Saturday, July 30, 2005

Joseph Conrad's Nostromo... the review

One of the most frustrating professions I have pursued is to be a reviewer for For the life of me I have written really great reviews on books I have read, the ones I have not read I try to admit to the reader at one point or another. Reviewing aint easy but this is my passion and for this I consider us lucky.
J. Williams 7/30/05

Nostromo (Everyman's Library (Cloth)) by Joseph Conrad
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful:

Eagle Ocean, Conrad takes to Terra Firma, March 1, 2005

Nostromo is one of Conrad's finest works and is also one of the few which is set upon land. It was published in 1904 and concerns primarily the corrupting influence of money or in this case silver. The novel is set in the fictional South American country of Costaguana. We learn of a local legend in the province of Sulaco about the disappearance of two thieving `gringos' who haunt the mountains due to their greed. We meet Charles Gould, who controls a silver mine and is trying to save it from the corrupt government. It is a time of political unrest and the dictator Ribiera flees. In this atmosphere, Gould becomes obsessed with saving the silver from the mine and emplys Decoud and Dr Monygham to aid him. They turn to Nostromo, a popular hero of sorts, who sails with the Decoud to hide the treasure but disaster strikes and they collide with an enemy boat. They arrive on an island and Decoud remains to protect it. However, he goes insane alone on the island and shoots himself before drowning, tied to a great quantity of silver. As the novel progresses we focus on Nostromo's unwise romance with his friend Viola's daughters. It contains very perceptive portraits of both heroes and anti-heroes and of the guilt that punishes the selfish, the greedy and the foolish. Many consider it to be Conrad's most important novel.
Not a walk in the park but, you will be happy you took the time to read.
It reminds me of the time I had my first sailboat I named it "Earls Pride" and me da bought me a fine looking mesh ball cap that said the same over the bill, I still have the hat and I do not think any amount of time will pass that will bring the hat back into fashion, its just plain ugly. Tacky and ugly and you will have to pull it off of my cold dead head if ever want to posses the...thing.
My friend Deemont called me one time and wanted to know if I would take his new girlfriend and himself sailing, I said yeah. So we met at Eagle Creek Reservoir and the wind was so strong that I judged it not safe for all of us to sail together for my craft was small, 13 ft. stem to stern. So we discussed the situation and Deemont laughed and told me how he met his new gal. The story goes she worked for a phone soliciting company and one of her employees called him and he used profanity and hung up on her, well her boss was appalled and call Deemont back to set him straight and well...he asked her out and that's how they met. I don't recall her name but I do know she was wearing Daisy Duke style shorts, she drew the long straw (turned out to be the short straw as fate would have it) and we went for a sail. I only raised the Jib sail since the winds were so severe, well we probably made it 100 yards from the docks, the wind shifted we turtled the "Earls Pride" (rolled it over mast down) well we gathered all our stuff and I coached her on the entire routine of righting a turtled sailboat, but then the wind would catch us and back over we would go. On and on this continued, occasionally we would right the craft and sail for a while (at which time I figured out from my keen powers of observation she had no underclothes under her daisy dukes) finally we just headed for shore drug the boat up on the beach where Deemont stood laughing.He had driven down to the next boat launch to find us, and helped us walk it along the shore back to the dock and later confessed to me that he was not so much concerned about our drowning but whether she was keeping her dukes in place and me the same. I don't know why especially since Nostromo took place on dry land but everytime I read this novel I think of this little adventure on Eagle Ocean.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Book Review Flannery O'Connor

This review was first published Jan. 19 2005 and met with good reviews, it aint easy reviewing but I continue pushing that boulder up the hill, the hill grows steeper and the boulder larger but I just keep growing stronger...kinda...or maybe just more deluded. JW July 25 2005

A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories by Flannery O'Connor
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful:

