THE INFORMATION #870 JANUARY 8, 2016

THE INFORMATION #870
JANUARY 8, 2016
Copyright 2016 FRANCIS DIMENNO
http://dimenno.gather.com
francisdimenno@yahoo.com
https://dimenno.wordpress.com

WHEN THIS WORLD CATCHES FIRE
BOOK THREE: SAVAGE NOXTOWN
CHAPTER TEN: PART FIFTY-TWO: KINGDOM COME

Being in the con man business–and don’t mistake me for a facetious Yellof, Yob, because it IS a business–a business that takes a back seat to no other–and being in that line of work, I naturally have a vantage point regarding the myriad ways people manage to delude themselves. Do you know why people play games? Because everything’s a game. And people are naturally attracted to the glitter of a seemingly fair wager. Look to Mother Nature. You ever notice how a crow bobs his head as he struts and frets his way along a gutter, looking for bits of string and straw and other useless things? Or how a pigeon can peck at the ground at nothing normal eyes can see? Or how a squirrel can dig at a root and fool itself that it found a nut and go nibbling away at a piece of rubbish, all the while its black eyes glistering? Then there’s those men who CAN’T find a job; nobody wants to hire them to do a job of work because of the way they look–hangdog countenance; like a cur who is longing to be whipped. Deep down, that man doesn’t want to live, and that’s why he looks like he’s bound to lose. Then there’s the woman who stays in bed for twenty years because she’s got the vapors; only if you forced her to her own two feet and compel her to do for herself you can bet that somehow she would manage, and it’s only her deluded kin as keep them there on a bed of so-called pain. There’s a never-ending pattern to be seen, Yob, for those who have the eyes to capture the warp and the woof. The doting old man and his coltish young bride–of course she’s going to find a younger man, and turn him into a cuckold. The doting older woman and the young bravo–of course he’s bound to make a fool of her, and many times over. You see it all when you travel the world, only if you keep your ears open as you stroll the streets of any burg worth its salt, then you’ll observe all the very same mass delusions as you’re likely to run across from Timbuktu to Maracaibo and beyond. The notion that money is everything. (It is a good deal, at that–not the cash itself, but what you can spend it on without being put through the risk and botheration of having to steal it.) The idea that owning a horse and a gun somehow makes you more of a man. (I will say that it certainly won’t hurt your chances with the ladies none.) That the very notion of courting a woman isn’t simply some trick that nature plays on us at one time or another, no matter how strong-minded we think we might be. Ever see the newlywed chimp bride proudly waving her banana? There you have it, in a nutshell. It takes a very strong man to resist the tide of human affairs and declare, “No, I Will Not”. When you’re young, you may think yourself as one of those, but age will tell you, soon or late, that even the strongest among us can be broken. That proud souls are perhaps made to be broken so. People who are broken–people who, in the end, simply can’t cope with all the noise are called crazy and sent to a very quiet place in the country–a very quiet place indeed–where they can walk in the willow garden and catch some rays of golden sunshine. Sleep and wholesome food are said to do wonders in those cases. But such a life was never for me. I would rather wallow in good honest poison than live off of corn flakes and homeopathic remedies. Can’t the reformers ever reconcile themselves to the plain and simple fact that the noble vices are a lot of fun? Drinking, gambling and whoring around are the holy trinity of any sportsman worthy of the name. Aye, if I were 40 again I would ply those very trades with renewed vigor. But just because I’m closer to 60, doesn’t mean there is going to be any sort of a grand falling off for me. It bewilders me, Yob, to try to make sense of why people do away with themselves before they reach the age of infirmity. Maybe they’re tired; maybe they feel like an empty shell; all the same, they ought to find some sort of occupation that gladdens their heart, rather than sit in a hard chair looking miserable, or sulking in bed. Life is movement–movement, if nothing else.  
And everything in life, all of it, comes down to this: Who profits? When there’s only one boss, things get distributed much more equally. It’s only when there’s a bunch of squabbling Barons that people are forced to live in misery. Don’t call me a Socialist, but there’s one thing I know for sure–there’s no limit to human greed once you introduce the notion of competition. That’s why, many years ago, we divvied up the grifting rackets among ourselves, and pledged each other not to poach on anyone’s territory unless we were personally in dire need of a big score, which hardly ever happened–because we had the good sense to establish a communal sinking fund for any and all emergencies. Like an insurance policy, for grifters who were on their uppers. As a result, the coppers got their payoffs in a timely and consistent fashion, and if anyone ever had to take a fall for appearance’s sake, they were warned well ahead of time and were well-prepared. Nobody likes to go to jail, but if you have the right friends it can be a kind of golden rest holiday for the hard-working grifter.  
Men like me, we live for the new moon. We thrive, even. Your average marks tend to get all tangled up and stuffed to busting with their own emotions when the moon is tart and full. Even the sort of marks you’re bound to meet when you’re on the vag and are wandering the road and forced to confine your arts to entertaining country bumpkins. I’ve seen many a tinker make off with half the household chattels on the night of a new moon. All that darkness is most conducive to assisting the hard-working grifter in his profession. One should never try to do business during a full moon, when people have got their hackles raised. You can call it superstition, but I have endless anecdotal evidence that backs me up. An enterprising juggler who usually manages to make a tidy crust in the crossroads at any other time is like to be pelted with large stones when the celestial body is hanging there like a ripe cheese. Many an old soldier has had to drag his tail back to his cave or lean-to on the night of a pumpkin moon.   
Now, I’m supposing I could jaw forever about the foolishness of considering the new year as any kind of a new start. But first, someone needs to pour me a drink!

1*SALUTATION

PUBLIC IMAGE
CAREERING (LIVE)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rtwiMFDWa0&app=desktop

2*REFERENCE

TEN FACEBOOK PAGES YOU NEED TO STOP SHARING FROM
CRANK SCIENCE AND AMERICAN LOONS
20 VINTAGE ALBUM COVERS THAT MIGHT MAKE YOU FEEL ILL
TEN BEST ARTICLES WIKIPEDIA DELETED THIS WEEK
http://gawker.com/the-10-best-articles-wikipedia-deleted-this-week-1749445064

5*AVATAR OF THE ZEITGEIST

Behind the Ronald Reagan myth: “No one had ever entered the White House so grossly ill informed”
http://www.salon.com/2015/12/27/behind_the_ronald_reagan_myth_no_one_had_ever_entered_the_white_house_so_grossly_ill_informed_2/

6* DAILY UTILITY

ONLINE THEREMIN
ALSO SEE:

THE GREATEST ELECTRONIC ALBUMS OF THE 1950S AND 1960S

James Lovelock: ‘enjoy life while you can: in 20 years global warming will hit the fan’
http://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/2008/mar/01/scienceofclimatechange.climatechange

9*RUMOR PATROL
THE FIREPLACE DELUSION

http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/the-fireplace-delusion

10* LAGNIAPPE
1980 TALKING HEADS CONCERT FILM

How Esurance Lost Its Mascot to the Internet

*11A BOOKS READ AND RATED
ABANDON THE OLD IN TOKYO. TATSUMI. ****1/2
ALL-NEW X-MAN VOLUME 2. BENDIS. ***1/2
AMAZING FANTASTIC INCREDIBLE. LEE. ***
ANGRY YOUTH COMIX. RYAN. ****
AVENGERS VOL. 2. HICKMAN. ***1/2
BITCH PLANET 1. EXTRAORDINARY MACHINE. ****
BLACK RIVER. SIMMONS. ****
CITY OF CLOWNS. ALARCON &ALVARADO. ****
THE COMIC BOOK HISTORY OF COMICS. VAN LENTE & DUNLAVEY. ****
COWL 1. ***1/2
COWL 2. ***1/2
DARE TO DISAPPOINT: GROWING UP IN TURKEY. SAMANCI. ****
A DRIFTING LIFE. TATSUMI. ****
FALLEN WORDS. TATSUMI. ****1/2
THE FLASH: SEASON ZERO. **1/2
FREE COUNTRY. GAIMAN. ***1/2
MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. ***1/2
OMAHA BEACH ON D-DAY. CAPA & MORVAN & BERTAIL. ****
THE OWNER’S GUIDE TO TERRIBLE PARENTING. DELISLE. ***1/2
THE PUSH MAN & OTHER STORIES. TATSUMI. ****1/2
RAGNAROK 1. LAST GOD STANDING. SIMONSON. ****
RELIGION: A DISCOVERY IN COMICS. DEHEER. ****
SHIGERU MIZUKI’S HITLER. ****
STEP ASIDE, POPS. BEATON. ****
SUPER MUTANT MAGIC ADADEMY. TAMAKI. ****
THOR 2. GOD OF THUNDER. ***1/2
T!M G!NGER. HANSHAW. ****
TWO BROTHERS. MOON & BE. ****
UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL 2. SQUIRREL YOU KNOW IT’S TRUE. ***
THE UNTOLD HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES. STONE & KUZNICK. ****
VACANCY. LEE. ***1/2

CONTROVERSIES IN POPULAR CULTURE.
829. WORDS THAT NEED TO DIE IN 2016

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MODERN WISDOM 207 JANUARY 2016

MODERN WISDOM: AMERICA’S ONLY HUMOR MAGAZINE
NUMBER 207
JANUARY 2016
Copyright 2016 Francis DiMenno
dimenno@gmail.com
http://www.dimenno.wordpress.com

 
MODERN WISDOM PRESENTS: THE MODERN WISDOM CALENDAR
JANUARY
1. Star Wars is the Heart of Dorkiness.
2. Chipotle? It’s a good salmonella; it’s not a GREAT salmonella.
3. I thought this was a planet where men evolved from apes.
But then I went to a Donald Trump rally.
4. When it comes right down to it, the word ‘fascist’ means anything I command it to mean.
5. I am guessing that the liberal Kool Aid of which conservatives speak is supposed 
to be an ideological witch’s brew consisting in unequal parts of secular humanism; 
impractical unilateral disarmament schemes; parlor socialism; sneering at the flag, 
and hatred of guns, police, hound dogs, and the military.
6. The Republicans are the party of whiskey, golf, and selfishness.
7. Anti-Obamaism is the pornography of the Paleocons.
8. Anti-Obamaism: Polity wants a cracker.
9. As an anarcho-syndicalist, I am deeply offended that the liberal state permits 
libertarians to spew their right-wing fascist propaganda.
10. I am a Libertarian. An individualist slavishly devoted to Ayn Rand. I am a Conservative.  I want to bring back 1950, except for the marginal tax rate. I am a Liberal. My personality is every bit as offensive as the injustices I wish to rectify. I am an Anarchist. An individualist who cannot stand talking to you unless you are also an anarchist. And even then, only through a bullhorn.
11. Maybe a group of patriots disguised as
Indians should dump the Tea Party movement into Boston Harbor.
12. Nowadays politics is a three ring circus in which the ringmasters are under

considerable pressure to roll out a new clown every now and again.

