Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Piggyback Ride from Batman

Dear Friends,

I. Your Hair Looks Great Today
It's true. And you know what would make this day even better? (You: Did you say something about a piggyback ride from Batman?)

No, even better. The new Hard Taco album, "Who Dares Disturb My Slumber?" It's available here, here, and here. To the stark naked eye, it looks just like any other compact disc, but if you gaze through the polycarbonate layer and reflect your laser vision back into your opto-electronic sensing organs, you will perceive combinations of zeroes and ones that will blow your tiny mind. (e.g. 1011 ker-pfff!)

And look, here comes the Dark Knight, crouching down for you to climb on his back, so you're getting both of the things you wanted!

II.  It's Called Picornavirus
Usually I try to say something positive about the monthly Hard Taco song to persuade you to listen to it, such as, It's very danceable or This song will soothe your hoof and mouth disease.

This month, I make no such claims. The December Hard Taco song, "Fancy," will speak for itself, and if your hooves are really that painful, I'm sorry, but you just need to suck it up and go into quarantine with the other infected cattle.

III. Back Off: I've Got an Iron-On
When I lived in the U.P., we had a family friend who owned a T-shirt store. One my earliest memories is flipping through a giant catalog of images to pick an iron-on for my size 3T powder blue T-shirt.  From thousands of choices, the image I selected was the Loch Ness Monster upsetting a rowboat. There was a man in the rowboat, futilely trying to fend the ferocious creature with a broken oar. It was the coolest thing I had ever seen.

I felt invincible when I wore that shirt and I was convinced that other kids were struck dumb with fear and awe.

"Here comes that preschooler with the sea monster capsizing the rowboat," they probably whispered to each other, "We'd better stand back. He's just so... macho."

After wearing it for 100 consecutive days, the transfer peeled off, but by then I had moved on. In the coming years my badass ideal would evolve from  being plesiosaurus-based to being sunglasses-based. Soon, I only wanted T-shirts of characters wearing enormous black shades, like Chester Cheetah or that one California Raisin. This was cathartic for me, you see. I've never really been able to wear sunglasses myself because my ears are affixed to my head at different heights. (It's a common problem. Like 10% of people have it.)  At best, sunglasses look foolishly askew on my face, like someone trying to do a parallel bar routine on the uneven bars. But I was at peace with that, because I could wear a T-shirt with a close-up of a surprised Marty McFly lifting his Ray-bans, and that was the next best thing.

IV. Today's Toddler T's.
My son only wears hand-me-downs from his cousins, so as much as I'd like to, I can't take credit for how badass most of  his clothes are. These are all real T-shirts I've seen on him or his contemporaries, and each one is more awesome than the last.

Image                                                           Caption:
Two helicopters                                            Tactical Team!
A tractor                                                       Total Quad Traction!
Buzz Lightyear                                             Target is on Approach!
A motorcycle at a 45 degree angle                Extreme Dirt Bike Zone!
A motorcycle, not at an angle                       Supreme Maximum Velocity!
Different kinds of balls                                 Playing Sports Every Day is Not Enough!
A giant number 80                                       Dinosaurs: 80 MILLION years ago!

None of the children who wear these shirts are old enough to read, so I assume that the captions are directed at older kids. "I'd better not pick on that toddler," a would-be bully might say, "His desire to play sports is insatiable!"

With warmest regards,

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Quarterback Sneak and Other Signs We've Lost Our Moral Compass

Dear Friends,

The Hard Taco song for this month is called, "Drain the Pool," and it is heavy on the synth. If you don't like synth, it might make you wynth, but you'll dance so hard you'll get shin splynth.

People, I feel sick today. Sick from the immortality and deception that blankets our society like icing on a Cinnabon. When I was watching the sports last Sunday, I saw something that registered a bad angle on my moral protractor... a quarterback pump fake. The signal caller extended his arm as if to throw the ball, but didn't let go of it. He didn't throw the ball at all!

I know how linebackers must feel when subjected this kind of footbally subterfuge. I experience the same sense of betrayal whenever I discover regular-sized crackers in a box, even though the picture on the box has been enlarged to show texture.  Both the quarterback and that cracker box make my moral litmus paper turn Pink. As. Hell.

