Friday, December 31, 2004


She Who Must Be Obeyed is putting the final touches on her makeup (not that she needs a lot of makeup, but you know wimmin) and our friends will be arriving in a few minutes. The tenderloin is in the oven; the salmon has been seasoned; the cedar planks and grill await. Champagne is chilling in the fridge.

But before the ol’ ball drops on another Collective Trip Around The Sun, I (along with She Who Must Be Obeyed and our two kitties, Hakuna and Matata) wanted to lob some last minute well-wishes out to all of you who have stopped by - once or many times - to read the crap I have been degorging since July of this year. It has been a pleasure getting to know you, either through your blogs and/or comments. A more individualized shout-out will come later, but right now, duty (and SWMBO) call.

May you have a safe and healthy 2005, without limit to any good thing.

Thursday, December 30, 2004


Now that we’re back home in the ATL, it’s time to catch up on life with Hakuna and Matata, who were So. Damn. Happy. to see us after our nine-day absence.

Is that an SUV I see?
Or is it just a piece of Brie?

Matata helps She Who Must Be Obeyed read the morning blat. ’Ta sure does love her some newspaper in the morning. At least she’s not a dog, in which case she’d be pissing on the paper instead of rolling all over it.

Where’s me dinner, mate?

Queen Hakuna waits expectantly by the Kittie Feeding Station for her evening meal. What, dry-ass pellets again?

Wednesday, December 29, 2004


The dreams don’t come often, but when they do, they are vivid, intense, terrifying. I find myself in a surreal city, a landscape of buildings and causeways, a science-fiction Miami. And then I am on the beach... and that is when the huge wave comes in.

I’ve had this fascination with huge ocean waves since I was very young. It probably comes from a kiddie science textbook I read at an early age, a textbook that left powerful images seared into my tender young mind. Images of giant waves. Images of the Sun as a bloated red giant, then as a shriveled white dwarf star, far in the future. The images both enraptured and horrified me. Years later, when I saw the movie Annie Hall, I could empathize with the young Alvy Singer, who no longer would do his homework because he had become obsessed with the eventual end of the world, five billion years away. (“What’s the point?”) Evidently, he had read the same book I did!

But the pictures of hundred-foot waves crashing down stayed with me, and even today they come out in my dreams.

The mind has trouble grasping the immensity of large ocean waves. In Hawaii, on the island of Oahu, as one travels counter-clockwise around the island, the gentle swells of Waikiki give way to the heavy shore break of Sandy Beach Park, hard by Hanauma Bay. Sandy Beach Park, with its six- to ten-foot shore break, is a popular body-surfing beach. But those six- to ten-foot waves break plenty of surfers’ backs each year. Standing in that surf is just a little scary. And this is all small potatoes compared to the immense rollers that come pounding in to the North Shore beaches in the winter. Thirty-footers and more, when those nice North Pacific storms set the swells in motion. The break is well offshore at beaches like Waimea Bay and Sunset Beach, so the monstrous size of these waves is not immediately apparent... until you see the tiny figures sliding down their faces on those fiberglass boards.

A tsunami is a different matter entirely.

It’s not the height of the wave that makes a tsunami so scary. It’s the sheer relentlessness of the thing. Unlike waves that are formed by the action of wind on water, a tsunami is formed by the displacement of the ocean floor. In the deep ocean, it may be only nine or twelve inches from crest to trough. But it carries a huge amount of energy... and it moves fast. Think of how heavy a 750-mile-long block of ocean would be. Then imagine the energy it would take to lift it 100 feet all at once. That’s what we’re dealing with. A monster pulse of energy moving at 500 miles per hour.

When the energy pulse approaches shore, the water begins to pile up. Higher, higher... until it’s a wall of water as high as a six-story building. And when it hits land, there’s nothing behind it but ocean.

Lots of ocean.

Ocean that can take buildings, cars, livestock, trees, and people, and tumble them all together like pebbles in a cement mixer, then suck everything out to sea in the backwash.

One of the prayers we Jews say every morning is “Barukh Atah, Hashem, Elokeinu melech ha-olam, roka ha-aretz al ha-mayim.” Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who spreads out the earth upon the waters. We take for granted that the earth and the waters are separate and that each will remain in its place. When they do not, even for a single, terrifying instant, the results are catastrophic... as they were just days ago on coasts all around the Indian Ocean.

As of this morning, the body count is up to 58,000 after the Great South Asia Tsunami of 2004. [Update: 114,000 as of December 30.] The sheer numbers are staggering, dwarfing even the number of souls lost when Krakatau exploded in 1883 in the same part of the world. It’s a sobering reminder of just how puny we humans are and how tenuous our existence.

May those who suffer as a result of this tragedy find comfort.

And I will continue to live with my tsunami dreams... and be thankful that they are only dreams, for me.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004


History was made last week when the Elisson clan got together with Cowtown Pattie (Texas Trifles). Now that we’re back home and can upload our pictures, here’s some of the Damning Evidence.

Elisson and Cowtown Pattie:
Two of the shining lights of the Bloggy-Sphere.

SWMBO meets Cowtown Pattie.

A veritable Blogger Convention in the Heart of the Lone Star State!


Hey! These ain’t cowboy boots!

They told me cowboys wear boots with a pointy toe.
How the hell was I s’posed to know?
Though I guess that it would be a leetle bit strange
To see Manolo Blahnik ridin’ the range.

Monday, December 27, 2004


This morning, the Today show featured a segment on Dave Gorman’s Googlewhack! Adventure. Seems this Gorman bloke came up with a new way for us computer geeks to piss even more time away on our machines. And it’s so easy:

1. Go to the Google search page.

2. Type in two random words, separated by a space.

3. See how many search results you get. If you get a single result, you win!

It’s harder than it looks, sez Mr. Gorman. Supposedly, he spent about four hours on the machine before succeeding the first time...enough to convince him to turn his obsession into a stage show. (That way, everyone who sees the show will waste at least two hours, innit?)

But I succeeded on my third attempt, with the words “abstergent bunwad.”

Well, OK - that might be a little unfair, using a fifty-cent word like “abstergent.” So I tried “bunwad spitballs” and again got a single search result. But I’ll give Mr. Gorman the benefit of the doubt and tell you that if you truly use randomly selected words, it’s probably very difficult to come up with a successful Googlewhack! result.

Great! Just what I needed...another computer-related time-sink, as if this stupid blog were not bad enough. Must...pull...self...away! Must...pack...for...return...trip...home!

Now - go play amongst yourselves. Let me know if you find any good ones!

Sunday, December 26, 2004


The Carnival’s holiday edition is being hosted - where else? - at This Blog Is Full Of Crap, the creation of twisted genius Laurence Simon and home base for the Carnival. This week, I don’t have any pictures in the Carnival (still at the in-laws and using a strange computer with a dial-up connection), but I’ve linked to a piece in the BdE Archives that fits nicely with the kitty theme.

Be sure to vote for the kitty of your choice for Margin Mascot. Lair has posted plenty of great choices for Kitty o’ the Month. I don’t have an axe to grind this time because, being away from home, I have been unable to submit any pictures of Hakuna and Matata for consideration... but you can be sure the Fuzzy Ones will be in contention next month.

Saturday, December 25, 2004


We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the electronic-mail communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of Blog d’Elisson:
“I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there was no Judah Maccabee and that Chanukah is a load of crap. Papa says, ‘If you see it in Blog d’Elisson, it’s so.’ Please tell me the truth, was there a Judah Maccabee?” - Patty O’Furniture

Patty, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All they care about is that fat red-suited guy who schleps presents to Yenemvelt and back. All minds, Patty, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, goornisht, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Patty, there was a Judah Maccabee.

