Friday, September 30, 2005


The Carnival of Comedy turns 22 this week. Oh, boy, are we excited!

Steve the Pirate may be a day late with the Carnival, but he’s definitely not a dollar short. The man knows how to put together a Carnival. Pick a unifying theme, link both blog URL and post permalink, add some pertinent commentary. Bingo!

Maybe a few (unnamed) traffic-whore loser Bloggy Neophytes out there can take a lesson from Steve’s fine example. Arrrrhhh! Read and learn, me hearties!


From the gracious Kimberly of Music and Cats comes this fascinating meme, in which you extract the fifth sentence from your twenty-third post and slap it up. This requires a little Archive-Mining. Here are the detailed instructions, for those who have trouble parsing the first sentence above:
  1. Delve into your blog archive.
  2. Find your 23rd post.
  3. Find the 5th sentence.
  4. Post the sentence in your blog. Ponder it for meaning, subtext, or hidden agendas...
  5. Tag 5 others to do the same.
As far as memes go, I am but an occasional participant - though there will be many that, justifiably, associate me with the Infamous Punchbowl Meme. This one, though, sounded like fun, as it gave me an excuse to look at some of The Old Crap.

Having started this Magnum Opus early in July 2004 with a moderately irregular Posting Schedule, my 23rd Post did not appear until August 20, 2004. It was a movie review of sorts, the real subject being the unexpected pleasure of hearing (and seeing re-enacted) a piece of music with which I was thoroughly familiar. Here’s the fifth sentence:
This time it was “Collateral,” a film that is noteworthy for (1) having Tom Cruise playing against type as a sociopathic hit man, and (2) being the vehicle that solidly establishes Jamie Foxx’s acting cred.
There’s really no hidden agenda or subtext here, just a routine statement of opinion - although, in retrospect, the movie Ray probably did more to establish Jamie Foxx in his career than this one did. Nevertheless, I was simply standing on my Bloggy Soapbox, stating an opinion - an opinion that remains unchanged, and is just as meaningless now as it was then.

As far as the “tagging” business is concerned, I’m guilty of having done it in the past, but I won’t do it now. I think this is an interesting enough meme that it should achieve a self-sustaining propagation rate on its own. Try it!

[And don’t forget to visit Kimberly Sunday evening, when she hosts the eightieth edition of Carnival of the Cats.]


The Wheel of Time has rolled around once again, with Friday nestled up against the Pointer of Fate.

All of this a pseudo-arcane way of saying that it’s time once again for the Friday Ark, hosted, as always, by Steve, the mysteriously-titled Modulator.

“To be a Modulator must be great,
But whatever do he Modulate?”

Thursday, September 29, 2005


Sounds like the Degeneracy in the Confederacy has already begun, with the estimable Velociman already checking out the hooch, the ’Hooch, and Key’s hot tub.

I really have no idea what to expect, having not been to one of these Bloggy Circle-Jerks Mazola Parties Writers’ Conferences before...but I look forward to finally being able to associate Faces and Names with their many Nefarious Deeds and Writings.

Chatham Artillery Punch. Sazeracs. Seegars. Perhaps even some Half-Baked Half-Rubber.

And then, week after next, I can go and atone for all of the Evil Shit that goes down. Boo-yah!


As we enter (at least for us Jews) the Penitential Season, I have a confession to make.

I am a cheese-o-holic.

I love the stuff. I am guilty of eating far more cheese than my body appreciates. Hard, soft, mellow, or stinky, I am always willing to Behold the Power of Cheese. Sometimes I push things too far, as evidenced by some of my Pungent Adventures. But cheese doesn’t have to smell like ass to be good.

Once upon a time, an Unknown Visionary thought up the idea of combining Molten Cheese with a complementary Breadstuff. Whoever it was, that person should have a statue erected to his or her Genius and Eternal Memory.

For that combination is indeed genius. Together, cheese and bread combine to make the Perfect Food. The cheese provides protein, the bread carbohydrate; more importantly, the proteins the bread does provide contain amino acids that complement those in the cheese, filling in the gaps. Melting the cheese adds additional flavor dimensions, catapulting the simple Ploughman’s Lunch into the ethereal realms of Pizza and related delights.

Well, the Italians may have their Pizza (the old-timers used to call it Apizza, pronounced Abeetz’) and the French their Pissaladière, but the recipe that follows is for a peculiarly British spin on Molten-Cheese-with-Bread, and it’s worth a try – if only for the fact that your dinner guests will piss themselves laughing about the ridiculous name:

Rinktum Ditty
(Tomato Cheddar Sauce on Toast)

This version of Welsh rabbit, popular in early New England, was probably brought to America from Cheshire, home of invisible cats and fine cheese. Unlike the classic Welsh rabbit (or rarebit), it contains tomato juice in lieu of beer. You can whip this up in 45 minutes or less.

1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
2/3 cup tomato juice
1 tbsp medium-dry Sherry, or to taste
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp English-style dry mustard
1¼ cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese (about 3 ounces)
2 slices buttered toast, quartered
1 hard-boiled large egg, chopped fine

In a heavy saucepan, melt the butter over moderately low heat, add the flour, and cook down, whisking, for two minutes to make a light roux. Whisk in the tomato juice, the Sherry, the sugar, and the mustard. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking, and simmer it for one minute. Remove the pan from the heat, add the Cheddar gradually whilst whisking constantly, and heat the mixture over low heat, still whisking, until the cheese is melted. Divide the toast quarters between two plates, spoon the hot sauce over ’em, and sprinkle each serving with the finely-chopped egg.

This is good washed down with a nice India pale ale. Enjoy.

[Tip o’ th’ Elisson Fedora to The Two Fat Ladies, One Of Whom Is Currently Dead, Probably From Eating Too Much Cheese.]


Scientists at Work

That’s Uncle Phil on the left, me on the right, monkeying with the Kingly Gift he presented me last week when he came to visit.

The Kingly Gift is a 1920’s-vintage Ernst Leitz binocular microscope. Made by the same people who created the Leica camera, it’s constructed of huge chunks of precision-machined Solid Brass, weighing about 20 pounds. (Oof!) And it’s in gorgeous condition, just needing a little metal polish to make it look like a Work of Technological Art.

And maybe a whack or two with the Big Cartoony Rubber Mallet to unfreeze some of the large moving parts.

Science: it’s what’s for dinner!


The Sushi Boyz
The Sushi Boyz: Walter, Chris, and Carl.

Tuesday evening, She Who Must Be Obeyed and I enjoyed a most excellent Japanese dinner. Aside from the exceptional food, what made the evening special was that it was with my old friend Walter, whom I had not seen in 29 years.

Walter and I first met in first grade, back in 1958. We were classmates off and on through elementary school, but became good friends in high school. It was an Odd Couple kind of relationship, the Brain and the Athlete. Walter was a track star, a pole vaulter, and a German Lutheran, whereas I was the Jewish Academic Type. Despite our outward differences, we shared a demented sense of humor, including a mutual admiration of Jean Shepherd’s writing and radio work.

Walter in 1974
Walter in 1974.

We saw less of each other when we went off to college, but summer and winter vacations were opportunities to get together and hang out in our favorite dive in Oyster Bay. Upon graduation, however, I ended up in Texas and Walter gravitated to Vermont, and we drifted apart. The last time I saw him, it was a chance encounter in December 1976 at the Magic Mountain ski resort in the Green Mountain State, where SWMBO and I spent a day skiing. (More properly, I spent the day skiing and SWMBO spent the day drinking hot chocolate in the ski lodge.) Walter was working there, and we had a pleasant, albeit brief, encounter. It was to be the last time we would see each other...until two days ago.

Last month, in an idle moment, Walter – now resident in the wilds of Southern New Jersey - had tracked me down, thanks to my substantial Internet footprint and the good offices of Google. An exchange of e-mails followed, then a lengthy telephone conversation – and we resolved to get together. This was made easier by the fortunate – and fortuitous – fact that his business has him traveling frequently to My Neck Of The Woods.

