Saturday, May 30, 2009

56. The Action of Worms, as per the Notes of Charles Darwin (Chinese Bells of Great Antiquity 千古绝响曾侯乙编钟之声)

The accumulation of rubbish on the sites of great cities independent of the action of worms — The burial of a Roman villa at Abinger — The floors and walls penetrated by worms — Subsidence of a modern pavement — The buried pavement at Beaulieu Abbey — Roman villas at Chedworth and Brading — The remains of the Roman town at Silchester — The nature of the débris by which the remains are covered — The penetration of the tesselated floors and walls by worms — Subsidence of the floors — Thickness of the mould — The old Roman city of Wroxeter — Thickness of the mould — Depth of the foundations of some of the buildings — Conclusion.


13 September; soft wet weather. The mouths of the burrows were re-opened, or castings were ejected, at 31 points; these were all defaced.

14 September; 34 fresh holes or castings all defaced.

15 September; 44 fresh holes, only 5 castings; all defaced./

18 September; 43 fresh holes, 8 castings; all defaced.

The number of castings on the surrounding fields was now very large.

19 September; 40 holes, 8 castings; all defaced.

22 September; 43 holes, only a few fresh castings; all defaced.

23 September; 44 holes, 8 castings.

25 September; 50 holes, no record of the number of castings.

13 October; 61 holes, no record of the number of castings.


...that we have here evidence of two/fires, separated by an interval of time, during which the 6 inches of 'mortar and concrete/with broken tiles' was accumulated. Beneath one of the layers of charred wood, a valuable relic, a bronze eagle, was found; and this shows that the soldiers must have deserted the place in a panic. Owing to the death of Mr Joyce, I have not been able to ascertain beneath which of the two layers the eagle was found. The bed of rubble overlying the undisturbed gravel originally formed, as I suppose, the floor, for it stands on a level with that of a corridor, outside the walls of the Hall; but the corridor is not shown in the section as here given. The vegetable mould was 16 inches thick in the thickest part; and the depth from the surface of the field, clothed with herbage,...


In almost all the rooms the pavement has/sunk considerably, especially towards the middle; and this is shown in the three following sections. The measurements were made by stretching a string tightly and horizontally over the floor. The section, Fig. 13, was taken from north to south across a room, 18 feet 4 inches in length, with a nearly perfect pavement, next to the 'Red Wooden Hut'.


The nature of the beds immediately beneath the vegetable mould in some of the sections is rather perplexing.


Evidence of the amount of denudation which the land has undergone — Subaerial denudation — The deposition of dust — Vegetable mould, its dark colour and fine texture largely due to the action of worms — The disintegration of rocks by the humus acids — Similar acids apparently generated within the bodies of worms — The action of these acids facilitated by the continued movement of the particles of earth — A thick bed of mould checks the disintegration of the underlying soil and rocks. Particles of stone worn or triturated in the gizzards of worms — Swallowed stones serve as millstones — The levigated state of the castings — Fragments of brick in the castings over ancient buildings well rounded. The triturating power of worms not quite insignifcant under a geological point of view.


Not only do worms aid indirectly in the chemical disintegration of rocks, but there is good reason to believe that they likewise act in a direct and mechanical manner on the smaller particles. All the species which swallow earth are furnished with gizzards; and these are lined with so thick a chitinous membrane, that Perrier speaks of it, Archives de Zoolog. expér., vol. iii, 1874, p. 409. †13 as 'une véritable armature'.




Abinger, Roman villa at, 178

castings from Roman villa, with rounded particles, 253

Acids of human, action on rocks, 240

Africa, dust from, 235

Air, currents of, worms sensitive to, 28

Amount of earth brought to the surface by worms, 129

Ants, intelligence of, 93

Archiac, D', criticisms on my views, 4


As the foundations of the walls generally lie at a considerable depth, they will either have not subsided at all through the undermining action of worms, or they will have subsided much less than the floor. This latter result would follow from worms not often working deep down beneath the foundations; but more especially from the walls not yielding when penetrated by worms, whereas the successively formed burrows in a mass of earth, equal to one of the walls in depth and thickness, would have collapsed many times since the desertion of the ruins, and would consequently have shrunk or subsided.

