Saturday, August 29, 2009


Our pal Diva sent us this weekend report from halfway across the galaxy.

“WASHINGTON - Astronomers have found what appears to be a gigantic suicidal planet. The odd, fiery planet is so close to its star and so large that it is triggering tremendous plasma tides on the star. Those powerful tides are in turn warping the planet's zippy less-than-a-day orbit around its star. The result: an ever-closer tango of death, with the planet eventually spiraling into the star. It's a slow death. The planet WASP-18b has maybe a million years to live, said planet discoverer Coel Hellier, a professor of astrophysics at the Keele University in England. Hellier's report on the suicidal planet is in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature. "It's causing its own destruction by creating these tides," Hellier said. The star is called WASP-18 and the planet is WASP-18b because of the Wide Angle Search for Planets team that found them. The planet circles a star that is in the constellation Phoenix and is about 325 light-years away from Earth, which means it is in our galactic neighborhood.” (Click here for more.)

The secret word is Epic



(Thanks to UK Steve)


And, of course, we have the very correct theme music. Click here.

Friday, August 28, 2009


Valerie brings the plight of the axolotl to our much needed attention…

“The amphibian that never grew up is on the verge of going extinct in the wild.
New survey work suggests that fewer than 1,200 Mexican axolotls remain in its last stronghold, the Xochimilco area of central Mexico.
The axolotl is a type of salamander that uniquely spends its whole life in its larval form.
Its odd lifestyle, features and ability to regenerate body parts make it a popular animal kept in labs, schools and as pets.
But in the wild, the future is bleak for this "Peter Pan" of animals.
Recent surveys suggest that between 700 and 1,200 axolotls ( Ambystoma mexicanum ) survive in six reduced and scattered areas within the Xochimilco area of the Mexican Central Valley.
One of these surveys found just a single axolotl in the whole study region.
The long-term survival of the axolotl in the wild has now become critical, and demands urgent action to restore the animal's number and habitat, say scientists monitoring the population.”
(Click for the whole story.)


Obviously we post this warning as a public service and not as just a lame excuse to run yet another bikini pic. (But it did originate from the ever-lascivious HCB, so the bikini pick is kinda mandatory.) I once fell into one of these celeb traps while looking a picture of Lindsay Lohan – I forget why – and found myself swamped by a half million pop-ups for Golden Palace dot com. (I had a similar experience with My Space which is why I now refuse to go near it except as an observer.)

“NEW YORK – Jessica Biel is the most dangerous celebrity on the Web.
Security technology company McAfee Inc. on Tuesday reported that searches for the 27-year-old actress are more likely to lead to online threats such as spyware and viruses than searches for any other celebrity.
McAfee said fans searching for the actress have a one-in-five chance of ending up at a Web site designed to damage one's computer. Its the third annual report on the subject from McAfee, which last year found that Brad Pitt was the "most dangerous" celeb online.
"Cybercriminals are star watchers, too," said Jeff Green, senior vice president of McAfee's product development. "They latch onto popular celebrities to encourage the download of malicious software in disguise."
Following Biel in the report, in order, were Beyonce, Jennifer Aniston, Tom Brady and Jessica Simpson. McAfee noted President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama are curiously safe searches, ranking no. 34 and no. 39, respectively.”

The secret word is Bait


Antipathy Frozdick had, with great and determined effort, turned holding a grudge into both a fine art and an exact science.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


What seems to be turning into a Space Opera special began with HCB sending me this snippet by Ken Hulsey.

“Infamous actress Traci Lords, yes the same Traci Lords who did the nasty as an underage porn star and tried her hand at being a trance DJ, has been cast in the upcoming film from The Asylum called "Princess of Mars." I can smell a lawsuit a brewing, because just last month it was announced that Andrew Stanton was directing "Princess of Mars" for Disney. That film is set to star Taylor Kitsch, Willem Dafoe and Lynn Collins as the princess. Both films are based on the Edgar Rice Burroughs's novel by the same name. In fact Burrough's penned several novels about John Carter, a wounded Civil War veteran, who mysteriously finds himself transported to Mars where he encounters savage Martians, strange creatures, a slew of sexy maidens. From what I can gather, the Disney version will stay true to the original story, and the version produced by The Asylum will be a modern redo. I think that it would be safe to assume that Disney would take a more 'family-friendly' approach to the story, while The Asylum would take a more 'colorful' path with Traci Lords. I honestly can't see two films called "Princess of Mars" coming out without there being legal trouble, so guess what? My money is on The Asylum changing the name of their film in the near future to save themselves the hassle.”

