a kiss is just a Kiss

Ludwig II's younger brother Otto was the kind
of host only a prince can be, and there was a time
in Bavaria when an invitation to one of his soirees was "the shit" among the cool kids. Nothing was
too elaborate, fanciful or risqué for Otto's entertainments and many were the debutantes and young cavalry officers who decorated his ballrooms and shared a dawn with him.

His cachet began to dwindle, though, when he began to insist that immediately before dining,
his guests join him in a ritual called  "embrassez
la belle vache morte
*".  One by one and two by two, his invitations were regrettably refused until
he dined alone.

It was only later they would learn that Otto
was taking advice from the spirits who lived in
his dresser drawers. These spirits also said that
to maintain his health, he should shoot a peasant every morning which he did until their numbers were much reduced. It was only then one servant suggested he load the prince's gun with blanks and another servant should pretend to drop down dead when he fired.

Gradually, the "half-witted Prince" became
afflicted with "melancholia". He was declared insane in 1875, and never truly ruled as King. Some said he was not even aware that he had become King. By 1876, the condition was so acute he was "placed in restraint" and two years later was "committed to a more rigorous confinement"
at Berchtesgaden. Years later, he would be declared the last true King of Bavaria.

* kiss the beautiful dead cow


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learning the Ropes

When he started working at Consolidated Holdings, Phil had been a little worried. It was a big company, and on his first day of work, everywhere he looked, people were rushing about and seemed to be working very hard. For a kid from the
wrong side of Poughkeepsie, it was both exciting and intimidating.

Inspired by it all, he approached his in-basket each day like a hungry wolverine, determined to clear it in an hour. He promised himself to respond to every email and phone call within five
minutes. Much to his delight and frankly, his surprise, this proved to be easy and so it came to pass that every morning, long before lunch time, he had nothing to do...

The only problem was his co-workers - they started turning up at his desk, hoping to pass along a task or two of their own and they did not take rejection well. By the end of his first week, Phil had learned to keep the phone to his ear and from time to time, mumble earnestly into the dial tone.


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in the Beginning

In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth, but unfortunately - there being darkness everywhere - even He couldn't see it, and lo, it was a drag.

So God said "Let there be light!"
and there was light.

"All right!" said God, nodding His head and looking around at it all, "does this rock or what? Can I get an amen?"... but, of course, He was alone, and there was no amen or any other sound.

There was only silence, and one slightly vexed Supreme Being.


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the power of Faith


With a silent nod, the hooded figure dipped the ladle into the bubbling oil and with consummate care, emptied it over the blistered feet above the brazier. It was an essential part of the process, as it allowed the flesh to roast slowly, instead of burning and deadening the pain.

He fanned the coals in the brazier and added a little fuel as the woman's whispered prayers became a moan and then an empty, hopeless scream.

"Answer the question, please".

Despite his best professional intentions, a weary impatience crept into his voice. He looked over at the others to see if they'd noticed, but all their eyes and ears were on the woman, writhing against the ropes.

Under other circumstances, her movements might have been suggestive, but here it was simply a sign that she was still resisting. They did sometimes, but in the end he would get what he wanted - not simply because he was a master of his craft, but because he was on a mission from God.


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down in the Hole

"Zooba, zooba, zooba, zi... zooba, zooba, za!"

While the other children
softly chanted the magic words and stared down into the well, Webster did his best to keep the crank turning at what he
hoped was a reverential tempo.

Somewhere between the droning of the chant
and the dry squeaking of the crank, he could
hear a desperate whimpering, echoing up
out of the dark hole.

"Sucks to be you, Vernon" thought Webster,
as he let the crank turn again, "sucks to be you".


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Posada's Corridos in Steel

With her beautiful hat and welcoming smile, she has become one of the best-known women in all
of Mexico. Her name is Catrina, or more properly, La Calavera Catrina (The Elegant Skull) and she is an icon in her native land of a holiday whose roots run back to the time of the Aztecs - la Día de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead).

Her creator was born on February 2, 1852
in the small town known as the heart of Mexico - "el corazón" - because of it's central location. In the Los Angeles Barrio of San Marcos in Aguascalientes, his indigenous parents raised nine children, one of whom became a teacher and tutored Jose and the others.

