Tuesday, January 31, 2006


If you read yesterday’s post, you already know that She Who Must Be Obeyed and I went to see the Sofia Symphony Orchestra and Chorus Ballet Arabesk perform at the Fabulous Fox Theatre.

Yes, they performed Ravel’s Bolero, that quintessential Fuck-Tune (thank you, Blake Edwards!) - but the main reason I had gone in search of ducats for the event was because the Bill-Topper was a performance of Carmina Burana.

Carmen Miranda
© Estate of Carmen Miranda c/o CMG Worldwide.

No, Carmina Burana is not the Brazilian Bombshell who took Hollywood by storm in the 1940’s and early ’50’s. That would be Carmen Miranda.

Chiquita Banana
­© Chiquita Brands International.

No, it’s not the trademark of Chiquita Brands International. That would be Chiquita Banana...and I’ll bet you still remember that dopey Chiquita Banana jingle.

And, no, it’s not Carmen, the opera by Bizet. You will see no hot-blooded Gypsy cigarette-factory worker, no Don José, no Escamillo. No Toreador song, either:
Don’t spit on the floor.
Use-a da cuspidor.
That’s what it’s for.
What we had gone to see was Carl Orff’s scenic cantata. Not quite ballet, not quite opera, Carmina Burana has characteristics of both. Orff composed the 25 movements of the piece for soprano, baritone, and tenor soloists, boy’s choir, choir, and orchestra. Damn, that’s a huge crowd, and we haven’t even got to the Dancing and Running Around Business yet!

Carmina BuranaThe basis for the work is a 13th-century collection of poems - the “Songs of Beuren” - discovered in the early 1800’s in a Benedictine monastery. Orff snarfed 25 of the 250 some-odd poems to create the libretto, which is in Latin with a sprinkling of Middle High German. Carmina Burana is a celebration of the ups and downs of Fortune; of drinking to excess; of lampooning the Church; of enjoying the Pleasures of the Flesh. It’s downright earthy. Not for nothing did Orff subtitle the piece “Cantiones Profanaes” - Profane Songs. No surprise that it’s a perfect companion piece for Bolero, Shtup-Music Extraordinaire.

Carmina Burana made its premiere in 1937. The Nazis were in power in Germany, and Orff’s magnum opus became, over time, the most successful piece of music produced under the Third Reich. At first, critics were unimpressed, but then word got around that the Powers that Be actually liked the piece. It presented - so they said - a picture of Primeval Aryan Life. Before there were even Jews to torment, it seems.

All has been forgiven by now, with Carmina Burana having been performed in Israel many times, first in 1966.

You’re familiar with Carmina Burana - parts of it, anyway - owing to the numerous times the opening movement, “O Fortuna,” has been used in the movies and in commercials. It has a sort of febrile, demonic feel to it, which may explain why you think (mistakenly) that it’s the music you hear in The Omen.

We enjoyed the show, although at least one movement was just outside the Envelope o’ Capability of the baritone soloist. Too much Bulgarian food, I suppose.

Strangely, however, I left the theatre thinking of - of all people! - Raffi, the beloved children’s entertainer. There’s a song, you see...

Ring ring ring ring ring ring ring
Burana phone
Ring ring ring ring ring ring ring
Burana phone

I’ve got this feeling
so appealing
for us to get together and sing - SING!

Ring ring ring ring ring ring ring
Burana phone
Ding dong ding dong ding dong ding
Durana phone

O Fortuna
velut luna
statu variabilis
semper crescis
aut decrescis;
vita detestabilis
nunc obdurat
et tunc curat

Ring ring ring ring ring ring ring
Burana phone
Ping pong ping pong ping pong ping
Purana phone

It’s no baloney
It ain’t a phony
My cellular
Buranular phone

Monday, January 30, 2006


BoleroIt’s Monday evening, and we’re at the Fox Theatre in midtown Atlanta, enjoying a performance of Ravel’s Bolero by the The Sofia Symphony Orchestra and Chorus Ballet Arabesk.

Yes, Elisson and the Missus do put on the Culture Hat every so often.

And most of us are familiar with Ravel’s Bolero, which was used to masterful effect in the soundtrack to the movie 10 back in 1979...with the semi-unfortunate result that Bolero has been regarded as The Ultimate Shtup-Music for the last quarter-century. I’m sure we can’t blame Blake Edwards for this, if for no other reason than the fact that any piece of music that starts off quietly and builds to a resounding climax in fifteen minutes is going to be Metaphorically Fuckly.

Me, I prefer the shorter, punchier - but amazingly faithful - Frank Zappa cover, from The Best Band You’ve Never Heard In Your Life. It clocks in at 5 minutes, 18 seconds - right on the money, if you get my meaning, if you catch my drift.

But my point in this post (and yes, I have one) was not to blather on and on about Musical Analogies for Ficky-Fick.

It was to say that, in the midst of all of this carefully choreographed Dancy-Business, the Missus leans over to me and says, sotto voce, “Doesn’t this remind you of The Ministry of Silly Walks”?

Silly Walks

How we managed to watch the rest of the performance without (1) Laughing Out Loud, or (2) Pissing Ourselves, is beyond human understanding. Is it any wonder why I love her?

Sunday, January 29, 2006


Now that Rob Smith has whored his blog out decided to host some discreet advertising on his sidebar, I guess it’s time to face facts: there is no place that will not host an advertisement.

These days, cities routinely whore out naming rights for Athletic Venues. And what are naming rights, after all, but advertising writ large? Not only does it bring in revenue, but it occasionally results in unintended humor, as when Enron suddenly began to stink in the nostrils of the Body Politic. Enron Field in Houston became Minute Maid Stadium before you could say “Fuck! What happened to my 401k?!!?”

But if you want to see some Targeted Advertising, take a lesson from the geniuses at LMTT.com.

LMTT.com is a website - Last Minute Tee Times - that offers free online booking and discounts on greens fees at various golf clubs in the Atlanta metropolitan area. I’ve used their services on occasion. This morning at the gym, I stopped by the Locker Room to drain the lizard and could not help but notice their 16 x 20 inch advertisement positioned prominently above the urinal, right at eye level. Since Micturition Protocol requires that you stand at the urinal facing forward, not allowing your gaze to drift to either side lest you be adjudged to be a Fluffy Personage, the Eye-Bones are going to be nailed to that ad for a good thirty seconds. In terms of keeping a pair of eyes on a given message long enough for it to sink in, a Urinal Ad has got to be a far better deal than a 30-second TV spot.

The ad itself was clever enough. The tagline was, “Let us put a different club in your hand tomorrow,” which simultaneously played off the triple-entendre of “club” as in “piece of sports equipment with which the golf ball is struck,” “place at which golf is played,” and “dick.” For while one is reading the ad, one indeed has a Club-Like Implement of Destruction in hand. [I do, anyway.]

But the photograph in the ad was the most arresting - and location-appropriate - feature. For it showed a golfer standing fifty yards from the green, standing behind a tree, holding two clubs in one hand while quite obviously in Urination Posture.

Now, that’s targeted advertising.


You’ve gotta hand it to Laurence Simon, who not only takes Catblogging seriously, he takes his position as Ringmaster and Grand Panjandrum of the Carnival of the Cats seriously as well.

Political Fred was on the rota to host the 97th Carnival, but he was MIA. And with no good contact info, there was no way to track him down to find out Wha’ Hoppen?

I’m thinking he’d better have a better excuse than the tried-and-true Dead Grandma™.

Meanwhile, Laurence, not one to let a Kitty Carnival languish simply because the scheduled host defaulted, jumped right into the fray and put together a 51-entry Carnival in record time. This, despite (or maybe because of) the fact that his normal Daily Bloggy Output is enough to crush most people.

So go visit the Carnival. Enjoy all the kitties, and pay homage to a blogger who Takes This Shit Seriously.


Or, how an aching back resulted in a redecorated bedroom...and a reminder of Time’s Passage.

She Who Must Be Obeyed has more than a little in common with the well-known Princess of the Princess and the Pea story. Her back is capable of detecting imperfections the size of Subatomic Particles in the bed. Unlike the aforementioned Princess, however, SWMBO does not gripe about those imperfections until things are completely intolerable.

Several months ago, SWMBO noticed that her back would bother her upon arising in the morning. At first, she said nothing of it, but eventually, the aches and twinges were too much to ignore. And of course, the Usual Suspect in a case like this is the mattress. Ours was over a dozen years old, and that’s about the upper limit of useful life for an innerspring mattress.

Of course, that’s about the last thing I wanted to hear.