Every culture has its own approach to the philosophy of ethics. Our moral thermostat has three settings, corresponding to the categories in 20 Questions. All ethical issues are Animal, Vegetable, or Mineral.

Should our furry, 12-teated step-cousins enjoy the same rights as humans? I think they should, but it wouldn't hurt their case if they asserted themselves a little more. The last animal that I interacted with (who, granted, was a lamb chop) was pleasantly docile and did not stand up for itself when I tried to smear it with mint jelly.

I've heard religious justifications to support our subjugation of animals. If God didn't want us to wipe our bums with real archaeopteryx feathers he wouldn't have put nature's most luxurious toilet paper on the napes of the prehistoric birds.

But if you are a more of a secular omnivore, and aren't swayed by all this God talk, think about this. Animals have it way better than us in lot of important ways.  I heard a cockroach can go seven days without sweating, and that's utterly bad ass. And I don't know about you, but I can't beat my wings 90 times per second, or fit a whole bunch of acorns in my cheeks. Also, have you ever noticed that other than the snail and the turtle, every animal on Earth is faster than us? There are literally billions of animals that can outrun people, and only two that can't. My moral astrolabe tells me that we must eat those billions of animals in the interest of fairness. And heck, if a turtle attempted to eat me, I'd let it! Snap away, my slimy little friends, you deserve to catch a break.

Grandpa had indicated in his Living Will that he does not want life sustaining interventions. Now that he's in a coma, do we have to disconnect him from life support or should we wait around a few weeks to see if someone at Mayo Clinic discovers a treatment for malignant throat worms? More importantly, does honoring Grandpa's autonomy trump the preferences of the worms? (See "Animal" above.)

This decision would be much easier if we follow the European model, which takes all control out of the hands of the family. All European patients are put on a ventilator after cardiac arrest,  and all of them die within 10 minutes. It has something to do with the fact that the outlets look weird in Europe. If you can't insert the plug in the first place, you don't have to worry about pulling it!

Conflict Minerals. They're so darn tempting.
Like most people, when I hear about a bargain on imported bauxite or talc, I break out the debit card and start swiping it back and forth in anything that has a slit. But what if I told me that buying those minerals was funding machete parts for Congolese ethnic cleansers? What if I proved to myself that half the cost of my wife's gypsum necklace was funneled to a Liberian slave insurrection and the other half went to the forces that put down that insurrection?

Honey, my moral Geiger counter is crackling when I point it at your neck, because you're wearing blood gypsum. 

With warmest regards,

P.S. Conflict vegetables: Not a healthy part of anyone's food pyramid.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Flight Attendants Cross-Check and Prepare for Conniption

Dear Friends,

They say that closing your eyes heightens your other senses. With that in mind, try listening to the new Hard Taco song, "The Gem of the Argosy," with your eyes closed. It will sound like a rich symphony of lustrous tonality. It will also make that pen you're chewing on burst with the flavor of 100 pens.

I think the worst sound I ever heard was a rabbit screaming. Even with my eyes open, it was indescribably awful. Wild animals are stoic, so by time you hear them scream, it is probably too late to save them, feed them, or stop annoying them. Here's the best way to predict what a screaming animal will sound like:
1. What kind of animal is it? Take the first vowel of that word and write it ten times in a row.
2. Add an 'h' and four exclamation points.
3. If the scream continues for more than ten seconds, select the second vowel in the name of the animal, and repeat.

As you can see, there are five (and sometimes 6) different animal screams. A rabbit makes a gut-wrenching shriek, but a toad may sound pleasantly surprised or even sassy, depending on the intonation.

This rule applies to people, too
But without looking, there is no way to discriminate between the sound of a torture victim, a burn victim, the family member of burn victim, or a perfectly normal toddler. In my neighborhood, it almost always turns out to be the normal toddler. (Reminder to self: investigate whether or not any of those toddlers have burned family members.)

The coolest screaming toddler I ever met was sitting a few rows in front of me on a plane when I was coming home from college one summer. The little girl's mom was employing increasingly venomous whispers to convince her to sit down so the plane could take off, but the kid kept unbuckling her seat belt and jumping on her chair.

