Click a subject and you're off.

American Folk Music

County Records — I got into early country music late in life, but even a Johnny-come-lately like myself can recognize the thinly disguised rock 'n roll crap masquerading as country today for what it is (though Shania Twain does have a nice butt). County carries reissues of string bands of the 20s and 30s, some nascent Nashville, and the peerless Delmore Brothers.

Old Time Music Home Page — Great information, biographies, and links for old style southern music (I haven't delved that deeply, but I get the impression that this, unfortunately, mostly covers old-time WHITE southern music). Look up Ralph Blizard, an 82-year-old fiddler who'll strike you dumb with his longbow technique if ever you see him in person.

Mudcat Cafe — Another good source for folk, country, and old-time tunes, lyrics, information, and the like.

Blues World — A grand source of links to blues sites. Terrific concentration on the pre-WWII stuff.

Folk Index — If it's country, blues, "old-timey," or whatever, and it was committed to vinyl, it's probably listed here.

Mugwumps — More terrific resources for "old-time" music and instruments.

June Appal Recordings — The Appal Shop was started as part of the War on Poverty program in 1969 to preserve Appalachian folkways by training young mountain folk in media production skills. That's just swell, of course, but if you can watch the Appal Shop documentary Stranger with a Camera without putting your fist through the screen, you're a better person than I am. Sounds like it's largely populated with neo-hippies and kids from the right side of the Appalachian railroad tracks (for instance, the director of Stranger with a Camera). Why mention them at all? Well, their catalog of LPs and CDs is pretty freaking awesome—that's why I'm linking to that part of the site rather than the home page.

Old-time Music — About...Oh, you know.

Old-time Herald — News get the picture.

Roots and Rhythm — Yet another source of recordings of folk, country, blues, and et cetera.

Yazoo Records — Yazoo drives me nuts because they've been releasing what are essentially mix CDs of their back catalog. Which is fine for people who need an introduction to the fine blues, country, and et cetera music produced by this nation. Trouble is, much of it is crap interspersed with some really terrific performances. They push the definitions of ragtime and blues with some of their reissues as well. Barrelhouse, stride, and boogie-woogie are NOT the same as ragtime. I won't entirely dismiss them, because many of their "The Complete..." and "Best of..." sets are indispensible. Get the best of the Memphis Jug Band album, fer instance.

Document — You ain't never gonna find Blind Blake or Tommy Johnson's original 78s, so thank these krauts for preserving these and other artists' entire oeuvres on LPs and CDs. For the completist.

Jazz Record Mart — One of Chicago's, and probably the world's, most comprehensive blues and jazz music stores. They carry a measure of country, world, and experimental music too—way more than most stores— but they concentrate on jazz and blues on vinyl, shellac, CD, and cassette. And damn, they do it well.

Joe Bussard — Damn, this guy has a monstrously large collection of 78s! Even cooler, for 50 cents a song, he'll create a custom tape for you of old-time blues, country, string bands, jug bands, gospel, and other types of good old music. That qualifies for musical sainthood, in my opinion.


Artists, Good

Ionel Talpazan — A favorite kook of Fr. Dan's, Ionel was "abducted" (by who—or rather "what"—I'm sure you can guess) as a child, and since then he has drawn and redrawn the ship that carried him off. Very captivating "outsider" artwork.

Joseph Cornell — A gentle, virginal Christian Scientist from Brooklyn who produced lyrically lovely shadow boxes. Here's a mini-gallery of a few of them If you ever visit Chicago, stop by the Art Institute and ask for directions to the Cornell room.

Henry Darger — Alas, Henry Darger, who spent many lonely days in his apartment obsessing about the weather, stockpiling bottles of Pepto Bismol, talking to himself in different voices, and writing his magnum opus, In the Realms of the Unreal..., a twisted account of the Vivian Girls, hermaphroditic nymphettes who haunted Henry's dreams, and whom he both saved from evil and subjected to myriad tortures. Accompanying this 15,000-paged book were immense murals of the girls' adventures, traced from coloring books and catalogs and brightly painted. Henry probably never knew he'd become a famous outsider artist. My guess is he'd be mortified to know how many people have accessed his darkest and innermost fantasies. I very much gain a sense of "there but for the grace of God go I" from Henry's story.

Rene Magritte — Magritte is one of those artists whose ideas have have been soundly trampled and trammeled by marketers and hack illustrators. That's too bad, since his work still retains tremendous mystery and fascination for me. Personally, I think he was the only surrealist touched by genius. While Dali and the rest dabbled with dream imagery, Magritte placed everyday objects side by side, never trying to draw any relationship between them. We the viewers muddle the images together, becoming confused at Rene's apple-faced men and fireplace locomotives, rather than viewing them in the context of the mosaic of the visual world. Confused? Keep looking. You'll find it.


Artists, Wretched

Mainzer Cats — Mary, Mother of God, NO! It's wrong! So very evil and wrong!!!

