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20090731

Beer Summit

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I've always had the greatest respect for the Wulfshead's Librarian. And the fact that I never bothered visiting the Wulfshead library when he was the only one in charge as assiduously as I am now ever since his young assistant took over has nothing to do with anthropocentrism.


Surely challenging anthropocentrism, in all its guises, must be integral to all initiatives aimed at promoting the strength and equity of all sentient species on the planet. I have always believed that what brings us together is stronger than what pulls us apart, and so I am happy that the librarian and I were given that opportunity to have a cordial talk, both over the beers and a bottle of Pacharan that Quinty kindly had had specially ordered for us in prevision of the event.

I am confident over what has happened here tonight, and I am hopeful that all of us are able to draw a positive lesson from this episode.
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Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness

An influential 1955 book, "Protestant, Catholic, Jew" by Will Herberg, identified the American Way of Life as the "common religion" of American society:
The American Way of life is individualistic, dynamic, pragmatic. It affirms the supreme value and dignity of the individual; it stresses incessant activity on his part, for he is never to rest but is always to be striving to "get ahead"; it defines an ethic of self-reliance, merit, and character, and judges by achievement: "deeds, not creeds" are what count. The "American Way of Life" is humanitarian, "forward-looking", optimistic. Americans are easily the most generous and philanthropic people in the world, in terms of their ready and unstinting response to suffering anywhere on the globe. The American believes in progress, in self-improvement, and quite fanatically in education. But above all, the American is idealistic. Americans cannot go on making money or achieving worldly success simply on its own merits; such "materialistic" things must, in the American mind, be justified in "higher" terms, in terms of "service" or "stewardship" or "general welfare"... And because they are so idealistic, Americans tend to be moralistic; they are inclined to see all issues as plain and simple, black and white, issues of morality.
As Ralph C. Wood (Flannery O'Connor and the Christ-haunted South), later noted "the first half of Herberg's statement still holds true nearly half a century after he first formulated it," even though "Herberg's latter claims have been severely if not completely undermined... materialism no longer needs to be justified in high-sounding terms."

This is why, I beset you, my Wulfshead fellow drinking buddies my Wulfshead healthy drinking buddies, the time has come to join HAARM in the ongoing fight in the defense of the Health care industry American dream and the pursuit of corporate profiteering happiness.



Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty:


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The Time of Your Life


The idea is to die young as late as possible.
~Ashley Montagu

The death of someone we know always reminds us that we are still alive - perhaps for some purpose which we ought to re-examine.
~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960


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20090730


The House health care bill "would make it mandatory — absolutely require — that every five years people in Medicare have a required counseling session that will tell them how to end their life sooner." Betsy McCaughey, a Republican columnist. This argument has been spreading around.



This (in the photo) is your friendly family physician.


He has dropped by your house to arrange your death with you. That is now his job, his business, in fact, since he has become a slave of the Federal Government.


He is more interested in disposing of your carcass than in keeping your unworthy carcass alive. That is the true meaning of Socialism. What “healthcare reform” hath wrought.


Long before this Marxist ideology gripped the land and the insurance industry managed your healthcare you had the opportunity to pay into an insurance policy (year after year) before you actually needed its benefits. This was your role in the overall social contract. You paid and remained healthy, the insurance company reaped the profits and provided giant bonuses to its CEOs. God was in his Heaven and all was well in the world. Until, of course, you became uncooperative and actually became sick. Then you expected the insurance company to actually pay your hospital bills. No, no, no, that’s not the way it works. If you think so you are you a Socialist! A Marxist! A Communist!


But in your last dying breath you may still repent. And calmly lying in your death bed you may prove how cooperative you are by simply dying without further draining any money away from your insurance company. That, after all, is your true part. And you are a loyal American. You are an ardent Capitalist and hate Socialism. You would never take advantage of an insurance company and its needy CEOs.


But see what has become of your family physician now that the government has taken over? How he has been horribly warped and twisted? And you are forced, actually forced, by the government to receive expensive healthcare without going into bankruptcy or eliminating yourself from receiving it by possessing a “precondition?” Or because you made a tiny error when you filled out your contract years ago, which, of course, once you asked for coverage was quickly discovered, after years of paying in?


