Thursday, August 08, 2002


I've often thought it might be interesting to measure the length of necks of women in working class,
middle class and upper class women's magazines.

A number of years ago I made a brief survey and this is what I found:

Upper Class Magazines: Long, graceful, swan-like necks. Think Modigliani here. Think six feet models with 4% bodyfat.

Middle Class Magazines: Ordinary length necks--like the girl next store, unless she's a supermodel.

Working Class Magazines: No necks, to speak of. The heads of women in these magazines seem to be tacked
on to their shoulders without much benefit of neck.

So "class" shows. To get ahead it seems you need a long neck!

Wednesday, July 24, 2002


What is toast--the product of a process or the process itself? That is, does bread become
toast (and change its identity somehow), or do we toast bread and thereby only modify its
character slightly? Is toast breat that has been processed (toasted) or changed (made into

Let's assume we start with a slice of packaged white bread. The question is--do we end up with a
variation of this piece of sliced bread or something that is different. In terms of the dynamics
of American culture, I would argue most of think that toast is different from bread itself. That is,
the process involves a major transformation (in the same way that grinding a steak turns it
into hamburger). We believe in the power of change and in our ability to change our
circumstances and status.

More on Toast later!

Tuesday, July 16, 2002


The language my students use...and young people, in general, interests me.
When they like something, when they approve of something, they say "cool."

But they also describe sexy young women as "hot" as in "that babe is really hot!"

So the question arises, is it cool to be "hot"? And if so, what does that mean?
Does the term have anything to do with sexual excitement, when people become
all hot and bothered...

Often, if we don't like something, we say it is "not so hot." For example, if someone
asks you about a party that was kind of dull, you might say it was "not so hot."

Or, answering the question, "how was your date?" you might say, "not so hot."
But "not so hot" is close to cool...does that mean "not so hot" is better than

Tuesday, July 09, 2002


The great psychologist Erik Erikson once conducted an experiment in which he asked
boys and girls to play with blocks. The boys constructed towers and the girls constructed enclosures
of one sort or another. Erikson described these phenomena as reflecting penetratic (phallic)
and incorporative (vaginal) modalities.

It is possible to take Erikson's insight into the "incorporative" modality in women and use
this to identify the sexual identity of electric household appliances. Consider the kitchen, for example.
In kitchens we find:

trash compactors,
garbage disposals,
coffee grinders,
blenders...and so on.

all of which are incorporative. That explains why kitchens are a woman's domain,
even though increasing numbers of men cook. The only phallic appliance in the kitchen
is the electric knife. One of the ironies of present day life in the USA is the fact that
many women have expensive kitchens with all the latest appliances but hardly cook any more.
A lot of young women, so I understand, don't even know how to cook.

The domain of the male is the garage or tool room where various phallic
devices are to be found: drills, saws, etc.

Does the fact that so many men are now cooking suggest some kind of a weakening
of male sexual identity? I leave that for the psychologists to determine, but, as you
might imagine, I have my suspicions.

NOTE: Those interested in this kind of analysis might find my book Bloom's Morning
worth looking at. In it I analyze 35 different things, from king sized beds to garbage

Saturday, July 06, 2002


In a recent movie, there are precogs who are able to determine that a crime is about be committed...
I've not seen the movie but have read articles about it.

Curiously, I had an idea--elaborated in a mystery novel I wrote, The Mass Comm Murders that
was similar in nature. It developed out of a collaboration with a professor of criminality at the University
of California in Berkeley. I had written an article on jokes Italian-Americans tell about themselves
that was in the SF Chronicle...he wrote to me and we decided to apply for a grant to see whether the
sense of humor of criminals was different from that of non-criminals. We didn't get the grant.

But that gave me an idea. What if I were to do research and discover that the sense of humor of
criminals was different from that of non-criminals. Then I could develop a comedy & criminality
instrument (as social scientists would put it) and we could test people...if, for example, we found
adolescents with a criminality sense of humor, we could put then in jail BEFORE they actually committed
their crimes, thus saving good citizens from the sense of violation that comes from being robbed...and not
let them out until their sense of humor reflected non-criminality. At this point, we would have little
fear of recidivism.

This "modest proposal" is part of a speech I have a French postmodernist professor give at a
conference. I thought it was a good joke...

Friday, July 05, 2002


Here are some comic poems I wrote, made out of the names of people.

But Immanuel

Dame Mae
Was Witty
But John Greanleaf
Was Whittier

Clare Booth
Was Luce
But Martin
Was Luther.

Was Gay
But Gerard Hopkins

So much for that nonsense.


Here are some comic poems I wrote using the names of people.

Dame Mae/Was Witty/But John Greanleaf/Was Whitter

Clare Booth/Was Luce/ But Martin/ Was Luther

Wednesday, July 03, 2002

Speaking Truth to Power!

It's one thing to speak truth to power, but what's it like speaking truth to nobody?
That is the question I, and all authors, wonder about. To see whether anyone
is listening, I've installed (I think) a counter...Over the years I've published a number
of books and until I started putting my e-mail in them, I hardly ever heard from
anyone who had read my books. Maybe nobody wrote because nobody read them?
Now, thanks to technology, I'll know whether anyone is out there. And if there not,
it really doesn't matter.

In 1963 I wrote an article for "The Minnesota Daily" titled "The Evangelical Hamburger." I argued
that the dynamics of McDonald's resembled those of evangelical churches and discussed the
symbolism: the yellow arches, the sign with the number of hamburgers sold, etc. I speculated
that McDonald's would spread all through the world and said it represented what I called
"hambourgeoisement," a false notion that people had that because they were eating meat they
were middle class.

What I didn't realize at the time was that McDonald's would also have a terrible social and economic cost,
for as people ate more and more hamburgers and French Fries, they would become more and more obese
and this would lead, in turn, to other medical problems like heart disease and diabetes. When I had my
first McDonald's hamburger, it was a slight affair and cost something like twelve cents. Things have changed
a great deal since then.

Tuesday, July 02, 2002

I just found out about blogs and this is my first attempt to do one...I have to find out how to put illustrations
in my blog...since I am an artist and cartoonist as well as a writer. To tell you the truth, I don't know what
I'm doing or whether this entry will end up in my blog...but with a little help from my friends, this site should
start looking a lot better.