Friday, December 1, 2006

The Reasonable Demands of the Messiah-God

Dear Friends,

   I recently did my will, and I basically used the standard form, with two exceptions. The first addendum was that I want my beneficiaries to give my Garbage Pail Kids to the poorest orphans they can find. The second is that I want my grandchildren to distribute a laminated pamphlet at my funeral, titled "The 250 Most Remarkable Failures of Zach London." I have already started working on the content of the pamphlet (with the help of my mother) and the graphic design of the pamphlet (with the help of my mother-in-law.)

   Failure # 20 was going to be, "His songs were completely devoid of educational value." Unfortunately, I now have to call my estate planner and have him add a little asterisk with a footnote that will read, "except in December of 2006." That is because the Hard Taco offering for this month is the culmination of several weeks of intensive historical research, entitled, "The First Three Wars." This compilation of brief songs is intended to supplement (or replace) the standard 11th grade American History curriculum. 

   It sounds trite to say, “I am not making this up.” However, in the case of what I am about to write, I feel compelled to say it anyway. 

   I am not making this up. 

   In truth, the facts I am about to tell you could not be any colder or harder.
   Somewhere in the Standish Federal Prison, a level V maximum correctional facility in mid-Michigan, amidst the 16-foot double chain link razor wire fences and five gun towers, lives a man named Chad Dekoven. Mr. Dekoven is serving a sentence for armed robbery of a Taco Bell. Did he rob the Taco Bell? Undoubtedly. Should I he be forced to serve his 20 year sentence? Mr. Dekoven believes that he should not, and the reason is quite simple. 
   He is the Messiah-God. 
   Chad Dekoven, 43, filed a formal complaint to the Michigan District court on April 26, 2001, naming among the defendants the United States, Great Britain, Israel, the Torah, and the publishing company Simon and Schuster.  He sought relief from these entities for wrongs committed against him, due to the failure of these defendants to acknowledge that the plaintiff's was the "Messiah-God" described in the Holy Bible.
   Mr. Dekoven claimed to have been known by over fifty other names throughout history, including Osiris, Ra, Yahweh, Lucifer, the Lamb, Jesus, Jesus Christ, Moses, The Creator, Allah, Satan, Zeus, Abraxas, Apollo, Hercules, Jupiter, Romulus and Remus, Dracula, The President, Job, Noah, Quetzalcoatl, Dionysus, and the holy name he chose for himself, Dakota Belzadok.
His complaint was 125-pages, mostly single-spaced, including over eighty pages of exhibits defending his allegation that he is the Messiah-God. Here is an excerpt: 

III. If the plaintiff can prove by scientific methods that he is the "Messiah," the "Anointed One," the "Alpha and Omega," "God in the Flesh," that the holy bible says was to come, then can any court in the United States or Great Britain, or Israel refuse to grant the plaintiff the relief he requests in this petition/complaint?

The relief that he sought was to be in the form of several political requests, including:
   a. Public acknowledgment by the state of Israel that the plaintiff is the King of the Jews.
   b. Issuance of a full pardon for plaintiff. (He explains that since he owns everything on Earth, he could not be guilty of robbing a Taco Bell.) Alternatively, immediate issuance of a parole, the full duration of which is not to exceed 60 seconds.
   c. Release from prison the killers of Yitzchak Rabin and a declaration of safe passage for Osama Bin Ladin.
   d. A public declaration that the defendant is also Allah and an immediate establishment of a state of peace and disarmament in the Middle East.
   e. A declaration that the founding fathers of America violated the Ten Commandments when they wrote the United States Constitution.
   f. A declaration that he is the rightful President of the United States. (This is based on the fact that his first name is “Chad,” so every vote cast in Florida’s presidential election was actually cast for him.)

