Real True Confessions With Padre Pienbique

Every once in while, in the name of perspective, a writer will air an opinion or two on his topic. Sometimes, a writer will even go and present some perspectives in a brighter light to make an argument. As long as the author isn’t writing a factual-based piece for the New York Times, fudging perspective to make a point usually helps an article move along. Especially if I’m hunting and pecking on my keyboard with two index fingers, one thumb, and one squinted eye desperately trying to keep the steadily-dimming image of the space bar from rolling up into the back of my skull?

Thus, it should come as no surprise when a reader takes exception to my ever-prejudicial opinions. I just received a letter from a radio DJ out of New Zealand chastising me for presenting, shall we say, an incomplete perspective on those wonder boys from down under- the Bee Gees.

Though he didn’t ride my dick for being a dick, he did spell out- in dedicated detail- the arc of their career, for better or worse, through the ages, complete with discrepancies and omissions in my research. Although his email had one of those legal disclaimers, I don’t think he’ll care if I report to you that he reminded me of some of the Bee Gees more dubious achievements, including Barry Gibb’s man-behind-the-curtain role on albums by Dionne Warwick and Barbra Streisand. (Speaking of perspective and impressions, the former will always be the queen the Psychic Friends Network, and even the most remote thought of the latter makes me want to light my own hair on fire while running naked through the streets screaming “Run for your your lives, Richard Simmons is coming!!!!!! AHHHHHHHHH!!!!?”)

All in all, this gentleman is a DJ, surely dedicated to his craft, not to mention a deacon of music appreciation. So I wrote him back:


Fair enough!

For reference, I used the Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll, which spelled out the Bee Gees earlier successes, though their influence as clean-cut troubadours left little-to-no lasting impression after Robin left to pursue a solo gig in 1970. (To tell you the truth, I’ve listened to "oldies" radio since I was a kid and I’m still shocked- well, not shocked, but something- at how little the "Bee Gees version 1" era songs are played, given their chart positions.) That’s the mental track I was on, as I was writing about influence, which is always a matter of perspective. Just as your perspective of their career may be enlightened if say, you folks in New Zealand were privy to their television show in the late sixties. (Did you ever see it? Was it akin to a down-under version of The Ed Sullivan Show?)

On that note, I must give you a note of gratitude, as I didn’t want paint their whole careers as artistically irrelevant- just that their talents as an act became the stuff of parodies even though Barry stayed busy as a beaver working for other artists into the eighties. As for the "hip quotient" pertaining to the trio themselves- well, all that’s fresh, rots, goes away and then becomes cool again given enough time (a la the “Bohemian Rhapsody” gag in Wayne’s World).

As an act of redemption and respect, I’ll go dig out my copy of Saturday Night Fever and crank it up as a soundtrack while I’m working on my new column, late as it is.


Andy Miller

P.S.: On a more personal note, how tired are you of Yankee tourists getting off the plane, thinking that all of New Zealand is just like Lord of the Rings? Have you ever overheard some yahoo asking out loud "Do you think I’ll get carded in Hobbiton?", "What’s the odds we can score some weed from those goofy-ass elves?", or worse "I’m gonna tag some that orc ass!"

To make sure that I wasn’t journalistically pissing in the wind for a second time, I broke out my Rolling Stone Encyclopedia again, where it automatically opened to the page presenting the Bee Gees discography, as the spine is still creased from having it out last month. Before I could look too far into the biography, I couldn’t stop laughing at the featured photo- The one where they’re sporting those tight white disco suits, with Maurice growing five times the hair on his chest than head, Barry is caught in the act of transforming into the Saturday Night Wolf Man, and Robin looking like he’s been spending his off time moonlighting as the ABBA’s fluffer.

Perspective indeed. Well, there’s little I could argue about the tastes of a foreign DJ when I live in country that has turned mall rat schmucks into American Idols? (Like I said: If Kelly Clarkston sells as many CDs as the Bee Gees, does that make her as talented?)

