Solace for the Magpie Mind.
[A "Commonplace Book" is a collection of random quotations, favorite authors, conversations, clippings, or scribbles on a bathroom wall. Entries are not considered a Rorschach test. Additions will be woven into the main body, with initials to credit the contributor.]

I know just enough about myself to know I cannot settle for one of those simplifications which indignant people seize upon to make understandable a world too complex for their comprehension. Astrology, health food, flag waving, bible thumping, Zen, nudism, nihilism -- all of these are grotesque simplifications which small dreary people adopt in the hope of thereby finding The Answer, because the very concept that maybe there is no answer, never has been, never will be, terrifies them. (John D. MacDonald)
“It is pretty obvious that the debasement of the human mind caused by a constant flow of fraudulent advertising is no trivial thing. There is more than one way to conquer a country.” (Raymond Chandler)
"We're looking with intensity at the next generation, trying to engage them early. We need people who will stand up and say, 'This is not acceptable in the 21st century.' Right now, this is not a battle we're winning." (Jennifer Parmelee on a video game, “Food Force”, developed for the World Food Program.)
I see more genuine sociability between the races in Mississippi than I see in Michigan. No question.
-- Jim Harrison
It's a tonic to find real readers because they just read massively.
-- Jim Harrison
Research by Jay D. Wexler, a law professor at Boston University, using transcripts of oral arguments at the United States Supreme Court. Story here.
I never saw any of them again - except the cops. No way has yet been invented to say goodbye to them. (Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye)
Her eyes rounded. She was puzzled. She was thinking. I could see, even on that short acquaintance, that thinking was always going to be a bother to her. (Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep)
On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks. Anything can happen. (Raymond Chandler, "Red Wind")
Education is something which should be apart from the necessities of earning a living, not a tool therefore. It needs contemplation, fallow periods, the measured and guided study of the history of man's reiteration of the most agonizing question of all: Why? Today the good ones, the ones who want to ask why, find no one around with any interest in answering the question, so they drop out, because theirs is the type of mind which becomes monstrously bored at the trade-school concept. (John D. MacDonald)
"Jack Kirby was a master of his craft, and he produced outrageous, wacky shit like this with such certainty and skill that you either had to embrace it or just stop reading comics altogether because you suck." Dave’s Long Box

“The appeal is meant to raise money for UNICEF projects in Burundi, Congo and Sudan, Henon said. However, because of its graphic and disturbing scenes, this cartoon is not for everyone. The advertisement is aimed at an adult audience and is shown only after 9 p.m. to avoid upsetting youngsters.
The video is peacefully introduced by birds, butterflies and happy Smurfs playing and singing their theme song when suddenly, out of the sky, bombs rain down onto their forest village, scattering Papa Smurf and the rest as their houses are set ablaze.
The bombs kill Smurfette, leaving the orphaned Baby Smurf weeping. The ad ends with the text "don't let war destroy the children's world.’... UNICEF traditionally uses real-life images of playing and laughing children but decided to change it for something that would shock people, Henon said.
‘The public is not easily motivated to do things for humanitarian causes and certainly not when it involved Africa or children in war,’ he said.... ‘We see so many images that we don't really react anymore,’ said Julie Lamoureux, account director at Publicis, an advertising agency that drew up the campaign for UNICEF Belgium. ‘In 35 seconds we wanted to show adults how awful war is by reaching them within their memories of childhood.’" (News Story)
“When a book, any sort of book, reaches a certain intensity of artistic performance it becomes literature. That intensity may be a matter of style, situation, character, emotional tone, or idea, or half a dozen other things. It may also be a perfection of control over the movement of a story similar to the control a great pitcher has over the ball.” (Raymond Chandler)
Bill and Emily Hanavan at Christmas.