He existed as certainly as dedication and courage and devotion exist. He kicked some serious ass back in the day, Judah did, throwing the Greco-Syrians out of Judea and reclaiming the holy Temple. His struggle was a struggle against assimilation, against those who would be seduced by the pop culture of the day. He fought his battles so that we Jews would retain our cultural identity and not be swallowed up in the prevailing pagan mainstream. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there had been no Judah Maccabee! It would be as dreary as if there were no Pattys. (Or furniture.) There would be no candle-lighting then, no singing Maoz Tzur (or even those stupid dreidel songs), no commemoration of the miraculous rededication of the Temple. No Judah? We would even today be schmearing ourselves with olive oil and burning pig hearts as sacrifices to Zeus. And our Christian friends would have no Christmas - for the culture that gave rise to Jesus would have been wiped out. The eternal light - the ner tamid - with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Judah? You might as well not believe in fairies. Or the Matzohball That Does Not Sink. Or Eliyahu ha-Navi. You might get your papa to hire men to watch all the seder tables of the world to catch a glimpse of Eliyahu, but even if you did not see him, what would that prove? Nobody ever sees Eliyahu ha-Navi drink his wine at the Seder table, but that is no sign that there is no Eliyahu ha-Navi. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. (Although those footprints in the grass were more likely made by your Papa as he tried to sneak back into the house with a snootful of booze after the office Xmas party.) Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You can tear apart the knish and see the tasty filling inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Patty, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Judah Maccabee? Thank G-d he lived - and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Patty, nay, 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to chase the Greco-Syrians out of Judea and combat the forces of cultural assimilation, making glad the heart of childhood.

Happy Chanukah!


I continue to maintain my blogroll - the one you see on the sidebar here - via Blogrolling, but I have become a convert to blog subscriptions through Bloglines. Now, instead of laboriously wading through the 66 or so blogs I read regularly, I just click on my Bloglines link and only the latest posts pop up. When I want to drop a comment on a particular blog, a single click brings me right to the post. This saves an enourmous amount of time - time that I can spend in Yet More Useless Pursuits.

I am told that pulling feeds via Bloglines (or any other RSS/XML aggregator) will not register any hits on the sites to which I subscribe unless I actually link through to those sites. However, Bloglines does track the number of subscribers. What I don’t know is whether sites that track links (like Technorati or The Truth Laid Bear’s ecosystem) look at RSS/XML subscriptions. If they don’t, they should. I think subscribing to someone’s site is an even stronger measure of affinity than simply linking it on the ol’ blogroll.

What do you think?


She Who Must Be Obeyed and I spent a relaxing day today at Chez In-Laws d’Elisson in Fort Worth. And it was the perfect Lazy-Ass Day. We didn’t even bother trying to see a movie this afternoon, choosing instead to work our way through the first three seasons of Seinfeld. Hooray for DVD’s!

The day was especially quiet because nephew William (he of the Recently Shortened Locks) and the Mistress of Sarcasm are in Houston, along with William’s parents. The Mistress hitched a ride with them in order to visit her Houston-area buds; they’ll all return here tomorrow.

This was a day for enjoying Lazy-Ass Day amusements. Playing Scrabble... on a real board, with real wood tiles, counting out the score with dried beans. Drinking hot chocolate. Eating Aaron’s couscous salad and prize-winning chopped liver. Sitting around in comfortable clothes - in my case, my Simpsons lounging pants and Project/Object tee (“Frank Out!”) I’d post a picture, but I am stuck using Momma de SWMBO’s computer, so I am both lacking my normal picture-uploading software and crawling along on a dial-up connection.

You don’t know how much you take broadband for granted until you don’t have it. I feel as though I have been reduced to the electronic equivalent of stone knives and bearskins.

[And that, friends, is why there has been no Friday catblogging here this week, in case you were curious.]

We’ll be back home sometime Tuesday. Until then, I will be bloggin’ away on a catch-as-catch-can basis, using the tools that are available to me. Foo.

Friday, December 24, 2004


One bennie of our spending a week in Fort Worth is that She Who Must Be Obeyed can indulge her Whataburger Jones. There is no Fast Food Meal so quintessentially Texan as a Whataburger, especially one with sliced jalapenos, washed down with a tasty Dr Pepper. And that’s exactly what we had for lunch today. SWMBO even went so far as to spring for the extra-beefy goodness of a Double Meat Whataburger in order to bury the carbs of the big, pillowy bun under an avalanche of cow protein.

Whataburger is definitely a regional fast-food chain. We don’t have ’em in Georgia. The Florida Panhandle is about as far east as they go; our annual pilgrimages to Destin are not complete without a Whataburger Run. But after today’s lunch, SWMBO is convinced that the Whataburgers in Florida are just not the same. If you want a Whataburger, ya gotta go to Texas.

[And if you want a Butterburger, ya gotta go to Culver’s, a Wisconsin operation. The burgers are OK enough, but Culver’s has the absolute lock on the Best Concrete Malted on the Frickin’ Planet.]

I can appreciate the high esteem in which SWMBO holds Whataburger, even if I don’t share it completely. But that other fine Texas product, Dr Pepper, is another story. Dr Pepper was once my Holy Grail among carbonated beverages. Rare. Almost unattainable.

You see, Dr Pepper - the oldest of the major brand soft drinks in America - was not nationally distributed until May 1968. Before then, if a New York kid like me wanted a Dr Pepper, he had to travel a good distance to get it. In my case, the Window o’ Availability was during our annual voyage to Florida, when I would be permitted a single, icy-cold bottle of the elusive, exotic nectar.

Dr Pepper, to me, was like Coca-Cola’s evil, seductive twin sister. Rich, sweet, sensual, with a fruit undertone that defied description or even understanding. What was it? Was it prunes? Who knew? Who really gave a shit?

This was a soft drink with a sufficiently twisted personality that they even advertised it as a hot beverage (!) Yep, saucepans of steaming Dr Pepper, complete with floating lemon slices. We doan’ need your steenkeen’ hot chocolate! We got Hot Dr Pepper!

[And we doan’ need your steenkeen’ period, either. Dr Pepper has been written just that way - without the period - since the 1950’s.]

Well, now they have Cherry Vanilla Diet Dr Pepper, available in Texas now and shortly to be rolled out nationally. But “shortly” is a relative term, and She Who Must Be Obeyed is not in a waiting mood. She is plotting and calculating even now: How many cubic inches of space will be available in which to cram as many cases as possible in the car for the trip home? Can we strap the Mistress of Sarcasm to the roof?

Thursday, December 23, 2004


Not only is Fort Worth the ancestral Stomping Grounds of She Who Must Be Obeyed and the Home of the In-Laws d’Elisson, it is also the home of one of my first regular readers and commenters.

I refer to none other than the lovely and gracious Cowtown Pattie, author of Texas Trifles. “Pattie” (for so she calls herself, using a moniker that combines a Geographic Reference with Crude Excretory Humor) discovered Blog d’Elisson shortly after its inception in July of this year, most likely through a comment on the Nina Turns 40 blog that we both link to. She continues to visit frequently, and I always look forward to reading her comments - and, of course, reading her bloggity stuff.

And today, “Pattie” met (most of) the Elisson clan face-to-face in downtown Foat Wuth, spending an hour or so “talking story” with me, She Who Must Be Obeyed, and the Mistress of Sarcasm. Our nephew William was also present in his pre-haircut blue-eyed hirsuteness.

It’s really a small world when you start doing the Kevin Bacon six-degrees analysis. “Pattie” and SWMBO did not know each other back in the day, but her mom knew of SWMBO’s dad, who was a high-school principal in Fort Worth, later a college professor at Tarleton State University. Fort Worth: looks like a city, feels like a small town™.

After hot beverages and conversation, we took a few pictures (standing under the back end of the giant horse sculpture at the local Barnes & Noble bookstore) and then went our separate ways - new-old friends brought together by the Bloggy-Sphere.

Technology: Not Just a Useless Bunch of Crap!™


Today marked a milestone in our nephew William’s as-yet short but exciting life. Today, at the grand age of two years, two months, and twenty days, William had his first haircut. While his mommy and daddy were at their respective Places of Employment, She Who Must Be Obeyed and I spirited him away to Fort Worth, to the Place Where Superfluous Hair Is Removed From Small Children. Yes, in this age of specialization, kids have their own hair salons.

When I was of First Haircut Age back sometime in the mid-Triassic Era, barber shops were simple, Spartan affairs. You had the barber chair, with the special Booster Seat attachment for use with us little guys. You had a set of Wahl clippers. You had a razor-sharp pair of scissors. You had the bottle of Green Hair Goop that Hardens Into Concrete on Contact with the Atmosphere. And you had an elderly guy (hell, anyone over twelve was elderly) with a white, high-collared smock. It was a simple procedure, really. They slapped you on the chair, ran those Wahl clippers over your head, maybe a little touch-up with the scissors, blopped a handful of the Green Goop on your head and maybe a splash of Bay Rum on your downy cheek, handed you a lollipop, and booted you out of there. Done. Finito la musica.

