Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Today I played tennis with a liberal writer/historian who had never heard of South Park.

So that got me experimenting with You Tube etc.


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South Park - Merry Fucking Christmas - Uncut

south park: Scientology

southpark all about mormons

Sorry, no longer available due to copyright issues.

Poem: DATE


A pomegranate on the wall,
An orange juice bottle prominent
On the coffee table, his talk,
Of marijuana pancakes,
“Imagine,” he said, “pancakes!”
And on his head in curls
Brown hair, he spooned my first taste
Of halvah from a bright blue can.

© Copyright 2006 William Morrissey All Rights Reserved

Monday, November 27, 2006

Sunday, November 26, 2006


I’m grateful to my parents for giving me a normal name: William George. Also, my brother got a normal name: Michael Joseph.

I mentioned this to my mom and she said it had been a concern; she and my dad did not want to burden their kids with unusual names that could draw teasing in the early grades of school.

Three of those four names were associated with relatives or cronies. I think both of my names packed double whammies. Once my mom cautioned me that there were two Williams out there, one my godfather, the other an uncle by marriage, who both thought I was named after them.

Joseph was my dad’s name. Michael was the unattached name. I think they chose it because it’s so normal and so strong.

We Catholics are supposed to be named after Catholic saints. Anyway, there was for me the idea that one’s name connected one to famous people in history with the same name.

For instance, William the Conqueror, Saint George the dragonkiller, Michael the Archangel, Joseph and Mary.

Actually, the story of St Joseph, husband of Mary and stepfather to Jesus doesn’t sound like much fun. I wonder if poor St Joseph’s predicament has ever been used to satirize the Christ story.

But before him, another Joseph got a coat of many colors, and pissed his brothers way off. And he went to Egypt, too. [These poor Jews with asses and foot power made it to Egypt on a regular basis and our fucking president-to-be couldn’t hop a 707 to Europe. – P. Wilson.]

People tell me I look a little like William III, above.

What made me think of this was the heartbreaking picture of two young boys who went missing on a Native American reservation. The older one was four years old with big plump cheeks; his name was Tristin.

The first Google hit says it’s related to “Tristan,” the Arthurian knight of the Tristan and Isolde story, and it might have the word for “sad” as its root. They say it’s a boy’s and girl’s name.

I think that was a criterion for my folks: the name had to clearly indicate the sex of the child.

Then there’s the boy-named-Sue approach, or the ancestral approach which propagates Clarences and Sebastians and Aloysiuses. A name is something worth fighting for.

The second syllable of Sebastian is very harsh to an English speaker’s ear. And there aren’t good diminutives. And St Sebastian is the guy with all the arrows stuck in him so homoerotically.

One of the great names from the history of baseball is Tris Speaker.

The name Tristam didn’t get in the way of a lifetime .344 average. So I guess I’m full of shit.

One of the funniest things I ever said was at work in UCSF’s Accounting Office. A young, shy, first-generation Chinese American girl was very pregnant with her first child and would soon be on leave.

“Faye,” I said, “I’ll give you ten dollars if you’ll name your son “Bill.”

She had to think for awhile (to realize I was joking) before she smiled and shook her head, no.

“Ok,” I said, “a hundred dollars.”

It’s true, though, we’ll have a president named Barak, long before we ever have one named “Timothy,” or “Tristin.”

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006



Major life changes, such as changing jobs, changing domiciles, the loss of loved ones, are usually stressful. Such changes put unusual and possibly difficult tasks on one’s to-do list.

If these changes are unwelcome or unexpected, one can react by blaming the people who precipitate the changes. One thus avoids or ignores the undesirable new tasks on one’s to-do list and expends energy in recrimination and bitterness. I know this from personal experience.

Whether or not someone else is to blame, such major changes really are a normal part of life.

A lesbian teammate cried on my shoulder one evening. She’d been dumped unexpectedly by her girlfriend of eight years. “I thought this was it,” she said, “that me and Jane would be together the rest of our lives.”

It seems to me such an attitude comes from willful ignorance. There is so much in our literature that cautions against such illusion, while advocating the enjoyment of good things while they last.