According to the National Oceanography Center in Britain, the flow of the Gulf Stream has been reduced by 30 percent since 1957. This is caused by freshwater flooding into the North Atlantic from the melting of the Arctic and Greenland ice caps.
“The number of Guantanamo Bay prisoners taking part in a hunger strike that began nearly five months ago has surged to 84 since Christmas Day, the U.S. military said on Thursday....The prisoner population, which the Pentagon says numbers about 500, is believed to be uniformly Muslim. Only nine have been charged with any crime....The detainees began the strike in early August after the military reneged on promises to bring the prison into compliance with the Geneva Conventions, their lawyers said. Detainees are willing to starve to death to demand humane treatment and a fair hearing on whether they must stay, the lawyers said.
Most of the detainees were captured in Afghanistan and have been held for nearly four years.”
--Reuters news story, Dec 30, 2005
“The streets were dark with something more than night.”
-- Raymond Chandler
I don't find anything perceptually accurate or agreeable or sensical about the media view of American culture.
-- Jim Harrison
The fact is, the media never gets off the interstate unless there's a major explosion.
-- Jim Harrison
Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. He is the hero, he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor, by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it.— Raymond Chandler, "The Simple Art of Murder”
I asked a French critic a couple of years ago why my books did so well in France. He said it was because in my novels people both act and think. I got a kick out of that.
-- Jim Harrison
You spend all your life trying to do something they put people in asylums for.
-- Henry Fielding

See Also: Commonplace Book 1


Edward D. Wood, Jr. enlisted in the US Marine Corps and took part in combat in the Marshall Islands and Naumea. He was one of only 400 Americans to survive the invasion of Tarawa, where 3,600 Americans were killed. Mr. Wood had his front teeth knocked out in hand-to-hand combat with an enemy soldier at Tarawa, then served as a G-2 intelligence agent in the South Pacific until he was machine-gunned and one of his legs became gangrenous. After his leg healed, he served as a typist until he was honorably discharged and decorated with the Silver and Bronze Stars, two Purple Hearts, and a Sharpshooter's Medal. After his death from alcoholism, Wood became notorious-- and much beloved-- as one of the worst Hollywood writers of all time.

George W. Bush served as President of the United States in the year 2005. We here at Ormondroyd's Encyclopedia Esoterica believe that the puzzling words spoken by members of the Bush administration are clever references to scripts by the author of "Glen or Glenda", "Plan Nine from Outer Space", "Bride of the Monster" and "Jail Bait".

Guess whether the following quotations were spoken by President Bush in 2005, or written by Edward D. Wood Jr.:

1. “No one can really tell the story. Mistakes are made. But there is no mistaking the thoughts in a man's mind.”
2. “My mind is in a muddle. Like... thick fog. I can't make sense to myself sometimes.”
3. “There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those — changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be — or closer delivered to what has been promised. Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled."
4. "It's totally wiped out. It's devastating, it's got to be doubly devastating on the ground."
5. "It's hard to find something when you don't know what you're looking for."

(1) Edward D. Wood, “Glen or Glenda”
(2) Edward D. Wood, “Glen or Glenda”
(3) George Bush, Feb. 4, 2005
(4) George Bush, Aug. 31, 2005
(5) Edward D. Wood, “Plan Nine from Outer Space”

6. "See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda."
7. “We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives.”
8. “Visits? That would indicate visitors.”
9. I think we are welcomed. But it was not a peaceful welcome."
10. “Is it mad that you destroy other people to save yourselves? You have done this. Is it mad that one country must destroy another to save themselves? You have also done this.”

(6) George Bush, Greece, N.Y., May 24, 2005
(7) Edward D. Wood, “Plan Nine from Outer Space”
(8) Edward D. Wood, “Plan Nine from Outer Space”
(9) George Bush, NBC Nightly News interview, Dec. 12, 2005
(10) Edward D. Wood, “Plan Nine from Outer Space”

11. “We did not come here as enemies.”
12. "You work three jobs? Uniquely American, isn't it? I mean, that is fantastic that you're doing that."
13. "I mean, those were facts. Whether or not it had to happen is-- it didn't have to happen since a human being made the decision. Whether or not it needed to happen, I'm still convinced it needed to happen."
14. "Only the infinity of the depths of a man's mind can really tell the story."
15. "I enjoy taking on the issue. I guess, it's the mother in me."