I seen the dummy!, January 19, 2005
I recommend reading Linda Linguvic's review, she is dead right. Reading Ms. O'Connor stories is time well invested, and I agree one at a time is about all you can to digest, its like Harper Lee meets Edger Allan Poe. I always find myself in surreal situations that remind me of a Flannery O'Conner story...STOP READING AT THIS POINT AND GO TO LINDAS REVIEW...You see I am in a witness protection program and the only way I can communicate with my family is through Amazon...sad but false.Which reminds me of when I was a kid visiting my grand parents and favorite uncle in North Carolina (we stayed with them every summer until they told my folks to stop). My mom, grandparents,uncle and brother went a visitin' some obscure relatives in a town that seemed to make my grandfather grumpy, reckon that would have been any town USA. However this particular town was near another particular town that held something of interest, the spaghetti man, or as my grandfather called him the dummy. They called him the spaghetti man because he was Italian, he had worked for a circus and happened to die in the nearby town I mentioned, back in the early 20th century is my guess. The manager of the circus only gave the local funeral director a deposit for the burial with the promise of returning with final payment, which never came. So the Spaghetti man/mummy/dummy remained in his freezer for years. The son inherited the business as well as the dummy as I will refer to him from this sentence on until the end of my review. Well back in the 60's my brother, uncle and to a lesser degree myself badgered my grandfather enough that he agreed to leave the family gathering to go find the dummy. He found the town just fine it being on the map and all, but had to ask directions to find the dummy "where's the dummy"? after several blind alleys we found the funeral home and in the garage the owner took us for a small fee to the garage, he opened the freezer and there in the flesh was a shrunken up freezer burnt dummy! One of those moments you never forget, a certain smell might take you back or a foreign accent, but you dont forget those memory's by god! cause that's what life's made of, memories and things like that, eating too. Years later in the year 2000 I visited my folks in NC and in honor of the dummy I went to Target and purchased a white T shirt a couple of sizes to big and a black marker. I laid the T-shirt on my kitchen table and scrawled "I seen the dummy" across the front and into the armpit. The next day I showered,shaved and put on my new shirt, drove to the airport early , requested exit row (I'm above average in height you know) and flew to Charlotte. I then boarded a commuter plane to New Bern and the flight attendant asked me what my shirt said and I told her "I seen the dummy" ...Even though I was in the front row and she had to sit in the jump seat in front of me she was sort of cool and impersonal the rest of the flight, people you figure them out? If you like reading, buy Flannery O'Conner its not a walk in the park but you aint no dummy now are you?

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Piggly Wiggly is the bomb!

If you have never been to a "Piggly Wiggly" then do yourself a favor...GO! Man this place is the bomb! If your anchored by responsibility then order a T-Shirt or watch or as I plan on doing...OK, keep this under your hat, you buy a 100% white cotton T Shirt (buy your size) and then buy a black indelible marker (wide tip). Now you have your kit, take the shirt stretch it out on your kitchen table (move the mail, magazines and supper plates) carefully scrawl out on the front of the shirt (front is the side without the tag) Piggly Wiggly. Bing Bang Boom! You are now the proud owner of a Piggly Wiggly T Shirt. If it will help you sleep, send Piggly Wiggly Inc. a buck or two for royalties.
If you would like to buy a one of a kind Piggly Wiggly T -Shirt contact me. For the low low price of $11.50 (plus $4.00 S&H). Why is the price low? Its low because this is even less than the commercially produced shirts offered on their web site. Buy before August and I will also include an autographed photo of myself creating your one of a kind T -shirt, a certificate of authentication if you will, buy now and save! Also for the same price I can send you a Piggly Wiggly T-shirt making Kit. Kind Regards JW

"Once again the world is running on greased grooves". John Steinbeck

Friday, July 22, 2005

Book Review "Trout Fishing in America"

I read this book a long time ago so I really cant remember much about it, I remember thinking it was a short book and an easy read, I am unsure if I reread the thing I would like it today. So when I wrote the review I kinda had to talk about something else otherwise I would be jabbering on about something I did not know much about, and if you know me you know I am not one to ramble. The story of the remote I know to be true , its like a history lesson and a book review all rolled into one.

Best Regards

J Williams 7/22/05

Trout Fishing in America by Richard Brautigan
Edition: Paperback
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful:

The First Remote, April 6, 2005
It reminds me of my da and his inventiveness, best my research indicates he was the first person to invent the remote control for television. Part one of his invention, not because this was his first innovation but just because this is how I chose to place this innovation in the review...Part one was a long electrical cord with an on off switch spliced to it so he could lean over the side of the bed and he could click the switch and like magic the TV would come to life or if he felt like clicking it again it would go black crackling and popping while it cooled.
Part two of his innovation I was able to be a part of, whenever he needed to change the channels he would yell my name with great enthusiasm...Boy! Boy! come here quick, I would snap to life and run to his room with great anticipation look at him and say whaaat? He would reply "could you change over to channel 6 ? hold on, hold on, now try 13 hmmm. go back to 8"....Thanks... Well I would leave frustrated and determined not to fall for that one again, but within an hour Boy! Boy! come here hurry! I would run upstairs and say "whaaat"? "could you change the TV over to Channel 6".

