Your Rainy-Day Reader

Did you know that since last June, we've had more rainfall than Seattle? Meanwhile, here's an idea Starbucks can have for free: Starbricks—ground coffee pressed into brick shapes. The commercials could use doctored footage from the earthquake to show their new Starbricks raining down on lucky Seattleites and their cars. Forty cents from each brick sold could go toward rebuilding the downtown! Be sure to have a long discussion about this with your Starbucks server next time you're in. The folks behind you will understand. And ask for extra chocolate sprinkles. And if it's true that Juan Valdez is straight. And maybe just a few more of those sprinkles, please.

Maybe this season of rain—grim and gray as Representative Dan Burton (R-Indiana) on the warpath—will have passed by the time you read this. If not, here's a little page full of pastimes and divertissements to while away the long, dreary days.

Puzzle Party

Guess what George W. Bush's close friend, former Montana Governor Marc Racicot, is talking about here: “I think the challenge we have now is that the technology has gotten ahead of our moral equilibrium and our concept of what's right and wrong.”

Racicot is talking about:

a) our rampant gun culture, which saw more teens killed and wounded in Santee this week.

b) the deployment of questionable missile-defense technology that's expected to trigger a new arms race.

Sorry, that was a trick question. Guns don't kill people: CD-Rs kill profits. Racicot was just hired as outside counsel by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), so it's only natural that he'd start wondering if our nation was morally advanced enough to be allowed to own and use Napster, MP3, CD-Rs and other consumer-recording technologies. With Racicot's in with the president, the RIAA should have an easier time keeping such technology out of our hands until we deserve it.

To Think and Do:Be sure to have a long discussion with your Starbucks server about this. Solicit his or her opinion, and count on hearing some from the people in line, too. They may think they're in a hurry, but deep down, don't you think they'd rather ease the pace, breathe that morning air and chew the fat with their neighbors around the old Starbucks pickle barrel?

OC Business Idea of the Week

Pilates Traffic School

Pickup Lines of the Week

How do you get your hair to suck like that?

Will you have banal sex with me?

Hey, Trekkie, wanna help me fire my futon torpedo?

To Think and Do: Do you really want to wake up next to someone with Spock ears? Get thee to a gunnery range.

Jim's Poetry Corner

The post-Bukowski poets,

They shared a bill with me.

The post-Bukowski poets,

Worked hard at seeming free.

With the beers they held so nonchalant,

Their tobacco sunburst teeth,

The post-Bukowski poets,

They went a-poeting.

“I fucked her. I fucked her so hard that . . .”

Began one poem—actually they all began pretty much like that.

And these guys, I'd lay odds that the only women they fucked gave them paper cuts;

I mean, Lee Mallory gets more trim than these guys.

Now Bukowski, he barfed on a friend's shoes

Behind the Golden Bear.

Interesting bursts of Bukowski barf,

Still encrusted there.

In the good years ahead, when science saves us,

Will they extract DNA from those genius-flecked wingtips

And bring Chuck back whole

To barf anew in Monsanto's House of the Future,

Then stepping out to before you know it

Rid the world of the post-Bukowski poets?

Liquor Trough

Our cheap wine pick of the week is the Casaterra Malbec at Trader Joe's for $2.99. I think Casaterra is one of those Argentinean wineries. I don't know dick about Malbec other than that any wine brave enough to sport a Conehead name is okay in my book. And, as they said in the malt-liquor ads: It Gets the Job Done.

Book Pile

I stock up on rainy-day books at swap meets and used shops. Now that's it's been pouring, I've been reading Nelson Mandela's Long Walk to Freedom—not a bad place to start if you ever need a towering example of perseverance and forgiveness. Can't get over some Tommy Hilfiger pustule in an SUV cutting you off? Try spending three decades in a South African prison sometime.

I would sell one of my kidneys to be able to write as clearly and engagingly as Frances Fitzgerald does in Way Out There in the Blue, her fascinating study of how President Ronald Reagan sleepwalked through the defrost days of the Cold War, peppering summit meetings with anti-Soviet jokes and back-lot stories while fumbling opportunities to create a safer world. There will be more about this fine, fine book in an upcoming Weekly Reagan tribute, you can just bet.

Scabby celebrity tell-alls should be fun, right? But most books about Frank Sinatra just aren't fun. For all the dirt shoveled, they miss two central points: that the main thing he did in life was to stand behind a microphone and sing with an all-consuming artistry; and that it was a gas being him. Sessions With Sinatra by Charles L. Granata is a great evocation of the seriousness and intensity with which Sinatra approached his craft. Granata talks with Sinatra arrangers and musicians and even gives tech dweebs like me an informed but uncluttered history of recording techniques.

Meanwhile, Esquire senior writer Bill Zehme's The Way You Wear Your Hat: Frank Sinatra and the Lost Art of Livin' is a treatise on how to live the good life, as perfected by Francis Albert. This isn't smug retro-hipster stuff, but rather as deep and detailed a book as you'll find on how a generation of American men aspired to comport themselves, with the word from Sinatra on everything from what socks to wear to how to endure a broken heart.

And if you do need a book that shovels, read Rat Pack Confidential by Shawn Levy, which has all the mob dirt, the Kennedy dirt and the hitty-punchy stuff, as well as a heart as big as Dino's liver.

Venturing Out?

Don't forget that tonight—if you're reading this on Thursday, March 8—is when the Django Club meets at the Barn restaurant in Tustin (714-259-0115) and does that Django Reinhardt jazz real good. Plus, the bitchen nucleus of the group appears Sunday at the Vertical Winebar in Laguna Beach (949-494-0990).

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