13. The current climate in this country is one of totalitarian
bullying. It’s time for a strong man to come along and put a stop to
it once and for all.
14. Democracy today is a wonderfully ingenious system in which the common people
voluntarily elect leaders who work against the interests of the common
people.
15. If only the Democrats were smart. If only the Republicans were kind.
16. I’m a Democrat and I’m a Republican. First I pick your

pocket…then I keep the money for myself.

17. Ayn Rand is every bit as oppressive as the Communism she was attempting to discredit.
18. I’m not sure, but I think it was Ayn Rand’s feet that we saw under the
house at the beginning of The Wizard of Oz. 
19. Xenophobes all ought to go back to where they didn’t come from.
20. Libertarianism is anarchy for shitheads. 
21. The watching of sporting events is working class fanaticism in its socially approved form.
22. Conspiracy theories are sports for people who can’t get laid.
23. Sometimes I feel like a motherless child. But usually, I just order
a cheeseburger.
24. Terrorism is the marijuana of the Generals. It makes them feel good even as their 
thinking becomes hazy, and they end up spending a hell of a lot of money on it.
25. I never shop at Wal-Mart. I’d rather go to China and enslave the
peasants directly at the source.
26. I suppose that every time a bell was rung, Pavlov’s cat went out and
sucked the breath out of a baby.
27. Graffiti is just philosophy with the world “fuck” thrown in.
28. Kids–stay in school. Because we sure don’t want you around here.
29. Everybody repeat after me…..”Destroy all herd followers.”
30. My dad’s a meat and potatoes man. His arms are made of french fries and his legs are made of steak 
…and I said to my mother, “What is this nightmare world you brought me into?”
31. My father said that if I work in a restaurant I’ll always eat. So I said, what if 
I work in a crack house—would I always be nervous?
FEBRUARY
1. –Q:There’s a black History Month–why isn’t there a White History Month?
–A: EVERY month is White History Month.
2. Dodge? Ram…? Make up your fucking mind!
3. I learned a lot from my dog. How to roll around in my own filth. How to 
kill chickens. How to piss on trees. And, best of all–how to beg
for treats with my genitalia exposed.
4. Face it–Starbucks is for people who wish they still used drugs.
5. Some people say I have my grandfather’s smile. That’s because I
stole his dentures.
6. My Dad was a hippie. He would say, “Son—I’m going to
teach you a lesson I’ll never remember.”
7. My dad was a liberal. So just to piss him off I brought a white girl home.
8. I’m a nonviolent hypocrite. You believe me–don’t you? Or do you
want some…trouble?
9. I had a job writing children’s books. I got put in the corner for
a time-out for using the word ‘poop.’ But the final straw was when they rejected my
masterpiece, WINNIE THE SHIT.
10. I believe that we should to be kind to animals. And THEN eat them.
11. I only buy rat poison which has never been tested on animals.
12. There’s this TV show that I just can’t seem to tear myself away from.
It’s all about brainwashing.
13. Ever notice how a guy having an orgasm starts to talk just like
Frankenstein?
14. The last time you were in a plane, did you ever want to buzz low
over Hiroshima–just for laughs?
15. Every mother is like Dr. Frankenstein and every father is like the
angry villagers.
16. Aren’t you glad you’re a non-conformist? Don’t you wish everyone were?
17. My Uncle Jack said, “I’m a graduate of the school of Hard Knocks.”
So I said, “What did you major in–cliches?”
18. Am I paranoid? It depends on who wants to know.
19. If the election were held today…it would be November.
20. Surveys indicate that nine out of ten people have no opinions of their own.
And the rest are undecided.
21. Say what you will about the Zodiac Killer, but at least he brought
astrology into the mainstream.
22. Our whole neighborhood was poor, but some of the kids
were kind of snobby. They’d come over to my house and say,
“It’s a good paint chip; it’s not a GREAT paint chip….”
23. If I had a hammer…I’d go after Peter Paul and Mary.
24. Dating. At my age, it’s more like carbon dating.
25. They say that kids today are soft. But who needs children with 
nicknames like ‘Sinbad’ and ‘Killer’ roaming around?
26. I joined Teetotallers’ Anonymous and took a fearless
moral Inventory of your shortcomings.
27. If a million chimps did manage to type Hamlet, I’ll bet there’d be
something in there about unicycles.
28. I’m a postmodern sort of hypocrite. I like to moan about psychic
imperialism while at the same time attempting to market myself as a commodity.
29. I’m anti-hierarchical–and I’ll stake my reputation on it.
MARCH
1. A Bohemian is just a hobo with a bachelor’s degree.
2. And a socialist is a hobo with a PhD.
3. I grew up on an Indian reservation. We played cowboys and more cowboys.
4. I’ve been in jail a couple dozen times. But I’ve gone straight, I swear it.
You believe me–don’t you? Or do you want a little…trouble?
5. Liberals: Your obsession with fairness is every bit as oppressive
as the injustices you’re supposedly attempting to ameliorate.
Conservatives: Your fondness for unjust market forces is every bit as
oppressive as the collectivism you’re blatantly attempting to
suppress. Libertarians: Your…aww, you guys are fucking nuts.
6. Mormons practice polygamy, and yet they don’t drink?
Hmm–there’s something fishy going on here.
7. Billy Graham once said that heaven would be like an endless family reunion.
Sounds more like hell to me.
8. Marriage can make you psychotic. Seriously. Right after the honeymoon,
that’s when you start to hear the voices–“Get off your fat
ass”…”Get a job”….
9. If fish is brain food then why are cats so stupid?
10. There’s no business like show business. True. And there’s
also no shower like a golden shower–and for much the same reasons.
11. I finally proposed marriage. But she turned me down. Maybe I shouldn’t
have pretended my hand was replaced with a dinner fork. And maybe 
I shouldn’t have spoken the proposal in burps.
12. Animal crackers. Aren’t they really just training wheels for carnivores?
13. Dogs really hate it when you blow crack smoke in their face. At
least…at first.
14. When I think back on all the years I wasted on self-pity,
I just want to curl up in the corner and die.
15. Polly wanna cracker? No–what Polly really want is a lesson in
remedial grammar.
16. I will not humiliate you with my passive aggressiveness–or so you hope.
17. This is no country for old memes.
18. Do not blame God for having created the atomic bomb, but Praise God
for not giving it to Frankenstein.
19. A fool and his money should talk to me.
20. Consider Christ’s resume: Fisherman, short order
cook,  some light carpentry,public speaking experience, 
fluent in Aramaic. Then ask yourself–would you hire this 
hallucinating, bearded nomad? Well–would you?
21. Adult diapers? Listen, Mister–if they’re good enough for Christ
on the cross, then they’re good enough for ME.
22. I think it would have been fun to replace Jesus’s usual vinegar
sponge with Folger’s crystals.
23. The higher you are, the further you can spit.
24. Though honey is sweet, do not lick it off a bear cub.
25. What if the crucifixion were just a dice game that went terribly,

terribly wrong?

26. Nothing’s as good as it used to be, including this statement.
27. Can ANYBODY explain to me why we must eat pork to celebrate the

resurrection of a deceased freelance Jewish rabbi?