And I didn’t like the sound of this at all. Not one little bit. I still don’t. Movie gossip and lawsuits be damned. I am extremely protective of the Edgar Rice Burroughs's Mars novels – what’s know as the Barsoom series. You can do what you like with Tarzan or Pellucidar, but hands off Barsoom. ERB wrote Princess of Mars – the first of an eleven book series - in 1911, and, decades later, it was one of the first pieces of fiction that I ever read – in the immediate wake of Dan Dare and Biggles, and well before Mickey Spillane. Set on the kind of dying desert Mars, beloved by any dreaming schoolboy, the one imagined by astronomer-crazy Percival Lowell, with the last of its dwindling water flowing from the exhaused polar icecap along the network of ancient canals, while sword weilding aliens conducted tribal warfare. Wikipedia described the plot thusly. (When contemplating ERB, one tends to use words like thusly)…

“John Carter, a Confederate American Civil War veteran, goes prospecting in Arizona and, when set upon by Indians, is mysteriously transported to Mars, called "Barsoom" by its inhabitants. Carter finds that he has great strength on this planet, due to its lesser gravity. Carter soon falls in among the Tharks, a nomadic tribe of the planet's warlike, four-armed, green inhabitants. Thanks to his strength and combat abilities he rises in position in the tribe and earns the respect and eventually the friendship of Tars Tarkas, one of the Thark chiefs. The Tharks subsequently capture Dejah Thoris, Princess of Helium, a member of the humanoid red Martian race. The red Martians inhabit a loose network of city states and control the desert planet's canals, along which its agriculture is concentrated. Carter rescues her from the green men to return her to her people…etc, etc”
(Click here for the whole deal.)

The secret word is Jeddak


Another attraction for the grubby schoolboy was that Dejah Thoris, Princess of Helium, didn’t wear any clothes. ECB’s first describes her (again) thusly…

“And the sight which met my eyes was that of a slender, girlish figure, similar in every detail to the earthly women of my past life....Her face was oval and beautiful in the extreme, her every feature was finely chiseled and exquisite, her eyes large and lustrous and her head surmounted by a mass of coal black, waving hair, caught loosely into a strange yet becoming coiffure. Her skin was of a light reddish copper color, against which the crimson glow of her cheeks and the ruby of her beautifully molded lips shone with a strangely enhancing effect. She was as destitute of clothes as the green Martians who accompanied her; indeed, save for her highly wrought ornaments she was entirely naked, nor could any apparel have enhanced the beauty of her perfect and symmetrical figure.”



The last of the Kennedy Brothers has gone, and an era has ended. Camelot fades to unconnected legend. I can't say anything more. The TV has already said too much.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Shall we all just stop messing around? Will politicians and the media can the mealy-mouthed acceptance of right wing assholes doing their level damnedest to throw this country into chaos by toting AR15s into public meetings? Shall we stop pretending that any of this is about healthcare or even conventional party politics? All the Fox/Palin/Glenn Beck bullshit, the white trash whining about how they want their country “back the way it was”, the constitutional crap about the First and Second Amendments, the president’s citizenship, the Obama-is-Hitler nonsense, FEMA camps, pulling the plug on Grandma, and all the rest of the orchestrated poison is nothing more than a choreographed campaign by wholly unscrupulous corporate interests and their bought-and-sold communication creatures to steer the nation into maximum-profit, free-enterprise fascism by exploiting a single but hideously deep seated lumpen fear. Barack Obama is the first black president, and a culturally challenged segment of the nation just can’t handle that. The heart of the matter is a Neanderthal racist rage that should have been left in the 20th century and not seized as a tool by intellectually and morally bankrupt political shills. Some of you may object to my use of a Klan picture. Too bad. As far as I’m concerned it’s the symbolic visual of this shameful and shamelessly pandered-to mindset.

The secret word is Rant

Ted Kennedy -- RIP


I have commented more than once to friends and acquaintances about how hard it’s gotta staying Goth in LA. When the mercury’s in the nineties, it can’t be comfortable to dress like Count Dracula or one of his leather-corset, Venus-in-furs, vampire brides. And then I stumbled across a website dedicated to making exactly that point. Click here for Goths In Hot Weather.


