Sunday, April 30, 2006

THE HERO: A 100-WORD STORY

Lenny Spiderman was the class clown.

We were kids together, growing up on Long Island. And Lenny used to drive the teachers nuts.

He’d build webs up by the ceiling in homeroom, and then swing up there and hide. Mrs. Hentoff never thought to look up, but he’d be hanging there making faces. It was all we could do not to laugh.

But when he got older, he got serious. “With great power comes great responsibility,” that crap.

Peter Parker? Bullshit for the reporters. It was always just Lenny.

But I’m the guy who got him to use the hyphen.

[This is a rework of a story I originally posted in September 2005.]

AFTERMATH: THE CITY SLEEPS

I will have much, much more to write about the just-concluded Blown-Star Blodgers Tea Party and Ice Cream Social (tip o’ th’ Elisson fedora to Kelley for coming up with “Blown-Star”!), but right now I am recovering from two days of sensory overload and a three-hour drive back to Sweat City, where I will be spending the next several days on Great Corporate Salt Mine-related bidnis.

It’s difficult to describe a blogmeet to someone who has not experienced one. Suffice it to say that it is a living demonstration of the ability of Online Journaling to build communities. Not mere virtual communities either; communities that are every bit as real as those composed of neighbors, coworkers, or people who attend the same House of Worship. Technology enables and facilitates, but it is people that make it happen...and them peeps is Us.

But enough bloviation for now. There will be more. Much more.

There will be photographs. There willl be lurid tales of Memorable Moments. There will be talk of screaming hordes of chipmunks; of pancakes ’n’ bananas; of Paulie Walnuts; of the Flambémobile and the Great Salt Lick Inferno. B is for Budweiser: it’s good enough for me!

[Q: What is there to eat at the Salt Lick? A: Blog-Meat.]

All that crap is for later. Right now I need some downtime for Systems Recovery.

What I will share with you now, Esteemed Readers, is that, enroute from Austin to Houston this afternoon, I had the iPod d’Elisson plugged in to the car stereo, and a song came on that, for some strange, nebulous reason, made me think of one of my fellow Blown-Eyeds. He may never have heard it...but I am convinced that he would enjoy it.

The artist is MC 900 Foot Jesus, and it’s poetry for a Blodge-Meet Aftermath.

The City Sleeps

Stealing down an alley on a cold dark night
I see a halo in the rain around the street light
I stop and look, and listen to the sound
As the raindrops penetrate the silence all around
Alone, I gaze into the glistening street
The distant thunder echoing my heartbeat
Urging me on to a secret goal
Away from the light from this lamp on a pole
So I turn, slip away into the rain
Drifting like a spirit through the shadows in the lane
Clutching the tools of my trade in my hand
An old box of matches and a gasoline can
Darkness envelopes the scene like a shroud
A veil of emptiness hangs from the clouds
Filling up the cracks in this desolate place
Cradled by the night in an icy embrace

Moving to the town like a ghost in the rain
A dim reflection in a dark window pane
Blackness beckons from every side
Creeping all around like an incoming tide
A broken window in an empty house
I slip inside and begin to douse
The whole place with the fuel that will feed the fire
And push back the night, taking me higher
On out of the darkness in a deafening roar
The match in my hand is the key to the door
A simple turn of the wrist will suffice
To open a passage to paradise
I pause, I think about the past and the gloom
The smell of gasoline permeates the room
Everyone has a little secret he keeps
I light the fires while the city sleeps

(Like the 4th of July)

The match makes a graceful arc to the floor
And time stands still as I turn for the door
Which explodes in a fireball and throws me to the street
I hit the ground running with the flames at my feet
Reaching for the night which recoils from the fire
The raindrops hiss like a devilish choir
Dying in the flames with a terrible sound
Calling all the names of the sleepers all around
But then in the arms of the night, they lay
Their dreams sprout wings and fly away
Out of the houses in a gathering flock
Swarming overhead as I hurry down the block
I make my escape with the greatest of ease
And savor the darkness, drop to my knees
And the lightless window, my hand on the latch
I reach in my pocket, and pull out a match

(Like the 4th of July)

Saturday, April 29, 2006

LORD OF THE FLIES: A 100-WORD STORY

I was sitting at my desk in the Home Office, pounding out the PowerPoints, when I heard the buzz of a housefly.

We don’t get flies in the house too often. Where had this fucker come from?

As I toiled, I kept hearing the buzz more often. It became evident that there were several flies performing reconnaissance runs through the house. What the hell was going on?

By nightfall, almost all of the flies were dead, their corpses scattered like raisins throughout the house.