The notion of achieving a state of lasting earthly happiness is something we hate to give up, but it’s certainly not something we can reasonably expect.

Job loss? Lots of blame and bitterness.

Death of a loved one? Who would have thought?

Hurricane? Shake your faith in God.

The Greeks had it right: Let no man count his life happy, until he is dead.


When I was young and timid I witnessed the sexual chaos that accompanies the end of long cold Lincoln, Nebraska winters.

Among my college age peers there was experimentation, and cheating, and finding out the hard way about the grim dynamics of relationships.

Once I complained to my shrink about all the unnecessary pain and hurt feelings. “The outcomes seem so obvious,” I said, “Don’t these people read novels?”

My shrink couldn’t help himself, “No, Willie,” he said, “some people want to experience life first-hand.”

Cheap-o punch line, but not completely errant.


When my dad retired at age 67 from a 20-year career at CPS, he had a month or more of accumulated unused sick leave.

His peers at work, who were senior management, encouraged my dad to use the sick leave as an extra month of salary.

My dad wouldn’t do it. It was a big deal. He said he wouldn’t take sick leave because he wasn’t sick.

His colleagues thought he was crazy.

My choice of lump-sum cash out at retirement meant that my unused sick leave just went away (if I’d taken a monthly pension, unused sick leave would have been factored in).

I had only about 50 hours of sick leave accumulated. It was so low because of the five weeks of family leave I’d taken when my mom was dying.

People encouraged me to use the sick leave up, which would have meant lying. I didn't bother.


Pud and I felt really bad about the Amish schoolhouse massacre. But we sensed a painful contradiction.

Our hearts go out especially to the Amish because they’re so simple, and gentle, and good.

We were disturbed by the reports that the teachers and other adults in the school, along with the boy-students, obeyed the gunman and exited the schoolhouse—LEAVING THE GIRL STUDENTS BEHIND!

As Pud put it, “They fucking skee-daddled!”

Later, when the gunman’s intent became clear, one of the girl-students told him, “Shoot me first.”

“Now that’s Amish,” Pud said.


Call me corny, but I think Vivaldi was a great melodist. Many of his slow movements make me cry. They are so simple and clear, the tensions build so gradually, the resolutions are so inevitable, it’s hard to believe I fall for it, but I do.

This afternoon, in a moment of repose, I heard a Vivaldi sonata played by guitar and organ, a strange pairing with some unexpected sonorities.

The middle movement was so beautiful that once again I misted up.

Then I thought of a friend of mine who is still struggling with the effects of childhood abandonment. I wondered if he could feel the same way about the Vivaldi piece.

I pictured myself playing it for him, trying to share the profound sense of well being it imparts.

In my thought-experiment I imagined my friend unable to relax and “get into” the music. He probably couldn't have stayed still for more than a few bars. I imagine that the emotional dissonance drowns out a lot of stuff.

When I thought of this unavailability, I cried actual tears.

Those three words, “Shoot me first,” are sweeter than any melody ever written.

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Friday, November 17, 2006


Pud returned from his annual checkup with a rant (surprise!).

“The goddamn doctor offered me Viagra!

“I told him, ‘Doctor, that ain’t my problem. Actually it’s the opposite. Since I was ten I’ve been trying to get the thing to go down, but with only limited, temporary success.’

“One of the problems of human nature is that during their most productive years men tend to think with their dicks. Supposedly, as we grow older, some of the thought process shifts to our brains. This is why it’s sort of a cliché to seek advice from older people.

“So they see the boomers approaching the transition from dick-thought to brain-thought and they find that unacceptable.

“So they put the best minds to work to develop a hard-on pill. The world is being destroyed by the ever burgeoning human population, and what do they determine we need? –more sex!

“It’s difficult to focus on the historic Sunni-Shia rivalry when you have a four-hour erection!

“You know,” Pud concluded, “ the Puritans’ witch-burning thing--not so much wrong, just futile.”

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A standard instruction allows jury members, when they believe a witness has lied about one material fact, to discount all of that witness’ testimony.

It’s common sense. If a person lies to you once, you can’t trust them not to lie to you again.

It’s disheartening to catch someone in a lie, not because of some moral outrage, but because it means that future statements by that person will require some scrutiny and verification, which is unwanted work.

