Tuesday, August 31, 2004

He's Back!

   The house lights go down, and the already restless crowd murmurs in excitement. 
Then, almost imperceptibly at first, the slow roll of tympani, like distant thunder, begins as  roving spotlights careen about the grand hall.

The lights converge on the curtain, which slowly rises to reveal a crowded stage, replete with a brass band, jugglers and acrobats, sequined showgirls, ululating virgins (take their word on it!), and whirling fireworks. A basso profundo announcer is heard:

“Ladies and gentlemen, we are proud to present THE man, that worldly traveler, back from his self–imposed exile in the wilds of Northern Wisconsin… ”

A murmuring is heard in the crowd.… it becomes a chant - “Bat-ty Bat-ty… ”

“He is here to regale you with the insights gleaned from his amazing adventures… ”

The spotlights converge on the center of the stage - a trapdoor opens - the crowd reaches a fever pitch of hysteria… A thousand doves are released and fly above the throng… a million red rose petals float down from the rafters…

The trumpets strike up a fanfare… multiple explosions of colored fireballs illuminate the scene… a shadowy figure arises from the bowels of the stage…surrounded by swirling smoke and electrical discharges… the ululation raises its pitch as the virgins rend their clothes and pull their hair… grown men weep…

“Professor Batty!”

The crowd is in a frenzy - cheering, whistling, stamping as the Great Man approaches the microphone - he raises a hand, and suddenly the assembled multitude is silent. He begins to speak…
“Um... er... uh... I guess I blew my budget for today’s post on the introduction. I don’t have any thing left for today“Sorry… I’ll be back tomorrow… I promise!”

By Professor Batty

Comments: 3 

Friday, August 13, 2004

See You In September!

Dear Readers, the Professor has arranged for a sabbatical, I will post no more in August.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 5 

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Phone Phoebe

In my teeny-bopper days, there was a radio call-in bulletin board on the top 40 station. Every afternoon, you could call and leave messages to your friends (or enemies) and they would be transcribed and read over the air. Our "gang" (how naive we were!) would call in and make comments about our favorite bands and/or rivals at the junior high.

After a while, we got to “know” kids from other schools. The kids that intrigued us the most were a group of girls from across town, known on the radio as “Ringo Pribella and her Back Porch Perchers”. They liked the Beatles while we, in our clueless-ness, liked The Dave Clark Five. We would exchange messages about the worth or lack thereof of either group, but I think we were really doing it for intrigue of interacting with unknown GIRLS!

To this day, whenever I hear Glad All Over or Bits And Pieces on the radio, I think of those days, and I still wonder: Ringo Pribella, where are you?

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Wednesday, August 11, 2004


“As of August 13, we will no longer be able to accept Kodachrome film for processing” …Sign in a photo lab.

Kodachrome slide film was introduced in 1938 and was an instant hit but its widespread use was curtailed during World War II.After then and until the mid sixties was Kodak's flagship product. The major distinction of this film was that from the start it was nearly perfect. A properly exposed Kodachrome image from the early 50's contained the equivalent of about a 20 megabyte file. Sure, it was a little slow, and you needed a machine about the size of a semi-trailer AND a chemist AND an engineer to run it. But it is a beautiful way to preserve an image. Kodak will still make it (for a while) but they have closed all their processing plants. You can send it to a guy named Dwayne in Kansas City for processing. A sad end for the flagship product of a former blue-chip company. I wonder if 50 years from now you will be able to take an eighth part of a 50 year old digital camera file and make it into a stunning 16 x 20 inch print.* I wonder if you will even be able to read the file. You could with a Kodachrome. Such is the price of progress.

..."don't take my Kodachrome away"...Paul Simon

*Update: You will, digital photography got much better in 2006.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Monday, August 09, 2004


What an idea.

Of the skin (or hide) but not the skin. Able to transmit, sometimes with a shivering sense of reality, sensations, but not possessed of sensation in itself. Able to protect and assist the skin in becoming the buffer between the out-there and the in-side. But so much more. Critters with fur usually are at peace with this hairy envelope, but as for humans, it is not so simple. As a statement about one's appearance, there is probably not another human feature so manipulated and contrived, and in some instances, denied as human hair. Fur. The absence of it distinguishes us from the other primates, yet we still have plenty. In most women of the western world, any hair outside of the scalp is viewed with suspicion. Facial hair was considered unfeminine, but that has now been extended to include bushy eyebrows. Underarm hair? Long a virtual taboo in the U.S., it seems to be on the retreat elsewhere. Shaving leg hair? What woman doesn't dread this chore? But most do it. (Becoming more popular with men too, and not just cyclists). And the formerly hidden temple of Venus? First trimmed to a "treasure trail", followed by the "bikini line", and so on. With men, the beard and its variations are more of a statement of what kind of man you are. But perhaps as a backlash to the excesses of the sixties and seventies, even a mustache is suspect these days.