A flight attendant came to the aid of the beleaguered mother, hoping to prevent further delays. "She's two? No, I'm sorry," the attendant said, "You can't hold her on your lap during takeoff. She will have to stay in her own seat."

So it came to this: the mother and the flight attendant each held half of the child's body, trying to forcibly fold her midsection so they could cram her into her seat.  Even with two adult captors restraining her, the child's puerile fury gave her strength to break free for a moment. She stood up, pulled her head up over the seat back behind her, and with tears cascading down her face on both sides, let out a desperate appeal to the strangers behind her. "Somebody help me," she begged, as her mother pulled her back down from behind, "I'm only a baby!"

That story, which made me giggle for over a decade, became less amusing when I found myself in the role of the parent.

You Shall Not Pass!
Lauren and I grade tantrums on a five point scale, based on the volume, pitch, and duration of the outburst. Extremes in each of those categories can only get you up to a class four. To merit a class five rating, the tantrum must also cause small blood vessels in the face and throat to rupture. This causes the voice to adopt an inhuman timbre that is only be familiar to new parents and people who have overheard a Balrog being banished back to Hell.

My own three-year-old exhibited class five hysterics on a plane once. Most of the passengers in coach were peppered with milk, spittle/phlegm, and pages of Delta Sky Magazine. I was certain that the shrill oscillations emanating from his vibrating gorge would interfere with the aerial navigation system. I was also certain that everyone else on the plane was thinking, "What horrible parents! They won't lift a finger to prevent that child from making our plane crash into the ocean!"

When the fit finally tapered off, my heart rate normalized, and I realized that the fracas may not have been as disruptive as I thought. Evolution has provided us with several skills that are necessary for the survival of our species, and one of them is the ability to ignore screaming toddlers. In fact, the other passengers probably weren't paying attention to my son's tantrum at all.

What they were really thinking during the flight was, "I wonder if a wailing yak goes aaaaaaaaaah or yyyyyyyyyyh?"

With warmest regards,

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Jack of all Tirades

Dear Friends,

The Hard Taco Song for September is called, "Jack of Any, Jack of All." Enjoy it irresponsibly.

At the University of Michigan, doctors dictate clinic notes into a phone and within a few hours a written version comes back, ready for to be signed and mailed to the referring physician.  The voice recognition software (or Trickster God) responsible for transcribing my dictations is a cruel deceiver, bent on altering the meaning of my correspondence without me noticing.  Real example:

The patient is very frustrated by the pain from her chronic unexplained illness... I will start morphine as needed.


The patient is very frustrated by the pain from her chronic unexplained dullness... I will start morphing as needed.

When I was a first year neurology resident, my friends training in ophthalmology had a small wager to see if any of them could plant the phrase, "Shiver Me Timbers" in a clinic note. This concept amused us to no end, because there is no way an eye doctor could dictate that expression inconspicuously.

Slit lamp examination shows increasing cataract peripherally in the left eye. The pressures are 22 bilaterally but... Shiver Me Timbers! There is no significant evidence of optic disk cupping!

As a neurologist, though, it's as easy as falling off a velocipede. We often have patients repeat simple phrases to assess their ability to process language. When a woman with memory complaints came to my clinic, I simply said, "Please repeat after me. Shiver Me Timbers."

"Shiver Me Timbers," the patient replied, dutifully.

The patient is a 60 year old woman with a chief complaint of forgetfulness. On examination, she was awake, alert, and [insert pirate accent] could repeat the phrase, "Shiver Me Timbers!" It is my impression that she is neurologically intact. Avastin!

Avastin is the trade name of a chemotherapy drug that was obviously developed by a scurvy-riddled buccaneer. I did not suspect a brain tumor in my patient, of course, so I had to end this dictation with:

Is not indicated at this time.

