The continuation of Skiing Uphill and Boregasm, Zug is 'the little blog that could.'

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Name: Ed Waldo
Location: of The West,

I am a fictional construct originally conceived as a pen name for articles in the Los Angeles FREE PRESS at the 2000 Democratic Convention. The plume relating to the nom in question rests in the left hand of Hart Williams, about whom, the less said, the better. Officially "SMEARED" by the Howie Rich Gang . GIT'CHER ZUG SWAG HERE!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Time to Celebrate an Anniversary (Sort Of)

A longer piece is on tap for later in the day (or tomorrow). But meantime, today, February 24th, marks the 425th Anniversary of Pope Gregory XIII's adoption of the calendar (in 1582) that bears his name: The Gregorian Calendar.

You might note that the name sounds familiar. It's the calendar that most of the world uses, notable for being a SOLAR calendar. Most calendars are lunar (since it's a lot easier to track the "moonth" than the solar year). For some interesting details, take a look at Wikipedia:

and, perhaps, the Galileo Project at Rice University:

The "Sort of" part? Well, ten days were dropped in October of 1582, to correct the drift of the Vernal Equinox that had built up. So, February 24th 1582 isn't EXACTLY the 425th Anniversary, but, really, it's as good a day as any to commemorate the fixing of the Julian Calendar (after Julius Caesar, who implemented it). See:


Friday, February 23, 2007

Blogorrhea, Or Why the "Press" Hates Blogs

I can tell you why the MSM hates blogs: fear.

The Blog Mob
"Written by fools to be read by imbeciles."

BY JOSEPH RAGO [The Wall Street Journal]
Wednesday, December 20, 2006 12:01 a.m. EST

Blogs are very important these days. Even Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has one. The invention of the Web log, we are told, is as transformative as Gutenberg's press, and has shoved journalism into a reformation, perhaps a revolution.

The ascendancy of Internet technology did bring with it innovations. Information is more conveniently disseminated, and there's more of it, because anybody can chip in. There's more "choice"--and in a sense, more democracy. Folks on the WWW, conservatives especially, boast about how the alternative media corrodes the "MSM," for mainstream media, a term redolent with unfairness and elitism.

The blogs are not as significant as their self-endeared curators would like to think. Journalism requires journalists, who are at least fitfully confronting the digital age. The bloggers, for their part, produce minimal reportage. Instead, they ride along with the MSM like remora fish on the bellies of sharks, picking at the scraps....

You've got to understand that, ever since books supplanted scrolls, around the time of Plato, there has been a classism involved with them. Even before the print media existed, there was an elitism involved in the power of the written word.

With the coming of movable type (printing had existed prior to Gutenberg), the ownership of a press created both a physical and intellectual elite. There is and was a certain esprit de corps among those "in print," that is to say, on PAPER.

Mimeographed newsletters and self-published books were always looked on as a threat to the primacy of the print elite, but they were more objects of derision than any serious threat. Ditto xerox machines. But then came the blogs.

And the blogs broke that monopoly. As the web for a moment created a "mob" moment back in the mid-90s where some hobbyist in Eugene, Oregon could have every bit as impressive a web presence as, say, the Cannes Film Festival, or the Nation of Egypt, so, the blogs have created a truly democratic press, in which the only barrier to publication was the willingness of the writer.

It was a medium, merely: whether the writing was sublime, or crap, that was not the issue. What WAS the issue was that the blogs had broken above the salt, and the mainstream "journalists" didn't like it. Worse, the blogs began MOVING the news, and changing the editorial decisions that are the difference between what you see (The Anna Nicole Corpse Corps) and what you don't (The War in Iraq, for instance).

Indeed, it's been a brave new world ever since the blogosphere noticed that Trent Lott was over-effusively praising Strom Thurmond's 1948 Segregation Party candidacy, and refused to let the story slide. The Washington press corps -- infected, perhaps, with the greatest degree of "print" elitism on the planet -- struck back famously (or, infamously, if you like) this week. And the blogosphere took note.

But, uncommented, was an editorial at the end of 2006 in the WALL STREET JOURNAL (the second-most circulated newspaper in the USA, behind USA TODAY), calling us morons:

Leftward fatuities too are easily found: The fatuity matters more than the politics. If the blogs have enthusiastically endorsed Joseph Conrad's judgment of newspapering--"written by fools to be read by imbeciles"--they have also demonstrated a remarkable ecumenicalism in filling out that same role themselves.