(11) Edward D. Wood, Plan Nine from Outer Space"
(12) George Bush to a divorced mother of three, Omaha, Nebraska, Feb. 4, 2005
(13) George Bush, Interview with Brian Williams, NBC News, Dec. 12, 2005
(14) Edward D. Wood, "Glen or Glenda"
(15) George Bush on Social Security, Washington D.C., April 14, 2005
16. “People... all going somewhere... all with their own thoughts... with their own ideas... with their own personalities.”
17. “Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns [sic]; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns - the ones we don't know we don't know.”
18. "I am not going to give you a number for it because it's not my business to do intelligent work."
19. “But one thing's sure. __________ is dead-- murdered, and somebody's responsible.”
20. "I am a fashion god… Anything specific I need to do or tweak? Do you know of anyone who dog-sits? … Can I quit now? Can I come home? … I'm trapped now, please rescue me."

(16) Edward D. Wood, “Glen or Glenda”
(17) Donald Rumsfeld, 2002
(18) Donald Rumsfeld, testifying before Congress about the number of Iraqui insurgents, Feb. 16, 2005
(19) Edward D. Wood, “Plan Nine from Outer Space”
(20) E-mails from Ex-FEMA Director Michael Brown, in the days after Hurricane Katrina

"We are giving you all the evidence- based only on the secret testimony of the miserable souls who survived this terrifying ordeal. The incidents, the places... my friends, we cannot keep this a secret any longer! Let us punish the guilty, let us reward the innocent. My friend, you have seen this incident based on sworn testimony. CAN YOU PROVE IT DIDN'T HAPPEN???"


Lewis called with news of a visit to his immediate and extended family in New Orleans and Mississippi. I am excessively fond of New Orleans history and music, and there are suspicions that I may be a lost child of his father's, so this is of some importance to me. Any errors in this casual account are mine.

Everyone in Lewis' immediate and extended family got out before the storm. Most are living northwest of the city or have scattered to six states. Cell phones were out after the storm, so they relayed messages through relatives in Texas and California until they knew everyone was safe.

The harder hit areas, in Mississippi and New Orleans proper where the levees broke, still look like miles and miles of war zone and devastation. Driving through the area, Lewis doesn't know how it's ever going to be rebuilt. He says the television reports of businesses reopening here or there don't even begin to show the scale of devastation and waste.
His parents' home, the House of Raging Armadillos, suffered more from wind than water. The wind was strong enough to pop the shingles loose from their adhesive. A favorite Southern Red Maple tree was killed. The water table in Louisiana is too high for a deep root system, and to Lewis' eye, any tree taller than ten or fifteen feet was pulled over or debranched.
Lewis saw lots of people living in FEMA trailers on their front lawns because their house is uninhabitable, the roof covered with blue plastic tarp. There’s a kind of stench to it all. The traffic signals are gone; they've borrowed stop signs from the residential neighborhoods and posted them on the main boulevards.
The Lovely Monica's house in Mandeville was okay, a couple of rafters broken by a fallen tree. Monica's husband Steve was at the house almost the next day with a portable generator. Their old house, near the waterfront in the historic district, was destroyed. Two years ago they moved a little bit further inland.
Sister Peggy and her husband in Slidell were building a house and living in a condo. The condo took two feet of water which wiped out their possessions. They were back the next day gutting everything and starting over.
A civil engineer friend made it back two days after the storm. Made his way down to the lower 9th ward to upscale homes in Lexington. Entire houses were lifted off their slabs and moved the buildings two or three lots down the road. Water was at least up to the doortops. Marsh grass had been transplanted to the roofs of buildings.
Lewis' Aunt Clara in Mississippi lost everything. Her family filled out every form required by FEMA and four months later, she not so much as a card from FEMA acknowledging receipt. She’s one of the Mississippi people, and Lewis suspects a class war in who gets assistance when.
His family members, thank the Lord, have mostly been able to help themselves, with middle to upper middle incomes, private cars, greater education, networks and resources. And minimal damage, except for Peggy and Aunt Clara. More to follow, perhaps with photos from Lewis and Peggy...