As a young man, he was apprenticed to a lithographer at the print shop of Trinidad Pedrozo,  where he created cigar-box labels, diplomas, matchbox covers, calling cards and graphics on copper plates and blocks of wood.

His first illustrations were for the shop owner Pedrozo's radical weekly El Jicote (The Wasp, 1871) which offended authorities to the point where he and Pedrozo were forced to leave the district.

He was 37 when he moved to Mexico City and opened his own shop, next door to the college of art. Here, he would begin a life-long affiliation with editor Ireneo Paz.

Appearing in the equivalent of modern publications like the Weekly World News, his work was always topical. He would illustrate the death of a bullfighter, the beginnings and ending of the Mexican revolution and the eternal tabloid concerns, including sensational stories about bloody crimes of passion, macabre violence, miracles, tragic news, natural disasters, as well as the bizarre and celebrity gossip.

He illustrated a wide range of materials, from religious publications to song sheets for the narrative ballads called corridos.

In a country where many people were poor and illiterate, Posada's illustrations were meant to make the stories more accessible.

He was an anarchist at heart and in deed, whose work reflected how much he cared about the injustice in Mexican society.

How to define his technique? A minimum of lines and maximum of expression. By birthright Posada belongs to a manner that has left its stamp on the twentieth century: Expressionism. Unlike the majority of Expressionist artists, however,
Posada never took himself seriously."


His energy and dedication to work were as legendary as his taste for liquor. It is estimated
that he created almost 30,000 images, but he was paid only pennies apiece for them.

Since most were printed on cheap paper in popular media, no catalogue today illustrates more than 1,000 items. If you'd like to a collection of 593 original Posada images, there's one available
for    $68,181.80 right here.

His publisher's son described what would happen when Posada was presented with a new text...

"he would study the material, suggest a certain size plate, draw on it rapidly in pencil and produce a complete, alive and eloquent outline in a few minutes. One hour later, the plate would be ready, engraved on metal or etched on zinc

Skulls and skeletons are common in the art
of Pre-hispanic Mexico, particularly the Aztec civilization but it was publisher Antonio Vanegas, Posada and his fellow illustrator Manuel Manilla brought the theme of "calaveras" - drawings and verses about the living, in terms of the dead - back into popular culture.

Soon, the calavera would become indelibly associated with  la Día de Los Muertos and
the art of Latin America.

He lived in one of the largest and poorest tenement houses of Mexico City and
was well-known and much loved in his barrio, by the residents and students at the college of art.

These included two young men who would cite him as a primal influence on their work - Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco.

He lived a humble life and upon his death in 1913, was buried in a sixth class grave (the lowest category) in the Dolores Cemetery. Nobody claimed his remains, so they were thrown into a mass grave for paupers after seven years after his death.

Learn much more about this amazing artist at...

Learn even more about this him and see more of the amazing images he created at


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Tea Party funnies

and speaking of True Believers,
in an effort to broaden my horizons and increase my understanding of the world around me, i went out googling one night, looking for "conservative humour"*

there's a lot of it out there - and what's  interesting to me is the fact that it's not very funny. it's just kind of stupid - clumsy, heavy on the hateful and so poorly written it's actually kind of embarrassing...

anyway, i wouldn't recommend checking it out much. it's just kind of creepy and sad...

yes, i know... even to type is to have the feeling one is wandering into the land of the oxymoron.


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god laughs...

oh, those true believers -
sometimes they're funny ha-ha,
and sometimes funny strange...

...and sometimes,

they're not funny at all.

...so be careful out there.


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Google ranking my Rats!

Hey hey hey! Looks like Rats is making
tracks in the ranks of Google...
now if only folks might leave a comment once in a while saying they liked something too!

(hint, hint)


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London Calling...

London calling to the faraway towns
Now that war is declared-and battle come down
London calling to the underworld
Come out of the cupboard, all you boys and girls

It seems like there was hardly time to recover
from the culture shock of the London Olympics 
using the old Clash standard to invite people 
to the Games before it all hit the proverbial fan
in the streets of old London town.

British PM Cameron has been doing his 
best Maggie Thatcher imitation for days 
now...to no one's great surprise 
and precious little effect. 

This cartoon captured my sentiments well...

and this week, Naomi Klein has done a good 
job of summing them up in the Guardian:

Looting with the lights on

We keep hearing England's riots weren't political – but looters know that their elites have been committing daylight robbery.