The Ad Graveyard — Even I found some of these ads to be in poor taste. Ads that were pulled before the public saw them or after the public cried blue murder.



Count Dante — AKA: "The Deadliest Man Alive." This 290-pound wrestler, punk rock band frontman, and motivational speaker will take your worthless ass and turn you into a martial arts millionaire. Join the Count and his deadly Black Dragon Fighting Society as they take on all comers in the Incredibly Strange Wrestling Federation with Brazilian jiu-jitsu and three-chord songs.

Ashida Kim — Mr. Kim claims to be a living, breathing master of ninjitsu, the deadly art of the ninja. Okay.

Eskrima — The martial art of eskrima allowed the "backwards" Filipinos to soundly trounce the heavily armed and armored men of Magellan in 1596 by properly using freaking sticks. I want to learn eskrima, yes.

Hapkido — I am not learning eskrima yet, yes, but I am learning hapkido, yes. Hapkido incorporates throws from judo, punches and kicks from tae kwon do, grips and arm locks from aikido, and a grab-bag of other tricks. Distilled, it's Korean streetfighting. The school's motto: Martial art...not sport. Sung-moo!

Hapkido Info — Info on hapkido, my martial art of choice.

Korean Martial Arts — More on tae kwon do, hapkido, and even more obscure Korean martial arts styles.

Sakura Martial Arts Supply — Ass-kicking materials up the yin-yang. Discover the homoerotic punching dummies that look disturbingly like Odd Couple actor Jack Klugman.

Furyu — This is definitely for serious martial arts practitioners... and by that I mean those who don't approach martial arts from a macho bullshit or spacy Bruce Lee manqué perspective.

Master Jang — Master Jang was one of my hapkido teachers. She's an excellent teacher and funny as hell besides.




Armageddon Books — "Don't cry, sweetheart. It isn't the end of the world..." mommy told you. Stupid woman! OF COURSE IT IS!!! Service all your End Time needs with this seller of books about the Earth's final exit. Heavily Christian, sadly, but the links page is pretty good.

Attack! Books — Truly diseased tomes featuring five-fisted tales of adventure and intrigue. Vatican Bloodbath is about the 500-year-old battle between the British royal family and the Vatican over control of the world's drug trade. That says it all, I think.

Bookfinder — Amazon bought out Bibliofind. Bah! Use Bookfinder instead.

Book Sales in America — Someone, somewhere is sitting on a copy of Ragtime Recordings: 1897-1958 or a first edition of Mencken's A Gang of Pecksniffs or the first English hardcover edition of Psychopathia Sexualis. With Book Sales in America, I WILL find these books, or kill someone trying.

Chicago Comics — Another friendly merchant acquaintance of Fr. Dan and mine. Support this worthy purveyor of graphic narrative entertainment.

Paladin Press — Learn how to convert to full auto, create landmines for your backyard, and other arts and crafts projects.

Quimby's — Long-time friends and supporters of me and hundreds of other artists and writers inside and outside of Chicago, Quimby's provides for all your underground literary needs.


Cartoonists and Comics

Ivan Brunetti — Despite the impression given by his comics, Mr. Brunetti is one of the nicest, gentlest fellows it's been my pleasure to meet. He's darned talented and has very cute kitty-cats too.

Cheesygraphics — Stuart Helm's site remains standing in the wake of his trials with Kraft Foods! Come enjoy the charming, sexy, and occasionally disgusting "drawrings."

The Ragtime Ephemeralist — Mr. Chris Ware is a pleasant young man whose activities as a lauded cartoonist masquerade his true profession as a researcher of banjos and ragtime music. He publishes The Rag Time Ephemeralist on a semi-annual basis, providing a staggering amount of detailed information on the popular music of the former part of the last century.

Matt McClintock — Not a cartoonist, but rather a designer and printer of high esteem. Matt is also positively goofy when it comes to computer geekitude—but such wonderful things he creates through it. Through experiments with Apache, he's constructed a dandy photographic tour of his home. Visit, please, but do not use it to chart a robbery of his cozy domicile.

Niemworks — Niem (rhymes with “Jim”) is a fine young man who has manufactured an impressive Web site about himself, comic art, and the easily mortified Mr. Chris Ware. Check out his museum of constructed ACME Novelty Library models.

Progressive Ruin — Mike Sterling, comic shop manager, reviews the decline of civilization vis a vis funny books.


Chili and Hot Sauces

Chileheads UK — Passionate chile and chili lovers from, of all places, bloody England. O the shame! Lots of great recommendations for peppers, hot sauces, recipes, and the like. Really sad pictures of chili makers too, leading one to believe that chili-making is not the best way to meet chicks...or guys for that matter.

Google Chili Links — Don't just stand there! Make chili!

Firegirl's Hot Sauce Catalog — And she doesn't just sell hot sauces. She also carries salsa, shakes, sprinkles, seeds, and more! If I wasn't married, I'd track her down and kiss her.