Here are some other medical terms that I always dictate with a pirate accent:
1. Aricept (A dementia drug. As in, "The patient was unable to repeat Shiver Me Timbers. I will prescribe ARRRicept.")
2. Blow the Man Down (A neurologic test that indicates a patient's balance is very poor.)
3. Pillage (The act of prescribing oral medications, such as ARRRicept)
4. Hearties ("The patient has cardiomyopathy and is now on the transplant list, in case any hearties become available.")
5. Fire in the hole (Hemorrhoids)
6. Privateer ("After delivering the bad news, I stepped out of the room so she could share a Privateer with her family.")
7. Abaft ("The patient should tape a plastic bag around her foot to keep the sutures dry when she is taking abaft.")
8. Keelhaul (What Oates will have to do if he ever wants to be the front man. Surprisingly, this phrase is not commonly used in medical dictations.)

A couple years ago, I had the opportunity to to write a chapter about the neurologic examination for the Oxford American Handbook of Neurology. You can preview this book for free on Google Books, and after reading the delicious passage on the top of page 22, turn back to page 21, where you will see the London Shiver Me Timbers Test included as part of the standard neurologic examination.  I'm bolding it not because I enjoy the time-consuming act of pushing the Ctrl key (I don't), but because it is a powerful and original idea, and I must remember to pay myself royalties for mentioning it here.(1)

There's more to this story, but I must stop here because I feel the need to start morphing at this time.

With warmest regards,

Hard Taco Homepage:

(1) I have another great idea, but I'm not sure I'm the first person to come up with this. What if we make a velocipede that has two wheels the same size rather than a ridiculously large front wheel and a ridiculously small rear wheel?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Calling All Chain Ganglies

Dear Friends,

Great news, adolescent yardbirds! "Busting Out of Juvie," the joyful new song from your friends at Hard Taco, will walk you through the procedures for unincarcerating yourself. 

Be assured that my pedigree as an escapology coach is excellent. In the slammer they referred to me as Professor Slippery because no cell could hold me. (Before that, I was known as Adjunct Professor Slippery because I hadn't yet published enough to make tenure.) I earned those monikers by escaping from handcuffs, straightjackets, hermetically sealed coffins, barrels, a uterus, and fish-tanks. When it comes to prison breaks, I guess you could say I'm an expert.

As point of fact, I am an expert... the only reason I'm guessing you could say it is that you may have recently injured your larynx. (Perhaps in a botched prison break?) 

You Can't Practice Escapology without Apology

You all used to laugh at me when I stayed after school to untie all the knots in the soccer nets while holding my breath. Now I'm on the outside, and you're in the can. Who's laughing now? Certainly not you with your ruptured larynx. But that's all water under the bridge. You need to bust out of lockdown, and Emeritus Professor Slippery is here to help.

The most common mistake that prospective escapees make is waiting until the time is right. If you have that mindset, you'll never get out of prison. Something will always come up! First, you'll tell yourself, "I'll just wait until the trigger-happy tower guard is on vacation." When he is, you'll say, "I should probably stay until I finish a few more license plates, just to complete the series."  Next thing you know, you've served out your entire sentence, and you never even burrowed into a single sewer pipe. 

No, if you're going to take a powder, you should do it this very instant. Print out the rest of this document and take it with you, following these instructions in real time.

1. Roll up your dirty uniforms and stuff them under your sheets so it looks like there is a sleeping body in your bed.  Fill socks with cigarette butts and candy bar wrappers and lay those along side the wadded up uniforms so it looks like arms. Once the body looks believable, put a lifelike silicone replica of your head on the pillow.

2. Bribe the trigger-happy tower guard to hand deliver a sealed envelope to the warden. Surprise! The letter within the envelope orders the warden to kill the person who bore the message. This works especially well when the guard is Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, but it will ultimately backfire if he is a handsome peasant who wants to marry your daughter. 

3. Swipe a butter knife from the cafeteria and swallow it. Fake a seizure (or have a real one if you are able.) They will rush you to the infirmary. As they charge up the defibrillator paddles, cough up the butter knife and hold the medical assistant hostage until he gives you an alcohol wipe, a centrifuge, a latex glove, and a bag of normal saline. Swallow them.

3a. Fake another seizure, and then run like mad into the yard. With any luck, the trigger-happy tower guard will be dead by the warden's hand, or at least on vacation today. 

