it as simply preachy should pay more attention to the incoherence of the sermon.

The seduction scene, when it comes, is equally bizarre.  The widow makes a pretentious and stupid speech about Willard being, like her dead husband, “two men:  one who kills, and one who loves”, while loading an opium pipe for Willard. They smoke. Then she strips and lowers mosquito netting around the bed in a choreographic sequence which makes the whole thing seem like an opium haze.

(The only part which truly hurts the scene is in the early part: during their after dinner drinks, when she starts to make her move, there is some truly sappy romantic sounding music which is embarassing.)

4.) Some scenes were added to the Brando sequence in Kurze’s compound.  I found it all riveting.  More Brando can only be good.  I do not understand why Coppola cut it to begin with.

So that’s my take on the Redux material.  I would have left out the comic relief, but kept the Brando stuff in.  The plantation sequence I’m indifferent to:  I found it effective, but the majority seems to find it boring.

My recommendation:  rent it once and watch it.  But don’t buy it.  Only buy the original release.

Later I’ll post on director’s cuts in general.  But for now I need yet another tea.

jj

advice on sex-slave contracts

A fellow blogger stopped by yesterday, and when that happens I usually check out the person’s blog. Interesting stuff, but I was particularly fascinated by his link to this: sicko.

I’m not quite sure what to make of it. It’s very easy to make jokes, of course, as the guy has a frightenly specific wish list for his partner, and would seem to be a control freak with unreasonable expectations for submissiveness. Should any man expect this of any woman, it would be sick.

Yet I find it hard to believe that the whole story is being told here. It could very well be the case that the man and his wife were involved in some kind of alternative sexual relationship in which such contracts often exist, whether written or implied. But then, I don’t know a damn thing about the whole world of BDSM, dominant/submissive, and voluntary sex slavery (yes, the latter seems an oxymoron, but I have been assured that it exists), so as far as I know the concept of a “contract” written or implied is alien even to practicians of alternative sexuality.

Is this a case in which a man hoped to push a sex-slave contract onto an unwilling partner? Perhaps. But why in the world would he have hoped for her to sign it if there was no kind of prior experience with his wife to lead him to expect it? He would have to indeed be a sicko.

And maybe he is.

We seem to have two possibilities:

1.) The guy is a sicko, who decides out of the blue to deliver a contract to his wife dictating all sorts of personal behavior and expecting her to comply with his every whim.

2.) The couple was involved in a mutual, voluntary, dominant/submissive relationship, and after it went sour the wife took out the written contract to use against him.

As a general rule, I would advise: never put anything in writing that could, in another context, be misconstrued as illegal.

Very specifically, I would advise: keep your sex-slave contracts verbal, outside the presence of listening or recording devices or witnesses. And when the relationship ends, try to part on good terms, lest the partner take tales of horsewhips and fruit pies handcuffs to the police.

jj

how to bake a chard tart

This morning I’m baking a chard tart. And I thought I’d blog about it because, after almost 30 years of being an enthusiastic hobby cook, I find that this recipe has just about the best ratio of effort/effect of any I know. It’s easy, easy, easy…yet it never fails to impress. It is the perfect recipe for a romantic evening: you bake it at your leisure, then serve it with a side dish of pasta and a nice wine, and your date will think you’re the reincarnation of Julia Child or something. Yet it is EASY.

I won’t exactly give you a recipe, but a rough outline of how to make it.

1. The crust. You take a small-sized coffee mug, fill it with flour and dump it into a mixing bowl, then repeat. (That’s two cups altogether, for the special people out there). Then you fill the mug up half with cold water, half with extra virgin olive oil. Dump it and a healthy pinch of salt into the mixing bowl. Mix. Then press the mixture into a spring form pan and put it to cool somewhere for an hour or two.

2. The filling. You sautee your finely chopped chard with one onion, seasoned as you like, until the excess water is cooked off. Put the chard in the mixing bowl with 1-3 beaten eggs and 1-3 kinds of cheese. (I usually use mozarella, feta, and gouda). A splash of cream doesn’t hurt. One important tip: more eggs makes it quiche-like, so quiche haters be forewarned.

Bake the crust for about 10 minutes by itself, then add the filling and bake until the crust is brown.

Serve it with the sourest Riesling you can find.

And send me a thank you note the next morning.

jj

a bourbon for gay cowboys in Germany with a fruit pie fetish.

I’ve got bourbon on the brain. I’ve gone over three weeks without alcohol, and that means I’ve had a lot of non-drinking time to think about drinking.

My plan, as I’ve already written, is to break my fast with bourbon. But since I’m boycotting Jack Daniel’s, and since I don’t want a cheap brand like Pennypacker (and I’m not going to pay for Jim Beam when—at least to me—it tastes like Pennypacker), I’ve been looking around to see what’s out there.

In town we can buy some interesting things, but mostly in the higher priced category of over 30 Euros a bottle. Karstadt, for example, has Knob Creek. And I did find a Wild Turkey Rye at a local store—but they want over 40 Euros for it.

The most interesting stuff, as usual, is online. Online you can find a rather large selection of bourbons, including, for example, Buffalo Trace, which I’ve read good things about.

But while I wouldn’t turn down a gift of any of these things, the one that really lights my fancy is this:

BulleitFrontier_350_193x369.jpeg

Now, that looks like my kind of whiskey!!! It’s called Bulleit Bourbon Frontier Whiskey, and looks not only fit for a man to drink, but has one of the coolest bottles I’ve ever seen. It weighs in at 90°, so there’s none of this pussified Jack Daniel’s perfidy going on. If you order it here, you can get it for 19.95 Euros a bottle. And the whole “frontier” motif thing has me all charged up and yodeling like Hank Williams. I know it’s just marketing. But I’m ready for a bottle. Hell, I’m ready for a case and I’ve never even tried the stuff.

Now I’ve just got to worry about how to get a free case from the company (assuming one of my faithful readers doesn’t beat them to the honor.) Here’s my plan:

1.) I’ll put a link on my blog. Then when the 10,000 readers a day show up and start clicking away, they’ll notice that thousands of hits per day are coming from stoneunhinged and say, “That man deserves a case!” Heres the link: Bulleit.

2.) I’ll give a title to this post which will attract the most possible searches, based on the search terms which have already brought so many—though admittedly less than 10,000 so far—to my blog.

Which explains the above title to this post. In case you were wondering.

jj