The Snoozeletter @ s.9TimeZones.com

 
Brown-Air Express.

This is a skydiving term, and I can't seem to find a definition anywhere else on the Internet machine, so I'll try to define it here.

When you convert a 4-place Cessna into a skydiving lift plane, you rip out all the seats (except the pilot's) and install a Snohomish pop-up jump door. Then, you take the empty area that used to hold 3 seats and cram 4 skydivers into it. Gingerly. The skydivers - who are all wearing bulky parachute rigs, helmets, jumpsuits, boots, etc. - are sitting on the floor. Their feet and legs must fit into whatever space is left open, usually the crotch areas of the jumpers sitting opposite them.

Nervousness, anticipation and unwise food choices can sometimes lead to... ahem... passed gas. Right into the face of the poor slob who's sitting opposite. If that unfortunate event occurs, the flight is immediately dubbed a "Brown-Air Express."

Surprisingly enough, some antisocial jumpers like to intentionally create "Brown-Air Express" situations. But these idiots are often pushed out through the Snohomish door, long before the plane reaches jump altitude.


Related: The Thirty-One Dollar Man and Vertical wind tunnel and Vertical wind tunnel tips.

Terminal velocity ~ 120 mph
Free fall time to terminal velocity ~ 12 seconds
Recommended jump altitudes for ripcord pull at 2500 feet:
5 seconds free fall = 3000 feet
10 seconds free fall = 3700 feet
15 seconds free fall = 4600 feet
20 seconds free fall = 5400 feet
25 seconds free fall = 6300 feet
30 seconds free fall = 7200 feet
40 seconds free fall = 8900 feet
45 seconds free fall = 9800 feet
50 seconds free fall = 10600 feet
60 seconds free fall = 12500 feet
70 seconds free fall = 14500 feet
80 seconds free fall = 16500 feet (oxygen required)
90 seconds free fall = 19000 feet "
100 seconds free fall = 22000 feet "
 
Stats... for the facebookworm book (published TODAY!): 108 pages, 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.2 inches, 6.9 ounces, 1,000 paragraphs, 2,122 sentences, 3,354 lines, 26,782 words and 154,423 characters. [Manuscript galley proof PDF generated with OpenOffice.org Writer, Page Format Register-true, Font Arial 12pt.]

[cover detail]
 
Facebook robot.

facebookwormI just tried to purchase a facebookworm cover ad campaign from Facebook Advertising.
Their image-censor robot refused to sell.
It said: "ads are not permitted to use the Facebook name, logos, trademarks, site terminology, or refer to Facebook in the title, body, image, or destination URL."

Hm.
I could make an airtight argument that the cover is in compliance.
But it's pointless to argue with a robot...

UDATE, 6/25/2009: ...so here's what needed to be done, in order to avoid a face-off with the Facebook image-censor robot:
faycebookworm
 
Big Nose Kate in Globe. 

Anikó at 576 N. Broad St., Globe, AZ 85501 - in front of the rooming house that Big Nose Kate ran. See Google map.

Globe AZ

See also: Anikó & Kate and Pilgrimage to Prescott.
 
Galley proof.

Crap. The first manuscript galley of my new book got screwed up, so we'll have to do another one. I hope this thing can get published by the end of next week. [Facebook page]

facebookworm
 
I Can See Clearly Now.

I Can See Clearly Now: Johnny Nashby Johnny Nash

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It's gonna be a bright, bright sun-shiny day
It's gonna be a bright, bright sun-shiny day

I think I can make it now, the pain is gone
All of the bad feelings have disappeared
Here is that rainbow I've been prayin' for
It's gonna be a bright, bright sun-shiny day

Look all around, there's nothin' but blue skies
Look straight ahead, nothin' but blue skies

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It's gonna be a bright, bright sun-shiny day
It's gonna be a bright, bright sun-shiny day

Videos: Johnny Nash, Jimmy Cliff, Hothouse Flowers.
 