Of course, there are even worse arbitrators of talent than DJs and bass players. For example, there are always government officials. Recently, Chinese officials banned the state owned television stations from airing popular western animated shows such as The Simpsons, citing a national need to “protect” the burgeoning Chinese animation industry. And according to, Canadian border patrols have been keeping their citizenry safe from unsavory video titles such as Hotel Smotherfornia and Piss Boys In Love, while Hopalong Ass-Idy and Crouching Woman, Hidden Face have been deemed worthy of representing Canadian values. If that’s not particular enough, Foot Slave Prophesies vol. 1 gets the official nish-nish, only to make way for the upgraded morality of Foot Slave Prophesies vol. 2, which I can only assume is currently being used as a teaching tool for eighth-grade health classes in Winnipeg’s public school district.

Just as boys will be boys, governments can’t help but be the worst they can be, despite repeated warnings to the voting public. Here in the lower forty-eight, even the stalwarts of political life have been mixing it up, just in time for election season.

While still reeling from two electoral ass-whoopings, recently released voter statistics have shown the usually left-leaning middle class (as defined by annual household incomes between $30k and $75k) have been hanging their chads on Bush by 6 points, and throwing 4% more their votes at congressional Republicans, despite common sense.

However, the second a few inconvenient truths begin to surface about the Democrats core constituency, righty-tighty Kansas Republican Party Chairman Mark Parkinson (according to “came out of the closet” to reveal himself as a Democratic candidate for Lt. Governor.

For good or evil (probably good), Connecticut democrats told ensconced Senator Joe Lieberman to take his road show somewhere else, while throwing their primary votes at businessman Ned Lamont. To make matters worse for Lieberman, one of the state’s largest unions, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, switched their official endorsement to Lamont after White House officials supported Lieberman’s independent campaign, rather than face an actual challenge from the Democrat’s chump of choice. Meanwhile, Connecticut’s A.F.L.-C.I.O. leadership decided to stay “officially neutral.”

To add the proper perspective to this, saying the A.F.L.-C.I.O. is neutral about a Democrat’s candidacy is like saying Ron Jeremy is neutral on the topic of blowjobs.

No matter how we look at these clowns, they’re still a featured part of the circus. The New York Times, somewhere between their infinite wisdom and a penchant for improper predictions (see Al Gore 2000, John Kerry 2004) have tagged senate races leaning to the right with the republicans holding 50-54 seats, leaving the Democrats with 46-50 chairs spoken for.

As for the congressional races, the Times believe the Democrats might (and that’s a big might) get 222 of the 435 the total seats.

The Governor’s chair, always an election funhouse, is just too close to call. As if it matters. Every time a Governor makes good on an election promise, it’s usually beyond the realm of the average Joe’s tolerance for anything- Be it South Dakota’s Republican Gov. Michael Round’s recalcitrant demand that everyone who gets pregnant sees it through to the bitter end or Mitt Romney’s (D-Mass) proclamation that everyone is mandated to buy government health care, regardless if the price kills them. (If the thunder doesn’t get ya, Mitt Romney will?)

Now if you happen to be in a part of the country that could use a little government assistance- just as long as they don’t try to help– like say Louisiana, the prospects don’t look too good. Kentucky businessman Vernon Jackson was convicted in federal court of bribing Rep. William J. Jefferson (D-La) with $400,000 in cold cash and company stock to promote of all things on God’s green Earth, internet and cable ventures in Ghana, Nigeria, and that great nation of freedom and decency, Cameroon.

Meanwhile, Rep. Jefferson has stood pat, telling the press with a straight face: "I was surprised and disappointed to learn of Vernon Jackson’s guilty plea and of his characterization of our relationship."

This, I don’t doubt. I’m sure that Jackson wasn’t supposed to plead guilty, nor was he supposed to even acknowledge any relationship between himself and the good congressman from Louisiana.

In addition, Jefferson said in a statement issued by his office: "As I have previously stated, I have never over all the years of my public service, accepted payment from anyone for the performance of any act or duty for which I have been elected. I am confident and am trusting God, that this simple fact will be established in the proper forum as I am innocent in the matter to which Vernon Jackson has plead guilty."

In short, he wants you to know that he has never, never taken as much as a campaign contribution.