First of all, just over one month prior, I had been involved in a massive Mattress Schlep-A-Thon in preparation for the Invasion of the Family in late December. To wit:
  • Futon and frame from Elder Daughter’s bedroom to the basement.
  • Full mattress, box spring, frame, and headboard from the basement to Elder Daughter’s room.
  • Twin mattress, box spring, and incredibly heavy bedframe from the Mistress of Sarcasm’s room to the basement.
  • King mattress, box spring, and frame from Gary and JoAnn’s house (upstairs, no less) to the Mistress of Sarcasm’s room. (All of this was transported the ½-mile distance between houses in a single trip using my Honda Element. Holy Crap!)
So the idea of dealing with more Mattress-Shuffling was appalling enough...and then, of course, there’s the expense. A good mattress is not cheap, even if you don’t spring (heh...he said “spring”...) for one of those Sleep Number jobs, or one with the Magic Fingers massage thingie built in. I looked forward to the ordeal of mattress shopping with the same enthusiasm I usually reserve for colonoscopies.

Thus it was that, on a dreary winter day in mid-January, the Missus and I found ourselves in Ye Olde Mattress Manufactory and Retail Outlet, hard by Interstate 75 in the wilds of May-Retta, Georgia. We bought our mattress...and then headed off to Harry’s Farmers Market to score some Subcontinental Goodies for a certain Heterosexual Caucasian Guy who was, even at that moment, absorbing mass quantities of Macallan at the Palm Bar in Buckhead.

Fast forward a couple of days, to the following Tuesday. The New Mattress arrived at Chez Elisson at 7:45 am sharp, whereupon we played yet another round of Musical Beds:
  • New mattress and box spring to the master bedroom.
  • Old Queen mattress and box spring from master bedroom to Elder Daughter’s room.
  • Full mattress and box spring from Elder Daughter’s room to the Mattress Graveyard.
Now, all of this Bedly Hitchy-Switchy was bad enough, but the disassembled bed in Elder Daughter’s room gave the Missus an idea. “Let’s paint!”

I don’t know about you, but there are only two words that inspire more bowel-clenching Fear and Loathing than “Let’s Paint!” And those would be “Let’s wallpaper!”

But SWMBO had a point. There were only two bedrooms that had so far escaped the brush and roller in our 7-plus year tenure at the current Chez Elisson, and Elder Daughter’s room was one of them. It needed to be freshened up…badly.

And, to be honest, there is something truly wonderful about She Who Must Be Obeyed when she wields a brush. Housepainting is in her very DNA, her PawPaw having been a professional and her Daddy having been a dab hand with a paintbrush as well (heh...he said “dab hand”...) It’s almost as though she is channeling the spirits of her ancestors when the paint starts flowing.

It’s Sunday evening now, and the room is done. Two coats. All the furniture put back. And yet...

It’s really not the same room anymore. By way of getting ready to paint, SWMBO packed up all of Elder Daughter’s remaining detritus and got it ready for Suspended Animation in the basement. Elder Daughter has been on her own now for – what? - almost five years, and, barring some catastrophe (kayn ayin hora), she’s not likely to move back in. It’s time, in other words, for her to Decide What To Do With Her Stuff.

It is bittersweet, to be sure, when you realize that one of your babies has flown the nest. Notwithstanding the fact that it’s the natural order of things, and it’s something all sane parents devoutly hope for and wait for...it is still evidence of the Great Turning of the Wheel, the Wheel that will, one day, crush you underneath its treads. And nothing brings that realization home quite so much as redecorating a room that your child will always be welcome in, but will no longer be resident in.

I smell the fresh paint and I admire the nice, new room, the room that is the (indirect) result of SWMBO’s aching back. And I have to wipe away a tear.

Friday, January 27, 2006


Kal’s forehead glistened with sweat as he strained with momentary effort.


That would take care of the house payment.

Strain. Clink.

That would take care of the car payment. Not that he needed a car, but it was important for appearance’s sake. It was nothing special, but, well, he had reached the age at which men of his station in life were expected to have a car. Pain in the ass, he thought.

Strain. Clink. That was for next summer vacation.

Strain. Clink. Liability insurance…with a $100 million umbrella.

Strain. Clink.
Strain. Clink.
Strain. Clink.

Those were for the lawyers. The stinking, miserable lawyers.

Damn, he thought. How did it ever come to this?

I have skills. I used to contribute to society. People liked me, dammit! They loved me!

And then, inevitably, came the lawsuits. You couldn’t fart in an elevator in America without someone sending a process server to nail you with a Summons to Appear. What the hell happened to this country? What the hell happened to Truth and Justice?

The American Way, he chuckled bitterly to himself, is paved with good intentions, and it leads directly to the courthouse. And from there, the poorhouse. Except for the damned lawyers. They never seemed to be hurting.

Strain. Clink.

And then there were the doctors. All of those medical geniuses. Back in the 1940’s and ’50’s when they had those fluoroscopes in the shoe stores, nobody worried about X-rays…and then they found out that they caused cancer. Cancer!

No good deed goes unpunished, he muttered ruefully under his breath.

All the lawsuits. All the payoffs. After it got to be too much, he decided to hang it up and go fishing…but fishing didn’t pay the bills.

Eating charcoal briquets and shitting out diamonds – now, that paid the bills.

Kal-El strained again. Clink. He stood up, turned around, and looked in the pan. Nice, a 2-carat water-white with minimal carbon inclusions. That would pay for Friday night’s dinner with Lois (she liked sushi, of all things!)…and a fancy hotel room.

Maybe he’d get lucky.


I was at the gym yesterday afternoon, sweating though the front end of my workout, when I got a Perverse Feeling.

Surrounded as I was by perspiring females (wimmen don’t sweat, as we all know: they perspire), I managed to stay focused on the Task at Hand...pumping that stationary bicycle.

I had my handy-dandy iPod with me, cranking out the usual twisted assortment of music. Beatles, Zappa, Chemical Brothers. Earbuds in, volume cranked up. Sweet.

And then...and then!...on comes Dean Martin, crooning “Memories Are Made Of This.”

And for some strange reason, I started thinking of terrible, evil acts...acts that could only be perpetrated with Dean-O’s mellow voice in the background...acts that would leave a taste in the mouth that could only be removed by copious dosages of Indian Food and Scotch Whisky.

Yes, I do believe I’ll have a couple of fingers of that 10-year old. Prepubescent Macallan...that’s Scotch, Esteemed Ones...


Hey, kids!

What time is it?

No, it’s not Howdy Doody Time. It’s time for the Friday Random Ten, a selection of Choons from the Little White Choon-Box d’Elisson:
  1. Fade Into You - Pedro the Lion
  2. The Road To Hickburg - Laurence Simon
  3. Epilogue (Part 2 - NASA) - Jeff Wayne’s The War Of The Worlds
  4. The Idiot Bastard Son - Frank Zappa
  5. Ebony - Ahmad Jamal
  6. King Without A Crown - Matisyahu
  7. Windows - Chick Corea
  8. I’m Waiting For The Man - The Velvet Underground
  9. When You’re Smiling - Louis Prima
  10. Cour D’Amours - Amor Volat Undique - Christian Thielemann - Orff: Carmina Burana
Maybe it’s just coincidence that last night, I had fished Napoleon Murphy Brock’s business card out of a box in my closet. “Uncle Nappy” - Elder Daughter’s nickname for him - toured with Frank Zappa back in the 1970’s and was a familiar voice on several FZ albums. I’ve heard him perform “The Idiot Bastard Son” several times, most recently as part of Project Object. It’s only fitting that I provide the lyrics (and associated Background Goings-On), as performed on the classic Mothers of Invention album We’re Only In It For The Money:

The idiot bastard son:

The idiot bastard son:

Motorhead: I never won it because I was too small to start with.

?: How, look out!

Motorhead: I used to drink some bad stuff...Wine, all kinds of wine! I would mix seven different varieties...

Bunk: Had the hots for [...]

JCB: Wah, wah, wah.

Bunk?: over by the [...]

Motorhead: Thunderbird wine...I don’t know but I chugged a fifth of White Port once and passed out one day (heh heh)...and I drank a quart of beer just before that...and we were out riding around in the desert.

Bunk: Anyway...Thomas’s wine mix is...very strange...

Try and imagine
The window all covered in green
All the time he would spend
At the church he’d attend...
Warming his pew

Kenny will feed him & Ronnie will watch
And enter the world
Of liars & cheaters & people like you
Who smile & think you know
What this is about

The song we sing: DO YOU KNOW?
We’re listening...

Try and imagine
The window all covered in green
All the time he would spend
All the colors he’d blend...
Where are they now?

Gary Kellgren: Right now I have two hit records on the charts, but it has not made me any money. It has only brought me fame and glory, and a lot of work. Which I do, really not care to tell...

