Conceived above a saloon, delivered into this world by a masked man identified by his heavily sedated mother as Captain Video, raised by a kindly West Virginian woman, a mild-mannered former reporter with modest delusions of grandeur and no tolerance of idiots and the intellectually dishonest.

network solutions made me a child pornographer!
The sordid details...


Requiem for a fictional Scotsman

Oh my God! They killed Library!! Those bastards!!!

Elegy to a Mostly Maine Coon

It's a Hap-Hap-Happy Day

A Pittsburgher in the Really Big City

Da Burg Annat

I Have Issues

Yeah, yeah, I'm inspired

At least the rivers freeze in Pittsburgh

He knows if yinz is a jagoff

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Superb satire, and based in Pittsburgh!

Americans United for Separation of Church and State

"No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."
Article VI, U.S. Constitution

Geek of the Week, 7/16/2000

Geek of the Week

Cruel Site of the Day, 7/15/2000

Cruel Site of the Day (7/15/2000)


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Saturday, January 07, 2006

Is that in the Constitution?

Hmmm, the new, fourth branch of government: jail.

(Thanks to Dennis Brumm on the ABC World News Now discussion list.)

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TV Listing of the Day

Transported to a surreal landscape, a young girl kills the first woman she meets, then teams up with three complete strangers to kill again.
(TV listing for The Wizard of Oz in a Marin, CA newspaper)

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Divine inspiration?

I just realized NBC's Book of Daniel premiered on... Epiphany.

That's just delightful.

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Christendom survived...

... the airing of NBC's new series, The Book of Daniel and, in fact, may greatly benefit from the depiction of a flawed yet dedicated minister and his family, instead of the lunatic ravings of devout Superchristians like the Reverend Pat Robertson.

I suspect shows like this create a furor not because they distort the "true faith," but because they are instead sharply focused on reality, and, well, the truth can sometimes hurt. Those who claim Daniel is over the top and unbelievable have woefully short memories. I wouldn't be surprised if Daniel gathers a large and devoted- and undoubtedly quite discreet- following among the real clergy.

The most controversial feature of Daniel is the appearance of Jesus Christ in a recurring supporting role. Christ talks regularly to the show's protagonist, Episcopalian minister Daniel Webster. Instead of being blasphemous, their exchanges are the show's most endearing and charming feature.

Series creator Jack Kenny explained in a interview, "He's not really talking to a living Jesus. I think he's in Daniel's mind. We see him because Daniel would like to see him. This is Daniel's personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This is how it manifests itself. He talks to him, this is his way of praying: He's talking to his best friend, his brother, his pal, his partner."

Daniel's messiah is understated, warm, a great listener and the possessor a gentle sense of humor that strikes a perfect tone. Overwhelmed by a series of crushing personal crises, Jesus tells the good reverend, "Life is hard, Daniel, for everyone. That's why there's such a nice reward at the end of it." Unsatisfied, Rev. Webster asks, "Aren't you supposed to offer comfort?"

"Where'd you read that? Some Episcopalian self-help book?" Jesus asks, and the two start tossing fictional titles at each other, including Jesus' Guide to a Comfortable Life, I'm Okay, You're Divine and My Tuesdays With Jesus.

Earlier in the show, Rev. Webster asks Jesus if He appears to him because he's been "chosen."

"No," Jesus replies.

"Why do you talk to me then?" Rev. Webster asks.

"I talk to everybody,"

"Well, few mention it."

"Few hear me. Some hear what they want. Most don't listen."

Given the choice between this fictional television Jesus- who enjoys looking at the clouds and nags people about tailgating- and the "real" Jesus who, according to Pat Robertson, struck down Sharon in Israel, calls for the assassination of foreign leaders and shuns those who oppose intelligent design- well, I set the DVR to record the entire season of The Book of Daniel. Not The 700 Club.

("The Book of Daniel" airs Friday nights at 10 ET on NBC.)

Quote of the Day:

People who want to share their religious views with you almost never want you to share yours with them.-Dave Barry

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Friday, January 06, 2006

Only if the oven is on, Einstein...


5. On a baking pan: Ovenware will get hot when used in oven.

4. On a bottle of dried bobcat urine: Not for human consumption.

3. On a cocktail napkin with a map of the waterways around Hilton Head, South Carolina: Caution: Not to be used for navigation.

2. On a kitchen knife: Never try to catch a falling knife.

1. On a heat gun and paint remover that produces temperatures of 1,000°F: Do not use this tool as a hair dryer.

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Different George, same meaning

I desire what is good; therefore, everyone who does not agree with me is a traitor.
-George III

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Reflections on the mine tragedy report...

Reporters are faced with the daily choice of painstakingly researching stories or writing whatever people tell them. Both approaches pay the same.
-Scott Adams

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It's a long way down...