But now…

The salon is dressed up in primary colors, the better to amuse the youthful eye. There are television sets equipped with the latest video games. (Nothing like a few rubbers of “Grand Theft Auto IV - The Disembowelment” to put you in the mood to get your locks shorn!) There is a Play Table with a Wooden Railway, in order to allow preschool tykes an opportunity to develop their sharing and socialization skills. (“Mine!”) There are videocassettes replete with child-friendly entertainment. Thomas the Tank Engine! The Purple Evolutionary Throwback That Must Not Be Named On This Blog! My Little Pony! There are special barber chairs in the guise of Racing Cars and Fire Engines.

And the walls are heavily soundproofed, because kids getting their hair cut for the first time in Anno Dominem 2004 are exactly like the kids who got their hair cut in 1954 under much more primitive circumstances. They all scream blue murder from beginning to end.

And our little nephew was no exception.

From the moment he realized that he was expected to Sit in the Little Race-Car Shaped Chair until the process was complete, a transcript of his remarks reads as follows:

“WaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAA AGGGGGHHHHHHHHhhhhhhh… AAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaagggghhhhhhhh...
Yaaaaaaaaaaaaggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!” (Repeat as necessary)

But when the ordeal was over - all three minutes of it - we had a Polaroid photo, a pouch full of hair, a bunch of pictures on my Cheap-Ass Digital Camera (to be posted here next week) - and the most handsome little guy in all of Foat Wuth, Texas.

Brad Pitt, eat yer heart out!

Wednesday, December 22, 2004


There are no immediate Grandparental prospects (kinahora) facing us at the moment, unless either Elder Daughter or the Mistress of Sarcasm has something lurking up their sleeves. Gawd, I hope not. But I can tell you, we’ll be ready when the time comes.

That’s because visiting our two-year-old nephew William is both vacation and a sort of Grandparent Boot Camp. Since both Morry (the Brother of She Who Must Be Obeyed) and his wife Rebecca have full-time Day Jobs, SWMBO happily volunteered our services looking after His Nibs while they did their daily stints at their respective Places of Employment. For once, I had to agree. Seeing William was a major reason for our trip, and it would have been ridiculous to warehouse him in day care school all day while we sat around and drank adult beverages hot cocoa and watched DVD movies.

I have to say, our little fella has a (mostly) sunny disposition and is a pleasure to be with. He knows shapes, colors, and he can count to eleven. He sleeps through the night and takes a solid two-hour nap during the day. And he is intimately familiar with Thomas the Tank Engine and all of his transportation-related pals. Hey, I’m impressed!

A bit about Thomas. It appears that there is a vaguely Australia-shaped island somewhere, yclept Sodor. The island, despite its small size, has a well-developed transportation infrastructure: passenger and heavy rail, roadways, mass transit, the works. Probably the only major inconvenience of living on Sodor is having to put up with Booming Voices from the Heavens – the voice-over narrations of Ringo Starr and my homeboy Alec Baldwin.

Oh, yeah. And the trains all have faces. Big-eyed, expressive faces. And they talk.

Holy shit. How bizarre is that?

Anyway, each of these little trains has a personality. You have the doughty Thomas; prissy, nervous Percy; evil-intentioned Diesel. And some capitalist-looking dude in a top hat who appears to control the Means of Transportation, if not Production as well.

It’s curiously addictive, this Thomas stuff, in a way that Mr. Rogers might have been. For sure, it’s a whole lot better than that fucking Purple Dinosaur That Shall Not Be Named On This Blog.

I would sooner face an army of turd-filled diapers than deal with that dinosaur, thankyouverymuch.

But after watching Thomas and his pals for eight hours straight, I will be needing some Porn ’n’ Violence. Paris Hilton in a woodchipper, anyone?


In Roman numerals, yet!

Ravenwood’s Universe hosts the Carnival this week. Neither rain, sleet, snow, dark of night, or impending holiday cheer keeps the Carnival of the Vanities from your Bloggy-Ass Computer!


The Aztec civilization is underrated. Sure, they weren’t the nicest people. If they captured you in wartime, or if you looked at the wrong person the wrong way, they’d eat your heart. Really.

And what’s with those stupid pyramids, anyway? What, you couldn’t figure out how to make a dodecahedron? Or maybe a Trylon and Perisphere?

No matter. All is forgiven. Because, Aztec Dudes, you gave us chocolate.

Yesterday, I went on a mini-pilgrimage to Ye Olde Granola ’n’ Tofu Shoppe – the organic foods supermarket in Denton, Texas. Yes, there is one. Probably because it’s a university town – I can’t imagine any other market for Vegan Soy Yogurt in the Heart o’ Beef Country. We’re talking about a town where there are longhorn cattle roaming the fields adjacent to the supermarket... which would be a little tough on the cattle if they were capable of understanding their position on the Food Chain:
“Father, what is that building?”

“Son, that is the place we go when we die.”


“Yes, son. Heaven. The meat counter at Albertson’s.”

We had gone to the organic market to pick up a few miscellaneous items (it’s not where we buy the lion’s share of our food, trust me) and the Mistress of Sarcasm discovered that they had Dagoba hot chocolate mix. In cans. And they had... Xocolatl.

Oh. My. Sweet. Gawd.

Xocolatl is hot chocolate the way the Aztecs might have prepared it. Dark, bittersweet chocolate. Cinnamon. A little chili pepper to give it a nice burn on the back of the tongue.

Thanks, Aztecs! What’s a few ripped-out hearts between chocolate buddies?

[Update: It’s snowing/sleeting/being generally cold and obnoxious here today. Perfect hot chocolate weather... and even better when you have the kind of hot chocolate that leaves a slow-burning coal of Chili-Driven Heat at the back of your gullet. Mmmm, good. Xocolatl rules!]

Tuesday, December 21, 2004


We’re staying with SWMBO’s brother and sister-in-law in Denton, Texas, home of the Insufferably Cute Nephew, William Magnus.

My brother-in-law has an iPod. I don’t.

The Mistress of Sarcasm will shortly have an iPod. I will not.


Monday, December 20, 2004


Once in a while I learn something while cruising the Bloggy-Sphere about which I am both happy and horrified to know. Like this little tidbit from Oh No, the BLOG! [Warning: TMI for some of you folks with sweet natures and gentle spirits...]


We’ve arrived in Dallas after a leisurely drive out from the ATL. “Leisurely” means splitting the trip into two manageable seven-hour chunks instead of doing it in one long, screaming, adrenaline-fueled press. So we left mid-day Sunday, which allowed me to go daven with the Minyan Boyz and for She Who Must Be Obeyed to get the house straightened up. It also allowed us to pack, which we almost always leave for the Last Possible Minute.

We knew it was time to get the hell out of town when it started snowing as we were packing the car. Fortunately, this sketchy weather only persisted until we got halfway though Alabama.

Ah, Alabama. Ya gotta love Alabama. For us, Alabama is more than just the place where we turn the clock back an hour. It’s where we stop to have the first Road Meal. And Road Food is, well...Road Food.

This time, we attempted to enjoy a Road Luncheon at Cracker Barrel. You’re familiar with Cracker Barrel if you’ve driven on almost any interstate highway in the last twenty years. CB is a combination Olde-Tyme Country Store (selling Olde-Tyme Country Crappe) and southern-fried restaurant. And, if you can get past the Kitscho-Gag factor, it's not all that bad. The food is honest and plain, even if you sometimes want to find the guy that wrote the menu and kick him right in his Grandpa McCoy nutsack. Hey, it beats Stuckey’s (“Home of the Pecan frickin’ Logroll”).

And CB gives you Amusing Crap To Do While You Wait For Your Food. That stupid game with the golf tees and the triangular block of wood. You start with fourteen tees, each in its little hole, plus one empty hole. You jump the tees over one another, removing the tees as you jump over them. The objective is to finish with only one tee (“genius!”). Last time we ate at CB, the Mistress of Sarcasm finished her game with only two tees (“pretty damn smart!”). I finished with five - count ’em - five tees left (“fucktard!”). Nice.

But this was lunchtime, and there was no room at the inn. The wait was thirty minutes, and there was No Way In Hell we were going to wait half an hour for a seat at CB.

As the Mistress of Sarcasm put it, “The only reason anyone should ever wait a half-hour to eat at ‘Crapper Barrel’ is if there’s not a speck of food left on the planet. Or if one is in dire need of Fried Iced Tea.”

So off we went to Zaxby’s, home of the Insane XXX Hot Buffalo Chicken Finger Platter. The perfect food for a long car trip.