Boy:"But Da I'm studying for my drivers license test, I don't want to flunk"

Da: " try 13 again"...

Why this books evokes these memories is a mystery but so are a lot of things. ">

Monday, July 18, 2005

Hunter Thompson

As my brother said he took some sleeping pellets. I have not studied this site so if it turns out to be to big of a pain in the arse site let me know and I will command my computer to give it some sleeping pellets. You need to read bellow the lines, please understand the bureaucrats have created this problem so I just jump through the hoops obediently....

___-This is a good example of the lines I was talking about.


July 2005


GLIB WITH GUTS AND GORE: I Come to Bury HT, Not to Praise Him: The Legend of Hunter Thompson

Barbara Joans

So after he shoots himself upside the head, he wants his wife to shoot his ashy remains out a cannon. Big explosion! Big whoop!

So the man's a legend. This much is true. Apparently he lived (sometimes) as he wrote, and wrote as if chased by angels, Hell's Angels (HA’s).

So he could write. And he did write a number of classics. It's not easy, in America, to make a living as a free lancer, columnist, stringer, and writer of books. His “Fear and Loathings” eventually took on a life of their own, but it was his Hell's Angels, The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs that revved his career and kick started his legend.

So it's a funny thing about legends in our America of instant publicity. Authors write their own bio’s and let the world see them as they want to see themselves. And he showed us a mighty interesting view. He showed us that he loved to booze and battle, drive and drink, and shoot and shimmy--all at top speed. He let us know that he lived in a well-fortified, gun-heavy Rocky Mountain High compound. His legend characterizes him as an over-the-top, sex, drugs and rock-and-roll guy who was never far from intoxicants and never close to consensual reality.

So what can I say about a famous dead dude I never met? I ca n say that as a woman, I am envious of never being invited in (except as consort) to that macho world of famous men, famed toughness, serious celebrities, prized exclusivity, and a world of other authors. I ca n say that as a writer, a writer about riders, about bikes and bikers, and motorcycle culture, that I am envious of his ability to get published in rags that wouldn't even give me a tumble. I ca n say that since I never met the guy I can only address his work and the stuff we have in common: bikes.

So for the first time, I am on familiar ground.

For five years, after finishing my book on biker culture, I tried to get Random House to publish it because that's where Hunter Thompson got published. That's where his famous Hell's Angels book appeared. Five wasted years of writing and rewriting proposals because they hinted that if I just wrote this, or changed that, my work might be published along side of HT's. One day a friend said, "you'll be dead before they accept it. You're an anthropologist, send it to an academic press." I did and the contract came in the mail that very first week. I was pleased but it was not the publisher of Hunter Thompson. He was the star, the guiding light, the beacon and the shining sun pointing the way on how biker books should be presented to the public. He was the standard-bearer and the one to both emulate and beat.

And I missed out. Oh how I wanted to say he got it wrong. He was too narrow. He wrote about the HAs and while they are still the quintessential outlaw MC (motorcycle club), his version of them is too narrow and too skewed to one side yet it is the one enduring public view of their world. He gave us the brutishness and bravery but not the beauty. He told only the sensationalist part of the story. He told the story that would sell.

Daniel Wolf, another dead rider/writer, and the only one to give a full picture of an outlaw MC, told a more complete, more substantial, and more rounded story of outlaw MC life. But Wolf's book was published by University of Toronto Press and not Random House so it never took off, nor let the general public know that not all was booze and brawls among the outlaws. The HAs, being written about now from inside and out, live within their ow n substantial legend. But Thompson, even with his limited account, got good mileage out of his saga of outlaw MCs.

They made him. He was a Hell's Angels "made man," even to the final stomping. Always a good writer, he secured his place in writing history (note--not literary history) by choosing a subject more interesting than he.