Hothothot — Never you mind the annoying Buster Poindexter song that's rasping through your head right now, Hothothot carries an impressive batch of sauces, salsas, and similar napalm-flavored food.



Blaxploitation — For those who have had enough of The Man™'s bullshit. Terrific collection of posters, images, and so forth from this amazing film genre.

Errol Morris — Documentaries are my preferred cinematic genre, and Errol Morris remains the best documentarian working today. The Thin Blue Line, Mr. Death, and Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control are thrilling, educational, and poetic elegies to, in Mr. Morris' words, the fact that we're really just a bunch of monkeys running around the planet.

The Prisoner—Number 6 — "I am not a number! I am a free man!" AH-HA-HA-HA!



Police Operations Archive — God bless the thin blue line. More updates on crime and police business.

Crimenews — More crime, all the time.

Patrol and Beyond — News for the boys and girls in blue.


Fusion Paranoia

Trance Formation — In 1995, Mark Phillips and Cathy O'Brien produced the searing expose Trance Formation of America, a startling and detailed account of Cathy's life as a CIA mind-controlled sex slave. Largely based on repressed memories, unlocked during several hypnosis sessions conducted by Mark, this is by far the most inventive, weirdest, and smuttiest book I've ever read (no hyperbole intended). I won't belittle Mark and Cathy—obviously something bad happened to Cathy in her childhood; but be prepared to swallow hard at the connection between snuff films, cocaine deals, pedophile sex rings, Reagan, Bush, Bill and Hilary, Sylvester Stallone, half the Nashville music scene, Detroit Tigers manager Sparky Anderson, and Boxcar Willie.

World of Prophecy — Texe Marrs is an end-times freak, but he's a entertaining end-times freak. Plenty of old-fashioned conspiratorial vitriol about "Internationalists" and the Illuminati who really run things WITH SATAN'S HELP. And it's all available in book, cassette tape, and video units. It's too bad the Clintons are gone; Texe had some truly inspired rants about Hillary's new age demoness tendencies.

NUFORC — Saw a light in the sky that didn't seem quite right? Report it here.

David Icke — When I first heard of David Icke, I was impressed with his wholly original approach to conspiratorial thought: to whit, reptilian overlords are controlling everything. Well, it wasn't his idea, and he tends to borrow prodigiously from the work of more original kooks. Still, his site leads to these same, more original kooks.

The Watchers — After you dabble in fringe paranoid thought for a while, you begin to have trouble discerning the scoffers from the kooks. I haven't figured out these guys yet. Access to a lot of batshit "proof" that guillotine golf carts are right around the corner.

Radio Liberty — I have got to get a shortwave radio. I'm missing out on so much. I'm desperately resisting the urge to buy up their many tape sets on the Freemasons.

Government Mind Control — A selection of articles on that very subject. Having trouble thinking clearly? Uh-oh.

Halaqah — Christian fringeoids don't have a monopoly on conspiratorial thought. Muslim fringeoids are just as willing to believe the Illuminati, Rothschilds, and Jews are behind it all.

Freemasonry Watch — Yep, pay attention to the man behind the apron, he's never up to any good. This site latches on to anyone with any connection to Freemasonry who's committed a crime... obviously, performed under the auspices of the Freemasons.

Mae Brussell — Mae may have been a paranoid nut, but she was a diligent paranoid nut. Ms. Brussell indexed the entire Warren Commission report (some 20+ volumes, not the abridged single volume you see in the bookstores), and kept voluminous files on anything and everything related to JFK and all conspiracies appended thereto. The FBI took Mae seriously enough, J. Edgar himself making reference to her in inter-Bureau correspondence. The Mansonites and a pre-assassination John Hinckley, Jr., even crossed her path more than once. So, did Mae accidentally stumble over something, or does serious application of personal energies into conspiratorial thought generate an inescapable weirdness vortex about oneself?

Freedom Isn't Free! — It sure isn't, but I'm not sure what that has to do with all the crackpot mind control boogity-boogity taking place on this very big page.

Mind Control Forum Home Page — More about implants and evil mind control ultrasound laser beams. No, I don't believe in this stuff. They got to me already.



Lab Safety Equipment — My GOD but I LOVE lab safety equipment!

Hello Kitty — I love you, Hello Kitty!!! Even though you stare at me with those cold, dead eyes.

The Kyoto Arashiyama Orgel Museum — Japanese museum of beautiful old automata and puppets from around the world.

Siam Soo — Who or what is Siam Soo? Just about the coolest little phonograph-powered turntable toy in the whole damn world—that's what/who. Check out animated gifs and detailed accounts of this very strange little toy of yesteryear. — Aboyd sells some of the coolest and fugliest action figures you've e'er seen. Check out the R. Lee Ermey doll.

The Classic Typewriter Page — I can't begin to express the beauty of some of these machines. As a sign of my ever-aging existence, I recall hammering out school papers and such on my Dad's old nonelectric. How many of you out there can say that? I now own an Underwood Portable Noiseless from the 20s, but after tappity-tapping for five minutes I realized I've lost my typing muscles. Alas.