So, Americans have seen demonstrated in recent months that leaders of major corporations lie, and can’t be trusted. Leaders of major religions, both traditional and emergent, are liars and can’t be trusted.

And our president and his administration, it’s finally dawning on the American people, actually did lie knowingly to justify an illegal, birdbrained invasion.

Thousands of humans killed and maimed.

Thousands of humans killed and maimed.

Rush Limbaugh admits lying about his views on political issues in order to “carry the water” of the Republican regime.

I know, ho-hum, gambling at Ricks… but what about the 50% of Americans who are of below average intelligence? They rely on smart people to help them figure things out. Tell them to go kill Iraqis, and they’ll actually do it. Lying to them is a sin.

They are bewildered. Who can they believe?

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The old “power corrupts” saying tells us that even good people, once they acquire power, become corrupt.

The idea of term limits seems to be aimed at this problem.

Cincinnatus is certainly an example of an uncorrupted power-wielder. He got in and out.

The image is of Chernobyl after the accident. Some workers volunteered to go in and accept death. But most, I think, went in for very brief stints, so that the radiation dose wouldn’t kill them.

Like D.C.

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Monday, November 13, 2006


Early reports of exit polling puts corruption at the top of voters’ concerns, just above the war in Iraq. Starting with Bush’s best friend, Ken Lay’s exposure and conviction and the other big biz financial scandals, through Tom Delay, Duke Cunningham, Jack Abramoff, ending up with Mark Foley, the flow of corruption became an avalanche.

Possibly the final nail was the revelation that the leader of Bush’s Evangelical base was a closet gay drug abuser.

A few days before the election we were able to compare the integrity of Ted Haggard to the integrity of a (former) drug-involved gay prostitute. Mike Jones even admitted that he timed the revelation to affect the election (including anti-gay Colorado initiatives).

Even members of Haggard’s megachurch, have reportedly thanked Mr Jones for exposing a problem, for which the reverend can now get help.

Karl Rove mentions the Haggard scandal as one of the contributors to the rout. Most lefties are ignoring the exit polls regarding corruption. They say it’s Iraq, Iraq, Iraq.

But our invasion of Iraq is itself a scandal. We were lied to about the reasons for going into Iraq. We still haven’t been told the honest truth about that.

Their annual reports are lies. Their state of the union messages are lies. Their assignment of priests are based on lies. Their oaths of office are lies. Their sermons are lies.

And the media’s incredulity is a lie.

Nobody likes to be lied to, at least not about important things, for instance the safety of one’s life-savings, or the reason one’s son was sent to die in combat.

So, the Republicans were turned outof office, not because they are war criminals and torturers (which they are), or thieves (certainly) but because they’re such goddamned liars. How “quaint.”

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Sunday, November 05, 2006


My friend, Pudinhand Wilson, is worried.

“If I go to hell for being gay,” he asked, “will I have to hang out with that creepy minister from Colorado?”

“Pud,” I reassured him, “if there were a God you’d be dead. If there were a hell, you’d already be there.”

“Thanks,” he said, “I forgot.”

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Friday, November 03, 2006


So another rightwing Christian leader gets caught consorting with a male prostitute. It would still be news, but less juicy, if the prostitute had been female. Seems anymore it has to be gay or underage for anyone to care.

As an opponent of sex-fun in general and gay sex especially, Rev Ted Haggard is disgraced as a hypocrite.

Lost in this is his utter failure of pastoral duty.

When a Christian minister meets a prostitute, the minister’s response should be to help the prostitute find a better line of work, not to ask, “How much?”

The larger question for me is the dignity of sex work in general. Prostitution seems like a default source of income, when nothing else is available, and it beats dieing of starvation. But that’s probably not always the case

I think I wouldn’t enjoy having sex with people not of my choosing. But I can imagine how someone could find it more fun and rewarding than flipping burgers.

My mom used to say, “Young people think it’s all about sex. Gradually you learn that it’s really about power.”

The reported male prostitute in Denver, Mike Jones (I used to know a Mike Jones), who reportedly has audio tapes of the minister, is probably a nice man with diverse interests who does prostitution as a sideline and could survive without it; at this moment he has a lot more power than the disgraced minister.