It’s Friday. What are you listening to?


The First-Ever Kosher Cooking Carnival is up at me-ander. I’m pleased to say that two - count ’em, two - of my recipes adorn this Premiere Edition. I guess that makes me a Charter Member of the KKKK - the Kosher Kookin’ Karnival Klub.

What, no chopped liver? Well, I guess muse needs to save something for next month.


On a Friday morning, nothing is greater
Than to visit the Ark at The Modulator,
Where Steve compiles all the pictures of critters
Who emit barks, grunts, meows, and twitters.

Thursday, January 26, 2006


Beheimah, in case you were wondering – sure you were! – is the Hebrew word for Domestic Animals. Horses, cows, oxen, et alia.

Once upon a time, the Family d’Elisson owned a horse. No, really!

The Mistress of Sarcasm, back in her Snot-Nose Days, somehow developed an interest in riding. She worked with a trainer for several years, and after a while we took the inexorable next step of leasing one horse, then another. And then Morris William, brother of She Who Must Be Obeyed, came forward with a proposition.

Morris William and his wife Rebecca, you see, are in the business of raising Arabian horses. And they had one – a yearling – that they were prepared to sell us for an attractive price. So we took the plunge and bought us a Real, Live Horsie.

Buying a horse is a little like buying one of those fancy-ass Gillette M3 Turbo razors. It ain’t the initial cost that gets you, it’s the upkeep. Batteries. Razor blades - at two bucks a pop, yet. And the upkeep on a horse can be steep...not to mention the additional expenses of tack, boarding fees, training, show fees, und so weiter. But it was worth it all to see the Mistress in her first Class A Horse Show.

We showed Mi Anam – for that was the big fella’s name - in plenty of places. The Texas State Fair. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (pictured). It was Big Fun.

The Mistress and Anam

When we moved to Atlanta, Mi Anam came with us.

We managed to secure a boarding stable just a mile from the house and negotiated a good deal on the boarding fees. Part of our arrangement was that we would see to the feeding and stall-mucking ourselves. The Mistress held up her end of the deal – she’s the one who did the stall-mucking – but oftentimes, it was me and She Who Must Be Obeyed who handled the feeding end.

Once in the morning and once in the evening, one of us would go over to the stable and lob a pad of hay into the feed bin, followed by a scoop of feed. When the feed supply ran out, we would go to Ye Olde Feed and Grain Shoppe and pick up a 50-lb sack each of oats and sweet grain. Oof.

It was our practice to feed the horse first and to have our meal afterward. Why? You may well ask.

Just to set the record straight, I am a speciesist. I believe that homo sapiens is the preeminent beast on the planet by virtue of his intelligence and tool-making ability. Except for the occasional attack by wild beasts, we’re at the top of the food chain - which means we get to eat or exploit the animals below us. But there’s a huge difference between exploitation and unnecessary cruelty, and that’s where our Big Fat Honkin’ Brains, which are capable of understanding moral distinctions and ethical behavior, come to the rescue.

I read an interesting post by Amanda at customerservant.com that speaks of the commandment (mitzvah) to emulate Divine compassion. Boiled down to its essentials, the key principle is that of walking “in the ways of The Compassionate One, for the Divine benevolence and compassion extends to all creatures...” Closely related to this is the prohibition against cruelty to animals – tzaar baalei chayyim. And whether you’re a religious person or not, the way you treat animals is going to be closely related to the way you treat your fellow humans.

We fed the horse first – just as we feed the cats first – because the horse cannot feed himself, and the thought of us enjoying a hearty breakfast while our horse milled about, famished, in his stall, was unacceptable. In like wise, it’s hard to justify slurping hot coffee and chowing down on the morning Colon Blow when the cats are meowing piteously for their skeevy dry kibble.

And so, when we arose in the morning, the first question was, “Whose turn is it to feed the beheimah?

We sold Mi Anam several years ago, the Mistress having gone off to college and having moved on to other pursuits. But we still have our cats, and the first question we ask each other in the morning is still, “Whose turn is it to feed the beheimah?


...is paved with good intentions.

Democracy, we Westerners like to think, is an unalloyed Good Thing, and spreading it to the benighted corners of the Mideast where it does not exist – pretty much every place except Israel – is a positive development.

Be careful, sez I, what you wish for.

Hamas, the terrorist organization that is committed to a Palestine completely free of Israel, won a majority of seats in the Palestinian elections held yesterday. At least that’s clear: we now know (in case there was any doubt before) that the majority of Palestinians have no interest in a peaceful two-state solution. Their idea of peace is all Jews floating in the Mediterranean.

David Bogner of treppenwitz says it far better that I can:
In a legally executed, internationally supervised democratic process, the majority of Palestinian adults calmly and thoughtfully committed themselves to pursuing a one-state solution built on the ashes of a defeated Israel.
Go read the whole thing.

The good news is, it’s very different when you’re charged with the responsibility of running a nascent nation-state, compared with simply planning and executing random terrorist acts. By all means, let’s have a Palestinian state, with Hamas in charge. Then, when these sons-a-bitches lob a couple of Qassam rockets over the border, Israel will be perfectly within their rights to go to war with ’em and snuff ’em out.

And then, of course, the Euro-weenies will gripe and bitch yet more about the Jooooooos. “Cet animal est trés méchant; quand on l’attaque, il se defend!”

I am profoundly depressed...


Check out Carnival of Comedy #39 over at Radioactive Liberty. Then, run your Bloggy Little Buns over to Carnival of Satire #18 at the skwib. You might want to bring a Puke-Bucket and a few Handi-Wipes...or perhaps a Cocktail Napkin.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


For the past couple of days, a Meat Jones has been building up within me.

I don’t eat nearly as much Red Meat as I used to. It tends to afflict me with sluggish digestion, a logy disposition, and a case of the Lard-Ass. Fish, therefore, makes up a significant proportion of the protein content at Chez Elisson.

Take today, for example. My friend Irwin was observing the Yahrzeit of his father-in-law, and, by local custom, he invited the attendees of the Morning Minyan to breakfast. It’s a way to thank the people who ensure that a quorum of adult worshipers is present so that one may say Kaddish for one’s relatives on the anniversary of their passing.

And so, therefore, we descended en masse to the Local Bagel and Smoked Fish Emporium, where we enjoyed huge platters of Fishy Delicacies. Nova Scotia smoked salmon. Kippered salmon. Smoked whitefish. Kippered salmon salad. Tuna salad. Pickled herring. Sable.

It was a Fishy Orgy to make the angels weep.

But as the afternoon rolled around, that Meat Jones could not be denied, and so, I began preparations for a Beefy Dinner.

Pan-grilled skirt steak with sautéed shallots.

Brown rice and lentil pilaf.

Haricots verts – them skinny-ass green beans.

As a before-dinner treat, I whipped up a couple of Blueberry Pomegranate Martinis. You get your full day’s ration of antioxidants and Vitamin E (ethanol) with these Bad Boys. To make one, take a cocktail shaker full of ice and add two shots of vodka and two shots of Pom blueberry pomegranate juice. You can play around with the flavor of the juice – plain pomegranate, cherry pomegranate, or mango pomegranate – and with the vodka. I’ve used Stoly Rasberi with good results.

Add a squeeze of lemon juice, shake well, and strain into a chilled Martini glass. Serve with a lemon twist. Looks like a Girly-Man drink, sez you? Don’t be fooled. This can lay you low in a hurry.

Pom Martini

Now to pan-grill those steaks. I coat ’em with a sprinkling of kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper, then some ground thyme. (SWMBO gets no thyme on hers…she is notoriously averse to herby flavors.) Toss ’em in a hot pan with a little olive oil, and let ’em sizzle.

Steaks in the Pan

Once the meat is sufficiently done, I remove it to a waiting plate. Into the pan goes about a quarter-cup of chopped shallots, which I cook down until they’re soft and have absorbed all of the yummy meat juices from the pan. This then gets dumped on top of the steaks.

The green beans and pilaf finish up right on time. To the table they go, alongside the Meat Platter.

Steaks on the Plate

The Missus adds the perfect lagniappe: a half Haas avocado, nice and creamy-ripe, with a little fresh pepper to set off the mellow flavor. And thus we sit down to dine, just the two of us.

Steak Dinner

Yeah, baby!


The morning ritual of feeding Hakuna and Matata is pretty much the same every day.

5:30 am: Matata begins traipsing about the bed, purring, growling, and acting like an ass, in general.

5:40 am: Matata knocks Elisson’s glasses off nightstand.

5:45 am: Alarm goes off. SWMBO whacks the snooze button.

5: 54 am: Alarm goes off again. SWMBO and Elisson get up. Elisson shambles downstairs to feed the cats.