And so it was that I got the call informing me that my old buddy was going to be in town this week – could SWMBO and I join him and two of his Japanese colleagues for a sushi dinner? Why, of course!

I picked up Walt and his entourage – a couple of guys from Wakayama who call themselves “Chris” and “Carl” – at their hotel and we joined SWMBO at Sushi-Huku on the north side of Atlanta. It’s a little place set in what looks like an old fire station, a stone’s throw from the local offices of the Great Corporate Salt Mine, and the Missus and I have eaten there many times over the years – it’s probably the best sushi restaurant we’ve been to in this town.

Walt, ever solicitous, was concerned about the choice of cuisine for the evening. Would SWMBO eat sushi? he wanted to know. I assured him that, after I had committed the financially disastrous mistake of introducing her to Japanese food years ago, it was not a problem. Financially disastrous, sure: for a while there, when we lived in Houston, the Missus, Elder Daughter, and the Mistress of Sarcasm threatened to bankrupt me with their Prodigious Sushi Appetites.

We sat down at our table, and it was then that it became evident that Carl and Chris had not expected SWMBO and me to be familiar with the evening’s offerings. But as we began ordering – first appetizers, then Miscellaneous Sushi Stuff, their eyes grew wide with surprise. For Elisson knows his Nihon-Ryori, having spent some little time in the Land of the Rising Sun and all.

I’m not sure whether it was my (limited) ability to read Japanese, or to bandy a few words about, or the fact that I ordered goma-ae (spinach with sesame sauce) as an appetizer, but it got to where every time I ordered something, Chris and Carl would look at each other and then pronounce, “Very professional!” Ikura, salmon skin temaki, unagi, saba, hamachi – all the good stuff, all Very Professional. Hot sake? Very professional. Kirin Ichiban biru? Very professional. The owner, Hukuda-san himself, remembering me? Extremely professional.

Fishies, Japan-style
Nihon-shiki no sakana - Fishies, Japan-style.

Ikura - salmon roe.

We stuffed ourselves very professionally and had a grand old time, alternating Degenerate Reminiscences with mouthfuls of fish. Superb.

Walt and I are different from what we were in high school and college – it’s been a lot of water under the bridge since then. I have a lot less hair; Walter has a bit more...Walter. Even our voices are different, carrying the patina of thirty years. But as I looked at him, I could see the same devilish grin, the same personality, the same adventuresome spirit.

It was good to see my old friend again.

It was...very professional.


Geoffrey Allen Cole, the Minister of Bloggery at expatriots united, hosts the latest edition of the Carnival of the Vanities.

Geoff has adopted a unique time-saving approach: simply paste the submissions into the post exactly as they appear in the e-mail generated by Ferdy’s Carnival Submission Form. Not only does this method save time, it avoids all of the Righteous Umbrage that submitters feel when the host editorializes unfavorably on their work. [So what if it looks like shit? It’s the content that counts, am I right?]

I’m not sure if it’s Laziness or Ignorance - but anyone who has the seichel to sign up to host a carnival surely must know what a good one looks like. And, shit, if you’re going to cut and past from Ferdy’s form, at least do it properly - don’t stick the whole fucking e-mail in there! Aaaaggghhh.

Laurence Simon, not one to merely criticize this piss-poor excuse for a Carnival, has taken it a step further, posting the Avignon Edition of the Carnival of the Vanities #158. (For the Avignon Edition of CotV #134, go here.) Way to go, Lair!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


Once in a while, for shits ’n’ grins, I’ll take a peek at my Sitemeter.

Lo and behold, it looks like this particular Monumental Exercise in Self-Aggrandizement and Time-Wastage will be clocking its 50,000th visit sometime in the next few days - possibly even before the Degeneracy in the Confederacy begins this weekend.

Send me [elisson1 (at) aol (dot) com] a screen shot of my Sitemeter showing Hit 50,000 and there will be some kind of reward in it for you. What, I have no frickin’ clue - but I’m sure to think of something tasty.

Just don’t be sitting there in front of your screen like an old lady playing Electronic Keno in Las Vegas, a thin stream of drool pooling at your feet, as you bang away repeatedly at the “Refresh” button. That would be...perverse.


Well, actually, it’s the 117th edition, but since the redoubtable Jay Allen - the Zero Boss his ownself - is hosting the Bonfire this week, I thought I should provide Suitable Recognition in the Post Title.

And, thanks to a combination of my late submission and Jay’s natural propensity for perversity, Yours Truly once again is the lead-off batter. Woo-fuckin’-Hoo!

Jay, you’ve done a sterling job with this Bonfire. It’s been a long time since the host of the ’Fire has turned the Snark ’n’ Venom knob up to 11, and yet isn’t that what this Self-Inflicted Roast-Fest is all about?

Marshmallows all around, yo.


The V-Man seeketh a punchbowl with which to dish up the infamous Chatham Artillery Punch at the Drunken Blogger Bacchanalia Southeast Writers’ Conference in Helen this weekend.

I am not the person you wanna be asking to bring a punchbowl, given my prior Unsavory Associations with said device.

Pernicious memes aside, I have used the Turd in a Punchbowl metaphor in the context of business, to disarming and devastating effect. For it is a good and worthy metaphor.

Once upon a time, I was calling on a customer in the Southeastern U.S., a division of a huge multinational corporation that was a prodigious purchaser of our polyethylene pellets. Our excellent record as a supplier had earned us, over a period of several years, a strong majority position in their business.

As often happens when one is a Strong Majority Supplier, competitors will come along and try to knock you off your lofty perch. Such was the case when, out of the blue, another supplier came along and offered similar products at a substantially lower price. In cases such as this, we have the option of meeting the competitive offer or, alternatively, of releasing our customer from their contractual obligations so as to take advantage of the competitive offer. Of course, we chose to meet the offer - we did not want to give up any of our business! - but we had a question to answer: How could a competitor offer such a low price? Egg on our face, you know.

I met with the customer’s Purchasing Manager - an attractive young redheaded lady - and explained the situation, using a Pungent Analogy. She understood and accepted my explanation.

And that explanation must have made a deep impression on her, because shortly thereafter, both I and my Regional Sales Manager were summoned to a meeting with our customer’s Senior Management. They, too, wanted to understand how a competitor could undercut our price so substantially. Had our pricing not been competitive in view of market conditions? Had we been screwing them?

We sat in the customer’s Board Room, my Regional Sales Manager and I, along with all of the customer’s Grand Panjandrums. Their redheaded Purchasing Manager started things off on the right foot, to wit: “Elisson, suppose you tell our Management Team about your Turd in the Punchbowl Theory of Marketing.”

All eyes turned to me.

Quoth I, “It’s simple. You ask, ‘How could your competitor undercut your price so substantially? Does it mean you have been overcharging us?’

“And I answer, ‘Not at all. When you’re not at the party drinking the punch, it doesn’t hurt you if you put a turd in the punchbowl. Our competitor has merely lobbed a turd into the punchbowl.’

“This is a no-lose scenario for our competitor. If we decline to meet their price, we lose the business, and they supply you, albeit at a low price - for now. If we meet their price, our margin is reduced, and they are no worse off than they were, since they do not supply you at present.

“Our pricing has been fair and competitive. Their offer is well below market level - but it has to be, in order to get your attention. That’s the Turd in the Punchbowl Theory of Marketing...any questions?”

The customer’s CEO was skeptical at first, but ultimately he had to acknowledge the truth behind my Pungent Business Analogy. And, in the end, we not only retained our business, we grew our position.

This weekend in Helen, I will be sore tempted to float a Baby Ruth in that big bowl of Chatham Artillery Punch. I will not do it, for respect of V-Man’s sacred concoction...and because I plan to be at the party, drinking the punch.


When a man gets to being near my age,
There’s a lesson he must take to heart:
You may trust in love,
Or the Good Lord above -
But never trust a fart.