David Letterman handily punctured Bill O'Reilly's delusions of grandeur the other night, and O'Reilly, of course, has been bad-mouthing the late night host on the various neocon venues since his humiliation, calling him "a card-carrying member of the secular progressive movement."'s Political Humor blog notes this is a marked change in O'Reilly's opinion. The pompous twit had previously pronounced, "The late-night program hosted by David Letterman is the toughest interview show on television. That's because Mr. Letterman is a smart guy who can spot a phony with telescopic accuracy and expects his guests to bring something to the table. If a guest begins to sink on this show, the bottom is a long way down."

I suspect O'Reilly is still cranky because he's recovering from the bends. Dave pretty much sent old Bill into the deepest recesses of the abyss.

See Daniel Kurtzman's comprehensive review of the event here, and the transcript of the exchange here.

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Executive Intelligence Summary

From KGB's contact at the CIA, The Covert Comic:

Wait, you said New Year's "resolution?" Not "revolution?"

... Uh-oh.

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Dance, song, and stupid movies

The fatal flaw in ABC's Dancing with the Stars is the genderless voting. I maintain the show should have male and female categories.

As has been noted countless times, while Fred Astaire was a hoofer beyond reproach, Ginger Rogers did everything he did, backward and while wearing high heels.

The males on DWTS may exhibit brief eruptions of fleet-footedness, but primarily they strike poses and serve as meaty anchors from which the women launch themselves (backward, and in high heels) into orgiastic spasms of acrobatic intensity. I maintain it wasn't John O'Hurley's footwork which wowed the judges, but the independently choreographed antics of the wooly caterpillars cleverly disguised as his eyebrows.

That's really my only beef with the show. I particularly like the orchestra, a 15-piece cadre of musicians who are rivaled only by the old Tonight Show big band.

Which brings me to my second beef.

Pam and I are going to The Phantom of the Opera later this month here in Pittsburgh, and I was rather distressed to read in the Post-Gazette the show's pit orchestra is a rather anemic 17 members.

My mother and I saw Phantom on Broadway a few years ago, and the orchestra at the Majestic was- well, underwhelming. I think there were about 25 in the pit. While the show was masterfully re-scored for the smaller ensemble, the musicians were technically perfect, and the sound system exquisitely miked and balanced, there were times the singers actually drowned them out. I wanted to reach for the volume control.

This is probably the biggest shock to those who are familiar with the 1986 original cast recording, which featured a 60-piece orchestra. (I won't discuss the true symphonic-sized 100-piece orchestra in the recent film soundtrack version, since it's rendered unlistenable by the abysmal vocal performances. A critic for The Herald said the film "made me want to claw out my own eyeballs and use them to plug my ears." But I digress.)

The synthesizers, equalizers and amplifiers used to lower the body count in the modern musical's pit can compensate for missing volume and depth, but you'll never mistake the sound coming from a half-dozen or so state-of-the-art loudspeakers to the spine-tingling timbre and presence of a large symphony orchestra's 32 violins, 12 violas, 12 cellos and 8 double basses.

That said, if you have a chance to see an orchestra perform, seize the opportunity, regardless of its size. I fear the day when cost-cutting reduces the live theater experience to watching actors lip-synching to a pre-recorded score.

Which brings me to the final thing that pisses me off: the 1995 film, Mr. Holland's Opus.

You remember the big finish to this one, right? The school board has to save money, and must choose between its football team and the district's arts programs. This being America and all, you know what gets the ax.

So after 30 years, Mr. Holland is shuffling off to oblivion, but is diverted to the auditorium, which is packed to the rafters with supporters. Then the state's governor appears- and she turns out to be one of Mr. Holland's former students. He helped her overcome her problems with self-esteem and self-confidence while teaching her to play the clarinet. Obviously, he did a good job.

The Guv says, "Mr. Holland had a profound influence on my life and on a lot of lives I know. But I have a feeling that he considers a great part of his own life misspent. Rumor had it he was always working on this symphony of his. And this was going to make him famous, rich, probably both. But Mr. Holland isn't rich and he isn't famous, at least not outside of our little town. So it might be easy for him to think himself a failure. But he would be wrong, because I think that he's achieved a success far beyond riches and fame. Look around you. There is not a life in this room that you have not touched, and each of us is a better person because of you. We are your symphony Mr. Holland. We are the melodies and the notes of your opus. We are the music of your life."

Then she hands Mr. Holland the baton, and he conducts the orchestra, comprised of students from his three decades of teaching, to a rousing rendition of the overture to his "An American Symphony"

Touching, eh? This is about the time I want to puke.