As Ned Sublette once remarked – “Cowboys are frequently secretly fond of each other, what did you think those saddles and boots was about? There's many a cowboy who don't understand the way that he feels towards his brother, inside every cowboy there's a lady who'd love to slip out.”
And by way of a bonus, click here for Ned’s Cu-bop version of “Riders In The Sky."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


So the death of Michael Jackson has been deemed a homicide and, if this was a movie, all the telltale signs point to the doctor, who seems to have been feeding the poor boy enough drugs to make Elvis look positively abstemious. Although doctors are popularly represented as selfless angels of mercy, but I’ve never been totally convinced. Too many of the doctors that I’ve encountered in the USA (and a few Brits for that matter) have seemed judgmental and lamentably out of touch with the culture in which they operate. And worse. Count all the worthless plastic surgeons, while the fictional Dr Benway is in the lifeboat with the women and children. Or remember the real-life Dr Brody sitting in the cruel neon of a 24-hour pharmacy, writing scripts for methamphetamine. And, on a more general level, consider all the physicians in comfortable and lucrative cahoots with the pharm corps and HMOs, and how they buttress a system that has killed at least one of my nearest and dearest and may break a few more before it’s reformed

On Truthdig Chris Hedges elaborates on a related theme…
“Capitalists, as my friend Father Michael Doyle says, should never be allowed near a health care system. They hold sick children hostage as they force parents to bankrupt themselves in the desperate scramble to pay for medical care. The sick do not have a choice. Medical care is not a consumable good. We can choose to buy a used car or a new car, shop at a boutique or a thrift store, but there is no choice between illness and health. And any debate about health care must acknowledge that the for-profit health care industry is the problem and must be destroyed. This is an industry that hires doctors and analysts to deny care to patients in order to increase profits. It is an industry that causes half of all bankruptcies. And the 20,000 Americans who died last year because they did not receive adequate care condemn these corporations as complicit in murder.
The current health care debate in Congress has nothing to do with death panels or public options or socialized medicine. The real debate, the only one that counts, is how much money our blood-sucking insurance, pharmaceutical and for-profit health services are going to be able to siphon off from new health care legislation. The proposed plans rattling around Congress all ensure that the profits for these corporations will increase and the misery for ordinary Americans will be compounded. The corporate state, enabled by both Democrats and Republicans, is yet again cannibalizing the Treasury. It is yet again pushing Americans, especially the poor and the working class, into levels of despair and rage that will continue to fuel the violent, proto-fascist movements leaping up around the edges of American society. And the traditional watchdogs—those in public office, the press and citizens groups—are as useless as the perfumed fops of another era who busied their days with court intrigue at Versailles. Canada never looked so good.”
(Click here for the whole rant)

The secret word is Malpractice


“They were giving the poor fucker how much of that shit?”

(Pic lifted from Tom Sutpen.)

SPACE OPERA (It couldn’t get much wurst)

Yes, neighbors, it’s the USS Enterprise constructed entirely from pork products and toothpicks.

Monday, August 24, 2009


I was about to go to bed when the daily email came in from Delancey Place and, after the recent riff on medicinal acid, I figured the coincidence warranted running this bit on dopamine, it being the source of so much that is dear to me.

"The importance of dopamine was discovered by accident. In 1954, James Olds and Peter Milner, two neuroscientists at McGill University, decided to implant an electrode deep into the center of a rat's brain. The precise placement of the electrode was largely happenstance; at the time, the geography of the mind remained a mystery. But Olds and Milner got lucky. They inserted the needle right next to the nucleus accumbens (NAcc), a part of the brain that generates pleasurable feelings. Whenever you eat a piece of chocolate cake, or listen to a favorite pop song, or watch your favorite team win the World Series, it is your NAcc that helps you feel so happy. "But Olds and Milner quickly discovered that too much pleasure can be fatal. They placed the electrodes in several rodents' brains and then ran a small current into each wire, making the NAccs continually excited. The scientists noticed that the rodents lost interest in everything. They stopped eating and drinking. All courtship behavior ceased. The rats would just huddle in the corners of their cages, transfixed by their bliss. Within days, all of the animals had perished. They died of thirst."It took several decades of painstaking research, but neuroscientists eventually discovered that the rats had been suffering from an excess of dopamine. The stimulation of the NAcc triggered a massive release of the neurotransmitter, which overwhelmed the rodents with ecstasy. In humans, addictive drugs work the same way: a crack addict who has just gotten a fix is no different than a rat in an electrical rapture. The brains of both creatures have been blinded by pleasure. This, then, became the dopaminergic cliché; it was the chemical explanation for sex, drugs, and rock and roll.

Click here to learn more about Delancey Place

The secret word is Bliss


Earlier in the night another mildly weird thing happened. I was watching – by default – a movie called Chop Suey by photographer Bruce Weber, in which, without any explanation, was a short clip of Robert Mitchum and Dr John, recording the tune “When It’s Sleepy Time Down South.” Hardly believing it, I looked for some other reference but found none, so all I can do is to pass the snippet on for what it’s worth.