Joe Blog: Where Joseph Kirkland Blogs

Today is unbearably hot. I wrote something.

consumed with guilt / i write this poem / i watched a worm / die all alone / he jumped and jumped / on the hot sidewalk / in front of a guy / sitting and eating his lunch

context: i decided to write something as i thought of it and i didn’t look it over after i’d finished. if i ever went back to it, i’d find a word for sidewalk that rhymed with poem and alone. also, i wasn’t sure if the guy eating his lunch was homeless or not.

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Two Nights Ago I Had a Dream in Which I Was Happily Dating Phil Spector

Plays Written in One Day by Elizabeth Czyzewski

Play One:

#1: It looks like you’ve done some redecorating here.

#2: I didn’t, but thanks. I’ll take that as a compliment.

#1: I’d rather you didn’t.

Play Two:

#1: I’m a big fan of 36 Chambers, though I skip over the songs preceded by skits sometimes.

#2: Skittles?

#1: No, skits.

Play Three:

#1: I’ll be honest…you really put on some weight.

#2: I’m wearing 3 pairs of sweatpants under my jeans right now.

#1: I don’t think that’s it.

Play Four:

#1: I had been mishearing the lyrics for 7 or 8 years.

#2: That’s crazy.

Play Five:

#1: I’ve written a poem to read at my sister’s wedding. Can I read it to you?

#2: No.

I have little to no interest in blogging anymore. I tried to rekindle my interest, but it didn’t work. If anyone ever asked me what I thought of Tumblr, I’d tell them that trying to format text is nearly impossible.

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The love of my life turns 1 today. Dan blogged about it.


“Cool For Cats” by Squeeze from Cool For Cats (1979).

Cool For Cats


Jones #1

Ladies and gentlemen, today, the 10th of June 2009 is Jones Pritchard’s first birthday.  And this is her favorite song.

Jones #2

In case you are planning on buying her a present, here is a short list of things she’s been asking for:

  1. A glass crystal food bowl.
  2. A hammock.
  3. A cell phone.
  4. A pair of summer pants.
  5. A long-haired wig.
  6. A baby.

I’m going to get her hair elastics!  Shh, don’t tell.

Jones #3

Jones’s birthday party will be held this weekend at Liz and Maura’s beautiful new apartment.  Details to follow.

Liz & Jones

(Pictured: Auntie Liz & the birthday girl.  Note her bionic arm.  Jones’s, not Liz’s.)

So if you run into Jones today, don’t forget to wish her the best first birthday ever.  And feel free to call her by one of the following nicknames:

  1. Jonsie
  2. Bunny
  3. Bunz
  4. Lil’ Boosie
  5. Boosie
  6. Boos

She has more nicknames than ODB!


(Pictured: Lil’ Boosie — too cool for cats.)


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No, no, Peter Gabriel - it’s Joe, Peter Gabriel!

Here’s something Dan and I came up with:


“Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel from So (1986).


That’s so Peter Gabriel.

Faux-Peter Gabriel

That’s faux Peter Gabriel.


That’s phở, Peter Gabriel.

That's so Raven

That’s so Raven.


Is that so, Peter Gabriel?

Peter Gabriel

(A poem with pictures by Dan Samiljan & Elizabeth Czyzewski.)

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Powel Crosley

The last thing I posted had to do with records - remember? I was saying that I understood record shopping now and was becoming a collector? What the heck is this thing popping up on the right side of the tumblr interface every time I type a question mark? Let people answer this?!? That’s weird. Who likes cats as much as I do? Who’s in the mood for food but are not sure what kind? Anyway, it took me from February up until now to read the little information/product pamphlet that came with my record player. Most people throw these things out, but I like to keep them around until I have a chance to read them - and it’s a good thing I did! Oh my GOD. I can’t find it! I was just going on about how I’ve had this thing around since February and when I actually need it, I have no idea where it is!! Wow. I looked again. No luck. I guess I am just going to have to see what Wikipedia has to say about him. 