28. I hate to mention this, but by some definitions at least, the
resurrected Jesus was actually a zombie. 
29. Man is the only animal who worries that he is only an animal.
30. Teach a man to fish and the durn fool will overfish the oceans.
31. Where there’s swill there’s a way.
APRIL
1. High school is a hospital where they amputate your imagination.
2. The American Empire’s mythology is the commodification of all myth.
3. America is zoned for business, not beauty.
4. While the world about us rages, let’s go back to the media pages.
5. Facebook: Abandon hope, all ye who hit ‘enter’ here.
6. The simplest explanation is always this: They lied.
7. I like to pretend to be a soldier, so I can smoke in hospitals.
8. The half life of not getting the point is forever.
9. Driving is dada.
10. Masturbation is the poor man’s XBox.
11. Dare to be cautious!
12. My opinions, yes; my beliefs, maybe; my prejudices, never.
13. The world will ignore you. That’s its job.
14. The only thing more tiresome than the purblind slanders of
reactionaries are the self-styled verities of radicals.
15. Southerners are famous for their hospitality. They have some the
friendliest lynch mobs you’ll ever see.
16. Romantic engagements are an exercise in fertility.
17. If wishes were fishes, beggars would die of mercury poisoning.
18. Noisy contentment is an American’s default mode.
19. To be a hipster is to be 22 forever.
20. Hell is just one thing damned after another.
21. People with plates in their lips must be good at eating soup.
22. Just because I live on a mountain don’t make me no hillbilly, gol’ dang it
23. Cynics aren’t always right. But don’t bet on it, because the fix is in.
24. When you’re on a train to nowhere, it doesn’t really matter how
fast you’re going.
25. “I thought of you.” Say, rather, I had the presence of mind to say as much.
26. I’ll bet if we changed our name to “The United States of
Vengeance,” foreigners would stop messing with us.
27. I think it would be interesting to send a rocket ship filled with
moths to visit the sun.
28. If Hitler ever wore cologne, I’ll bet it smelled a lot like cabbage.
29. I’ve never met the Antichrist personally, but I’ll bet he has a
huge collection of Bratz dolls.
30. Led Zeppelin were the Beatles of the 1970s, but that’s like calling
someone the cleanest whore at the Mustang Ranch.
MAY
1. When I was little, I ate coffee soup for breakfast, which is
coffee, bread, milk and sugar. That was a great breakfast and I am
just fine fine fine FINE!!!
2. True courtesy consists of not noticing that most people are dying
in plain sight.
3. I’m not pithy. I’m not even angwy.
4. They say fascists have short weenies. LIES! All LIES!!
5. There’s this TV show about compulsive behavior that I just can’t seem to
tear myself away from.
6. Pate is just baloney with an in-your-face attitude.
7. A Walnut is just a sunflower seed who made the Fortune 500.
8. I like to hang a catnip mouse over the crib–so when kitty gets bored
with sucking the breath out of baby, he can bat the mouse around
for a little change of pace.
9. When I hear the word culture, that’s when I reach for my copy of
“That’s When I Reach for My Revolver”.
10. Be yourself, but be sure to do it just like everybody else.
11. God’s curse is on the man who always says what needs to be said.
12. Stand up comedy: The rattling of a shtick inside a shithouse.
13. We only like novel ideas if they are old.
14. Fun for the whole family never is.
15. Corn is the American default mode.
16. The world will always say yes to one thing: more punishment.
17. If only my work could be translated into French and reviewed in
Britain, my fortune would be made in America.
18. Only an optimist opens a letter labeled “Do Not Ignore”.
19. “Mythology” is what we call crazy stories by dead weirdos that bore us to tears.
20. We are all foolish children, skating along upon our own frozen sewage.
21. Hitler. Say what you like about the man, but he was the world’s
most famous vegetarian.
22. Life for the most part is the process of merely riding ones biases
to their finale.
23. Acts of God are closer than they appear.
24. One time when I was a boy, I knocked over a bottle of Ballantine
Ale. My mother said, “You kids! See what I mean! We can never have
nice things!”
25. If it’s raining cats and dogs I sure do hope they manage to
resolve their differences on the way down.
26. Tom Clancy is John LeCarre for drunks.
27. I’m neurotic, you’re eccentric, he’s psychotic, they are the enemy.
28. “Boulevardier” is French for “filthy-minded old creep.”
29. I was in the movie The Hillbilly Godfather. Surely you remember the
famous line: “Leave the musket. Take the pork rinds.”
30. I think static cling is probably God, trying to tell us something.
31. One time a woman was breast-feeding her baby in the restaurant and
I was her waiter so I had to go over and say, “Excuse me, Miss–we don’t 
allow beverages from the outside.”
JUNE
1. I was made to feel like a stranger in my own home. Only it turns
out, it wasn’t my home at all…which  is why I’m writing this from
jail.
2. My apartment came furnished, which is great, because I wouldn’t
want to have to go out and BUY cockroaches.
3. When waiters insist on telling me their name, I tell them that MY name is
“Feed Me and Live.”
4. I like to hang out at the Alzheimer’s lounge–a place where
everybody knows my name–except me.
5. When they say a certain toilet paper is softer than the leading brand,
what they don’t tell you is that the leading brand is old leaves and tree bark.
6. I know this Hobo who was a Roman Catholic. He gave up sterno for Lent.
7. My friends want me to get a computer. Why? So I can fuck things up
at the sped of light?
8. I think they should build heartless shelters, where the heartless can go
to hide from the homeless. I guess in same places they already have them–
they call them “gated communities.”
9. No Irony. Washy only.
10. In Cyberspace, everyone can hear you scream. And nobody
gives a damn.
11. Overwrought rhetoric is patently untrue nearly 99 per cent of the
time. Why? BECAUSE I SAY SO!
12. Never trust any list chosen by a “committee of experts”.
13. Relax. Or else.
14. There will always be a market for transcendental masturbation.
15. Entertainers are power clowns.
16. Coffee without caffeine is blasphemy. Caffeine without coffee is idolatry.
17. It all depends on whose sacred cow is being gored.
18. Listen, Mister: I’m so deadly that when you look for my name in
the dictionary, you see a picture of death. And then you die. Sucker.
19. Most overachievers eventually find themselves stranded alone at
the top of the poison tower.
20. If Hitler had won we would all be watching genocidal game shows.
21. Kiddiekult books hinge upon stories which largely depend upon the
supernatural resolution of teenage angst
22. TV is a soft surrealism for brains hooked on artificial sunlight.
23. The role of capitalism is to constantly reincentivize profligacy.
24. Almost everything that takes place in the office can be characterized
as “Stupid Coffee Tricks”.
25. I think that if I ever open a bar, I’ll call it “He’s Not Here.”
26. I’m a jolly sort of guy. I love to share a husky laugh in the
courthouse elevator with policemen I don’t really know…yet.
27. On the weekends I let myself do whatever I want to do, because I
strongly believe in having spontaneous fun on a very regimented
schedule.
28. An elephant never forgets. But what does an elephant have to
remember? Peanuts? The hook? Or maybe that soulful clown he mutilated
back in Cincinnati….
29. Ha ha, it’s my birthday, so today I get to tell the President what to do.
(Note: It’s not really my birthday. Also, the President doesn’t return
my calls.)
30. Our lives do not belong to us. We are, all of us, merely a tiny
part of a vast web of interconnectivity. To maintain otherwise is
simply a comforting self-delusion. So gimme a dollar.
JULY
1. I have never once met an Irishman who said, “They’re after me
Lucky Charms!”
2. They will take away my copy of “Gandhi On Non-Violence” when they
pry it from my cold dead fingers.
3. Ideologies are like fine wines–they need to be swirled around in
the mouth then vigorously spat out–never swallowed.
4. We are one nation dedicated to the Preposition: that.
5. Watch out when people call you “Sir”, because what they really
mean is “Fatso”
6. Sitcoms are recipes for narcissism.
7. My religion is simple: I worship remote celebrities.
8. Surfing the what promotes a short what what?
9. The penis: It’s strong enough for a man…but women like it too.
10. Illegal fireworks, some pipe bombs and a little meth? Where I
come from, that’s called “a cheap date”.
11. Depression is just anger under heavy sedation.
12. I guess Arena rock concerts are the American gulag.
13. Potato Salad. It’s ice cream for adults.
14. Bacon is pork candy.
15. O positive and AB negative walk into a bar. The bartender says, “We
don’t serve your type in here!”
16. If an alien came to earth and said take me to your leader I think
that on the way I would suggest we stop at the International House of
Pancakes, just to give him a taste of the sheer diversity of this kooky planet of ours.
17. Sure, I used drugs in college. But I didn’t exhale.
18. Am I paranoid? No! Who sent you?
19. Good thing Fats Domino and Chubby Checker ain’t around to meet
their successor–Arteriosclerotic Backgammon.
20. My brilliant product launch, Baby’s First Ice Cream, was a
smashing success–until the FDA discovered that it contained 25%
alcohol by volume.
21. If there’s one thing we’ve learned from our foreign policy, it’s
this: The more illusory the enemy, the more ruthlessly he must be
hunted down.
22. Like most Americans, I still believe that the only way to stop
tyrants is to take over the earth.
23. Like most Americans, I think the government has too much power.
And, like most Americans, I think the government should do something
about it.
24. Someday I hope to see an America where all my ideas about
individuality have been adopted.
25. Someday I hope to see an America where all my ideas about
individual enterprise have been made compulsory.
26. I was at a job interview and they asked me how fast I type. I said
120 words a minute. They said, “Really?” And I said, “Yeah, but they’re not really words.”
27. Not all Sicilians are in the mob, you know. Some of them are tied
up in the trunk.
28. I had a job throwing gasoline on fires. Well, actually, it wasn’t
really a job–it was sort of more like a favor I did for a very burly man I owed a
lot of money to….
29. I have found that when the pundits disagree with me, they are
idiots and traitors, but when they happen to share my point of view,
they become peculiarly insightful savants and I marvel to discover to
what degree their thinking has matured.
30. The Crayola Crayon people had a “Flesh” color for many years.
Until the so-called “politically correct” brigade made them replace it
with a color called “Evil Colonizers and Oppressors of the Downtrodden
Developing World.”
31. They don’t manufacture nostalgia the way they used to.
AUGUST
1. I’ll bet that if King Kong had been wearing a tuxedo and bow tie they wouldn’t
have been so quick to shoot him down.
2. Employers are getting more strict. Trust me: Your boss will not
like it when he asks you why you’re late, and you tell him that you’re
operating on “Yabba Dabba Do Time”. 
3. Sometimes I fear that the only way to prosper in this world is to
sell broken toys to sick children. Or start a cult religion. Or do I
repeat myself?
4. Listen, “Big Man”: Sarcasm is the default mode of the second rate.
And self-referential irony of the fourth-rate.
5. I’m not keeping up with the Joneses. I’m jonesing just to keep up.
6. Invective? Define “invective,” chump!
7. We Belong Dead Mix: Frankenstein Asks for It By Name!
8. Perhaps we should replace our interfaith councils with interface
councils, so that we might better serve the great god of Cloud
Computing.
9. Have a nice day, my psychotic friend! Wait! Put down th-
10. Listen: It ain’t over ’til the magic brownies say so.
11. Restaurants are the church of the middle class; libraries, of the
lower middle class.
12. My obsessions are scholarly. Those of other people are characteristic
of idiots, maniacs, and assholes.
13. Adults acting like children used to be humorous. Now it’s simply the norm.
14. In America we celebrate our individuality through commodity fetishism.
15. Pick one pocket, it’s a crime. Pick a thousand pockets,
and it’s called ‘market research’.
16. You know what’s most ugly about America? Its optimism.
17. Running away from your problems never solved anything, but at
least you get a nice full cardio-pulmonary workout.
18. Did you ever notice how everybody else always ruins it for a few assholes?
19. I don’t like a man until I’ve figured him out, and then I hate him
for being so transparent.
20. I may have been the architect of my own undoing—but at least I
cared enough to call in an architect!
21. Do you know who I’d like to have dinner with? Einstein. You say
he’s dead? Good. More food for me!
22. Someday the sun is going to supernova. And that’s just the sort of
thing that makes my blood boil.
23. Maybe if we ignore minimalism, it will go away. But then again,
how would we know for sure?
24. I’d like to meet a Tyrannosaurus Rex, just so I could tell him that 
his arms are too short to box with God. 
25. At least one of the Ten Chimp Commandments probably has something
to do with coveting bananas.
26. Starbucks is the opiate of spendthrifts.
27. My apartment smells like cat piss. And the hell of it is, I don’t
own a cat. Or live in an apartment. Or have a sense of smell. 
Who am I? What am I doing here?
28. Cant is the received wisdom of the people.
29. The ‘death penalty’ is an ugly expression. Let’s call it something
nice. Like ‘Putting the killers to sleep’.
30. Tell me: What must I do to get some respect around here? Beg on my
knees like an animal?
31. Ideology–melts in your mind, not in your mouth.
SEPTEMBER
1. We hold our self-evidences to be truth.
2. All politics is loco.
3. People are always trying to get an edge in word-wise.
4. Lying is for children. Real men prevaricate.
5. I once had a parrot who spoke 70 languages. Unfortunately, all of
them sounded like “AAAWWRK!”
6. Only women have a “soulmate”. Maybe because only women have souls.
7. Men are good at fixing things. They can fix anything. Except the
broken hearts of women.
8. Back in the Good Old Days the Army was just College for drunks.
9. I think my biggest “not so good” attribute is probably Evil.
10. Don’t laugh at your dog when he sniffs at someone’s crotch. You do the very same thing on Facebook.
11. Mary Oliver writes poetry for people who like to have words on posters with pictures of animals on them.
12. Perspective is key. You call it trickle down economics. I call it a Golden Shower.
13. Why do dogs rub up against things that smell bad? For the same reason we watch the evening news.
14. Man is born free but he is everywhere asked for spare change.
15. Who can ever forget the Beatles song “Tomorrow Never Knows,” which
John Lennon sang in the voice of Tennessee Tuxedo?
16. Time was, I used to sleep with a different woman every night.
Turns out, she was actually the same woman, but with a multiple
personality disorder.
17. Does the word “manic-depressive” take a hyphen? SOMETIMES I THINK
IT DOES! And…other…times…I just don’t…care….
18. I took too many placebos and now I think I’m sick, but I’m not, really.
19. Why do men worship God? I suppose for the same reason dogs bark
when you run the garbage disposal.
20. I wish my dog would stop drinking out of the toilet. Or at
least that he would wait until after I was done pissing.
21. At one time I had such low self-esteem that all my sexual
fantasies revolved around the Flintstones. You may scoff, but that
Dino sure do have a purty mouth.
22. I have two devils on my shoulders. One’s a good devil. The other
one’s…just a fuckin’ devil, I guess.
23. A bum asked me for a smoke so I gave him a cigarette and he tore
the filter off and so I said to him, “No wonder you people are
homeless–you destroy everything you touch….”
24. Just yesterday I saw a homeless man, teaching his dog to beg. You know what? IT’S A
FRANCHISE!!
25. We are being smothered to death by stories. Or at least, that’s my version.
26. Where God is in demand devils are also in demand.
27. There’s no conspiracy needed to rule us in a carnival of hell.
28. Nostalgia is more than what it used to be.
29. I have decided that other peoples and cultures are also valuable, in
their own frightening and repulsive way.
30. Define IRONY? Oh, yeah, RIGHT! That’ll be EASY!!!
OCTOBER
1. Tell me–Who named the EU? A teenage girl?
2. What we really need are more Cruelty-Free Egos from Free-Range Poetry.
3. This hurricane thing is blowing out of all proportion.
4. They say that Jesus turned the water into wine. Nowadays, that’s

called “enabling behavior.”