Haunted Chicago — A team of meddling kids who hunt down gh-gh-ghosts in the Chicagoland area. I don't believe in ghosts myself, but the site's creators frequent Bachelor's Grove Cemetery—Illinois' allegedly most haunted place—which is only a mile from where I grew up and a repository of fondly remembered, young ghostchaser memories. Check out their assorted photos of mysterious mists and weird glowing orbs.

Museum of Talking Boards — A very cool display of "talking boards," including the most famous one of them all, the Ouija Board. Lots of Ouija legend and lore too.

Bachelor's Grove — The most haunted place in Illinois, if not the world, if you choose to believe the hype. It was just "the Grove" to me as I grew up in the southwest burbs. These nice people are trying to restore it, after years of grave-desecrating idiots came with beer and Ouija boards by night and left graffiti, smashed headstones, and animal "sacrifices."


God's Special Friends and Other Enlightened Beings

Tony Alamo — Still my favorite evangelist after all these years, Tony produces incredibly virulent tracts against the pope and anybody else who doesn't agree with him. Tony went to jail for a while for tax evasion, but did that stop him from locking horns with ANTICHRIST? No ma'am. Jesus cookie eaters of sensitive disposition should consider themselves warned.

Jack Chick — I can't hate Jack, especially after he's provided me with so many chuckles and chills all these years. At heart, I know he really cares about us all. Naturally, that doesn't make him any less of a bigoted lunatic.

Jack Chick Museum — Chick probably has more scoffers than Bible-bangers as fans, as testified by this online museum. The guy who runs it also sells a lot of Chick's more obscure stuff.

666 — These three numbers keep a lot of Christians hopping mad. I've always bought into the argument that it stands for Nero, but why take any chances? Visit this site and you'll have 666 lore coming out your ears, but fortunately not on your head.

I AM — A new age group (they don't like to be called a cult) that's lingered for 70+ years. They haven't become any less odd. The Precious Moments-style icons make me especially queasy.

Tan Books and Publishing — A great repository of Old Catholic (pre-Vatican II) propaganda. Before the guitar masses and euphemistic name changes (CONFESSION became, tra-la-la, reconciliation, for instance), Roman Catholicism was once a pretty terrifying religion. Gone are the days of psychotic nuns weaving tales of a bloodthirsty God's vengeance, and priests who sermonized until flames shot from their mouths. Look up Tan's best book, HELL. It is truly diseased.

Catholic Truth — The best kind of truth, according to them. Buddies with TAN Publishing, they'll direct you to books and other media that will soon make you a right-thinking Papist.

Danny Hahlbohm's Inspired Art — Danny paints purty, gauzy pictures of Jesus and other inspirational Christian subjects.

Warner Sallman — Warner Sallman's Head of Christ (or Clairol Jesus, as I like to call it) is the most reproduced image in history. Moreso even than Chairman Mao. These folks have a large trove of Warner's art. I think I'll pay them a visit.

Cheesyjesus — Great selection of kitschy Jesus materials.

Jesus Christ Superstore — Who would have thought you'd become a whore? He came to save us from our sins, so why the hell shouldn't he have his own action figure?

Worldwide Study Bible —Jesus was way-cool...but let's not forget the rest of the Good Book and all the violence, sex, and foreskin surgery that fills its pages. A nice little resource, especially if you're a church reviewer.

Ganesha — I bet Ganesha and Jesus hang out together. I'm no Hindoo, but Lord Ganesha appeals to me on many levels. The elephant head is just the tip of the iceberg. Imagine my surprise when I learned he's the patron of writers.


Good Folks

Harmony House — A local no-kill kitty shelter for which I sometimes perform volunteer work. Help these hapless fatties live pleasant lives. Most of them are so mentally and physically screwed up, it's unlikely anyone will adopt them. I know I should be more concerned about humans, but I can't help it. I love cats more.

Doctors Without Borders — Sends doctors and money to hotspots across the world without a thought to politics.

Red Cross — The Red Cross stepped up to the plate 9/11. They could still use the help. Donate blood and money. If it doesn't go straight to the victims of September 11, don't be a prick and complain about it. There's folks just as, if not more, deserving of charity than the residents of Manhattan. Can you afford to live in Manhattan? Even now?

ACLU — I'll say it because the ACLU won't: Most people in this country don't deserve the Bill of Rights. No, sir, they don't, because they are brain-dead morons who would trade their Freedom of Speech and Religion for a carton of cigarettes. It wouldn't matter if the government crucified people along the highways for practicing non-Christian religions or making the faux pas of suggesting Dubya might be an idiot. As long as these bastards get their cable TV and regular fill-ups, they'll keep mum. Not that they have anything worthwhile or challenging to offer otherwise. I support the ACLU because loudmouths like me would rather not be crucified in along the highways, thank you, especially since we're wasting our lives trying to save your worthless asses from the gulags and gas chambers.