Since some of these demands would have been moderately difficult for the Michigan District Court to grant, Mr. Dekoven offerred an alternative. He stateed that he would instead settle for:

   a. 600 million metric tons of .995 fine gold, 25 billion metric tons of refined steel, 50 million metric tons of refined copper, and 250 million metric tons of refined silver.
   b. 50 million metric tons of salt from the Detroit salt mines and 50 million metric tons of copper from Michigan's copper mines.
   c. 500 pairs of mature breeding lake trout, northern pike, small mouth and large mouth bass, perch, coho, brown trout, speckled trout, blue catfish, channel catfish, sturgeon, rock bass, bluegill, sunfish, and salmon.
   d. Five million breeding pairs of bison.
   e. 500 million mature breeding pairs of each species of crab and mollusk that inhabit the waters in the borders of the United States.
   f. 25,000 mature breeding pairs of every creature that exists in the State of Michigan.
   g. 45 million trees of various varieties at least 50 years old. 

   No mention was made of where these plants and animals should be delivered, stored, or kept, or how they would be cared for. 
   In his complaint, Mr. Devkoven explicitly invoked the provisions of several sources of authority upon which he based his claims, including the Holy Bible, the Magna Carta, the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Rights of 1765, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of the Confederation, the United States Constitution, and the Michigan Constitution of 1963. 
   Unfortunately, District Judge David M. Lawson was not swayed by Mr. Dekoven’s scientific methods, which consisted of, “numerology, symbolic name analysis, and sheer repetitive assertion that he is the Messiah-God.”  
   Judge Lawson’s argument to dismiss the case was based on several key precedents. (See footnotes below).  If you wish to speak with the Judge about this decision, his office phone number is (313)234-2660. 
   Mr. Dekoven was ultimately frustrated by the verdict. Being the Messiah-God is taxing enough when you’re not imprisoned. He wrote, “The plaintiff has a million things to get done and every day, every second makes his job that much harder.”   
   Here’s my Andy Rooney-esque wrap-up. Frivolous lawsuits are a tremendous waste of resources, and if there was ever a case for tort reform, this would be it. My recommendation is that the State of Michigan adopt legislation limiting the number of breeding bison that can be awarded in a civil suit to, say, one hundred thousand. Measures should also be taken to insure that if a nation-state is sued for millions of trees, said nation-state should be allowed to forfeit trees of all ages. 
   Finally, and most importantly, Taco Bell needs to relax their security measures a little bit, and stop calling the cops every time God doesn’t feel like paying for a Chalupa.



Precedents cited in Judge Lawson’s brief:
1. Grier v. Reagan, 1986 - plaintiff claimed she was God of the Universe and that President Reagan was spying on her using “an electronic eavesdropping device.” She sought items ranging from a size sixteen mink coat and diamond jewelry to a three bedroom home in the suburbs and a catered party at the Spectrum in Philadelphia.

2. Robinson v. Love, 1994 – A prisoner claimed that the prison staff members were holding plaintiff's relatives, friends, and neighbors hostage and that the plaintiff had been subjected to witchcraft. The judge dismissed the case, although he did note that it was “theoretically possible” that the plaintiff was right.

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Hard Taco Guide to Disney Sequels

Dear Friends,

   The Hard Taco song for November is a fanfare entitled, "The March of the Elephant and the Bee."  I actually wrote this song when I was 18, but I waited until now to record it so that its release would coincide with the pre-production of Dumbo II. Just in case Disney's new CEO, Robert Iger, has already run out of ideas for songs, I'm offering this one FREE OF CHARGE. 

   In order to get into the mind of a Disney sequel-writer, I hunkered down this week and watched all 25 of the sequels to Disney's "animated masterpieces" in chronological order. If you're not a big DTV (Direct to Video) fan, you may have missed some of these, so I took notes for you...

The Rescuers Down Under (1990) - Bernard and Miss Bianca arrive too late to pull the stingray out of Steve Irwin's chest cavity. 
Return of Jafar (1994) - Jafar is best remembered as one of the many characters not voiced by Robin Williams in the original Aladdin movie. In "Return of Jafar," he is one of the ALL characters not voiced by Williams. Presumably, this is how the movie got its title. ("Robin Williams isn't returning? Crap! Well, who is?) 