See Also: Tell the Truth and Shame the Devil, Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?, The Imperfect Storm, Flaming Assholes If a Social Darwinist Dies, Should Any of Us Care?


TEXT: Taken verbatim from traditional secular British Boxing Day plays, in which the "Doctor" resurrects the dying sun.

Here comes Father Christmas ; who does not know my name?
Sword and buckler by my side, I hope to win the game.
Rise up, good wives, shake your feathers ;
Don't you think that we are beggars !
We are gentles, come to play,
And seek your English good money.
Move off stocks, then move off stools,
Here comes in "The Feast of Fools !"
Muckle head, with little wit
May stand behind the door ;
But such a set as we are
Was never here before !
And in this Room there shall be shown
The finest Battle that ever was known
Between Saint George and ye Turkish Knight

{Enter Saint George who says}

In come I Saint George Saint George
That valiant Man of courage bold
all with my Sword and Spear I won 10 Crowns of Gold
I fought the fierce Dragon and brought him to slaughter
and by this means I won the King of Bohemia's Daughter

Who is it seek the dragon' blood
And speak so angry and so loud?
That English dog who look so proud?
Or if I could catch him with my claws,
Long teet' and harried jaws,
I'll break off his core
And increase my appetite for more.
Marrow from your bone I will squeeze,
And suck your blood up by degrees.

{They fight and St George kills Dragon.}

{Enter Turkish Knight}

In come I the Turkish Knight
old England for the fight
I will fight Saint George that valiant Man of courage bold
and if his Blood is hot I'll quickly make it cold.

{They fight and Saint George vanquishes Turkish Knight.}

{Saint George then Says}

I am a little Man that talks very bold
much like a Lad that I have been told
Therefore draw out thy Sword and fight,
pull out thy Purse and pay -
Satisfaction I will have before I go away

Spare Me Saint George: and do not cut Me down


Oh, I'll cut thee down and thou shalt rise no more
Then forfeit thy life to make a Store.
Gentlemen and Ladies walk out and see what Miracles I've done.
I've cut and slain my Father down all by ye Evening Sun.
Oh Doctor Doctor is there an Italian Doctor lately come from Spain.
To heal ye Sick and raise ye dead again.

Oh yes, there is an Italian Doctor lately come from Spain
To heal ye Sick and raise ye dead again.

{Doctor appears}

Oh Doctor what canst Thou cure

I can cure ye Itch, ye Palsy and Gout
and raging Pains that run both in and out
Broken Legs and arms, if any Man shall break his Neck
I will set it again, and have nothing for my Pains

Oh Doctor what is thy Pay

Ten Guineas is my Fee, but ten pounds I will take of thee
Take it -

Ive got a little Bottle in y Band of my Breeches called Elecampane
{applies it saying} Rise, Beau Champion, and fight again

{Enter Cut and Scar}

In come I cut and scarred - just come from ye bloody War
I and seven more will beat eleven Score.
Marching Men of War, many Battles I have Seen
Many Battles I have been in for Saint George our King.

{Enter Poor and Mean - He Says}

In come I poor and Mean,
hardly worthy to be seen
Christmas comes but once a Year
When it comes it brings good Cheer
Roast Beef, Plum Pudding and mince Pye
no body loves them better than I
a Mug of your Christmas Ale will make us dance and sing
and money in our Pockets is a very fine Thing.

{Enter Bold Slasher}

In come I Bold Slasher, Bold Slasher is my Name
with my Sword and Buckler by my side I hope to win this Game
what Man, what Man comes under my bloody Hand
I cut him and slay Him as small as dust
and send him to ye Cook's Shop to make Pye Crust

{Enter Twing Twang}

In comes Twing Twang,
Lieutenant of ye Press Gang
I press all these bold Mummers and send them aboard a Man of War -
To fight the French and Dutch and Spaniards also

I am St George, that bravely champion bold,
By my sword and spear I own three crowns of gold.
And with behaviour I own the powers of the King of Egypt's daughter.
Stand forth the royal princess and boldly act thy part.