I keep hearing comparisons between the London riots and riots in other European cities – window-smashing in Athens or car bonfires in Paris. And there are parallels, to be sure: a spark set by police violence, a generation that feels forgotten.

Highly recommended reading- find the rest here!


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on a Rainy afternoon

It was one of those dark grey rainy afternoons in March that seem to last forever. The adults were in the drawing room, chatting about whatever, playing bridge or reading while nipping neatly at the gin to keep off the chill.

As the only children in the manor, Eldon and cousin Felicity understood they were to be seen and not heard, and preferably not even that, and no one noticed when they slipped away.

"Oh Eldon" said Felicity, "I perish from boredom". Though only a year older, she was given to aping her elders and when he suggested they play a game, she
gave him pitying look.

"What sort of a game?" she yawned, but when he replied, somewhat timorously, "Doctor?", a curious smile came to her lips. "Wait here, Eldon" she said, disappearing for a moment and returning with a small valise. She held out her hand and they climbed the stairs to their "secret place" in the attic.

Eldon had naturally assumed he would be Doctor, but when Felicity began asking about his symptoms and laid her slim,cool fingers on his brow, it was almost a relief.

When she said he was very ill, he half-believed her and when she poured the laudanum into a spoon and held it to his lips, he welcomed it like a benediction.


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Beyond the page

It was as though the words on the page were speaking to her, whispering in a soft soothing
that only she could hear. The book was
telling her the story, and she could see the hero dancing with
his graceful lady fair right there
before her eyes.

She was dimly aware of her schoolmates  around her, whispering and giggling and touching her sleeve. Why weren't they watching the dancers? They were so very lovely together.

It didn't occur to her that they couldn't see
the dancers, because Leticia-May was baked. Royally blitzed. She was roasted, toasted, buzzed, bombed and zonked. It wasn't the first time she'd
tripped the light fantastic at the academy, but this was some good shit.

She was totally gonzo, in the nicest possible
way and as Sister Rosinna stormed angrily down the aisle towards her, she felt no fear.


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Tommy loved Jimmy

Tom loved Jimmy. How could you not? He was always smiling... cheerful, methodical, eager to please and never complained when Tom asked
him to stay late at the office. On top of all that,
Jimmy was just about the dumbest bastard on God's green earth.

How a pinhead like him had ended up with
a girl like Carolyne was a mystery to Tom. She
everything Jimmy wasn't - vivacious, attractive and inquisitive. He glanced over at her chatting with Barbara, and when she caught his eye, she sat back in her chair and slowly arched her shoulders.

Her breasts pressed against the fabric of the
little black dress as though she was offering them
him and for a moment, he forgot to breathe. Soon, things would be different... very, very different. It was only a matter of hours now.


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the Holy office

The Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Universal Inquisition was part of a 500 year plan of the Catholic church for global spiritual domination, as the sole distributor of Christianity and eternal life. Competition was fierce for the life after death market with heresies of every persuasion, including Islam, Judaism and Satan's special little helpers, the Protestants.

The Inquisition was less concerned with leading individuals back into the fold than in creating a climate of terror where people would be afraid to sin. Using force to get a confession was forbidden, so victims were tortured in one room and then led into another to confess to the inquisitors.

Among the holy tools were the brodequin, to crush legs and smash bones until the marrow spurted out; metal boots into which boiling water or molten lead was poured and lard, which was applied to the feet before roasting them over a fire.

Once accused, the victims' possessions were seized. When they were found guilty, those assets accrued to the Church and their families were billed for the costs of the torture. Even the dead could be accused of heresy- their bones would be exhumed, burnt and the property of their heirs confiscated. Naturally, this encouraged the wealthy to offer substantial bribes a priori to avoid to prosecution.

Fear made the Inquisition famous, but it was their genius in developing new revenues made it an institution - one that would inspire imitators from Moscow to Mexico and Cambodia to Iran, for centuries to come...


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meanwhile in Ontario...

things kind of suck in Ontario these days.
frankly, they suck in Canada generally, but especially here where i'm living these days...

it's really hard to keep the faith when idiots
are driving the bus, and when there seem
to be so many people who are happy to
celebrate their ignorance and the petty
cruelties and corrosive attitudes of smug, self-satisfied rent boys...

rob ford, conservatives, stephen harper, ontario, demotivator, leadership


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