If you believe a good book is not one you can’t put down, but one you work at picking up, here’s your list.

via Great Books… for Putting You to Sleep


Jeff Beck and the Unrequited Desire for Cool

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This is a fun one. Surely everyone will be able to find something to like about this song. A couple of introductory notes.

First, this is Jeff Beck along with a highly recognizable vocalist. Beck broke into public view as a member of the Yardbirds. I don’t know if too many people recigize the Yardbirds as the seminal band that they were. Clapton was a member for awhile. So was Jimmy Page.

In fact the Yardbirds ended with a lineup that included not only Page, but Robert Plant and John Bonham as well. They renamed the band to something else. Slipped my mind what it was. Probably forgettable.

Unlike Clapton and Page, Beck went his own direction. I saw him back in the 1400’s and he had transmorgified into a jazz guitarist. I see that he’s back to doing power chords these days.

Even more important than all this was his relationship, and for that matter this particular song’s relationship, to RM.

On my first day in 7th Grade, I was seated next to RM. I’d never seen a girl like her before. She was 12 going on 35. Makeup, studiously applied; kind of dark; leather jacket,  mini skirt, thigh high boots, and very cool. I felt like Jim Nabors, sitting next to her. She ignored me. Actually she ignored me all the way through high school,. But it was so cool the way that she ignored me. She was hip. .A real cool cat. The first I’ve one of whom I’d been within arms reach.

She stayed cool into early adulthood when she was dating the very cool English Teacher, with an interesting reputation, who I also knew. I used to bump into them from time to time, and we’d talk – a bit awkward – but at least I wasn’t being ignored. They broke up and I lost touch with her…until a few months ago. I saw her profile on FB and sent a friend request. She accepted. My self esteem rocketed.

Ah-ha! I told my 12 year old self. Not such a loser after all. Of course it’s my 59 year old self saying that, and at this point her 59 self is probably not quite the same. Coolness is hard to maintain in the lily-white glades of suburbia. Still, I’ll take what I can get.

In any case, we used to bring our records to school. It was a way of establishing points. For example, my sister once brought in “Sound of Music”. It took about a year to crawl back out of her untouchable status.

One day, RM brought in this record. My introduction to Jefff Beck starts there. It is therefore an artifact of my determination to be cool enough for RM. This song in particular, which, not his best, (The Dead, for one, do it better), kind of got into my head at the time.

Jeff Beck – Morning Dew

The United Reformed Church of Satan

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Satanism has, for years espoused Egoism as the basis for fundamental practice and ethics. The largest formations, Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan, (which was just this side of a prank), and the Temple of Set, (a scarier group run by military psy-ops expert, Michael Aquino), are infused with extreme individualism.

Some practitioners, Boyd Rice for example, or Varg Vikernes, have infused their versions with white supremacy or heathenism. Satanism in these cases begins to shade into the espousal of outright Fascism, and the veneration of Hitler.

But at the end it’s pretty much the same. They are radical Social Darwinists. They see Christianity, and Judaism to some degree, as poisoning the well with egalitarianism and charity toward “the weak”.

But it looks like there is now a sort of Reformed Satanism in the works. They just had a bake sale in Minneapolis. Wish I had known, it would have been a hoot.

This group believes in Social Justice, a complete anathema to the unreconstructed Satanist. One of their tenets states: “People are fallible. If we make a mistake, we should do our best to rectify it and resolve any harm that may have been caused”, which sounds more like AA than it doses that Old Time Relgion.

It also probably goes without saying that they really don’t believe in Satan either. The Devil is a metaphor for…something.

I kind of get the metaphor thing when it’s explained by CoS types. But in this case they sound a bit more like liberal Christian types who espouse much the same ideas about Christ. Pretty much everything is a metaphor, and we should strive to be nice to each other.

I find this hilarious. I’m thinking that a group of folks wanted to jump onto the whole Satanist thing, but didn’t particularly care for the logical conclusions of its ethics. And so created their own version.

I foresee a Fundamentalist/ Modernist divide, with each side anathematizing the other. There could be an entire industry in Satanic Apologetics; conferences; convocations, wherein what constitutes “True” Satanism would be defined and defended on both sides.

In the meantime, I’m keeping my eyes open for the next Satanic Bake Sale. I have a wicked recipe for devil’s food cake.

Tenets of the Satanic Temple

Buckley and Vidal

William F. Buckley
William F. Buckley

Buckley enjoying a civil conversation with Gore Vidal.

I believe that this is the point where Buckley threatens to punch Vidal “in the goddam face”.

Regardless of political persuasion, such erudition from the Right’s favorite public intellectual can only be admired.