Americans love to read about outlaws, thugs, gangsters, and bandits. Here was a subject to grab. And he did. He had access to one of the only authentic modern outlaw, wild west actions left in town. And they came complete with heroics, theft, bravery, terror, adventure, freedom, and horror. Here was a story to make a rep, a story with street creds. It was all his and he ran with it. And for all his self-aggrandizing bullshit, that's why we love him.

We love him for his willingness to "walk the walk." He rode with the Angels. Anyone withi n spitting, lane-splitting distance of bikes, knows that this fact alone makes him authentic. Since the HAs ride true to their patch, the very fact that Hunter Thompson could keep up with them, showed his mettle. He lived that dangerous, scary life full tilt.

Images and text copyright © International Journal of Motrocycle Studies

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Music Review, MacArthur Park Richard Harris

Great music if you like it if its not your gig then your reading the wrong review, my reviews are sometimes tangential but that's my style and I would rather stop clicking the keyboard than let some kill joy bungle head stifle my passion. I was reading a review on one of my reviews just the other day which is a rare treat and the critic I think was overly critical, I kinda think he was just not that mart...But everyone has an opinion and this is a public forum so in the words of someone "bring it on"!
Jimmy Webb(wrote MacArthur Park) was being interviewed by Terry Gross on NPR recently and he said his favorite version of this song (and he's has had thousands recorded) was performed by Richard Harris. He did say Richard refused to stick to the title lyrics but used the possessive MacArthur's Park, poetic license if you will, and Jimmy was fine with that and so am I because this is the second favorite version I've heard yet.I have plans on opening a Corn Dog/Lemon Shakeup stand in the near future and will concentrate my vending dream to small art fairs, what will make my Corn Dog/Lemon Shakeup stand special is I plan on hiring my friend Lynn to play piano and perform "MacArthurs Park" live all day and into the evenings, as much as I like Richard Harris's version hers, well how do I put it? How about show biz terms, she just upstages the poor dead Irishman. If he were alive today he might work on his act and give her a run for the money but for now my moneys on the Welsh girl.
Years ago Richard Harris was on the Merv Griffin show and he was telling a story about when he had been out tipping the pints with Richard Burton and another guy? I'm not even sure if Mr. Harris could remember but he told the story about his walk home and he just sat down, done walking in his mind.He sat there and a police officer approached him told him that in the shape he was in he would be better off at home, which Mr. Harris replied "yes sir I am on my way, you see the way I figure it the way the world is spinning my house should come by any minute" the officer let him sit and the audience laughed, me to I think.
Me da used to play this over and over again on the eight track whilst singing along, its a wonder I am not "deef" from the cacophony but here I sit today to tell you you have to buy this CD and when you figure out the meaning of the lyrics please email me and I will give you a pound sterling! Why the officer was bothering innocent street drunks and not out looking for the criminal who left the cake out in the rain? I don't think that I can take it cause it...just don't make sense. Buy the CD they dont make them like this anymore, better on vinyl and best on eight track if you can find such a rare gem.

I think my feet could stink.

I have a very poor sense of smell, so when my feet stink I am oblivious to the fact. I don't feel it my olfactory, you could put a dead skunk in the middle of the road , yep a dead skunk in the middle of the road ...a dead skunk in the middle of the road stinking to high heaven! In other words I had to post some things unrelated to Scientology so as to head off a family intervention, they think I'm nuts but I know I aint. How do I know? The voice's told me so...

We were born before the wind...

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We were born before the wind
Also younger than the sun
Ere the bonnie boat was one as we sailed into the mystic
Hark, now hear the sailors cry
Smell the sea and feel the sky
Let your soul and spirit fly into the mystic

-Van Morrison, "Into the Mystic"

There is no opium so sweet as the unguarded sunny sleep on the deck of a boat when it's after lunch in summer and you don't know when you're going to arrive nor what port you will land at, when you've forgotten east and west and your name and address...

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Letters from the Earth

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Mark Twain Quotations, Newspaper Collections, & Related Resources

By Barbara Schmidt
Featuring color graphics and photos from the Dave Thomson collection.

Quotations | Newspaper Articles | Special Features | Links | Search

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© 1988 Dave Thomson - Items from the Dave Thomson collection.