So beware. A living will, with end of life instructions, only demonstrates how oppressive government is, taking your precious freedoms away from the insurance industry. And God. And Sarah Palin.



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20090729

Don't get me wrong . . .

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I'am no anthropocentrist or anything, and I've always had the greatest respect for the Wulfshead's librarian.

But, ever since he was last seen taking off in company of Darius Whiteplume, I've found myself more inclined to do some adventuring of my own as I've grown increasingly fond of checking out some of the volumes in some of the uncharted territories of the Wulfshead's great library, especially those stocked up on the top shelves---the substitute librarian's help is invaluable.


I'll be checking her it out again, real soon, when I have a chance.

"The larger the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of wonder."
-- Ralph M. Sockman

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20090728

Doorways

There is no denying it.

Everyone loves the idea of a cozy pub with its dark wooden beams, dark wood and cozy fireplace.

As the gentleman from Oregon helped remind us, there are many doors leading in and out of the Wulfshead.

Some better than others...


Each one connects to various "aspects" of this reality and...other "realities." Or so they say, sir.

There are guests who claim that some of these realities are magical, while others have little or no magic to them.

There is no accounting, of course, for what people will report...under...er...under the influence, sir. And it is important to proceed in those things with caution.

The Dark Roasted Blend offers this bit of common sense:

Good signs will help you remember which place you visited, what you did there...



And where it is safe to return...


The Wulfshead's door to O-mei mountain is an old favourite. And it is not hard to understand why.


The poet Li Po---an old pillar of the Wulfshead, sir... He spoke beautifully of it.

"Walking west of O-mei mountain, the monk from Shu with the silk lute case," "with a light touch of the strings," had, as the poet put it, enveloped him "in the pines of a thousand valleys." I remember the gentleman talking of how he could hear the strings in the shimmering brook, and in the icy wind, sir. And of how "he felt no change as the mountain darkened and autumn's dark clouds heaped in the sky."

That fateful night when Li Po loosened his hair and took to a fishing-boat, sir... no-one really knows for sure what exactly happened.

No even I, sir.

I sometimes wonder about it.
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20090727

The birthers are revolting . . .

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. . . And they are angry too!


If you answered "Nothing. Ever.," take heart...

You're not alone.


The revolution has begun.
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20090726

Another Wulfshead Portal?

Other inns and taverns catered to pilgrims and knights on their way to the Crusades in the Holy Land. Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, established in 1189, claims to be the oldest pub in England and has cellars which are carved from the rocks beneath Nottingham Castle.
I saw this entryway at Dark Roasted Blend, stepped through, and look! Here I am! Speaking among what seem to be almost exclusively American guests, I have to say the idea of any building standing for 820 years is pretty stunning.

Speaking of stunning, I recently joined facebook (profile), and reconnected, literally in minutes, with many of my old high school classmates from Athens, Ohio (AHS '77). It's been a very nice week- pretty much making up for the 90-degree-plus temperatures of the past few days. I'm not sure, though, that my pleasure at reconnecting with all my old friends will compensate for the triple digit temperatures forecast for the next four days.

So, in closing, the correct answer is as follows: "Why yes, thank you! I would be most pleased to accept an ice-cold beer."

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20090725

Laughter For Saturday



This is a picture of my father ready to go on the air, probably in the late 1940s. You might notice he is dressed rather formally, which was the standard then. It was an honor to be invited into your living room.

Yet another elder said: If you see a young monk by his own will climbing up to heaven, take him by the foot and throw him to the ground, because what he is doing is not good for him.

---Zen instruction

The unconscious mind is decidedly simple, unaffected, straightforward, and honest. It hasn't got all this facade, this veneer of what we call adult culture. It's rather simple, rather childish. It's direct and free.

---Milton H. Erikson

You can play a shoestring if you're sincere.

---John Coltrane

I hope to enjoy myself here and there through a weekend. The news on Saturday mornings too often is filled with conniving and capers slipped through late Friday afternoon. The White House may figure they have to announce what they did sometime, and it's always better to do it then when nobody may notice.

It's best not to attempt any business after Friday lunchtime. Don't call your bank, your insurance company, a government office: forget it. They don't want your disability claim over the phone at Social Security...not at 4:00 Friday afternoon. Was it always thus?