Aladdin and the King of Thieves (1996) - Aladdin makes a wish with crackers in his mouth, and spends the rest of the movie having to fly around on a magic armpit. 

Pooh's Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin (1997) - After an ill-advised wager at the dog track, Christopher Robin sheepishly returns to the newly-appointed "15 Acre Wood." 

Pocahontas II: Journey To A New World (1998) - Pocahontas joins an expedition to explore the Western United States. Most of the animators realized that head writer Allen Estrin was confusing Pocahontas with Sacagawea.  Unfortunately, as Japanese-speaking indentured slave children, there was little they could do about it.

The Lion King II: Simba's Pride (1998) - The continued adventures of Simba, Timon, Pumbaa, Nala, Kiara, Rafiki, Nuka, Nili, Zira, Kovu, Zazu, Umbo, Bilo, Obob, Nubob, Umbob, Jambi, Ibo-Wibo, Pupi, and Uuuu. 

Toy Story 2 (1999) - This was the first Disney sequel to use an actual "2", and the result was box office gold. Pocahontas II and The Lion King II, on the other hand, were complete flops, largely because most viewers mistakenly assumed that were entirely in Latin. 

Fantasia 2000 (2000) - This was actually a piece of futuristic exercise equipment that was designed to fit into a VHS case. Consumers were alarmed to discover that they had not purchased a movie, and even more alarmed to learn how easy it was to tone their abs, hips, and buns in under 15 minutes a day. 

An Extremely Goofy Movie (2000) - After the modest success of "A Goofy Movie," Disney masterfully modified their winning equation of Article-Adjective-Noun to Article-Adverb-Adjective-Noun. Unfortunately, prepositions, gerunds, direct objects, and interjections were not part of the magic recipe, and "An Extremely Goofy Movie Running Over Three Hours. Damn!" did not even make it to video. 

The Tigger Movie (2000) - In which Tigger "bounces" Kanga, and learns a valuable lesson about how emotionally needy single moms can be. 

The Little Mermaid II: Return To The Sea (2000) - Ariel's daughter goes swimming off the side of the royal yacht, and a reef shark bites off her whaddya' call 'em? Oh, feet.   

Lady & The Tramp II: Scamps Adventure (2001) - Those politically incorrect identical cats are back, and this time they're even more disturbing with their song, "We have Lyme Disease, if you please." 

The Hunchback Of Notre Dame II (2002) - This is the unlikely tale of a beautiful woman falling in love with a mentally unstable disfigured recluse. This is also the theme of every Woody Allen movie, but it's more believable when it happens to Quasimodo. 

Cinderella II: Dreams Come True (2002) - This is mostly exposition for the next sequel, "Sin-derella X - The Glass Stripper" 

Return To Never Land (2002) - Peter Pan reveals that the secret to "never growing up" is a simple surgery followed by regular supplements of estrogen and spironolactone. 

Tarzan and Jane (2002) - You can still buy the "Tarzan and Jane Platinum Edition" for a few more weeks, but the "Tarzan and Jane Restored Masterpiece Edition," the "Tarzan and Jane Two Disc Special Limited Issue Extended Collector's Edition" and the "Tarzan and Jane 3rd Anniversary Widescreen Gold Classic Collection" have all been put back into the vault. 

Atlantis: Milo's Return (2003) - Please identify the person, committee, or computer program responsible for deciding to make a follow-up to "Atlantis." Please fire, disband, or uninstall, respectively. Please do this now before we end up with sequels to "Oliver and Company" or "Treasure Planet." 

The Jungle Book 2 (2003) - This movie has only male characters in it, and the most any of them is wearing is a loincloth. How does that make you feel? 

101 Dalmatians II: Patch's London Adventure (2003) - In my opinion, this movie is really a rip off of its live-action counterpart, "102 Dalmatians I: One 100 Dalmatians, Too" 

Piglet's Big Movie (2003) - For years, I've been pointing out that If you took off Piglet's arms, legs, and head, he looks just like a funny little red larva. Of course, until I saw this movie, that was only a theory. 