I am the Princess of Sheva, it is my only delight,
To give sweetest pleasure of this bright and gallant knight.

Why there is a sight!
Won't it fill any man' heart to see this dragon slain?
Then subdue. Thou wouldest take thy hand unto thy pocket;
Thou wouldest put thy hand upon thy shoulder.
For I love a woman and a woman love me,
So when I want a fool, I'll surely send for thee.
So dear, If any man' heart who contain in this company
Let him stand forth and boldly tell his name.

I don't want just my courageous knight,
For in this war I and you had seen some sight'
In Palestine, in days of yore,
I boldly scrush and et t'ree hogsheads meal twice per day.
But now I became a giant snail,
I'm just waiting, waiting for a meal.

Ah, Saladim, Saladim, wilt thou comest to St George with sword and spear?
As Christian so damned
Rush to be stand?

Yes, yes, St George, I mean to fight.
For with one blow, I will let you know,
I am not the Turkish Knight.

{They fight; the Giant wins.}
{Enter St. Patrick}

Here come I, St. Patrick, in shining armour bright,
A famous champion & a worthy Knight.
What was St. George? But St. Patrick's boy!
He fed his horses seven long years on oats & hay,
And after that, - he ran away.

I say, by George you lie Sir,
Pull out your sword & try Sir,
Pull out your Purse and Pay Sir,
I'll run my sword through your body
And make you run away Sir.
And if you don't believe what I say
Come in Old Noll and clear the way.

Here come I Oliver Cromwell as you may suppose,
I have conquered many nations, with my Copper Nose;
I made my foes to tremble and my enemies to quake,
And beat all my opposers, till I made their hearts to ache,
And if you don't believe the words I have to say
Enter in Old Beelzebub and clear for me the way.

{B. enters singing to the tune of "Nancy Dawson"}

"Here I come Old Beelzebub;
Here I come Old Beelzebub;
Here I come Old Beelzebub;
And over my shoulder I carry my club;
And in my hand a dripping pan
In my hand a dripping pan,
In my hand a dripping pan,
And I think myself a jolly young man."
And if you don't believe what I say
Come in Mr. Devil Doubt & clear the way.

Here come I little Devil Doubt
If you don't give me money, I'll sweep you all out
Money I want, and money I crave
If you don't give me Money, I'll sweep you all to the grave."

{Exeunt omnes, saying}


I wish You a merry Christmas,
and a happy new Year
a pocket full of Money and a Cellar full of Beer.
See Also: Don't Question Me!; Third Combat Tour in Iraq; Jekyll & Hyde President; Hating the French; The Worms Turn; Pinter's Nobel Speech; et alia

Merry Christmas Eve

A Merry Christmas from little Liam James Norbeck, professional nephew, born December 15, 2005 to Colleen Carol and Dan Norbeck. This is his first meeting with his eccentric relatives, the ones that live in a petting zoo. Eyes responding to mother and father's voices. Grandfather Jim and Uncle Michael with tears in their eyes. Our Phoebe's littermate, Boss Hogg known as Bossie, is shown curled up with the family and accomodating herself to the new baby. Their brother, Professor Bobo, has had to cope with a move and a baby in the same week, and is being verklempt elsewhere in the new house.

I hold to the conceit that animals talk at midnight, and probably deliver messages that show them to be better Christians than the rest of us, excepting of course for Liam. I shall miss their moment of speech again, being at midnight mass to seek the mystery buried underneath the human madness of the world. I leave to them to articulate a proper message of animal wisdom. From Cleo, Fanny, Luna, Phoebe, Doc, Pig, Bossie, Professor Bobo, and from their cousins Rhonda, Twyla, Whisper, Teresa, Shortie, and Tubby. Best to Tank and June, who is not a dog but a hirsute Mexican acrobat. Also Iggy, Maia, and kitten Louise who is no longer the smallest one in the family. Eat. Sleep. Love. Play. No Harm.