Provided, of course, you like to ride with the windows open.

Saturday, December 18, 2004


We begin our trek to Foat Wuth tomorrow, for to visit the family of She Who Must Be Obeyed. Posting will continue, since SWMBO’s kid brother is computer-literate and has all the latest electronic gewgaws. But it’s as good an opportunity as any to wish all of our friends in the Blogosphere a wonderful holiday season (belated Happy Chanukah if applicable, others on a real-time basis) and a safe, healthy New Year “without limit to any good thing.”

[And, no, the picture was not taken at Chez Elisson. We have no big pointy thing in the neighborhood (aside from my head). This one’s from the Archive - last May’s trip to Washington. The photograph was taken from the Robert Dole Terrace in the Capitol, looking west towards the Mall and the setting sun.]


And we’ll happily supply you with the necessary implements.

Sometimes I wonder how I survived my childhood. My brother and I had wonderful, loving parents, but a few of their holiday gift choices still have me scratching my head in wonderment.

Let’s set the Wayback Machine for, let’s see... 1956. I’m four years old, and I’ve just learned that our holiday traditions are a bit different. The prior year, I had been concerned that Santa Claus couldn’t find our house because it was not festooned with Christmas decorations and lights. My parents, most likely not ready to deal with the Christmas Issue just yet, had simply said that they’d leave the outside lamppost lit, and that would do the trick.

But this year it was time for The Explanation. We were “Jewish,” whatever that meant, and so we didn’t have Christmas. No tree, no Santa. But our holiday was eight days long. Eight days of presents! OK, I think. Sounds like a reasonable trade-off to me.

So here comes the first night of Chanukah, and what do Mom and Dad give little four-year-old Elisson? A stapler.

Yes, you heard right. A brand-new Swingline stapler. And, boy, was I excited. Light a candle, get office supplies! Cool!

I loved that stapler, yes I did. For about five minutes, long enough for me to figure out how to put a staple right through my finger.

I can laugh about this now, but what kind of smacked-ass parent gives a four-year-old kid a fuckin’ stapler?

The same kind of parent that gives a five-year-old kid a pocketknife.

Yep – my cousin Andy and I got nice, shiny pocketknives when we were, what? Four or five. Couldn’t have been any older, because Andy hadn’t moved away to Florida yet.

And when we innocently showed our new “toys” to one of the neighbor kids, his mother almost had an aneurysm on the spot. She must’ve figured us for a couple of JD’s right out of “Rebel Without a Cause,” because she descended on us like the Wrath of Gawd and chased us away. “You hoodlums! Stay away from my little Jimmy with those knives!” We were embarrassed and humiliated. What had we done? These were our brand-new presents, given to us by our parents!

Oh. Mr. And Mrs. Smartbrains. Thankyew!

(Of course, I’m willing to bet that Dad has absolutely no recollection of this…and so, almost 50 years later, I guess he’s off the hook.)


Woobie and the Mistress.

Our “Cat-in-law” Woobie relaxes with the Mistress of Sarcasm.

This picture is from late 2002. Woobie, alas, is no longer with us, having lived to the ripe old age of 21. But we will remember her when we visit the Fort Worth crowd this week.

Friday, December 17, 2004


If you’re one of those people (like me) who get perverse amusement out of the fact that “Satan” and “Santa” are anagrams - as are “Santy” and “Nasty” - then you might like the following Children’s Letters to Santa. I got this via a forwarded e-mail, so you know it’s one of those random chunks of flotsam that is percolating through the Internet even as I write. Meaning, I can’t claim credit of authorship.

Deer SanTa,
I wood like a kool Toy spase rainger for Xmas. Iv bin a gud boy all year.

yore fren, BiLLy

Dear Billy,
Nice spelling. You’re on your way to a career in lawn care. How about I send you a damn book so you can learn to read and write? I’m giving your older brother the Space Ranger. At least he’s literate.


Dear Santa,
I have been a good girl all year, and the only thing I ask for is peace and joy in the world for everybody.

Love, Sarah

Dear Sarah,
Your parents smoked pot when they had you, didn’t they?


Dear Santa,
I don’t know if you can do this, but for Christmas, I’d like my mommy and daddy to get back together. Please help if you can.

Love, Teddy

Dear Teddy,
Look, your dad and the babysitter are banging like a screen door in a hurricane. He’s not going to give that up to come back to your frigid mom who rides his ass constantly. It’s time to give up the dream. Let me get you some nice Legos instead.


Dear Santa,
I want a new bike, a Playstation, a train, some G.I. Joes, a dog, a drum set, a pony and a tuba.

Love, Francis

Dear Francis,
Who names their kid “Francis” nowadays? I bet you’re gay. I’ll set you up with a Barbie.


Dear Santa,
I left milk and cookies for you under the tree, and I left carrots for your reindeer outside the back door.

Love, Susan

Dear Susan,
Milk gives me the runs and carrots make the reindeer fart in my face when riding in the sleigh. You want to do me a favor? Leave me a bottle of single-malt Scotch.


Dear Santa,
What do you do the other 364 days of the year? Are you busy making toys?

Your friend, Thomas

Dear Thomas,
All the toys are made in China. I have a condo in Vegas, where I spend most of my time making low-budget porno films. I unwind by drinking myself silly and squeezing the asses of cocktail waitresses while losing money at the craps tables. Hey pal, you asked!


Dear Santa,
Can you really see us when we’re sleeping? Do you really know when we’re awake, like it says in the song?

Love, Jessica

Dear Jessica,
Are you really that gullible or are you just a blonde? Good luck in whatever you do. I am skipping your house.


Dear Santa,
I really want a puppy this year. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE could I have one?


That whiney begging shit may work with your folks, but that crap doesn’t cut it with me. You’re getting a sweater again.


Dear Santa,
We don’t have a chimney in our house. How will you get into our home?

Love, Marky

First, stop calling yourself “Marky,” that’s why you’re getting your ass kicked at school. Second, you don’t live in a house, you live in a single-wide in a low rent RV park. Third, I get inside your pad just like the boogeyman does: through your bedroom window.

Sweet dreams,



by visiting the Holiday Edition of Virtual Occoquan. Chock full of bloggity goodness, it’s life as seen through Mark Hoback’s cracked lens with the help of his Team o’ Crack Bloggers. And there’s even a piece on Chanukah by you-know-who...

Thursday, December 16, 2004


Sports-related posts are a rarity here, but I couldn’t resist weighing in on some current events relating to Our National Pastime.

The Montreal Expos Washington Nationals and Major League Baseball are embroiled in a foofaraw over who is going to be paying for that nice new stadium. Apparently, the D.C. City Council balked at the plan the Mayor cooked up with MLB for having the taxpayers finance the entire $1 billion project, and they insisted that the private sector pony up a (measly) $140 million towards the cost.

Oooooh, that’s not what the deal was supposed to be! The team was supposed to be getting a free ride on the taxpayers’ backs! Waitaminnit, maybe we won’t bring the team to DC after all! Let’s pull all our advertising!
“I believe the deal is broken. The dream is now close to dying,” [Mayor Anthony] Williams said. “We’re in great jeopardy here and I think I'm being optimistic.”
“Right on, City Council!” sez I.

Wake up, people. Enough already with taxpayers having to pick up the tab for sports facilities. Yes, new stadiums provide a public benefit, which is why I believe they should get some sort of tax break from the powers-that-be. And I’m not opposed to public participation in these projects. What has happened, however, is that in many municipalities, John Q. Public has been handed the entire bill.

This is reprehensible. What’s worse, since the legislators are such cowards and thieves, the tax burden is often shunted off not on the locals (who might then express their displeasure at having their taxes jacked up by Throwing the Bastards Out), but on visitors. Go to Houston and rent a car: you will be astonished at the Heap o’ Miscellaneous Sports-Related Surcharges on your bill, enough to gag a maggot.

And the team owners? They love it. They get to collect all of that nice TV revenue, not to mention ticket sales and money skimmed off of all the overpriced concessions. These guys know they’ll never go broke in the Bread and Circuses business.

Looks like the City Council is calling bullshit on Mr. Mayor and the Baseball Boyz. Good for them.


Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the road less traveled by.
That was my choice; but at what cost?
It’s been ten years, and I’m still lost!

