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Alter Egos - I Am Done Watching This

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Monday, May 28, 2007

They Locked Up The Wrong Man

So Leonard Cohen gets on the blower.

"Dead Beat, I see you have been stealing..."

"Borrowing, Lenny, just borrowing. They can have it back any time they want."

"That's what my money managers told me."

"Genuine sympathy. By the way, did you know you're part of the reason I'm here."

"Why is that?"

"Songs of Love and Hate. Picked it up in a second hand record store. The black and white cover, your face peering out. The circular shape of the vinyl worn into the front. THEY LOCKED UP THE MAN WHO WANTED TO RULE THE WORLD. THE FOOLS. THEY LOCKED UP THE WRONG MAN."

"Somethings never change."

"I went to see you in the National Stadium in Dublin decades ago. At the end I went up to the stage, and you looked me in the eye and shook my hand."

"I remember that."

"Well I haven't forgotten either. So I wasn't really stealing. They locked up the wrong man."

"I guess you're on my side then."

"Lenny, lover, I even went out and bought a second hand blue raincoat, but I didn't rip it at the shoulder."

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Life As A Ladies' Man - Leonard Cohen

Stolen from Sarah Hamson at the Globe and Mail:

The park is like a poem: self-contained and spare. Smokers sit on benches in the morning drizzle. Pigeons swoop over a small gazebo, under the limbs of stately trees. There is a solemn-looking house, three storeys high with a grey stone facade. It's the only one that faces this park in the east end of Montreal, and it's his. There are two big front doors, side by side. No numbers. No bell. No indication which one is right. You just pick, and knock.
There is more than one way into the world of Leonard Cohen, and on this day in late April, they are all open.
Cohen, now 72, novelist, poet and singer/songwriter, is a cornerstone of Canadian culture, but he dances in our heads mostly unseen, like a beautiful idea. It is rare that he makes himself available for scrutiny.
Here he is, though, a gentleman of hip in black jeans and an unironed dress shirt beneath a pinstriped grey-flannel jacket. Atop his thick white hair, combed back off his deeply lined face, a grey cap sits at a jaunty angle, and in the breast pocket of his jacket, instead of a handkerchief, he keeps a pair of tinted granny glasses. Standing in the cramped foyer to which both front doors open, sporting a wry, knowing smile, he politely ushers you into the house (once partitioned into two dwellings) that he has owned for over 30 years.