Why was my father all dressed up in that photo? It was radio! He could be in his boxer shorts, and who would know? Well, that's the point. They knew it would "show." By the 1950s things became much more casual...at least on radio. Television was formal though. But radio now was your buddy in the kitchen. It was just between you and me. If Arthur Godfrey didn't like how his advertised product tasted, he told you. The advertiser then could decide whether the novel publicity would get people to try the item. Most stuck with Godfrey anyway.

Instead of the honor of being in your home, the media now competed to get your attention. The ads presented no longer were written by a secretary in the station office area. You had to hire a special agency that had statistics and psychologists to do it. Commercials were more expensive, and if you were an announcer you had to start shouting them. My father told us radio was no fun anymore, and he decided to do something else.

He had worked his way up from the very beginnings of radio to become station manager. But now his health was suffering. In the 1950s he developed ulcers. Many people did. A cold war made things hot in the belly. Pressure. My father told me toward the end of his life that he never had a job that he liked. He had become bitter. After radio, he had sold cars, he had sold furniture. He became vice president of the best local furniture retail outlet in a city known for wonderful furniture manufacture. But local stores were on their way out in the 1960s, and the big boxes were coming in. Radio had been fun and he had enjoyed it...but the cutting edge was being born in America.

Hmmm, I don't see that this is very funny yet. Well fortunately we have people around now who can take the material of these reflections and reveal the absurdity of some of the paths we have taken. Thank heavens for Comedy Central! Would we have made it through last year's election without them? Now we have Bill Maher coming on stronger all the time. Around midnight yesterday morning, he posted some observations on all this at Huffington Post. This morning it served its purpose for me. Sarcastic as heck, nevertheless his words are healing balm for me.

Bill Maher
Host of HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher"
New Rule: Not Everything in America Has to Make a Profit

How about this for a New Rule: Not everything in America has to make a profit. It used to be that there were some services and institutions so vital to our nation that they were exempt from market pressures. Some things we just didn't do for money. The United States always defined capitalism, but it didn't used to define us. But now it's becoming all that we are.

Did you know, for example, that there was a time when being called a "war profiteer" was a bad thing? But now our war zones are dominated by private contractors and mercenaries who work for corporations. There are more private contractors in Iraq than American troops, and we pay them generous salaries to do jobs the troops used to do for themselves ­-- like laundry. War is not supposed to turn a profit, but our wars have become boondoggles for weapons manufacturers and connected civilian contractors.

Prisons used to be a non-profit business, too. And for good reason --­ who the hell wants to own a prison? By definition you're going to have trouble with the tenants. But now prisons are big business. A company called the Corrections Corporation of America is on the New York Stock Exchange, which is convenient since that's where all the real crime is happening anyway. The CCA and similar corporations actually lobby Congress for stiffer sentencing laws so they can lock more people up and make more money. That's why America has the world;s largest prison population ­-- because actually rehabilitating people would have a negative impact on the bottom line.

Television news is another area that used to be roped off from the profit motive. When Walter Cronkite died last week, it was odd to see news anchor after news anchor talking about how much better the news coverage was back in Cronkite's day. I thought, "Gee, if only you were in a position to do something about it."

But maybe they aren't. Because unlike in Cronkite's day, today's news has to make a profit like all the other divisions in a media conglomerate. That's why it wasn't surprising to see the CBS Evening News broadcast live from the Staples Center for two nights this month, just in case Michael Jackson came back to life and sold Iran nuclear weapons. In Uncle Walter's time, the news division was a loss leader. Making money was the job of The Beverly Hillbillies. And now that we have reporters moving to Alaska to hang out with the Palin family, the news is The Beverly Hillbillies.

And finally, there's health care. It wasn't that long ago that when a kid broke his leg playing stickball, his parents took him to the local Catholic hospital, the nun put a thermometer in his mouth, the doctor slapped some plaster on his ankle and you were done. The bill was $1.50, plus you got to keep the thermometer.

But like everything else that's good and noble in life, some Wall Street wizard decided that hospitals could be big business, so now they're run by some bean counters in a corporate plaza in Charlotte. In the U.S. today, three giant for-profit conglomerates own close to 600 hospitals and other health care facilities. They're not hospitals anymore; they're Jiffy Lubes with bedpans. America's largest hospital chain, HCA, was founded by the family of Bill Frist, who perfectly represents the Republican attitude toward health care: it's not a right, it's a racket. The more people who get sick and need medicine, the higher their profit margins. Which is why they're always pushing the Jell-O.