Wednesday, December 15, 2004


After another fun couple of days at the Great Corporate Salt Mine, the fastest way to get to the George (Feh) Bush Intercontinental Airport on the north side of Sweat City is to take the Sam Houston Tollway. Like every other road in Houston, the Tollway packs up pretty well when rush hour arrives, sometime between 2 and 8 p.m., but it’s a reasonably efficient route when you consider all the vile alternatives. And the tariff is a mere $2.50, extracted in $1.25 increments at two separate tollbooths.

[Actually, there are lots more tollbooths on this road, enough to make the Grand Circuit of the City a tad expensive. But since I’m only navigating the northwestern quadrant, no worries.]

At each tollbooth, you have a huge array of lanes to choose from. Regulars take the E-Z Pass lanes and zoom through at 70 MPH. People with adequate supplies of coin use the (plentiful) exact change lanes and lob a handful of quarters in the hopper. And then there’s everyone else, piling into the measly two manned lanes. At peak hours, you will be waiting a long time to get through.

When I’m humping to get to the airport, I like to be ready with exact change in hand. It saves a heap of time, and all it requires is a little advance preparation. But it Ain’t Always That Easy.

Because it’s as predictable as sunrise that there will be at least one schmo-ball in the exact change lane who does not belong there. Like today.

I ease into my lane, smiling, confident. The manned lanes are pack-o, but that’s not my problem. Only a single pickup truck in front of me...

Who stops in the lane, right next to the hopper, and tries to get the attention of the toll-taker in the adjacent lane.

You. Gaping. Asshole.

Eventually, the fuckstick guy realizes that the gate is up and he can just drive off without paying, which he proceeds to do. But, man, am I pissed. And this kind of crap happens all the time!

I think pulling Stupid Shit like that oughta get you an instant $50 fine. Or even better, the toll-taker gets to whack one or two of your taillights with a Louisville Slugger.

The problem, of course, is Texas, a state in which the toll road is still a rara avis. People just have no clue. Even the toll-takers, who are all smiley and friendly, handing you that useless receipt whether you want one or not, telling you to have a nice day. These people need to spend a month in Toll-Boot Camp™ up in New York, where the toll-takers would just as soon take a crap on your windshield as take your money. Or at least, that’s the attitude they project.

In New York, a guy who pulled the “Whoops, I seem to have misplaced my exact change” trick would end up as a grease spot. C’mon, Tex - get on the ball!

[This entry (actually a reasonable facsimile thereof) was guest-posted at pesky’apostrophe thanks to a remarkable lapse of judgement display of hospitality and trust by Mac. Thanks, O Pesky One!]


My kennel, attacked by a thief!
My doggies have all come to grief.
And the crook must return ’em
Or his lawyer will spurn him.
He must choose between Boxers and briefs.



This week’s edition of Carnival of the Vanities is hosted by The Pryhills. It’s a big, long list of bloggity goodness, so be sure you’re prepared with a mug of the hot beverage of your choice and a nice empty bladder. Enjoy!


Now that Elder Daughter is way past those nasty teenage years, she has found Things Other Than Me to critique. Namely, movies. Her latest missive is a review of the film that Explains The Universe in both quantum mechanical and mystical terms: What the #$*! Do We Know?!
What the *&%$ Do We Know?! is a strange mix of documentary and fictional narrative reminiscent of those movies you watched in seventh grade science class. Wondering where the worlds of quantum physics and new age spirituality may intersect, wacky and freakishly smart scientists expose us to an infinity of alternate realities, starting with the smallest speck of being, expanding to the darkest folds of the Universe, all happening within ourselves. The rabbit hole they take us down is a graphic and winding depiction of what’s out there to believe, begging us to go as deep as we can into the endless realm of possibility. What’s really remarkable about this film is not the unlikelihood of its success or the diversity and depth it explores, but the examples and evidence it provides of little everyday revolutions within our own minds and bodies.

One of the film’s greatest points is that we create our individual realities; the reality we experience is a manifestation of what our brain believes to be true, so we may be able to actualize our goals from the inside out.

It’s a humbling feeling - to read a review of a film I’m not sure I can understand, written by someone whose DNA is 50% mine.

Now, if I can just figure out what this Reiki shit is all about...


I’ve been putting this little task off (as is my wont with most tasks), but I am beginning to run out of time. So it will have to be this week when I compose the Annual Elisson Family Holiday Newsletter.

You know what I’m talking about. That talky, newsy, bring-everybody-you-don’t communicate-regularly-with-up-to-speed-on-the-useless-shit-that-is-your-life letter. And this year, I have no idea what to write.

We’ve been sending these bad boys out since, oh, 1997. It’s a task that is greatly simplified nowadays, thanks to the handy-dandy omnipresent computer. I typically will write up a two-page screed that includes pictures of the four of us, along with a snazzy masthead that features a scenic shot of Stone Mountain. That’s to help people remember where the hell it is we live these days... a nontrivial matter when you consider that we’re in our seventh house since forming the Elisson Family Consortium.

Setting the right tone is important. We used to get Holiday Newsletters from a young woman who used to babysit Elder Daughter back when she was still Only Daughter, and each one of these was gloomier than the last, endless litanies of family tragedies and diseases. Feh.

The other extreme ain’t much better. Who the hell wants to read about little Johnny becoming a world-renowned neurosurgeon and concert pianist while little Susie has just received a Rhodes scholarship? Screw that.

Nobody wants to hear about your various infirmities, and it’s a bad idea (generally) to include copies of your colonoscopy photos. Sure, you have a lovely sigmoid colon, but really - too much information. And nobody wants to read your Pollyanna-like take on world events or hear about your latest promotion. Nobody likes a trombenik - someone who toots his own horn just a wee bit too much.

So I try to find the middle ground. Good news? I put it in but try not to play it up too much. Our friends and family are generally well-informed about all that stuff anyway. What I try to do is just refresh everyone’s memory about what we’re doing and how our kid’s lives are developing, with a little extra about anything remotely enjoyable we did. I’m not sure if I do a good job of it, but since She Who Must Be Obeyed is there to rein me in when I get too snarky or overenthusiastic, overall, I’m confident in the quality of the results.

Time to get busy. Bullshit is a dish best served hot!

Monday, December 13, 2004


It takes a lot to surprise me these days, but today I was surprised. Shocked, even.

I’m sitting on the Great Silver Bus once again, on my way to - yes, you guessed it - Sweat City. El Ciudad de Sueño. My home away from home, headquarters of the Great Corporate Salt Mine.

I’ve just boarded the plane and I’m getting settled in my seat. The aisles are packed with other Intrepid Travelers working their way toward the back.

A little guy, perhaps seven years old, is in the aisle now, alongside my row. Suddenly, he barks, clear as day, “Move it, ass-shit!”

My head snaps around in a classic movie double-take. WTF?!!?

Where are this kid’s parents? Why don’t they smack the little turd into next week, right on the spot?

Hey, I use invective liberally - more so in real life than in my bloggity existence. But lobbing fuckbombs at random? (All right, this was a shitbomb. Still!) In public? How... nekulturny. And besides, whoever heard of “ass-shit”? Where I come from, the proper term is “shit-ass.”

What kind of a smacked ass lets a kid talk like that? Who are these people?

I was shocked. Shocked, I tell ya!

’TIS THE SEASON... post incredibly stupid pictures on my blog. And this one may be the stupidest picture I have in the entire Archive d’Elisson.

’Tis the Season. You betcha.

But ya gotta admit, she is sorta cute. Even if she’ll be beating her paw against her furry little breast come next Yom Kippur.

Sunday, December 12, 2004


...women are from the Andromeda frickin’ Galaxy.

There are times when She Who Must Be Obeyed and I are so close, that it seems we are two souls in a single body. (And I’m not talking about those times, ya filthy-minded pervert. Dat’s poisonal!) We’ve been married so long, we think the same things, finish each other’s sentences, know each other’s innermost heartfire, share each other’s dreams.

And then something will come along to remind me that Men is Men and Wimmin is Wimmin. And we is Different.

We were in a local Tchotschke Emporium this afternoon, picking up a few gifts for SWMBO’s colleagues, when Milady espied an especially fine Tchotschke. It was a little rocking chair, about 18 inches high, upholstered in various corduroy and gingham fabrics, with little snowman faces at the ends of the armrests. “Isn’t this the cutest thing!” SWMBO practically squealed.

Yeah, suuuure, honey. I’d rather drive a tenpenny nail into my right eye than to ever own a piece of kitschy shit like that. Just being within ten paces of it made me feel like Superman after Lex Luthor has slipped a chunk of Kryptonite into his shorts. Yeeesh. Even if I am the kind of guy who mistakes a football-shaped hibachi for a brown egg (true, dat), I have enough lead in my pencil to Avoid the Upholstered Rocking Chair Tchotschke.