Now is a new Cohen moment, and while he acknowledges that his increased creative activity is partly to compensate for the millions he lost in royalties at the hands of his former manager, he seems to be enjoying the attention. Next week, as part of Toronto's Luminato festival, his drawings get their first exhibition, at the Drabinsky Gallery. There's a new concert work by Philip Glass, inspired by Cohen's art and poetry from his 2006 Book of Longing, which was published after a 13-year silence. In 2004, he released his 17th album, Dear Heather.
Earlier this year, expanded editions of his first three albums hit the market, as did the critically acclaimed CD, Blue Alert, that he worked on with his lover, Hawaii-born songstress Anjani Thomas.
There is nothing off limits in a discussion with Cohen. Over a bottle of Château Maucaillou, Greek bread, a selection of Quebec cheeses and a fresh cherry pie, bought for the occasion from the local St-Laurent Boulevard merchants, you learn that he prefers to sleep alone; that he is no longer looking for another woman; the real reason he secluded himself in a Buddhist monastery for almost five years; and that a small, faded portrait of Saint Catherine Tekakwitha, the 17th-century native woman and heroine of his novel Beautiful Losers, hangs on the wall in his kitchen, above a table holding a fifties radio and a telephone with on oversize dial pad.
He will entrance you in the stillness of a moment that stretches to five hours, and in the end, because you happened to ask, playfully, he will say sure, come back any time for a soak in the claw-footed tub, one of several in his house, that sits in a closet of a bathroom under the slope of the stairs.
“I think of it all as notes,” Cohen says in his rich, deep voice. Seated at a long pine table in the dining room, which overlooks the park, he is talking about his drawings in a casual, almost shy way.
A collection of self-portraits, landscapes, objects and portraits of women, sketched throughout his life – in Greece, when he lived on the island of Hydra; on Mount Baldy, at the monastery outside of Los Angeles where he was under the tutelage of Zen master Kyozan Joshu Roshi; in Montreal; in L.A., where he has a second house; and during travels in India – they will be sold in signed, limited-edition prints.
“There were years when I would do a self-portrait every morning. I have hundreds of them. It was just a way to start the day with a kind of device to wake up.”
“Like a cigarette?”
“Instead of a cigarette.”
He quit four years ago, on a doctor's advice.
“I do miss it,” Cohen says. “Much longing,” he adds, almost in a moan. (He once wrote a poem about the “the promise, the beauty and the salvation of cigarettes.”) “I said I'd start smoking again at 85.” He allows a pause. “If I make it.”
He continues to flip through a copy of Book of Longing, which contains many of the drawings, several that have been manipulated and coloured with Photoshop on his laptop. “Here's a good one,” he points out, reading the words beside a self-portrait of glum bewilderment, dated Nov. 18, 2003. “Back in Montreal. As for the past, children, Roshi, songs, Greece, Los Angeles. What was that all about?”
His self-portraits never depict him as happy.
“Well, who is? Is this unique to me?” he asks with a soft chuckle. His friend and fellow poet, the late Irving Layton, once described Cohen as “a narcissist who hates himself.”
“I was able to speak to myself in a very frank sort of way,” Cohen continues. “I would do it while I brewed my coffee. I would set up this little wood Wacom tablet, and a mirror, a little mirror, and I'd just do a very quick sketch and then, what that sketch suggested, I would write something.”
The drawings are “transcendent decoration,” he says, touching one on the pages with the tip of a forefinger. “If it has any value at all, it's because it's harmless and doesn't invite any deep intellection.” He points to various sketches, one of a Hires root-beer can, another of a candlestick, his granny glasses, a Rolex watch he saw in a magazine. “I have always loved things, just things in the world. I always just love trying to find the shape of things.”
And the nude women? “I would just see a beautiful woman photographed in a pornographic magazine. I would see a figure in Playboy or something like that, and I'd just take the form.” He draws a breath like an inhalation of cigarette smoke, holding it for a moment, exhaling in a sigh. “I rescue her. I put her back in the 12th century, where she belongs,” he says, half-joking. “You know, I couldn't get anyone to undress.”
Cohen closes the book, places it on the table, and lifts his eyes in an expression of calm anticipation. Every question, he greets like an invitation to make himself understood. Leonard Cohen, the icon, is a concept he likes to toy with, as if it is both him and not.
“I got this rap as a kind of ladies' man,” he says lazily and without irony, at one point. “And as I say in one of the poems, it has caused me to laugh, when I think of all the lonely nights” at the monastery. “As if I'm the only guy who ever felt this way about women,” he continues, with a smirk. “As if I'm the only person who ever had some sort of deep connection with the opposite sex.”
“Have you learned a lot from women?”
“Oh, yeah. You learn everything from women.”
He leans in. “It is where you move into uncharted territory.” He shrugs slightly, his small, neat hands held in front of him. “The rest is just reinforcing wisdom or folly that you have inherited. But nobody can prepare anybody for an encounter with the opposite sex. Much has been written about it. You can read self-help books, but the actual confrontation as a young person with desire, this appetite for completion, well, that is the education.”
“And what a ruse that desire for completion is,” you suggest, “because ultimately, you're still left with yourself.”
“What's left of it,” he puts in, laughing.
Cohen sits back in his chair, his ideas as well-worn and familiar as old sweaters. “Of course, women are the content of men, and men are the content of women, and most people are dealing with this – whatever version of that longing there is. You know, of completion. It can be spiritual, romantic, erotic. Everybody is involved in that activity.”
Cohen exudes an air of permission. Nothing unsettles him. He will explain all: the eclectic collection of objects in his house – the black-and-white picture of the dog on the pine sideboard (it's of Tinky, the Scotch terrier he grew up with) that sits beside a modernist sculpture in silver by his childhood friend, Mort Rosengarten, that stands next to an antique pot, inscribed with Arabic symbols, which his father liked and that came from his mother's house when she died.
Ask him about the graphic signatures, or chops, as he refers to them, that he designed and stamps onto several of the drawings. Perhaps they are too private to explain. They look like a secret code. “Not at all. Not at all,” he murmurs. “This one is the old Chinese writing of my monk's name, Jikhan,” he says, pointing to one. “It got into the press as the silent one, but it just means ordinary silence.” The poet as an absence of communication. Roshi, who assigns the names, likes irony, presumably.
“Yes, could be,” Cohen says. A beat of silence. “Since Roshi doesn't speak English, it's almost impossible to discern what he means.”
“These two interlocking hearts, I designed for the cover of Book of Mercy,” his 1984 poetry collection, he says, moving along as he describes another chop. “I established this Order of the Unified Heart, that is a kind of dream of an order. There is no organization. There's no hierarchy. There's just a pin [for] people of a very broadly designated similar intent.”
“And yours is?”
He thinks for a minute. “To just make things better on a very personal level,” he says. “You're just not scattered all over the place. There is a tiny moment when you might gather around some decent intention.”
“And what has been your most decent intention?”
He places his hands on the edge of the table. “I can't think of any right now. There must be one or two.”
“Beauty, maybe.”
“Beauty, certainly,” he responds.
It is often said that Cohen is hard to define. There's Cohen, the son of a prominent Montreal clothier and the grandson of a Jewish scholar. Cohen, the law-school dropout. Cohen, the novelist, the poet, the songwriter. Cohen, the sexual bad boy who becomes a monk.
But he disagrees. “I always felt it was of one piece. I never felt I was going off on a tangent.” He admits, though, that he “drifted into things. I suppose there has been an undercurrent of deliberation, but I don't really navigate it.” According to legend, it wasn't until he encountered folk singer Judy Collins, in 1966, that he decided to publicly perform songs he had played for friends. The following year, she introduced some Cohen songs on her album, including his big hit Suzanne. It was in 1968 that he released his first album.
Cohen didn't seek out a musical career as much as it seems to have found him. Which is what is happening now with his drawings. He appears to have fallen into a whole new career.
He takes in this observation, looks out the window for a moment and then brings his attention back into the room.