Instead of conducting his swan song and saying a tearful goodbye to his students and career, I would have had Mr. Holland take the baton, turn to the assembled horde, and say:

"You are the music of my life? What kind of horseshit is that? All of you here today, where were you when the school board decided that it was more important to buy new football helmets and cheerleading uniforms than to educate your children in the arts? There were only a handful of you at that meeting. I was fighting for my survival and, more importantly, for the future of your children. And where were you that night? Oh yeah, it was a Monday night, and you can't miss Monday Night Football, can you?

"You're the music of my life? What music? An incomprehensible hip-hop atrocity comprised of a four-step atonal progression so wrenching it makes my brain leak out of my ears?

"And you, Guv. You were a pathetic turd in high school. I came in on my own time to tutor you, not only on the clarinet- and, by the way, you were so abysmal that making you sound barely competent made the cretinous oafs in this festering pimple of a town think you were Benny Goodman with tits- but to delude you into thinking you could contribute to society, something that I'll regret to my dying day, which will probably occur when I have a stroke greeting people at Wal-Mart, a job I have to take because the lousy early pension I'll receive doesn't provide enough income to feed my freaking goldfish.

"Some governor you are. Do you realize the money it cost you to fly you and your entourage here from the state capital could have bought the marching band sheet music for two years?

"You're my symphony? Hah. You're all pitiful sacks of semi-sentient shit. Here. Take this baton and shove it up your ass."

(Turns to the stunned audience, imitating Robert Blake as Baretta) And that's the name of that tune. Go play with your birds."

Now, that's what I call a feel-good movie.

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Thursday, January 05, 2006

Insipid Quote of the Day

The difference between try and triumph is just a little umph! -Marvin Phillips

Assuming, of course, you can't spell.

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Oh, for Christ's sake...

Why don't all the denominations, in the name of all that's holy, get together and censure this wingnut?

Pat Robertson says Sharon's stroke may be God's punishment

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) The Reverend Pat Robertson says Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's massive stroke could be God's punishment for giving up Israeli territory.

The founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network told viewers of "The 700 Club" that Sharon was "dividing God's land," even though the Bible says doing so invites "God's enmity."

Robertson added, "I would say woe to any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course."

He noted that former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated.

Robertson said God's message is, "This land belongs to me. You'd better leave it alone."

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The Borborygmi Blues

Oh, my dog has borborygmi,
What's a fella to do?
Oh yeah, my dog has borborygmi,
And I'm feeling blue
Oh yeah my dog has borborygmi-
And my kitty snores, too.

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Woohoo!! Jon Stewart to host Oscars!

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - As the clock ticks ever closer to the 78th Annual Academy Awards on March 5, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has finally found a host in Jon Stewart.

Sources confirmed Stewart's selection, which was reported Wednesday evening by the Los Angeles Times' Oscar watch site, An Academy spokesman declined comment.

The assignment would represent the first Oscar-hosting spot for Stewart, who headlines Comedy Central's The Daily Show. Stewart does have black-tie experience, though, having hosted the Grammy Awards in 2001 and 2002.

Oscarcast producer Gil Cates' choice of a host had become the subject of mounting suspense in Hollywood. Chris Rock, last year's host, was not asked to reprise the role. Reportedly, Billy Crystal, who has hosted eight times, turned down the honor. Speculation also had centered on such other previous hosts as Whoopi Goldberg and Steve Martin.

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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Better leave their nuts alone...

The Force is strong with these fellas.
(From my daughter Sara, via

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T-Shirt of the Day

They call it PMS because Mad Cow Disease was already taken.

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Quote of the day

"I'm not smart enough to debate you point to point on this, but I have the feeling, I have the feeling about 60 percent of what you say is crap."
-David Letterman, to Bill O'Reilly on Late Night with David Letterman

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Up next: Gravity ceases to function

It appears all one needs to open just about any mechanical key lock is an easily-created "bumpkey."

Modern key locks were invented around 1850. I guess the real surprise is why it took over 150 years for the bumpkey approach to be developed.

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Instant Erudition

In recent years my reading has been limited to technical publications and historical biographies. The first is strictly a matter of economic survival: I have to keep current with computer trends, although the trends consist primarily of new ways to do old things, breathlessly promoted by trade journals whose survival depends upon the advertising revenue generated from those who are selling the new things of questionable value.

The second is a matter of maintaining my sanity. After five years of the current administration constantly distorting and lying about the actions and intents of the Founders, it was necessary for me to return to the original sources to make certain a transient ischemic event hadn't rendered me aphasic.

Advancing age has, in fact, dimmed my memory of the classics. My non-existent social life and work-at-home isolation effectively insulate me from challenging intellectual situations, and while I can remember the lyrics to virtually all pre-1971 Motown songs, it takes me a minute to remember the immortal "to the last I grapple with thee; from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee" originally appears in Moby Dick and not Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. And while "Revenge is a dish best served cold" may indeed be an old Klingon proverb, it originally appeared in French ("La vengeance est un plat qui se mange froid.") in Pierre Choderlos de LaClos' Dangerous Liaisons.