5. Do not dwell upon the mistakes you have made in the past–focus
instead on the mistakes you intend to make in the future.

6. I had a dog. So I bought a special dog whistle only he could hear. And
I spanked him with a special dog newspaper only he could read. The
headline read, WOOF WOOF WOOF! BAD DOG! BAD!
7. I’m marketing a Bible for children. It’s called “The Bib”. The Old Testament
is just one word: “No.” And the New Testament is also one word:
“Because.”
8. Recently, I also invented a religion for dogs. It’s called “Heel.” The
Old Testament is one word: “Sit.” And the New Testament is two words:
“Good Dog.”
9. Since Jesus’ blood was wine, does that mean He was always drunk?
10. I do not have any messianic delusions. At least, that’s what God
told me. 
11. I remember my most embarrassing moment. I was being
crucified, and the Roman Centurion offered me a sponge soaked in wine,
and I had to admit I was a recovering alcoholic.
12. Jesus died for our sins. Couldn’t you say the
same thing about King Kong, Cool Hand Luke, and Frankenstein?
13. I like to go to Weight Watchers meetings and leave chocolate-flavored
farts in the vestibule.
14. I wanted to be a boxer, but I never made the grade. So instead, I
just walk around in swimming trunks and punch people.
15. I don’t much care for fall foliage. Who needs to see plant life
wither on the vine? I get enough of that at work.
16. Halloween. Ever notice that kids dress up like witches and
hoboes–the people we used to throw in dungeons and burn? What about
30 years down the road–are they going to dress up like Syrians and Iraqis?
17. Ordering take-out is the opiate of middle classes.
18. Here’s my motto: End racism–let the class warfare begin.
19. All my best friends are bullies. (Not really—they just make me say
that–OW!!)
20. Sometimes even my best friends say I’m psychotic, usually the minute
after they wrestle the shotgun from my sweaty fists.
21. Journalists are a lot like garbage men. Only garbage men take the
trash AWAY.
22. Journalists are also a lot like doctors. Only doctors try to CURE the cancer.
23. When people say to me, “Just who do you think you are?” I say,
“Shut up! That’s who I am! Now shut up!” Needless to say, I don’t get
invited to a lot of parties.
24. Here’s what is a crying baby trying to tell you: “Stop having fun and look at my screaming face.”
25. I’m afraid they’re going to replace me with a computer. Once they
invent a computer that literally does nothing all day.
26. I hate people who claim they meditate. I wish they’d sit
down and shut up.
27. Nearly everyone in Canada can read and write. But what do they
have to write home about? “Dear Mom, It snowed. Again. Love, Pierre.”
28. All French people who try to speak English sound like Yogi Bear.
29. An apple a day keeps the doctor away…but so does a hand grenade.
30. A carrot improves your vision at night–but so does a hand grenade.
31. An apple cleans your teeth –but so does a hand grenade.
NOVEMBER
1. It’s fun to go shopping. But it’s even more fun to go shopping
with a hand grenade.
2. An apple a day keeps the doctor away. But what I
need to know is what keeps the policeman away.
3. A carrot improves your vision at night. Just when you need it the
most–when you’re asleep.
4. Nothing’s more fun than a barrel of monkeys. Except maybe one
monkey…in a barrel…giving you…that special…little…smile.
5. The Pope said drug addiction is grounds for divorce. I say
marriage…is grounds for drug addiction.
6. My girlfriend’s an existentialist–so I gave her a disengagement ring.
7. I don’t like to use the word ‘shit.’ I prefer to call it something
nice, like ‘Brown monuments to a healthy appetite.’
8. A schizophrenic always demands your divided attention.
9. Everybody repeat after me…..”Destroy all conformists.”
10. All those who prefer not to answer rhetorical questions, would you
raise your hands?
11. They’re remaking “A Streetcar named Desire” for the pay-per-view
market–of course, they’re jazzing it  up a bit– now they’re calling
it “Fucking Trolley Sluts.”
12. Every little breeze seems to whisper ‘Louise.’ I beg
you…please…make it stop. MAKE IT STOP!!
13. I’ve got Malcolm X-ray Specs–they enable me to see through white
hypocrisy.
14. Join the army! Be a hostage and see the world–or at least, a very
small part of it!
15. I wish that the government would outlaw ME–so I could be sold in
front of housing projects for twenty bucks a gram!
16. When punk rockers retire, I guess they’ll get anti-social security.
17. They say a dog bite is worse than human bite. I say that most people
don’t lick their own assholes.
18. I went to my dentist. He’s also my psychiatrist. He told me that my
cavities are all in my head.
19. I am good at resisting temptation. Until nobody’s looking.
20. I am disappointed by God. His early stuff was hardcore, with all the
floods and maimings and stuff. That’s because Warner/Reprise treated
Him right. Gave Him room to stretch. But Clive Davis just dumped so
much moolah on Him that He just couldn’t say no. Then he went all
softy on us. Must have been after he signed with Arista. Same thing
happened with Clapton.
21. It’s no good to be original if nobody wants to copy you.
22. The mass of men are and have always been populated and dominated
by superstitious bumpkins addicted to all forms of sophisticated
woo-woo.
23. The unintelligent have one insuperable advantage over the
intellectuals–they can always strategically retreat into the
territory of their boundless ignorance.
24. There is no absurdity so gross that someone, somewhere, will not
trumpet it as the revealed truth.
25. We speak of a cold, impersonal and random universe. Is there any
other kind?
26. When I hear the word ‘Anthropology,’ that’s when I reach for my machete.
27. This is a ‘job’ for irony man.
28. Society brainwashes us all. That’s what society is FOR.
29. Someone, somewhere, must surely still believe that the poor can never

get enough of the vogueish obsessions of the bourgeoisie.

30. Disneyland: The Stalinization of kitsch.

DECEMBER
1. “Nice” usually means “stupid.”
2. “Excuse me.” Translation: “Please get out of my way.”
3. Man’s Motto: The guilty must suffer. Time’s Motto: The innocent must

also suffer.

4. Negative Equity Is “The New Black”.
5. B Negative. My blood type. Also my personal philosophy
6. I don’t need coffee. I already have a bitter taste in my mouth

first thing in the morning.

7.  A consensus mentality is tyranny in its most modern form.
8. Hamlet Noir: “Ophelia was a swell-looking Dane.”
9. Before you condemn anybody, look deep into your own heart. And

then condemn them.

10. All fashion is merely protective coloration.
11. Mass media is mostly a stained-glass window for imbeciles.
12. Remember: When someone calls you “Boss,” it usually means “asshole.”
13. The trope of the Unexpected Menace is resonant because it’s nature’s

oldest joke.

14. Sitcom spin-offs: The law of infantile regression.
15. Reality television essentially supplants the former occupation of

throwing cowshit at the village idiot.

16. I saw the musical legend. Well, me, and about 60,000 other people.

Still, that makes me special–in fact, it makes me something of a
legend myself. Consider yourself privileged to have read this anecdote
from me, the man who saw…the musical legend!

17. Every social class teaches you to be stupid in its own way.
18. Man’s Motto: The guilty must suffer. Time’s Motto: The innocent must

also suffer.

19. Texting: Compulsive grooming behavior of the amphetamine monkey.
20. If Sinatra were starting his career today, he’d probably call himself

something like “Frankie Rapemaster.”

21. The unique importance of our own childhood experiences is an illusion

indispensible to every generation.

22. OCD Brand–you gotta have it. You just GOTTA!
23. Save the country from commercialism–win valuable prizes!
24. Merry Christmas: This statement features two lies.
25. Self control is the opiate of the bourgeoisie.
26. Nice thing about being an exile is that you never have to buy
Christmas presents.
27. The Little Drummer Boy was a stage hog.
28. To an American who isn’t a Christian, the Christmas
season must seem like National False Messiah Month.
29. The alcoholic is easy to shop for at Christmastime.
30. Here’s a secret: Santa Claus eats children. Where do you think he
gets that belly?
31. You have put on your blindfold and you call it your philosophy. 