Actually, all I really wanted to say about him was what he achieved. Here’s the list:

  • Pioneered the idea of the “money back guarantee.”
  • Helped make radios affordable for the mass market.
  • Invented the second car radio and the first push-button radio.
  • Owned most powerful radio transmitter ever and a radio station to go along with it, WLW.
  • Created some of the earliest soap operas.
  • Founded a TV station, WLWT-TV.
  • Invented the Icyball, a non-electrical refrigerator.
  • Introduced the idea of shelves on the door of refrigerators with the Shelvador (as I was typing that, Shelvador Dali popped into my head).
  • Bought the Cincinnati Reds.
  • Renamed the stadium Crosley Stadium.
  • Held the first night baseball games, lit with electric lights.
  • Owned and built airplanes but never had a pilot’s license.
  • Was a renowned fisherman.
  • Owned several yachts with powerful engines.
  • Owned an island in Canada called Nikassi and another off South Carolina called Bull Island.
  • Owned houses in the Caribbean and Havana and a retreat in Indiana that is now called the Crosley Fish and Wildlife Area.
  • Crosley Motors, Inc. invented a small, affordable automobile.
  • Crosley Corporation manufactured the proximity fuze, which, after the atomic bomb and radar, was the most important product development during WWII.
  • Introduced the first car to have disc brakes.
  • Invented the first fax machine.
  • Was responsible for the first radio broadcast from an airplane.
  • Invented X-ervac, a device that supposedly stimulated blood flow in the scalp through massage and thus countered baldness.

Are you as surprised as I am that you hadn’t heard of him before? The only thing more surprising than all of Crosley’s achievements is the fact that I can’t find the pamphlet I was going to use to blog with. That dog in the picture up there is named Bonzo and he was Crosley’s answer to the RCA dog. There’s even a paper maiche Bonzo at the Smithsonian. He was so cute that his likeness was put on ashtrays, pincushions and candy, to name a few.

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In honor of the one year anniversary of my blog, I posted on someone else’s blog.

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The Ronettes “Be My Baby”

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Little Symphonies for the Kids

I’ve always had friends who were really into records. Sometimes they suggested we go record shopping. I always went along with it but in my head, thought, “RECORD SHOPPING?!?!?! I HATE RECORD SHOPPING.” I thought record shopping was the most boring thing on the face of the planet, save watching my friends play Super Smash Brothers, the official most boring thing I could bear witness to. Sure, I have my collection of hardcore 7” from high school that I haven’t listened to since and I have a bunch of records that were my parents’, but I never really “got” records. I get it now. Man, oh, man do I get it. Thanks to a few friends who are big into that sort of thing, not only do I go out multiple times a week to scour the records at Amoeba and such, but I get excited about certain releases and certain labels and mono and things like that - things about which I’m still learning but I’m sure will only obsess me more as my knowledge and understanding grow. In the spirit of “getting” record shopping and searching for the ever-elusive Ronettes record that I’ll probably never have, I’m going to blog about Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound. 