But common to this whole thread is the idea of fur. The reality of fur is that it grows. The idea of fur is colored by its primal element. We live with an idea so powerful that few are able to challenge it. Maybe, as with all trends, this will change. But there will remain a fear of fur, a fear of the beast that lives within us, a beast with fur.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Sunday, August 08, 2004


“Horns! Horns! Horns!” - Oliver Hardy in Towed in a Hole

It’s going off again.

The knucklehead down the street who manages to set off his car alarm EVERY time he parks. I suppose that the idea of a “horn” came from the ancients who used hollowed out animal horns to make a crude trumpet, to warn, call to alarm or just communicate over distances. With refinements came musical instruments and, ultimately, Miles Davis.

But THIS horn, this senseless braying, while it does have a fixed pitch, and even a tempo, is not a musical instrument at all- lacking in any of the previously stated attributes. It warns no one - our sleepy little burg is not running rampant with auto thieves - it is not calling anyone - HE IS STANDING RIGHT NEXT TO HIS CAR - and communicates no useful information to anyone. Well, maybe it does state: “I AM A MORON. IF YOU HAVE FORGOTTEN THAT FACT IN THE LAST FOUR HOURS - I REPEAT, I AM A COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY IRREDEEMABLE IDIOT."

And how was YOUR Sunday afternoon nap?

By Professor Batty

Comments: 3 

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Coconut Oil

The Galleria - an upscale mall in Edina
The Galleria - make all your shopping dreams come true
The Galleria - specialty stores for those special needs
The Garden of Eden - essential oils, massage and aroma therapy supplies
The Garden of Eden - a lonely clerk and a shopper on a mission
The Clerk - “Can I help you find something, sir?”
The Customer - “Coconut oil” (for that special need)
The Clerk - “Oh, are you a massage therapist?” (hmm... an interesting chap, not too old)
The Customer - “No, just for massage, yes”(she wants to know my special need?)
The Clerk - “I've never used that product, why do you use it?” (is he unto something)
The Customer - “Oh, I just uh, it lasts longer than the others… ” (too much information!)
The Clerk - “Oh my partner doesn’t like strong scents’ (hmm...what is it about this guy?)
The Customer - “Er, yes It's very neutral, I just add a little scent” (why is she asking me these questions?)
The Clerk - “I’ll have to try that sometime…” (like right now!)
The Customer - “Ah, neutral, lasts longer" (why am I babbling?)
The Clerk - “Well, thanks… ” (possibly, maybe)
The Customer - "Thank you" (get out of here, right now!)
The Garden of Eden - essential oils, massage and aroma therapy supplies
The Galleria - makes all your shopping dreams come true

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Friday, August 06, 2004

The Polio Clinic

When I was very young, I remember going to the Polio Clinic. My older sister, trying her best to be "helpful" filled my head with horrible stories of big, square, needles, needles poking through your arm, people fainting… all the standard big sister mind-games. I was actually a little too young to grasp the concept of mass immunization, any shots I had received before were at the doctor's office.

When we got there, it was at some public health building, I remember long rows of windows, and lots of children, probably more than I had ever seen in one place. I got my shot, no big deal, and we were out of there. Later on, the oral vaccines were introduced. Those clinics were at our junior high school. I remember every one was dressed up, as if they were going to church. It is hard to imagine what horror it must have been to have been a parent whose child was fine one day, and crippled the next. I remember children in elementary school wearing braces for polio-related reasons.

Currently, Polio is making a comeback in parts of Africa, some parents refusing to allow vaccinations for religious reasons. I wonder that if we had a workable vaccine for AIDS would the public participate in mass inoculations? I also wonder if Polio was a new disease now how much effort would be put into a cure, or would the drug companies figure out some drug regimen which would not cure but only keep symptoms under control?

   The John Waters' movie Cry Baby starts with an excellent reenactment of a polio clinic with the main character (Johnny Depp) getting his "shot".