BTW: Reports say Mike is 49, and still selling it? You go, girl!

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Pud was glad to see that PW Botha had finally died. “How do these evil fucks live so long?” he asks. Then answers himself, “Because they know what’s coming when they die.”

Pud was clearly overwhelmed by the idea of a flight to “South fucking Africa.”

“Maybe you don’t have to piss on Botha’s grave, Pud,” I suggested, “Maybe this obituary from the Guardian does the job for you. Check it out.”


Dan van der Vat
Thursday November 2, 2006
The Guardian

PW Botha, who has died aged 90, ruled South Africa under apartheid for 11 years until 1989, and was gradually exposed during his long decline as one of the most evil men of the 20th century, committed to state terrorism, war and murder to thwart black majority rule.

Pud seemed genuinely relieved. “Thanks,” he said, “I can’t tell you what a good feeling it gives me to read that.”

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Thursday, November 02, 2006


I've created a list of previous posts on this blog. For now it has only dates and titles. To access this list, click the INDEX link in the right sidebar.


It took only a few days for me to discover that I wasn’t the smartest kid in the freshman class at St Ignatius. I wasn’t even the smartest kid in my alphabetically derived group of forty known as Class 1D. I did well enough as a freshman, however, to be put in the “honor class” for the remaining three years.

The honor class comprised the forty smartest kids out of a freshman class of 280, so, the top 15%. Considering that SI was the most academically rigorous of San Francisco’s three Catholic boys high schools, there were some really smart kids in the honor class.

The honor curriculum included two years of Homeric Greek, while the other kids got Spanish instead, and four years of Latin, instead of just two. This exposure to the classics, pagan classics, is the platform from which I’ve taken my literary dive.

When you ask me what a word means I immediately think etymology. Not that I’m a scholar, I’m a non-scholar, but I’m a non-scholar of the Classics. I pick up stuff by osmosis.

In the first week of Sophomore year in the honor class, we received an English assignment, to write a Shakespearian sonnet, the subject didn’t matter but it had to be iambic pentameter, the standard rhyme scheme, and three quatrains and a couplet.

When Mr McCurdy returned the graded sonnets he asked one kid to stand and read his aloud. I was astounded. This kid, Don Casper, had written his sonnet in Latin! A perfect Shakespearian sonnet, but in Latin! This was a another good hint to me that I was out of my depth. When the teacher asked him to tell the class what grade he had received, Don’s face reddened, “An F,” he said. The point was that this was English class, not Latin class. Whoa!

Anyway, I quickly became a role-player. It turns out I had a decent ear, so the elite students enjoyed my writing, and my, even then, skewed world view. And I filled, in a very mild way, the role of class clown.

In Sophomore English class I sat at the front of the room. Mr McCurdy would start each session reviewing a word from the previous night’s reading assignment. His first question was always, “Who can tell us the etymology of this word.”

My hand would always shoot up enthusiastically, and Mr McCurdy would call on me. Most of the time I had no idea of the etymology, so I would make something up. In addition to identifying the Latin or Greek root, we were supposed to give its “principle parts.” I would model my answers on highly irregular verbs and nouns.

Mr McCurdy: The word is “consist.” Who can tell us the root of the word “consist”? Mr Morrissey?

sfwillie: Yes, Mister. It comes from the Latin verb sist. The principle parts are sistor, sistex, sistivi sum. It means to act in the capacity of a sister.

The class would laugh and groan while I feigned hope that my “guess” had been correct.

Mr McCurdy: Wrong. Can somebody help Mr Morrissey out?

Then I’d punch the air, or slap my forehead, to show my supposed disappointment, and flop back in my seat deflated. I guess people enjoyed it, because it became ritual. Of course, every once in a while I’d actually know the correct answer, in which case the class would erupt in applause and I’d take a deep bow.

That year the really smart kids amused themselves by composing sentences in Latin, which when read aloud, made sense in English.

Anyway, the honor class rendered me completely comfortable about my own enormous ignorance. I have a younger-brother strategy. I hang around people who are smarter than me or know more than me, ask questions, and keep my ears open.

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