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It’s been just about a month since I did any serious writing, and we’re now getting back to the grindstone.

Before we get into a big batch of "we have to learn about the brain" stories (and in an effort to avoid doing a "State of the Union" story today) I want to clear the deck from 2009, which means I have a lot of disconnected scraps of message to pass along; some of it fun, some of it free, some of it snarky—and at least a bit of it, disturbing.

In keeping with the random nature of today’s story, some of it will even run into 2010.

So go find your joke hat, and let’s get our wrapup on.

The doctor was examining a naval hospital orderly for advancement in rating. "What would you do if the captain fainted on the bridge?"

"Bring him to," warbled the aspiring orderly.

"Then what?" asked the doctor.

"Bring him two more," returned the man promptly.

--From the book "10,000 Jokes, Toasts, and Stories", Lewis and Faye Copeland, editors.

As regular visitors to this space know, I’m probably a bit too addicted to television, and on of the hazards of that addiction is having to form a relationship with the various TV personalities out there. There are some I’m happy to welcome into my home (I’m thinking of you, Drew Carey), but then, there are...others.

Which brings us to William Darrell Mays, Jr.

Billy (the name by which many of you may have known him), was that irritating guy who basically invented the business of "...and I’ll give you a second one free—just pay extra shipping and handling...", which is perfectly fine, and bless him for it...but now he’s dead, and you know what?

It has become time to apply one of the rules of marriage: Until Death Do We Part.

We all outlived Billy, and one of the rewards of that should be that we are freed, as it were, to find another pitchperson...or maybe to move on to a better place—perhaps even to a world without someone from Florida hustling Oxy-Whatever all day long.

"My dear boy, no woman is a genius. Women are a decorative sex. They never have anything to say, but they say it charmingly. Women represent the triumph of matter over mind, just as men represent the triumph of mind over morals."

--Lord Henry, speaking to Dorian Gray, in Oscar Wilde’s "The Picture of Dorian Gray".

Ever see someone making a "dick move" who also struck you as being sanctimonious, both at the same time? If the answer is yes, you already know the definition of a word The Girlfriend made up the other day in the car: dictimoneous.

Dictimoneous; as in: "When that BMW driver cut you off, dude...that was dictimoneous".

We find we’re already using the word a lot...and we suspect you will, too.

(By the way, expect Dick Timoneous to show up in some of my snarky stories from time to time, probably working alongside Harry Paratestes, who has been a friend of this space for some time.)

"Why, there is it. Come sing me a bawdy song, make me merry."

--Falstaff, to Randolph, in Act 3, Scene 3 of "Henry IV, Part I", by William Shakespeare

Free music.

Much as the wily chair hunter stalks the plains searching out his next place of repose, many of us seek the watering holes where free .mp3s gather, and I have a couple of them for you today.

The first is RCRD LBL.  These folks offer hundreds and hundreds of completely "legal" songs that you can either stream or download, all at no charge—and it’s music you’ll actually want to hear.

There are lots of bands you’ll probably recognize, including the Ting Tings, The Herbaliser, and Groove Armada, bands you should recognize, such as Thao With The Get Down Stay Down or the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and artists that are absolutely on the way up—one of those being Amanda Blank, who you might have seen with Spank Rock as part of Lollapalooza 2008 (link warning: hip-hop sensibilities ahead...).

It’s even participatory: the site invites you to take the music downloads from the site, mix ‘em and mash ‘em to your heart’s desire, and send them right back, possibly to be put up on the site for others to enjoy as well. They also invite you to burn the songs to your own CDs, and to pass them along to your friends...the only limitation being that the music must be used for non-commercial purposes.

There are two ways to get started: either head straight to the site and start downloading, or sign up for the daily email that lists new tracks as they become available.

What used to be one of Seattle’s public radio stations, 90.3, KEXP (and before that, KCMU), has now also become New York City’s KEXP, due to an arrangement that has created multicity simulcasts hosted on 91.5 WNYE. The station produces live events in both cities—including, just by coincidence, an Amanda Blank show on the 29th of this month at the Santos Party House in Manhattan.

This station (these stations?) plays a lot of "emerging artist" music (which you can hear on excellent quality streams), and if you sign up, they will send a free "Song of the Day" to your iTunes (which is just one of five available podcasts they will happily send your way). There are about 575 more of these songs in the archive to be downloaded, and as with RCRD LBL, the diversity of artists is pretty impressive, including Calexico and Architecture in Helsinki and a guy who is well on his way to becoming the Paul Shaffer of punk, Tim Armstrong.

"...Mother and I have sex almost every night. We almost have sex on Monday, we almost have sex on Tuesday..."

--Senator Arlen Specter, appearing at the Improv, Washington, DC.

Corporate treasurers are unable to use AAA rated subprime mortgage derivatives to boost the bottom line any more, and apparently another potential income source is to be found in betting the customers that the things they’re buying won’t blow up once they get them home.

This has created a new opportunity for mischief, which I put to use just the other day: I had to buy a new printer for my friend who could not make his old printer talk to his new Windows 7 computer (thanks a lot, Sharp), and the clerk wondered if I might wish to purchase the extended warranty for my $49 purchase.

After all, he told me, the manufacturer’s warranty only lasts a year, and the extended warranty would double that to two years. To which I responded:

"Are you trying to tell me that you don’t think this printer will last longer than two years?"

If you try it yourself you’ll quickly discover that they don’t like that question at all...and it is a tough spot in which to be, philosophically: on the one hand, you want to make the customers confident enough to buy products—but not so confident that they won’t make the "extended warranty" bet.

"If you work on your mind with your mind,
How can you avoid an immense confusion?"

--Seng-ts’an/Sosan

To close out today’s story, a horrible, horrible, observation, and a commentary on just how disturbed I really am.

WARNING: The following is a joke. It is strictly a joke. We do not recommend you try this at home, under your home in the root cellar, or, should evacuation be required, at a public shelter.

They’re running those public service announcements to encourage us to carry a disaster supply kit with us in the event of emergency, and to tell us that we should carry three days worth of supplies, at least, in that kit.

Do you have pets? You’re encouraged to carry three days’ worth of food for them as well.

Here’s the horrible part...as I was listening to this announcement, I couldn’t help but think: "If you have pets...don’t you automatically have three days worth of food?"

Of course, if you’re Paris Hilton and you carry around one of those tiny Chihuahuas, that might be an exception...but then again, if you’re Paris Hilton, that might actually be three days’ worth of food.

So there you go: a couple jokes, free music, a survival tip, and a fervent wish that Billy Mays, now dead, could be finally buried.

Next time: we begin a conversation about PTSD, and to get that started we’ll have to learn a bit of neural anatomy, so get your thinking caps ready, as we’re gonna need ‘em.

Originally posted to fake consultant on Thu Jan 28, 2010 at 12:37 PM PST.

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