  • In the autumn of 1961, Spector co-founded Philles Records with Lester Sill, which boasted The Crystals, The Ronettes and Darlene Love, among others. 
  • During this period, the early to mid-60s, Spector pioneered a production technique called Wall of Sound, which is well-suited to being played over AM radio or jukeboxes.
  • Most, if not all, of these recordings were done at Gold Star Studios in Los Angeles.
  • Wall of Sound recordings are “dense and layered,” a sound Spector achieved by assembling a mass of musicians playing all sorts of orchestral instruments and musical arrangements with musicians playing acoustic and electric guitars parts in unison. 
  • Microphones recorded the singers and musicians in the recording studio and then sent the signal to an echo chamber in the basement, where the sound was brought in through the speakers then bounced (reverberated) off the walls of this room, was captured by the microphones and then was transmitted to another room where it was recorded onto tape.
  • Spector referred to this technique as “a Wagnerian approach to rock & roll: little symphonies for the kids.”
  • He often used the same musicians as part of his group - Glen Campbell, Carol Kaye, Hal Blaine, etc. They became known as The Wrecking Crew and, later, Wreckx-n-Effect. (JK but I did dance to a Wreckx-n-Effect song in my 3rd grade talent show)
  • Sonny Bono and Jack Nitzsche helped Spector with these performances, and he worked with popular song-writing teams of the time.
  • Spector preferred singles to LPs, calling the latter “two hits and ten pieces of junk,” and mono to stereo, insisting that stereo recordings took control of the sound away from the producer and put it in the listener’s hands.
  • Basically, the main vocalist is not necessarily the focus of Wall of Sound recordings; it doesn’t sound like the vocalist in the foreground and the instruments somewhere behind that - everything comes at you from relatively the same point in space.
  • Here’s a good quote: “…he buried the lead and he cannot stop himself from doing that…if you listen to his records in sequence, the lead goes further and further in and to me what he is saying is, ‘It is not the song…just listen to those strings. I want more musicians, it’s me.”– Jeff Barry, quoted in Williams 1974, p.91
  • Phil Spector tried to resurrect his “Wall of” idea during his trial 2 years back with the debut of his “Wall of Hair.”

  • He didn’t think it went over well, so he switched to a more toned down approach.

  • Surprise! The verdict came in and the jury LOVED it. So much so, that there’s going to be another trial, just to see what else he’s got up his sleeve.

Listen to the song above as an example of one such recording.

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I wrote this in commemoration of Dan’s 100th blog post. It’s a transcript of a conversation had by 2 friends exactly 100 days ago.

#1: Hey.

#2: Oh, hey. I didn’t see you standing there.

#1: I’ve been here for a little bit.


#2: What? I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you.

#1: I said that I’ve been standing here for a little while now.

#2: Oh.


#1: What’s up?

#2: Nothing.

#1: That’s cool.

#2: What?

#1: I said that’s cool.


#1: Are you wearing headphones?

#2: Yeah.

#1: Why? They’re not plugged into anything.

#2: I was listening to songs on my computer before.

#1: Where is your computer?

#2: In the living room.


#2: In the kitchen, I mean. It’s in the kitchen.

#1: Oh, okay. Why do you still have the headphones on, then?

#2: I’m not sure.

#1: Were you listening to your computer out here or were you listening in the kitchen?

#2: I was listening in the kitchen and then I unplugged the headphones and came in here to sit down. The chair in there wasn’t comfortable.


#1: What were you listening to?

#2: Snoop Dogg.

#1: Snoop Dogg?

#2: No.

#1: No?

#2: No. I was listening to songs on my friend Dan’s blog.

#1: Dan…do I know him?

#2: No, I don’t think so.

#1: How do you—-

#2: Oh wait, yeah you’ve met him. He had that sailor hat on at that party we went to.

#1: The really tall kid?

#2: No, the other one. With the brown hair and the beard.

#1: Oh yeah. He seemed cool.

#2: Yeah, he’s cool.


#2: I have to tell you something.

#1: What?

#2: I lied to you before. I wasn’t listening to songs on my computer…I don’t even have a computer.

#1: So you weren’t listening to Dan’s blog?

#2: No, Dan doesn’t even have a blog.

#1: Oh. Why did you tell me that?

#2: I don’t know. I thought you’d think it weird if I had headphones on for no reason.


#2: Actually, there is a reason I am doing this.

#1: What?

#2: My ears are cold.

#1: How can that be? It’s summer and your house is hot.

#2: Okay, I lied again. I don’t have ears.

#1: I feel like I’ve seen you with ears before.

#2: I used to have them.

#1: What happened to them? 

#2: I’m not sure.


#2: I think I’ll tell Dan that he should start a blog.

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Of Human Mail

While on the topic of stowaways, let’s delve a little further into the little explored, oft ignored topic of human mail. I always took the idea for granted - people sending themselves off in the guise of a package - but it’s as real as the the hair on your head or the cat in my house. 