The Lion King 1.5 (2004) - A scathing look at the ethical compromises and improprieties made by the producers of the first Lion King movie while filming on location, including Elton John's involvement with the bloody military insurrections that led to the globalization of the West African slave trade. Featuring new songs by Elton John. 

Mulan II (2004) - A stylish musical set in Paris at the turn of the 20th century about a poet (Ewan McGregor) who falls for a beautiful courtesan (Nicole Kidman) whom a jealous duke covets.

Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch (2005) - Disney has always preyed on the insecurities of young women by designing heroines who have bigger eyes than waists. Now, they're telling our children to get breast implants? I am referring, of course, to the hidden message in the title... "Stitch Has a Glitch" unscrambles to "Chic Gals Hath Tits." 

Pooh's Heffalump Movie (2005) - After nearly 100 years of wearing that short red T-shirt, Pooh finally realizes that bare midriffs are OUT. Instead, he sports a stunning violet chiffon and lace crew-necked jacquard coat with marabou Coulisse bag by Alessandro Dell'Acqua. $599. 

Bambi II (2006) - In an unfortunate attempt to reintroduce this classic to younger audiences, Disney hired dirty south rapper Lil Wayne to provide the voice for Bambi's rabbit friend, Thumper. Wayne insisted that the character be renamed "T-Hump" and rewrote all of his lines.  Here is an excerpt: 

Shake that cottontail, honeys / Let's do it like what? Like bunnies / The T-Hump wanna hop 'n jump you / bump you where the money is / Let me start tappin' that / Slappin' that / When the foot starts flappin', gonna pop you like bubble wrappin' / Watch it happen / I'll serve you up underhand / Understand? / I'm the white rabbit, follow me to Wonderland / Got your juices flowin' / No slowin', naw / The Hump ain't done / I keep goin' and goin' / Like the Energizer Bun.


Sunday, October 1, 2006

Spelling Bees of the Past, Present, and Future

Dear Friends, 

  The Hard Taco song for October '06 is called, "Mouf Breavah." You will find that this is a very satisfying combination of two words to say out loud. Even if the song doesn't get stuck in your head, you will surely find yourself prancing around, saying "mouf mouf mouf" halfway into next week. I felt the same way the first time I heard a song with the word "jiggy" in it.   

  Part of my incentive for introducing alternative spellings like "mouf" into the American rhetoric is that children have become far too good at spelling. In the 1930's, contestants won the National Spelling Bee for spelling words like knack, torsion, deteriorating, and initials. I am not making this up... in 1940 there was only one child in the entire country that could spell the word therapy. I'm not implying that your grandparents were retarded, although it would explain why you never see them working on Science Fair posters.

   Since then, kids have gotten smarter, spelling bees have become more ethnically diverse, and the competition has gotten exponentially fiercer. Some of the winning words from the last ten years have been vivisepulture, antediluvian, chiaroscurist, and succedaneum

   I realize that there has already been a documentary about spelling bee contestants, so I am compiling so archived footage into a documentary about spelling bee judges. It will be called "The Pronouncers." Here are a few excerpts: 

("The Pronouncers" - Scripps Howard Spelling Bee, 1944) 
Judge: Your word is, "Ahoy." 
Contestant: Can I have the definition? 
Judge: Ahoy. An interjection used to hail a ship or a person or to attract attention. 
Contestant:  Can you use it in a sentence? 
Judge: Use it in a sentence? 
Contestant: Yes, please. 
Judge: Ahoy! 

("The Pronouncers" - Scripps Howard Spelling Bee, 1961) 
Judge: Your word is, "bishopric." 
Contestant: Enamel. E-N-A-M-E-L. ENAMEL. 
Judge: What? No, your word is, "bishopric." 
Contestant: I'm sorry, I must have misheard you. Acuity. A-C-U-I-T-Y. Acuity. 
Judge: Well, yes, that is that is the correct spelling of that word.  
Contestant: D-W-A-R-F. Dwarf. D-W-A-R-F. 
Judge: Impressive! Wow, that's really good. Did anyone else see that? You're moving on to the next round!   