A Human Right — I like guns. I like guns very much. They're tons of fun to shoot, and I believe that in many cases they can save your life. I don't believe in hunting, however, and I sure as shit don't want everyone to be able to walk around with loaded guns. This guy disagrees, and has manufactured a stupefying collection of pro-gun images. I find the images hilarious. You might not. Just letting you know.

Keep and Bear Arms — It's difficult to be a person who enjoys shooting guns, but doesn't want to affiliate himself with people who think you need assault rifles to "red mist" prairie dogs. Well, they run many interesting articles on this site about the right to bear arms, but I don't subscribe to EVERYTHING they believe. At least they're not selling those shirts showing Hitler giving the Nazi salute, underscored with the message "Everyone in Favor of Gun Control, Raise Your Right Hand."

Geeks with Guns — Pro-gun ownership sites are always terrifyingly thorough. Information overload bears down on you like a train full of bricks. This site is no exception.



Contortionist Home Page — I am a very bad man. I confess, I love this page for all the wrong reasons.

RetroCrush — I like this guy's style. He honors all of his adolescent female celebrity crushes by gathering together an impressive collection of cheesecake shots of dames like Barbara Eden, Tina Louise, that blonde girl on Lost in Space, and others. Good lord, I thought I was alone in my fixation on Elizabeth Montgomery.

Alisa Chan — Alisa likes to design, create, and wear CosPlay (costume play) costumes based on her favorite anime characters, many of them cat women, schoolgirls, or simply scantily clad space vixens. You go right ahead, Alisa.


W. Clement Stone — A very normal yet very odd man who passed on at the age of 101, I plan to cover Mr. Stone's career at length at some point. His company, Combined Insurance, idiotically chose to remove his bio from their Web site, probably at the behest of some "forward-thinking" marketing manager. Here's a page he shares with Napoleon Hill, his coauthor on Success through a Positive Mental Attitude. Tom Frank once described my work as coverage of "the horror of the normal." This book pretty much encapsulates how the normal can indeed be horrific.

Dr. Bronner — He was nuttier than a Waldorf salad, but he made (and his company still makes) great soap. Too bad his heirs have stopped reproducing the All-One-God-Faith rant on the labels.

Mel Lyman — Mel Lyman is a favorite weirdo of mine. Not only did he play jug band music he also formed his own religion and declared himself God. This site provides a huge selection of reproductions of Lyman's writings and media appearances. Check out the rest of this guy's site for assorted eclectica on banjos and more.

Technocracy — It's the only thing that can save us. The only trouble is, who understands what the hell it means?

Neo-Tech — Ha ha! Forget those technocratic fools! Only Neo-Tech can save us, though it's 10 times more perplexing. Come! Your Frankenstein awaits! Nothing can stop Neo-Tech! Nothing!

Sollog — Sollog knows all! And he'll sell you the books and CD-ROMS that tell you all he knows!


Mechanical Music Machines

Mechanical Music Digest — An online magazine about delicately beautiful old music machinery. Player pianos, automata, self-playing instruments, and plenty more.

Ragtime West — Breathtaking old machines that literally played musical instruments like guitars and banjos...and they're still building and restoring them!

Telharmonium — Ah, the Telharmonium. The first true electronic instrument, it filled a building and transmitted beautiful music across phone 1892. Find out the rest of the sad story here.



Andrew Bird and His Bowl of Fire — Sorta local fellow made good by blending old violin jazz with modern pop senisibilities. He played at our wedding reception too, so nyah-nyah.

Little Jack Melody and His Young Turks— LJM can be treacle in spots, but his homage to Kurt Weill, musette bands, string band music, and so on has my respect.

They Might Be Giants — I still like them. That settles it.

Belle and Sebastian — Yes, I like wimpy Scottish twee bands. Up yours. The band's official site.

Godspeed You, Black Emperor! — By far, my favorite group these days. You will experience a change in consciousness if you listen to them for too long. Sorry to use the critical crutch of describing a group as being like a mixture of other groups, but GSYBE! is what would happen if Ennio Morricone directed the Kronos Quartet and hired the Shadows to play along with all the effects pedals turned on...uh... while "on acid."

Tom Waits — The eternal, nocturnal, and infernal Mr. Tom Waits.

Mogwai — More Scots. Moody and loud. I recommend Come on Die Young and Ten Rapid.

Roctober — Jake Austen continues to create the only rock 'n roll and comics rag worth reading. No, truly, every other rock and comics zine is garbage. Literal garbage. The kind of garbage garbagemen pick up and dump in landfills with more garbage. While you're there, stop by the fearsome Goblins subsite for the best in modern masked music.

Philip Glass — The official site of the world's best-known minimalist composer. If you haven't already, give him a listen. I assure you it's not just the same three notes played ad infinitum.