THE INFORMATION #869 JANUARY 1, 2016

THE INFORMATION #869
JANUARY 1, 2016
Copyright 2016 FRANCIS DIMENNO
francisdimenno@yahoo.com
https://dimenno.wordpress.com

Don’t give me books for Christmas; I already have a book.–Jean Harlow

WHEN THIS WORLD CATCHES FIRE
BOOK THREE: SAVAGE NOXTOWN
CHAPTER TEN: PART FIFTY-ONE: KINGDOM COME

The drunker he got–and that was by no means an easy feat to accomplish for such an experienced toper–the more confidential the tone adopted by Count Victor Justin. Especially when talking about….
“Cokey Stolas. In case you’ve been living under a rock or on the far side of the moon? Yah, he’s the one they call The Big Man, the Gib Yellof, or the G.Y. for short. But did ye ken that other folks here in the near and far parts of Blowtown, which, as we all know, is the lowest slum in all of Noxtown, have different names for him, according to their nationality? I’ve heard them. In whispers they call him Starry Bog, Old Prussa, Mr. Big Gut, The Big Tuna, Master Rain, Mr. Go-Easy, Sir Jubinal, Poochie Cammy. Our colored brethren call him Mr. Butch the Hepicat…and even that Eskimo from the far North who they had on display at the Museum of Natural History had heard of him, and referred to him as the Great Fetivo.
“Every Christmas time, in the rookeries and the alleys, in the festering slums and airless tenements, and in the bowling alleys and gambling hells and bath-houses, all the wised up Yellofs–members of the criminal underground–gather and discuss among themselves the latest doings of the diabolical G.Y. The mind of an old man does wander, but, although he is in his middle age, the brain of the G.Y. is razor-sharp. Who else would think to dress the hateful Smash Conklin in Santa Claus clothing and have him go from door to door distributing live turkeys to all the hopeless degenerates living in hallways and kipping on rooftops and in filthy alleys? I should snicker! Oh, but it goes well beyond that. What does he expect, in return for all those useless birds? Loyalty. One hundred per cent.” (Here he pounded the table.) 
“Let me go off here. There are people who, no matter how smart they are, they Just. Don’t. Get. It. That’s because they’re not with it and for it, nor will they ever be. Please note that I do not count myself among that number. But the wised-up yobs–and I hope I’m not mistaken, Pappy, in including you in that charmed assemblage–the wised-up Yellofs–they may be few in number, but they know things that all the others can’t, including, when it comes right down to it, what a game of chance the world is, and how it’s contrived to swindle those who aren’t already hipped to all its bunko schemes. Maybe that’s why I feel the need to heap such scorn on Christmas. Yobs like the Gib Yellof…” (Here he rubbed his belly.)
“Yobs like the Gib Yellof will always ensure that the world is like a Christmas Hell. Surely, there must be such a place. Where the children of the poor are tantalized by bloated visions of tops and rocking horses which they can never have. Where the poor parents are forced to endure the heart-rending cries of the kiddies as nuts, apples, and gingerbread men are wrenched from their hands and even their very mouths. Where the generous souls who gave with all their might are pelted in the head with heavy gifts by demonic Mr. Saint Nicholas his own self. Give your wife an iron? Have an iron dropped on your head–for all eternity! And worse! Gluttons are forced to feast on Turkey and Ham–until their blubber-bellies burst! The apple-cheeked lad with the brand-clean velocipede will be forced to ride it in ever-widening circles–for all eternity! Beneath the hellish Christmas tree, decorated with skulls and shrunken heads, all topped by a big glowing devil’s head, bear-traps and vicious wild animals are hidden, ready to snap off your foot, and worse. Festive stockings are stuffed with fizzing dynamite and other high explosives, which blow off your hands and reduce your head to a smoldering ruin! And who can forget about being forced to roll a burning Yule log up and down the cobblestoned streets–with your nose! All these torments and more await the Yobs who place too much stock in December 25th and, upon their demise, immediately land in Christmas Hell.
“Here on earth, we have places like this very beer garden here to remind us that all is not well with the world. But I don’t suppose we at the Seven Stars Tavern would care very much to inhabit the precincts of the wealthy plutocrats. Those people are boring, always yammering on about how Roosevelt is a damned cowboy who ought to be in jail rather than the white house–all because he invited a colored man to dine with him, what? several years ago? At least the loudmouths in a bar like this can be gentled down by their chums. The rich have no such compunction. They think their superior financial standing also gives them a superior moral and intellectual standing, and I’ll tell you from personal experience that this is very far from being the case. Just as the blowhard fills the room with the fumes of his dollar cigar, so he also fills the air with hateful and ill-informed comments about life. He mistakes his reality for that of everybody else, and that makes him among the most profoundly stupid of all men. That, perhaps, is why he is so easy to swindle. 
“Oh, but let the rich toffs have their Miracle Mile on the south side of the River, where all the pricey brothels and taverns and drinking clubs be. In Blowtown, all the underworld elite who are with it and for it would meet at Junky’s Arcade, at the corner of Poor Street and Desperation Road. Who was the original ‘Junky’? The world has long forgotten, just as it does with most matters deserving greater scrutiny. But The Arcade has a great deal to offer the Yellof who isn’t above a bit of slumming. Sure, the rubes and hicks who happen to stumble in there are quickly divested of their purses bulging with pretty polly–I never said the place was safe for the likes of them. But if you’re a poor or loony bum or brum and need a place to roost or a score to take or settle, then The Arcade is the place for you. Many an aspiring cannon has perfected his trade…and many a young whore has made her successful debut there–and in no other place.” 

1*SALUTATION

LIZA MINNELLI in rare perk singing “Ding-a-ling, I Feel SO ChRiStMaS-eY!”

ALSO SEE:
BOBBY VINTON
SANTA MUST BE POLISH
2*REFERENCE
Car Transmissions & Synchromesh: “Spinning Levers” 1936 Chevrolet Auto Mechanics (10min)
30 Terrible Toy Knockoffs No Kid Will Want Under The Tree This Christmas
ROLAND TR-909 DRUM MACHINE
http://html909.com/

5*AVATAR OF THE ZEITGEIST

Shaman Claus: The Shamanic Origins of Christmas

THE SECRET SURVEILLANCE CATALOG
COMIC STRIP ARTIST’S KIT
BY CARSON VAN OSTEN

I wrote and drew those sketches around 1975 and I’m so tickled to know that people still find them helpful today. It started as a slide presentation for my boss to show at the Disney meeting in Frankfurt. It went over so well that he asked me to expand on it when he returned. They printed 2000 copies and mailed it to all the Disney offices. My friend John Pomeroy asked for some to give to the animators at the studio. that was the time when the animation training program was going on. Frank Thomas saw it and used it for an animation class he was teaching at the Screen Cartoonists Guild. That’s how some sketches wound up in the book that he and Ollie wrote, “the Illusion of Life”.

COCKTAILS IN LITERATURE
BY JESSICA DOYLE
FLAKKA IS DRIVING FLORIDA INSANE

Does Anybody Realize How Bad These Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees Really Are?

20 CLASSIC PUNK SONGS (PART TWO) 
BY JIM SULLIVAN
11* DEVIATIONS FROM THE PREPARED TEXT: A REVIEW OF OTHER MEDIA
WORST HOLIDAY SONG: “BABY IT’S COLD OUTSIDE”

CONTROVERSIES IN POPULAR CULTURE.
828. Huxley to Orwell: My Hellish Vision of the Future is Better Than Yours (1949)

THE INFORMATION #868 DECEMBER 25, 2015

THE INFORMATION #868
DECEMBER 25, 2015
Copyright 2015 FRANCIS DIMENNO
http://dimenno.gather.com
francisdimenno@yahoo.com
https://dimenno.wordpress.com
Nothing is as peaceful as when Christmas is over, when one has been forgiven for everything and can be normal again. –Tove Jansson
WHEN THIS WORLD CATCHES FIRE
BOOK THREE: SAVAGE NOXTOWN
CHAPTER TEN: PART FIFTY: KINGDOM COME
Count Victor Justin watched as Tipsy Smith gracelessly shuffled out from behind the bar and began sleepily installing a gigantic wreath on the cracked door window of the Seven Stars Saloon. The dusty green-gray moth-eaten wreath was adorned with sinister-looking glassine balls of a vaguely red hue. Count Victor Justin took this process as his clew to begin inveighing against the holiday season.
“Of all the swindles perpetrated upon the innocent by the wicked rulers of our sham-normal society, the worst is the so-called cheer of the Christmas season. Christmas–a time when everyone and their family are supposed to huddle together against the encroaching dark storm. Usually, they’re drunk. Always, it’s all an exercise in cupidity–your own family will devour you, and more quickly than most. Wsssht! What does it all truly signify?
“Now, don’t mistake me for no Anarchist. I have no brief against the Yellof who manages to accumulate a hoard of pretty polly. It takes a certain amount of physical and mental fortitude to turn the coppers into yaller boys.”
Here Count Victor Justin began smiling, and making a hissing noise with both cheeks.
“Christmas! Fauugh! What throws me out of countenance is all the foolish Yobs who insist that Christmas is more than just another cold and wet and miserable day in December. Don’t they know that they are simply participating in a mutual orgy of obligatory cheer? Christmas is the one of the biggest swindles ever perpetrated. Jesus wasn’t born in December. ‘The birthday of the invincible sun.’ Fauggh. It’s a bald-headed bunko scheme–and I’m a grifter who can smell out a rank imposture from twenty paces. What an excuse Christmas is! To hide the evil what’s in your heart on this one day–it’s the very essence of hypocrisy. ‘The Season of Sharing’–pah! To give presents, not out of fellow-feeling but out of obligation, is merely an empty feat. Giving gifts so you won’t lose face–I’m fairly certain that’s the very thing that Christ Almighty His own self preached against. And who loves Christmas the most? Children. That right there should inform you that it is a holiday for the weak and simple-minded. Mainly, idiots. It makes liars out of parents, a travesty of the Bible, and it mocks all secular authority with its grisly emphasis on holiday cheer above all else. ‘Do it for the Children.’ That’s the cry. As usual, weak-minded individuals insist on putting the cart before the horse. All this fuss–over a degraded Persian feast! 
“And, speaking of a feast, doesn’t it strike you that it is the action of a caveman to greet the coming of early night and the dark day with the impulse to gorge and swill? I wouldn’t be surprised if monkeys did it too, assuming that there were any this far north. Yes, truly, Christmas is a fat man’s holiday. The sight of all the candy and nuts and puddings and nogs–that alone would make you put on twenty pounds. 
“They say a fat man is always jolly. I say a fat man probably has a good deal to be jolly about. He is strong. He is prosperous. He takes up a good deal of space. When he talks in his booming voice, people are forced to listen. In fact, a fat man is a lot like…Santa Claus. 
“At any other time of year Mr. Claus would be a clown in a circus, or a bearded fat man at the Carny freak show. But once a year they trot this red-and-white simulacrum to astonish the little shavers and everyone else for miles around is supposed to worship him. He shows up at your house when God’s not even awake and deposits his little ‘presents’. They say he’s some sort of Saint but he doesn’t sound like a Saint to me. More like a deranged cat burglar. With a penchant for cookies and Sherry wine. Not an honest ale-guzzler, like the rest of us. Those red cheeks and that red nose–that’s from being a drunk. The so-called Christmas Yellof is a Thieving Fat Drunk–and they worship him!
“Why can’t Santa be a long-legged beauty or, better still, a Gibson Girl? No, instead, he has to be a fat, bearded Yob who probably smells awful. A scarechild just a few steps removed from being a bona-fide Boogie Man. A big, fat, bloated high priest of ice and cold. A man who gives nice toys to rich children and does nothing at all for people who are starving. 
“He’s an effete self-appointed member of the ruling class! With his fat man face, and his swollen liver, and his gouty feet, and his pretty pretty poison death candy! Santa Claus is a very lovely fairy tale, I suppose, and, as such, I suppose he’s no better and scarcely any worse than any other fairy tale the unenlightened masses pay heed to. Just because they are ignorant, doesn’t mean they are bad. Just helplessly stupid. In other words, they are prey for a clever Yellof as has got both eyes and mostly all of his own teeth. Contemplate the gleam in a lisping toddler’s eye as he dreams of ‘Thanta’. It is just like the gleam in a rich sucker’s eye when you tell him about a machine that prints undetectable U.S. currency. The very same!  
“Having said all that, however, I must say that Christmas is the grifter’s favorite time of year. It’s a swindler’s holiday. You can get away with far more. Everyone is so full of the milk of human kindness that even the bluecoats are disinclined to be too harsh on a Yellof on the Sacred Day. The critical faculties tend to take their own Holiday during the season, and I find it most satisfactory a time to perpetrate all forms of skullduggery. 
“What do I hope that Santa leaves for me under the tree? A sucker ripe for the plucking. I should snicker. 
“Oh…where’s my manners? I almost forgot. ‘Merry Christmas!'” 
1*SALUTATION
FEELIES
FORCES AT WORK