("The Pronouncers" - Scripps Howard Spelling Bee, 2002) 
Judge: Your word is, "Philamot-symblepharon-rescission-wayzgoose" 
Contestant: Can I have the language of origin? 
Judge: No. 
Contestant: P-H-I-L-A-M-O-T-S-Y-M-B-L-E-P-H-A-R-O-N-R-E-C-I-S-I-O-N-W-A-Y-Z-G-O-O-S-E. 
Judge: (Squeezes bike horn.) So sorry! We were asking for "rescission," which means, "the act of rescinding." You spelled "recision," which means "the act of rescinding, annulling or canceling." (Throws microphone at contestant.) Seriously, get the @#%$! off my stage. 
Contestant: Thank you, Ma'am. 

("The Pronouncers" - Scripps Howard Spelling Bee, 2006) 
Judge: Your word is, "Jiggymouf." 
Contestant: Awwww, yeah! 
(Strobe lights come on, and both start crunk dancing.) 

With warmest regards,

Friday, September 1, 2006

Elongated Coins - It's Not a Fad if it Lasts Forever

Dear Friends,

The Hard Taco song for September is called, "Lady Sawbones." Listening to this song is like lifting an oil tanker full of AWESOME and hurling it at your neighbor’s house. 

Meanwhile, I have prepared an educational essay on the Elongated Coin craze. If your computer is “slow,” you can learn about Elongated Coins while you’re waiting for the song to download. If your computer is “fast,” you can spend the next four minutes listening to the song now and wallowing in your ignorance about Elongated Coins.
an Essay in one part about The Elongated Coin craze
by Zach London

I was at one of the rest stops on I-294 last weekend, and they had one of those souvenir penny-stamping machines. You put in two quarters and a penny, turn the crank, and it scrunches your penny into an oblong disc with a commemorative picture of Abraham Lincoln and the phrase, "Illinois, the Land of Lincoln."

Before I ponied up the 51 cents, I did a quick search on LexisNexis, and confirmed that defacing money is illegal under United States Code Title 18 Part 1 Chapter 17 § 331. Specifically, “Whoever fraudulently alters, defaces, mutilates, impairs, diminishes, falsifies, scales, or lightens any of the coins coined at the mints of the United States... shall be fined up to $2000 or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.”

My initial feeling was that an object that would commemorate the great times I had at this particular Chicagoland rest stop might be worth a little hard time. On the other hand, it was hard to ignore the fact that the government-issued penny ALREADY HAS a picture of Abraham Lincoln on it. His face is at a delicate angle on the elongated penny, as opposed to the stark profile on the standard US Mint version. Nevertheless, it is unmistakably the same guy. When you tally up the 51 cent fee and the $2000 fine, it comes out to a pretty stiff price for a better view of the left side of Lincoln's forehead. If I'm going to pay that kind of money, I want to see the FULL MONTY, Mr. President. At least then I would have that tantalizing image to keep me warm during all of those lonely nights in prison between now and 2011. 

Despite their lack of popularity among pretty much everyone, Elongated Coins have been in production since the 1893 World Columbian Exposition. The penny smashing/squishing machines can be found at theme parks, novelty restaurants, aquariums, and observation decks all over the world. Here is the leading website for EC (Elongated Coin) fanatics.

Their slogan is, "For the SERIOUS EC Collector! Less like a hobby... more like an addiction!" This puts a slightly more positive slant on Elongated Coin collecting than their old slogan, "Can you imagine something worth even less than a penny? We can!"

Here are some of the most collectible Elongated Coins. Keep an eye out for them!

Girl Scouts of America Turns 90
Both Jesus and this Rooster Love You
Well-Hung Rake-Limbed People of Guam


Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Cor Blimey!

Dear Friends,

The Hard Taco song this month, "Maggie and Midge," is an entire musical tracing the events surrounding the mysterious disappearance and reappearance of Margaret Thatcher in the summer of 1985.