Monday, May 18, 2009

55. Thank You. You're Welcome. (Glocken der Heimat - Field Recordings of German Church Bells)

To: Butch and David Potter, Makers of Martin's Potato Chips


As I took the elevator to the Third Floor Clinic (where a number of professionals were about to painfully laser off a particularly embarassing tattoo commemorating Rihanna's recent foray into art photography), imagine my surprise when I read the back of an individual sized bag of your barbecued potato chips. Imagine, if you will, my at first gentle shock, which mellowed into a warm sense of well-being. These were my feelings as I read the back of that bag of potato chips. These were my feelings as I read your no doubt heartfelt thanks to me, the consumer, who had just voted with his dollar and bought the aforementioned snack. "Thank you for purchasing Martin's potato chips. We take great pride in delivering to you fresh, delicious potato chips with exceptional potato flavor."

Exceptional potato flavor? For a second, I stopped salivating in anticipation of those salty treats and it seemed to me that your kind words had rerouted my salivary glands into my eyes, for happy tears welled in my eyes. "If you have any questions or comments, please call 1-800-272-4477 (weekdays 9-4 Eastern Time)." Yes, I have a comment, and I have a question, and I cannot merely "phone them in." I want that question and that comment emblazoned forever on the internet, where they will never be recorded over and will never be forgotten, as long as people google "irritainment." My comment is this: God Bless You Both, Butch and David Potter, for remembering that thanks are always welcome, that merchants are nothing without their customers, for remembering these seemingly little things that add up to a shining mountain of gratitude. And here is my question: what is your mother''s address? I would send a bouquet of roses to her, in appreciation of just how good of a job she did raising you.

Yours, Smilin Tyler

To: Juan, Night Janitor, Shenandoah Valley Hospital PICU


I staggered into the bathroom of room 3174 a shaken man. I feel no shame in telling you, Juan (if that is indeed your name, if not feel free to substitute your own), that I was ready to fall out. My child, Smilin Jr., had succesfully lodged in his sinuses the entire can of Smokehouse Inspired Almond Cubes that my wife (Mrs. Smilin) and I had just purchased at Big Lots, and the prognosis was looking grim. At the very least, it seemed that little Smilin Jr. was going to have to face life unable to smell anything but the savory waft of Smokehouse Inspired Almond Cubes. At the worst, we were looking at a cephalectomy, a possibility that was depressing me to say the least, as I had envisioned Smilin Jr. as being backup catcher for the Kansas City Royals, or at worst a batboy long enough to accrue a decent pension. True, the range of replacement heads that are on offer these days are much better than they used to be, and I had just about set my mind on a Jean-Claude Van Damme; this, however much I enjoyed "Under Seige," was cold comfort, and of course now that I look back on the whole affair I realize that that had been Steven Seagal.

So as I was about to leave an almond-less bowel movement in the bathroom of room 3174, it was as if God himself had left me a message on a loop of parchment around the seat. "This seat has been sanitized for your protection." Juan, are you familiar with what is commonly called Beethoven's "Ode to Joy"? Can you imagine if it went "San-i-tized for YOUR pro-tect-tion, toilet seat has BEEN, reDEEMED"? Can you, Juan? If you need help, I can call you and hum it for you. That is what I heard in my head, Juan. Thank you for sanitizing that for my protection. For my protection! Do you know how vulnerable I felt, Juan? And this was BEFORE Child Protective Services got involved, Juan. But when I saw that loop around the seat, I felt calm and at peace. I knew then what needed to be done. It was one of the few times in my life that I have felt such certitude.

So thank you, Juan, for sanitizing that which is so often unsanitary. Thank you. Any time you're in the Dogtown neighborhood, please stop by my house (address enclosed). I think that you will find our toilet sanitary, and I also think that Smilin Jr. is a lot more enjoyable and easier to care for with his new rubber head.