Download 448 Free Art Books from The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Judy Garland’s Drunken Santa Claus Hallucination

ALSO SEE:

ENGROSSING SOVIET SCIENCE FICTION HOLIDAY CARDS

4*NOVELTY
THE CHIPS
RUBBER BISCUIT
A YEAR WITHOUT CHRISTMAS FOR THE EAST COAST
6* DAILY UTILITY
This Hidden Facebook Page Has All Sorts Of Weird Info On You
ON A PLATE: A SHORT STORY ABOUT PRIVILEGE
The Package Theft Epidemic and How Victims Are Fighting Back
http://disinfo.com/2015/12/package-theft-epidemic-victims-fighting-back/
9*RUMOR PATROL
The Gates of Hell: MKULTRA, Robert Graves, William Sargant, & Wasson’s Magic Mushroom
ALSO SEE:

R. Gordon Wasson: The Man, the Legend, the Myth: Beginning a New History of Magic Mushrooms, Ethnomycology, and the Psychedelic Revolution

http://www.gnosticmedia.com/SecretHistoryMagicMushroomsProject#R. Gordon Wasson

10* LAGNIAPPE
20 CLASSIC PUNK SONGS (PART ONE)
BY JIM SULLIVAN
http://bestclassicbands.com/top-20-classic-punk-rock-songs-part-1-12-14-15/

11* DEVIATIONS FROM THE PREPARED TEXT: A REVIEW OF OTHER MEDIA

CONTRA XMAS

“A little drummer boy did not travel to the manger to play his drum for the infant Jesus.”

CONTROVERSIES IN POPULAR CULTURE.
827. THE BEST BRITISH NOVEL OF ALL TIME?

http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2015/dec/08/best-british-novel-of-all-time-international-critics-top-100-middlemarch

ALSO SEE:

When Popular Fiction Isn’t Popular: Genre, Literary, and the Myths of Popularity

THE INFORMATION #867 DECEMBER 18, 2015

THE INFORMATION #867
DECEMBER 18, 2015
Copyright 2015 FRANCIS DIMENNO
francisdimenno@yahoo.com
https://dimenno.wordpress.com

A smile is the chosen vehicle of all ambiguities.–Herman Melville

WHEN THIS WORLD CATCHES FIRE
BOOK THREE: SAVAGE NOXTOWN
CHAPTER TEN: PART FORTY-NINE: KINGDOM COME

I am guessing that at one point or another Count Victor Justin began to go a little nutty from the drink, for he began spouting stupid nonsense–unless, of course, his ruminations were so high-minded and of such subtle wit that my childish mind could not encompass his yakking. But somehow, I think not.

“While we’re on the subject of lawyers,” said Count Victor Justin, “I will tell you what the most unnerving aspect of that profession is. It is the smile. The defense attorney who never smiles; the prosecutor who grins from ear to ear in private when he’s got a live one; and my cousin, John Anderson, who has this queer shy private smile, like he had just gotten a tattoo in an embarrassing place. No–I will tell you what the smile is for. It is the stock in trade of con-men. You imagine all sorts of things as you go through life. Like a smile is always good. It is not. A smile is good only to fleece rubes. Living alone is a crazy business. You think of things you’re otherwise too preoccupied to pay much credence. For example: Have you ever seen a dog cry? I have. The brute was not sad, but tears came trickling from its eye. Well. Did you know that a man can smile and smile, and be a villain? We have Shakespeare to thank for that tradition. A successful con man has got to look out for his own teeth, even while waiting for the police, who are never there when you need them, only just try to beg a quarter from a swell and there’s old Clancy, a-threatening to run you in. Ain’t I right, Tipsy? Ain’t I right, Pappy? Ain’t I right, Cadger? You know I’m right. You know it’s the truth! You know it’s the truth!”

Later, as the drink began to wear off, Count Victor Justin began to make a little more sense.

“What does a smile truly mean? Is there any difference between a mother smiling down on her bairn and a grifter sizing up a mark? None. Not a bit of it. It’s only the intent. Every day and in every way, your smile is killing me. Think. There’s nothing like it in nature. Smiles were made by men, for men, to scatter the riches of their deception. Smiles were made so ladies could be coy, and conceal their gratification at looking upon the male physiognomy. How is the sale lost? Nine times out of ten, it’s for the want of a genuine smile. But what is a genuine smile? Hung out to dry, for the want of a friendly grin. But–I ask again–what is a smile? Is it the involuntary rictus of the already defeated? Is it a strategy? I say yes. A smile distracts your enemy from your roving eyes. Eyes which are greedily looking about for a place to stick the knife. I know whereof I speak, Yob. A smile is a curve ball that makes every straight plane crooked. Beware the man with a set of flashy choppers, who promises you something that’s too good to be true. Remember, Yellof: The sun smiles. the moon frowns. The way to escape any argument: Smile, and say, ‘I do not care to express an opinion’. There’s the parsing of a born lawyer for ye! The rascals can argue either side of a case, regardless of their true feelings, just so long as at the end of that long road there is the Do-Re-Me. In that way, they are exactly like grifters who are with it and for it, and who live for the long con. Well, all I ask is that you give me a cool drink of water ‘fore I die. Haw! The one thing you will not hear from the lips of any lawyer, anywhere, is the unvarnished truth. Unless there’s some kind of little room where they go after they meet with a client, where they can sorter whisper the true facts of the matter to themselves; or write them on a slip on paper in the smallest room in the house then crumple it up and throw it down the cistern. Haw! Grifters have nothing on lawyers, who can steal your face right out from under your nose.  

“Mister, I only smile when I have to. A smile is too precious a ‘tell’; you’ll never see a riverboat gambler grinning like a jackass. Leave the fixed smile to the young whippersnappers, who have something worth grinning about. Leave it to your social inferiors; your buggywhip salesmen; your bellhops and Pullman porters. Your minions. You ever notice that people with the smallest heads and the least brainpower are the ones who are smiling, smiling all the time? To see a man of true intelligence actually smiling is like watching a shark, preparing to bite. Don’t mind my rambling, Yobs; haven’t had much sleep; scheming about ways to get back at that pettifogging mouthpiece cousin of mine; long ago he done me dirt, and I still ain’t over it. You know how it is. Thirty–even forty years later you still ruminate on slights and hurts, while forgetting all the happy times. No wonder a smile don’t come natural to me! I always was something of a misfit in that line. I still can’t conceive of the notion of a grinning fool as someone who somehow, some way, also happens to be a man of taste and discernment. To me, having good taste and a refined sensibility means having to apologize to your inferiors all the time–for there is very little in this whole crass country which can meet with your true approval, or raise a genuine smile.  

“I say smile, if you want to, as you hobble through life–but be sure to carry a sword in your cane. A smile will assuage the well-meaning; but they’re not the ones you have to look out for. No, it’s the bad man–one look at your loopy grin and he’ll take you for a weakling to be plucked. Smile at the world too long, me huskies, and it will spit in your face. Do you know why a wise man is sparing of one of his smiles? Because only an ignorant fool has something to be glad about. Any man who thinks too much–who thinks at all–will find many a reason to show some restraint when it comes time to flash his choppers like some addlepate so that the wise heads of the world may adjudge him a noodle. Remember–only when there’s a woman to be charmed or a sucker to be fleeced–that there’s the time to turn on that tumescent leer.”

  
1*SALUTATION
HARRY SMITH
NO. 11: MIRROR ANIMATIONS
FEATURING “MYSTERIOSO”
BY THELONIOUS MONK

2*REFERENCE

SPL CENTER HATE MAP
ALSO SEE:

How Many People Have Been Shot in Your Neighborhood This Year?

19 BAFFLING VINTAGE CHRISTMAS CARDS

 
ALSO SEE:

THESE HORRIFYING POSTERS MAKE GREAT GIFTS FOR ALL OF THE FREAKS (AND DOPE FIENDS) ON YOUR XMAS LIST

PAT BOONE
5 BEST WEBSITES FOR WRITERS IN 2016
http://culturedvultures.com/5-best-websites-for-writers-in-2016/

6* DAILY UTILITY

KERRY DRAKE SMOKES MARIHUANA
A story which (it seems) only comix aficionados are aware of. (It was reprinted circa 1985.)

ALSO SEE:

Silicon Valley professionals are micro-dosing LSD at work to gain “superhuman” creativity

8*PRESCRIPTION
INTROVERTS
http://www.buzzfeed.com/annaborges/brb-im-introverting

9*RUMOR PATROL
Site Makes It Easy to Find Out Which of Your Facebook Friends Like Donald Trump

10* LAGNIAPPE

Emmett Kelly on What’s My Line?
ALSO SEE:
THE MAGIC CLOWN

https://youtu.be/y5brgRXt1oM

11* DEVIATIONS FROM THE PREPARED TEXT: A REVIEW OF OTHER MEDIA

THE PROPAGANDA CYCLE

ALSO SEE:
More Hard Hitting Words From The Dalai Lama About The Mass Brainwashing Of Society
The very notion of the vibes as a jazz instrument makes me snicker. It’s like hearing Beethoven played by a Jug Band. 
“Wizard of the Vibes” is one of those inadvertently insulting honoraria: Like “Manly Vegetarian” or “Soulful Caucasian.”

THE INFORMATION #866 DECEMBER 11, 2015

THE INFORMATION #866
DECEMBER 11, 2015
Copyright 2015 FRANCIS DIMENNO
http://dimenno.gather.com
francisdimenno@yahoo.com
https://dimenno.wordpress.com

WHEN THIS WORLD CATCHES FIRE
BOOK THREE: SAVAGE NOXTOWN
CHAPTER TEN: PART FORTY-EIGHT: KINGDOM COME

Count Justin Victor, it seemed, was just catching his second wind. The talk turned to lawyers, and the Count of a sudden grew red faced and angry as he slammed down his brimming schooner and loudly declaimed, “Let me tell you about the law!