Gavin Bryars — Another minimalist who works with tape loops. Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet will either inspire you to greatness or send you screaming out the window.

Negativland — An old favorite of mine, known for their musical sound collages and, more infamously, for their role as the fuckee in a ridiculous lawsuit leveled at them by U2's lawyers. I tell you, it made me ashamed to be Irish.

Blind Blake — By far my favorite guitarist of all time, Find reissues of his 78s on the Document label.

Mississippi John Hurt — Nobody sounded like Mississippi John Hurt, blessed as he was with a bubbly and flawless guitar style that sounded both jubilant and melancholy. Probably my favorite American musician. Maybe my favorite musician period.

Elliot Smith — "Mistah Smith—He dead." Bye, Elliot.

Midnight Syndicate — I can't say that I love their music, but it delights me that this band provides the spooky music for most of America's haunted houses. I never would have imagined such a specialized field, and yet... why not? Cool name and Flash too.

John Hasbrouck — John is a Chicago fingerpicker with his own idiosyncratic style. John Fahey meets Charley Patton for coffee.

Eric Noden — Eric is another Chicago fingerstyle guitarist who concentrates on American roots music, playing everything from ragtime blues to boogie woogie. He was my very first guitar teacher and is a nice fellow besides.



CPSC — The Consumer Product Safety Commission, to be precise. Find out what toys are putting out children's eyes or setting them afire.

POMC — Parents of Murdered Children. I have to watch my mouth here. I have plenty of sympathy for anyone who loses a child, and since I've never had a kid, I can't conceive of the grief involved or what it can make ordinarily sane people do. Still, POMC treats murdered kids like beatific bulletproof shields. They run a parole blocking program, conducting letter-writing campaigns to keep murderous pedophiles from getting out any sooner, simply because said murderers went to weekly Bible study. Who can argue with that? Not me. However, POMC also runs the "Murder Is NOT Entertainment" program, organizing protests against TV shows, movies, plays, books, murder mystery parties, and similar entertainment forms incorporating "murder." Why? Because such activities make the parents of dead children uncomfortable. You see, it's NOT censorship if you HURT more than everybody else. Go ahead, call me a swine.

Lion and — Pretty typically thin-skinned parent action group site, but I like their annual Dirty Dozen list of violent toys. I've gotta say, you have to stretch the definition of "violent" pretty far to consider some of these toys catalysts for future Columbines. If anything, this site made me want Grand Theft Auto even more.

Colossal Colon — See the biggest colon in the world when it comes to your town. You can crawl through it and pretend you're post-digestive matter!



Psychopathia Sexualis

Erotic Mind Control Stories — When the human id is allowed to roam free, the results can be horrifying and hilarious by turns. It's amazing how many geeks acquire mind control powers just before cheerleading practice, isn't it?

Fartings — Something is seriously wrong with the Japanese.

Acadamy Wear — I see nothing wrong with finding grown women dressed as schoolgirls arousing. Spending several hundred bucks here so you can enact elaborate scenarios involving caning a woman dressed as a schoolgirl while you're dressed as a headmaster, however, is a little odd. Arousing, but odd.



AAS-RA — To be specific, the Archaeology, Astronautics, and SETI Research Association. A big name for wholly unoriginal folks still trading on Erik Von Daniken's crackpot notion that aliens visited Earth many thousands of years ago, built the pyramids and Nazca lines, and probably inseminated a bunch of monkeys with geniusboy sperm, thereby making us second cousins to the Greys. QUACK, I say, QUACK!

Chariots of Mire — Erik Von Daniken has been discredited hundreds of times, yet he persists with his daffy theories about "ancient astronauts." It's not just bad science, kids; it diminishes most of early humanity's greatest achievements. He's a good entertainer if nothing else, so go enjoy the dancing bear.


Ragtime, Jazz, and Early Recordings

The Ragtime Ephemeralist — Chris gets a double listing on the page because (1) this is the best damn site on ragtime music out there and (2) he's kin.

Scott Joplin — When I was a wee lad, I had a 45 of Marvin Hamlisch's sugary treatment of Joplin's "The Entertainer." I marched about my room whenever I played it, oblivious to how asinine I looked or how uncool ragtime was. Ditto when I was twenty, spending many nights listening to Josh Rifkin's recordings in the dark, gently moved by the sweet whispers of Joplin's "Solace," and terrified of discovery in such a poofy pursuit by my record-collecting buddies. Now I'm 33, own about fifty ragtime records and CDs, and the world can kiss my beautiful green Irish ass. Plenty of recordings available from the Mecca of ragtime history, Sedalia, MO. Friendly and efficient staff too.

Paragon Ragtime Orchestra — If these supreme musicians ever come through your town with their presentation of musical scores played before a movie screen showing silent films, swallow your hipster pride and go see them. You'll be pleasantly surprised. — Cool domain name; I'm glad a collector of Edison cylinders got it. If it hasn't struck you the way it has me, we're the first generation who can hear the words and music of people who died a century ago. Appreciate that fact by purchasing this fellow's excellent CDs.