“Maggie and Midge” is already creating a buzz in the UK, and it has been reviewed by both the London Times and an East End Cockney newspaper called the Bethnal Green Register. Here is the synopsis of the storyline, as it appears in the London Times:

"Maggie and Midge is a succinct musical programme set in swinging London. Midge is a rattleboned guttersnipe, scraping out a haggard living in a Doffe Shoppe in West Wickham.  Margaret is a silver-tongued politician jaded by years of buttering up the peacocky peerage and overwhelmed by affairs of state. As it happens, they are physically indistinguishable! This rollicking tale of mistaken identities lifts the spirits and asks the time-honored question... what's all that then?"

Here is the same synopsis, as it appears in the Bethnal Green Register:

"Oia, love shite! Maggie and Midge is a Rory McGraff made by some septic not on your puff. Midge is a skint Lee Marvin brassy muvver of pearl feather flippin' in Shoreditch. Bird's got the Georgie Bests and right fancies stakin' the Arfur. Ol' Midge at the apple toff cheggars and pop can't drum enuff Becks and Posh from the kettle crank to pay 'er Burton-on-Trent, let alone 'er Jack and Jills when it gets bloomin’ taters.
Cor blimey, jeez mate! Maggie's the Brighamed tosser what works wif the Jimmy O'Goblin. She's a silly gilly mint at the number ten wiv plentya pie 'n mash. She's right quid, runnin' the Nelson eddies off up the apples and pear to Fakey Ned. Gobble o' lark, she gets barb wired of the six and eight Harry Tate when she's got the the plymouth argyle wif the baked bean. Mags gives Midge the Kornikova wif a cuppa rosy, dey take a penn'orth of chalk in the squitters. Bloody nora, as it 'appens, dey butchers! Dis 'eres a snide plonker totty dat danny trumpers and puts the brady's in the Keegan Wobble... Wots all dat den?"

Wif warmest regards,

Saturday, July 1, 2006

The Two Man Flannel Springboard 14" Flying Hack

Dear Friends,

In this issue:
I. Toe Heel Flap Step Stomp Buffalo Scuff He-ball
II. We Came, We Saw
III. New Hard Taco CD Available... wait for it... NOW!
IV. The Frugal Philatelist

Maybe you're a tap-dancing junkie, or maybe you're just a kid that likes to party now and again. Either way, I'm your pusher-man. The Hard Taco song for August is called, "The Funny Wagon," and it has all the real tap-dancing you need for some real good times this weekend. I've got your basic paddle and roll, your shim sham shimmy, and of course, I can set you up with some shuffle ball change heel dig flea hop flap triple cramp roll.

As a child I idolized the great tap dancers, many of whose names have long since been forgotten (I want to say Teresa Heinz and Danny Glover?) They had so much grace, and they could say more with a bunch of clicking sounds than most dancers could say with no sound at all. Truly, there is nothing more satisfying than the sound of metal on wood. Not only does that explain our universal love of tap-dancing, but it also explains our universal love of hitting cymbals with wooden drum sticks and watching horses walk back and forth on covered bridges.
It is also why one of the most popular sports on television is the Lumberjack Games.

What can I say? If loving lumberjack games is a crime, you might as well whip out the ink pad and take my fingerprints now, because I have no intention of being rehabilitated. I cannot resist the erotic sounds of the underhand chop, the jack and jill crosscut, the hot saw double buck, the ironjack axe throw, or the two man flannel springboard 14" flying hack.

You may be saying, "Hold on, Hard Taco. You didn't mention log-rolling (otherwise known as birling) in your list of favorites."  That was intentional, and asking only makes you look more foolish. Many of us do not feel that log-rolling should even be considered a Lumberjack Sport, because when the event is completed, the appointed log has not been chopped/cleaved whatsoever! You wouldn't say someone is a great axe-murderer because they can stand on top of somebody, would you? Of course not, and standing on top of a log doesn't make you worth beans as a lumberjack, either.

In reality, my beef with log-rolling is that it is the only event that doesn't produce that satisfying metal-on-wood sound. I have thought about this a lot, and I have reached the conclusion that the rules need to be modified so that the competitors wear tap shoes. It would sound just like regular tap-dancing, but soggier!