A flatulent blast may betray you,
With Non-Gaseous Content, O Guys.
So if, while you’re pishin’,
You attempt an emission,
Beware of the Nasty Surprise.

Just keep them old cheeks clamped together,
Until you are safe on the throne.
If you dare take a chance,
And you fill up your pants,
You are sure to be sleeping alone.

When a man gets to being near my age,
There’s a lesson he must take to heart:
You may trust in love,
Or the Good Lord above -
But never trust a fart.

Monday, September 26, 2005


Nesting Hakuna

Last night, I came upstairs to find Hakuna nestled in the Cat Bed.

This is a rare sight. Generally, Hakuna likes to sleep by herself in an unoccupied bedroom. I suspect that she decided to give Uncle Phil and Aunt Marge their privacy, and so she ended up here.

Nesting Matata

As for her chubby sister, she also is a nestler. Here, she has ensconced herself in her Birdhouse o’ Doom.

Looks comfy, don’t it?


...resulting in this series of Haiku.

And what better inspiration is there than the recent publication of the novel Star Struck, by none other than Miss Pneumatic herself, Pamela Anderson?

She has big titties.
They’re her only claim to fame.
It sure ain’t her brain.

Watch the tape: you’ll see
Tommy Lee look at her. A
“Penetrating” stare.

I like reading books
That are packed full of typos.
Did someone say “titts”?

News bulletin: Flash!
A shortage of silicone!
Where did it all go?

Our sources reveal
That Pamela Anderson
Cornered the market.

Look out! She crushes
All in her path. You could say
She’s a “Jug-gernaut.”


People in southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana are starting to regroup after Hurricane Rita. It looks like Houston and Galveston dodged the bullet this time, with the brunt of the storm’s fury being expended in places like Beaumont, Port Arthur, and Lake Charles.

New Orleans is beginning to look like the Joe Bftsplk of cities, always with that dark cloud hovering overhead. It was not helpful that the jerry-rigged levees were overtaxed by yet another Big Blow only weeks after Katrina.

The Great Corporate Salt Mine is looking over its assets in the region, and it appears, for the most part, that operations will not be too heavily impacted. Most facilities should be up and running within days; an exception may be the plants in the Beaumont area, which may be down for a few weeks. That’s good news for a lot of us.

Hurricanes are scary events. Never mind extraordinary geophysical issues such as those facing New Orleans; anybody who has seen images of the devastation in coastal Mississippi, Alabama, and now southeastern Texas/southwestern Louisiana knows how disruptive storms like this can be to the lives of the people affected by them. Many of those pictures were called to mind the horror of Hurricane Andrew in South Florida 13 years ago, a Category 5 storm that scoured homes right down to their slabs. That is some Scary Shit. Where the hell do you hide when your house is being blown away from around you?

My own personal experience with hurricanes is, thankfully, very limited – and not particularly current.

It was mid-September 1960, back in my Runny-Nose Days, and we had just put my grandparents on a plane home to Miami the previous day, in the midst of a ferocious rainstorm. Jet travel was the exception in those days – I’m pretty sure they had to suffer through a bumpy four-hour-plus flight in a four-engine propliner. In my Little-Kid Imagination, I figured rain that heavy could only be the precursor to an Actual Honest-to-Gawd Hurricane. For once, I was right.

Hurricane Donna had taken an unusual path since making landfall in the Florida Keys September 10, briefly swinging out into the Gulf of Mexico, whacking Fort Myers with Category 4-force winds, then crossing the Florida peninsula and pooching into the Atlantic at Daytona Beach. Moving back out over open water, Donna clipped the Outer Banks of North Carolina, then smacked right into Long Island on September 12, scoring a direct hit on us.

With the weather forecast calling for the imminent arrival of a hurricane, schools had been shut down, and our family was hunkered down in our modest ranch-style house. Although we were only about a half-mile from the waters of the Great South Bay, flooding was not an especial concern: the barrier beaches that flank the south shore of the Island provide excellent protection against the mightiest storm surges. But our neighborhood, being long established, boasted plenty of Big Trees, and hurricanes are not kind to Big Trees.

It was exciting for me and my brother, both of us too young to know what was at stake in a Category 2 hurricane. We lost power, but were adequately provisioned with sandwiches. It was, and still is, the only time in my life that I would deign to eat a bologna sandwich on white bread – but that’s what was On The Menu, and one does not argue during a hurricane.

Mid-day, after a few hours of Sturm and Drang, the winds calmed down, the rains ceased, and the sun came out. Was it over? Hell, no. Our mother explained that it was the eye of the storm, the spot of Deceptive Calm at the center, and that the winds and rain would return with renewed fury (and very little notice) any minute. We were not permitted to go outside and explore. And sure enough, within minutes the storm resumed, and we had naught to do but wait for the second half of the show to be over.

When everything settled down late that afternoon, we went out to assess the damage. Our house, thankfully, was unscathed, but the streets and sidewalks were littered with huge, toppled trees. Power was out and would remain so for three days; the next evening, everyone in the neighborhood had a gigantic Communal Barbecue, cooking whatever perishable Meaty Products were on hand before spoilage could set in. We feasted.

Donna was a remarkable storm, the only hurricane of the century to affect the entire Eastern Seaboard, all the way from Florida to Maine. Strength-wise, Donna was a powerhouse, reaching category 5 briefly and retaining Category 3 or greater status for the longest period on record for an Atlantic Basin storm. Fortunately for us, she had wound down to Category 2 during her march up the East Coast. One hundred forty eight people lost their lives to Donna, 50 in the United States. With that kind of history, it’s no wonder they have retired her jersey: there will be no more hurricanes named Donna.

Yeah, we were lucky.

In September of the very next year, we got nailed again, this time by Hurricane Esther. The drill was pretty much the same, although my memory of the storm is much hazier. Esther was a more powerful Category 3 blow when it struck the Island, but the effects in our neighborhood were much the same as with Donna. Trees down, power out, Great Big Meaty Feast.

Since then, I have been had the Great Good Fortune, whenever a hurricane has threatened any of the places I have lived, to be Somewhere Else. May it continue to be so...

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Triticale has posted the 58th edition of Carnival of the Recipes, with the Unifying Theme of the four Elemental States of Matter. Heh. What does this have to do with wheat and rye, guy?

Reminds me of an old tune by The Incredible String Band (remember them?):

Eath, Water, Fire, and Air
Met together in a garden fair.
Put in a basket bound with skin,
If you answer this riddle, you’ll never begin.
- The Incredible String Band, Koeeoaddi There

Sunday, September 25, 2005


The Incredible Hulk!
Carnival of the Cats is Green and Mean this week, with host Meryl Yourish turning the reins over to our favorite Super Anti-Hero, the Hulk.

Tip o’ th’ Elisson fedora to either Meryl or Dr. Bruce Banner for awarding Yours Truly the pole position!


A lovely little term I picked up from Mamacita over at Scheiss Weekly.

It refers to the little garden area at the apex of a piece of property - and it turns out our Little Slice o’ Jawja Real Estate is shaped just right to have a Crotch Garden. See the photo below...which looks remarkably like the hand-drawn map in Mamacita’s post.

Crotch Garden

I have no idea whether “Crotch Garden” is general coin, or just something Mamacita cooked up: either way, it deserves to be publicized. Maybe it needs to be entered into the Pseudodictionary - but I'll leave that to Mamacita. Regardless, it joins that wonderful list of Words I’ve Learned From Blogging: craptastic, Dutch oven, covered wagon (which is the same as a Dutch oven), frint, burgoolie. [Well, actually, the last two are mine. Try Googling “burgoolie” and see what you get.]

What should one plant in a Crotch Garden? Why, bushes, of course.

Saturday, September 24, 2005


No, it’s not the title of a groundbreaking 1960’s Swedish soft-porn flick.