78s, Acetates, and Weird Records — Pretty specialized. Acetates are records that people used to cut at home, amusements parks, etc. with stone age recording equipment. I have one record of a very young child shrieking nursery rhymes at the top of his lungs. The owner of this site has similar failed experiments. Check out the drunk home jazz band.

Red Hot Jazz — Not just a great resource on the other greatest music ever performed—jazz of the 20s—this site provides downloadable music you can hear using RealPlayer. Not just snippets, but entire songs. Not sure of the legality of it all, but who cares?

Archeophone Records — Old, old, OLD recordings. Bert Williams, Fred Van Eps, Vess Ossman, and other ragtime geniuses.

Stomp-Off Records — Extremely dorky "mouldy fig" jazz by paunchy white guys with beards. Some gems among the slop, however.

Tim Gracyk — Even though he frequently outbids me on ebay, I can't begrudge Tim Gracyk his wins. The man is a researcher and archivist of the first stripe. Fascinating Web page with a friendly tone toward beginning 78 and Victrola collectors.



Fortean Times — The best magazine ever published, bar none. Fight me on this one.

Judaism 101 — What's with the yarmulkes? Before reviewing a synagogue service for the Chicago Journal, I consulted this site for a little background info on the Chosen People and their ways.

Latin/English Dictionary — Where would the Romanist Fr. Dan Kelly be without this little number? Nowhere! That's where! A handy reference.

Worldwide Words — Word geeks like myself will enjoy this site and its extremely informative listserv.

Freetranslation — Superior translation engine that leaves Babelfish in the dust.

Religious Movements — From freaky hippie cults to middle-of-the-road Methodists, garner the basic details on the faiths of a good chunk of the world's religions.

Catholic Encyclopedia — Learn everything there is to know about the Romanist Church



ROBOTS — I am jealous of few people in this world, but this guy is one of them. More toy robots than I'll ever be able to own or afford in this lifetime. Why, I feel positively SEXY looking at them.

Killjoy's Robots and Rayguns — Cry havoc! and let loose the robots and rayguns of war!!!

Robot Books — On the eighth day, God created robots, and he saw that it was good.

Metropolis SiteMetropolis is one of those rare silent films that hasn't aged badly. Still awe-inspiring with its portrayal of a dystopic, Expressionistic future, it remains fresh and exciting even today (though the acting may seem a little overwrought and corny). Great dissection of the film's many versions and behind-the scenes information. Lots of great pictures of Brigid Helm, the sexiest robot ever to grace the screen.

Android World — Awesome collection of articles and links to sites about the subject of robots and androids and who's building them. I interviewed the man who runs this site. He is building a real-life android called Valerie, who will watch your kids, cook for you, guard the house, and make human workers obsolete. He coughed a lot, and told me he was worried that he might be assassinated by Luddites. Um, okay, I said.

Ozzie's Robots — Sells antique robot toys and similar thingies. Beautiful collection. If I suddenly come into a great inheritance or win the lottery, I'll probably squander it all here.



Shipwreck Museum — Personally, I'm against shipwrecks. I love to read about them though; especially if they involve Great Lakes ships like the Edmund Fitzgerald (yes, the one from the Gordon Lightfoot song).


Small- (and Big-) Town Newspapers

The Star — I used to deliver this newspaper as a lad. Now I skim it to see if any of my high school bullies are in jail yet.

Grand Haven Tribune — The wife comes from this carbuncle on Lake Michigan's southeast side.

Kennebec Journal — Maine hometown paper of my friend Pat. Find out about wandering moose and what the heck recidivist criminal Long-Neck John is up to lately.

Manichi Online — Mondo Nippon: disturbing Japanese newspaper stories.

Metropolis — Details on what's happening in Tokyo as of late.


Stringed Instruments

C. F. Martin Guitars — Finally bought my own Martin, a D-15 14-fret Dreadnought, and I'm as happy as a pig dipped in chocolate. Know this: The difference between the sound of a $100 student model guitar and a $700 Martin is the difference between the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and a quadriplegic playing kazoo on a street corner. I'll even forgive them for the $15,000 "Eric Clapton" model.

Classic Banjo Home Page — A refined style of banjo picking created to assuage the delicate sentiments of parlor players who might otherwise be loath to play a musical instrument descended from plantation "darkies." Some nice tunes came of it, however. — A compendium of contemporary string bands. I could do without the period costumes, but most of these folks make pretty good music.

Just Strings — And that's it. Need a string for your oud or saz? Here's the place to go.

Elderly Instruments — Very cool site for a very cool store that stocks all manners of rare instruments.

Dr. Cluck's Online Warehouse — Another online source of rare to not-so-rare folk instruments.

Mandolin Cafe — I'll always prefer the guitar, but there's something positively swanky about mandolins.

The Mandolin Page — See? Swanky.