4. Cough up the centrifuge and use it to climb the inner wall. It's difficult to explain this procedure in writing, but here's an drawing of how it works.

\ /
| |
| |c \\o..
| |    / \
| |          '
| |

c = centrifuge

Hopefully, you don't accidentally drop the butter knife when you're half way up like you do in my drawing, but if you do, DO NOT GO BACK FOR IT unless there's time.

5. Cough up the latex glove and use it to climb over the barbed wire without getting electrocuted or punctured. 

6. The last hurdle is the outer fence. By now, the alcohol wipe and bag of normal saline in your stomach have suppressed your appetite so that you have lost enough weight to slip through the bars easily.

7. You're free! Before they catch you again, enjoy the things that free people do, like going to the Farmer's Market or burrowing into a sewer pipe.

With warmest regards,

Friday, July 1, 2011

And I Will Share This Tiara With All the Poor People of Little Rock Could These New Features BE More Salient?
There is a new Hard Taco website, and it is as smooth as a Ken Doll.  There are any number of cool features that will make your bow tie will spin around like a pinwheel.

1. All the songs we ever recorded (hundreds of them) are available for free streaming or download. 
2. The Hard Taco Digests are finally a bona fide ever-lovin' blog.
3. CDs are still for sale, but hopefully you know better than to pay for a CD when you download any of the songs for free. You're no greenhorn. 
4. Heartier nooks, tastier crannies.

"Yeah, It's Really Interesting, and if it Makes You Happy, That's What's Important"
The Hard Taco song for July, "The Alchemy of Blank Verse," was written for and performed by the cast of The Penny Seats' Summer production of "Good Night, Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet)." Most of these people are very popular, so I am hopeful that they will get all kinds of false compliments on this song! 

How to Be Miss Arkansas Starting a Few Days from Now
The next most exciting thing about this July (and it's a distant third) is the impending Miss Arkansas Pageant. The grand prize is a $20,000 educational scholarship, but I found a loophole that allows you to spend all of it at the campus snack bar. 

Contestants, when you were a kid, did you read that book about a lovable stuffed bear named Lose-y the Pooh? I didn't think so, because you're a winner. If you want to stay that way you need to listen up and listen hard. I can't make you talented or beautiful. That would require alcohol consumption by you and the judges, respectively.  But I can help you ace the question and answer session. Just listen for the most common buzzwords, then recite one of these audience-pleasing platitudes. 

If the judge says "Blah blah blah Energy blah blah blah"
As ever, we must all do our part to reduce fossil fuel consumption. Tonight I rubbed KY jelly on my teeth instead of petroleum jelly. All of the contestants you see before you have shiny teeth, but I will not have oil spills on my conscience. Now that's something we can all smile about!

If the judge says "Blah blah blah Goals blah blah blah"
The biggest honor in my life has to be to serve terms as Tiny Miss Arkansas, Little Miss Arkansas, Teen Miss Arkansas, and hopefully soon, Miss Arkansas. My long term aspirations are to be Mrs. Arkansas or Madame Arkansas. One day, I hope to wear a sash that says "The Plus-Sized Widow Arkansas."

If the judge says "Blah blah blah Family blah blah blah"
The person I most look up to is my father. Words cannot express my love and respect for this man who raised three daughters by himself, working two sales jobs to keep food on the table. That is why, while answering this question, I chose to chisel a life-sized ice sculpture of him. He is holding a bottle of maple syrup that he just brought us as a souvenir from one of his sales trips, and... there, he's waiting for us at the Texaracana train station. This ice sculpture train works, so I would ask the other contestants to please look both ways and listen for the bell before crossing the tracks.

If the judge says "Blah blah blah Immigration blah blah blah"
Two thirds of the America's honeybees have died mysteriously since 2006, but our vegetable and grain production has never been more robust. That's because migrant workers from Central America travel the country all year, spreading pollen around with their hands and faces. The bees have died because our ecosystem doesn't need them any more. But what about the hard-working men and women who are getting laid off from the Epi-pen factory? We need bees to support that part of our economy, because migrant workers are decidedly hypoallergenic. That's why I support more stringent immigration laws, as ever.