The Sufi Prayer.

All life is one
  and everything that lives is holy:
  plants, animals, and beings.
All must eat to live
  and to nourish one another.
We bless the lives that have died
  to give us food.
Let us eat consciously,
  resolving by our work
  to pay the debt of our existence.   -Amen.

We recite this blessing before meals - the text was given to us by a friend who studies yoga. It seems like a mindful way of acknowledging our place in the universe.
 
Pay It Forward.

Pay It ForwardDirector: Mimi Leder
Writers: Catherine Ryan Hyde (book) and Leslie Dixon (screenplay)

Trevor (Haley Joel Osment): Are you saying you'll flunk us if we don't change the world?
Eugene (Kevin Spacey): Well, no. But you might just scrape by with a C.

Trevor: Were you just being nice?
Eugene: About what?
Trevor: About my idea. Do you think it's good, or were you just being teachery?
Eugene: "Teachery"?
Trevor: Bullshitting.
Eugene: Do I strike you as someone falsely nice?
Trevor: No. You're not even really all that nice.

Jerry (James Caviezel): You ever been on the street?
Arley (Helen Hunt): My mom took us pretty close.
Jerry: Well, you can't know. Not until you look at a dumpster. But when you climb into that thing for the first time and you pull those newspapers over you, that's when you know you've messed your life up. Somebody comes along like your son, and gives me a leg up, I'll take it. Even from a kid, I'll take it.
 
Tom Lehrer.

That Was the Year That Was: Tom LehrerQ: Was Tom Lehrer (1) a respected Harvard mathematics professor or (2) one of the foremost song satirists of the postwar era?

A: Both.

Despite an aversion to the press and a relatively small recorded output, Lehrer became a star, even though he remained an enigma to even his most ardent fans; he rarely toured, never allowed his photo to appear on album jackets, and essentially retired from performing in 1965, leaving behind a cult following that only continued to grow in his absence from the limelight.

Born on April 9, 1928, Lehrer frequently parodied popular songs of the day, even when he was a child. During his student years at Harvard, Lehrer sang his irreverent parodies at coffeehouses and student gatherings throughout the Cambridge, Massachusetts area. As demand for an album of his songs increased, he spent $15 on studio time to cut "Songs by Tom Lehrer," a ten-inch record privately pressed in an edition of 400 copies.

He sold every copy, and as the Harvard student body dispersed across the country for Christmas vacation, the disc spread ("like herpes," Lehrer joked) far beyond its intended local audience. Lehrer was soon inundated with requests for copies from across the nation; after several re-pressings, the record sold an astounding 350,000 copies.

A few years later, Lehrer recorded a follow-up and eventually toured Europe. But after a series of Australian performances, controversial reactions to his "sick" comedy during prompted Lehrer to retire, and he returned full-time to his first love, teaching.

In early 1964, he resurfaced as a songwriter for the NBC news satire "That Was the Week That Was." After the show's demise a year later, Lehrer recorded the material written for the program on an LP entitled "That Was the Year That Was." Lehrer's subsequent returns to show business were brief: in 1972 he wrote a dozen tunes for the children's program "The Electric Company," updated older material for a 1980 musical stage show dubbed "Tomfoolery," and some years later agreed to write occasionally for Garrison Keillor.

Lehrer continued to teach mathematics at the University of California at Santa Cruz. In 2001, he taught his last math class (on the topic of Infinity) and retired from academia. He has remained in the area, and still "hangs out" around UCSC.

Rare videos: The Vatican Rag and So Long, Mom (A Song for World War III) and Poisoning Pigeons in the Park.