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Crosses and Switchblades

While a mere lad, I was brought to a very strange concert. The whole set-up was very strange, all the dads in the mens group at our church brought all their sons. Usually when you went somewhere with a parent, you would sit with him or her. This time the dads said: "Why don't you boys all sit together?" OK by me. The dads sat together in the row behind us. The lights dimmed, and the curtain opened. There was a rock band, with a choir and a Hammond Organ and man did we ever get a show.

After a while a greasy looking guy came out and started to rap. It was a sermon, but not like the sermons our pastor would deliver. This guy would go on about illict, sinful behavior among the teen gangs he had ministered to in NYC. Oh, and also sex. LOTS OF SEX. Just what a pimply 14 year old (who had only recently learned what his dink was for) needed. I hadn't had much in the way of "impure thoughts" before this, but I had 'em now, hot and heavy. So about the time he reached a climax in his sermon, I was ready to reach one of my own.

Then he laid on the guilt trip, and suddenly I felt this strange pressure on the nape of my neck. The preacher wanted us to come forth, and the stares from our dads made sure we did. We went up, repented of our vicarious sins, and were saved. They gave us a lesson book to fill out and mail in. It was the same one I got the summer before, that one didn't stick either. Years later I did get into a rock band myself—complete with singers and a Hammond organ. We were doing the same thing, but instead of saying "Jesus” in our songs we said “Baby”.

And you didn’t get a lesson book.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

...please ...

...um hi. its me.
sally go round the roses
...can you talk, i mean is it ok?
sally go round the pretty roses
...about last night, i mean...
the roses they can’t hurt you
...i know how you feel...
no the roses they can’t hurt you
...you could come over...
sally go round the roses
...i’m missing you...
sally go round the pretty roses
...it’s ok, i mean with the test and everything...
they won’t tell your secrets
...if it’s because of her...
no the roses won’t tell your secrets
...we can work on it...
sally baby cry, let your hair hang down
...i don’t see why...
sally baby cry, let your hair hang down
...please do’t say it...
sit and cry where the roses grow
...please come over...
you can sit and cry, not a soul will know
...please don’t hang up...
saddest thing in the whole wide world
...please come...
is to see your baby with another girl
sally go round the roses
sally go round the pretty roses
roses they can’t hurt you
no, the roses they can’t hurt you

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Recipe For Success

The block party was tonight, I got to meet the neighbors, and even weaseled a few house tours out of the deal. (Must keep up with the neighbors, musn’t I?) For the pot luck I brought my take on breaded walleye ala Cafe Brenda. It was a smash hit, and so, in the interests of fairness, I will share it with you:

2 lb walleye fillets, cut up
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 cup corn meal
1 cup ground almonds
1 peel of large lemon, grated or ground in a blender
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon coarse ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon fine ground cayenne (red) pepper
1/2 lb unsalted butter (clarified)
Egg and milk for coating fillets

Roll fillets in egg and milk then place in large ziplock bag with mixed dry ingredients and shake.

Fry in clarified butter (shortening is OK but not as tasty) until just crispy—don’t overcook it!

Good eating to you from Chef Batty.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Monday, August 02, 2004

On Wisconsin!

So the summer road trip/vacation will be northern Wisconsin this year. I’ll load up the Battymobile and head to the hinterlands of the cheese-head state. Al Capone’s hideout will be on the tour, as will the Concrete Park, Bayfield, Hurley and Door county. Any suggestions? Tacky is OK as long as it is great tacky. The House on the Rock is supposed to be world-class tacky. The Rock in the House is probably not tacky enough. Lambeau Field, here I come!

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Sunday, August 01, 2004


At the mayor’s fundraiser, the woman who runs the historical society came over and talked with us. Whenever the people of our town get together, the talk always seems to turn to houses. Our town is, for Minnesota, an old town, and many of the houses have a long and colorful history. Last month the society had a “ghost tour” of old houses that supposedly had had spectral visitations. The historical society director mentioned that one of the participants in the tour had made a “spirit picture” of some apparition while on the tour.

Now that may or may not be so, but I started thinking about these houses. If there are ghosts, they would be here. I heard several stories of people who lived in the same house all their lives, as did their parents before them. The street names taken from our city founders still have people living here with like monikers. Is there no trace of these people? Why not have a few “restless souls” patrolling our city, our homes, our closets and attics? If there is an occasional unexplained bump in the night, so much the better.

And, on Halloween, let the spirits rejoice!

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

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