Francis Gives Gus The Finger

"I've been sober three weeks now. I'm pretty sure I've hit my lowest low and I don't want to go there ever again. It helped me re-focus my life. The event was I missed eleven out of eleven on the fractions quiz. You might get to the third or fourth degree in the Junior Order of the Free and Accepted Millwrights of Fowlerville with C's and D's, but you aren't gonna get to the thirty-third degree."

Will Gus complete his mission, transporting the psychic jewel to the drop point, or will cult assassins cut him down in the prime of his elementary school years? Listen to Francis Gives Gus the Finger, Chapter One of the five part cliffhanger series "My Terrifying, Dry Warrior" to find out!

[Run time: 15 minutes, 30 seconds. The first link above points to VBR 15 MB mp3 file (hi-fi). Click here to see other file formats for downloading and streaming.]

Remember that you can download the full text of this and all stories from the Dungeons and Dayjobs collection FREE from or you can buy the collection in paperback today!


Pirates vs. Lighthouse Keeper

I picked up a good ol' VHS video at the thrift store, The Light at the End of the World. (That's the name of the movie, not the thrift store, which was a Salvation Army.) Initially I wasn't interested in the fact that it starred Kirk Douglas or Yul Brynner, nor by the cheesy cover illustration, a dude hanging from a rope by his foot below the ledge of a lighthouse. One of the bad guys pictured taunting the dangler carries a musket, and I realized they were supposed to be pirates attacking a lighthouse. Good enough for me.

The full movie isn't awesome, but it has a series of mitigating factor that make it fun if you like these kinds of things:
1. Based on a novel by Jules Verne.
2. Kirk Douglas.
3. Yul Brynner.
4. Kirk Douglas vs. Yul Brynner.
5. Pirates.

6. Lighthouse. Nothing inherently special about a lighthouse as far as I'm concerned, but it gives a false hit on your steampunk fan-bone if you have one of those. There's something about obsolete technologies that were widespread in their day, like lighthouses, airships and steampower. It makes you think about a culture where they had a stable system that wasn't growing faster than they could handle. (Maybe it was growing too quickly for some people, but we can look back on history with rose-colored glasses and stereotype it as stable.) If you had a steam-ipod, you'd have to learn all the damn little new controls, but at least you'd understand how the steam powered it. I think it's a yearning for stability and order. Who knows.
7. Pirates attacking a lighthouse!
8. Ambiguous period setting and ambiguous creation date. Obviously lighthouses were not staffed for very long into the Twentieth Century, but this could have been anywhere from 1800 to 1920 as far as I could tell. Unless I missed important dialogue at the start, they don't give enough clues or say the exact date until halfway through the movie. On top of that, you get mixed signals about what time period the movie was made in. It's in color so that narrows it down. On the other hand, Kirk Douglas doesn't look too old and it doesn't look very sharp or well done. The props and costumes look tacky. Could have been filmed in the Sixties or Seventies, but which? Those two mysteries kept me watching for clues, even when the action slowed to a crawl. Melinda asked what a star like Kirk Douglas was doing in such a low budget movie. When his name came up as Producer, I said there's your answer.
9. Pirates vs. Lighthouse Keeper vs. Animals. It's no big deal when humans stab and beat each other to death in a movie, but you really hate a villian when he offs somebody's pet. If you count a mountain goat shot for food, there are three animals other than humans that get flayed or eaten or euthanized in this movie.
10. Unexpected pathos. It's weird how much extra feeling they can wrench out of you by threatening pets in the movie, and also a minor character. Lots of innocents and pirates kill each other, but at one point the pirate captain's slave, a young black boy who hadn't attacked anyone in the movie, gets knocked down in a battle and dies. They make a big deal out of it, giving him a funeral pyre with close-ups of his face. None of the other pirates get this treatment. They didn't put much emphasis on his character earlier in the movie, but it gets drawn out after he dies and you feel a little sad for him.


Iraq: What If We Win?

"Lessons in Humility" is the title of an essay by Francis Fukuyama.


This must be what professionals mean when they say that sometimes the jokes write themselves.

I couldn't find an explicitly conservative mission statement inside The American Interest magazine, but you can read between the lines. The fact that Fukuyama is chair of their executive committee is one tip-off. Presenting articles by people like Fukuyama, Robert Kaplan and Richard Perle also makes it clear. That magazine title shouldn't necessarily indicate a slant towards conservatives, but I imagine if you ask why the U.S. needed to support coups against democratically elected governments in Guatemala or Chile, the people who work at this magazine would say because it was in The American Interest to do so.

Anyhow, there's more comedy gold besides Fukuyama's humility in the March/April 2008 issue of the magazine. I hesitate to comment too much about these titles. A few of the entries appear to be in favor of withdrawal, but these supporters of the war are so out of touch. Their symposium titled "Iraq: What If We Win?" includes the following essays (all available online):

"Stay and Win" - Josef Joffe
"Leave or Lose" - Paul Schroeder
"Winning a Civil War?" - James Kurth
"Morale Matters" - Walter Russell Mead
"For the Long Haul" - Philip Zelikow
"Winning Will Resonate" - Robert D. Kaplan
"We Won Years Ago" - Richard Perle


Start collecting stamps

We get a lot of international mail at work, journals from all over. Today I noticed a sticker indicating postage worth 305.00 BAHT. It's marked Thailand Post. White background, some writing in two colors along the bottom, but black letters and artwork above (One big elephant walking with two baby elephants). It looks like a sticker that they would print custom information on at the post office.

Dude, if they're making customized postage in Thailand, not to make it sound like they're totally backwoods, sorry, but if even Thailand prints custom postage, how much longer are governments around the world going to bother creating pre-printed postage stamps with intricate designs to deter counterfeiters? Even if they don't totally stop issuing the kind of postage stamps we're familiar with, this will lead to a reduction, which means the supply will go down and the demand will go up. Now is the time to start collecting exotic modern stamps from anywhere you can get them. They won't be valuable in five or ten years, but sock them away for twenty or more and I bet they will be antiques, a whole different level compared with the current value of stamps you have from 1988.

I wonder how much these custom printed stamps will go for? Feh.