6:00 am: After a cursory examination of their Dishes o’ Kibble, Hakuna and Matata head back upstairs to inform SWMBO that they will not eat their breakfast until she blesses the food with her August Presence.

At 5:00 in the afternoon, the story pretty much repeats itself, with the exception that the Missus is not there, and so her blessing is unavailable. The cats proceed to eat without it.

But there’s more to the story. The girls have evolved a little ritual with respect to their eating. Sure, they’ll eat side-by-side, but after a short while, Hakuna backs off. And then…

Matata eats…

Kitty Dining 1

Matata tastes Hakuna’s food to make sure it’s not poisoned…

Kitty Dining 2

Hakuna finally decides that it’s safe to eat.

Kitty Dining 3


This week’s edition of the Carnival of the Vanities is up at Blueprint for Financial Prosperity.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


I have the reputation - justified or no - for being a Fount o’ Useless Knowledge. Trivia. Niggling Bullshit.

But there are some Random Facts about myself that even I didn’t know:

Ten Top Trivia Tips about Elisson!

  1. Most bottles and jars contain at least twenty-five percent recycled Elisson!
  2. It takes 8 minutes for light to travel from the Sun's surface to Elisson!
  3. The condom - originally made from Elisson - was invented in the early 1500s!
  4. Only twelve people have ever set foot on Elisson.
  5. If the annual Australian Elisson crop was laid end to end, it would stretch around the world seven times.
  6. The average duration of sexual intercourse for Elisson is two minutes.
  7. Elisson can't drink - he absorbs water from his surroundings by osmosis.
  8. American Airlines saved forty thousand dollars a year by eliminating Elisson from each salad served in first class.
  9. It's bad luck for a flag to touch Elisson!
  10. A chimpanzee can learn to recognize itself in a mirror, but Elisson can not.
I am interested in - do tell me about

And then there’s Number 11: Elisson knows how to handle himself should he have to drop a deuce in Dacca.

This amusing little gizmo is the Mechanical Contrivium, and the Elisson Fedora-Tip goes out to Sharon (Adventures of a Domestic Engineer) for finding it.



Giant Jellyfish

is Damn Scary. The Jellyfish as Big as the Ritz!

At first I thought, “This has gotta be Photoshopped. No frickin’ way this is real!”

But if it’s fake, then it’s fooled the biggies of the MSM.

Seems that there has been a veritabobble plague of these giant jellyfish - Echizen kurage, or Nomura’s Jellyfish - visited upon the shores of Japan this year. CNN.com reports that
...representatives of fishing communities around the country gathered in Tokyo on Thursday, hoping to thrash out solutions to a pest that has spread from the Japan Sea to the Pacific coast.

“It’s a terrible problem. They’re like aliens,” Noriyuki Kani of the fisheries federation in Toyama, northwest of Tokyo, told Reuters ahead of the conference.
Yeah, aliens. Honkin’ big aliens. Jeebus.

If SpongeBob Squarepants were a real personage, he would be shitting himself in fear upon hearing of the existence of these Big Fellas. Almost as scary as that other jelly...you know, the one from Kentucky.

[Tip o’ th’ Elisson fedora to Philip at The Blue Sloth for the link.]

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Dear Mr. Debonair,

Sometimes, when I find myself traveling to exotic locales, in particular those where Western-style facilities are unavailable, I am unsure how to comport myself in the restrooms. What do you recommend I do?

A Heterosexual Caucasian Gentleman

Dear Heterosexual Caucasian Gentleman,

Mr. Debonair knows that not all places offer the comforts - and the Comfort Stations - of home. But if you follow my advice, you’ll never have a problem.

Say you find yourself in a Tropical Paradise...Bangladesh, for example...where the facilities consist of a hole in the floor and a bucket of water with a ladle.

If you have been following Mr. Debonair’s Travel Tips (available for $5.00, payable in cheque or Money Order in US funds, and accompanied by a stamped, self-addressed envelope), you already have on your person the Indispensable Traveler’s Friend: a Cocktail Napkin.

Carefully lower your trousers, taking care that you do not trample them unnecessarily into the evil detritus that is generally to be found on the floor of what our Indonesian friends refer to as the “Kamar Kecil.” Position youself carefully over the hole and let fly.

Once you have performed your Personal Business – and by this we mean Personal Business of the Defecative Variety – take your Cocktail Napkin in hand, and carefully remove a ¼-inch piece of paper from the center of the napkin. Reserve this; you will need it later.

Now, take your left middle finger and poke it through the hole you have made in the napkin. (See illustration.)

Using this finger, cleanse your Nether Orifice thoroughly. Once you have completed the task, carefully withdraw your finger from the hole in the napkin, whilst simultaneously using the napkin to remove the Offensive Personal Business from your finger. You are almost finished.

Take the reserved ¼-inch piece of napkin and roll it into a tight cylinder. Use this to clean underneath the fingernail of the left middle finger.

Discard the napkin, and you are good to go!

Oh, that bucket of water? Needless to say, all of this activity - especially in Tropical Climes - is likely to work up quite a thirst! Feel free to utilize the thoughtfully-provided water as a Refreshing Beverage.


...is up at Right Thoughts.

Monday, January 23, 2006


There are certain questions that help us see where we stand in the Cultural Landscape.

I was thinking about this as I was going out to score some Take-Out Pizza. Today is National Pie Day, and She Who Must Be Obeyed and I were determined to observe the occasion appropriately. Pizza is probably not the kind of pie the American Pie Council had in mind when they signed the august documents that created National Pie Day - they being more of a Flour-and-Shortening kind of outfit versus a Yeast-Risen Dough operation - but Pie, at the end of the day, is Pie.

And Greenwood’s on Green Street was closed, which meant that there would be no Serious Chocolate by Gawd Cream Pie at the end of this day.

So Pizza it was.

Now, I’m an inveterate Neapolitano when it comes to my Abeetz. I like that nice, thin, floppy crust, with the cheese and tomato in a perfect marriage of oragey, oily goodness. Plenty of oregano undertones. Aaaahhh. It’s the New York upbringing, you see. Where I come from, the only real Pizza Decision was whether you wanted the round, thin-crusted Neapolitan pie or the rectangular, thick-crusted Sicilian. Toppings were a secondary consideration; the key issue was the Basic Pie Configuration, and for me, Napoli beat Sicilia hands down, every time.

But, many years later, along comes this Chicago Deep-Dish Pizza, and suddenly the gulf between Choice One and Choice Two is a lot wider. Napoli and Sicilia are in the same country, but this Chicago business, it’s on a whole ’nother fucking planet.

Chicago-style pizza is fine, I suppose. I’ve had it right at the source, at Pizzeria Uno in Chicago - but as good as it might be, to me it’s not pizza. More like some Alien Pizza-Like Device, packed with enough cheese and meat to feed an entire city block. I’m on the other side of the Pizza Divide, along, I suspect, with most of my New Yorky compadres.

There are other Fundamental Dichotomies in life, as well.

Just as the ophthalmologist gives you choices while fitting you for your glasses, there are some issues that demand a decision: no fence-sitting permitted. A, or B. This one, or that one. One, or two. The eye-doc fits you with glasses or contact lenses, but your stance with respect to the Fundamentals tells you where you stand in the world.

Dunkin’ Donuts, or Krispy Kreme? Dax and I were discussing this last week in the context of his Jelly Donut Post. Both he and I are dyed-in-the-wool Dunkin’ Donuts men - surprisingly so in his case, given that he is a Southron Boy.

[Krispy Kreme rules the South, of course. I wonder if, back in the bad old days of cross-burnings, whether hooded and robed Klansmen would stoke their internal furnaces with a few dozen Krispy Kremes before an evening’s Race-Baiting. Putting the KK in the KKK, as it were...]

Cakey, leaden Dunkin’ Donuts sinkers, or hot, fluffy Krispy Kremes? Gimme the sinker, every time.

More Fundamental Dichotomies follow. Which side are you on?
  • Betty, or Veronica? (For the ladies: Archie, or Reggie? Minus ten points if you picked Jughead.)
  • Elvis, or the Beatles?
  • Playboy, or Penthouse?
  • Pancakes, or waffles?
  • Chocolate, or vanilla?
  • Dick York or Dick Sargent?
  • Nicklaus, or Palmer?
  • Mets, or Yankees?
What other Fundamental Dichotomies do you know about?


Moon Over Atlanta
The Grand Staircase at the Westin Hotel in Buckhead.

Here’s a chance to test your Bloggy Knowledge: From left to right - Who are these people?

This photograph is as good as any for a Caption Contest. Let’s hear your best shot in the Comments.