Lobachevsky
by Tom Lehrer, performed on the album Revisited:

For many years now, Mr. Danny Kaye, who has been my particular idol since childbirth, has been doing a routine about the great Russian director Stanislavsky and the secret of success in the acting profession. And I thought it would be interesting to stea... to adapt this idea to the field of mathematics. I always like to make explicit the fact that before I went off not too long ago to fight in the trenches, I was a mathematician by profession. I don't like people to get the idea that I have to do this for a living. I mean, it isn't as though I had to do this, you know, I could be making, oh, three thousand dollars a year just teaching.

Be that as it may, some of you may have had occasion to run into mathematicians and to wonder therefore how they got that way, and here, in partial explanation perhaps, is the story of the great Russian mathematician Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky:

Who made me the genius I am today,
The mathematician that others all quote?
Who's the professor that made me that way?
The greatest that ever got chalk on his coat.

One man deserves the credit,
One man deserves the blame,
And Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky is his name.
Hey!
Nicolai Ivanovich Lobach...

I am never forget the day I first meet the great Lobachevsky. In one word he told me secret of success in mathematics: plagiarize!

Plagiarize,
Let no one else's work evade your eyes,
Remember why the good Lord made your eyes,
So don't shade your eyes,
But plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize...
Only be sure always to call it please "research."

And ever since I meet this man
My life is not the same,
And Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky is his name.
Hey!
Nicolai Ivanovich Lobach...

I am never forget the day I am given first original paper to write. It was on analytic and algebraic topology of locally Euclidean metrization of infinitely differentiable Riemannian manifold. Bozhe moy! This I know from nothing. But I think of great Lobachevsky and I get idea - haha!

I have a friend in Minsk
Who has a friend in Pinsk
Whose friend in Omsk
Has friend in Tomsk
With friend in Akmolinsk.
His friend in Alexandrovsk
Has friend in Petropavlovsk
Whose friend somehow
Is solving now
The problem in Dnepropetrovsk.

And when his work is done -
Haha! - begins the fun.
From Dnepropetrovsk
To Petropavlovsk
By way of Iliysk
And Novorossiysk
To Alexandrovsk to Akmolinsk
To Tomsk to Omsk
To Pinsk to Minsk
To me the news will run.
Yes, to me the news will run!

And then I write
By morning, night,
And afternoon,
And pretty soon
My name in Dnepropetrovsk is cursed,
When he finds out I published first!

And who made me a big success
And brought me wealth and fame?
Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky is his name. Hey!
Nicolai Ivanovich Lobache...

I am never forget the day my first book is published. Every chapter I stole from somewhere else. Index I copy from old Vladivostok telephone directory. This book, this book was sensational!
Pravda - ah, Pravda - Pravda said: (Russian double-talk) It stinks.
But Izvestia! Izvestia said: (Russian double-talk) It stinks.
Metro-Goldwyn-Moskva bought the movie rights for six million rubles, changing title to "The Eternal Triangle," with Brigitte Bardot playing part of hypotenuse.

And who deserves the credit?
And who deserves the blame?
Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky is his name.
Hey!
 
George Carlin on golf.

George Carlin: Jammin´ in New YorkVideo clip transcription from the Jammin' in New York DVD:

I've got just the place for low-cost housing. I have solved this problem. I know where we can build housing for the homeless. Golf courses! Perfect: golf courses! Just what we need. Plenty of good land in nice neighborhoods, land that is currently being wasted on a meaningless, mindless activity engaged in primarily by white, well-to-do male businessmen who use the game to get together to make deals to carve this country up a little finer among themselves.

I am getting tired, really getting tired of these golfing cocksuckers in their green pants and their yellow pants and their orange pants, and their precious little hats and their cute little golf carts! It is time to reclaim the golf courses from the wealthy and turn them over to the homeless. Golf is an arrogant, elitist game and it takes up entirely too much room in this country.

