June 6th, 2007

I think they should ALL have dressed as elves

This news item c/o my brother Patrick ... 

1,683 Guitarists Play 'Smoke on the Water'


KANSAS CITY, Kansas (June 4) - More than 1,680 guitar players turned out, tuned up and took part in what organizers say was a world record rendition of Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water" - a song that was the first many of them ever learned.

Some came from as far away as California and Germany on Sunday to take part in a Kansas City radio station's effort to break a Guinness world record for the most people playing the same song simultaneously. The record had been 1,323 people playing the same song in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1994.

"It was cool to see little kids playing, people who had been playing for their whole lives, like older people, and then I'm sure there were people like me who just picked up the song a couple days before," said Autumn McPherson, of Winfield, a senior at the University of Kansas.

Preliminary numbers show 1,683 people played the popular early '70s guitar riff on Sunday at CommunityAmerica Ballpark.

"I thought it was going to be kind of cheesy," said Hannah Koch, of Prairie Village, who came clad in an elf costume. "But after I got here, I got caught up in the excitement of it."

Tanna Guthrie, a morning show host for KYYS (99.7 FM), came up with the idea for the record attempt. She said her station will send participant sign-up lists, photos, videos and copies of media coverage to Guinness seeking official recognition of a record.

Guthrie said she chose "Smoke on the Water," a track off Deep Purple's "Machine Head" album, because it's one of the first songs many guitarists learn.

"You never know if you can pull something like this off," she said.

One of the participants, John Cardona of Hanford, California, said he brought felt-tip pens so he could get others to sign his guitar.

"It was the guitar I learned on," the 41-year-old said. "It was very dispensable on the way here, but very valuable to me now."
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Unsung heroes of modern life

Every now and then I'll read an obituary that chronicles the life of a great inventor whose brainstorms changed the way we live, but whose role is nonetheless little celebrated. I first began noticing these unsung techno-heroes in 1995, with the obituary for Ed Lowe.

Ed Who? Chances are great that your daily life owes a lot to Ed.

"Mr. Edward Lowe (1920-1995) was an entrepreneur who created a whole new product with his invention of cat-box filler. He made the trademark Kitty Litter ® a part of the American vocabulary."

Read the rest of Ed's inspirational story here:


Yesterday I came across another such person. Please observe a moment of sweet, milky silence for Pamela Low.


NEW LONDON, N.H. (AP) -- Pamela Low, who was credited with developing the flavored coating for Cap'n Crunch cereal, has died, her brother said. She was 79.

Low died Friday at New London Hospital.

Low, who lived in New London for the past 34 years, was working for the Arthur D. Little consulting firm in the Boston area when she was asked to help find a flavor for the corn-and-oat cereal. She had studied microbiology at the University of New Hampshire, but drew upon a recipe that her grandmother, Luella Low, used to serve at home in Derry.

"She used to serve rice with a butter-and-brown sugar sauce that she made. She'd serve it over the rice on Sundays," William Low, an Ohio resident and one of Pamela Low's younger brothers, recalled in an interview with the Lebanon Valley News on Saturday.

Cap'n Crunch was introduced in 1963, and has been enticing children and adults with a child's sweet tooth ever since.

"It created a 'want-moreishness.' That's what the manufacturers liked," William Low said.

Low, who never married, worked as a flavorist for Arthur D. Little for more than 30 years, and also tinkered with flavors for snacks such as Almond Joy and Mounds.

"It was awesome. We got samples all the time and got to try it at home," said Karen Waltermeyer, Low's 36-year-old niece. "We were guinea pigs for a lot of things."

Low established the Pamela Low Scholarship Fund at UNH to support a senior in the medical laboratory science program. In a 2002 alumni profile in UNH Magazine, Low said she found her Cap'n Crunch legacy to be fun, but said she didn't eat the cereal herself.