My friend Gary, like me, knows the Protocols and Etiquette of the Men’s Locker Room. You go in, take your shower, dry off, get dressed. Eyes above waist level. No unnecessary talking. These are The Rules. Unwritten they may be, but nonetheless engraved as if in iron.

But once in a while, someone will violate The Rules spectacularly.

I’m not talking about pissing in the shower (generally rude if there are no partitioned shower stalls, otherwise OK) or shaving in the steam room. That last one is usually frowned upon by Gymnasium Management, with signs posted prominently to that effect, but often ignored by those who know that there is no finer shave on the planet.

No, I’m talking about Freaky Behavior. Not the kind that will get you arrested, or punched in the cojones - but jes’ plain freaky.

And Gary seems to run into more than his share of these nutjobs.

Last week, he was in the locker room, cleaning up after a Sweaty Workout. And he noticed a guy who was using one of the blow dryers.

This, in itself, was not strange or unusual. The Management provides blow dryers so that their Male Clients may dry their hair after a shower.

But this guy was drying all of his hair.

Head hair. Armpit hair. Nutsack hair. Yep, he actually propped his foot up on a bench and started drying the Crotchly Area with that blow dryer.

Friends, this is simply not done.

But all Gary could do is shake his head in bemused wonderment. To confront the man would have violated the “No Unnecessary Talking” rule, which takes precedence over the “Do Not Gross Out The Clientele By Drying Your Nuts With The Blow Dryer” rule.

And besides, this is not the most heinous Locker Room Activity Gary has seen.

One time, as he was taking his shower, he noticed a gentleman get into one of the nearby shower stalls while still clad in his Tighty-Whities. OK, Gary thinks - some guys are modest. But this is where things get strange.

Once in the shower, the guy removes his briefs, then proceeds to soap them up (OK, this may be legitimate, too - washing your shorts in the shower isn’t too weird) and then uses them as a washcloth to wash himself. Armpits, ass, crotch, face, the works.


And when the guy finishes his shower, he steps out, wrings the pair of undershorts out, and puts them on again. Then he gets dressed, in a business suit, no less...with those damp, wrung-out (but presumably clean) briefs on underneath.

For my friend Gary, a real WTF Moment.

Just Damn!

Sunday, January 22, 2006


“It’s Crackers…to slip a rozzer the dropsy in snide.” – MAD Magazine, late 1950’s
The obscure quotation above is supposed to mean “It’s crazy to pay off a cop in phony money.” It’s one of the bizarre catchphrases with which the MAD Magazine of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s was sprinkled...along with gems like “Potrzebie,” and “Osgood z’Beard.”

Most of us don’t ever see phony money, except for the occasional bad check. Fake currency is rare, but there’s an ever-evolving Arms Race between the counterfeiters and the people who print our greenbacks. As copier technology has become more sophisticated, the security devices incorporated in our currency have had to keep pace.

Today, at the local supermarket, I paid for my purchase, as is my custom, with my debit card. Since I needed to replenish my Portable Liquid Assets – folding money, you know – I asked for $20 cash back.

[Pernicious option, the old Cash Back. So easy it is, to tap into the Font o’ Funds right at the source, as it were. It’s a path that is fraught with danger…but I digress.]

The cashier handed me my Double Sawbuck...but immediately, I sensed that something wasn’t right.

The bill felt strange, as though the paper had a fuzzier, softer texture than the crisp bills we usually see. I held it close, the better for to eyeball it. It was one of those newfangled peachy-greeny twenties, the ones with Andy Jack’s smiling phiz unencased in a frame. But the colors were off...muted, they seemed.

Closer examination showed that the engraving was slightly blurry, lines broken. It didn’t look at all like the razor-sharp steel engraving on genuine currency. The color-shifting ink used to print certain devices on the face of the bill was absent. The watermark – a feature used for many years on many foreign currencies but only recently incorporated into ours – was missing, as was the thin plastic security thread.

I told the cashier, “Please give me a different $20 bill. This one is counterfeit...and you might want to let your management know.”

I got my (real) cash, and the bag boy took the bill over to the service desk. The manager looked at it and quickly agreed that it was bogus. I suggested that he report the matter to the police.

I feel bad for the cashier. The bill somehow had landed in her drawer, most likely by her accepting it from a previous customer. If somebody was going to be out $20, it was likely to be her. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that counterfeiting is a victimless crime.

I’ll cop to being a bit of a Coinage and Currency Nerd, but this is one time I’m happy to have been paying attention to my money. How about you? Could someone pass you Bogus Bux?


The lovely and talented Meryl Yourish hosts the 96th Carnival of Kitties...this time, without the assistance of The Incredible Hulk.


Eric, the Straight White Guy, is notably proud of his Fancy Footgear, and I can see why.

Not everybody has the wherewithal to purchase Serious Shoes like Eric. I’m talking Big-Time here: exotic leathers, handcrafted construction, with an extreme level of Attention to Detail.

Picture this: a pair of lace-up Saddle Oxfords. “Brown” does not do justice to their rich, mellow tone, a color midway between burnt sienna and raw umber. Heels and toes are covered in buffalo hide. No, not just buffalo hide. Water buffalo hide, tanned with the finest Old-World techniques and New-World technology, with a Mohs hardness approaching that of feldspar. The saddles are done up in Wyoming elk leather, a rare and expensive alternative to the more common Bull Moose.

The real attention to detail shines through when you look at the eyelets. Each one is painstakingly hand-crafted from the carefully harvested Ringmeat Muscle of a free-range organic brown rat. Sure, farm-raised White Rat Sphincters are much less expensive and far easier to obtain, but at a trade-off in durability. Who wants frayed eyelets after a few thousand hours of wear?

The laces have the tensile strength of suspension bridge supports. Not surprising, since they are braided from the nose-hairs of wild goats that have been fed a diet rich in Steel Cans.

A pair of shoes like this will set you back a few bills, for sure. But Eric will tell you all day long, it’s worth it. No other shoe will hold up under the extreme conditions of his lifestyle. No other shoe is equally at home at the elegant bar at The Palm in Buckhead – Atlanta’s tony entertainment district – and the shit-filled back alleys of Bangladesh. No other shoe makes the ladies swoon and the men fume in envious rage.

Hush Puppies? Fuck’m. Hush Puppies are for poseurs, and Merrells are for Girlie-Men. These babies are shoes for Real Men. Even Manolo’s Shoe Blog agrees:
Manolo says, the Eric, he is the Man who is knowing the Manly Shoe, the Shoe that is so manly that it makes the Manolo to make the Painful Hemorrhoid from the excessive excitement.
You want a pair just like ’em, you say?

Get your order in early, and be prepared to unlimber your wallet. Them free-range rats is mighty hard to catch this time of year.


The latest edition of Haveil Havalim, AKA “Vanity of Vanities,” is up at Random Thoughts.


is up at Morning Coffee & Afternoon Tea.

Perfect. Morning Coffee, Afternoon Tea, and Evening Kishka. Yummers!

Saturday, January 21, 2006


Matata en Repose

Oh, you were wanting to use this?

So sorry, it is occupied. Please be so kind as to wait whilst I simultaneously warm your pillow to a pleasant 90°F and deposit a quarter-pound of Cat Hair upon it.


Friday, January 20, 2006


...quoth the Perdue Chicken Man.

And all Parts is created equal.

But, as George Orwell might have said, some Parts is more equal than others.

Even if they’re not really Parts...but items parted from us.

I speak, of course, of William Shatner’s kidney stone, that self-same Stone that fetched upwards of $25,000, as reported just a few days ago. The happy owner is the GoldenPalace.com online casino, with the proceeds earmarked for donation to Habitat for Humanity.

[You can’t make this shit up, folks. Had it been April 1, I would have been convinced that it was a gag. But no.]

Not a bad price for a stone. Its former place of residence in Shatner’s ureter makes this unassuming lump of calcium oxalate more valuable than a water-white diamond.

With this precedent firmly established, think of the possibilities.
  • Leonard Nimoy’s ear wax. [Given Spock’s huge ears, supplies should be more than sufficient to meet demand.]
  • Mick Jagger’s nasal mucus.
  • Michael Jordan’s toenail clippings.
  • Britney Spears’s used tampons. [SOLD]
  • Catfish’s hemorrhoid.
Heck, I might as well offer my parched, withered soul up for sale after having written this...because, like these other Objects, it is clearly a Mere Superfluity.