And who, you might ask, so cravenly hides his elitism behind the words of a dead author (appropriately, the author of "Heart of Darkness," and, inappropriately, Conrad's comment on British tabloids of the late 19th century)?

"Mr. [Joseph] Rago is an assistant editorial features editor at The Wall Street Journal," quoth the WALL STREET JOURNAL.

Here's some of the highlights of Rago's elitist screech:

"Nobody wants to be an imbecile. Part of it, I think, is that everyone likes shows and entertainments. Mobs are exciting. People also like validation of what they already believe; the Internet, like all free markets, has a way of gratifying the mediocrity of the masses."

Or consider this (note HIS use of "MSM"):

"Certainly the MSM, such as it is, collapsed itself. It was once utterly dominant yet made itself vulnerable by playing on its reputed accuracy and disinterest to pursue adversarial agendas. Still, as far from perfect as that system was, it was and is not wholly imperfect. The technology of ink on paper is highly advanced, and has over centuries accumulated a major institutional culture that screens editorially for originality, expertise and seriousness.

"Of course, once a technosocial force like the blog is loosed on the world, it does not go away because some find it undesirable. So grieving over the lost establishment is pointless, and kind of sad. But democracy does not work well, so to speak, without checks and balances. And in acceding so easily to the imperatives of the Internet, we've allowed decay to pass for progress."

To which I reply: elitist scum, the best of the blogosphere is as good as the best of the print world, and, conversely and irrefutably, the worst of the print world is no worse than the worst of the blogosphere. We are arguing pixels and picas. The argument is absurd on the face of it, and yet, there is more than a little of the braying of the gored ox to it.

Because the blogs are, for the moment, democratic, and, therefore, a meritocracy. The best draw their own following, just like newspapers, just like magazines. And this offends the editor of a newspaper whose success depends on its wide and diverse readership. But then, as we'll see tomorrow, being a media elite means that the elite can do 'favors' for their buddies. But meantime, the infamous Tony Snow CSPAN gaggle, like the WSJ editorial, and a thousand other snarks (including the TIME magazine "punt" on having to acknowledge the influence of the blogs, but refusing to do so, expanding the person of the year to "everybody" so that the blogs would remain third-class citizens) has done nothing to refute the perception that the "MSM" "journalists" hold the blogs (and, therefore, their writers) in disdain and contempt:

Tony Snow and White House Reporters Slam The 'Hateful,' 'Polarized' Blogosphere [from ThinkProgress.org]

In a press roundtable at the National Press Club tonight, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow led a discussion with White House correspondents about the impact of the internet on their respective jobs. Their conclusion? They don't like being challenged by blogs.

NBC News' David Gregory bemoaned how political coverage has "become so polarized in this country because it's the internet and the blogs that have really used this White House press conferences to somehow support positions out in America, political views." Tony Snow admitted he sometimes reads blogs ("I'll occasionally punch it up") only to find "wonderful, imaginative hateful stuff that comes flying out."

And that's why "blogger" has supplanted that other "gger" word as the epithet of choice among the elites.

Perhaps this was what Tony Snow meant when he eschewed "hugging the tar baby."

Courage. Massa.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A Pig and A Polk

With apologies to Ray Ring, who yesterday or today won a Polk Award for his High Country News reporting on the Howie Rich gang in Montana, this article was already in the works. Onward:

Yesterday we set the metaphor: that the "600 year Golden Pig Year" is a con to sell souvenirs and baby gear. That "Presidents Day" is a distortion made up by department stores as an excuse for more white sales.

And today, we look at the con that Howie Rich is a Republican philanthropist financing local activists. Pay special heed to that "philanthropist" canard.

There is a lot of ground to cover here, so let's start with the straight dope from an insider. Just after the election, I received the following excerpted letter from a political "insider" who knows the Rich crowd all too well. It stands as confirmation to what the Center for Public Integrity has labored so mightily to document: Howard Rich ain't no sugar daddy. In fact, he's not giving money away at all. He's MAKING it.