But she also defended the notion of pre-sweetened cereal. "Give the kids plain cereal and see how much sugar they put on it," she said.
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Sixties Novels, Part 21

US: THE PAPERBACK MAGAZINE, Number 2, edited by Richard Goldstein, Bantam, 1969

Here's the difference between the Sixties and the Oughties in a nutshell.

In 1969, there was an US MAGAZINE that featured armed student revolutionaries on its cover.

In 2007, there's an US MAGAZINE that features flash-in-the-pan celebrities and their faux problems on its cover.

Not that the 1969 version wasn't as potentially bogus and consumerist as the 2007 version. But it sure seems to me that the focus of the marketplace and readers was slightly more interesting and vital back then.

There appear to have been three issues of US. Here are the other two covers.

The publication was plainly a typically Sixties experiment to blend the topicality and timeliness of magazines with the durability and persistence of books--an experiment that continues today.

A similar venture occured in the SF field at the time: Delany & Hacker's QUARK series.

But back to US, 1969-style.

Its editor, Richard Goldstein, went to work for THE VILLAGE VOICE, becoming executive editor before being recently let go. I assume he's also this fellow, who currently writes for THE NATION. His range of concerns seems the same left-of-center and culturally hip stuff as of yore.


Issue 2 under Goldstein's helm contains a wild-eyed assortment of articles on Dylan, feminism and revolution, by the famous and the forgotten, including Nikki Giovanni, Tom Clark, and SF's own Paul Williams. By pure synchronicity, we find a piece entitled "Jail Is Where When You Have to Go There They Have To Let You In," by one Katherine Dunn. I'm assuming this is our very own GEEK LOVE Katherine Dunn, guest-blogging here soon, at age 24, and I'll be eager to ask her about her memories of this artifact.

The final entry is a story by one Lewis MacAdams that appears to be postapocalyptic SF.

The book-a-zine is visually wild, with photos dropped in at all angles, and cartoons by the famed Victor Moscoso.


There's even a flipbook feature! A hippie male goes through a "present arms" drill with his rifle if you flip the upper-right-hand corner of the pages.

Now, wouldn't you like to be picking up this magazine every week instead of the one that features, in the words of Apu from THE SIMPSONS, "Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman staring at me with their dead eyes!"
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Tickle Bee


As I maneuvered a virtual slider button up its chute on my computer screen just now, i suddenly flashed on the fact that I had extensive training for this manipulation as a child playing Tickle Bee, in which a lozenge-shaped bee-thingy had to be conducted by magnetic impulses through a labyrinth on its errands about farm and field. Why did I play this game for hours? Would any child play it today, in this videogame-saturated era? And does a paucity of Tickle Bee playtime have anything to do with the current plague affecting honeybees? Perhaps if we all played Tickle Bee for several hours each day, the bees would know we worship them, and return.


Q: Knowing what we do now, should we have invaded Iraq?

Mitt Romney: The question is a non-sequiter...

That was the lead fuck-up in the so-called Presidential debate yesterday, but my favorite part was where they talked about their faith. I mean, here are all these millionaires and we're supposed to believe that back home there are ten demure Christian women waiting to offer their men monagamous sexual release under God's watchful eyes?

I betcha at least one of then has fucked the family dog.

And Guliani...he probably flies in leopards from Africa, shoots 'em full of big cat heroin, gives them names like Bubbles and Polkadots before he gets down to heavy petting.

Romney...don't tell me that guy doesn't have a dominatrix stashed somewhere.

Tancredo probably prays to a sock puppet while flogging the bishop.

The richer you are, the kinkier you can afford to be. That's what a friend of mine, a NYC call girl/performance artist told me. She used to hire out to parties as a human fortune cookie, kept the fortunes in her yoni. I figure she knew what she was talking about.

I like Sam Brownback for the kind of guy who takes a lot of junkets to Costa Rica and Thailand to investigate the child sex industry.

All those guys up there saying, I believe in the one true Divine God who supports my stand against gay rights and immigration.

There should be a rule. In order to be the Republican nominee, you have to sleep with Larry King -- the guy who doesn't like it wins.


Go Cavs!