The Eternal Weekly Cycle rolls ’round once again, bringing us to Friday, that most anticipated of days. (Well, among the most anticipated of days.) And thus we are pleased to present this week’s Random Assortment from the iPod d'Elisson:
  1. Vega-Tables - Brian Wilson
  2. Sunflowers - Paul Cantelon
  3. Twilight - Squirrel Nut Zippers
  4. Baby, I Need Your Lovin’ - The Four Tops
  5. Heroin - The Velvet Underground
  6. I Me Mine - The Beatles
  7. Look at You Look at Me - Dave Mason
  8. Wacky Adventures of Abe Lincoln - Laurence Simon
  9. Good Morning Good Morning - The Beatles
  10. Uf Dem Anger - Reie Swaz Hie Gat Umbe - Chume, Chum, Geselle Min! - Christian Thielemann, Orff: Carmina Burana
It’s Friday. What are you listening to?


Shalom Bayit is a venerable Hebrew expression meaning “peace in the household.”

Couples that have managed to stay married for a long time – f’r instance, She Who Must Be Obeyed and I, with a marriage that’s well into its 29th year – generally learn to master the art of maintaining Shalom Bayit.

You learn the art of compromise.

You learn to accept your mate’s minor flaws, and sometimes even a major one or two. [Not you, darlin’.]

You learn to live with your spouse’s leaving piles of mail and filthy clothing all over the house, and he learns to live with the occasional failure to replace the empty Bunwad Roll.

You learn to pick your battles, on those (rare) occasions when battles must be fought. And you learn to never go to bed angry, if at all possible.

If inconveniencing yourself in some way is necessary to keeping your Other Half happy, you do it...and you don’t piss and moan about it.

It’s give and take. Take and give.

It’s love.

Of course, here at Chez Elisson, I make use of some of the many valuable lessons I learned from my mother while she was alive, and those lessons have contributed mightily to Peace in Our Household.

Mom was a Master Shopper. It’s too bad she’s not around anymore, because she and our good friend Laura Belle are cut from the same cloth in that respect: members of the Legion of Those Who Happily Exchange Money for Goods and Services. I would give anything to be able to see the two of them lay waste to one of the local Shopping Malls. It is she who taught SWMBO that if you see something you like, buy it in at least two different colors.

And thus it is that I maintain peace in the household. When the Missus sees something she likes, I tell her to purchase it. Works every time...and my creditors love me for it.

Shalom? Buy it!


The Friday Ark is up at the Modulator.

Stop by...and wish Steve well. If I interpret his Cryptic Alert properly, he’s having some sort of medical procedure that involves General Anesthesia later today.

Based on my own experience, General Anesthesia is not a bad thing. Makes me loopy, and cuts way down on the screaming.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


Medicine Chest

Quickly, Jeeves! Fetch my medicaments! I feel a bout of catarrh coming on, and I fear that my erysipelas is acting up once again.

Arrgh! This damnèd scrofula afflicts me mightily!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


There’s a collection of hyper-creative pieces of code available at yugop.com. Go there immediately and check it out. In an earlier version of this post, I had a window in which you could watch several of the scripts running, but it was annoyingly noisy. So click on the link.

If your machine has Javascript enabled, you can tinker with the various scripty gew-gaws by mousing over the numbered blocks. Block 04 runs a script (“Claygrid”) that is silent (in case the beeping sound of the “Jampack” script is too annoying), and you can click on “Info” to get some background on what the site is all about. And there’s even more crap in the Archive.

Block 05 (“Amaztype”) is a mind-bender. Type in a search term - say, a band’s name, such as “Beatles” - and the script will gradually build a picture of the search term as a mosaic of tiny images - in this example, covers of albums by that band. Click on any tiny image and you get some basic information about the album - click again, and you go to the Amazon site’s page. Un-be-fucking-lievable.

This is the same guy that came out with the Industrious Clock I featured here several months ago.

Whatever medication he’s on, I want me some.


Marilyn Monroe

Eric’s recent post about Marilyn Monroe got me to thinking about all of that weird Six Degrees of Separation business.

It was May of 2004 and She Who Must Be Obeyed and I were on the Senate floor in Washington, D.C., along with a small army of my college classmates. We were guests of Senator Bill Frist - another classmate - who was in the process of giving us a personal tour of the Senate chamber.

I had, for the purpose of resting my legs whilst listening to the good Senator expound on the Rich History of the room, parked myself at a conveniently located desk. A quick look at the brass nameplate attached thereto established that it was, in fact, Teddy Kennedy’s desk. “Mr. Chappy Q. Dick,” his ownself.

Surprisingly, the desk was located in the back row, instead of being front and center. After all, one of the privileges of Senatorial Seniority is that you get to move to the front of the room, just like an eager kindergartner.

JFKAnd it was right about then that Frist explained that Kennedy was, indeed, entitled to sit up front based on his seniority, but that he preferred to sit in the back of the chamber - at the selfsame desk his brother Jack had used.

Holy Crap, thought I. My ass was warming the same chair that John F. Kennedy used to sit in back when he was an up-and-coming Senator. [And with JFK, you gotta use the term “up-and-coming” very discreetly.]

Think about some of the Six-Degrees Permutations, chirren:
  • My ass - JFK’s chair - JFK’s ass - Jackie Kennedy’s ass.

  • My ass - JFK’s chair - JFK’s ass - Marilyn Monroe’s ass.
The mind boggles, I tell ya.


Recurring dreams are a phenomenon that many of us have experienced at one time or another.

Sometimes the details are different, but the general framework of the recurring dream is always the same. Whether it is a good dream or a bad dream depends on many things: one’s state of mind, what one had for supper that evening, some deep-down psychic hole that is unfilled.

I have dreams from time to time that involve recurring elements. There are the Tornado Dreams and Tsunami Dreams, both of which have been mentioned in posts here. And there’s the Slow-Motion Jet Airliner Dream, in which I find myself flying in an airplane that moves slowly, at low altitude – or, alternatively, zooms along an ethereal Aerial Roller-Coaster Track. Always, always, the fear of an impending crash. Horrible.

But any discussion of Recurring Dreams must include some mention of the infamous School Dream.

The School Dream is one that many of us have experienced at one time or another. You find yourself back in school – college, high school, it matters not. But you are back in school, and it’s obvious that you are Not Prepared, whether it be for an exam, a paper, or some other task that is critical to your success. Scary, not least because the Unpreparedness Factor in these dreams is primarily a distorted mirror-reflection of stress and uncertainty in your Real Life.

I’ve had those School Dreams, too, but there’s a variation that makes mine especially unsettling.

In my typical School Dream, I’ll be back at college. Why I’m there, faced with another four years of degenerate partying grueling coursework, never is completely clear to me. But, regardless, I am there, moving my stuff into a dormitory room, getting ready for a semester’s worth of Ridiculously Continued Education.

As I move my stuff in and wander the campus, I’m disoriented, ill at ease. Something’s not right; the world is out of joint. There’s a terrible feeling of loss, of utter desolation, gnawing at the back of my brain. And it dawns on me:

Where’s my wife? What became of my children?

Why am I here, so terribly alone? Did I even have a family? Or was it some distant, hopeful dream?

And that is usually when I wake up, heart racing. I reach out across the bedclothes, and She Who Must Be Obeyed is there, to my deep and total relief. The School Dream - my School Dream – was just a dream, thank Gawd…until I have it again.


There is no Free Lunch, so they say.

There is no Free Money.

But there is a Free Money Finance, and that is where you will find the latest edition of the Carnival of the Vanities.


Bill n El

Yet another Demotivational Poster.


There’s one item on the Jewish Bill o’ Fare that gets short shrift these days, and it’s time that situation was corrected.

Bagels? Aw, c’mon. Everybody knows bagels. You can buy bagels in Salt Lake fucking City. You can get (gag) a bacon and egg bagel at McDungheap’s. They may not be good bagels, but bagels they are.

Gefilte fish? Maybe. File that one under “Dishes the Non-Jews Generally Don’t Monkey With.” And rightly so, especially if it’s the commercial kind that comes in a jar, complete with plenty of Fishy Jell-O Sauce.

Borscht? Schav? P’tcha? Nope. Too arcane. Plenty of folks know about borscht, that yummy beet soup, but ya gotta be a Master o’ Culinary Cabbala to be familiar with schav (sorrel soup) or p’tcha (calf’s foot jelly, intensely flavored with garlic). My mother was a p’tcha fan, but the recessive gene that confers Love of Weird Crap was not passed on unto mine own Germ Plasm.

I’m talkin’ ’bout kishka.

Kishka, ambrosia of the Eastern European table. Kishka, former Side-Dish Staple, found on every catered wedding or Bar Mitzvah dinner plate, sitting beside the meat in its own little pool of warm, brown gravy, cleverly described on menus as “Stuffed Derma” so as not to horrify the uneducated. Kishka!