It is an arrogant game on its very design alone. Just the design of the game speaks of arrogance. Think of how big a golf course is. The ball is that fucking big! What do these pinheaded pricks need with all that land? There are over 17,000 golf courses in America. They average over 150 acres apiece. That's 3 million plus acres, 4,820 square miles. You could build two Rhode Islands and a Delaware for the homeless, on the land currently being wasted on this meaningless, mindless, arrogant, elitist, racist - there's another thing: the only blacks you'll find in country clubs are carrying trays - and a boring game. Boring game for boring people. Have you ever watched golf on television? It's like watching flies fuck.

And a mindless game, mindless. Think of the intellect it must take to draw pleasure from this activity: hitting a ball with a crooked stick, and then walking after it! And then, hitting it again! I say, "Pick it up asshole, you're lucky you found the fucking thing. Put it in your pocket and go the fuck home, you're a winner. You're a winner. You found it!"

No, never happen. No, no chance of that happening. "Dorko" in the plaid knickers is going to hit it again and walk some more. Let these rich cocksuckers play miniature golf. Let 'em fuck with a windmill for an hour and a half or so, see if there's really any skill among these people.

Now I know there are some people who play golf who don't consider themselves rich. Fuck 'em! And shame on them for engaging in an arrogant, elitist pastime.
 
Word Jazz.

Colors: Ken NordineYou're probably familiar with Ken Nordine, even if you don't know it. His deep voice is featured in numerous TV and radio ads. But his most creative work is "word jazz," an art form which combines liquid, free-association ruminations with jazzy instrumental backing.

Ken's been active in radio for more than half a century, recording many albums and syndicated broadcasts. He's even collaborated with the Grateful Dead. His first Word Jazz album, from 1957, led to a series of Word Jazz recordings, which looked beyond the conformity of the 1950's to more imaginative and colorful worlds, worlds that had room for fantasy and irrationality.

Samples: You're Getting Better: The Word Jazz Dot Masters and A Transparent Mask.

You're Getting Better (YouTube mashup):

I want you to know you're getting better. I don't care what everyone's been saying. You're getting better. They're the ones who've been getting worse.

And, uh, they don't like what you've been doing. Understandably.

You think they can watch you strip yourself of one unnecessary thing after another, day by day becoming more... so to speak... naked, more free, and not feel the way they do? Of course not.

It's painful to get rid of things you don't need. And they know it. They wouldn't be saying what they've been saying if they didn't want you to stop.

They want you to be the way THEY are, and to stay that way. You think they can stand to see you not doing what they're doing?

Why do you think you're being investigated... right now? Hmmm? Why do you think you're under maximum security?

You know the answer, I don't have to tell you. They're AFRAID of you. It's that simple. They're afraid of you because you're becoming less and less like them.

I'll tell you what's happening to you. You're coming closer and closer to the "faraway." Closer to the, uh, unknown.

Do you think they like that? Not on your life. So, don't... don't get nervous and start asking for help. That's exactly what they want you to do.

Make it on your own. The way you've been doing.

And remember: you're getting better!

Excuse me now, I have to, uh, go. I'll... just dissolve... right here in front of you.

See you... see you... see you...
 
Free cash. We just received our Air Passenger Fuel Surcharge Settlement checks: $32.54 (x2) in unexpected money! Did you buy a ticket on British Airways or Virgin Atlantic between August 11, 2004 and March 23, 2006? You have until December 31, 2012 to file a claim: AirPassengerRefund.com
 
A romantic anniversary meal! 

Anikó and I drove up to Cave Creek, a small community just north of Phoenix, and discovered a fabulous Mexican restaurant, El Encanto. We sat in the courtyard, next to a small lake (on the left side of photo #1 and #4) and watched the turtles cavort.

We also watched the half-dozen varieties of ducks having sex with each other.

Lunch and a floor show. Kewl.
 
A Worthy Cause.

This morning, I got out the garden hose and washed my car.
By the time I left to run some errands, it was sparkling clean.
Then I drove past a gaggle of nubile high-school girls.
They were dancing around, holding CAR WASH signs high above their heads.
And they were wearing bikinis.
From what I gathered, they were trying to raise money for a Worthy Cause.
Like maybe the big kegger at Stewie's house tonight.
Did I mention they were dancing around and wearing bikinis?
So I bought a car wash for my sparkling, just-washed car, from the nubile, bikini-clad girls.
After all, it was for a Worthy Cause.
 