Because medicine is now for-profit we have things like "recision," where insurance companies hire people to figure out ways to deny you coverage when you get sick, even though you've been paying into your plan for years.

When did the profit motive become the only reason to do anything? When did that become the new patriotism? Ask not what you could do for your country, ask what's in it for Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

If conservatives get to call universal health care "socialized medicine," I get to call private health care "soulless vampires making money off human pain." The problem with President Obama's health care plan isn't socialism, it's capitalism.

And if medicine is for profit, and war, and the news, and the penal system, my question is: what's wrong with firemen? Why don't they charge? They must be commies. Oh my God! That explains the red trucks!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-maher/new-rule-not-everything-i_b_244050.html
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20090722

THE OBAMA PRESS CONFERENCE: THE POLICE ACTED STUPIDLY?

I listened carefully to our president's press conference held at 8PM ET on the topic of health care. I was impressed by his attention to detail and his careful and compassionate analysis of the American health care crisis. He had me. He captured my attention, until the end. He had me until the last question which [seemed designed] dealt not with health care but with an isolated incident that spoke to the arrest of a Harvard professor named Henry Gates, or "Skip" as the president calls him.

I was astonished when the President of the United States criticized the Cambridge police, calling them "stupid" for arresting "Skip." He said he was not there, so he really does not know what happened. The fact is Professor "Skip" forgot his keys, and had to "jimmy" his way into his house. A neighbor called, and cops responded, as they should. They confronted "Skip" and he provided identification. Well, so far so good, but it didn't end there. On the contrary, "Skip" chased the officers, who were satisfied that he was not a burglar, out into the yard and continued to scream at them accusing them of being racists, bigots, and etc. He was out of control, and he was playing the race card. It had nothing to do with race. The police were doing their job and the situation got out of control through no fault of their own. The only party acting "stupidly" here was "Skip" Gates. He should have been shaking the hands of the cops who risked their lives to protect people and property; in this case his property.

The police should not be expected to tolerate behavior that goes beyond the extreme. It matters not to me that Professor Gates is a black man. I am neither a racist or a bigot and my writings will reflect that sentiment, however, this is a case of Professor Gates being black. It has nothing to do with a fair assessment of the facts. The fact is if Gates were white this would not have been news. That is what bothers me about America. There is discrimination on both sides of this fence and in this case the Cambridge police were doing their job. The president should never have commented on an isolated case such as this. It does nothing but feed the right wing crazies in the country and alienate our first responders. I am disappointed in our president. This question should never have been raised and certainly should not have been answered in a forum that spoke to health care and the economy....MM
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Bringing in the wine...

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And...er...a beer for Dylan (Thomas).


See how the Yellow River's water move out of heaven.
Entering the ocean, never to return.
See how lovely locks in bright mirrors in high chambers,
Though silken-black at morning, have changed by night to snow.
... Oh, let a man of spirit venture where he pleases
And never tip his golden cup empty toward the moon!
Since heaven gave the talent, let it be employed!
Spin a thousand of pieces of silver, all of them come back!
Cook a sheep, kill a cow, whet the appetite,
And make me, of three hundred bowls, one long drink!
... To the old master, Tsen,
And the young scholar, Tan-chiu,
Bring in the wine!
Let your cups never rest!
Let me sing you a song!
Let your ears attend!
What are bell and drum, rare dishes and treasure?
Let me be forever drunk and never come to reason!
Sober men of olden days and sages are forgotten,
And only the great drinkers are famous for all time.
... Prince Chen paid at a banquet in the Palace of Perfection
Ten thousand coins for a cask of wine, with many a laugh and quip.
Why say, my host, that your money is gone?
Go and buy wine and we'll drink it together!
My flower-dappled horse,
My furs worth a thousand,
Hand them to the boy to exchange for good wine,
And we'll drown away the woes of ten thousand generation!

~Li Po, Bringing in the wine

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20090721

Think nothing of it, sir


Things like that, they happen all the time. Especially in the summer time.