“That's why I say free will is overrated,” he drawls in his smoky voice.
“It was terrific. The best kind,” he says. “We had these appetites that we understood, and it was wonderful that they were taken care of. It was a moment where everybody was giving to the other person what they wanted. The women knew that's what the men wanted.”
Don't ask how the subject of casual sex in the sixties came up. It was part of the unfolding of the Saturday afternoon, the laziness of it, like an endless meal of many courses, which you keep expecting to end but never does. You cover one subject, and thank him for his time, thinking he may be tired of talking now, but he doesn't take the opportunity to say goodbye. “Here, relax, eat,” he will say. “Have more wine. Would you like a piece of cherry pie?” And then the conversation continues.
“If you could have it so much,” I ask, “didn't that devalue it?”
Cohen offers a frank expression. He could be talking about apples. “Well, nobody gets enough of anything,” he explains matter-of-factly. “You either get too much or not enough. Nobody gets the right amount, in terms of what they think their appetite deserves.
“But it lasted just a few moments,” he says about that time. “And then it was back to the old horror story, whatever it is that still exists. You know, I'll give you this if you give me that. You know, sealing the deal: What do I get, what do you get. It's a contract.”
Cohen's sexiness, powerful still, is in his accessibility. His open-door atmosphere of hospitality – an invitation to authenticity, to say and ask what you want – makes him an age-appropriate ladies' man. He is interested in people, in what they think, and he will ask about their lives. But his manner is not invasive or louche. He borders on paternal, or would, that is, if your dad liked to write about cunnilingus and fellatio as if they are fancy Italian appetizers.
“Believe me, what you want is someone to have dinner with,” he advises on having a relationship later in life. “Sleep with from time to time, telephone every day or write. It's what you set up that is defeating. Make it very modest. And give yourself permission to make a few mistakes. You know, blow it a bit. Have a few drinks and fall into bed with somebody. It doesn't have to be the final thing.”
Thomas appears several times. “See you later, sweetheart,” Cohen calls softly to her when she leaves with a friend to go shopping. Rosengarten, whom he has known since their childhood growing up together on Belmont Street in affluent Westmount, and who now lives nearby, drops in for a chat and some food.
A little later, a light knock. “Ah, a tap tap tapping at my chamber door,” Cohen says as he gets up. A graduate student, a young man in his 20s, who has written a dissertation on Cohen in his native Italian, has sought him out. Speaking to Cohen in French, he explains his work; gives him a copy; asks if he can speak to him some time at length for future papers he wants to write. Cohen assures him he can. Asked to sign an autograph, he bends down nimbly on one knee in the foyer to do so.
It is not the Cohen of his lyrics or of his sullen self-portraits who moves about this house of austere aesthetic. He is a gentleman to his partner, the friend in the neighbourhood, a gracious host. It is in his humanity, his feet of clay, that he is most comfortable.
He talks easily about his earlier years, unburdened by nostalgia. “My constitution is what saved me,” he says of the time he used a lot of drugs, especially during the writing of Beautiful Losers in 1966. “I'm not a really good drinker or a really good junkie. My stomach just doesn't permit it. I was very lucky in that respect, because a lot of people I know, especially in those turbulent times, just didn't survive it.”
Similarly, he displays no longing or fondness for his time on Mount Baldy. He left the monastery in the late nineties. Not because he couldn't find what he was looking for. Rather, he says, “I had completed that phase of my training.”
He had gone there to cure himself of his excesses. He worked in the kitchen and as a secretary to Roshi. But it was not all about serenity. “They're not saints, and you aren't, either,” he says of his fellow monks. “A monastery is rehab for people who have been traumatized, hurt, destroyed, maimed by daily life that they simply couldn't master. I had been studying with Roshi for 30 or 40 years, but when I actually decided to live with him and really commit myself to the daily life – I did always do that for several months of every year – but when I decided to do it full-time, I had just come off a tour in 1993, and yes, I felt dislocated. I had been drinking tremendous amounts on the road and my health was shot.”
Cohen, who has two grown children from his long-term relationship with Suzanne Elrod – not the Suzanne of his famous song – is a grandfather now. Cassius Lyon Cohen was born a few months ago. Still, there's something more at play beneath his palpable equanimity. And it might be as simple as this: The man is happy.
“I always had a background of distress, ever since I was young,” he admits. “What part that played in becoming a writer or a singer or whatever it was that one became, I don't know. I didn't have a sense of an operational ease,” he continues. About life? “Just about one's work or one's capacity to earn a living; a capacity to find a mate or find a moment of relief in someone's arms,” he says, trailing off.
He looks up. “I don't know what happened,” he says sweetly. “Something very agreeable happened to me. I don't know what the reason is. That background of distress dissolved.” He leaves a small silence, then offers a mischievous smile. “I'm worried now that my songs are too cheerful because I'm feeling well. I think I may be irrelevant pretty soon.”
Has Thomas, who is 48, played a part in that happiness? “That might very well be,” he allows. He met her in 1984, when she was singing backup for him. They didn't become lovers until 1999. “When the background of distress dissolves, you're able to see people more clearly.”
“People who love you, you mean?”
“Yeah, or don't,” he says. “You're able to appreciate the authentic situation. You can just see things more clearly. It's a veil that drops. You're not looking at everything from the point of view of your own suffering.”
Relationships are often difficult, he says. “I find that people want to name it. The woman is saying, ‘What is our relationship? Are we engaged? Are we boyfriend and girlfriend? Are we lovers?' And my disposition is, ‘Do we really have to have this discussion, because it's not as good as our relationship?'
“But as you get older, you want to accommodate, and say, ‘Yeah, we're living together. This is for real. I'm not looking for anyone else. You're the woman in my life.' Whatever terms that takes: a ring, an arrangement, a commitment, or from one's behaviour, by the way you act. You make it clear by minute adjustments. A woman goes by. You can look, but you can adjust so that it's not an insult, an affront or a danger. You're with somebody, and you want to make it work. I'm not interested in taking off my clothes with a woman right now.”
He and Thomas live together, but they have separate bedrooms on different floors of the house. “I like to wake up alone,” Cohen explains. “And she likes to be alone. We are both impossibly solitudinous people.”
If advancing age and his love of Thomas have promoted happiness, so too has Buddhism. What Cohen has developed is a practice of detachment. “You have to take responsibility because the world holds you accountable for what you do,” he explains at one point. “But if you understand that there are other forces determining what you do, then there's no pride when the world affirms you, no shame when the world scorns you. Also, when someone does something to you that you really don't like or that hurts you, well, a feeling of injury may arise, but what doesn't is hatred or enmity, because those people aren't doing it, either. They're just doing what had to be done.”
Just like this interview. It has been arranged, and so he will do it, graciously, without hesitation, annoyance or impatience. Finally, when you insist you must leave, he worries if you are dressed warmly enough for the cold weather. He gives you one of his scarves, and goes upstairs to retrieve an old Gap sweater he wants you to wear. He calls you darling. He finds a pin for the Order of the Unified Heart and gives you one, and a ring, too, with the same design.
Earlier, he had explained that even if despair has lessened, challenges remain. “This isn't very different from the monastery,” he says, referring to his current situation. “It's the same kind of life, which is sometimes difficult, like everybody else's. It's a struggle for significance and self-respect, and you know, for righteous employment, to be doing the right thing.”
Part of that, clearly, is inviting people, strangers even, into his house of unadorned walls, simple white curtains and old wood floors, nourishing them with food and ideas and hours of delightful conversation, and then sending them back out into the world, the one with the smokers and the drizzle and the pain.