And it occurred to me right then and there: The Olympics Committee could save a lot of money on that genetic testing they do to check out whether that brutish-looking female weightlifter really has the ol’ Double-X chromosome set. All they have to do is Show the Tchotschke, and if Nadia Pickafuckwadofsteelplatesup squeals and says “Oooohhh, dot’s cute!” then they know she’s a real, 100% girl. Even if she looks like Magilla Gorilla.

I feel like smoking a cigar right now... just to get the sight of that alien horror out of my mind. Little snowman faces!


“...Fer Christ’s sake, it’s Hanukkah!


is at this week. Go check out a perfectly purr-packed peck o’ feline, furry, fascinatin’ hairball hackers.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

IF I LOOK PISSED OFF...’s only because you, Mr. High-and-Mighty Elisson, were too busy running around your stupid human “airports” and “clogged freeways,” rushing to your “office Christmas parties” after two days in the City o’ Sweat sucking up to the Management of the Great Corporate Salt Mine, to bother posting any pictures of me or my obnoxious sister Matata.

So, yeah, I’m a bit miffed. And no amount of playing with me by having me chase that stupid red dot is going to appease me. I need time to sulk, OK?

Surly? Me?

Oh, you’re posting your kitty pictures on Saturday instead? Big deal. Big, fat, hairy deal.

Well, maybe I’ll forgive you if you get that nice Rahel lady to give me a skritch.

Friday, December 10, 2004

A CHRISTMAS STORY... not likely to ever be written by me, for reasons too obvious to mention. And you can keep all the seasonal music, which, by the time The Big Day rolls around, makes me want to scream. But the movie A Christmas Story is one Christmas-themed movie I never get tired of watching.

That’s because it was written by one of America’s great humorous essayists: Jean Shepherd.

Jean Shepherd has not walked this planet for five years, and I do sorely miss him.

As a high school student, I would listen to his late-night radio show on WOR, 710 on the New York AM dial. Shep would spin the most fascinating stories, always heading in twenty different directions but always coming right back to where he started at the end. Listening to him talk, with tales of his childhood in Indiana interspersed with loony stuff (imagine “The Sheik of Araby” accompanied by Shep on the Jew’s harp), was the perfect nightcap. And it was a treat to read his written pieces. Often, they were published in Playboy magazine, a rare case when I really would buy the magazine for the reading matter.

The day in March, 1970 when he gave a mass interview in New York, I was there, along with about 200 other devotees. I still have the letter of invitation, signed by Shep himself, tucked into my copy of In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash. This collection of essays eventually formed the basis of the screenplay for A Christmas Story, which Shep also wrote.

Some of Shep’s work had been put on the small screen, notably in a series of four hour-long PBS specials. “Wanda Hickey’s Night of Golden Memories,” in particular, was hysterical - it starred Matt Dillon as an adolescent Ralphie negotiating the shoals of the Senior Prom. A very different image of Ralphie than the one so indelibly captured by Peter Billingsley in A Christmas Story.

Jean Shepherd was a raconteur of the first water, a true American original in the tradition of Mark Twain. It’s nice to see that at least a part of his work has entered the pop culture’s Christmastime canon. You can get a brief glimpse of him in the movie - he has a cameo appearance in the department store scene as the man who tells Ralphie that “that’s the end of the line, over there.” But there’s so much more. Read his books, and you’ll never look at the Army, or at growing up, the same way again.

And when you watch A Christmas Story this year, raise a glass to Shep, the man who shared his childhood with us and made us laugh.

Thursday, December 09, 2004


Blogging for Books

[Following is my entry in the Blogging for Books contest #6 over at The Zero Boss. The challenge: describe in 2,000 words or less why your life would make a perfect sitcom.]

Jerry Seinfeld began his career as a stand-up comic, but his lasting and eternal claim to fame is his television series Seinfeld, purportedly “a show about nothing.” The show revolved around Jerry and three of his friends, following them as they lived their day-to-day lives, celebrating the ridiculousness of the ordinary. It was the show everyone talked about the next day, dropping catchphrases into the American lexicon things that get dropped into other things. “Can you spare a square?” “Master of his domain.” “Shrinkage.” “These pretzels are making me thirsty.”

The show succeeded precisely because it captured that notion of “funny crap happens to everybody” that we all seem to share. Of course, it didn’t hurt that the main characters were memorable, each in his or her own way: cynical Jerry, neurotic and obsessive George, desperate Elaine, and deranged Kramer. Each character was rooted in real life, but given a semi-surreal twist by the actors and the writers. The situations they found themselves in did not drive the comedy - the characters, and their responses to those situations, did.

I can relate to Seinfeld, possibly because I can relate to Seinfeld. Jerry and I share a common ethnicity and geography. We both grew up in Massapequa, on the south shore of Long Island, albeit in opposite ends of town. While we went to different high schools, we attended the same synagogue and celebrated our B’nei Mitzvah under the tutelage of the same rabbi, one year apart. Jerry’s dad was a well-known personage in town, owing to his sign-painting business (“Kal Signfeld Signs”) and constant presence as one of the movers and shakers in our congregation.

The difference is, Jerry made a career out of being funny. I, on the other hand, made a career out of performing Niggling Bullshit for an Extremely Large Corporate Employer.

But when it comes to a “show about nothing,” Jerry Seinfeld has nothing on me.

I have the characters, all appropriately quirky. She Who Must Be Obeyed, who looketh with a jaundiced eye upon all my foolishness, and pronounceth upon it, viz: “You really are a girl.” (So what if I thought the football-shaped hibachi at Omaha Steaks looked like a brown egg?) Elder Daughter, working in a coffee and sandwich emporium (always a potent source of comedy possibilities) and dealing with her Iranian musician-grad student boyfriend (cultural conflict, another rich laff-mine). The Mistress of Sarcasm, an art-school student (more comic possibilities!) with an acid tongued sense of humor.

And then there’s me. Elisson, semi-befuddled dad, funnyman wannabe, professional procrastinator, viewpoint character of Elisson’s World. Wearer of the White Fedora.

Other, more minor, players float in and out. There’s Dora, obsessive neatnik and Shopasaurus Rex, always concerned about the size of her ass despite her Size Zero physique. From her kitchen flows an endless stream of cookies and pies, none of which she ever eats. There’s Rob, dour and phlegmatic newspaper editor, who is reduced to helpless laughter by the sound of fake Swedish. There’s Harry, Talmudic scholar and ex-cop, with a gravelly voice and personality to match, and Herman, who laughs at Elisson’s stupid jokes. And for gravitas, Rabbi Solomon Loomis, a fiery pulpit orator, professional schmoozer, and master of the horrible pun.

Seinfeld had Monk’s Restaurant; Elisson’s World has The Local Bagel Emporium, where the morning breakfasts (reminiscent of the Carnegie Deli scenes in Broadway Danny Rose) are bon mot-fests worthy of the Algonquin Round Table.

Storylines? Hell, just browse the Archives here at Blog D’Elisson and storylines just leap out at you. The enema bag left hanging in a public restroom. Elisson wandering into the wrong restroom at the airport and barely escaping with his life. Trivial conversation over the proper way to consume a pie. A weevil An evil bowl of chili. All of them ripped from the headlines of my daily life.

I’m telling ya, this sumbitch could practically write itself.

And let’s not forget catchy phrases, the bits and pieces that are absorbed into the General Pop Culture over the water cooler:

“You feckin’ eejit.”

“Son of a bitch!

“Christ on a crutch!”

“I can’t do my work!”

“Wha hoppen?”

Only question is, is this show suitable for prime time? Given the propensity of Yours Truly to cause most conversations, at some point, to devolve to the topic of feces, perhaps HBO or Showtime would be a better venue. The broadcast networks are understandably squeamish about shows whose storylines feature commentary about turds.

But these are trivial concerns. Mr. De Mille, I’m ready for my close-up!

Wednesday, December 08, 2004


As I write this post, I am once again winging my way to the great City o’ Sweat, hard by the Gulf of Mexico in the great state of Texas. I will spend a couple of action-packed days in the Bowels of the Great Corporate Salt Mine, regaling various vice-presidents and other High Muckety-Mucks with stories (mostly fictional) about how I have helped them pad their retirement nest eggs.