Last week when She Who Must Be Obeyed and I were in Boston visiting Elder Daughter, we were, the three of us, lounging around in our Copley Square hotel room when a little squib in the paper caught the eye of The Missus. There was to be a Birthday Party for Curious George at the Boston Public Library, complete with a humongous Birthday Cake made by the Food Network’s Ming Tsai. A fine coincidence, given the September 26 release of The Journey That Saved Curious George: The True Wartime Escape of Margret and H.A. Rey, Allan Drummond’s book about the flight of Curious George’s creators from Nazi Germany.

Despite none of us being especially serious fans of C.G., how could we resist? The Boston Public Libe was visible from our hotel room window, a scant two or three blocks away. And there was to be Cake! Cake baked by Ming Tsai his ownself! Perhaps it would be an Asian Fusion Cake, with chocolate and tofu! (Feh.) We had to check it out.

Rug-Rat Central

Check it out we did. The Children’s Section of the library was awash with a teeming flood of Rug-Rats and Floor-Monkeys, creating in SWMBO and me a sort of semi-nostalgic Relief That We Don’t Have To Put Up With This Shit Any More. There was a Man in the requisite Yellow Hat, and a sweaty individual in a Curious George suit. Not quite as elegant as a Malibu Monkeysuit, I’ve gotta say.

Curious George

We decided that, although the cake looked good, that it would be both Piggish and a Waste of Valuable Time to join the enormous queue of harried parents awaiting a slice. And so we bade farewell to Curious George...and a lovely librarian with an icing-bedecked upper lip.

Library Lady


Phil and Sabrina
Uncle Phil - and friend Sabrina, the Teen-Age Witch.

It’s déjà vu all over again at Chez Elisson.

Uncle Phil and Aunt Marge are once again visiting from South Florida, and once again we are spending inordinate amounts of time gazing at the Hurricane News. The difference is that this time, we’re watching Southeast Texas get pounded instead of South Florida, so there’s no skin in the game, as it were.

This time the visit is not being driven by a hurricane evacuation, but rather by a happy occasion: the Bar Mitzvah of the son of family friends (also distant relatives - the details are worth a few paragraphs at a later date).

We love our Uncle Phil and Aunt Marge. Phil’s my mother’s brother, and having him around is as close as we’ll ever have to enjoying my mother’s company. And both he and Marge are just plain fun to be with.

Full of Bloggable Pithy Quotations, too. This morning, at breakfast, we somehow got on the topic of Old Movies and Old Movie Actors. The question: would some of the people who were Big-Name Stars back in the 1930’s and ’40’s make it in today’s Movie Biz? [Discuss amongst yourselves.]

And Marge suddenly stopped, and looked at me, saying, “How would you know about these old movies, anyway?”

I said, “Just because I wasn’t around when these pictures were made doesn’t mean I haven’t seen them.”

To which Marge replied, “Just because I was around when these pictures were made doesn’t mean I remember them.”

See what I mean? Just plain fun.

Friday, September 23, 2005


Some families are downright inspired whan it comes to picking Names for the Kiddies.

The Missus has alerted me to the existence of three siblings, all of whom attend school where she teaches, and whose names are downright...interesting:
  • Debrasia
  • Debreyah
  • Debyannah
I am not making this up.

It will be entertaining to see whether they become, at some point down the road, Debutantes.


The Friday Ark o’ th’ Week has been posted at The Modulator...and Yours Truly is in Pole Position. Hoo-hah!

Thursday, September 22, 2005


A few pictures from the trip She Who Must Be Obeyed and I just made to Boston, a timely and pleasant visit with Elder Daughter.

Christian Science Center
Basilica Godzillica.

Boston has its share of architectural beauty. The Christian Science Center has magnificent buildings and a mirror-like reflecting pool, a lovely place to just Sit and Contemplate.

Reflecting Pool

I like the contrast between Old and New in this shot:

Old and New

And here we have a trompe l’oeil reflection in a glass skyscraper, another juxtaposition of Old and New.


Boston: It Ain’t Just Beans ’n’ Cod Anymore!™


As the weather turns cooler and the Jewish New Year approaches, I start getting nostalgic for that Ol’ Time Jewish Cookin’. And “nostalgia is a dish best served old,” quoth I.

Fortunately, She Who Must Be Obeyed, over the course of many years, absorbed an enormous amount of Jewish Cookin’ Knowledge from her grandmother and mother. On my side of the family, Mom was a wonderful, fiercely independent lady who could be relied on to make one thing for dinner that was always a success: Reservations.

I jest - but only a little.

As for my grandmothers, my mother’s mother was a decent, if unspectacular, cook. From her, I learned that it was actually possible to burn soup. Who knew?

Ah, but my Dad’s mother - Grandma Shirley - now, that lady knew how to sling a pan.

My eyes still get misty when I think of Grandma Shirley’s cooking. When I was a Young Snot-Nose, I would eagerly look forward to those weekends when the Grand-’Rents would come out to visit, for that meant breakfasting on scrambled eggs and tender caramelized onions cooked in butter. And Sundays in Brooklyn meant a Big-Time Dinner, with roasted chicken redolent of garlic and transparent of skin; meat loaf (the best on the planet!) containing the perfect amount of flavorful chopped onion; savory latkes (pancakes) of spinach; potato kugel, made with what had to have been a 55-gallon drum of cooking oil; and Old-School gefilte fish, stuffed into the fish’s skin. So what if she wasn’t a Pastry Whiz? If her rugelach had measured up to everything else she made, I would have gone though life carrying an extra 75 pounds on my ass.

Here's a seasonal recipe that any one of our grandparents would have been proud of: a fruit compote made with whatever dried fruits are handy. Make this and it’ll keep for weeks - even a month or two - in the fridge. Perfect for dessert, or as an accompaniment to a Meaty Meal.

Dried Fruit Compote

4 pounds dried fruit (I use a combination of prunes, apricots, peaches, and pears)
1½ cups orange juice
1½ cups water
½ cup granulated sugar
One cinnamon stick
Peel of one lemon

In a large bowl, pour boiling water over the fruit and let stand for one hour. Drain thoroughly. [This removes the sulfates that are often used as preservatives in dried fruit.]

Put the fruit in a saucepan with the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 30-45 minutes. The fruit should be tender but not completely falling apart.

Let the contents of the saucepan cool. If necessary, adjust the amount of sugar or orange juice to taste, or add lemon juice to give the compote a tart flavor note. Remove the cinnamon stick and store covered and refrigerated. The fruit will eventually absorb any remaining syrup. This recipe makes enough to serve a small army.

The compote is delicious as-is, but if you want to jazz it up, feel free to add a jigger of dark rum or Cognac. It will keep for a long time, but around here, we usually polish it off after a few weeks.


Hurricane Rita
Hurricane Rita. Satellite infrared image courtesy NOAA.
Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!
You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
Till you have drenched our steeples, drowned the cocks!
You sulphurous and thought-executing fires,
Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder,
Strike flat the thick rotundity o’ the world!
Crack nature’s moulds, all germens spill at once
That make ingrateful man!

- King Lear, Act III, Scene 2
Hurricane Rita is churning its way toward the Texas Gulf Coast, and it promises to be a Royal Fucking Mess.

This is one of those times I’m glad She Who Must Be Obeyed and I no longer live in Houston. All the years we spent there in the late 1970’s and through the 1990’s, we had our hearts in our collective mouths, anxiously awaiting the arrival of The Big One. 100-year flood maps don’t mean a whole hell of a lot in a city like Houston, and there were a couple of occasions when rising waters got within mere feet of our front door despite the fact that we never lived in a so-called flood plain. Talk about an “Oh Shit” moment.

SWMBO’s family members are all up north in Fort Worth and Denton, but a look at the NOAA maps says that they’re not entirely out of the woods. There is going to be a Huge-Ass Swath o’ Misery all the way up to Okla-freaking-Homa from Miss Rita.

The denizens of the Great Corporate Salt Mine are all fleeing like rats from a sinking ship. Prudent.