A Missing Passage from The Innocents Abroad ?
Mark Twain and the "Fascinating Duchess"

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Biography of Blind Tom Bethune

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L Ron Hubbard
Scientology's esteemed founder.
By Michael Crowley
Posted Friday, July 15, 2005, at 3:16 PM PT

Spiritual leader or sci-fi con artist? Click image to expand.

Spiritual leader or sci-fi con artist?

Our summer of Tom Cruise's madness and Katie Holmes' creepy path toward zombie bridedom has been a useful reminder of how truly strange Scientology is. By now those interested in the Cruise-Holmes saga may be passingly familiar with the church's creation myth, in which an evil, intergalactic warlord named Xenu kidnaps billions of alien life forms, chains them near Earth's volcanoes, and blows them up with nuclear weapons. Strange as Scientology's pseudo-theology may be, though, it's not as entertaining as the life story of the church's founder, L. Ron Hubbard.

To hear his disciples tell it, Hubbard, who died in 1986, was the subject of "universal acclaim" and one of the greatest men who ever lived. Not only did he devise the church's founding theory of Dianetics, which promises to free mankind of psychological trauma, he was a source of wisdom about everything from jazz music to nuclear physics. The official Web site dedicated to his life features subsites that expound upon his brilliant callings: "The Humanitarian," "The Philosopher," "The Writer," "The Artist," "The Poet/Lyricist," "The Music Maker," "The Yachtsman," and "Adventurer/Explorer: Daring Deeds and Unknown Realms." Visitors can hear an audio recording of Hubbard singing one of his own poems or learn about the soundtrack he composed for his 1,000-page sci-fi epic Battlefield Earth (later brought to Hollywood by Scientologist John Travolta). Hubbard's composition "utilized elements from several genres—from honky-tonk and free-swinging jazz to cutting-edge electronic rock. The result is a wholly new dimension in space opera sound." (Sign me up for a copy!)

There's a deep chasm between the erudite, noble Hubbard of Scientology myth and the true identity of the church's wacky founder. To those not in his thrall, Hubbard might be better described as a pulp science-fiction writer who combined delusions of grandeur with a cynical hucksterism. Yet he turned an oddball theory about human consciousness—which originally appeared in a 25-cent sci-fi magazine—into a far-reaching and powerful multimillion-dollar empire. The church now claims about 8 million members in more than 100 countries. The slow creep of Scientology's anti-drug programs into public schools, the presumably tens of millions of dollars the church keeps with the help of its tax-exempt status, and the accusations that the church has convinced people to hand over their life savings, make Hubbard's bizzarro legacy seem less like tragicomedy and more like a scandal. Comparable crackpots-in-chief like Lyndon LaRouche and Sun Myung Moon have had almost no detectable national influence. But famous Scientologists—Cruise, Travolta, the singer Beck, and even—say it ain't so!the voice of Bart Simpson, have given Hubbard a veneer of popular credibility and his church a perpetual recruitment ticket.

Hubbard always imagined himself a great man of history. "All men are your slaves," he once wrote in a diary entry unearthed during a 1984 lawsuit. He reportedly once claimed to have written a manuscript that contained such brutal truths that anyone who read it went insane or committed suicide. He fancied himself a nuclear physicist, never mind his lack of training, and posited that fallout from Cold War nuclear tests were interfering with Scientology therapies. (Hubbard even wrote a book titled All About Radiation—a swell read, according to one reviewer on Amazon who says, "I understand radiation better and feel like I could survive an atomic explosion somewhere on the planet, if it wasn't, of course, really close to me.") He reportedly constructed the myth that he was a World War II combat hero, when in fact the Navy reprimanded him after a San Diego-based ship he commanded shelled some nearby Mexican islands for target practice.

Hubbard's version is understandably preferable to the reality, which was a dark farce. Hubbard was born in 1911 in Tilden, Neb. After flunking out of George Washington University, he became a pulp science-fiction and adventure writer. In the mid-1940s, he fell in with John Parsons, a wealthy and brilliant young rocket scientist in California, who also happened to be under the tutelage of the infamous satanist Aleister Crowley (no relation to yours truly, thankfully). According to Russell Miller's damning biography of Hubbard, Bare-Faced Messiah, Parsons was a science-fiction fan who briefly hosted Hubbard at his Pasadena, Calif., mansion, which featured a domed backyard temple and a rotating cast of occultists and eccentrics. Parsons described Hubbard as his "magical partner," and together the men engaged in a rite in which Parsons tried to impregnate with an antichrist child a woman he considered the whore of Babylon, a goal that Crowley had long promoted. With Rachmaninoff's "Isle of the Dead" playing in the background, Hubbard allegedly chanted spells over the copulating couple, according to Miller and others. (Ultimately Hubbard would steal Parsons' girlfriend and allegedly bilk him in a Miami yacht venture.) Years later, when Hubbard had grown famous and realized the antichrist episode didn't comport with his image as a man of culture and wisdom, he would reportedly claim to have been working on an undercover mission for U.S. Naval Intelligence to investigate black magic.