Number nine, number nine... 

Boldog házassági évfordulót kivánok, Anikó!

Nine years ago today, on the 56th anniversary of D-Day, Anikó and I took a ferry out to Catalina Island, and got married at the former Avalon home of America's preeminent writer on western lore, Zane Grey. Originally built in 1926, Grey's pueblo was designed to serve as a haven for his prolific literary efforts. It features extraordinary views of the ocean, as well as the surrounding hills of Catalina. Twenty-odd miles off the coast of California, this island really lives up to its reputation as a romantic getaway.

Alan + Anikó

Zane Grey pueblo

[Note to self, for inevitable reenactment of the ceremony:
Ring Thing (gold, silver) makes a lovely wedding band.]
 
The Thirty-One Dollar Man. 

USPA licenseThe wind whipped my face, as I stood there in the drop zone. It wasn't the safest day for a skydiver with a round parachute, like mine. But I decided to jump anyway. Why? Because I'm stupid.

After a twenty-minute ride up to altitude, I climbed outside the airplane, and dangled off the wing strut. It was even windier out there. The plane's 60-mile-per-hour forward speed buffeted my body, but I hung on until my partner was sitting in the doorway. When he nodded and jumped, I let go and arched my back. The spread-eagle position kept me vertical for a few seconds, as my body burned off the forward speed of the airplane. Slowly, I started falling belly-to-earth.

We did a little relative work, or rather, HE did some relative work. I just kept my body in a hard arch, while he flew down to grab my wrists. But he had too much speed, and we began oscillating like a see-saw. First my feet went up towards the sky, then his. We both tried to correct the wild movements, by extending our feet at the appropriate moments. But nothing worked. We were both too new at this. So I pushed him off, and turned around to fly away. After a few seconds, I gave a warning wave and pulled the ripcord.

As my round chute inflated, I saw his ram-air chute unfold, a hundred yards away. He flew a few circles around me, laughing like a maniac: "Why don't you get a decent chute?" I flipped him the bird. He knew I couldn't afford it.

My Army-surplus round parachute had a cutout in the back, for stability and steering. In a normal descent, that cutout gave the canopy a forward speed of about 8 miles per hour. His expensive ram-air canopy, which looked like cross section from a swimming-pool air bed, could generate forward speeds from 0 up to 30 mph.

So I lined up my chute to face into the 25 mph wind. Subtracting the canopy's 8 mph forward speed, I was now scooting along at 17 mph. Backwards.

Plus, my standard rate of vertical descent was already 13 mph, given the design of my particular chute and my normal body weight. I suddenly regretted eating that sixth slice of pizza the previous night.

As I got closer to the ground, I realized that I was headed straight for a barbed-wire fence. So I turned the canopy around. Now I was whizzing along at wind speed PLUS canopy speed, instead of wind speed MINUS canopy speed. 33 mph, instead of 17 mph. And that was just the horizontal component. I was also dropping out of the sky vertically at my standard 13 mph. I thought, "This can't end well."

My brain kicked into overdrive, trying to compute the combined vertical/horizontal velocity. But as the ground rush intensified, the math got harder and harder to do. After the barbed-wire fence zoomed past underneath me, I instinctively turned the canopy around, to head into the wind again. The canopy dug in, and my body swung wide underneath it, much like a pendulum. The resulting forward swing of the pendulum canceled out the backward push of the wind, and I landed with very little horizontal speed at all. Easy squeezy.

My partner applauded, from 200 feet above: "Nice hook!" His chute was effortlessly holding steady against the wind, and he was coming down almost vertically. It was quite the contrast to my white-knuckle landing.