The area’s refineries and chemical plants - some of which are still dealing with the aftereffects of Hurricane Katrina - are battening down the hatches. These facilities are designed to withstand Serious Weather, and hopefully they won’t be pushed beyond their design limits. If they are, get ready for Very Expensive gasoline, folks.

There have been a (surprisingly) few big storms to hit the Houston area in the last decades. Hurricane Alicia in 1983 was a “mere” Category 3 storm, but it killed 21 people and caused massive flooding and damage. More flooding resulted from Tropical Storm Allison in June of 2001, with 22 deaths and water filling the basements of many buildings downtown and in the Medical Center. I narrowly escaped that second one, having been in Baton Rouge the day before.

But the benchmark Houston-area storm, one that I remember from my childhood, was Hurricane Carla, in 1961. With 150 MPH sustained winds, 175 MPH gusts, and a 22-foot storm surge, Carla thundered ashore near Matagorda Bay on September 11, a huge Category 4 monster. As a not-quite-nine-year-old snotnose, the thing that horrified me the most (from my comfy New York vantage point) was the image of roof-deep floodwaters, filled with debris and venomous snakes. As Indiana Jones would say, “Snakes. Why does it always have to be snakes?”

In Texas, 34 people lost their lives to that storm. But that was then, and this is now - and “now” is scarier.

What’s different today, compared with 1961, is that millions of people live in the Houston-Clear Lake City-Galveston metroplex that were not there 44 years ago. The other difference is the degree of land subsidence that has taken place since then, a function of the huge amount of development in the area. The region is therefore far more vulnerable, both geographically and demographically.

The good news is, Texas seems to have matters well in hand, preparedness-wise. A million people have evacuated, and the image of school buses filled with hospital and nursing home residents being hauled away is a welcome contrast to those infamous photos of drowned buses in New Orleans.

Galvestonians know to Get The Hell Out. The hurricane of 1900 killed between 6,000 and 10,000 people there, and that island sits precious few feet above sea level. Nobody with a functioning brain will be thinking of “riding it out” in Galveston.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Hurricanes are a natural phenomenon, and Rita is no exception. The Big Guy is not sending this storm to Punish the Sinners, even those who participate in Pagan Rituals such as the Oogah-Boogah Dance. But He will be watching to see how we deal with the aftermath - for that is the real measure of our humanity.

May He protect those who live in the path of this storm, and see them safe.

Technorati tags: , ,


Yes, if weeks were years and blogs were people, the Carnival of Comedy could go out and buy itself a drink.

And if my Grandma had a beard, she’d be Grandpa.

The twenty-first Carnival of Comedy is up at Basil’s Blog. We all could use a good laugh in these Hurricane-Ridden Times, so go visit.


Yes, friends, it’s the Premiere Edition of the Carnival of Satire, and you can go see it over at the skwib.

With all of the Carnivals already floating around the Bloggy-Sphere, you might well ask yourself, “Self, do we really need Yet Another Useless Fucking Carnival?”

And I will answer: Yes, if the subject area is clearly defined. Blogging is all about narrowcasting; you can focus on whatever your little heart desires because you don’t have to please verybody in order to get exposure for your material. All that really matters is that you represent it correctly, and it will find its proper audience.

This carnival is about Satire. Not Parody, not Irony: Satire. I like Satire, so I will be reading and contributing regularly. If you, too, like Satire, so should you be.


Wednesday, September 21, 2005


Tucker Recumbent

This is not the Tucker that cuts our hair and gives me Twat-Shaped Chocolate.

This is the ginger tabby that belongs to one of Elder Daughter’s roommates.

Unlike Hakuna and Matata, Tucker is not Mr. Cuddly-Pants. Take liberties with him, and you are likely to be trying to cram your viscera back where they belong after he opens you up like a can of beans. Even so, he has the Kitty Nesting Instinct.

Tucker in the Bag

Yeah, Tough Guy. You’re not fooling us, ya Pussy-Cat.


We spent Sunday evening at a little event known as Critical Breakdown, a Hip-Hop Extravaganza at a community center in Boston’s South End…three hours of rap artists, breakdancers, and poets. Without question, She Who Must Be Obeyed and I were the oldest and whitest individuals there.

What were we doing there? you may well ask.

We were there at the behest of Elder Daughter, who works for a nonprofit organization – Project: Think Different – whose mission is to use the arts and media to help foster accomplishment and purpose among inner-city at-risk youth. The rationale is that if urban kids have a creative outlet – one that emphasizes positive messages instead of the Gangsta Ethos – they are much less likely to end up in trouble.

Of all the hip-hop rhymers and rap artists we heard that evening, there was not one foul word. No painting violence in a positive light. No drug references, except in a Strongly Cautionary Vein. Any “gangsta” crap would get you booted off stage.

And SWMBO and I actually enjoyed the show. I’ll admit, there was some of that Fish Out Of Water thing going on, but I gotta give props to any form of music that would have made Lawrence Welk bleed from the mouth and rectum simultaneously.

Strange, though. Being of a perverse cast of mind. I couldn’t help but think back on that classic Lenny Bruce routine: How to Talk to Colored People at Parties.

You have to visualize how things were in the late 1950’s when Lenny Bruce invented this bit. Racially integrated social interaction was so rare as to be almost nonexistent, and the average Suburban Honky would have had absolutely no idea of how to carry on a conversation with a Person of Color. Even the term “colored people” was, at the time, retro enough to be impolitic: Lenny used it as a tip-off to the Main Character’s cluelessness. He imagined that Difficult Conversation for us, starting with inane pleasantries about the décor of the house, followed by the Uncomfortable Silence, and then:

“You know, Joe Louis was a helluva fighter…”

Of course, things go straight down the tubes from there, eventually devolving to Wild Speculation on Penile Dimensions.

And that is why, as the Missus and I sat there amidst the Inner-City Youth of Boston, I could not help but think of a few Things It Might Have Been Impolitic To Say:
  • Abe Lincoln. George Bush. Ya gotta love ’em…they’re both Republicans!
  • Thank Gawd the French Quarter stayed dry. The hell with the rest of it.
  • Damn, those are some baggy-ass pants! I can hook you up with the lady that does my alterations.
  • I don’t know about you, but I think Jesse Jackson is one grandstanding muthafucka.
  • I don’t know about you, but I think Al Sharpton is full of shit.
  • I don’t know about you, but I think Louis Farrakhan is really full of shit.
  • That Bojangles – Christ, could he tapdance.
They don’t call me Mr. Discreet-Pants for nothing. I may think this shit up…but I know when to Shut The Fuck Up.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


She can be silly...

The Fashion Plate
“All citizens will be required to change their underwear every half-hour. Underwear will be worn on the outside so we can check.”

She can be the Loving and Affectionate Daughter...

SWMBO and Elder Daughter

And she can be introspective.

Elder Daughter in Sepia
The image of Grandma B.

No matter what mood she’s in, the Missus and I are crazy about our Elder Daughter.


Recipe for fun: (1) Take one enigmatic photograph, (2) Slap it up in a blogpost, (3) Invite Esteemed Readers to provide captions, (4) Hilarity ensues.

Earth Momma

Have at it.


This week, the 116th edition of Bonfire of the Vanities is hosted by File It Under.

Good instructions, those. “File It Under” a weighty object and toss it into a deep lake...the only appropriate way to handle Truly Crappy Posts.

Monday, September 19, 2005


The small handful of Esteemed Readers who have noted an Unusual Quietude here this weekend are not going insane. Rather, She Who Must Be Obeyed and I have just returned to Chez Elisson after spending three days in the company of Elder Daughter in the Greater Boston Metropolitan Area, with no convenient internet connection.

Photographs will follow, but right now the arms of SWMBO await.

Before signing off, I will make note that Carnival of the Cats #78 has been posted at Watermark, who is talented at assembling a Kitty Carnival despite a certain lack of Mathematical Ability. (67? I think not!)

Friday, September 16, 2005


For a while, there, She Who Must Be Obeyed and I were real Iron Chef addicts.