From a November 11 letter to me from ... let's call him "the Insider" (Note: the ellipses are his. Mine are in brackets.):

Thank you for a very interesting series on Mr Rich and buddies (still going over it) [...] I know the subjects of your articles all too well.

You got alot right in your series...you've missed some. I don't like these guys, and for many reasons which I suspect you and I share. These guys are NOT Libertarians or libertarians.

You are correct that it's Koch and some others paying the bills. I'm not sure if you understand that Rich, Jacob and others actually profit from the initiatives. ALL the money comes from others. I know many of those others, and the routes they choose.

I'm sure you and I currently disagree how much of such "subterfuge" in the process of election money changing hands should be allowed or outlawed. I'm sure that we even disagree on when actual laws have been broken.

You and I either can quibble or even strenuously argue about whether or not the IRS code 501c4 is worthy or a monstrosity (I, of course, believe the latter). It's clear it's been abused here.

The abuse here is all about Rich making more money, not at all about the issues represented via the initiative processes of the various states. Remember, when you do that, you are a partisan. Keep in mind that whether or not you agree with an initiative, those who promote such issues are actual citizens. You have no right to abridge their freedoms of speech.

What needs to be clear to voters is NOT that out of state interests are contributing. That's hogwash, mere electioneer hyperbole, and bad hyperbole, mere hype, at that.

What is important is that there is an undisclosed agenda of Rich and Co. That undisclosed agenda, simply, is he's only in this for the purpose of making money. Rich doesn't contribute one thin dime to anyone. Not in his nature.

Indeed, many of the people you mention are mere fronts. Ric[h] is a launderer. The money, ALL of it, comes from others, and he cuts himself into that for profit. They don't know what they are doing, they botch more jobs than any pro could, and still be in business. They are quite amateurish, which is why you so easily can find info on them with simple online searches.

Some of the others include Scaife, the whole Cato crowd (for that, look at the Board members, and choose the ones with real money, like Dennis) and the one Koch brother.

The money is laundered (much of it) through ATR. Some of it goes through Nevada corporations....


The mistake that the media made, CPI and HCN notwithstanding, was twofold: First, that once they'd gotten a "name" ("Howard Rich") that would be the end of it. I did not quibble, since once an idiotic presumption gets locked between the ears, it's very difficult to unlock and release it, and, time was very short, what with the election coming up and all.

The second mistake was far more egregious, and the Center for Public Integrity was perhaps the worst case, but the NEW YORK TIMES made the same mistake, and did a much worse job of finding any "facts" under like circumstances.

That is: the inadvertent bias and literal 'prejudice' attendant on defining the story by an issue and not by the players.


Well, look at the Center for Public Integrity's site, focusing on "Takings." The focus was on bundling the issues, and that's the way the coverage remained. But the ISSUES -- as noted above -- aren't the point. These people are political whores: If you've got the scratch, they've got the machinery to run your campaign. Howie Rich's "agenda" is what he's being paid for ... all in dark, oligarchic "libertarian" circles, to be sure. But he's making money on the deal.

One surefire giveaway was the fact that, after I broke the code, and showed how the money was flowing from Howard Rich's organizations to "America At Its Best" -- a money laundering operation intended to hide the massive amounts of cash that were being funnelled into states as utterly disparate as California and Nebraska (the Nebraska cash was passing through Mike Groene, Rich's Nebraska "local activist" BACK to Rich crony Eric O'Keefe's wife, Leslie Graves) -- Leslie Graves was NOT demoted or 'disappeared.' Indeed they entrusted her with a NEW task.

I need to take a moment here to say something that needs to be said: I gave this story to the OMAHA WORLD HERALD. They had, again, decided to focus on the "issue" of the "Terri Schiavo" initiative that the Rich Machine was running, and not the OTHER initiative, the SOS Nebraska spending cap, and, thus, missed a good chunk of the story. They were also happy, I might sourly note, to act as though they'd found out the entire story on their own, and not so much as the slightest public acknowledgement of my work in breaking the mystery of all that money flowing through Nebraska from Montana and back out to Wisconsin, with nary a cent remaining IN Nebraska.

Trust me, it was finding that Nebraska document online that cracked the code in several states (as an equally selfish OREGONIAN reporter wrote me:

"Wednesday, August 02, 2006 4:01 PM

I wanted to let you know we have a really good story ready to run.... but due to other news taking up space, our story didn't run today and won't run tomorrow.... I am hoping Friday. Please hang on to your juice (sic) tidbits a little longer rather than share them with my counterparts in MSM, if you will!