“There’s my distant cousin, John Anderson—and the most distant from me, the better I like it. You might say he’s the white sheep of the family. Everybody’s golden boy. Some sort of hot-shot mouthpiece, shyster, Attorney-at-law, whatever you want to call him. Cheating widows and orphans is not his style, so I imagine he thinks he’s doing a lot of good for society. But he’s still a slob. Went to a second-rate school and thinks he hung the moon. Like most lawyers, he’s an arrogant ass. Thinks he has the right to step on people. You have only to take a gander at him to know that he’s a milksop and a slob. Look at that lined face; that greasy coif; that cheap suit fitted–from off the rack! Look at those red cheeks; that big nose; that strangely biscuit-shaped chin. Look at that sweaty blue stubble that shadows him whatever the time of day. And look at his head–shaped for all the world like an incandescent bulb with the filament burned out.  

“When I say he’s a slob I mean that he’s a slovenly thinker. He’s an intellectual slob; he has no curiosity about  the world around him, or, indeed, anything other than his work. Try talking to him about heady concepts like ‘Weltanshauung’ and ‘Freudenschade’ and you might as well be speaking Double-Dutch; or the language they speak on the surface of the Moon. You’d think that for a lawyer who makes the social rounds and talks to a lot of other lawyers, that he might be better informed about the political world–Roosevelt vs. Davis–the Russo Japanese War–Bismarck vs. von Caprivi– Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead–in fact, the whole wide world. But no–in fact, he might as well be one of those fat-assed businessmen your average grifter takes such great pleasure in swindling out of their ochre.  
“Good old John Anderson! He seems to be an abstemious sort; you will never see him frequenting wild and liquor-filled bacchanalias, or soirees jam-packed with ladies of easy virtue. I will tell you this much–I might almost like him better if he had some visible vices other than a fondness for riding horses and for Sarsaparilla pop.  But he’s thoroughly in thrall to his Mama and his Papa, it seems. One of those Man-Boys who never manages to cut the apron strings. 
“There’s a rumor going round, and it’s a dark rumor indeed, if it be so, that he did some work for United Fruit; and that, furthermore, I hear, he goes down to South America and has his way with the doxies there, and no doubt brings back both tarantulas and nameless diseases in his baggage. Wouldn’t it be just like that hound–to slink out of town to enjoy his pleasures, rather than straightforwardly and manfully show the world his shortcomings–if shortcomings they be, for everyone who’s a real man has a hankering for some fluff and muslin, or, as they say, a bit of strange–every now and again. I say it’s a good man’s fault.
“John Anderson–he’s the Yellof as does everything right, or almost everything, or so it would seem, right down to how he unspools his asswipe, and which way he dunks his sinker in the java–but from my point of view he’s thoroughly reprehensible. I’d be glad if he were to be caught out in a scandal which would put a quick and gruesome end to his so-called career. As it is, he’s buying up all the houses in the old neighborhood where we grew up. Bids fair to set himself up as a slumlord. Has no idea how to go about fixing the properties, but lucky thing it is that he can hire his old Pappy to do it for him. It must be sweet, to hold the whip hand over your old man. There’s so much that goes into maintaining an old building. Stoking the boiler. Repointing the front stairs. Shingling the roof. Some of those old wooden homes are so shaky that they sway and creak in a strong wind.  
“Haw haw haw! A heartless attorney! Who ever heard of such of thing? And a tom-fool, to boot. Drifting through life. Losing his money in ill-conceived stock market ventures. Crying at the funerals of strangers. His petty greed will be his undoing. His grotesque sentimentality–firing his feeble old retainer then turning around and sobbing because his horse has a sore hoof–pah! What kind of strong man is this? No wonder he has no wife! What woman wants a quivering lemon meringue for a husband? He’s a nothing man; the footprints he’ll leave on history are invisible. Whereas at least I’ll leave the world–knowing it has been swindled one last time by a master. 
“Judging from the way he acts when he’s around me, he’s probably not exactly Mr. Popularity around his fellows. Just what does he do with what little spare time his onerous job affords him? Down to the boxing gym he’s drawn, like the addled pug he secretly wishes in his heart of hearts he could be. A little work on the light bag–his fists beating a rhythmic tattoo like the rhythms of his own barely-functioning brain–maybe some work on the heavy bag–hurling himself into jabs like the jabs he takes at life itself, which has never failed yet to stymie him–and maybe some work with tossing around the medicine ball–like he tosses away the days of his life. If only he’d ever read a book–or even a good newspaper! But not John Anderson, no; music gives him headaches and vulgar boxing matches are his only real recreations. They say that intelligence is what sets man aside from the animals.” 
“I say that his stupidity is the wrath of God.”

1*SALUTATION

EDDIE HARRIS & LES MCCANN
COMPARED TO WHAT
2*REFERENCE
Southern whites will not surrender: They believe their own Hobby Lobby, Cracker Barrel psychopathology
EUGENE FIELD
NONSENSE FOR OLD AND YOUNG
4*NOVELTY
5*AVATAR OF THE ZEITGEIST
FASCINATING STORIES BEHIND FAMOUS SONGS

6* DAILY UTILITY

THE ILLUSION OF VALIDITY

7*CARTOON

Trailer: Frankenstein Jr. & The Impossibles

8*PRESCRIPTION

Alan Jackson
Daddy Please Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas

9*RUMOR PATROL

 Who Killed JFK? Not the Masons
“In 1973, Marchetti wrote a critique of the agency, The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence, which the agency forced his publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, to heavily censor. “

10* LAGNIAPPE

THE LEGEND OF SHECKY GREENE

11* DEVIATIONS FROM THE PREPARED TEXT: A REVIEW OF OTHER MEDIA

There is a distinct affinity between Mainer’s Mountaineers “Run Mountain” and the Holy Modal Rounders’ “Livin’ Off the Land”. 
RUN MOUNTAIN
LIVIN’ OFF THE LAND
The latter is notable for the immortal lines:
I will build a teepee; you will cook a stew.
We’ll do all them country things that country people do.
We will have a pet raccoon; maybe we’ll have two
If you ask me real nice I’ll let him sleep with you
*11A  BOOKS READ AND RATED
ANN TENNA. MARCHETTO. ****
THE ARAB OF THE FUTURE. SATTOUF. ****
ASTERIX & THE GREAT DIVIDE. ***1/2
ASTERIX & THE BLACK GOLD. ***1.2
ASTERIX & SON. ***1/2
AVENGERS: TIME RUNS OUT VOL. 2. ***
AVENGERS. ULTRON FOREVER. ***
BATMAN 7. ENDGAME. ***1/2
BATMAN ETERNAL 1. ***1/2
BATWOMAN 6. THE UNKNOWNS. **1/2
THE BEST OF ARCHIE COMICS: 75 YEARS 75 STORIES. ***
BEST OF TIMES, WORST OF TIMES. MARTIN & TICHI, EDS. ****
THE BEST SHORT STORIES OF THE MODERN AGE. ANGUS. ****1/2
CANCER VIXEN. MARCHETTO. ****
CAPTAIN MARVEL 3. ALIS VOLAT PROPRIIS. ***
THE CARTOON INTRODUCTION TO CLIMATE CHANGE. KLEIN & BAUMAN. ***1/2
DEADLY CLASS 3. 1988: THE SNAKE PIT. REMENDEZ. ****
FABLE COMICS. ED. DUFFY. ****
FABLES 22. FAREWELL. ***1/2
FABLES 1. THE WOLD AMONG US. ***1/2
THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF WEST. ***1/2
FISHFISHFISH. NORDLING. ****
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. BEST STORY EVER. ***
HOUSES OF THE HOLY. SKAALRUD. ***1/2
THE JOKER: ENDGAME. ***1/2
JUSTICE LEAGUE 6. INJUSTICE LEAGUE. ***1/2
KILLING AND DYING. TOMINE. ****1/2
MILES MORALES ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN 2. ***1/2
THE NEW DEAL. CASE. ***
NOT FUNNY HA-HA. HAYES. ***1/2
ODY-C. FRACTION & WARD. ***
THE RISE OF AURORA WEST. ***1/2
RUINS. KUPER. ****
SACRED HEART. SUBURBIA. ***1/2
SCRIBBLENAUTS UNMASKED. ***1/2
SHIELD: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION. LEE & KIRBY. ***
SOLO: THE DELUXE EDITION. ***1/2
SPIDER-VERSE. ***
TALES OF AN AMERICAN HOBO. FOX. ***1/2
TERRORIST. REHR. ****
THEY’RE NOT LIKE US. STEPHENSON. ***1/2
TRASHED. BACKDERF. ****1/2
TRU DETECTIVE. ***
THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL-GIRL 1. ***
WALKING WOUNDED. MAEL & ,OREL. **** 
THE WICKED + THE DIVINE 1. ***1/2
THE WICKED + THE DIVINE 2. ***1/2
A YEAR WITHOUT MOM. TOSTIKOVA. ***
CONTROVERSIES IN POPULAR CULTURE.
825. STARTING A LIBRARY BOOK GROUP
I don’t think anybody needs to reinvent the wheel and come up with a new protocol for starting a book group; not when there have been so many useful books and websites on the topic. I am going to refer you to a few of each, and then supplement those citations with some of the lessons gleaned from my own limited experience.
 
As for books, the outstanding one is:
The book group book: a thoughtful guide to forming and enjoying a stimulating book discussion group / [ edited by] Ellen Slezak ; foreword by Margaret Atwood.

Chicago : Chicago Review Press, c2000. Edition 3rd ed. (Note: The first and second editions are also available and would probably also serve; this 3rd edition is the latest one that I am aware of.)

ALSO SEE:
Loevy, Diana. The book club companion : a comprehensive guide to the reading group experience. New York : Berkley Books, c2006. ISBN 042521009X

SEE ALSO: Laskin, David. The reading group book : the complete guide to starting and sustaining a reading group, with annotated lists of 250 titles for provocative discussion. New York, Plume, 1995. ISBN 0452272017

 
If your local libraries do not own any of these titles, you could probably pick one of them up fairly cheaply at a used book store. You could also order them online at http://www.addall.com by plugging in the title or the ISBN number.
 
There are a great many websites that will also offer you tips on how to start and run a book group. Three good ones are:
 
BOOK SPOT
 
BOOK CLUBS RESOURCES
 
READING GROUP GUIDES
 
You may also find other interesting resources here:
 
At the Avon Public Library, in Massachusetts, early in 2004, I took it upon myself to start a book group for the library. The way I went about starting that book group was as follows.
 
1) I posted a sign-up sheet at the library to ask various library patrons to sign up with their names and phone numbers if they were interested in joining a reading discussion group. (If I had thought of it at the time, I would also have gotten their mailing and their E-mail addresses!)
 
2) I attended a long-established book group in Attleboro Massachusetts, which met monthly at a Borders Book Store, to see what a book group was like.
 
3) Once I determined that there was a core group of at least four people in Avon who were interested in joining a book group, I then went and read a book about the best literary books of the last 40 years.
 