Sad to say, our only overseas communications this year involved the wedding of Maureen and Michel, bridesmaid dresses and the wrenching loss of our house rabbit Fanny. No enemies list for pipsqueaks like me this year. The bloggers at The Washington Note sure were eager to know who was on the list, but that was December 16, and by now the list is about as exclusive as toilet paper.

The New York Times, under the stewardship of Arthur Pinch "Rich and Powerful People are Nice to Me, Therefore We Trust Them" Sulzberger, waited until Christmas weekend to reveal that Bush's spying without a warrant was NOT limited to people who might have stood next to a terrorist once. It seems the National Security Agency has without court-approved warrants, been plugged right into tapping directly "the American telecommunication system's main arteries".

And John Conyers-- a Michigan boy, I'm pleased to say-- was first on the board to utter the "I" word, impeachment, in public. Too bad fellatio wasn't involved, or Henry Hyde could jump on there with him. Does anyone else think it odd that a drunken woman picked this week of all weeks to start a public bar fight with Mrs. Conyers?

Of course, the American telecommunications corporations rolled over like micturating daschunds to help the NSA get in the electronic back door. And lots of "concern" has been expressed by judges and agents, but not enough concern for more than one of them to resign.

"Since the disclosure last week of the N.S.A.'s domestic surveillance program, President Bush and his senior aides have stressed that his executive order allowing eavesdropping without warrants was limited to the monitoring of international phone and e-mail communications involving people with known links to Al Qaeda." Is there anyone who believed that? Well, the lickspittle Attorney General, of course. And Idaho. Cheney doesn't believe in anything, he just bulliies you into this week's party line. He's kind of like a short, balding Patsy Stone-- "Don't question me!" And Rumsfeld, the very avatar of arrogance, thinks EVERYONE'S stupid and can't even brook the mildest line of questioning from an NPR reporter without insulting the interviewer. Sadly, this tells us more about Rumsfeld's insecurities than he wants us to know.

The Bush administration says it wants "to detect terrorist plots before they can be carried out". The consensus of the people-who-know-better-than-me seems to be put us at a 70% chance of a terrorist attack with a weapon of mass detruction on US soil within the next 10 years. Nothing in Bush's efforts is likely to better those odds; indeed, this adminstration seems determined to increase the terrorist population. See Also: Jekyll & Hyde President, , St. George vs, the Pagan Knight, ,Missing Link, ,NeoCon Blogging, , Hating the French, The Worms Turn


A post by John Holbo about African stereotypes in fiction (lost kingdoms populated by white royalty, cannibalism, etc,) has evolved into an entertaining discussion of other fictional realms, from the Marx Brothers' Fredonia to the Black Panther's Wakanda. Crooked Timber , as in "Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made", is a handsome and professional looking blog, unlike the raggedy yellowing-old-paperback design you hold in your hands.

Highly recommended literary talk for those who, like Borges, fell in love with imaginary distances. In my case, there were hand-drawn maps of Cimmeria, Middle Earth and other lands pinned up on my bedroom wall throughout my adolescence. And someone on the blog remembered that Marvel put out a map of New York City that pinned down the Parkers' house in Queens, Dr. Strange's house in Greenwich Village or Soho, Avenger's Mansion near the Met, etc. Spidey, a lifelong Mets fan, amuses himself by sitting sideways on the flag pole at Yankee's Stadium and taunting A-Rod.

In our beginning is our end, and I find myself writing about a Benton Harbor, Flint, and Shanghai, China where the streets are paved with magic and the sewers run with forgotten sins. Someone pointed out that the Great American Novel does exist, it is just being mapped out in sections: Hemingway and Jim Harrison have recorded the feeling of birch forests in the Leelanau Peninsula and along Walloon Lake near Charlevoix, Faulkner, O'Conner and Capote certain parts of the rural south, Raymond Chandler still owns parts of Los Angeles, etc. And Borges himself immortalized certain street corners in Buenos Aires where there was a knife fight or a white horse stood in a vacant lot.

And the Official Biography at still lists my birthplace as Pellucidar. How well I remember the trumpeting of the parasaurs. Anywhere but here, or as e.e. cummings puts it, "Listen, there's a hell of a good universe next door, let's go."