But meanwhile, I’ve got another hour of this fershlugginer flight to kill, so I might as well use the time to make the world a better place. How so? You may well ask.

Maybe it’s just my natural turn of mind and maybe it’s my recent post about potato latkes, but I found myself thinking of an affliction from which millions pray daily for relief. An affliction that causes the suffering of multitudes. An affliction from which almost no man, woman, or child on this planet is exempt.


And I have the cure. Safe, simple, 100% effective, requiring no change in diet, no unpleasant medicaments, no foul-smelling unguents, no vile equipment.

No, no need to thank me. Yes, it would be nice to have the odd statue erected here or there in city squares throughout our great land, but my natural modesty forbids. Maybe a nice plastic action figure? Naw, not that. Simply the knowledge that I have been able to ease the pain of millions - including the Famously Constipated Dooce (a phrase I plan to trademark, by the way) - is reward enough. But I digress.

The cure:

Simply travel out of town and check into a hotel. Within mere moments of dropping your luggage on the floor, you will feel a powerful, all-encompassing urge to drop something else.

At least, it always seems to work for me.


COTV edition 116 is up at The Big Picture. Go pay Vik a visit.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004


Sundown tonight marks the start of the eight-day holiday of Chanukah, and with it the annual observance of a special holiday tradition:

The Momma d’Elisson Memorial Chanukah Dinner.

The specifics of the tradition vary from year to year, but the essential elements of the MdEMCD are simple. You light candles. You eat potato latkes. And you eat Chinese take-out.

Our observance originated when, back in 1986, we and our friends Laura and Don (the Zoogs) paid a visit to my parents’ home in New York. We had recently moved to central Connecticut and the Zoogs were still based in Atlanta, but we all converged on Chez ’Rents d’Elisson to celebrate Chanukah. We all had been looking forward to eating a mouth-watering pile of crispy potato pancakes, one of the signature foods of the holiday. Laura Belle, in particular, had her Latke Jones on, all the more remarkable because she is Catholic.

Chanukah. Ya gotta love a holiday on which the eating of fried foods is practically mandatory. Potato pancakes predominate in the USA, but in Israel, the big Chanukah food is sufganiyot: fried jelly donuts. They probably should just call this holiday “Fat-assicah” and get it over with.

Anyhow, we arrived at my parents’ home only to find out that Mom, in a not-too-surprising flouting of holiday tradition, had no plans whatsoever to make potato latkes. No, what she wanted was Chinese take-out. Moo shu chicken may not have been traditional, but Mom was a believer in another popular Jewish tradition. What to make for dinner? Reservations!

All well and good, but Laura Belle was not to be denied. She had traveled 850 miles and, by Gawd, she was going to have potato latkes for Chanukah!

So She Who Must Be Obeyed whipped up a passel o’ latkes to go with that fine Chinese take-out, and a tradition was born. It probably would never have become an annual ritual, but as things turned out, this was my mother’s penultimate Chanukah on Planet Earth. She passed away in March of 1988, and when Chanukah rolled around later that year, we all thought back upon the time we had latkes and eggrolls, and, well, you know the rest. The MdEMCD is now an annual ritual, observed not only by us, but by friends in places as far-flung as Texas. This we do in memory of you, Mom.

[It’s probably worth mentioning that Chanukah, the holiday season frenzy notwithstanding, is a only a minor post-Biblical holiday. Unlike Christmas, which for Christians is one of the “Top Two” holidays in terms of religious import, Chanukah does not even crack the “Top Five” for us Jews. It’s especially ironic that Chanukah is played up so much in America, owing to the influence (and unfortunate commercialization) of the majority culture, because this is a holiday that commemorates a great victory over the forces of assimilationism. The world would be a very different place today had the Maccabee insurgency not succeeded in its struggle against the Seleucid rulers of Syria and Palestine.]

As with all great things, the World o’ Latkes is not without its controversy. The basic litmus test is whether the potatoes are puréed or grated. Let it be known far and wide, now and evermore, that puréed latkes are an invention of Satan and an expression of the evil inclination. Any potato-based latke worth eating must be made of coarsely grated potatoes, with a liberal dose of chopped onion, some eggs to bind the mixture together, and some matzoh meal to give it the right body. Latkes may, of course, be made of other vegetables: our Grandma Shirley’s spinach latkes were a childhood favorite, and her zucchini latkes were not too shabby. But SWMBO’s potato latkes take a back seat to no other holiday treat.

Now: applesauce or sour cream as accompaniment? Discuss amongst yourselves.

And, in conclusion, a philosophical question. Do Chinese people go out on Sunday nights to have Jewish food?

Monday, December 06, 2004


You find the damnedest things on the Internet. Looking through my referrer stats, I noticed that one lucky (?) soul had stumbled upon Blog D’Elisson by doing an MSN search on the term “Di Tri Berrese.” Astute readers will recognize that this is a rendering of “The Three Bears” in italiano fracturati. My response was to say to myself, “WTF?”

Many years ago - sometime in the early 1960’s - my father had given me a piece of paper containing a strange version of “The Three Bears.” It was the familiar fairy tale, written with Italian orthography (but containing, of course, not one speck of real Italian). The fun would come when you would hand the written story to someone. Nine times out of ten, he or she would try to read it but would give up in head-scratching frustration, completely baffled. But when the story was read aloud in the appropriate pseudo-Italian accent, everything became clear.

Apparently, this little piece of humor had had a wider circulation than I was aware of, because several websites mention it. Their versions differ from mine in a few minor respects, but the basic content is identical. There is even one education textbook that cites it as an example of “the need to use multiple comprehension strategies when reading a difficult text.”

Whatever. All I know is, I’ve been using it to crack Laura Belle up for the last twenty-plus years, and she still laughs at it. And now I find out that it’s kinda-sorta well known? It’s like when I found out that Mad magazine’s mascot, Alfred E. Neuman, was based on a caricature that had been around for over 100 years: strangely disappointing.

Anyway, for those of you who have never seen it, here it is:
Di Tri Berrese

Uans appona taim uas tri berrese; mamma berre, pappa berre, e beibi berre. Live inna contri nire foresta. Naise aus, no mugheggia. Uanna dei pappa, mamma, e beibi go bice, orie e furghetta locche di dorra.

Bai enne bai commese Goldilocchese. Sci garra nattingha tu du batte meiche troble. Sci puscia olle fudde daon di maute; no live cromme. Den sci gos appesterrese enne slipse in olle beddse.

Bai enne bai commese omme di tri berrese, olle sannebronne enne send inne scius. Dei garra no fudde; dei garra no beddse. En uara dei goine du tu Goldilocchese? Tro erre aute inne strit? Colle pulissemenn?

Fatta Cienze!

Deis uas Italien berrese, enne dei slippe onne florre.

Goldilocchese stei derre tri deise: itte aute ausenomme, en giusta bicose dei esch erre tu meiche di beddse, sci sei, “go tu elle,” enne runne omme craine tu erre mamma, tellerre uat sanimabicese di tri berrese uer.

Uatssiuse? Uara iu goine du? Go compleine sittiolle?

Can’t figure it out? Leave a comment or send an e-mail, and (after I’ve finished making fun of you), I’ll be happy to provide the translation.


I have been falling behind in my blogging activities over the last few days, thanks to my recent business travel to the City o’ Sweat and subsequent weekend out of town in Savannah. So let’s catch up a bit, shall we?

She Who Must Be Obeyed and I were joined Thursday evening by our friends Steve and Sue from Northern Virginia, who could very well have rented a tractor trailer to schlep all of their luggage for their four-day soujourn. We (and by “we,” I mean SWMBO) managed to cram all of the luggage into our semi-dinky-ass car and make the four hour drive to Savannah with no incident. Once there, we hooked up with the Mistress of Sarcasm, who accompanied us for many of our activities. The ones involving eating and drinking, anyway.

Our typical weekends in The Lady with the Dirty Face are fairly business-like affairs. We come in, feed the Mistress a few nice meals to provide welcome variety from her usual diet of yogurt, ramen noodles, and salad, hit the local Wal-Mart / Target / Publix up for assorted Household Crap ’n’ Food, buy every loose scrap of clothing on Broughton Street, and head back home. We’ve been there often enough so that we’ve already seen or done most of the touristy-type stuff.