The Art of War

I have told you before (A True War Story) that Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried may just be the most important book ever written. Not alone will it teach you about the im(morality) of war, it will tell you about the (im)morality of writing.

Dead Beat stole the rest from a media report:

A year after coming home from Iraq, AJ Jefferson is still fighting the war in eerie nightmares about the bomb that left him and two comrades seriously wounded.
"I've been told it's normal," the Army specialist said with a smile, "considering what I've gone through."
The 21-year-old soldier has been diagnosed by doctors with several ailments blamed on the attack, including severe post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. He's also been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury, or TBI, which often is accompanied by forgetfulness and restless sleep.
"I have the dreams every night," said Jefferson, who also suffered severe leg wounds that left him unable to run or stand for long periods. "There are nights when I can't sleep because all I'm thinking about is just re-enacting what happened in my head. My brain will not let go of it."
Jefferson opened up about his post-war nightmares over dinner at a steakhouse not far from where his 101st Airborne, C/1-33 Cavalry unit is based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. His attitude about dealing with the nightly torment was obvious, as he joked around with a perky server named Amber who's not much younger than he is.
Between Amber's interruptions at the table to offer details on dinner specials and appetizers, Jefferson described the nightmares that began months after his return stateside in spring 2006.
"They were delayed after I got back," Jefferson said. "But more and more as time went by, the dreams started being about the attack and the feeling about helplessness out there on the ground."
The night terrors stem from the April 25, 2006, roadside bombing, which left Jefferson and buddies Sgt. Erik Roberts and Staff Sgt. Luke Murphy wounded and bleeding on the ground, and their vehicle on fire.
Heat from the flames ignited the humvee's ammunition, which popped off all around them. The trio's comrades, including Pfc. Shane Irwin and Sgt. 1st Class Francisco Rogers, helped get them to safety. Murphy lost his right leg, and Roberts' right leg was badly damaged.
Now, more than a year later, Jefferson's nightmares center on that midnight attack on their convoy in western Baghdad.
His sleep is filled with that "feeling of helplessness, lying out there on the street, not knowing if I'm going to die, if my buddies are going to die, if I'm going to get shot, if we're going to get ambushed. ... That's what a lot of the dreams kind of wrap around, it's just knowing I have no control of what's going on.

"In one dream, I'm cut off from my unit in Sadr City," he said, referring to the Iraqi capital's sprawling, violence-plagued neighborhood. "I'm in uniform and I'm running through a bunch of street markets. It's just me and nobody else, and I'm trying to find my way back to the guys, and it's a feeling of, 'What am I supposed to do?' That's what I get out of the dreams, just scared out of my mind."

In Jefferson's second recurring nightmare, he's riding on a humvee with the certain knowledge that he's the target of an inevitable roadside bomb attack. Despite that knowledge, he's using a video cell phone to record scenes of the road ahead, where deadly danger surely lies. The blast never happens. Jefferson simply continues to shoot video of the oncoming road.

Dead Beat is amazed but not surprised by this new phenomenon: before you engage in enemy fire you set up your phone to record your 'heroic' deeds just as you once might have taken a photo of your mate passed out or throwing up after a long night in the pub.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Bertie Ahern and Enda Kenny are Necking

Dead Beat has just resumed normal breathing conditions with Gary Doer (NDP) being re-elected in Manitoba for a historic third term when he finds out that the voting in the Irish National Election is neck to neck. Bertie Ahern and Enda Kenny are necking.

Remember Bertie, " ...and I said to the great George Bush....and he reassured me... to be sure to be sure...."

And by the way just who is Enda Kenny?

Troubling times.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Pierre-Gilles de Gennes

Dead Beat learns that Pierre-Gilles de Gennes died on Friday in Orsay, Paris. De Gennes was awarded the 1991 Nobel Prize in physics for his work on liquid crystals, the form of matter that possess the fluidity of liquids but which can line up in an ordered state like solids.

Liquid crystals were known since the 1920s, but it was de Gennes who helped explain the mathematical and physical rules behind them, paving the way for further study and practical applications. Liquid crystals are now used in everything from pocket calculators to laptop computer screens.

He also established connections between the behaviour of liquid crystals and the behaviour of superconductors, two areas of study previously unconnected.

Perhaps Dead Beat himself will be awarded a Nobel proze for establishing connections between the behaviour of liquid crystals and the behaviour of written words, two areas of study previoucly unconnected.

Friday, May 18, 2007

A Nice Cup of Tea - George Orwell

A Nice Cup of Tea

By George Orwell

Evening Standard, 12 January 1946.

If you look up 'tea' in the first cookery book that comes to hand you will probably find that it is unmentioned; or at most you will find a few lines of sketchy instructions which give no ruling on several of the most important points.

This is curious, not only because tea is one of the main stays of civilization in this country, as well as in Eire, Australia and New Zealand, but because the best manner of making it is the subject of violent disputes.

When I look through my own recipe for the perfect cup of tea, I find no fewer than eleven outstanding points. On perhaps two of them there would be pretty general agreement, but at least four others are acutely controversial. Here are my own eleven rules, every one of which I regard as golden:

First of all, one should use Indian or Ceylonese tea. China tea has virtues which are not to be despised nowadays — it is economical, and one can drink it without milk — but there is not much stimulation in it. One does not feel wiser, braver or more optimistic after drinking it. Anyone who has used that comforting phrase 'a nice cup of tea' invariably means Indian tea.

Secondly, tea should be made in small quantities — that is, in a teapot. Tea out of an urn is always tasteless, while army tea, made in a cauldron, tastes of grease and whitewash. The teapot should be made of china or earthenware. Silver or Britanniaware teapots produce inferior tea and enamel pots are worse; though curiously enough a pewter teapot (a rarity nowadays) is not so bad.

Thirdly, the pot should be warmed beforehand. This is better done by placing it on the hob than by the usual method of swilling it out with hot water.

Fourthly, the tea should be strong. For a pot holding a quart, if you are going to fill it nearly to the brim, six heaped teaspoons would be about right. In a time of rationing, this is not an idea that can be realized on every day of the week, but I maintain that one strong cup of tea is better than twenty weak ones. All true tea lovers not only like their tea strong, but like it a little stronger with each year that passes — a fact which is recognized in the extra ration issued to old-age pensioners.

Fifthly, the tea should be put straight into the pot. No strainers, muslin bags or other devices to imprison the tea. In some countries teapots are fitted with little dangling baskets under the spout to catch the stray leaves, which are supposed to be harmful. Actually one can swallow tea-leaves in considerable quantities without ill effect, and if the tea is not loose in the pot it never infuses properly.

Sixthly, one should take the teapot to the kettle and not the other way about.

The water should be actually boiling at the moment of impact, which means that one should keep it on the flame while one pours. Some people add that one should only use water that has been freshly brought to the boil, but I have never noticed that it makes any difference.

Seventhly, after making the tea, one should stir it, or better, give the pot a good shake, afterwards allowing the leaves to settle.

Eighthly, one should drink out of a good breakfast cup — that is, the cylindrical type of cup, not the flat, shallow type. The breakfast cup holds more, and with the other kind one's tea is always half cold before one has well started on it.