Dabbling in (or investigating) witchcraft didn't pay the bills, and by the late 1940s Hubbard was in debt and despondent. Then in 1950 he published Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, which he billed as "a milestone for man comparable to his discovery of fire and superior to his inventions of the wheel and arch." The theory of Dianetics promised to cure almost any physical and mental ailment—including wrinkles—by cleansing people's memories of traumatic past experiences so they could arrive at a "clear" mental state. Well poised to capitalize on a growing national fascination with psychotherapy, the book was an instant best-seller. Dianetics groups and parties sprung up nationwide.

Hubbard became an icon, and thousands of fans sought him out. In 1954, as the book's success—and his income—began to fade, Hubbard founded the Church of Scientology. His son Ron Jr. claimed in a 1983 interview with Penthouse that money was the motive, saying his father "told me and a lot of other people that the way to make a million was to start a religion." Hubbard made his millions quickly and used them to style himself as a sophisticated aristocrat, relocating to an English country home dubbed "Saint Hill Manor."

But Hubbard quickly alienated governments at home and abroad. He and his followers developed a reputation for intimidating critics and church defectors. An official inquiry in Australia concluded that Scientology is "evil" and "a serious threat to the community, medically, morally and socially; and its adherents sadly deluded and often medically ill." In 1963, federal agents, suspicious that Hubbard's therapy might pose a health risk, raided the church's Washington, D.C., branch. The IRS concluded soon after that Hubbard was skimming millions of dollars from church funds and revoked Scientology's tax-exempt status. (The church won back that status in 1993 after a long, fierce campaign; several European countries still don't recognize Scientology as a religion.) In 1967, Hubbard fled to the high seas for most of the next eight years. During this period he dreamed up the "Sea Org," a special branch of Scientology whose members wear sharp blue naval uniforms and sign contracts pledging their service for 1 billion years.

Hubbard finally returned to land in 1975, first to Washington, D.C., and then to the California desert. Lying low, Hubbard was doted on by a special group of teenage "messengers" who pulled on his socks and followed him with ashtrays when he smoked. He developed Howard Hughes-like eccentricities, flying into rages if he smelled detergent in his clothes, which caused the terrified messengers to rinse his laundry in multiple water buckets.

Meanwhile, the church's ongoing paranoia and vindictiveness culminated in a shockingly elaborate operation, which Hubbard dubbed "Snow White," to spy on and burglarize multiple federal offices, including the IRS and the Justice Department, with the aim of stealing and destroying government documents about Scientology. The Scientologists even planted moles in some federal offices. In 1983, 11 church leaders, including Hubbard's wife, were convicted and sentenced to prison for the conspiracy. Though Hubbard was named as a co-conspirator, he was never indicted.

By that time, in any case, he had gone into hiding. On or around Jan. 17, 1986, Hubbard suffered a catastrophic stroke on a secluded ranch near Big Sur, Calif. A week later he was dead. Scientology attorneys arrived to recover his body, which they sought to have cremated immediately. They were blocked by a county coroner, who, according to Scientology critics, did an autopsy that revealed high levels of a psychiatric drug. That would seem like an embarrassment given the church's hostility to such medications (witness Tom Cruise's recent feud with Brooke Shields), but it didn't stop the church from summoning thousands of followers to the Hollywood Palladium days after Hubbard's death. There they were told that Hubbard "willingly discarded the body after it was no longer useful to him," and that this signified "his ultimate success: the conquest of life that he embarked upon half a century ago." Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that Hubbard's ultimate success lay in convincing millions of people he was something other than a nut.

Michael Crowley is a senior editor at the New Republic.
Photograph of L. Ron Hubbard by Sheila Gaiman/Hulton Getty Photo Archive.