There’s something about that dopey Japanese cooking show that is at once riotously funny and (dare I say it?) envy-inducing. Who wouldn’t want to be turned loose on a pile of truffles and foie gras to wreak whatever havoc came to mind?

The riotously funny part comes, of course, from the combination of (1) the Very. Serious. and Tendentious. atmosphere surrounding Chairman Kaga and Kitchen Stadium, and (2) the dopey dubbing of 99% of the dialogue into Extremely Perky Californian. Kaga, in his ornate Chairman robes, looks like a Japanese version of Liberace on acid, and his trademark “Pepper Bite” at the opening of each show is completely over the top.

The panel of judges is a riot as well. There’s always a Young Japanese Ingenue, who provides unintentional humor when the judging process begins:

“The Krispy Kreme Doughnut stuffed with Lobster and Beluga Caviar is like a little orgasm in my mouth!”

And there’s the Ponderous Theme Music that plays over the judging, snarfed directly out of the soundtrack to Backdraft. Really.

But what I’d give a kidney to see would be a new Iron Chef taking his (or her) place alongside Iron Chef Japanese, Iron Chef Italian, Iron Chef French, and Iron Chef Chinese.

Iron Chef Jewish.

Oh, yeah.

I know some of the ingredients might be problematic, but think of the possibilities. And even without a Jewish Iron Chef, creative Secret Ingredient choices could be oh, so entertaining:

The secret ingredient is...kishka!

[Hilarity ensues.]

Tip o’ th’ Elisson fedora to Mir at Woulda Shoulda Coulda for planting the idea for this post in my perfervid brain.


Happy Fun Boyz

This picture of the Happy Fun Boyz™ was taken at the infamous Malibu Wedding.

From left to right, it’s Dennis R., “After Dinner” Mintz, Sid M. (father of the groom), and Yours Truly.

Notice who seems to have the most hair. (Not that it’s all there, mind you.)

Yes, these are the guys you want at your party. Happy Fun Boyz, at your cervix service!


Steve has posted the 52nd edition of the Friday Ark at The Modulator.

That would make the Friday Ark one year old, give or take a few days. Sure enough, the first one was posted on September 24, 2004, containing a mere eight links...and the fateful words, “If there is interest, I’ll keep this as a weekly feature.”

Birthday cake for the entire menagerie!


Yes, it’s the 57th Carnival of the Recipes, this week hosted by suds-loving Jeff over at Trub.

“Go visit the Carnival for a great assortment of ideas for Good Food and Drink.”

“My sediments exactly.”

Thursday, September 15, 2005


Matata likes to sleep all curled up against the legs of She Who Must Be Obeyed...

Beddy Bye ’Ta

but last night, a Feline Interloper appeared on the scene.

The Interloper

What to do? What to do? Hakuna, unlike Matata, will not climb upon the bodies of the Bifurcated Gods, although she may, from time to time, nestle up against them. And she is very cautious about invading Matata’s personal space, for the consequences are just as often a Bite on the Ass as they are a pleasant Mutual Grooming Session.

So: nestle or lurk?

Beddy Bye ’Kuna

Ahhh, nuts - Lurk it is. I’ll just lie down at the foot of the bed.

[Don’t forget to send your catblogging posts in to the Carnival of the Cats, to be hosted this Sunday by Watermark.]


Harrison lifted the spoon to his mouth and started chewing. His face contorted into a mask of disgust.

“Jeezus! What is this shit?”

“Exactly,” replied Johnston.

“We did some research. Turns out most mammals do a lousy job of extracting nutrients from food. Plenty of stuff just – goes to waste, you’ll pardon the expression. We’re simply running it through a second time.

“Plus, the ingredients are practically free. Think of the variable margin – like printing money!

Harrison considered this briefly, rolling a kernel of corn around on his tongue.

“Add a sugar frosting and put a bear on the box.”

[Posted as a comment at 100 Words or Les Nessman.]


...that Monday, September 19 is International Talk Like A Pirate Day.

International Talk Like A Pirate Day replaces the earlier, and much less successful, International Talk Like A Pilate Day. Maybe because most people find it easier to walk around all day saying things like “Arrrh, ye scurvy swab,” “Avast, ye bandy-legged mass of barnacles,” and “Chumbucket” than it is to walk around all day saying things like “Behold the man,” and “What evil hath he done?”

Maybe we can combine the two and have International Talk Like Pirate Pilate Day:

Arrrhhht thou the King of the Jews?”

Anyone interested? Anybody? Anybody? Bueller? Bueller?

Technorati tag: Pirate


The XXth edition of the Carnival of Comedy is up at either orr.

As Steve the Pirate (who will be hosting the Carnival in two weeks) would say, “Har de har harrrrrh!”

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


“Men are from Mars, women are from the Andromeda Galaxy.”
– Elisson
Yeah, men and women are different. But I’m not going to pound out some lengthy Sociological Treatise here. I want to talk about plumbing.

Men and women’s plumbing systems are different. [-Thank you, Captain Obvious! –Don’t mention it.]

And I’m not talking about the External Stuff, the cock ’n’ balls, the pee-pee, the burgoolie, the frint, or whatever cutesy-pie name you want to use for The Equipment. I’m talkin’ innards here.

Because men have certain...ahhh, issues that women do not. Or, if they do, they are so circumspect about these issues that the topic never crops up. Maybe it’s a Womanly Law of Omertà, that anyone who discusses certain Forbidden Topics ends up sleeping with the fishes.

I refer, of course, to the Rest Room Surprise.

Women have it easy, in a way. They simply sit down and go about their business, whatever that business may chance to be, whatever Form of Matter is involved. Sit, grunt (if necessary), wipe, and be done with it. Simple!

But us guys, we pee standing up. No sitzpinklers here, right, boys? Except in a few rare circumstances, such as the Dreaded Pee-Boner, we do not sit down to urinate. We stand, if pissin’s all we plan to do.

And sometimes, the best laid know the rest.

Maybe it’s the way our Bodily Plumbing is designed, maybe it’s the vertical posture, but releasing one set of sphincter muscles generally loosens the other set. That’s generally not a problem, although it can make for quite a symphony along a row of occupied urinals.

But sometimes, when you’re playing that ol’ Tuchus Music, you hit a Sour Note.

And that’s when you have to decide. You've got to ask yourself a question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?

That’s when the Prudent Gentleman will perform the almost impossible task of cutting off the flow in mid-stream. (For all y’all ladies, that’s a little like Superman’s old trick of eating a chunk of coal and shitting out the Hope Diamond.) And then comes what the Famously Constipated Dooce™ calls the “Clenched-Cheek Sprint.” Tough enough at home, it can be a real challenge in a public rest room.

The consequences of failure are too horrible to contemplate.

Not that this has ever happened to me.

But I don’t think this is a problem for the wimminfolk. Am I right? Or does the Law of Omertà apply?


Naw, wait - that ain’t right.

I meant to say Carnival of the Vanities. Number 156, to be exact.

This venerable Carnival - the Ur-Carnival, the one that spawned all the others that now infest populate the Bloggy-Sphere, celebrates its third anniversary by returning to its Not-So-Humble Origins at Silflay Hraka. Bigwig shows us all how it’s done...and even throws in a dick joke at the end! Gotta love the ’Wig.

Go visit the Carnival, where you’re “warren-ted” to have a good time.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


I’ve never run a Caption Contest, but this picture seemed to cry out for one.

Miss July
Just leave your suggestions in the Comments. Prizes will consist of an Appropriate Quantity of Linkwhorage and Honor, and the decision of the judge (dat’s me!) is final.


And the winnah is Limerick Savant, for this little gem:

This photo would seem to imply
T.S. Eliot told us a lie:
Twas April, most cruel,
When I learned it in school;
Now the case could be made for July?

Thanks to everybody who left a comment. This was so much fun, I think I’ll do it again...

Tip o’ th’ Elisson fedora to Morris William for the pic.


