February 2013

There are three topics this month. But this is America, we expect lots of free stuff!

Superbowl wrap up

My measure of Superbowl success is to wake up the day after the game and not know (or care) who won. On a good year, I might not know who even played in it. Mission achieved!

The "super bowl" image below requires some explanation. That is a toilet I replaced recently, filled with something that was dropped by a single javelina on my driveway as a size reference. Javelinas typically don't weigh more than 100 pounds. This one lost five percent of his body weight in a single sitting. Also consider that the material is full of cactus thorns. This little dude must have the cleanest colon in Tucson!

On Superbowl Sunday I was working on my own bowl, replacing a sewer line from the edge of property, into the crawlspace under the house and connect to a new throne. Dug the trench, ripped out the old clay pipe, cut it off and joined in some new ABS all the way to the house. No Ditch Witch was used (always a bad idea when you are not sure where the gas pipe is), the trench was dug by hand by two US citizens. This bowl game is at half time!

I can never resist a bargain, in this case it was a bank-owned house where the reverse-mortgager died and her drug addict grandson had to be evicted by police using one of those battering rams to pop open the front door (thanks a lot, next time just knock.) Below are two images of a new sewer pipe going in. If you want to make some cash flipping a house, here is an important rule: never pay a plumber for anything you can do yourself. Notice the nice square cut on that clay pipe... then it goes underneath the neighbor's house, which will be a nightmare for both of us if that fails.


Speaking of pipe, the image below on the left is the old one. It's a clay pipe, a nineteenth century technology, similar to Orangeburg. After digging these up, I either need a manicure, or I need to eat with a fork for a week. The second image is a plea to Chinese plumbing supply manufacturers who put all of the US suppliers out of business: the drain stop lift has to be made out of brass, not steel, capiche? Whenever you shop for a pop-up drain at Home Depot or Ace Hardware, always bring a magnet, unless you want to do the repair again in a year.

Music fun

Its February, so let's start with some musical history, of the Rhythm and Blues variety. This sequence of songs shows how recording artists build off of earlier works, much the same way the best engineers do. "Sampling" is not a new phenomenon.

In 1947 Stick Maghee (1917-1961) recorded "Wine Spoo-dee-oo-dee" for Harlem records, then re-recorded it for Atlantic two years later. What the heck is spoo-dee-oo-dee? It's a lyric you come up with when the producer says you can't use the original phase. You can read the original lyrics on Wikipedia. Stick got his nickname for pushing his brother Brownie around in a cart using a stick; Brownie had polio and couldn't walk. How was your childhood, homie?

Drinking wine and getting in fights had entered popular media back in 1935, when John Steinbeck penned Tortilla Flat which was his first commercial success at age 33. Did Stick get his inspiration from Steinbeck? That would be a real stretch of the imagination.

Below is the Atlantic version of Wine Spoo-de-oo-dee from 1949. It was Atlantic's first hit and sold 400,000 copies, and was one of the first "Rock-and-Roll" songs recorded before Elvis hit puberty. Atlantic was a label started by Turkish-American Ahmet Ertigun, who stayed involved with the label until his death in 2006. He signed Ray Charles, Cream, Led Zeppelin, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Yes and Foreigner among other acts, and eventually sold out to Warner Brothers. You might say Ahmet knew what he was doing, but it all started with a song about drinking and getting in fights. Not even a metaphor in this mess! Hoy! Hoy! Hoy! That's what I'm talking about!


Two years later (1951) Tiny Bradshaw (1907-1959) wrote and recorded "Train Kept a' Rollin" for King records, another of the many examples of early rock and roll. In this case, that "train" might be a metaphor... Kind of like when Dinah Washington sang "Big Long Slidin' Thing" which was supposed to be about a trombone.... Bradshaw's Train is one of my favorite recordings, as it shows how valuable recording was back in the day. The song has a mistake in the first 10 seconds, which was just ignored. One of the band members mixed up "boodow" from "booday", the band kept a' rollin. The cut is priceless, kind of like a misminted coin that is worth more than a perfect one. How are Wine Spoo-de-oo-dee and Train Kept a Rollin related? The syllables use the exact same rhythm, and the choruses have the same meter:

Drinkin wine spoo-de-odd-dee, drinking wine, mop, mop (Maghee)

The train kept a rolling, all night long (Bradshaw)

OK, that is a slight stretch of the imagination, but you can substitute either line into either song.

Bradshaw also lifted line from Freddie Slack and 17-year-old Ella Mae Morse's awesome recording of Cow Cow Boogie. Cow Cow was originally written for sepia songstress Ella Fitzgerald, to he heard in Abbott and Costello's Ride' em Cowboy. That explains why that cat in the song has a knocked out western accent with a Harlem touch. Locoweed isn't what you think it is, it's a type of grass that poisons cows. Ella recorded Cow Cow in 1943, an effort easily equal to Slack and Morse. I guess we can guess which one would win American Idol if they were around today.