Damn. I’m going to have to stop leaving that poisoned raw meat in my sock drawer.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

THE GOLDEN PLUNGER

They say (whoever “they” are) that Blogging is its Own Reward.

Sure, I know some people blog for money.

Some people blog because they are on a ceaseless quest for adoration from people who don’t know them. And some people are constantly on the prowl for ways to waste time and aggrandize themselves.

But most of us just like the idea of throwing our shit up on the wall to see if any of it sticks. [Ego, meet Creativity. Creativity, meet Ego.]

And, speaking of Matters Fecal, several months ago I conducted a poll to see who was the Best Crapblogger. Being the good sport I am, I recused myself from participation in the contest...not that it would have affected the outcome any.

Gut Rumbles ran away with the prize: the Shit Heard ’Round the World. That should be no surprise. Rob Smith has a colossal readership, but more importantly, he’s a talented writer...especially when it comes to writing about Excrement.

And so it comes down to this: Tonight, at a Barbeque Dinner at the Salt Lick in Driftwood, Texas, in the company of about 40 Blown-Eyed Blodgers from around the country, I presented Rob with a Most Special Award during the Blown-Eyed Blodgers debauch-fest this weekend...

Golden Plunger detail

The Golden Plunger

Rob was surprised - and almost speechless. Almost, but not quite. His acceptance remarks?

“I am flushed with pride.”

FRIDAY THURSDAY RANDOM TEN

Most people say Thank Gawd It’s Friday...but not me.

I say, So Happy It’s Thursday! Especially this week, when I am taking one of my precious vacation days on Friday to facilitate my attendance at a certain Tea Party and Ice-Cream Social...

...and besides, it makes a better acronym.

Being that on Friday I will be either (1) enroute to an airport, or (2) at an airport, or (3) in an airplane, or (4) in a rental car, or (5) partaking of Strong Drink, this is as good a time as any to post this week’s Random Ten. So, what does the iPod d’Elisson have for us this week, Johnny?
  1. Give It Up (Or Let Me Go) - Bonnie Raitt
  2. Annie Waits - Ben Folds
  3. La Rédecouverte - Yann Tiersen
  4. Into The Mystic - Van Morrison

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

    And when that fog horn blows I will be coming home
    And when the fog horn blows I want to hear it
    I don’t have to fear it

    And I want to rock your gypsy soul
    Just like way back in the days of old
    And magnificently we will flow into the mystic

    When that fog horn blows you know I will be coming home
    And when that fog horn whistle blows I got to hear it
    I don't have to fear it

    And I want to rock your gypsy soul
    Just like way back in the days of old
    And together we will flow into the mystic
    Come on girl...

    Too late to stop now...

  5. 5 Years - Björk
  6. Norbu Plays - Philip Glass
  7. Opening Title, North By Northwest - Bernard Herrmann
  8. The Worst Day Since Yesterday - Flogging Molly
  9. Stairway To Heaven - Tiny Tim
  10. Alech Taadi - Khaled
I’ve thrown in the lyrics to Van Morrison’s classic “Into The Mystic” - from the equally classic Moondance album. The song is a rare combination of romance, soul, and wistfulness; I cannot describe the feelings it evokes except to say that it is a Fine Song to listen to in the company of a Fine Woman.

It’s Friday Thursday. What are you listening to?

LAP CAT

Matata in SWMBO's Lap

I eat; then I wash myself
And take a crap.
After which, what better place to be
Than SWMBO’s lap?
After which, what better place to be
Than SWMBO’s lap?

I like Daddy’s jazz collection
But I don’t like rap.
The music sounds much better here
In SWMBO’s lap.
The music sounds much better here
In SWMBO’s lap.

If you get up in my grille,
I might give you a slap -
But I’m always very mellow
Here in SWMBO’s lap.
But I’m always very mellow
Here in SWMBO’s lap.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

JUST CHECKING...

Colander Borg-Man!

Hmmm. According to my Colander, it’s almost time for the Blown-Eyed Blodger Tea Party and Ice-Cream Social in Austin, Texas.

Sounds like a good opportunity to meet a bunch of new peeps and catch up with some familar degenerates with whom I have partied before.

Don't know if I can get this headgear through the Metal Detector, though. Gummint entities frown on devices that keep their Mind-Control Rays out...

EXCITEMENT R US

This has been a real spleen-rattler of a day, let me tell you.

This morning, the Missus was scheduled for a visit at the orthodontist. Meanwhile, Yours Truly skipped the usual post-Minyan breakfast to prepare for yet another in a series of morning teleconferences.