After repacking the chute, I decided to go again. Stupidity squared. This time, I chose to swan dive out the airplane door by myself. I had had enough of my partner's see-saw routine. So I practiced my free-fall spins: tilt both hands to the right, recover, tilt to the left, recover. Then somersaults: straighten my legs, tuck my hands and head, recover. Then rolls: reach to the side with one arm and one leg, recover. Easy squeezy.

Pop the ripcord, line up into the wind, no problem. But as I got closer to the ground, I noticed the wind speed had increased, during my ride up to altitude. The velocity situation was looking ugly. No fancy "hook" maneuvers were going to save me this time. At 100 feet above the ground, I went zipping past some horrified onlookers. I yelled "HELP!" Groundrushgroundrushohcrapohcrap. Darkness.

They tell me that I was about 20 feet above the ground when a sudden gust of wind blew my chute backwards. My body, of course, responded less dramatically to the wind gust, so a slightly different pendulum effect was created this time. Have you ever wanted to climb to the top of a double-decker bus careening through the streets of London at 40 or 50 mph, and jump off? Facing backwards?

Long story short: I was smashed into the ground by this pendulum. Then my unconscious body was dragged 200 feet by my still-inflated parachute. Luckily, a nice woman had sprinted to my aid, when I yelled "HELP!" Somehow, she caught the runaway chute and deflated it. She waited for me to regain consciousness, then asked, "What hurts?" She drove me to the local hospital and waited while my elbow was X-rayed. She commiserated with me, when the doctor said the anesthesiologists were on strike, and I couldn't get the operation I needed. She drove me back to my car, after the doctor packed my shattered left arm into a temporary plaster cast. Then she waited patiently while I tried to figure out if I could drive my stick-shift car 50 miles back home, across the San Francisco Bay. I vowed to return her kindness, somehow.

The trip turned into a blur of pain, so I stopped at a liquor store for a fifth of tequila. The bottle was nearly empty when I arrived home. It helped quiet the screaming elbow, but it only intensified the agony of the concussion.

Over the next few days, I found out that my elbow needed an immediate operation, or it would end up f*cked. I'm pretty sure that was the medical term they used: f*cked.

And since the anesthesiologists were on strike, the only place that could operate on me was the teaching hospital at the University of California, San Francisco. They had "baby" anesthesiologists: anesthesiologists in training. They also had "baby" surgeons. My baby surgeon told me that he had never done this operation before, but not to worry, because the surgery would be supervised by his teacher, a "real" surgeon. I wasn't mollified, but what could I do? If I didn't let him operate, my elbow would end up f*cked. Medically f*cked.

After the surgery, he told me an interesting story: when they handed him the 6-inch Leibniz screw that was supposed to knit my shattered elbow back together, it was twisted. So he sent it back to the supply room, and asked for another. When the second screw arrived, it was also twisted. That's when his supervising surgeon picked up the screw and bent it back and forth. It turns out that Leibniz screws are designed to have great strength in the long direction, while offering great flexibility in the side-to-side direction. Since the outside forearm bone, the ulna, is slightly curved, the screw needs to curve with it. When the baby surgeon finished telling this story, he laughed. He thought it was funny as hell. Me? Not so much.

So I went home to heal. After several weeks, the baby surgeon took off my plaster cast. I was shocked at how much my arm had shrunken. He said I would probably regain only 75% of the full range of motion. But Macho Stupido hopped on his motorcycle, and started riding. After a month, the arm looked and moved normally.

A few months later, I mustered some courage and drove back out to the drop zone. I found the nice woman who had been so kind to me on the day my arm was broken, and I offered to buy her a couple of jumps. She seemed genuinely touched, and invited me to come along with her and her boyfriend. They knew a lot more about relative work than my old partner. When they flew down to grab my wrists, there was no see-saw oscillation. And right there, at 6,000 feet and terminal velocity (120 mph), the nice woman kissed me. It was my first kiss in free fall.