Bored with the same old Summertime Drinks?

Elisson to the rescue, with this fine Cocktail Recipe.

Pile Driver


4 oz Sunsweet prune juice
1 oz Vodka
Squeeze of lemon juice

Shake with ice in a cocktail shaker, then strain into a Martini glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Back in the Nixon years, this used to be called a Bebe Rebozo.

Enjoy - and make sure the path to the Rest Room is well clear!


Part-Time Pundit (“just like a Full-Time Pundit but without the health plan”) hosts the latest Bonfire of the Vanities. Get out the marshmallows!


Here’s a case where the MSM got it right:
It was a broiling August afternoon in New Orleans, Louisiana, the Big Easy, the City That Care Forgot. Those who ventured outside moved as if they were swimming in tupelo honey. Those inside paid silent homage to the man who invented air-conditioning as they watched TV “storm teams” warn of a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico. Nothing surprising there: Hurricanes in August are as much a part of life in this town as hangovers on Ash Wednesday.

But the next day the storm gathered steam and drew a bead on the city. As the whirling maelstrom approached the coast, more than a million people evacuated to higher ground. Some 200,000 remained, however - the car-less, the homeless, the aged and infirm, and those die-hard New Orleanians who look for any excuse to throw a party.

The storm hit Breton Sound with the fury of a nuclear warhead, pushing a deadly storm surge into Lake Pontchartrain. The water crept to the top of the massive berm that holds back the lake and then spilled over. Nearly 80 percent of New Orleans lies below sea level - more than eight feet below in places - so the water poured in. A liquid brown wall washed over the brick ranch homes of Gentilly, over the clapboard houses of the Ninth Ward, over the white-columned porches of the Garden District, until it raced through the bars and strip joints on Bourbon Street like the pale rider of the Apocalypse. As it reached 25 feet (eight meters) over parts of the city, people climbed onto roofs to escape it.

Thousands drowned in the murky brew that was soon contaminated by sewage and industrial waste. Thousands more who survived the flood later perished from dehydration and disease as they waited to be rescued. It took two months to pump the city dry, and by then the Big Easy was buried under a blanket of putrid sediment, a million people were homeless, and 50,000 were dead. It was the worst natural disaster in the history of the United States.
Scary, isn’t it? But wait - there’s more...
When did this calamity happen? It hasn’t - yet. But the doomsday scenario is not far-fetched. The Federal Emergency Management Agency lists a hurricane strike on New Orleans as one of the most dire threats to the nation, up there with a large earthquake in California or a terrorist attack on New York City. Even the Red Cross no longer opens hurricane shelters in the city, claiming the risk to its workers is too great.
The above is from the October, 2004 National Geographic. [Tip o’ th’ Elisson fedora to Back Row of the ’Beis for the link.]

So when the President says things like “I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees,” you know he’s being completely clueless...a scary thing for a U.S. President to be.

I mean, this appeared in the National Geographic, fer crying out loud. Even Dubs knows about the Geographic; it’s not like it’s some obscure blog or something. I’m sure he spent plenty of his Pubescent Daze checking out moldering back issues for Hot Glimpses o’ Dangly Dugs.

Ah: I get it. Reads ’em for th’ pictures, wot?

Monday, September 12, 2005


Cowboy Will

Our nephew William turns three years old in three weeks.



The comment Cowtown Pattie left on an earlier thread set me to thinking. Pattie mentioned “clairvoyant” dreams, which I don’t have - but that is not to say that I have not had terrible visions that later turned out in some way to be true.

Have you ever had a premonition of a terrible event?

My only experience in this area came 42 years ago, and it was , to use Pattie’s term, a doozy...and one that shares her geography, in a way. It concerns an event that is sharply and clearly remembered by almost everyone who was alive and sentient when it took place.

On November 22, 1963, I was a sixth-grader in Massapequa, New York, on the south shore of Long Island. The day was mostly uneventful, a typical blustery late-November day.

Just before lunch, we were studying American history. As part of whatever the hell it was we were doing, we had been looking at old newspapers, many of which were World War II vintage and older.

I distinctly remember looking at a headline from 1945 that said “FDR DEAD” in huge banner type and thinking, “I can’t even imagine seeing a headline that said, ‘JFK DEAD.’” Perhaps I even said it aloud. It was a peculiar, chilling thought.

Later that afternoon we got on our buses to go home, and as we sat in our seats waiting to leave the school, the first ripples and whispers began. Word spread like fire in a match factory: President Kennedy had been shot! Was it true? Was it a bullshit rumor? Having no access to a radio, not a single Man-Jack of us could tell.

By the time I arrived home half an hour later, it was clear that this was no rumor. News of the President’s death was on the radio.

It was surreal. I had, at the time, developed a morbid fascination with the events surrounding Abraham Lincoln’s assassination (thanks in large measure to the Reader’s Digest condensed version of Jim Bishop’s book The Day Lincoln Was Shot). And now here we were, in the midst of the same sort of event, a realization that was horrifying, yet not without its little frisson of perverse excitement.

It was then that I remembered the thought I had had that morning, looking at the newspaper that announced Roosevelt’s death.


It was more than just a little creepy. Had I had a premonition of this terrible event?

Sunday, September 11, 2005


Rob was posting on the topic of dreams earlier today, a rich motherlode of writing potential.

For dreams are like opinions, in that everyone has them. Unlike opinions, however, dreams are not like assholes (everyone has one, and everyone else’s stinks). Other people’s dreams do not stink: they are either irrelevant to us (because we do not share them) or they conform to archetypes with which everyone is familiar.

We all have had experience with the flying dream, in which we magically have the power to soar like birds. In my case, flying dreams include those in which I fly under my own power, with an effect much like swimming through syrup: slow and inefficient. Or I dream that I am flying in an airplane, always moving very slowly and very close to the ground, sometimes rolling along a High-Altitude Roller-Coaster Track. Weird.

And then there in the Academic Dream. For many people, this type of dream transports the dreamer back to high school or college, right before final exams for which (of course) he or she is completely unprepared. I’ve had those dreams, and it would be no surprise to find that they are very common. Mine usually have a different twist , however: I suddenly find myself back in college, usually not when finals are approaching, but at the beginning of fall semester, when everyone is moving into their dormitory rooms. I move in, somehow, but I am overcome by a profound feeling of displacement and loss. I don’t belong there, after all, and the campus, as much as I may have loved it thirty-plus years ago, is no longer my home. In fact, where is my home? What happened to my house? And what happened to She Who Must Be Obeyed? And my children?

I always wake up from those dreams with a feeling of fear and dread. Give me a Tornado Dream any old time.


Welcome to the 77th Carnival of the Cats!

This week’s Carnival is brought to you by Hakuna and Matata, the Resident Kitties at Chez Elisson.

Hakuna on the Stairs     Matata in the Bag

Hakuna: We thought long and hard about an appropriate theme for today’s Carnival, given that it is September 11, the fourth anniversary of the horrific terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. But cats have nought to do with the evil that you stupid humans inflict upon one another, so Elisson tells us that he will save his Memorial Thoughts for another post.

Matata: The love of you Bifurcated Gods for your animal companions, in many ways, sets you apart from the rest of the animal world. The comfort our fellow creatures offer you is, in so many ways, the perfect antidote to the angst and hatred with which you poor humans must deal on a daily basis. So let these beautiful cats offer you a haven from the cares of the day-to-day world, if only for a few minutes.

And now, on with the cats!

First up is Sgt. B., our man on The Gun Line, who kicks off this edition of the Carnival with Woobies..., in which he propounds the idea that cats are “the manifestation, in this dimension, of a far older, wiser, and highly intelligent creature...” Well, I don’t know about that, but I will say that SWMBO’s kid brother Morris William had a cat named Woobie that lived to be 21 years old. Would’ve lived longer, too, but when she turned 21, he took her out to a Titty-Bar to celebrate her coming of age, whereupon she had a bad reaction to the fifth of Jack Daniel’s they shared.