Get along, get hip little doggies, get along, better be on your way (Morse)

Get along, sweet little woman, get along, better be on your way (Bradshaw)




In 1956 Johnny Burnette made Train Kept a Rollin into one of the best rock-a-billy songs of all time. It might be the first recording to use guitar distortion, but it failed to chart into Billboard's top 40. Burnette died in a boating accident at the age of 30. Lesson: always wear a personal flotation device when you are enjoying water sports.



The Yardbirds did a good job with Train, in 1965 they cut it as a guitar blues tune. Here are the Yardbirds in the 1966 movie Blowup. Jeff Beck (not Jimmy Page, thanks to Pete!) shows us the importance of smashing musical instruments during the 1960s, a value-added experience of the times. This recording did not chart either, but the Yardbirds soon disbanded and each member became famous.



Aerosmith recorded Train-Kept a Rollin in 1974 for Columbia, and although most people are familiar with this recording it too failed to chart. What did Aerosmith add to the song? Below Aerosmith is in concert. They all dressed like girls, maybe that added some value. Steven Tyler shakes his butt about fifteen seconds into the clip, ask your gay friends what that means. Check out Steven Tyler's recent visit to the beach...


Which is the best version of Train Kept a Rollin? You decide; you can guess which one I like best, and it doesn't involve glittery pants-suits.

Back to the gun topic

It's been two years since Loughner shot up Tucson. I feel like I have done some good friends a dis-service by not weighing in on this topic, which of course is likely to start an argument with some Microwaves101 viewers. Note that there is no way to post your comments here. Get your own web site, or send me an anonymous, threatening email which I will forward to friends at the FBI.

The eldest victim of January 2011 ago was Phyllis Schneck. I had the privilege of knowing her and her family for 40 years, and for a few winter breaks was employed by her husband in a sheet metal fabrication shop where we made galvanized pans for sewage treatment, stainless holders for a cereal box conveyer line, and a lot in between. Phyllis was recently widowed and was a snowbird, spending six months in Tucson and six at a lake in New Jersey, she literally had it made. Trust me, this is the last way you want to see your mother in the news, or become part of a news story yourself.

Now I see her kids a lot more than I used to, they had to visit various court rooms, a church, a funeral parlor and other venues in Arizona quite a few times over the past 24 months. When I say kids, the age group is between 50 and 60. Nice people, really glad to count them as friends, getting to know them better is something personally good for me which was caused by something really bad for them. Until you know someone that was senselessly killed by an idiot with a gun, you might not have a true understanding of the problem.

Let's break it down. In the past few decades, Americans:

  1. have become less educated
  2. own more weapons
  3. have a lower standard of living (poorer, less access to mental health care)

Does a never-ending supply of guns really make us all safer? A rhetorical question to many, but a cue to yack endlessly about the second amendment to others. Since September 11, 2001, 280,000 people have been killed by guns in the US. It took a Canadian to point that out. Chances are you know someone that was gunned down, and I promise you will some day.

Let's consider guns in popular media, is that a such a problem? A huge fraction of Hollywood films involve murder, and same topic has been used in television from its humble beginnings. Ask your grandparents if they used to enjoy "Murder She Wrote", an unlikely treatment of serious crimes using aging has-been comic and character actors. Quite a few songs mention guns as well. Does this cause mayhem? Not likely. Back in 1974 the Ramones released "Glad to See You Go". The second line is "one bullet in the cylinder". Why does anyone need twenty rounds to get their moment of fame? 1,2,3,4!


If you look at what the Ramones did to music in the 1970s, it is equivalent to what motorcycle chopper enthusiasts did in the 1960s. Strip off what you don't need (starting with guitar solos and glittery pants suits), play it fast and don't try to milk it for money. The word "chopper" has been misused of late... regarding American Chopper, why does anyone need a bunch of commemorative crap welded to their bike? Why not do a collaboration with "Hoarders" and weld all of their broken possessions to a grocery cart and do a reality show about that? Speaking of bike builds, there is at least three Youtube videos of people recreating the Nacho-mobile, from Nacho Libre, one of my favorite movies. Here's a good effort.

Here in Tucson, we recently had a gun buyback where people could get rid of guns, which was the idea of Republican Steve Kozachik. Failed (Republican) state senate candidate Frank Antenori made a spectacle out of it by showing up and buying some of the guns for himself. In his opinion, it should be illegal to destroy a gun; somehow he seems to be mixing this up with the Republican stance on abortion. Antenori is a program manager at Raytheon, apparently in a do-nothing play-with-a-Blackberry position where he has plenty of time to run for state offices. He has a temper issue, and has a problem paying parking tickets. You'd think that a $20B company would protect their name and fire someone that would stage such idiocy on the two year anniversary of a massacre. I was once on the receiving end of such a threat for starting a web site that mentioned their precious name, the circumstances of working there will make a great book one day. It is obvious, but I'll point this out anyway: the only way to ensure that a gun you once owned is not used in a crime is to destroy it.