  • Henry “Box” Brown, pictured above, was a slave who mailed himself in a dry goods box from Virginia to abolitionists in Philadelphia.
  • The trip took 27 hours and cost Brown $86, which was half of his life savings, but surely that was a small price to pay for a lifetime of freedom.
  • His first words upon emergence were, “How do you do, gentlemen?” Brown then proceeded to sing a psalm.
  • Brown went on to become an abolitionist speaker, but had to move to England after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850.
  • There, he became a showman with his moving antislavery panorama called “Mirror of Slavery” (I’m not sure if they mean moving as in emotionally touching or moving as in it literally moved), then a mesmerist, a conjurer, a magician, and, lastly, a singer.

  • In 2003, Charles McKinley, 25, wanted to visit his parents but didn’t have $300 to pay for the airfare from New York to Dallas. 
  • Cunning McKinley decided to mail himself there and charge the $600 or so shipping fee to his employer.
  • The box was labeled as containing 350 lbs. of clothing and computer equipment and departed on a plane from Newark Airport.
  • McKinley made it all the way to Texas where, as he was in a delivery truck en route to his parents’ house, he foolishly decided to remove his covering and was found out by the delivery man, Billy Ray Cyrus Thomas.
  • Thomas described seeing “a pair of eyes eyes between the slats of the crate,” which he thought belonged to a corpse until McKinley kicked the crate open and popped out (surprise!).
  • McKinley proceeded to shake the delivery man’s hand and thank him. What manners have these stowaways!
  • Thomas called the cops. Truth be told - I don’t think I would have. It ended up that McKinley had 3 outstanding warrants for his arrest. He was taken to jail.

There have been a few other notable instances:

  • In January 2007, a 28-year-old German prisoner climbed into a cardboard box in the mailroom of the prison and was loaded onto the mail truck, where he made a hole in the box and ran out of the truck. The empty box was discovered and they traced it back to him, though I’m not sure if he was reincarcerated.
  • Another such incident occurred a month prior when an Austrian prisoner hid in a box that was supposed to contain lamp post parts.
  • This just in: BOTH ESCAPEES REMAIN AT LARGE, but that was as of 2 years ago.
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Untitled Post #8

As I write this, I’m enviously watching the lady sitting in front of me eat her delicious McDonald’s fries while I’m stuck with a lame tomato and mozzarella sandwich on bread that may well be the worst bread I’ve ever had in my life. I hate ciabatta, focaccia, artisan bread - all of that stuff. This bread fits into one or more of those categories. The lady eating fries just looked back at me. Braggart. I’m in Chicago right now at the airport. On the way in, I saw lots of snow, leafless trees and a handful of red neon signs (and 2 green ones) dotting the winter landscape. It’s 0 degrees here. I wonder what Joe Kirkland’s family is doing right now.  Had I been blogging about 30 minutes ago, this post would have been much better, as I was still on the plane, having just awoken from a dream in which Dan was wearing high heels (the same ones I have on). Now, after eating an unsatisfying sandwich, I’ve become super aware of the fact that the socks I’m wearing, made for people with diabetes (I don’t have diabetes) and bought at CVS, are way too tight and are hurting my legs.  The reason I wore them today, actually, is because a sticker on the socks advertised them as being great for wearing on planes. Good news – there are a lot of Polish people around.  This whole day got me thinking. Thinking about stowaways in wheel wells of airplanes.

