Is confession good for the soul? Let’s find out!

I have to confess something. Not to you guys. To Mrs. Wife.

On Friday night, Mrs. Wife and 8-Year Old Daughter went on a Girl Scout-sponsored overnight trip. [It was a camping/cabin thing in 10 degree weather. Most unpleasant!] Normally, I would have taken care of 3-Year Old Daughter when I got home from work but I have been battling a sinus infection all week, so 3-Year Old stayed at my mother-in-law’s house.

My instructions were to go home and rest. It seemed reasonable. I got home, made some lovely soup and opened a book. Suddenly, I was overpowered by a strange force. Let’s call it…I don’t know…let’s call it tedium. When I regained my equilibrium, I found myself driving south on the Garden State Parkway, down to Asbury Park to—you guessed it—back to the Silver Ball Museum and Pinball Hall of Fame


Lock and load

I still wasn’t feeling great but being sick and playing pinball is a hell of a lot more entertaining than being sick and sitting in my blue reading chair in the living room.


My favorite machine ever

And then I had an epiphany: I came home to an empty house on a Friday night, ate dinner alone, went to a pinball arcade by myself, stood in front of a pinball machine for an hour, went home alone, watched the news, abused myself and went to sleep. That is exactly how I spent my teens! It’s decades later and I’ve made no progress whatsoever in this life! Damn.


Pope John Paul II is actively being considered for sainthood by the Catholic Church. His main postulator is a Monsignor from Poland. In a new book just published to burnish the case for sainthood, the good Monsignor claims that in order to bring himself closer to Christian perfection, John Paul use to beat himself with a belt “even while on vacation” and slept on the floor as acts of penitence.

My, oh, my. I fail to see why this is considered to be admirable behavior. If there is a God in heaven (and after Haiti, I’m having my doubts) do you suppose it pleases Him when we beat ourselves with belts? Spend a moment and consider the psychology of that. And why is it important for us to know that John Paul beat himself constantly; not even giving it a rest while on vacation? Apparently, the man never allowed himself a moment of joy. (“Must remember to pack my strop.“)

I continue to struggle to understand the attraction to organized religion. And not just the Christians. All of them.

“So, Romeo wanted to, like, bang Juliet”

r+jInstead of just another tired-ass production of Romeo and Juliet, the Nature Theater of Oklahoma put a wicked spin on it. They randomly phoned people and asked them to recall the plot. The play is a series of verbatim monologues based on those phone calls. The results are hysterical.

Two masterful actors deliver the monologues in Elizabethan English and period costumes. Some of the respondents were surprisingly knowledgeable about the play but most delivered the same vague, uninformed story that I, myself, would have given if they had phoned me.

The last quarter of the play is given over to a dialogue examining the annoying neediness of young lovers and, worse, the unquenchable hunger for attention by actors who embrace Shakespearean roles. At the very end of the play, after heaping all that onto a funeral pyre, the lights go down and the two actors stand center stage and deliver a bit of Romeo and Juliet just as Shakespeare intended it. The beauty of the language and difficulty of the delivery is suddenly revealed.


Family, friends and long-time readers know that I am a low-level rare book dealer. I collect, buy and sell rare 20th century literature. It’s just a hobby.

[Actually, what ends up happening is that I’ll buy a book if I think it’s under priced with the intention of flipping it to a legitimate rare book dealer but once I get the book in my hands, I can rarely part with it. I could never make a living this way.]

On Monday, February 8th at Pacific Book Auctions in San Francisco, you can pick up a second folio edition of William Shakespeare’s Works.


This truly is a landmark of literature. The first folio of these plays was published back in 1623 and tonight, in New York City, there is one major and two minor Shakespeare productions being performed. That’s what I call real staying power. You also have to take into consideration all the works that have been influenced by The Bard. Disney’s The Lion King? Hamlet. West Side Story? Romeo and Juliet. Etc., etc.

This second folio is a page-for-page reprint of the first folio, which is considered the only reliable text for many of Shakespeare’s plays. It’s one of the most valuable books ever printed. If you think a second folio will set you back (see post title for auction estimate), consider that a first folio sold at Sotheby’s in July of 2006 for £2.5 million. Ouch.

A fine man, a fine poem

I haven’t posted a Bukowski poem for a long time and it’s time for a dosage. This is widely considered to be Bukowski’s masterpiece. It’s pretty angry stuff and it’s not for everyone, but hang in there. Take your medicine. It’s good for you. It was written in 1966 and I think it speaks volumes about the state of contemporary American culture and politics.

The Genius of the Crowd

There is enough treachery, hatred,
Absurdity in the average human
To supply any given army on any given
AND The Best At Murder Are Those
  Who Preach LOVE

Those Who Preach GOD
  NEED God
Those Who Preach PEACE
  Do Not Have PEACE
Beware The Knowers

     Those Who
     Are ALWAYS

Beware Those Who Either Detest
  Poverty Or Are Proud Of It

BEWARE Those Quick to Praise
For they Need PRAISE In Return

BEWARE Those Quick To Censure
They Are Afraid Of What They Do
Not Know

Beware Those Who Seek Constant
Crowds; They are Nothing

     The Average Man
     The Average Woman
     BEWARE Their Love

Thier Love Is Average, Seeks
But There Is Genius In Their Hatred
There Is Enough Genius In Their
Hatred To Kill You, To Kill

Not Wanting Solitude
Not Understanding Solitude
The Will Attempt To Destroy
That Differs
From Their Own

     Not Being Able
     To Create Art
     They Will Not
     Understand Art

They Will Consider Their Failure
As Creators
Only As A Failure
Of The World

Not Being Able To Love Fully
They Will BELIEVE Your Love

And Their Hatred Will Be Perfect
Like A Shining Diamond
Like A Knife
LIke A Mountain
LIKE Hemlock

     Their Finest