Lark in the Morning Instruments — Any bizarre instrument in the world is just an e-mail away. Bagpipes? Got 'em. Dijeridoos? Got 'em. And so forth

Greg Miner — This dude has a dandy selection of rare and bizarre stringed instruments. The harp guitars are particularly lovely.

Vintage Instruments in Philadelphia — The next time I'm in Philly, I'm stopping by Vintage Instruments. The next time I have $3,000 to spend, I'm buying something at Vintage Instruments.

Flea Market Music, Inc. — The word ’ukulele (and yes, there is an apostrophe at the beginning) means “jumping flea” because of the player's fleet-fingered movements. Learn that and more here.



Family Defense — Protect your your high-definition television set, DVD player, and family's precious white flesh from the merciless subhuman hordes that swarm this world like knife-wielding bacilli. Or so you'd think from this site.

Foxfire — Not the lame movie starring the liver-lipped Angelina Jolie. The Foxfire Project has taken college and high school kids into the Appalachian hills, seeking to catalog and publish the customs, arts, crafts, folk tales, and whatnot of mountain people. Not much is going on at the site, but this gives me an opportunity to recommend picking up any of the books in the series (now in its third(?) printing) Learn how to build banjos, log cabins, moonshine stills, and so on and so forth. You should be able to find them in any worthwhile bookstore or on

Civil Defense Museum — Back during the Cold War, a band of white-helmeted men and women were standing by to help you survive atomic fallout, floods, tornadoes, and everything else that could be thrown at the U.S.—though a special accent was placed on the possibility of an attack by an outside nation. It was an entirely civilian operation. The Civil Defense has since been taken over by FEMA, putting another nail in the coffin of American citizen preparedness. "Oh, the government will take care of everything," people thought, "Besides, no one will ever attack the United States."

Carla Emery — RIP, Ms. Emery. Carla wrote the Encyclopedia of Country Living, a BIG book on growing and preparing food down on the farm. A fun resource, which I highly recommend. Carla also distrusted hypnotists and wrote a book on that very subject too.


Time Wasters

Yahoo's Most-Viewed Content — Find out what the most uploaded and e-mailed news photos and stories are on Yahoo!. Most often they involve tits and ass. An interesting little Rorschach test of the American consciousness.

Memepool — A daily selection of links to weird and wonderful sites. Stop in regularly; there's always something thrilling and new here.


Urban Legends — A fine site that not only provides synopses, but also assessments of the amount of truth in each story. Stop by and read your old favorites, while discovering thrilling newcomers to the urban legend genre.

Urban Legends — Not as good as, but hey...more urban legends!



Book Happy — My good friend Donna Kossy started a zine devoted to the collection and analysis of weird books; this is the electronic version of said zine. This is also the site for Donna's Book Happy book catalog, wherein Donna finds bizarre books you never dared dream existed, then happily sells them to you. — Stephen is a Web designer and computer geek in the Lone Star State. Plenty of stuff for the slashdotter and more. I also find his site tremendously calming and easy on the eyes.


The Whitechapel Club — I wanted to write something about this obscure 1800s Chicago newsmen's club, but a Loyola professor beat me to the punch. Find out about the group's preoccupation with death imagery, merciless ridicule of visiting speakers, and sick (for the nineteenth century) sense of humor. I'm considering restarting the club. Anyone interested in joining?

H.P. Lovecraft — When I was 18, I worked for a man and his wife who ran a science fiction book-selling business out of their home. One of the cooler jobs in my young life, it came at a time when I was an inveterate Lovecraft reader. As a result, half of my wages went toward buying everything Arkham House put out. The man scoffed, saying that every 18-year-old boy loved Lovecraft, and that my tastes would progress to far richer and more meaningful authors. Well, he was right. Still, a few months back I picked up my old copy of The Dunwich Horror and Others. Whaddyaknow? The Man from Providence was indeed an unchallenging read, but still a delightful one. Kids: don't believe everything you're told.

H.L. Mencken — If you don't know who H.L. Mencken was, there's still hope for you if you peruse this excellent repository of Menckeniana. Recommendation: no book shelf is complete without, at the very least, a copy of Mencken's Chrestomathy.

Rod Serling — Serling was a writer before he was a showman: and what a writer! Sure, you'll always remember him as the host of The Twilight Zone, but he wrote some of the finest stories that ever graced a TV screen. I could go on about how he was a modern Aesop, how influential TZ was on American culture (right up there with The Wizard of Oz, I'll bet), how he raised the cultural bar for the science fiction and horror genres, how he viewed TV as an exciting new media to educate and inform the masses rather than as a commercial pipeline, the shit he went through with censors, advertisers, producers, and others to put his vision in millions of American homes... Oh, I'll let you see for yourself.

Joe Frank — A radio persona whose program Joe Frank in the Dark provided funny and creepy spoken word thrills on NPR and elsewhere. Joe's official site is finally up and running and offers, gasp! Old shows on CD!



Girls with Glasses