Even to this day, if you place your palm on my left elbow, you will feel an icy-cold spot. And I still have the itemized hospital bill that lists $31.00 for a Leibniz screw.


Related: Vertical wind tunnel and Vertical wind tunnel tips and Brown-Air Express.
 
You Can Call Me Al.
by Paul Simon

Graceland: Paul SimonA man walks down the street
He says why am I soft in the middle now
Why am I soft in the middle
The rest of my life is so hard
I need a photo opportunity
I want a shot at redemption
Don't want to end up a cartoon
In a cartoon graveyard
Bonedigger Bonedigger
Dogs in the moonlight
Far away from my well-lit door
Mr. Beerbelly Beerbelly
Get these mutts away from me
You know I don't find this stuff amusing anymore

If you'll be my bodyguard
I can be your long lost pal
I can call you Betty
And Betty when you call me
You can call me Al

A man walks down the street
He says why am I short of attention
Got a short little span of attention
And wo my nights are so long
Where's my wife and family
What if I die here
Who'll be my role - model
Now that my role - model is
Gone Gone
He ducked back down the alley
With some roly-poly little bat-faced girl
All along along
There were incidents and accidents
There were hints and allegations

If you'll be my bodyguard
I can be your long lost pal
I can call you Betty
And Betty when you call me
You can call me Al
Call me Al

A man walks down the street
It's a street in a strange world
Maybe it's the Third World
Maybe it's his first time around
He doesn't speak the language
He holds no currency
He is a foreign man
He is surrounded by the sound
The sound
Cattle in the marketplace
Scatterlings and orphanages
He looks around, around
He sees angels in the architecture
Spinning in infinity
He says Amen! and Hallelujah!

If you'll be my bodyguard
I can be your long lost pal
I can call you Betty
And Betty when you call me
You can call me Al
 
You cahn't get they-ah from hee-ah. 

The Best of Bert and I... Celebrating 50 Years of Stories From Down East, by Robert Bryan and Marshall DodgeMaine-based folkloric humor got its start on a 1958 recording made by two Yale University students in a dormitory room. The exchanges between Marshall Dodge and Robert Bryan on their "Bert and I..." album were uttered in exaggerated Down East accents, and they've inspired generations of storytellers, including Garrison Keillor of "Lake Wobegon" fame. Penn Jillette (of the comedy/illusion duo Penn and Teller) recently included "Bert and I..." on his list of the top 12 comedy albums of all time, placing it with the likes of George Carlin, Lenny Bruce and The Smothers Brothers.

Neither Dodge nor Bryan was from Maine, but they were familiar with the state and its people. They also had a keen ear for dialect and a knack for low-tech sound effects. Their first recording, made in their Yale dorm room, featured a wastebasket as an echo chamber. They made 50 copies of the 10-inch album for friends and family members, then pressed 50 more. Later in 1958, they made an expanded 12-inch version that grew in popularity across New England and eventually nationwide. Over the past 60 years, it has sold nearly a million copies. Other "Bert and I..." albums followed, and the finest routines have been collected on "The Best of Bert and I..." (available from Amazon and Islandport).

MP3 samples:
Arnold Bunker Testifies
Bert And I, side 1
Bert And I, side 2

My favorite - Which Way to Millinocket?:

NARRATOR: I was standing outside Sutherland's IGA store one morning, when I heard a flivver approaching down the street toward me.

RUDIMENTARY SFX, then VOICE: Which way to Millinocket?

NARRATOR: Well, you can go west to the next intersection, get onto the turnpike, go north through the toll gate at Augusta, 'til you come to that intersection... well, no. You keep right on this tar road; it changes to dirt now and again. Just keep the river on your left. You'll come to a crossroads and... let me see. Then again, you can take that scenic coastal route that the tourists use. And after you get to Bucksport... well, let me see now. Millinocket. Come to think of it, you can't get there from here.