Gracias! De nada! Smilin Tylero

To: Acid Steve


I now take the time to thank you, Steve, from the bottom of my heart to the tip of my deviated septum, for not stepping on my coke with Drano, but rather with the much gentler baby laxative. So often in these [REST OF LETTER REDACTED UNDER ADVICE OF ATTORNEY]

54. Selling Out Is Hard To Do (Pere Ubu, Cloudland)

Captain Beefheart tried. That's right. The guy who would rename his bandmembers things like "Neon Squid James" and "Corky Thatcher" tried to sell out. He didn't give a shit what you thought. He was gonna hit it big if it killed him. So he made "Bluejeans and Moonbeams," an album that exactly one (1) person (deaf chick in Iowa) liked and which is easily far more reviled than his knottiest album, which was of course "Trout Mask Dinner" and came with a side of big-eyed beans and a note from Lester Bangs excusing you from gym so you could go smoke schwag under the bleachers. And even unto the end of his musical career he was flabbergasted that it didn't work. He spent the rest of his career desperately trying to sell out. He went on Saturday Night Live and performed "Ashtray Heart" and the crowd loved it. Sell out achieved? Nope. Fuck critical acclaim, he used to tell me over blintzes at the Mojave kosher deli we used to frequent. Fuck critical acclaim, I just want to hear that coyote do a u-turn on my mother. I took that to mean that he was speaking allegorically again and I nodded and smiled and ate another Quaalude. It was the early 80's. People did that shit.

Jim O'Rourke sold out ironically. He deconstructed selling out. He considered the mechanics of the choogle on "Insignificance" and exact melting point of cheese on "Eureka." It didn't work, but Jimbo continues. Let's face it: what he wants is his own Japanese game show where contestants have to remix Bananarama b-sides and discuss the philosophical baggage of reverb while the floors get electrocuted. The show, called "IMPOSSIBLE PERSON-GUITARRING IRON CONFRONTATION," is currently in pre-production and Jimbo is getting laid, laid, laid and snorting shabu-shabu off the asses of fallen idoru.

Let's not discuss Courtney Love because every second she isn't mentioned somewhere she grows weaker and weaker.

Liz Phair tried to sell out. Unfortunately, you can hire The Matrix and beer-bong all the hot white cum you want, but if you're going to write a song called "Hot White Cum" chances are you're not going to get played on Disney radio.

Finally, Pere Ubu tried to sell out. Pere. Ubu. The band whose only constant was an ex-critic who used to call himself Crocus Behemoth and who looks like an Oliver Hardy after five weeks of severe cognitive dissonance... tried to sell out. They moved to Fontana Records and put out three or four pop albums. THEY MADE VIDEOS. They thought, what do succesful pop musicians do in 1987? They make videos. Which is how David Thomas (the living, not-as-famous one) ended up windmilling his bulk across the eyeballs of an America that was, uh, not ready for it. Not even the people who watched "120 Minutes" were ready for it. Every time the video for "Waiting for Mary" came on, five minutes later there would be a spike in calls to emergency respondants as people assumed that their pot had been tainted with meth. Oh, and that video? It's recently been removed from Youtube... none dare call it conspiracy, or even revisionism.

Now, are these good albums? I personally like the O'Rourke and the Pere Ubu albums. The latter, especially, are endearing; as David Thomas waddles in from the deep freeze of critics' academic appraisal, warbling "the bride waltzed barefoot there on the sidewalk, you could fry an egg"... well, you kind of want to hand him a blanket and some fuzzy slippers and buy the album for Aunt Ruth. Of course, Aunt Ruth thinks it's weird and takes it out of the CD player and puts on the latest T-Pain, but hey, you tried, and you can tell Crocus and now Crocus won't come to your house and spazz out on your cats.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

53. The Mountain of the Skulls of the Anointed (Georgian (ex-SSR) Folk Songs 1920-1947)

Upon reaching the acme of the Mountain of the Skulls of Anointed Forefathers, I saw that the horizon was filled with yet more skulls, that indeed we had made our dwellings within, that we sailed the seas in them, that we filled them as they sailed through the air, that they were full of flowers and walls of glass. I looked down and found my shoes had become skulls, and i fell down the Mountain, I fell down, I fell down.