Kishka: a kosher beef intestine, stuffed sausage-like with a mass of flour and bread crumbs compounded with Beef Suet, eggs, garlic, and spices. On Passover, the flour and bread crumbs would be booted out unceremoniously, with matzoh meal taking their place. Baked, sliced, and served with beefy gravy, kishka was the Ultimate Indulgent Side-Dish. Like chopped liver, enough of it would stop your heart - but what a happy way to go!

Esteemed Readers, it is time to bring Kishka out of the closet.

I can see it now. On Iron Chef, Chairman Kaga whips back a cloth covering a mound of the secret ingredient: “Ki-shi-ka! Ar-rei Ku-i-jin! [Kishka! Allez cuisine!]”

And then there’s the Bubbe Gumpowski Kishka Company, with their Comprehensive Menu of All Things Kishka: Kishka étoufée; kishka gumbo; fried kishka; baked kishka; kishka Florentine; chicken soup with kishka dumplings; spam, spam, spam, spam, kishka and spam; and onwards, ad infinitum.

If you haven’t tried it, don’t hold back. Starch and grease, ya gotta love it!

Feeling brave? Here’s a recipe for kishka that you can make at home, without the muss and bother of dealing with Lengths of Beef Intestine. Yes: a Kishka-less Kishka, but it’s getting harder and harder to stay completely Old-School in these matters.

Vegetarian Kishka

½ cup vegetable oil
2 stalks celery
2 carrots
1 onion
1½ cups flour
1¼ tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a blender, puree the vegetables with the oil until you have a thick paste. Empty the glop into a large bowl and add the flour, salt, pepper, and paprika. Mix well; you should have a nice doughy mass.

Roll the mixture into a thick cylinder and wrap securely in aluminum foil. Place the kishka on a cookie sheet and bake at 350°F for 90 minutes. Slice and serve it forth.

This recipe makes a (parve) vegetarian kishka, but if you wanna doll it up with some beefy gravy, be my guest.

Kishka! It’s what’s for dinner!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


At post-Minyan breakfast this morning, I heard a strange tale of intertwined destinies.

Debbie is a regular at our Thursday night Minyan. A group of us meet at the shul, we do a ma’ariv service – the daily evening worship service, for all y’all who are Judaically Impaired – and then go out as a group to have dinner. Debbie’s mother passed away last Friday, alas, and she returned to town yesterday after flying to New Jersey for the funeral. We’ll be holding evening services in her home the rest of the week as she observes the remainder of shiva, the traditional seven-day period of mourning.

But this morning, she came to Minyan. At breakfast, she was describing her flight to Newark, a bumpy affair thanks to high winds enroute, with a fearsome last-second dip of the left wing just as the plane was dropping down onto the runway.

At the funeral home, she was telling one of her cousins about the landing. He’s a pilot for Northwest; scary landings are part of his training regimen, and she was sure this one was one he would have enjoyed.

Said cousin has a twin brother, and therein lies a most peculiar tale.

The brothers, being twins, were always close while they were growing up. Like peas and carrots, you could say. They were never apart from one another until they reached that age when it was time for each of them to strike out on his own.

Cousin One wanted to be an airline pilot, so he enrolled in a flight school in Vero Beach, Florida. At the same time, his brother - let’s call him Cousin Two - ended up working for Smith Barney in lower Manhattan. His offices were in one of the buildings at the World Trade Center complex, albeit not in one of the Towers themselves.

Cousin Two was at his desk the morning of September 11, 2001. He saw the plane hit Tower One, the flames and debris raining down. When the tower collapsed, it buried his building, but he managed to get out alive.

Cousin One, it turns out, had been attending flight school with a number of taciturn Saudi Arabian men, men who generally kept to themselves. Men who, as it turned out, had a grisly mission.

Strange, isn’t it, how the brothers’ lives were tied together by the threads of Fate, despite their geographic distance? What mysterious connection did these twins share? And who knows what secrets are woven into that Mysterious Tapestry o’ Destiny?

Monday, January 16, 2006


She Who Must Be Obeyed and I have just returned from a long weekend in Savannah, where we and our friends JoAnn and Gary had a fine time feeding our faces and visiting with the Mistress of Sarcasm.

In our absence, of course, Bloggity-World rolls on apace. Just in case you may have missed ’em, please note that Carnival of the Recipes #74 has been posted at The Common Room.

And Carnival of the Cats #94 is up at Niobium. Hmmm. It’s not every person that’ll name a blog after a Metallic Element, but who’s to argue? Especially in the face of all that Kitty Goodness.

Speaking of Kitty Goodness, Hakuna was so happy to see us, she even let SWMBO pick her up and give her some Up Close and Personal Skritchies. Even more surprising: she didn’t run away after SWMBO let go of her. Hell, it’s been only ten years. Maybe she’ll eventually figure out that we don’t plan to choke her.

SWMBO and Hakuna

SWMBO and Hakuna Too

Saturday, January 14, 2006


Was Elisson in Houston this week?

No, he was not.

Therefore, he cannot use an an excuse for being tardy posting the Friday Random Ten, that he was toiling under the frequent Cat o’ Nine Tails lashes of his Corporate Overseers. No, he was just lazy.

Better late than nevah. Here’s this week’s List of Choons from the Little White Choon-Box:
  1. Delhin Yot - Alamaailman Vasarat
  2. I’m Gonna Booglarize You - Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band
  3. A Night In Tunisia - Dizzy Gillespie
  4. Taxim - The Klezmer Conservatory Band
  5. I’ll Be Your Mirror - The Velvet Underground
  6. The Red Weed (Part 2) - Jeff Wayne’s The War of the Worlds
  7. I’m In Love With A Girl Named Spike - Skankin’ Pickle
  8. A Case Of You - Joni Mitchell
  9. Shade - Silverchair
  10. Teeth - Mitch Hedberg
It’s Friday Too Damn Early on a Saturday. What are you listening to?

Friday, January 13, 2006


Mr. Debonair likes an evening meal that is elegant, yet is easy to throw together at a moment’s notice. This one took just three days.

First, go to your neighborhood Purveyor of Meaty Products. Purchase two fine Duck Breasts and take them home.

Once home, remove the Duck Breasts from their wrappings. Give them a quick rinse and dry with a clean kitchen towel, for you know not on whose meat your Meat Purveyor’s hands have been.

Mix together 1/4 cup coarse kosher salt and 1/4 cup cracked black peppercorns. Rub the duck breasts thoroughly with this mixture, wrap in plastic film, and refrigerate for 24 hours.

After the breasts have sat in the salt and pepper rub for a full day, take them out and rinse them off in cold water. Dry thoroughly with a clean kitchen towel.

Place the duck breasts in a flat glass dish or some other inert container, preferably one with a snap seal. Mr. Debonair uses Tupperware, the plastic container that is, alas, well known for burping. Schmear the breasts well with about 1/2 cup or more of Steen’s 100% Pure Cane Syrup. Throw in 4 chopped garlic cloves, a tablespoon of dried juniper berries, and about 10 whole peppercorns. Cover well and stick in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.

When you're ready to enjoy your King-Hell Duck Breast Sammitch - for that is, indeed, what Mr. Debonair is preparing - take the duck breasts out of the fridge and scrape off the goop. Preheat your oven to 400°F.

In an oven-proof skillet, heat 1 tsp olive oil. Add the breasts, skin side down, and let cook on medium heat for 10 minutes.

When the skin is nice and crispy, turn the breasts over and cook for another 10 minutes. Then, stick the entire skillet in the oven for 5 minutes (if you like your meat medium rare) - 10 minutes for medium-well. Remove from the oven and let the meat rest for a few minutes before slicing across the grain.

While all this is going on, lightly toast a couple of English muffins - or use a nice multi-grain bread of your choice. Sometimes Mr. Debonair has to make do with whatever the hell is in the house.

Get out your blender. Into it, lob one whole egg, a teaspoon of Colman’s dry mustard, a couple tablespoons of freshly-squeezed lemon juice, and four peeled garlic cloves. Start your blender, and while it’s running, s l o w l y drizzle in 2 cups of olive oil. The stuff will start to thicken up nicely after you get about 1/2 cup of oil in there. Mr. Debonair only used a total of 1 cup of oil, and it worked out nicely; then again, he wasn’t cooking for a God-damned army, was he? Is the stuff nice and thick yet? You’ve just made aioli: garlic mayonnaise.

Now to assemble your King-Hell Duck Breast Sammitches.

Get your bread, English muffins, whatevah, and spread each piece liberally with the aioli. Now, add a layer of sliced duck breast meat. Slice up a few thin pieces of Brie cheese and bury that duck under the Brie. Add some mixed greens to add a little bulk, and you’re good to go. If you want, jack it up even more by adding a few rashers of lean, grilled bacon. [Mr. Debonair elected to have the bacon-free version.] Cut the Sammitches up if you wish, then serve them forth.