So I was surfing the web, compiling a list of classics to revisit and feeling somewhat overwhelmed. I made a few stops at Wikipedia to scan the summaries there, and even that was taking too much time. Then I stumbled across this site.

Hmmm... let's see... Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye:

Holden Caulfield

Angst angst angst swear curse swear crazy crazy angst swear curse, society sucks, and I'm a stupid jerk.


Yep. This ought to do it.

(Contextually accurate Quote of the Day:
I took a speed-reading course and read War and Peace in 20 minutes. It involves Russia.
--Woody Allen)

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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Bonus Hoover quote

I regret to say that we of the FBI are powerless to act in cases of oral-genital intimacy, unless it has in some way obstructed interstate commerce.
-J. Edgar Hoover

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Quote of the day

For years and years I have approved opening mail and other similar operations, but no longer. It is becoming more and more dangerous and we are apt to get caught. I am not opposed to doing this. I'm not opposed to continuing the burglaries and the opening of mail and other similar activities, providing someone higher than myself approves of it... I'm not going to accept the responsibility myself anymore, even though I've done it for many years.
--J. Edgar Hoover (1895-1972)
(In Christopher Andrew's For the President's Eyes Only [1995])

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Monday, January 02, 2006

Thoughts from the good doctor...

Happy birthday, Isaac Asimov, my favorite science and science fiction author:

Humanity has the stars in its future, and that future is too important to be lost under the burden of juvenile folly and ignorant superstition.

If knowledge can create problems, it is not through ignorance that we can solve them.

If the doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I'd type a little faster.

It pays to be obvious, especially if you have a reputation for subtlety.

Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It's the transition that's troublesome.

Nothing interferes with my concentration. You could put an orgy in my room and I wouldn't look up. Well, maybe once.

Thin people are thin because they don't know any better.

To insult someone we call him bestial. For deliberate cruelty and nature, human might be the greater insult.

Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.

We are reaching the stage where the problems we must solve are going to become insoluble without computers. I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them.

When life is so harsh that a man loses all hope in himself, then he raises his eyes to a shining rock, worshipping it, just to find hope again, rather than looking to his own acts for hope and salvation. Yes, atheism is a redemptive belief. It is theism that denies man's own redemptive nature.

You can't reason with someone whose first line of argument is that reason doesn't count.

Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right.

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Sunday, January 01, 2006

New Year thoughts

Every New Year is the direct descendant, isn't it, of a long line of proven criminals?
-Ogden Nash

The proper behavior all through the holiday season is to be drunk. This drunkenness culminates on New Year's Eve, when you get so drunk you kiss the person you're married to.
-P.J. O'Rourke

Youth is when you're allowed to stay up late on New Year's Eve. Middle age is when you're forced to.
-Bill Vaughan

The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.
-L.P. Hartley

Every man's life lies within the present; for the past is spent and done with, and the future is uncertain.
-Marcus Aurelius

The most important thing we can learn from the past is that no earlier civilization has survived.
-Thor Heyerdahl

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Copyright © 1987-2024 by Kevin G. Barkes
All rights reserved.
Violators will be prosecuted.
So there.  
The e-mail address is now something other than saga. used to be until December, 2007 when the domain name broker Trout Zimmer made an offer I couldn't refuse. Giving up and adopting created a significant problem, however. I had acquired the domain name in 1993, and had since that time used as my sole e-mail address. How to let people know that was no longer but rather which is longer than and more letters to type than and somehow less aesthetically pleasing than but actually just as functional as I sent e-mails from the address to just about everybody I knew who had used in the past decade and a half but noticed that some people just didn't seem to get the word about the change. So it occurred to me that if I were generate some literate, valid text in which was repeated numerous times and posted it on a bunch of different pages- say, a blog indexed by Google- that someone looking for would notice this paragraph repeated in hundreds of locations, would read it, and figure out that no longer is the they thought it was. That's the theory, anyway. Ok, I'm done. Move along. Nothing to see here...


Crystal Methodist

Laugh while you can, monkey-boy

I am a professional. Do not try this at home.

I canna change the laws of physics

As a matter of fact, I *am* the boss of you.
(as a matter of fact, i AM the boss of you.)

Truly great madness cannot be achieved without signficant intelligence

I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

Left wing liberal nut job

Flies spread disease. Keep yours zipped.

Eff the ineffable, scrute the inscrutable.

If my answers frighten you then you should cease asking scary questions.

If evolution is just a theory, why am I surrounded by monkeys?

Nutrition makes me puke

Feral Geek

eat wisely

Dyslexics have more fnu!

It's here!

Eff and Scrute

440 pages, over 11,000 quotations!

Eff the Ineffable, Scrute the Inscrutable

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