Ninthly, one should pour the cream off the milk before using it for tea. Milk that is too creamy always gives tea a sickly taste.

Tenthly, one should pour tea into the cup first. This is one of the most controversial points of all; indeed in every family in Britain there are probably two schools of thought on the subject. The milk-first school can bring forward some fairly strong arguments, but I maintain that my own argument is unanswerable. This is that, by putting the tea in first and stirring as one pours, one can exactly regulate the amount of milk whereas one is liable to put in too much milk if one does it the other way round.

Lastly, tea — unless one is drinking it in the Russian style — should be drunk without sugar. I know very well that I am in a minority here. But still, how can you call yourself a true tealover if you destroy the flavour of your tea by putting sugar in it? It would be equally reasonable to put in pepper or salt. Tea is meant to be bitter, just as beer is meant to be bitter. If you sweeten it, you are no longer tasting the tea, you are merely tasting the sugar; you could make a very similar drink by dissolving sugar in plain hot water.Some people would answer that they don't like tea in itself, that they only drink it in order to be warmed and stimulated, and they need sugar to take the taste away. To those misguided people I would say: Try drinking tea without sugar for, say, a fortnight and it is very unlikely that you will ever want to ruin your tea by sweetening it again.
These are not the only controversial points to arise in connexion with tea drinking, but they are sufficient to show how subtilized the whole business has become. There is also the mysterious social etiquette surrounding the teapot (why is it considered vulgar to drink out of your saucer, for instance?) and much might be written about the subsidiary uses of tealeaves, such as telling fortunes, predicting the arrival of visitors, feeding rabbits, healing burns and sweeping the carpet. It is worth paying attention to such details as warming the pot and using water that is really boiling, so as to make quite sure of wringing out of one's ration the twenty good, strong cups of that two ounces, properly handled, ought to represent.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

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INTRODUCING THE MASTER WRITERLiving in his luxurious English home, Nick Daws has been a full-time writer for over 12 years. He enjoys a life of holidaying with his beautiful wife, playing his part as a regional celebrity, and occasionally putting finger to keyboard to write another book.
Those that write books stand out from the crowd. Those that write best-selling books become famous. In the past three years alone, Nick Daws has written over 30 best-sellers and continues to write at a ground-breaking pace!
It isn't magic, says Nick. It's all down to a few well-guarded secrets, including:
The FREEWRITING technique and why THEY don't want you to know about it!
How to only ever write in FIVE MINUTE segments, so you never lose interest!
Where to buy a guaranteed best-selling plot for just 50 CENTS!
The three keywords that simply BLAST your story to life!
The absolute quickest methods of research (nothing to do with the Internet!)
How to use POWER EDITING to edit your entire book in under one hour
... and MUCH MORE, in his exciting new writing course!
In fact, why not listen to Nick introduce the course? Click Play:
(testimonials page)
as seen on...

From: the desk of Dan Strauss1st May 2007 09:35 a.mHave you ever imagined walking into Barnes & Noble and seeing a shelf full of your own books? Of course, earlier that day the store had two shelves full, but you're a fast-selling author.
You watch as people wander in and eagerly pick up a copy. They read the introduction. They giggle at your wit. They point out a good point to a nearby friend. Soon, readers throughout the country take your book to the counter and purchase. They're smiling. So is your bank manager.

Feel satisfied as a published author?

Perhaps you're doing it for fame, or the money. It could be you just want to become an industry guru and boost your career. Or it's possible you simply want to become the talking point of a party by introducing yourself as a writer. You know, that person whose job everybody else wants.

There's just one problem with getting a book or screenplay published. You actually have to write it first. And the number one reason for not writing is that you simply don't have time, right?

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Dan Strauss, I'm the course director behind Intelligent Courses. Our company brings industry professionals together to produce trail-blazing “elite information” courses. And we've just finished work on our flagship course, one that GUARANTEES to take you from idea through to final manuscript in under 28 days.

To be honest, the first time you do it, you'll probably manage it within 14 days, and the second time in around a week. However, a course claiming to show you how to write a book in 7 days flat would be disregarded by most as being crazy. IT ISN'T.

Impossible? Charles Dickens wrote his literary classic A Christmas Carol in just 2 weeks. Samuel Johnson wrote Rasselas: Prince of Abyssinia in an amazing 4 days. Barbara Cartland took only 5 days to write each of her books, resulting in an amazing 623 best-sellers during her lifetime. The hit self-help book Don't Sweat the Small Stuff is still selling in its millions - and was written by Dr Richard Carlson during a 12-hour transatlantic flight.

Even the world's best-selling novelist, Agatha Christie, claimed to have written all her manuscripts in under a month. In a BBC interview, she said: "I find no reason why one month isn't adequate time to write a book".