Anyway, if you want to get a taste for lumberjack sports, I recommend the Squamish Timber Sports Games in Sqamish, B.C., on ESPN3, or the Vicodin International Lumberjack and Lumberjill Games in Oconto, WI, also on ESPN3. The Vicodin International is the only event that I know of in which the chief sponsor is a schedule III narcotic.

Run, don't walk, to the nearest record store right now! Now turn around and run back home again!

Now you've burned off enough calories so that you can sit and listen to this CD a few times and not gain too much weight. The dazzlingly new album, "Down the Wrong Pipe," is guaranteed to be as loveable as your own children, and as magnificent as that necklace of human ears you made in Vietnam. As usual, the price is lung-shatteringly low at just $6, including shipping!

Have you fantasized about owning the rarest stamp in the world? When I was a kid I used to dream about that stamp with the upside-down airplane on it. Then I discovered girls. And then I discovered this stamp with 12 small tacos on it and forgot about girls completely. You, too, will lose interest in women once you see this stamp, and with enough of them, you can ship that mail-order bride back to Greece!

With warmest regards,

Thursday, June 1, 2006

Those Hot Pierogies at the Bottom of Your Spine

Dear Friends,

The Hard Taco song for June is called, "I MOON YOU!" It pays homage to two of the most beloved performers of the Russian stage. "Belka and Strelka", as they were known, were conjoined twins born in Moscow in 1855. The brothers were joined at the elbow, facing opposite directions, so one of them could speak to the audience while the other one mooned people.

Mooning was already a fashionable pastime by the middle of the 19th century, but the twins elevated the discipline an art form. Strelka was the traditionalist. He tirelessly studied the works of the European masters, attempting to replicate the buttock-unveiling techniques of contemporary and historical virtuosos. Belka was the innovator of the pair. He experimented with radical new methods, incorporating state-of-the-art technology into their act, such as Bunsen Burners and gyroscopes. In fact, Levi Strauss designed his prototype "blue waist overalls" at Strelka's request in 1873.

Their windfall came on a Spring day in 1882. Czar Alexander III was riding by the Golitsyn Hospital Gardens in his Imperial Troika when he happened upon the twins doing a street show. As luck would have it, Strelka was bent over at that very moment, performing a poignant rendition of Catherine the Great. The Czar reportedly stepped down from the carriage, raised his arms to the heavens and bellowed that he could not distinguish between his ancestor's butt and that of the artist.  Alexander immediately commissioned the twins to moon his wife, Czarina Maria, for her 35th birthday. Three weeks later in an extravagant banquet at the Terem Palace, Belka and Strelka had the opportunity to moon more than 400 of the wealthiest and most influential aristocrats in Europe. The event was so successful that the Czar named them Chief Mooners to the Imperial Court, and moved their workshop into the palace. 

For the next twelve years, they performed at the Bolshoi Theater four nights a week, honing their craft and their asses to perfection. It is said that their bare buttocks were so expressive, so emotive, they could make grown men weep with a single pants-dropping. They could moon at different speeds, different angles, and different levels of intensity, elegantly gesticulating a visual vocabulary of over 50,000 words and phrases. These moons did not just say, "Hey There!" These moons told stories.

Oh, and what great stories they were! They would moon Aleksandr Pushkin poems. They would moon Leo Tolstoy novels. After one show, Fyodor Dostoevsky himself dejectedly took the stage to confess to the audience that the twins' all-butt interpretation of "The Brothers Karamazov" was much more moving than the book he had written. "That's exactly what I was going for," he announced, "But I just couldn't figure out how to say it."

Belka and Strelka did not run from success, but they never forgot their humble beginnings. So long as they were in the employ of the Czar, they insisted on mooning the public at least one night a week, usually from the roof of the Grand Kremlin palace. These performances brought hope to the people of Russia during the bleak winters, and undoubtedly delayed the proletarian revolution by a number of years.