Thanks again for finding the America at its Best document in Nebraska and for alerting me to the Walton money and the Libertarian party break.... all three of those are in the article. Along with much, much more.

Yes. I made the mistake of agreeing to embargo my writing so that the OREGONIAN could have their "scoop" -- which contained this priceless acknowledgement:

" ... Many news outlets and political commentators have noted that Americans for Limited Government or the Fund for Democracy, based at Rich's office in Manhattan, are funding initiative campaigns in multiple states. Bloggers, including two in Oregon, have mapped even more connections.

An analysis of public records by The Oregonian, however, is the first to connect Rich to more than $7 million in contributions to initiatives this year...."

And, of course, the unquestioned thesis (put forward by Rich and his operatives) that this was all "philanthropy" on Howard Rich's part:

Rich declined to answer any questions about money, including how he decides how much to give in each state and how much comes from his personal wealth, saying he wants the focus on the issues.

"Oregon has a tremendous group of dedicated people who wanted to work to put these initiatives in front of the voters, and I was more than happy to lend them a helping hand," Rich said in an e-mail.

OK, but that Nebraska document was a big key to unraveling this mess, and while we're all taking credit, I want you to know that I was the one who found it. The EUGENE REGISTER-GUARD wrote me up (in a small portion of a portmanteau piece about "bloggers" and our effect on the election) about how I was "obsessive" and told how I woke my wife up at 3 in the morning one morning. They didn't bother to include why:

That was the night that I found the Nebraska election disclosure documents that closed the circle: from "Howard Rich" (meaning those silent backers whose bidding he performs) to "America At Its Best" in Kalispell, Montana, to Nebraska, and right back to Eric O'Keefe's wife in Spring Green, Wisconsin. I knew the significance, and my wife knew it as well. But the R-G reporter thought that it would be "funny" to paint me as "obsessive."

Ha ha.

Do you begin to understand HOW cloddish and unprofessional the coverage of these serpents was? They hide behind their organizations like cheap Halloween masks, but it's enough to completely fool the "mainstream media."

And by defining the story as about "takings issues," (CPI) or about "end of life issues" (Omaha WH), or about how THEY had been so good at "exposing" Howie (OREGONIAN), they missed the point, and KEEP missing the point.

This is about the anonymous rigging of elections by a self-appointed oligarchy.

As I've reported before, the CPI investigation found that THREE individuals provided 99% of the money for Howie's little crusades. (Rich himself contributed virtually NONE of his own funds, also discovered by CPI).

So, perhaps you will appreciate how much satisfaction it gave me to see Leslie Graves ADMIT to everything I'd ferreted out with such difficulty and such "obsessive" behavior:

Leslie Graves is the national director of G-TAP. She shares about how she became interested in the G-TAP project:

I live near Spring Green, Wisconsin, with my husband Eric O'Keefe. Eric has been involved for many years with the term limits and school choice movements, recently serving as Chair of the Executive Committee of Americans for Limited Government.

We've raised three children. In early 2006, after two decades as a stay-at-home mom, I started a petition drive management company and plunged into managing the paid part of two petition drives in Nebraska....

She doesn't mention that her little "company" received nearly $2 million in the summer of 2006. Not exactly a lemonade stand, was it? But I was right, and that was the story I gave to the Omaha newspaper.

You would think, while people were busy taking credit (and make no mistake, the PBS "NOW" acknowledgement was more than I ever expected or hoped for, this column isn't about "sour grapes" -- Ray Ring fully deserves every gram of his Polk) they were being conned by their own preconceptions.

You see, Ray Ring was the ONLY reporter who managed to interview Howie Rich, and he graciously posted the .mp3 of the interview on the HCN blog. That was VERY important.

Meantime, the mainstream press hamstrung themselves with the idiotic and unquestioned presumption that Howard Rich was some rich guy who was dabbling in local politics because of his old Libertarian sympathies.


As Trevis Butcher and Scott Tillman and Don McIntyre humped Howie's giant pig from coast to coast (see Blue Oregon http://www.blueoregon.com/2006/10/lipstick_on_a_p.html ), the media focused on the myth of Howard Rich, lone gunman.