How? Let me be quite blunt: there are WRITING SECRETS no-one has yet told you about.
I'm being perfectly serious. And Nick Daws wants to unveil them ALL for you, showing you step-by-step how to create your manuscript in RECORD TIME... all in his new four-week course.
Best of all, it doesn't matter whether you're writing fiction, non-fiction, screenplays, movie scripts, whatever – the SAME RULES APPLY. You'll be shocked at how quickly you can suddenly turn out page after page.
The course is called "Write ANY Book in 28 Days... Or Less!" ...... and here are just a few of the things you'll discover...
The SECRET METHOD you can use to take your concept through to final manuscript --- in under a month, writing less than an HOUR each day.
The secrets behind FREEWRITING. This is VERY important, as you'll find out. You'll learn why NO-ONE talks about it and just how it can blow you away!
How to only EVER write in FIVE MINUTE segments, so you'll never get bored.
Exactly where to purchase a best selling plot for just FIFTY CENTS!
How to instantly develop an in-depth and interesting character, using “mega quick character creation”.
The four speediest methods of research (nothing to do with the Internet!)
The wonder of POWER EDITING and how it'll enable you to edit your entire book --- in under an hour!
Ten modern killer title templates that will rocket your book sales!
The TOP TEN reasons people say they can't write a book – and exactly how to overcome them!
Where to find out PRECISELY what your industry wants from a non-fiction book --- without even asking.
But what if you're not a writer already? Perhaps you don't think you could produce a book in such a short space of time? Maybe you don't even know what sort of book you want to write, or how to organize it? Are you worried about who you should contact after you've written your manuscript?
Newsflash: It doesn't matter WHO you are or the experience you have.
If you use this course, within ONE MONTH you'll be holding your final manuscript – and know just what to do next. 100% guaranteed.
Sound too good to be true? I agree. In fact, when I was first asked to manage this particular course, I was skeptical. Then I witnessed it in action and the results are truly astounding.
However, one person that doesn't give in easily to wild claims is Karl Moore (, the CEO of the company that helped produce the course, White Cliff ( He openly admits one of his core passions is writing, but running an international technology group, finds little time to fulfill this desire.
Karl decided to pay particular attention to this course during its production. And within just two months had written two full non-fiction books in his spare time, currently being distributed throughout the world by publishing giant Springer-Verlag. Earlier this year, both his books entered second print and were translated into six languages.
But there are plenty of other big names raving about the course. Our testimonials page contains dozens of unsolicited praise from established authors and new writers alike. And our corporate customer list includes AT&T, the US Army, IBM, FedEx, British Telecom, UPS, Fujitsu, Toshiba, Network Solutions, Sun, Deloitte & Touche, Dow Jones, Merrill Lynch, the Discovery Channel, Time Warner, Nationwide Insurance, Intel, Xerox, and even Microsoft!
Yes, this course is POPULAR... because it's so GROUND BREAKING.
"With your help, I've just finished my second fiction adventure novel!"- Patrick O'Brien,
* * *
"Great course! Everything I thought it would be and more. I've already completed the [secret] on my book. It's going to be a great book. Thanks!"- Bill Wisch, NJ,
* * *
"I was very hesitant to order but pleasantly surprised that the book exceeded my expectations!Your book is a true inspiration. The one piece of advice about research was worth the price of the course and will save me dozens if not hundreds of hours. Your [course secret] method will also save me valuable time. Thank you for mapping it out for me!"- Robin Sampson,
* * *"Now - thanks to your course - my book is finished. It took my just 16 days. I've done a second review and now my editor has the final draft. Thank you SO much for all of your help! The course gets a big two thumbs up from me - and if big toes count, then you get four! I've already started on my next book!!"- Velicia MacKay,
* * *
"Great course. I used it to publish my first novel, Satan's Church. You can find the official Web site online at The first print run sold out in just four months and it's about to go into second print in paperback. Thank you, Nick Daws!"
- Cam Lavac, Sydney, Australia
* * *
"My wife and I have two best-selling Christian books in the United States. She just finished our 8th. I'm finishing our 9th. And our 10th book together is at a publisher awaiting publication. Your material has truly "upgraded" our ability to write, especially quickly, which is a major factor to writing success."- Eddie Smith,
>> Click here to read more unsolicited testimonials
Right now, you're missing out. You're trying to write, but you're doing it WRONG. You NEED this information. The good news is that you can try it out NOW, completely RISK-FREE...
... Nick Daws PROMISES that when you follow his techniques, you'll EASILY write your next manuscript in UNDER 28 DAYS... AND grab yourself a publishing contract within THREE MONTHS!
That's his PERSONAL GUARANTEE! If you don't, or you simply aren't THRILLED with the course for ANY reason, simply return it for an INSTANT REFUND, NO QUESTIONS ASKED!
Plus, we're slashing our USUAL course price from $299.95 down to JUST $49.95 (around £25.95 or 37.95 Euros) - for all customers that order before MIDNIGHT, Friday, May 18th 2007.
And as a special THANK YOU for your custom, we're also sending all NEW customers a FREE BONUS PARCEL, including:
An address book of the hottest US and UK publishers and the people you need to contact!
A directory showing the secret Web sites movie producers visit to find new manuscripts, and how you can submit yours!
Listings of the best-paying short story publishers in the US and UK!
Inspiration guides: ready to use book titles, plot sheets, and idea keywords!
Full copies of in-demand Microsoft Word screenplay templates in US and UK formats!
... PLUS we're offering 100% FREE international shipping & handling TODAY ONLY!
Ready to write? Ready to be let in on the secret? (and there IS a secret!)
Click HERE to buy this course for just $49.95!
Approximately £25.95 or 37.95 Euros.
The course runs is provided on Windows CD. Price includes free international shipping. Internet access required to "activate" the CD course. For the AUDIO CD version of the course, please click here.
"Being the author of several commissioned and produced plays, and 17 books of fiction and non-fiction for adults and children (check me out on Amazon), I wondered about your 28 day promise. But as soon as I started your course, I was gripped!"I'm going to make maximum use out of this, and have already become quite an ambassador for the course!"- Shahrukh Husain, London, UK - click here to read more unsolicited testimonials
Still not convinced? Want to know more about what Nick Daws has managed to distil into one easy-to-read course? Want to STEAL the fruit of his 20+ years experience in the industry?
Here are just a few more secrets Nick Daws will EXCLUSIVELY share with you:
Learn how Nick created two internationally best-selling guides to living in Italy and Spain, without ever having visited the countries – and how you use his techniques to make $$$'s!
The truth behind “technologies” and how spending a few minutes developing your own can quadruple book sales!
An ingenious method of injecting instant scene setting into your books, using just two extra words. This one is REALLY clever!
The Four C's and Hero's Journey writing models that'll ensure you develop a sound plot every time!
The precise techniques our managing director used to write two non-fiction books in two months, whilst running an international technology group!
Why characters are KEY to any book – fiction and non-fiction!
How to take one “overused” book concept and turn it into a BEST-SELLING TITLE!
FOUR SIMPLE STEPS to outlining and blueprinting your book, the very easy way!
Why all books need P.A.C.E. and how this fresh technique will turn your book into a true page turner!
What to do once you've written your manuscript, plus who you'll need to contact.
How to gain record sales the intelligent way, with completely FREE PUBLICITY! ... and many more well-kept secrets that'll enable you to begin writing amazing books, articles, stories, screenplays, memoirs, and more - in just minutes! It's your key to a superior lifestyle, "celebrity" status and industry kudos. And if you don't buy it, a competitor will.
Want to hear what other people think? Click HERE to read our unsolicited testimonials.Surprise yourself with the BIG NAMES we have backing our course. Contact the people DIRECT!Can you afford NOT to at least glance over this? Check out our 100% risk-free guarantee:
90-day 100% money-back GUARANTEE!Don't even consider whether you should or shouldn't believe these techniques. Try them out for yourself, free of charge, for a whole 90 days!
Nick promises you'll write your manuscript WITHIN 28 DAYS, plus bag yourself a publishing contract within THREE MONTHS.
If you don't, or you aren't 100% satisfied for ANY reason, we'll give you an INSTANT REFUND, minus original shipping & handling.
Here's how to move on from here:
1. Buy "How to Write ANY Book in 28 Days... Or Less!" for just $49.95 Discount offer extended until midnight Friday, May 18th 2007
2. The course will be shipped to you tomorrow and should arrive shortly. When it appears, we guarantee you'll be knocked over by the secrets inside. Read them with care, and don't share them too easily. You'll also get the seven extra bonuses, listed below.
3. Within 28 days, sit back and smile as you send off your polished manuscript, maybe to the people in the bonus publisher directory we'll send you. We're so SURE of the course that if you don't receive a publishing contract within 90 days, we'll give you ALL your money back.
One final time, here's EXACTLY what you'll get when you purchase TODAY:
Nick's full, ALL-REVEALING and exclusive four-module course: --- "How to Write ANY Book in 28 Days... Or Less!" (worth $299.95)
Bonus #1: Address book of the hottest US and UK publishers and the people you need to contact! (worth $39.95)
Bonus #2: Listings of the best-paying short story publishers in the US and UK! (worth $19.95)
Bonus #3: Microsoft Word templates for US and UK writers, suitable for novels, short stories, screenplays, films, television dramas and radio dramas (worth $199.95)
Bonus #4: The Muse Sheet, with dozens of inspirational, ready-to-use book titles (worth $39.95)
Bonus #5: A directory showing the secret Web sites movie producers visit to find new manuscripts, and how you can submit yours! (worth $39.95)
Bonus #6: Your FREE copy of WriteSparks! Lite, the inspiration generating software package!
Bonus #7: Your own copy of Cinergy Script Editor, a fully-featured script editor!
That's almost $640 worth of solid, no-hype information for just 299.95 $49.95 (approx £25.95 or 37.95 Euros)-- including FREE international shipping.
I challenge you to find a best selling author anywhere willing to give even 10 minutes of advice for that price.
Beat the system. Have your next book or script ready this time next month. Click here to ORDER NOW, under our 100% satisfaction guarantee!
Well, that's the last you're going to hear from me. It's up to you which path you decide to take. Knowing what I personally know, I would give this a go RIGHT AWAY -- even if you intend to return it under the guarantee. There are secrets here you need to know.
Can you risk not finding them out?And then how would you feel about all your lost time, when you did?
I would like to personally wish you all the best in your writing ventures.Sincerely, Dan Strauss, Course DirectorIntelligentCourses.comP.S. Remember that this offer is COMPLETELY risk-free -- if you don't get yourself a publishing contract within a few weeks, or you're simply not 100% satisfied, you get ALL your money back! No questions asked! Click HERE to get your copy now, with free int'l shipping.
P.P.S. Just think about what writing a book could mean for you. True recognition in your industry? "Celebrity" status? Or maybe you just want the money? Can you imagine being able to write 12 best-sellers a year, working just 1 hour a day? In fact, write just ONE best-seller and you'll never have to drive through the morning rush hour traffic again. Click HERE to buy now.P.P.P.S. We actually withdrew this course from sale earlier this year (previously, it was only for sale as a correspondence course in the UK) as we planned to turn it into the heart of our business and open exclusive writing schools in both London and New York. Our intention was to teach its core principles to only those that can afford it. We've revamped this course and brought it back due to demand, but may withdraw it at any time. Click HERE to order via our SECURE SSL server.
Don't miss your one chance to learn the secret.$49.95. Click here to ORDER NOW!