And why should he? We all know that nothing so dubious has ever happened down there in the bayou? lordy, lordy!

For the record, each and every time I’ve ventured into Louisiana, the only thing that sticks to me is a neon red stamp on my forehead that screams "GUILTY!"

Speaking of guilty, or pointlessness at least, when I was mowing the lawn last week, I had to stop to pick up a wayward political flyer that had blown off my porch, as this candidate’s street team monkey was too lazy to stuff it into my mailbox. (I’ll do his campaign a big favor by not naming him in this forum.)

After reading this flyer’s amazing laundry list of bullet-pointed bull-shit (Will work to create sustainable and renewable energy sources! Will determine and carry out an exit timetable in Iraq! I will make your whites white and socks smell like roses!), I re-arrived at the same conclusion that has haunted me since I ran for mayor of my hometown Northfield, MN: “Will work to create renewable and sustainable campaign promises that are more full of stinky hot air than my ass after drinking beer and watching the Vikings!” yadda-yadda

The truth is that of all the things this candidate is guilty of, it’s either:

1. He believes that as one freshman member of a 435-person congress, he’ll be charged with running a committee more powerful than The House Ways and Means Round Table For Putting a Thumb Up One’s Own Ass


2. He knows damn well that he’s the congressional whipping boy- and nothing more- yet still looks to begin a career in politics by skipping the oh-gosh earnestness of a naive do-gooder and proceeding straight to fucking liar.

With choices like this, Pinochet begins to look tempting. At least you know from the outset the exact width and girth of the shaft.

Although I would like- no, love- to say that somebody has your best interests at heart, the painful-awful-ness of our way of life states that when somebody is elected to represent you, they’re ultimately more interested in investing your money (and collecting skins on the side) to bring ESPN to Ghana or promising perpetual motion-based energy plants without disclosing the most basic truths about their own hot-air facilities.

This isn’t meant to discourage anyone from voting. But I do hope to keep wide-eyed youths from believing that just because they voted, they’ve made a positive difference in the lives of millions.

Perhaps it’s the simple act of voting that keeps our world turning. After all, we made democracy work despite our best efforts to screw it up, and we didn’t need an officially elected ass from Ghana to deliver CNN to our homes.

Drive Safe, be Nice To Your Mother And Drink Your Milk!

Summer is coming to a close and football season is here. Along with the shift in entertainment (too cold for outdoor screwing?) comes a shift in dinner plans. I don’t know exactly how this recipe ended up on my desktop, but I made it for my friends last Sunday as the Vikings sent the Carolina Panthers limping back home (to that delicious bar-b-que.)

Since the recipe calls itself "Vikings Victory Chicken Chowder," I’ll leave the name as is even though it’s so good as to wipe the bitter-ashen taste of defeat from the most die-hard Packer fan’s mouth. Plus, anything that calls out for “2 cans cheap corn” has to be a winner.

And just like the Vikings, this is undefeated. Enjoy!

Vikings Victory Chicken Corn Chowder

2 Cans Cheap Can Corn
1 Can Cheap Clam Chowder
1 Quart Half and Half
1/2 Lb Salted Butter
3 Peeled and Cubed Potatoes
2 Medium Chopped Onions
4 Finely Chopped Mexican Peppers
4 Lower Chicken Quarters (take the bones out)
2 Tbs Paprika
Salt and Pepper to taste

Briefly fry (5 minutes per side) chicken quarters on both sides with onions and half of the butter
Empty cans of corn and chowder in to large pot (all contents)
Add potatoes and bring to a boil
Add chicken, peppers and onions
Add paprika, salt and pepper
Keep at a simmer for 30 minutes
Add remainder of butter and half and half
Simmer low for 30 minutes

Padre addition: If you really want to stretch this out- and why not, it’s made to eat as cheap as possible- serve with rice or noodles. That’ll settle your hash

The Old Style Zealot of the Month is none other than our good friend Erick Sommers. Despite the daily degradation he suffers as the Chairman of the Rice County Democrat Farm-Labor Party, he remains one of the good guys. Just don’t vote for him or anyone he knows- including me.