Teleconferences are the price I pay for not being a fish in the Death-Aquarium that is the headquarters of the Great Corporate Salt Mine.

But no sooner had I arrived back at Chez Elisson - site of my Home-Based Office - than I got a call from the Missus. She had a flat tire and was sitting in a parking lot about three miles down the road.

Being the Good Husband I am, I sped to the rescue. Hop, pop, and She Who Must Be Obeyed was on her way...and I made it back in time for my teleconference to boot. I would have grumbled a whole lot more had it been raining, but fortunately, the precip held off until this afternoon.

Later - in the midst of the aforementioned Precip, as it happens - I headed out for a brief appointment with the Skin-Doctah Lady. SWMBO had seen a couple of spots that looked, to her suspicious eyes, like Trouble. Gotta pay attention to them spots, chirren. I’ve lost one colleague to melanoma, and I ain’t going there. (Keyn ayin hora.) One spot was just below my neck; the other was (ahem) in a Delicate Place.

Friends, there’s nothing quite as enjoyable as displaying your Nut-Sack to the Skin-Doctah Lady and showing off your Miscellaneous Knobbly Bits. Especially with a chubby young Physician’s Assistant around. Sweeeet.

But I made one thing very clear: Keep all sharp implements away from “Mr. Happy.”

I mean, how much excitement can a man stand in one day?

VANITY, SCHMANITY...

...all is vanity.

Isn’t that what Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) said?

Get your dose of vanity at the 188th Carnival of the Vanities, this week hosted at IMAO and composed by none other than Laurence Simon.

On May 24, the 192nd CotV will be right here at Blog d’Elisson. Mark your calendar and get those knives pens keyboards sharpened up!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

REMEMBER THEM

Today is Yom ha-Shoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day.

It’s a day that is set aside to honor the memory of the Jews who died at the hands of the Nazis and their fellow-travelers during World War II and the years leading up to it. Years that started with gradually increasing persecution and that finished with millions perishing in death camps, gassed, shot, and burned.

Jews were not, of course, the only victims of the Nazi regime. Anyone deemed “socially undesirable” by the Nazi racial supremacists was targeted: Gypsies, homosexuals, cripples, the mentally handicapped, were all fed into the ovens, along with Communists, socialists, and anyone who dared speak out against the Powers That Be. But Jews were singled out for special opprobium. It was the Nazi desire to make the Jews vanish completely from the world stage, so much so that they collected Judaica for the eventual purpose of housing it in a “Museum of an Extinct Race.”

I thought of writing a Holocaust Remembrance piece, but then I happened upon a story at David Bogner’s site, Treppenwitz, and I saw no point...for David nails it perfectly.

David tells the story of his son Gilad, who at the age of three was old enough to begin wearing a fringed undershirt, in the manner of observant Jews. But the story of a little boy on his first day of wearing tzitzi’ot leads to another story, a story of a man who escaped the death camps - and a subsequent encounter with Russian troops - to go on to have a family...
“When you think Gilad is old enough to hear this story I want you to tell him in my name that these strings we wear are important. They remind us who we are every single moment that we wear them...and sometimes they remind others who we are too. Because of these strings I lived instead of being shot. I was able to marry, raise a family and live to be an old man who gives candy to your beautiful children in shul. Please tell Gili in my name so that every morning while he is making this blessing, he will never forget how important these strings are to us.”
Read the whole thing.

ASPIRING CHEFS, GIVE UP

You’ll never be as good as Alton Brown. Might as well just go and sever your carotids right now.

At least, if you believe the Thirty Facts About Alton Brown as set forth by that mad genius of Bean-Towne, Charlie Hatton, on his site Where The Hell Was I? Go: read it and weep. And spray your Beverage of Choice all over your monitor.

AUTOGRAPHICA

Autograph Frontispiece

The lines above are from the front page in my mother’s Autograph Book, a little volume that has long been a source of fascination to me.

Once upon a time, you see, it was the fashion, at major Life-Cycle Events, to have an Autograph Book in which one would collect the well-wishes of friends and family, rendered indelibly in pen and ink.

It is, for the most part, a Lost Art today, although it lives on in scrawled signatures in high school and college yearbooks. But Mom’s little book dates from January of 1942, when she was graduated from the ninth grade. She had turned 14 the prior month.

The signatures and little poems in the book are from an assortment of relatives, almost all of whom have passed on to the Next World; and friends, most of whose names are lost in the mists of time.

There are notes from my grandparents, short and sweet:

“To my darling daughter – May all your wishes come true. This is what I wish you forever. Your loving dad.”

“Need I say, I wish you the best of every thing this world has to offer – Mom.”