Mélange offers us a beautiful (if a tad clumsy) Siamese, Chloe. Hakuna approves. Meanwhile, Chloe’s companion Scarlett shows us how to stay cool.

Julie, of, puts up a post about Smoke and Bandit as they do a little Locust Hunting. Fine sport, that.

Mathilde’s CatMathilde, of Skør i Skralden, shows us a gorgeous black kittie who is almost, but not quite, making eye contact. Probably harboring Evil Thoughts about the veterinarian. Give that cat a shot of akvavit, pronto!

At No Deep Thoughts, PJ has Rhett in a variety of Sleepy Postures. Just looking at ’em makes me want to curl up and take a nap...relaxing!

Noah, resident kitty at Manx Mnews, tells us how to help those victims of Hurricane Katrina who cannot speak for themselves. A big Manx Thanx to Noah (and Debra!) for this timely post.

The cats at Texas Oasis know just how to make the most effective use of a Cat Bed. Check this post out to see how it’s done.

Michael Turner of Curiouser & Curiouser gives us a picture of Harley, parked on the Porcelain Throne awaiting Michael’s emergence from the shower. And then there’s this picture of Gizmo, the new arrival at his brother-in-law’s household. Insufferably cute!

Lab Kat reaches back into the Archives for a picture of a youthful Pica.

Jazz, of Running Scared, contributes this picture of Colin, napping whilst rolled up in a rug. Looks kinda like a giant Kitty-Spliff.

SmackySmacky shows off his snazzy new collar, as well as his great Stretching Skills, at Lunar Obverse.

According to Maggie Katzen (now there’s a great catbloggin’ name!), Flat Rugs Do Not Good Pillows Make. Ahhh, I dunno. That cat looks plenty comfortable to me.

At Middle-Fork, the Robot Vegetable has a tale to tell of Tinker, and the Veg lets Tinker’s tail tell it. Be sure to check out some of the other fine photographs on this site.

Dolphins are not the only critters who play Where The Dolphins Play. Dem cats play there, too.

Miss O’Hara digs into the archives to show us Remington as a ball of fluff. I hate to overuse the word “cute,” but sometimes it’s the only descriptor that will do.
Just try to beat Ferdy (that most Conservative Cat) in a staring contest. Dare ya. That glare’ll fry a liberal at twenty paces.

Claude looks like the cat that ate the canary in this post at pages turned. Handsome, that!

“Canary? Nothing doing,” says Atticus at Josh’s Weblog. I understand. He probably prefers Finch to Canary.

Gullyborg, at Resistance is futile!, has Memphis invoking the spirit of Percy Bysshe Shelley. Ah, Shelley:
Percy Bysshe
Would take a pysshe
In Lake Geneva’s water.
Then, without fail,
Begin to nail
Good Mr. Godwin’s daughter.
[Look upon my poem, Ye Esteemed Reader, and despair!]

Tiny KittyAt The Common Room, The Head Girl shows us a photograph of a Tiny Kitty that was taken by First Year Girl, who is all of nine years old (!) The young lady definitely shows promise as a Cat Photographer.

You’ve all heard of seeing-eye dogs, but Alicia, the Grand Panjandrum over at The Venus and Mercury Cat Blog, tells us the story of Mercury, the Seeing-Eye Cat.

Warning: Do not visit eatstuff if you have a propensity for developing the Chocolate Jones. I mean, clare eats has a lotta stuff posted here that has nought to do with kitties, and it is Not for the Faint of Heart. On the other hand, you should at least check out Kiri, who knows how to break in a bedspread. eatstuff apparently also runs a weekly catpost roundup, so please welcome this worthy companion to the Friday Ark and Carnival of the Cats.

TemiAydin Örstan, at Snail’s Tales, sends us this lovely Birthday Photo of Artemis (“Temi”), who is a graceful Kitty Senior Citizen. She still has a kitten’s sparkle in those eyes, sez I.

Kat, at The Wisdom of Change, submits for our approval a series of pictures of two brand-new kitties: one a tortie, the other a ginger-and-white tabby, both Exceedingly Cute in the way only kitties can be. Good luck with your furniture, Kat.

Let’s all go to Scribblings and play Hide-and-Seek! Just an observation: Tuxedos make lousy camouflage...

“A Birdbath is not a Catbath.”
“It is, if I take a bath in it,” quoth Pumpkin over at fader77. Never mind that there’s no water in it. Cats generally avoid water...and birds generally avoid cats.

The lovely and talented Sissy Willis, of sisu, posts on the impact of Hurricane Katrina on cats and other Animal Companions. Sissy is a superb photographer, not only of her cats, but of Things In General; I encourage you to look over her fine site.

I think I gots da hots for Mensa Barbie. Is that really a picture of Menessa barbay her ownself, or a cleverly-created Photoshop? No matter. Go and visit Mensa Barbie Welcomes You and feast your eyes on a made-over Butterscotch. Afterwards, you may need a belt of real Scotch.

The beauteous Maddie gets herself entangled in the dreaded Venus Cat-Trap in this post at StrangeRanger.

Sharon’s KittySharon, who writes over at Adventures of a Domestic Engineer, did not send me this link, but I happened to catch it as I was zooping through my Bloglines feeds. I couldn’t resist. Cute little bugger, innit?

Pretty much anyone who is reading this post is familiar with Piper, one of Laurence Simon’s Trio of Troublemakers. Lair sends in this pic of Piper pickin’ paws. Prrrrr!

Gir, of Your Moosey Fate, sends us this pair of Canajan Kitty Cats, showing off for the new camera.

Tommy (another Canajan, eh?) shows us how a cat can make itself Practically Invisible at Striving For Average. It’s the same technique used by the fabled Ostrich-Bird: if I don’t look at you, then perhaps you can’t see me...

Nikita, resident kitty at Sneakeasy’s Joint, makes a plea for the Humane Society of the United States, one of the key organizations working to rescue abandoned animals in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Mira, of The Oubliette, tells us the story of how Maleficent came to be rescued from a shelter, eventually ending up as the photogenic Animal Companion of Mira’s brother-in-law Luke. Lest we forget Noah, there’s also a picture of him sleeping off a Bumptious Evening.

It wouldn’t be a Carnival without Mog’s kitties. Here they are, parked on the sofa (look closely - there are three cats there!), and here’s Mr. Innocent-Pants, looking...well, innocent. Heh.

BJ, at Quite Early One Morning, presents a fine picture of Pi monkeying around on a Foo Lion. I am impressed that a lion may be familiar with the work of the late, great Bill Holman - perhaps Pi is similarly impressed.

MitziMy dear friend Rahel Jaskow, of Elms in the Yard, introduces us to Mitzi, a kitten who lives at the railway station. What may appear to be a dustpan has been pressed into service as a Kitty-Bed.

Rahel is a great fan of Hakuna and Matata, and she will be pleased to know that Hakuna weathered her trip to the vet yesterday with no problems at all. (Catching her and getting her to go was the hard part, of course.) The kitties are great fans of hers as well; they love listening to her ethereally beautiful voice, and you can too.

Panda, BicycleGirl’s cat over at TrailGrams, appears to be a basket case.

SB, the resident genius at Watermark (and host of next week’s Carnival!) proposes a novel way to help the animals post-Katrina, with Critters for Critters.

What would life be without Music and Cats? I’m not sure I ever want to know, especially if it means doing without Lyra, Sasha, and Sergei - and the lovely Kimberly, whose site would be worth visiting if only for the header photographs. Here, Lyra (with a little help from Sergei) investigates the World o’ Literature.

Let’s check in with Hakuna and Matata, shall we?

This loveseat did not appear to have enough Cat Hair on it. Problem solved.

Matata: Thanks once again for visiting, Esteemed Readers!

Hakuna: Be sure to visit next week’s Carnival, to be hosted by Watermark. SB’s a poet, and don’t we all know it!

[Linked to the TTLB ÜberCarnival Home Page]