And so, when the "Sam Adams Alliance" was formed in October of 2006, they could put this on their FAQ, secure in the knowledge that while the money and mission remained the same, the Halloween mask had changed, and the media would be thrown off the track:


Q: How is the Sam Adams Alliance related to Americans for Limited Government?

A: Many of the Sam Adams Alliance's Chicago-based staff and management formerly worked with Americans for Limited Government. Our Chairman, Eric O'Keefe, served on the board of Americans for Limited Government; our President, John Tillman, served as ALG's president; and our Senior Advisor, Paul Jacob, was ALG's senior fellow.

The Sam Adams Alliance grew out of a realization that no national network exists to serve and assist local leaders and groups, and that real political change depends on a citizen movement with true staying power on the local level. Many of ALG's Chicago-based staff agreed with this new mission, and joined SAA as a result. The formal division of the groups occurred in November of 2006.

ALG continues to exist and has moved to the Washington, DC area.

Q: Is SAA headed by Howard Rich?

A: SAA is not affiliated with Mr. Rich, who remains the head of Americans for Limited Government. The Sam Adams Alliance shares no management or management decisions with ALG or its affiliates, but we do wish them the best in their future endeavors.

Q: But that's not what I read on a website...

A: Many "non partisan research" websites have a distinct agenda--many, for instance, are funded by left-wing maven George Soros--and they don't let the facts get in the way of their quest to defame groups they perceive as threatening. But, hey, it's kind of amusing to see the wacky things they cook up. Reader, beware.

This unanswered smear was typical of the 2006 season, and they're referring to the Center for Public Integrity's investigative reporting. Note that there is no rebuttal, just an ad hominem and a quick moving on. The imbecilic media NEVER once challenged these canards, just as they never questioned whether Howie Rich was really a "philanthropist." Just print whatever they say, that's the "professional journalist" way, I guess.

Yeah. Here, let me cook up some more wacky stuff. The Illinois GOP Executive Director just jumped ship to move to the Sam Adams Alliance (via WQAD-TV in Moline, Illinois):

State GOP executive director steps down
February 14, 2007

CHICAGO (AP) - Illinois Republican party executive director John Tsarpalas (sar-PAL'-as) is leaving the organization.

State G-O-P chairman Andy McKenna says Tsarpalas will be joining the Sam Adams Alliance, an organization that formed in the city last fall. According to its Web site, the alliance was formed last fall as a government accountability group.

McKenna says Tsarpalas is particularly good at the kind of grass roots organizing the group does.

Tsarpalas joined the state G-O-P in the summer of 2005. He will leave his post in the next few weeks.

Tsarpalas' replacement has not yet been named.

Well, that's where we'll leave it today. There's a lot more, but 2477 words is probably a good stopping point. For today.

Congratulations on your Polk, Ray Ring. You certainly deserve it. Would that more "MSM" reporters would show your moxie.


Monday, February 19, 2007

Howard Rich And the Golden Pig - A Parable

I bet you've heard the tales. I had heard that this was the Chinese Year of the Fire Pig. (As a Wood Ram, I understand something about the Chinese Zodiac, but that's not important right now. And stop calling me "Shirley.")

And I thought, well, the year of the Flaming Pig ought surely to be Howie Rich's signature year. And, perhaps it will be. But let's return to the "Golden Pig" shall we?

This morning, our local "progressive" talk radio host, Brian Shaw, dug up that it was supposedly the "Year of the Golden Pig" which only comes once every 600 years. And, there are a number of articles backing up this claim in an incurious and stupid American media. The GOLDEN Pig comes only ONCE every 600 YEARS! Children born in this year are very lucky, etc. etc.

It was an honest mistake on his part. He wasn't the only 'pundit' conned by the Tale of the Golden Pig.

And it's appropriate that I tell you this on "President's Day." (I'll tell you why that is in a moment.)

First, you need to track that this "Golden Pig" media crosstalk is ONLY coming from South Korea. The Chinese, Vietnamese, etc. who also follow the Chinese zodiac only talk about the Fire Pig year. (Most of Asia, in other words).