That’s what made this weekend so different. Steve and Sue had never been to Savannah, so it gave us an excuse to play tourist - trolley tours, nice restaurants, the works. And it was fun. For once, we did not go to Wal-Mart or Publix - not even close. Better yet, instead of staying at a hotel per our usual practice, we rented a townhouse in the historic district - an easy walk to just about everything. Not that we actually walked...but we could have.

Ahh, Savannah.

This is a city that takes its drinking seriously. They do not ask a visitor what church he belongs to, as they may do in Macon. They do not ask a visitor where his family comes from, as they may do in Augusta. They do not ask a visitor what he does for a living, as they may do in Atlanta. No, in Savannah, the first question a visitor is asked is, “What’ll you have to drink?” And in this town, the To-Go Cup is practically a religious icon.

We spent some time down at Bay Street and River Street for the benefit of Sue and Steve. I doubt if we saw two or three sober people the entire time we spent in that part of town, and it wasn’t even Saint Patrick’s Day, when Savannah’s citizenry becomes especially well-acquainted with alcohol. Based on the nice folks we saw, I would say that drinking does not make you appear more intelligent. Even if you think it does.

Steve loves him a good jazz or blues club, and we tried to oblige. We found ourselves downstairs at Savannah Blues, over at the City Market, but for some reason, blues were very thin on the ground. Instead, we were treated to a set by the Most Gawd-Awful Band We’ve Heard In Years.

Holy crap, did these guys suck. I have no idea what the band’s name is, so they’re safe from being trashed in any meaningful way, but I decided to call them “Punk Floyd” based on the artists whose oeuvre they were trying to emulate when we came in.

Hey, I’m no stranger to loud, non-melodic music. My CD case is packed with the fine works of Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart. But these guys were something else. They sounded a little like a truck carrying a full load of angry, sweaty hogs, locking up its brakes at 80 mph while driving though the Lincoln Tunnel. In a hurricane. Of live steam.

So we left after about an hour.

Say, how was your weekend?

Sunday, December 05, 2004


The People’s Republic of Seabrook hosts this week’s Carnival of the Cats, this time presented in Multilinguavision™. Jack has put together an exceptional parade of feline pulchritudinousness, so pay him a visit and inflate his already bloated hit counter.

Friday, December 03, 2004


is our destination this weekend.

Our friends Steve and Sue from Northern Virginia have flown down to join us for a weekend in Savannah, where we will also hook up with the Mistress of Sarcasm. And Steve and Sue are loaded for bear.

Honest to Gawd, I’ve never seen so much fucking luggage in my life. You would think that we were getting ready for a three-month tour in Iraq, based on the sheer volume of crap they dragged with them. But no. It’s two days in Savannah, bracketed by a day on each side in Atlanta.

Steve and Sue just got back from a trip to Israel. I wonder what they took with ’em. Probably a 40-foot shipping container.

So the project we’re facing at the moment is how to conduct triage: what to take, what to leave. I will leave that task of negotiations to She Who Must Be Obeyed, for she will be the one who will have to cram everything in the trunk of Vehicle D’Elisson for the trip. SWMBO can pack more crap into a car trunk than anyone else on the face of the planet, but even she nearly blew a gasket when I told her how much draggage our friends had brought. This was at 2:00 am, as both of us were having our heads walked on by Miss Matata, and we both had to laugh as we simultaneously said, “You are / I am so blogging this!”

Because what is more fun that giving your good friends a blogosphere’s worth of well-deserved shit?


Yep - more dopey cat pictures.

Today we examine the strange attraction between cats and plastic. I can’t explain it, but Matata just loves her some polyethylene plastic film. Dry cleaning bags, bubble wrap, you name it...she will lie down on it and be perfectly happy for hours. Hell, it can be as simple as a Zip-Loc bag.

Yeah, I know all about the hazards of thin plastic films. We do not allow her to enjoy her plastic unsupervised, lest she pull a “The Life of David Gale” on us. That would cause us all to be ashamed.

Aaah, the cool feel of polyethylene...

But plastic becomes so...boring after a while, don’t you think? And then we will want to get our fuzzy little belly rubbed.

Hello, Big Boy...wanna give me a skritch?

Oooh, you hairy temptress, you.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004


I’m spending a couple of days in the Great Corporate Salt Mine’s headquarters this week. For once, the weather in Sweat City is practically frigid - there was even a freeze warning last night for points north of town, the first since last February. Of course, it’s against my religion to ever wear an overcoat when traveling to Sweat City, whether current weather conditions justify it or not. An overcoat in this normally steamy clime is normally (as the locals here say) as “useless as tits on a boar hog,” and the odds in any given two-day span are low that I’ll freeze to death between my rental car and the office.

At lunch with Fearless Leader, the topic of pie came up somehow. Seems FL’s son is a big Key Lime pie fan. I haven’t ever met this kid and already I like him.

When enjoying his pie, FL Junior does what many of us do as we work our way around the plate: He saves the best part for last. He will attack the whipped topping first, followed by the crust, leaving the citrus-scented filling for last.

This, indeed, is my pie-eating - nay, my meal-eating strategy. Problem is, She Who Must Be Obeyed is on to me. If I clean one item off the plate first, her immediate response is, “What? You didn’t like it?” And she’s right, more often than not. [Although, if I really don’t like it, I won’t eat it. Life’s too short to drink bad wine or eat crappy food. And living under the same roof as SWMBO, I don’t ever have to drink bad wine or eat crappy food.]

Back to the Key Lime pie. Years ago, before the foodie explosion, it was a lot more difficult to get hold of a real Key Lime pie. Key limes were only available in South Florida, and they were none too common as they were (and are) notoriously difficult to cultivate. I used to call on a customer in South Florida who grew ’em on a tree in his front yard, and every time I came to town, he would present me with a sackful of the ping-pong ball-sized fruit. I would then take them home and use them to make a serious, honest-to-Gawd Key Lime pie. Not those flabby, fake pies that have that stupid green food coloring: I’m talking about the Real Thing. Graham cracker crust. Deep yellow filling, tart with citrus and creamy with sweetened condensed milk and egg yolks. Meringue topping. Any Key Lime pie that does not have these three components is not the Real Thing. Delicious, perhaps - but not the Real Thing.

There’s a historical reason for this, for which you have to imagine yourself in Florida back in the days before cheap and easily available refrigeration and air conditioning. It’s damned hot in your kitchen, for perhaps 350 days out of the year. You will not have an easy time making a nice, flaky dough-based pie crust, since most forms of shortening will liquefy, leaving you with a concrete-like mass - so you will make a graham cracker crust. You will want to use sweetened condensed milk in the filling, since it requires no refrigeration. And you will want to make a meringue topping: it uses the surplus egg whites you put aside when you used the yolks to make the filling, and it doesn’t need to be refrigerated like whipped cream. It’s the perfect hot-weather pie.

This is not to say that modern variations aren’t tasty. Pappasito’s, a Houston institution, often sells a frozen Key Lime pie that kicks major ass, even if it is decorated with a squirt of whipped cream and a sliver of Persian (not Key) lime. At least the thing isn’t green.

I could go on and on about pie. There are the pies I wish I liked, but don’t: pumpkin and mince. (Who the hell really likes mince pie, anyway? Candied fruit and beef suet? Pfaugh!) There are bizarro pies, such as the truly horrendous - yet strangely toothsome - Tang Pie. And then there are the pies I love. The serious chocolate cream pie from Greenwood’s. Blackberry pie. Blueberry. Sour cherry. Peach. Lemon meringue. And Laura Belle’s apple pie, available with crumb or regular ol’ crust. Her blueberry pie is nothing to sneeze at, either.

Did I mention coconut custard? Not coconut cream - coconut custard. It’s a critical distinction. The first is okay, I guess - but the second brings back enraptured memories of childhood excess.

Back in my snot-nose days, when you could get fresh milk delivered to your doorstep, we had the ultimate Coconut Custard Connection - the Dugan Man.

Once or twice a week, the Dugan Man came to our back door with his huge basket of baked goodies. Corn muffins - the flat kind that slip neatly into the toaster. Donuts. Coffee cakes. And, most insidious of all, the Coconut Custard Pie.

Oh, how many of those blasted blessèd things did we devour in our youth? How many pounds of ass-fat do I still carry, thanks to the Dugan Man?

That son of a bitch.


This week, Ashish’s Niti hosts the Carnival. Plenty of good posts to read, all contributed by people whose egos were so frickin’ huge, they couldn’t stand the idea of publishing them just the one time.

Oh, yeah, and that might possibly include little old me.

Anyway, go and read.