The twins died in 1896 when they were trampled to death on the fields of Khodynka following the coronation of Czar Nicholas II, along with over 1300 other civilians. When Nicholas heard of the tragedy, he immediately ordered their asses bronzed and hung in the antechamber at St. Basil's Cathedral, where they remain to this day. However, many historians feel that the buttocks on display in Red Square are poor representations of the original architecture, probably due to the trampling that occurred immediately before they were cast.

Now over a century later, the rich legacy of Belka and Strelka continues to touch people and inspire artists throughout the world. I hope you enjoy their song.

With Warmest Regards,
Hard Taco

Belka and Strelka were commemorated in 1960, when two dogs carrying their names were launched in to space aboard Sputnik-5, returning safely to earth one day later.

Monday, May 1, 2006

Let's Do the Timewarp, MacDuff

Dear Friends,

In this issue:
A. Rock Simply that Others may Simply Rock
B. Not Just for Pedophiles Anymore
C. Better than a Nose Zit, not as good as Entenmann's Glazed PopEms
D. Let's do the Timewarp, MacDuff

A. Rock Simply that others may Simply Rock
The Hard Taco song this month is called, "Stairwell of Bended Knees," and if you've got a battery-powered dancing Coke can with sunglasses, turn it on now... it will go absolutely NUTS to this song.

B. Not Just for Pedophiles Anymore
I have set up a Myspace Account for Hard Taco. Those of you who are over 14 are probably asking, "What's MySpace?" and "Where are my goddamn dentures, Gloria?" Time to bump up the Ditropan, you doddering old prune-beast. MySpace is a web community where bulimic teenagers and their favorite crappy bands can send each other flashy messages like "That's pimped!!!" and "Thanks for the ADHD!"

Hard Taco is changing all of that. The Hard Taco Myspace page openly welcomes moth-eaten carbuncle-encrusted relics like yourself to mingle freely with the beautiful people. It's also the only place in the universe where you can listen to the EXCLUSIVE release of "Down the Wrong Pipe," the eyebrow-furrowing title track from the upcoming Hard Taco album. I finally got the whole band together for this song, plus the entire lineup from USA for AFRICA!

C. Better than a Nose Zit, not as good as Entenmann's Glazed PopEms
The Hard Taco Project has received a GLOWINGLY NEUTRAL review on a popular website that I'm sure most of you visit frequently, Jeremy Broomfield makes Consumer Reports look like worthless crap. On the same page, he reviews Pedialyte, Tom Robbins, and nostril zits. I am proud to say that Hard Taco received higher marks than the nose pimples, but lower marks than a website dedicated to outlawing the use of the font 'Comic Sans.' Overall, I'd have to say that's a pretty appropriate assessment.

D. Let's do the Timewarp, MacDuff
I am amazed by modern adaptations of Shakespeare, because no contemporary director would even consider setting a Shakespeare play in Elizabethan England. They feel the need to put Juliet in fatigues, give her 80's hair, and have her lean off a portico in Managua, saying, "Art thou not Romeo, and a Sandonista?" I've seen everything from Hamlet set in Nazi Germany (where Claudius is Hitler and Hamlet's father represents the 6 million Jews) to Timon of Athens changed to a modern day San Fernando Valley high school dramady.

Furthermore, a good director should arbitrarily change the race or gender of one of the main characters. This trend took off in 1985 when Nell Carter starred in an Off-Broadway production of Henry V, coining the phrase, "Sugar, go get yo bad selves up on that breach one mo' time!" That’s not offensive at all!

This summer, I am excited to announce that the Stratford Shakespeare festival is putting on a version of MacBeth done Rocky-Horror Picture Show style. I would like to share a brief excerpt I saw on Good Morning America:
Witch 1: When shall we three meet again, in thunder lightning, or in rain?

(Audience: "When will you stop being a filthy slut?!")

Witch 2: When the hurlyburly's done, when the battle's lost and won.
Witch 3: That will be ere the set of sun.
(Audience throws SunChips at the stage and starts pelvic thrusting somewhat apathetically.)

With Warmest Regards,
Hard Taco