May I bring the gentleman from Ohio another glass of water?


It's the The Raggle Taggle Gypsy, sir.



It makes the world go round.
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20090719

Jeff Beck performing the Beatles

All you need to know, really.


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What's your pleasure?

"Ahhh... now this looks workable!" She spoke aloud even though the joint was empty- certainly a rare occurrence at the Wulfshead. Alas, 'tis summertime, when people tend to to choose the outdoors over the camaraderie of jintelligent beings.

But I know how to fill the place again, "Oh yes I do!" After all, this is one substitute bartender who knows exactly what must be done in order to draw a jinteresting crowd.


She bustled about in the tiny kitchen behind the bar, humming & swaying, whilst she concocted her edible magick.


"This will bring them round, for sure!"

Hours passed like minutes until she was ready & everything was perfect. She decorated obsessively with jintoxicating tidbits; mini feasts adorning the bar, accurately measured at a length of every-other-barstool (to promote convo between the patrons you see ;-).




"Ten minutes until opening! Oh my!" She quickly slipped into the barmaids uniform that was left for her in the ladies room, purposely leaving the top 4... errr... make that 5- buttons undone.

A glance in the mirror confirmed that whomever chose the outfit knew exactly what size she wore... how very creepy yet jinteresting!

She lifted the hefty chalkboard sign on her way to unlock the front door.


As she placed the sign strategically on the sidewalk in front of the bar she heard the gossipy chatter of the locals... whispering about the Wulfshead. As if in a dream, she couldn't make out a single word which led her to wonder, yet again, exactly how it all began...

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This Calls For Another Stein

Ah! the news is that The Wulfshead might soon benefit from the assistance of yet another substitute bartender, I wonder who it will be this time?


It takes all kind. And frankly, I can use all the help I can.

Why, some of The Wulfshead's clientele has been getting quite literary of late. One of the patrons, I heard, is reading The Grapes of Wrath. And the word is that the gentlelady of the West has read hundreds of thousands of books.

While some of the patrons here are very well-read indeed---always such a pleasure listening to them talk---there are also those who have not read a book in their life. Why, there is even one patron here who wouldn't get caught dead with a book in his hands.

Me? I like books...

I am sorry...what was it that you were saying?

The book on the counter?

Ah, yes, they say that there is something about it that is very much like "Waiting for Godot."

No, the book is not mine, sir.

The librarian must have left it there.


The Wulfshead does have quite an impressive library, didn't you know?

Yes, the librarian is an old acquaintance of mine.

He must have left the book here, as he was walking out in company of... of...

I did not quite make out who it is he was with. Darius Whiteplume, maybe?



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And I thought I was in the center of the universe. (Thought I felt some nudging.)
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20090717

Somewhere over the rainbow . . .



Glinda: You're still riding that old thing?

Elphaba: Yeah, well, we can't all come and go by bubble!!

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20090716

These aren't the droids you're looking for




I can't speak for the Bartender, last we heard he was in Vegas. But the concierge, I understand, handled things in his usual quiet professional demeanor:


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20090715

The two bottles on the shelve?


What about them?

Oooh, I wouldn't if I were you.

I am not sure about the one on the right either. The scholar who brought it said that it has a long history...

I was told that it's perfectly safe to open it now. But then, why take a chance, right?
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It could happen to you!


As a matter of fact, it might already have, and you too may have recently been tagged to be one of the Wulfshead's infamous Substitute Bartenders.

If so, do not panic. Act upon the invitation or ignore it, as you will. Become one of the Wulfshead's acting bartenders, or not. The choice is yours.

No need to feel embarrassed: no one has to know who the Substitute Bartender happens to be at any given point---unless you want them to.

And remember you can always do onto other as was done onto you: feel free to pass the invitation along to one of your fellow patrons.
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20090714

When the bartender is away . . .

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Emiliana shows us her pousse-café

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We'll always have Paris

What to say?

"C'est la vie," Carmen Electra’s Crazy Horse Paris run ended yesterday.


So, too late for that already, I am afraid.

But there is still Bastille Day.



In any case, there is that bartending convention going on. The way I look at it, I would be derelict in my duties if I failed to attend.