 
The authors’ recommendations, and hence, our initial selections, were a bit “difficult”, as I quickly learned. From that book, however, I learned about Annie Proulx’s first novel “Postcards” and Cormac McCarthy’s acclaimed 1985 novel Blood Meridian. (I’m not sure, however, I would recommend either of these–at least, not to start with!)
 
After making the initial few selections myelf, I eventually came to rely increasingly upon book group input to determine what books should be read, and in what order. In running the Easthampton Group, every six months or so I currently ask members to bring in a list of about four books, then base my selections on how easy it is for me, as librarian, to order as many as 12 or 15 copies from libraries in the region. You can ask your town librarian if they are able–and willing–to borrow books from area libraries for that purpose. If not, you may have to ask the book group members to buy them. You might not have to pay full retail. The book vendors listed on the addall.com site mentioned above might provide you with half-price copies. Or a local bookseller might be willing to locate and buy multiple copies for you, and sell them to your group at a reduced rate. If you do decide to purchase, rather than borrow, the books, then, in theory, there are no limitations on what titles you may select. However, if you do want to borrow the books, keep the following obstacles in mind.
 
OBSTACLES:
IF THE BOOK IS VERY NEW, IT WILL BE IN HIGH DEMAND, WITH A WAITING LIST, AND THUS YOU WILL BE UNABLE TO GET MULTIPLE COPIES FROM AREA LIBRARIES.
 
If the book is very obscure, you may also have the same problem with getting multiple copies.
 
You may, in order to avoid these obstacles, select from well-known books that are two or more years old and therefore not in such high demand. There are many reading lists on-line that will steer you to good, proven reading group selections.
 
There are a number of other factors you might want to keep in mind when making selections.
 
1) What kind of book group would you like to have and be a part of? Whether you want a literary book group, a mystery book group, a fiction and memoir book group, or a “general interest” book group, you would do well to ask the initial “core” members what they hope to get out of the book group and what kinds of books they might want to read. Be guided by what they say. The leader (or “facilitator”) of the book group should, at the very least, have an understanding of the logistics behind getting ahold of multiple copies of the book. 
 
2) You may also wish to be a bit conservative when first starting out. In general, you might wish to avoid:
 
a) Books of over 400 pages. You may wish to begin with books of under 200 pages, then work up to books of greater length.
 
b) Books that are likely to be of limited appeal. Any book that is too “difficult”, which is to say, any book written in a confusing or a complex style, is probably best avoided–at least, at first.
 
c) Anything that was a commercial sensation 40 or 50 years ago might not be the best selection for a contemporary reading group, and thus, might also be best avoided. People tend to gravitate to the new. This caveat does not, however, apply to acknowledged (and short!) “classics” such as The Great Gatsby, Ethan Frome, Heart of Darkness, or Seize the Day.  
 
d) Genre fiction. You might want to do a little preliminary research by reading about the book on Amazon to ensure that it is not in a genre that might intimidate or antagonize or offend the sensibilities of the reading group members. At least early on, you may wish to avoid the following:
 
1) “Hard” science fiction
2) Sexually explicit fiction
3) Horror 
4) Graphic novels
 
Once your group has been in existence for awhile, you will gain a better sense of just how adventurous they would like to be.
 
It’s hard to go too very wrong with the following genres:
1) Memoir
2) Travel
3) ‘Women’s fiction’. This is what Reader’s Advisory librarians use to describe fiction that tends to be about relationships between people. One example would be  “The Time Traveler’s Wife“. (Many book groups are principally feminine, but if yours is not one, then ignore the suggestion.)  
 
Caution: One member might suggest that the group discuss the latest mass market paperback by Danielle Steele or John Grisham. This is fine in theory, but be advised that these types of books do not tend to have much “content”. I won’t say they’re fluff, but if your purpose is to actually discuss the book, then, in dicussing one of these, you might run out of things to say after 25 minutes and be reduced to talking about something else entirely. Deflecting such good-intentioned suggestions takes a certain amount of tact. I would simply say something neutral, like “We’ll look into it.” Then let the matter drop. The same goes for ponderous literary classics. If a member who is new to the group suggests you read, say, “An American Tragedy,” tell them you’ll take it under advisement. If they’re still there six months later and they suggest it again, then by all means put it up to a vote! (I mention this because I have learned that people who are not invested in the group will often be the ones who will make some of the most problematic suggestions.) 
 
PROMOTING YOUR BOOK GROUP LOCALLY
Step one: You could put up a flyer in your local library and in other places where your community gathers. A coffee shop; city or town hall; the council on aging; the local arts center; the local book store; even area churches.
 
You could use this flyer to announce “A preliminary meeting to establish a book group”. The flyer should be an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet, eye-catching and easy to read, and should state the following information:
 
Purpose of Initial meeting
Place of initial meeting
Time and date of initial meeting
Telephone number of book group contact person.
 
Alternately, you could just gather together some like-minded individuals, decide on a book, then have the first book group meeting to discuss that book. You can also decide there at the first meeting some important things about future meetings. (I advise you to do the part about future meetings and selections BEFORE the actual discussion of the book, when everybody is fresh!)
 
These “important things” are as follows:
 
A NAME FOR THE BOOK GROUP.
Is it going to be THE WERNERSVILLE READING GROUP? THE WERNERSVILLE BOOK CLUB?
It might be best to decide on a name then stick to it, to ensure that people know what you’re talking about when you start to promote it.
 
A (MORE OR LESS PERMANENT) MEETING PLACE. Usually, it’s the local library. But you could also have the meeting at a private home on a fixed or rotating schedule. Or at a local community center. Or at a coffeehouse, restaurant, or church basement. Even a bar, though these tend to be noisy. You will have to coordinate with stakeholders to determine whether the monthly time slot you have chosen will always be available. Also, if the group is–or grows–larger than about 12 members, you may have a hard time locating a physical space large enough to accomodate all the attendees.
 
FREQUENCY OF MEETINGS. Monthly is the norm. A set afternoon or evening makes the meeting dates easier to remember. For instance, our groups at Easthampton meet on the last Monday of the month and the second Wednesday afternoon of the month. It is understood that there are default dates when those specific days happen to coincide with holidays. However, it is also good to map these meeting days out at least three months in advance, and let the members know the exact date, time, and place of every meeting in the near future. And remember those addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail lists? You might want to use those during the first few months to contact members the day before and remind them of the next meeting. (I will confess that I do not do this…though I could.)  
 
HOW LONG WILL THE BOOK GROUP RUN?
One hour? Ninety minutes? Two hours? More? 
 
Ninety minutes is probably plenty, at least for the early meetings. You can then decide whether the group’s meetuing should be longer or shorter, based on how long people seem to stick around and on what amount of time they tell you that they have. Bear in mind that one or two people will always be early, and one or two will always be late–as much as half an hour late. Learn to roll with it!   
 
SELECTION OF READING MATERIALS. One of the best ways to guide, without dictating, the selection of discussion materials is to leave selection in the hands of the group while at the same time making it clear to them the limitations you will be operating under. If the group is all over the place, you could either appoint a “selection committee” of three or four, or present a prepared list to the group–whether based on all of their selections or not– and have them vote on their preferences.
 
SELECTION OF MATERIALS: TWO BRIEF DIGRESSIONS
1. Note that books that were at one time made into movies are often nominated by the group as  possible selections. But be aware that if someone wants to arrange a movie showing, either as part of the discussion group or as a separate event, that’s a whole separate issue. Usually, a royalty fee must be paid to the copyright holder when the film is shown in any PUBLIC space, even if admission is free. If you all want to get together to watch a film, do so at the home of one of the members. (Obtaining broadcast rights for anything made after 1930 is generally not worth the trouble and expense.)
 
2. Be advised that, in addition to hardcover or paperback, some members might prefer books in the following four alternative formats:
LARGE PRINT
BOOK ON CASSETTE
BOOK ON CD
WALK-AWAY (MP3)
 
It can sometimes be helpful to look into the availability of the books in these formats when making the reading selection. Elderly group members may strongly prefer large print. Or you may have a book group member who has cataracts and feels they cannot participate unless they can acquire the book in an audio format. Sometimes very busy people who must do a lot of driving or “grunt work” may also prefer books in audio formats.  
 
GROUP LEADER. Someone has to do it. A book group leader may serve to ask certain pertinent questions that will also help to steer the discussion. But keeping the book discussion on a rigid track usually isn’t that important. People will fly off on tangents. Let them. It is only when they threaten to totally fail to discuss the book, or one one person dominates the discussion to the detriment of others, that a group leader needs to focus the group and steer the discussion back to the group’s purpose. There can be many candidates for this role. One would be the book group founder. Another, a local librarian. Still another, a retired Professor or even a local bookshop owner. Yet another, a person who has been in other book groups and who may have led other book group discussions in the past. If your group has a problem with designating a “Leader,” you can refer to the leader as a “Facilitator,” because that’s essentially thenfunction they serve.
    
FINAL STEP: PROMOTING YOUR BOOK GROUP BEYOND THE FIRST MEETING
This final step isn’t really necessary if you start with a core group and are satisfied with the membership. A close-knit kind of social club of readers may not need or desire new members. But if you want to expand the group, you will want to do some publicity. This is not as difficult as it seems. Here are the major local contacts you will want to cultivate:
 
1) The Library. If they publish a newsletter, you will want to have the information regarding the book group in it. If they have a webpage, you will want to have that information on there as well–depending, of course, on how closely you are working with the local library.
 
2) Local newspapers. They are usually glad to print a short notice regarding a community event, and will usually do so free of charge.
 
3) City or town websites. These will usually promote community events.
 
4) Flyers on bulletin boards. These can be placed anywhere. Local bookstores, community centers, etc. I used to advertise the selections a month at a time. After about six months, I started advertising the selections three months at a time, to cut down on the work of printing and distributing them. You, or someone, may wish to maintain a notebook in which the book group’s selections for the next three months are kept.
 
5) Radio stations, community access television stations, other local websites. Or whatever resources apply to your specific community.
 
In all cases double check all promotional information to ensure its accuracy; otherwise you may find yourself announcing a meeting for “April 31st,” or putting down the wrong date for the meeting. Supply all the RELEVANT information. If it is to be an open group, say “All are welcome.” If you offer coffee and cookies, say “Refreshments will be provided.” If the group usually meets from 6:30 to 8:00 PM, say so in the promotional materials. 
 
Above all:
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS TO HAVE FUN!
I have offered you all sorts of information–maybe too much. Don’t be daunted! It’s not hard to keep a book group going once the groundwork has been laid. And the rewards will come immediately. Because all sorts of interesting thoughts and ideas will emerge during the course of the book group discussion. To me, that’s what makes it all worthwhile. (So, a final tip: take notes–or have somebody do it for you!)