King-Hell Duck Breast Sammitch
A couple of King-Hell Duck Breast Sammitches.

Excluding the three days you will need to marinate the breasts, you can put these Bad Boys together in about 30 minutes. And you’ll have a heap of aioli left over for other uses. Like Tuna Fish Salade Mort de Vampyr. One bite, and you’re safe from Count Dracula and his undead buddies for a solid week.


Rainbow Over May-Retta

After which they went away, leaving this.


Most of my Esteemed Readers are probably familiar with those Stoopid Motivational Posters that festoon boardroom walls throughout this great land.

Thanks to this snazzy website, you can now make your own. It’s like the Church Sign Generator, except it generates Useless Motivational Posters.

I discovered this by the grace of Zonker, who in turn got it from Sandy at the Pea Patch. And Sandy has posted a few excellent examples of what can be done.

Of course, my tastes run toward the cynical, so my idea of a Motivational Poster is the kind of stuff they offer at Despair.com.

And, therefore, here’s mine own Demotivational Poster:




Now making the rounds of the Bloggy-Sphere, this fine Web-Based Application that allows you to see how big your dick is how many links there are that connect both your name and your site. I guess. Actually, I have no fucking clue what it’s supposed to measure.

For all I know, it measures a person’s tolerance for Shirley Temples. Which would explain this:


Shirley Temple


The Friday Ark is boarding once again at The Modulator.

Please keep Tiny, one of the Resident Kitties at sisu, in your thoughts and prayers for a speedy and complete recovery.

Thursday, January 12, 2006


[I posted this back in November 2004, but thanks to the Video-Blogging capabilities of YouTube, it’s worth revisiting.]


is now available in easy-to-take blog form.

No, I’m not talking about King Solomon, the Biblical figure who was renowned for his baby-splittin’ wisdom. I’m talking about Mike Solomon, the cherubic-looking guy in the picture below.

Mike Solomon
Michael Solomon: minyan guy, fellow blogger.

Mike is one of the regulars at our morning minyan. More often than not, he’s the one who passes around the pushke, the little collection box into which we stuff our daily charitable donations. He’s a frequent attendee at the group’s Thursday night dinners. And did I mention that he’s the recording secretary for our Men’s Club Board of Directors?

Mike has also taken his first steps into Bloggity World. You can visit his site here.

As a kid, Mike was called “Royteh” – the Redhead. Red hair usually bespeaks a fiery temperament, but Michael is a pussycat. Unless you call him “Mikey,” in which case he is liable to kick your ass.

But what you may not know is that you just might have seen his face before - if you’re old enough, that is. Years ago, he made a living appearing in various TV commercials. One of these got quite a bit of attention back in the day, even winning a Clio award in 1980.

Just click on the arrow to play the video.

Yep, that’s him – the guy in the old Federal Express ad who yanks the phone booth right out of the ground. “All you have to do is pick up the phone,” indeed.


Touched By His Noodly Appendage

Elder Daughter and Khody got me this snazzy Flying Spaghetti Monster T-Shirt for Chanukah.

Have you been touched by His Noodly Appendage?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


This morning, as She Who Must Be Obeyed and I were performing our respective Morning Ablutions, our attention was caught by a news item on the Boob-Choob in the bedroom.

Seems an erratic driver led police on a merry chase last night. Driving every which way, knocking over signs, running lights, smacking into any and all in his path. Eventually, the car was forced to a stop and the driver apprehended.

Drunk? Insane? Nay.

Seven years old.

I am amazed that the little shit could reach both the steering wheel and the pedals.

The young man is being charged with reckless endangerment, failure to obey traffic signals, evading arrest, leaving the scene of an accident, driving without a license, speeding, and Being a Fucking Seven-Year-Old Driving A Car. It is not known whether he will be tried as a post-pubescent. If convicted, he could be sentenced to time-out in the corner, and possibly having his Tushy Spanked.


National Pie Day - January 23 - will be upon us before you know it, much as a cream pie upon Shemp Howard. Thank you, O thank you, American Pie Council.

Yep - pies got councils.

I’m already planning the menu.

For breakfast? Quiche Lorraine would be an obvious choice, but quiche is for Fancy-Boys. I’ll have waffles, thank you.

Lunch? Russian Cabbage and Onion Pie. Maybe some spanakopita - Greek spinach pie.

Dinner? Chicken pot pie. Shepherd’s pie. And for dessert, some of the deadliest, most serious chocolate pie on the planet: Chocolate Cream Pie from Greenwood’s on Green Street.

Fattening? Of course! A good pie crust is nought but Flour and Grease. But oh, so flaky good.

Feel free to make suggestions of your own in the Comments. On January 23, what time is it? It’s Pie o’Clock!


Jim, he of the Place to Pull Off the Road and Pee, has had some issues recently with Content Theft.

Seems that some Thievin’ Asshole in Singapore (we think) lifted the content of one of his recent posts, word-for-word. Verbatim.

In Bloggy-World, linkage and snipping little bits of other people’s material is common practice. But there are rules, and there is etiquette. The Forms Must Be Obeyed.

When you use someone else’s material, it’s polite to get permission. If the material is covered by a Creative Commons license, it’s usually no issue to borrow from someone else, provided you attribute it properly and you are not using it to make Filthy Lucre. If it’s covered by a standard copyright, advance permission is required, except for purposes covered under the Fair Use doctrine.

Music and video downloads? I ain’t touching that one here. But free content isn’t always free for the taking, in a moral sense. The only real question you should ask yourself is, “Would Momma approve?”

Normal practice, when borrowing the Intellectual Property of others, is to excerpt it and include a link back to the source. That way, the creator of that Intellectual Property is assured of proper credit, and at the same time has the opportunity to share some of the traffic it generates.

And when using someone else’s image files - or similar-type content - it’s appropriate to host them on your own server. Hotlinking - slapping an image up on your site and having the HTML img tag refer to the other person’s server URL - is a No-No. It is, simply put, theft of that person’s bandwidth.

The Gaping Asshole that stole Jim’s post - go to his site for the details - did none of the Right Things. She (we think it’s a she) lifted Jim’s post in its entirety, with nary a word of attribution or a link back to Parkway Rest Stop. And, as bad as that was, she also hotlinked the photograph that accompanied Jim’s post.

A quick survey of the Offending Site revealed that just about every photograph on it appeared to be hotlinked. This person, whoever it is, either doesn’t have a clue, or just doesn’t care.

After Jim asked her to remove the post, he was ignored. Well, not ignored, exactly. She took down her bulletin board and shut off commenting. “If I can’t see you, I can ignore you” seems to be the operating philosophy.

I haven’t included a link to the offending site for a couple of reasons: One, if you want to see the site, Jim has a link in his post. I don’t want to direct any more traffic there. Two, the site is a real clusterfuck, a Dog’s Breakfast of bad writing, stupid photographs, and horrible music videos that play automatically when the page loads. Trust me: it ain’t worth the aggravation.

As far as Blog d’Elisson is concerned, I haven’t had any issues with Content Theft. I’ve had some of the pieces I’ve written for McSweeney’s lifted from time to time, but in all cases either McSweeney’s or I were credited. That’s good. On the other hand, it may mean my stuff is Shite that is inadequate even to attract thieves.

I have had experience with plagiarism, though.

Back in the late Cretaceous era when I was in university, I was involved with the campus Humor Magazine, a venerable publication with a history stretching back to 1882. In - what? - 1971, thereabouts, we published an article entitled “Frank Merriwell Returns,” a satirical look at what would happen if the hero of a turn-of-the-century series of Boy’s Stories came back to school today. Naïve vintage-1900 Rover Boys type meets early 1970’s drug-and-promiscuous-sex culture; hilarity ensues. That sort of thing.

It was a semi-forgettable piece, but I remember it well unto this day.

About a year later, we received in the mail a copy of the Phoenix, Rensselaer Polytechnic’s humor rag. I’m still not sure why they sent it - whoever “they” were. A backhanded thank-you? Currying favor with the Big Boys?

But in that magazine there was something that got our attention. There it was: “Frank Merriwell Returns,” word for word, complete with copies of the exact same illustrations we had used in our article. Copies: it looked as though they had been crudely, yet painstakingly, hand-illustrated, using our pictures as models. No credit; no explanation; no nothing.

What the fuck?!!?

Now, here’s something to chew on. These self-same Content Thieves - who knows unto what depths their depravity went? Did they cheat on exams? Undertip their Painted Women? We can only guess...and we can only wonder which buildings, chemical plants, weapons systems, and aircraft they subsequently went on to design.

Remember: When you steal Intellectual Property, the terrorists win!