Well, according to Korean Radio (South Korea's only foreign language broadcast radio, founded 1953), in a January 1, 2007, article, the whole "Golden Pig" story is a myth cooked up by advertising/marketing types:

The Myth of the Year of Golden Pig

The year 2007 is the 'Year of the Pig,' based on the lunar calendar. But it is not just an ordinary pig, it is a 'golden pig.' According to some fortunetellers, it is going to be the 'Year of the Golden Pig' which comes every 600 years.

Babies born in the 'year of the golden pig' are believed to have good fortune and will lead a comfortable and wealthy life.

However, most fortunetellers and folklorists doubt the belief. According to a member of a fortunetellers' association, they don't know where the myth came from. It is only a saying among people and there are no grounds for it.

People who believe in the year of the golden pig say the special year comes every 600 years. They came to this conclusion through calculations, using a combination of the Chinese zodiac and the yin and yang theory.

However, a folklore professor, Joo Young-ha, at the Academy of Korean Studies rebuts the theory. He explained that if the year 2007 is the golden pig year which comes every 600 years, there should be records about the special year written in the 'Taejong Sillok,' archives of King Taejong. King Taejong ruled the Joseon Dynasty 600 years ago. But there are no such records, which makes him believe the myth was made not long ago.

Also, Baek Woon-san, head of the Korean Fortune-tellers Association, thinks the whole thing is an exaggeration. However, he said that there have been many people with good fortune who were born in the year of the pig, when the energy of bright light and clear water are harmoniously joined together.

Some even believe the myth was created to boost the ever-decreasing birthrate in recent years. In fact, Korea's birthrate is expected to increase this year. Many obstetrics and gynecology clinics are actually providing more pregnancy counseling these days.

Whatever the belief is, marketing is already in full swing. You will notice golden pig items everywhere you go in Korea. Gold colored piggy banks are selling well and are also a popular promotional item for companies. They are actually very cute.

Some businesses, including banks, are even presenting gold bars as a lottery prize to people who open a bank account these days. Also, demand for gold is increasing as more people are using gold as gifts for relatives and friends, wishing them good luck.

Baby product companies are also quick to jump on the gilded bandwagon. For example, toy companies are making various toy pigs.

A marketing scam to boost the birth-rate and sell lots of baby gear and oodles of souvenir "golden pigs." Golden Pigs for the marketers, obviously, but not so benevolent to the people being conned out of their cash.

There you go: the modern panacea. Don't accept reality. INVENT reality. And that brings us to WHY it's important to tell you this on President's Day:

Section 6103(a) of Title V of the U.S. Code says that this is officially George Washington's Birthday. The term "Presidents Day" was INVENTED by a southern department store for a sale, and has been quite the hit for "PRESIDENTS DAY SALE" s around the nation. Who knew that "George Washington Slept Here" would be the start of so many "White" sales? Did he really chew up the sheets when he slept?

According to "2005 Newspaper of the Year by the Maryland-Delaware-District of Columbia Newspaper Association," The Herald-Mail:

Bartlett doesn't like Presidents Day

By TARA REILLY tarar@herald-mail.com

Calling Presidents Day a big lie and a historical myth, U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett has renewed his push for separate recognition of the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

"A generic Presidents Day diminishes the accomplishments of America's greatest presidents, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, while rewarding the mediocrity of others," Bartlett, R-Md., said in a press release.

Presidents Day, a federal holiday, is observed on the third Monday in February. It falls on Feb. 19 this year.

Bartlett has reintroduced legislation, the Washington-Lincoln Recognition Act, which would direct all federal agencies to refer to the third Monday in February as Washington's Birthday. The congressman said that's the legal name of the observance, not Presidents Day ....
Again, 'Presidents Day' exists as a way to separate you from your money. It's George Washington's Birthday! (OK, the legal three-day weekend version. The actual birthday is on the 22nd, this Thursday).

So, there are two myths that have been successfully run on you, courtesy of the incurious U.S. media. A little digging would have revealed both as lies. But they were foisted with the sure knowledge that we WOULDN'T dig a little deeper.

Let's talk about the third.

Howard Rich is a "Republican," and doesn't have anything to do with the Sam Adams Alliance. It seems that ...

But that's enough mind blowing for one afternoon. We will pick up the metaphor tomorrow in part II, "Tales of the Flaming Pigs."