The Thing From Bloggy Swamp

"Music is real--the rest is scenery." Fats Waller
MARCH 2, 2015 4:08PM

Your Philosophical Love Advisor

Love is one of the great mysteries of human existence, so who better to answer your romance-related questions than the Philosophical Love Advisor!

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Arthur Schopenhauer:  “So you think crème rinse would help?”


Dear Philosophical Love Advisor:

I have been dating thi… Read full post »

LEOMINSTER, Mass.  Cheryl Lynne Pettrucelli is running late for work, and so she has shifted into high gear in her efforts to make herself look presentable by the time she reaches her employer, Micro-Precision Tools.  “It’s ten to nine, so it’s gonna be close,” she s… Read full post »

It is Saturday night in the suburbs west of Boston–no better place to view man’s inhumanity to woman. As my partner Pancho Sanza and I drift wearily from one upscale restaurant to another, we see on the looks of the husbands indifference bordering on cruelty as an endless parade of wives… Read full post »

SAN DORITO, California. Students at this modern high school sixty miles north of Los Angeles perennially achieve high test scores on standardized exams, a fact that has caused educators around the state to try to replicate its methods.

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San Dorito High School: Home of the Fighting Taco Chips

&l… Read full post »

NEW YORK.  On the surface, Amelie Bernard seems content enough as the 68-year old widow sits alone in her Bleecker Street apartment surrounded by memorabilia from her youth.  “We were young, we were in love and mad for the world and all its glorious prospects,” she say… Read full post »

Wealthy suburb Wellesley, Mass. has hired constables to collect unpaid lunch money.

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FEBRUARY 25, 2015 8:49PM

A Cockroach in the Museum of Fine Arts

Am I mistaken in thinking that cockroaches are attracted to art galleries for the warmth rather than the pictures?

Review by Raymond Tallis of Eric R. Kandel’s “The Age of Insight”

It’s been a while since I took my cockroach Archy to the museum. I tend to get “mus… Read full post »

MUSZRKLIA, Freedonia. As he looks back on a career that spans a half-century, Norkd Vneliak laughs and shakes his head at the transformation he's undergone. "I was a nice Byellorussian boy who wanted to grow up to join the Freedonian space program. My dad owned an appliance store,"… Read full post »

MAYNARD, Mass.  In a darkened room, Rose Alba Mercurio sits in a comfortable chair and repeats the words she hears on a self-hypnosis tape especially prepared for her by a local support group.  “I don’t need another . . . I don’t need another,” she says in… Read full post »

FEBRUARY 23, 2015 8:39AM

At the Brooks Brothers-Hip Hop Summit

In recent years, rap kings such as Jay-Z and Diddy have displayed their swagger with looks that were more boardroom than bling. 

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WELLESLEY FALLS, Mass. Beth Upshaw is both a painter herself and an intrepid soul who helps others make a living in the traditionally hand-to-mouth world of the visual arts by operating an art gallery in this upscale suburb. “I know I could make more money at a nine-to-five job,”… Read full post »

SHEEPSHEAD BAY, New York. This working class neighborhood in Brooklyn has given birth to more than its share of professional comedians, including Larry David, Andrew Dice Clay and Elayne Boosler, but it is also known for a different kind of wise guy; members of La Cosa Nostra such as Thomas… Read full post »

FEBRUARY 20, 2015 8:30AM

Me and the Other Blue Nuns

It’s Friday, which means a day of preparation for a gig tonight with my band, The Blue Nuns, the only (I’m pretty sure) Chicago-style blues band in America that dresses in the habits of the Sisters of the Precious Blood, the religious order that ran my grade school.

We’re a tribute… Read full post »

FEBRUARY 19, 2015 9:32PM

Apache Dance With a Fellow Commuter

It is 7:20 p.m., time for the last train from South Station to the western suburbs of Boston. My point of embarcation, a once-proud civic landmark, is despite its grandiose re-christening as the South Station Transportation Center, a scene of degraded desolation. Over there, a homeless man mumbles to… Read full post »

MADISON, Wis.  Gerry van Earle can remember the first time he agreed to be part of a medical experiment as if it were yesterday, even though it has now been twenty years since he first funded his Friday night beer run with the $25 he earned for his labors.  “It was… Read full post »

KANKAKEE, Illinois. Like many tribute band members, Sherylynn Lester knows it is unlikely she will ever live the rock star lifestyle. “My chances are slim and none, and Slim just left town,” she says with a giggle. “We’re out on the road night after night because we love to… Read full post »

FEBRUARY 18, 2015 8:54AM

With A-Rod in the Osgood-Schlatter Ward

YONKERS, New York.  This blue-collar suburb of New York City sits cheek-by-jowl with the Bronx, home of Yankee Stadium, but it is a rare occasion when a star of the greatest team in baseball history visits here.  “Just as many people who live in Manhattan never go… Read full post »

FEBRUARY 17, 2015 8:25PM

What to Give Up for Lent

Lent, the forty-day period before Easter Sunday, begins tomorrow. On that day, children in Catholic grade schools all around the world will be getting The Talk.

The Talk is usually delivered by a nun, who informs kids that the forty days of Lent represent the forty days Jesus spent wandering in… Read full post »

CONCORD, Mass.  Ethel Farley has been a teacher in the schools here for over two decades, long enough to be able to spot a young girl with a broken heart halfway across a crowded lunch room.  “They get a valentine from a boy and they read too much into it,” she… Read full post »

If the past is any kind of prologue, America’s white-collar work force will return to their jobs today or tomorrow through a kind of human resources mine field. Valentine’s Day was Saturday, meaning the next work day will be the launching pad for more violations of corporate Dignity in th… Read full post »

Jar Jar Binks, the inept Gungan general who starred in the Star Wars “prequel” movies, withdrew from public life after he was accused of perpetuating racial stereotypes. Bill Moyers is America’s most beloved public affairs windbag, known for his boring examinations of social issues… Read full post »
FEBRUARY 15, 2015 9:45AM

The ZaSu Pitts Look-Alike Contest

The weatherpeople got it right for once; blizzard conditions, a good omen for me. With more snow accumulation in Boston than ever before in recorded history (thanks global warming!) it’s harder to get into town, and the fewer contestants in the Men’s Senior Division of the ZaSu Pitts Look… Read full post »

FEBRUARY 14, 2015 10:24AM

Concerns Rise as Crusade-O-Phobia Spreads

WORCESTER, Mass. In this, the second-largest city in New England, the Crusades aren’t something children learn from history books, they are a part of the warp, woof, and weft of everyday life. “The Crusades were cool!” says ten-year-old Timothy Cullinane as he scurries through the… Read full post »

FEBRUARY 14, 2015 4:19AM

Several Ways of Choosing a Wife

Here’s a helpful suggestion for choosing a wife:
Don’t pick from the bin that says “Tragic view of life.”
Sure, she’ll share your love of Friedrich Nietzsche,
But I find that kind to be overly prietzsche.

While you wile away hours talking Schopenhauer
You could be ou… Read full post »