A recent (failed) Republican candidate for Congress from Tucson was Jesse Kelly, who has no more than a high school education. His idea of a campaign event was to get together and shoot semi-automatic weapons at a rifle range. This is kind of ironic, as the person he was running against was Gabby Giffords. Maybe Loughner saw that ad where you were going to "take her out?"

Here in Tucson the GOP held a gun raffle as a fund-raiser, after the massacre, offering the very same weapon that Loughner used. Where is your sense of humanity, you angry white men?

This week we read about self-proclaimed America's best sniper getting killed when he invited a person with PTSD to a rifle range for recreation... what a mix: guns, mental illness and fun, only in Texas would that combo make sense. Regarding Chris Kyle's book, what ever happened to people like Sergeant Alvin York, who did this type of dirty work but didn't attempt to make 15 minutes of fame out of it? Doesn't anyone know how to keep their mouth shut anymore? All we've been hearing for the past decade is "if only they were armed"... if only the children had weapons... if only John Lennon was packing heat... if only cops were better armed... if only the homeless each had a gun.... if only quadraplegics had a gun that was tongue-controlled.... as the only way to prevent murder. After this episode, that argument is gone. A lone gunman kills two at a gun range, where everyone is armed and has unlimited ammo, his victims include a sniper who has killed 250 people personally, and then escapes. You can only imagine the scene: all the pretend-cowboys with massive-but-horizontal belt buckles finally had their chance at a gun-fight fantasy, but were crouching in fear, soiling their pants and are now in therapy. For fun, go to your local gun range, and yell "duck, here he comes!" to recreate this madness. Besides lunacy, there is one alternative explanation for how this could have happened: God must have needed another sniper.

Why is the NRA intent on brainwashing their members that everyone needs more guns? It's all about money. This charity hauls in $40M from gun manufacturers who sell $12B in firearms in the US each year. Yes, evil walks among us each day.... and goes by the name LaPierre. LaPierre was paid $970,000 in 2010. Here's a critical thinking exercise: could there possibly be a conflict of interest here? LaPierre is destined to be held in the same regard as Senator Joseph McCarthy when history looks back at him. Indeed, it is time to recall a few quotes from Joseph Welch's testimony to McCarthy at a Senate meeting back in 1954. Thanks to Don Imus for pointing this out!

Until this moment, Senator, I think I have never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness...

You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?

It might take a decade or two, but we are going to straighten this mess out. In order to dial back gun crime, we will eventually have a national registry of guns, and stop the ability of people to sell guns to whomever they want without a background check. Then when someone kills your kid, you can go to Google Guns and find out who the last person that bought the weapon legally was and sue them, show them the second use for an axe handle, or perhaps just kill them slowly with scissors. Gun owners need to pay registration fees and insurance, which will be tapped to pay for the crimes that their hobby promotes, i.e. pay for police caskets. Once you buy a gun, you are responsible for it. If that 250-year-old document written by musket-owning slave owners can't accommodate this, we will have to rip part of it out and try again. Forget about having a magazine that hold 30 rounds, those will be confiscated when we come for your assault rifle. Right after we ban lead in ammunition, fishing sinkers and tire weights as forms of pollution. Maybe future generations will gain a few much-needed IQ points and live a few years longer.

Worried about the threat of having your assault rifle confiscated? Why not build a bunker under your house. It will be a little uncomfortable in there when we shut off the water and electric, but you'll have all of your guns and ammo to keep you company. For a while.

Guns, or porn?

Now then, I am going to move onto a topic that might seem a little extreme, for a such a scholarly web site, yet it is a term we are bombarded with each day through advertizing by Big Pharma, and it has to do with male sexual gratification.

Consider arsonists... It is well known that 90% of pyromaniacs are male. What do you call people that enjoy arson more than anyone else? The term for their problem is pyrophyila.

My aunt told me a long time ago, when police are trying to spot an arsonist in a crowd of people at a fire, they look for a man with an erection. It is true that a few forks were dropped at that particular dinner when she disclosed this, but she says what she means.

Let's now look at the modern usage of the term "gun boner". Urban dictionary offers the following definition:

Gun Boner: The physiological and psychological excitement that accompanies acquiring and/or firing a rare or powerful hand gun or rifle.

Manlyexcellence.com has lots of pictures of firearms, not unlike a porn site. There are plenty of other sites you can visit when you search on the two keywords. Follow this trail if you have nothing better to do, it is pretty sick, and it might explain the fixation of some men with firearms. It's long, hard, and warm after you fire it. Being fixated on the "right to bear semi-automatic weapons" is not really all that different from the need to drive a Hummer. Angry white men, get over your anger. Don't be on the wrong side of every social issue.

On the flip side, I can assure you that no one is "getting wood" while working for gun control. But we might get some enjoyment out of hiding some subliminal messages on the site.


Check out the Unknown Editor's amazing archives when you are looking for a way to screw off for a couple of hours or more!