On certain days the skulls sing, each skull singing something different, with voices sweet and rough, madrigals and hymns. As the Mountain of the Skulls of the Anointed reveals itself in the dawn, one imagines that the Mountain is singing one song, one word, one tone. The word is "cras" and as the sibilance of that last letter fades the sun becomes brighter. Some believe that the Mountain sings the sun into being, but this has not been proven.

One woman has made her home on the slopes of the Mountain of the Skulls of the Anointed. Her name is Kelly and she works as a receptionist at Bullis and Sons. She enjoys greeting. "Hello and welcome. It's good to have met you," she says. She has been a recpetionist for seventy-four years, but looks as young and fresh as she did when she left Iowa, those many years ago. She disagrees with the common theory as to what the skulls are singing. She posits that they are singing "hodie."

Their lungless voices reverberate in each others' cavities, so song comes not only from lipless mouths but also from the eye sockets, from the nasal passages. The overtones mix with the songs, and as one skull sings it changes and adds to the song of its neighbor. We, with our meat and gristle filling the holes behind our faces, are unable to replicate such song, though many have tried and their attempts are quite sweet.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

52. Hug Pimp (Swamp Dogg Retrospective). Also: New Links

hey man. hey. you ain't from around here. you walk like you got somewhere to be. you walkin like you wanna get somewhere. i know where you wanna be. yeah man. you wanna be told it's gonna be ok. you want... you wanna hug man? you wanna hug. i look at you, there's a man needs a hug. where you going. yeah man, we just talkin. we just talkin. ain't nothin wrong with talkin.

hey man. it's cool. some people need hugs man. you ain't gettin hugs at home, you gotta get your hug. soft arms. soft chest. you gotta lay your head on that soft chest and... hey, i ain't sayin anything. i ain't proposin anything illegal. ain't illegal yet, man.

you know how it is. in marriage there is not only a bodily but also a spiritual union: and consequently kinship of spirit proves an impediment thereto, without spiritual kinship having to pass into a bodily relationship. but what about hugs man. where the hugs in that. where you goin.

wherefore others have maintained that witchcraft can set up an impediment to carnal copulation, but that no such impediment is perpetual: hence it does not void the marriage contract, and they say that the laws asserting this have been revoked. but this is contrary to actual facts and to the new legislation which agrees with the old. have you met susie. susie is such a lovin girl. sometimes she hug me and tell me it's gonna be ok.

hey man. you ever hug a black girl? i ain't judgin. you ever hug a black girl? black girl hug you and sing you some gospel lullaby. she tell you to hush it and she sing at you. you ever hug a black girl.

she got a cat. let you hug the cat too no charge.

see that young thing over there. see her. she so young, man. she so young. and you know what. she ain't never hug nobody. but she read about it. she a college girl. yeah she go to college. she go to college and she live with a bunch of girl and they huggin each other all the time. she curious. she curious and she come to me. we friend at college. i take a class. i tell her, yeah, you wanna know about huggin. she lookin for a man to hug. arms hold you so tight. she ain't never hug. she ain't never hug. you wanna get hug by that.

hey man. maybe you lookin for a new hug. ever get hug from behind. girl come up behind you and you first you smell her, she smell like home. then she put her arm around you and she put her lips on your neck. then she hug you.

where you goin'. where you goin' round here. hey man. hey man.

Non-Horseshit Section

Yeah, so I haven't done much lately. One reason is daughter, who is fast-moving and sharp of tooth. Another reason is new band, called Mss., the other member of which is Josh K., who used to be in The Curious Digit and then after that in One Hundred Dollars with myself and Davis and Steve and Danny... you know, them. Any case, here's a new post and an anthology of Virginia's own Swamp Dogg, as compiled by the able Don Harrison of Radio Wowsville fame. Notice also that I have added new links. Check them out, much of what I put up here is from there. Also, if you haven't checked out the horribly named SkaFunkRastaPunk forums yet, do so immediately! This is an incredibly deep resource, and without it I wouldn't be recently and utterly obsessed with Georgian (ex-SSR) folk music and mbira (thumb piano) music. Anyone interested in the rare and wonderful need look no further; this site (along with experimentaletc) is much to blame for my blog truancy. I'm sure the three of you who have ever visited missed me terribly.