The Art is in the Selling

So Andy rolls over in his grave, "Dead Beat, they still don't get it. Green Car Crash sold for $71.72million."
"You're a star," I tell him.
"Fifteen minutes," he replies.
"Fifteen million."

Joy Division

So Anton Corbijon, video director, made his directorial debut at Cannes with Control the story of Joy Division singer Ian Curtis, who committed suicide at 23. Joy Division was among the early post-punk bands he photographed in a 1970s Britain. A British unknown, Sam Riley, who had abandoned an acting career to take an unsuccessful shot at fame with his band 10,000 Things, is cast as Curtis.

Joy Division, as Dead Beaters will know, was one of the most original bands out of late 1970s Britain, melding guitars and electronica with Curtis's baritone voice to create striking songs like Transmission and Love Will Tear Us Apart.
Control centres on Curtis, who is troubled with epilepsy, self-medicates with various drugs and is in the midst of a marriage breakup.

He killed himself on the eve of the band's first trip to the U.S. The story is based on a book by his widow Deborah Curtis, played in the film by Samantha Morton.

23. 23.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Saints Go Marching In

Bob Geldoff, God bless him, or whoever he belives in, is annoyed. Not just annoyed, but annoyed with Al Gore. St. Bob, St. Al. Okay over to Bobbie G.:

"Live Earth doesn't have a final goal. I would only organise this if I could go on stage and announce concrete environmental measures from the American presidential candidates, Congress or major corporations. They haven't got those guarantees. So it's just an enormous pop concert."

Al: You think so.

Toasted Bread and Bittersweet Chocolate


16 thin baguette slices
One 4-ounce bar of bittersweet chocolate, cut into 16 pieces
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse sea salt for sprinkling


Preheat the broiler and position a rack 8 inches from the heat. Spread the baguette slices on a baking sheet and broil until toasted, about 30 seconds. Turn the slices over and set a square of chocolate on each one. Broil just until the bread is golden and the chocolate is beginning to melt (about 30 seconds). Transfer the chocolate toasts to plates and drizzle with the olive oil. Lightly sprinkle sea salt on the chocolate and serve right away.

Bon Appetite D.B. - Toasted Spaghetti with Clams

So Ferran gets back to me.

"Toasted Spaghetti with Clams.


3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 pound spaghetti, broken into 2-inch lengths
2 garlic cloves, minced
Crushed red pepper
3 cups bottled clam broth
1 cup water
3 dozen littleneck clams, rinsed
1/4 cup minced flat-leaf parsley


In a large deep skillet, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the spaghetti and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until golden, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and a large pinch of crushed red pepper and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the clam broth and water and bring to a boil. Cover tightly and cook over moderate heat until the pasta is barely al dente, about 8 minutes. Nestle the clams into the pasta, cover and cook until the pasta is al dente and the clams open, about 7 minutes. Add a few tablespoons of water if the pasta is too dry. Stir in the parsley and serve.