If the judge says "Blah blah blah American Dream blah blah blah"
Let's recapture that spirit of innovation that America was built upon! Picture this: a car with an electric engine, but gasoline-powered windows and locks! When I close my eyes, I imagine driving such a car down Main Street with the gasoline-powered windows rolled down. There are dozens of people running behind me in slow motion, shouting, "American innovation!"

If the judge says "Blah blah blah Values blah blah blah"
Before she passed away, my grandmother told me, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." Grandma, I promise you that I will strive to be self-reliant. I will make the best of every situation, even when the chips are down. I will also consume countless pitchers of sweetened rodent bone-slurry, just in case I misheard you, and you actually said "when life gives you lemmings..."

With warmest regards, 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Bloody Leotard

Dear Friends,

The June Hard Taco song is called, “Big-Calved Woman.” It’s a little misogynistic, has only two chords, and features a rather grating vocal track. If that doesn’t scare you away, what if I tell you that it is performed by hornets and Chinese puppets?!  (These are your deepest fears, according to the “browser cookies” in your computer.)

If you were able to ascertain my darkest secrets by querying my cookies, you would discover that I have been harboring a lot of guilt for something I did when I was 17.  I broke a ballerina’s leg. This particular dancer was male, but he was wearing a frilly pink tutu, so one could feel justified referring to him as a ballerina. The injury took place as the result of me running my parents’ station wagon into him in a parking lot, pinning his legs between two cars. It was probably the first time he had ever held his feet in fifth position.

The maimed ballerina was an aspiring comedian working as a “ballet parker” at a Milwaukee club called Comedysportz. I spent many evenings and weekends at that club because I was on the Nicolet High School Comedysportz team. Every Saturday morning, we would match our wits against one of the other schools, and by “wits” I mean “ability to think of terrible puns while cross-dressing.” It was the only sport I did in high school and shut up, it is too a sport. Competitive improv a sport in the same way that beer pong is a sport. Some people are certainly better at it than others, but everyone finds themselves hilarious after playing for an hour. Also, as it turns out, both increase your risk for having your legs crushed in a car accident.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

You're Going to Feel My Finger Now

Dear Friends,

    On December 7th, 1941, a Japanese fighter pilot crash landed on Ni'ihau, the smallest and westernmost Hawaiian island, mistakenly believing it to be uninhabited. The remarkable events that transpired on that tiny island over the next six days have become known as "The Ni'ihau Incident." I'll let Wikipedia tell you the story. Since reading this, I have been obsessed with the idea that this needs to be made into a stage play. I couldn't write a play to save my life, but I can write songs (especially if lives are on the line), so I composed a song about what it would be like if there was a play about the Ni'ihau incident.

The Boggy Man

I was 19 years old and seriously considering medical school, so my dad made arrangements for me to  spend an afternoon shadowing a colleague of his in the family medicine clinic. The first patient we saw was an elderly gentleman presenting for a routine health maintenance examination. Dr. Bower wasted no time introducing me as "Student Doctor London," and announced that I would be assisting him with the rectal exam.

 The misleading title made me a bit uncomfortable, but I loved the idea of "assisting." It implied that a good rectal exam requires teamwork, and I was part of that team!
So here I was, snapping on a latex glove and squirting lube on my right index finger. This is how the first patient encounter of my life would begin.

"Do you feel it?" Dr. Bower asked, "Do you feel the prostate?"

"Maybe," I said, "Actually, I'm not sure."

"You'll know you're there, because it feels just like the tip of your nose."

I carefully brought my ungloved left index finger to my nose and gently rubbed it back and forth. I was surprised to discover that the tip of my nose had a subtle divot that I had never noticed before. 

Friday, April 1, 2011

Postcards from Panama, Part 3

Dear Friends,

The Hard Taco song for April is called, “Spinneret.” It is so energizing that after you listen to it, you will be able to go to your middle school gymnasium and beat your best time at the shuttle run. 