  • The way a stowaway usually gains entrance into a plane’s wheel well is he hides, then runs out to the plane, undetected, as it’s stationary before takeoff, maneuvers himself up the landing gear and into a recessed area and, providing he doesn’t fall off as the plane departs, stays there as the wheels and such retract into the plane.
  • Since 1947 (as of 2007), there have been 74 known stowaway attempts aboard aircraft. Of that lot, only 14 survived.
  • It seems that most stowaways do so to gain freedom from oppression or other such undesirable circumstances or, according to wikipedia, to get from one place to another without having to pay, which seems a little extreme. Even more extreme than that are those who do it just for a thrill. 
  • According to a study I link to below, 2 common planes to stow away on are the Boeing 707 and the Douglas DC-8.
  • They also report the highest cruising altitude at which a stowaway has been to be 39,000 ft.
  • All the subjects cited in the report are male (2 are unknown). 
  • The most common causes of death seem to be hypothermia and falling. Imagine stowing away with another person who doesn’t make it, while you do?!
  • One of the flights was from San Diego to New York!
  • One of the first things a stowaway experiences is hypoxia, or lack of adequate oxygen supply. Keep in mind that the wheel well is an unpressurized atmosphere.
  • Accompanying the onset of hypoxia is heat that emanates from the friction the wheels had just experienced during takeoff.
  • I’m not going to do the conversion because I don’t know it offhand, but temperatures that accompany the standard cruising altitudes range from -43 to -63 degrees Celsius. (If you figure 0 degrees Celsius is freezing, that should give you some sort of idea).
  • As altitude increases, pressure decreases and at cruising altitudes, it is below that required to maintain brain consciousness. It is guaranteed that all stowaways, at cruising altitude, are unconscious.
  • Nitrogen gas embolism and decompression sickness (DCS) also plague stowaways. 
  • As the plane descends, the well returns to a more normal pressure and the temperature increases. If his heart hasn’t failed, he hasn’t frozen to death, his brain hasn’t been severely damaged or a few other things, the stowaway will regain consciousness during or after landing. 

With all of that to consider, it’s amazing that there is a survival rate at all among stowaways. Think about it - you may still not be fully conscious as the plane lands - if you move the wrong way, you can easily fall out.

Some specific cases:

  • In July of 1999, 2 stowaways, traveling from Conakry, Guinea to Brussels, Belgium, froze to death. They were boys and “were carrying a letter, written in imperfect French” which was widely published. 
  • In June of 2005, the remains of a stowaway were found on a plane that landed in JFK from Johannesburg via Senegal.
  • In January of 2007, a 17-year-old boy’s remains were found on a plane in Los Angeles, but he’d actually been a stowaway on the previous flight, to Cape Town. They just hadn’t found his body there.
  • In July of 2007, a man’s body was found in the wheel well of a plane in San Francisco that had arrived from China.

This study has much more information on the matter. 

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Teamsters in Hollywood

I’ll say it, though I know it’s not true across the board: teamsters in Hollywood give teamsters a bad name. In my past experiences, they’ve been rude and made me feel like I was doing something wrong even if it was my golf cart they were sitting on or even if I had just as much a right to be eating lunch as they did. I’ll spare you the stories, as they’re not that great, but suffice it to say that I’d rather be standing in line with Alan Arkin, making a fool of myself with nonsense small talk, then a teamster, no matter how big a beard that teamster may have.

  • The term teamster originally meant one who led a team of horses, mules or oxen (draft animals) who pulled a wagon.
  • It was commonly used on the American frontier during the US/Mexican and Indian wars (19th-early 20th century).
  • Today teamsters are truck drivers and there is a labor union, The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, one of the largest in the United States.
  • Founded in 1903, the union was originally called The International Noise Conspiracy.
  • JK, it was originally called The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America.
  • The prominence of teamsters in the movie business came about during the Great Depression, when the industry was booming and work was lacking elsewhere. 
  • Sure, it was good to have a job while so many others were out of work, but teamsters in Hollywood were exploited, paid very little and were very replaceable, as there were so many others lined up, waiting to take one’s place if he complained.
  • Faced with such circumstances, 180 men organized themselves into Teamsters Local 399 in April of 1930.
  • Today, over 4,000 people boast membership in the Motion Picture & Theatrical Trade Division. Animal wranglers are included in this division, as are a few other non-truck driving positions.
  • Teamsters are important and they know it - if they went on strike, the industry would shut down, but I feel like sometimes some teamsters exploit that fact, case in point with my lame, vague anecdotes.
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