Bon appetite, D.B."

Ferran Adria - The Art of Cooking

Dead Beat has an interest in food. Always felt that cooking was an art form, in the way any part of our living experience can be elevated to an art form. So he is pleased to see that Spain's best known chef, Ferran Adria, has been invited to one of Europe's most influential art shows - The five-yearly Documenta art show in Kassel, Germany.

The chef, whose restaurant is near Barcelona, El Bulli, was recently voted the best in the world for the second time. He has created dishes such as codfish foam and spherical potato gnocchi with consommé of roasted potatoes

The invitation, however, has stuck in the throat of the Spanish art establishment, which condemned it as the "banalisation of art". One critic, Jose de la Sota, writing in the daily El Pais, said: "Adria is not Picasso. Picasso did not know how to cook but he was better than Adria [at art]. What is art now? Is it something or nothing?"

So Dead Beat calls up Ferran and asks for his response.

"I am up to my elbows in corn syrup Dead Beat, could you not call at a better time? True, I am no Picasso, but what is art in times like these? Many people act as if I should apologise for participating. I am not going to. I understand there might be people who are annoyed. It's tough to see a cook get invited to this. But what is art? If they want to call what I do art, fine. If not, that's fine too."

Dead Beat shrugs with Ferran, puts down the phone and reaches for a Pot Noodle.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A Sort of Witness

Ray turned up in my dreams last night.

"Dead Beat, a few words to the wise: A writer ought to speak about things that are important to him. As you know, I've taught in universities, in fact for some fifteen years. I had time there for other work, and I never wrote a single story about university life because it's an experience that left no mark on my emotional life. I tend to go back to the time and the people I knew well when I was younger and who made a very strong impression on me . . . Some of my recent stories deal with executives. (For example, that one in The New Yorker, "Whoever Was Using This Bed," where the people discuss things the ¥charaters in my earlier stories would never discuss.) He's a businessman, and so on. But most of the people in my stories are poor and bewildered, that's true. The economy, that's important . . . I don't feel I'm a political writer and yet I've been attacked by right-wing critics in the U.S.A. who blame me for not painting a more smiling picture of America, for not being optimistic enough, for writing stories about the people who don't succeed. But these lives are as valid as those of the go-getters. Yes, I take unemployment, money problems, and marital problems as givens in life. People worry about their rent, their children, their home life. That's basic. That's how 80-90 percent, or God knows how many people live. I write stories about a submerged population, people who don't always have someone to speak for them. I'm sort of a witness, and, besides, that's the life I myself lived for a long time. I don't see myself as a spokesman but as a witness to these lives. I'm a writer. "

Monday, May 14, 2007

What The Doctor Said - Raymond Carver

Dead Beat's been reading Carver again. It's good to fall back on old friends. I've been reading his stories, but here's a poem for good measure:

What The Doctor Said

He said it doesn't look good
he said it looks bad in fact real bad
he said I counted thirty-two of them on one lung before
I quit counting them
I said I'm glad I wouldn't want to know
about any more being there than that
he said are you a religious man do you kneel down
in forest groves and let yourself ask for help
when you come to a waterfall
mist blowing against your face and arms
do you stop and ask for understanding at those moments
I said not yet but I intend to start today
he said I'm real sorry he said
I wish I had some other kind of news to give you
I said Amen and he said something else
I didn't catch and not knowing what else to do
and not wanting him to have to repeat it
and me to have to fully digest it
I just looked at him
for a minute and he looked back it was then
I jumped up and shook hands with this man who'd just given me
something no one else on earth had ever given me
I may have even thanked him habit being so strong

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Gap between Intuition and Expression


"As I say..."

"Hmmh, what, sorry, must have dozed off. Yes Cary, as you were saying, I'm all ears."

"...Croce's system is probably the most harmonious, the most beautiful of any in its graceful and economical forms. But it is art. And to obtain those harmonies Croce has ignored certain matters of experience, and most notable, the gap between intuition and expression. Every professional artist knows this gap. It is for him a fundamental problem. Tolstoy tells us in his diary how he sat for a long time trying to express his feeling... like Tolstoy we look for words to express our feelings, our reaction, and don't find them at once... the passage from intuition to reflection, from knowledge of the real to expression of that knowledge is always precarious and difficult. It is, in short, a kind of translation, not from one language into another, but from one state of existence into another, from the receptive into the creative, from the purely sensuous impression into the purely reflective and critical act."

Cary looks me straight in the eye. "So what do you think Whippersnapper?"


"Speak up!"

"I'm struggling to put my feelings into words."

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Dividing The Seamless Robe of the World

So I get back and Cary is still there.

"Where's the milk, Whippersnapper?"

"The milk? Oh yeah, the milk. Uhm, Hudson you see. Plus 28 degrees today and all that. Thirsty work."

"Well as I was saying...."

"Do you think I should get some more?" I am almost halfway out the door.

"SIT!" Cary barks.

I sit.

"Art and reality, Whippersnapper. Listen: Art claims to give us truth. According to Croce, in fact, the primary work of art, the expression, must be true, because it is indistinguishable from intuition. This is essential to Croce's aesthetic philosophy. He says that if we deny it his system becomes impossible, for at once we place a great gap between reality and our knowledge of it, an unbridgeable gap. To put it in his own words, we 'divide the seamless robe of the world'."


"Well say something for heaven's sake!"

"I'm thinking Cary. This is heavy stuff."

Cary shakes his head. "You just haven't lived enough of life. Go get the milk for crying out loud!"

Monday, May 07, 2007

Art and Reality and Whippersnapping

Dead Beat's been distracted. Just when he thought he might finally get focussed again, who should turn up but his old friend Joyce Cary.

"Let me talk to you about Art and Reality, Old Chap."

"Oh, no , no I don't think I could."

"I'll do the talking. You just sit and listen."

"Can I read?"

"You young whippersnappers don't care about art anymore, that's the problem here."

"I care about art!"

"No, you think you care about art. There's a great difference. In my day...."

"Sorry J.C. gotta run. I just remembered we're all out of milk."