With warmest regards,

Postcards from Panama City, Part 3
(You may enjoy re-reading Part 1 and Part 2 beforehand)

Dear Karen,
I have great news. I hired a secretary to take dictations for me. He is bilingual and does secretarial work full-time for only $300 a month! I will have him sign his name after mine at the bottom so you can see how different our handwriting is. 

I’m very excited about this, because now I can finally get some exercise while I write! As you know, there are three forms of exercise: strength training, toning and cardio. With my body type and long term goals, I have decided to focus 100% of my efforts on toning. I have a "toning diary," which is a piece of graph paper where I will log objective and subjective observations about my muscle tone. 
With warmest regards,
y Hector

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Numerators of the Lost Ark

Dear Friends,

Your name is Carmencita Calderón. It is 1930, and you are the dance partner of Cachafáz, the most notorious tango dancer in Buenos Aires. His pock-marked face and slick choreography are legendary, but you do not love him. No, your heart belongs to a man they call El Vasco, another professional tango dancer who left Argentina ten years ago to seek his fortunes in the smoky nightclubs of Paris.

After sending you not so much as a letter for years, your lover returns unexpectedly and sweeps you up in a particularly fiery tango. But Cachafáz is a jealous man. He challenges El Vasco to a high stakes dance-off, to the death. You know this is a battle your love cannot win. You must beg him to flee, flee the country this very night and never return!

This, dear friends, is the story of “El Vasco,” the Hard Taco song for March that will break your heart into mil piezas de dolor, a thousand aching splinters.

Numerators of the Lost Ark
The so-called Golden Ratio, (a+b)/a = a/b, has been used as far back as Euclid to make the world’s most beautifully proportioned rectangles. In his seminal textbook Elements (~300 B.C.), Euclid describes an incident in which King Ptolemy spends a whole Saturday working on a new rectangle and neglects to use the Golden Ratio to choose its proportions. Ptolemy invites Euclid to brunch at the palace to show off the rectangle, and all Euclid can do is smile politely and comment about what a nice personality it has. And you know what’s also nice, Your Highness? (a+b)/a = a/b.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Dry Heaves for the Packers

Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers are good at football
The evolution of a Packers fan between 1997 and 2011.
Dear friends,

This month's Hard Taco release is a (nearly) 7 minute opus called, "The Pottage Point Centennial Band." I realize that only unemployed people have enough free time to listen to something that long, which is why I waited until this year to release it.

But before I can write another word about it, let's talk football, because I have a hard time talking about anything else these days.

Nicholas Dodman is an an animal psychologist who wrote a book entitled, "The Dog Who Loved too Much." I haven't read it, but the first chapter was described to me as follows: The author has a patient, a dog, who loves her owner too much. When the owner leaves the house each morning, she becomes so worried that he won't return that she loses control of her bladder. She paces around the house peeing on everything. When he finally comes home at 5 pm, she is so overjoyed to see him that she throws up. The joy is so pervasive that she vomits constantly until he leaves again the next morning, at which point the bladder problem kicks in again.

That is how I feel about the Green Bay Packers. It is a special kind of staggering love that only emotionally disturbed dogs and true sports devotees can experience. We soar, we suffer, and we soar again, and all of it is unhealthy.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Insert not Make Dangerous in Flammable Substance

Dear Friends,

     The Hard Taco song for January, “A Man and His Jeweler” contains no less than three explicit lyrics. This is a bit of a departure for me, because in real life, the dirtiest words I use are zounds, poppycock, criminy, and during Michael Jackson impersonation contests, smooth criminy.
     This song goes out to my late Grandma Shirley, who would have loved cash-money-bling-bling rap if she had lived to see its heyday.

     This being the 104th Hard Taco Digest, I humbly accept my place among the pantheon of the world’s most successful writers of unwanted emails. Today, I’d like to honor the men and women whose shoulders I stand on with a tribute to some of my favorite writers of indecipherable spam.
   Spoiler alert: the unifying feature of all great spam is the liberal use of the double exclamation point!!

“Electronics and Other Goods”
Friend, are you doing? Honest, Does you approve online purchasing? I often shop goods store in a network, and mainly electronic products, even refrigerators ,yacht!! All products are sold regular discount, so see if you must need commodities at this website. Click and please make a talk!!