You know what they say...It's a tough job...
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20090713

Lounging At The Wulfshead



Quinty and Jazzolog after a long walk through the neighborhoods outside.

The monk from Shu with the silk lute case,
walking west of O-mei mountain,
Has with a light touch of the strings
enveloped me in the pines of a thousand valleys.
I hear him in the shimmering brook,
I hear him in the icy wind.
And I feel no change as the mountain darkens
and autumn's dark clouds heap in the sky.

---Li Po

You're asking the wrong questions. If you want to make the world a better place, tell funnier jokes!

---Woody Allen

Monk: "How shall I escape birth and death?"
Shih-kung: "What is the use of escaping it?"

---Zen mondo

Our real and true identities are mystery enough. Out with it, I say! The Wulfshead is not Skull And Bones. The secrets here are inevitable, eternal, and the keys to answers are what we seek. Escape is not such a key. The photo was taken by his date for the other evening.
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20090712


This is my date for the night. Sometimes she serves as a bodyguard. For reasons I find hard to understand she scares people off, especially when it is quite dark. 




—> As you can see she has a taste for the drinks at this bar. The man behind the bar must be a  Master of Mixology, a Doktor just like Doktor Young and Doktor Sagan. Now wait a minute, boys, I know she's quite attractive but your interest in her is uncalled for. And though you say it's scientific that doesn't appear to be entirely the case. At least don't make me jealous. Hmmmmmm.  <—

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20090711

What do you say, Carl?


Carl.— Space flights are merely an escape, a fleeing away from oneself, because it is easier to go to Mars or to the moon than it is to penetrate one's own being.

Carl.— I don't know, Carl... A few million years ago there were no humans. Who will be here a few million years hence? In all the 4.6-billion-year history of our planet, nothing much ever left it. But now, tiny unmanned exploratory spacecraft from Earth are moving, glistening and elegant, through the solar system. We have made a preliminary reconnaissance of twenty worlds, among them all of the planets visible to the naked eye, all those wandering nocturnal lights that stirred our ancestors toward understanding and ecstasy. If we survive, our time will be famous for two reasons: that at this dangerous moment of technological adolescence we managed to avoid self-destruction; and because this is the epoch in which we began our journey to the stars.

Bartender.— May I serve the gentlemen another drink? A couple of grapefruit moons perhaps? Did you know, sir, that the grapefruit was first described in 1750 by Griffith Hughes who called it the "forbidden fruit" of Barbados? If you look at the above painting by Luis Quintanilla ---temporarily here on loan by The Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid, home to Picasso's "Guernica," as well as to a fine selection of 20th century Spanish contemporary art, sir---the title of the painting is Pomelos, that is grapefruits in Spanish. A relative newcomer to the citrus clan, the grapefruit was originally believed to be a spontaneous sport of the pummelo. James MacFayden, in his Flora of Jamaica, in 1837, separated the grapefruit from the pummelo, giving it the botanical name, Citrus paradisi. About 1948, citrus specialists began to suggest that the grapefruit was not a sport of the pummelo but an accidental hybrid between the pummelo and the orange. The botanical name has been altered to reflect this view, and it is now generally accepted as Citrus X paradisi. When this new fruit was adopted into cultivation and the name grapefruit came into general circulation, American horticulturists viewed that title as so inappropriate that they endeavored to have it dropped in favor of "pomelo". However, it was difficult to avoid confusion with the pummelo, and the name grapefruit prevailed, and is in international use except in Spanish-speaking areas where the fruit is called toronja.
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20090710

Uhum


Tell me more about the grapefruit moon. How does it make you feel?



Has he?

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20090709

Grapefruit moon

http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/multimedia/flash/Titan/index.html


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Grapefruit Moons


I wouldn't know, sir. Grapefruit diet recipes vary from place to place. Patrons seem to think that it still makes for a decent happy hour special. Not me, sir. I don't drink the stuff, I just mix it.

2 parts vodka, sir,
1 part grapefruit juice,
1/2 part (splash) of Cointreau,
and a slice of grapefruit for garnish.




The gentleman is correct. The song is indeed a parody of Cherry Poppin' Daddies's Zoot Suit Riot.


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Grapefruit Moons . . .


I'll tell you what the problem is with Grapefruit Moons...


They are not what they used to be!



What?



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