There’s one page with a lengthy inscription in Yiddish. The handwriting is too illegible for me to decipher more than a few words.

There’s a note from Mom’s Aunt Dotty – long gone now: “I wish you a garden of Roses. I wish you children with turned up noses.” Yeah, good luck with that.

There’s a note from a friend: “May your life be like spaghetti – long and smooth. (How’s about ice-skating with me someday, huh?)”

There are sentiments that sound technologically or geographically quaint today: “May your life be as bright as Edison’s electric light.” “May your life be as bright as ‘Luna Park’ at night.” Any of my Esteemed Readers remember Coney Island’s Luna Park?

There’s cattiness: “May your life be as long as your tongue.”

There’s a spirit of budding feminism:

“When you get married
And your husband gets cross,
Pick up the broomstick,
And say, ‘I’m the boss!’”

There’s a bit of Wishful Thinking:

“In 50 years when down you sits,
Remember the name of Horowitz.
An old pal,
Your future lover,
Irwin Horowitz.”

[Not much ever came of that, as far as we know…]

There are taglines and equations:

Yours ’til butter flies.

2  good
2  me
2  be
4  gotten
10 derly yours

And there’s a solitary reference to the new World War into which the United States had been propelled less than two months prior: “V - ...”

But my favorite is the one my Uncle Phil wrote:

Phil's Autograph

In this Age of Electronica, the art of the autograph is fast vanishing...and that’s too bad. But I have my Mom’s little book, and when I open it, those voices of long ago speak to me.

Monday, April 24, 2006

FUN WITH CAT TOYS

This evening, SWMBO and I headed out to restock our nearly bare larder. It’s not that there’s no food in the house, mind you, but we’re light on perishables - milk, vegetables, et al. - and most of the rest of our provisions are tucked away in the basement fridge. This is the situation we face every year after the conclusion of Passover, which, as holidays go, has the unique advantage of forcing a Spring Cleaning of the Food Cupboard.

It’s truly amazing, the Random Shit one finds when cleaning out the pantry and the refrigerator in advance of Passover. Cereal with expiration dates back in the 20th Century. UFO’s - Unidentifiable Frozen Objects - coated with a thick rime of frost. Bottles of rarely-used condiments. Mango jam...capers...green peppercorns...chimichurri sauce...chocolate syrup...lekvar...

But now it’s time to put back the crap that we didn’t pitch out, and take the various orts and candle-ends that remain of the Pesahdik food and stick it in the Root Cellar until next year. Matzoh may not age as well as wine, but year-old matzoh beats year-old cheese any day. Well, most year-old cheese.

As we roamed the Stoopid-Market, the Missus inevitably found herself drawn to the Pet Supplies aisle, where they sell cat food we don’t buy and where they had run out of the one Pet Supply we could have used: cat litter. But the Missus didn’t care about that. She was on a mission. She’s always on a mission in the Pet Supplies aisle.

A mission to find Yet Another Useless Fucking Cat Toy.

Useless, because our cats rarely play with any of the toys the Missus buys for them. Cat beds, little Kitty Tchotchkes - whatever it is, our cats will ignore it. And so I gave the Missus the usual good-natured ribbing I dole out whenever a Useless Purchase is in the offing. Despite this, I was enough of a sport to get the object of her desire down from a barely-reachable top shelf.

[That’s a clue right there, Esteemed Readers. The top shelf in a Stoopid-Market is not like the top shelf in, say, a bar. It’s not where the good stuff is. It’s where the Slow-Moving Crapola is. “Throw it up top, Manny. Someone maybe will want one of those sometime in 2009.”]

Said object? A stuffed Mouse-Like Skritchy Toy, roughly the size of an Economy-Size Football, doped with catnip and possessed of nice, nubbly areas where a cat’s claws could get good purchase. The cashier almost had a heart attack when she inadvertently brushed her hand up against it and caught a glimpse of it from the corner of her eye. “Gaaaah! What the hell is that?!!?

Imagine my surprise when we brought The Bloated Mousie home and Matata immediately started groping it, a prelude to a full-blown scratching and rolling Hump-Frenzy. Even Hakuna, fairly wary in the matter of New Things, gave it a cursory inspection.

I had to acknowledge that SWMBO was right and I was wrong...this time. [There, I said it. Right there on the Inter-Web!]

But I’m a little nervous. I’ll be away from home for ten days, beginning this coming Friday. Business and Pleasure. And the Missus will be here, exposed to the temptation of the Pet Supplies aisle...very like Acidman trying to deal with a trip down the Beer Aisle.

There’s no comparison, of course. Rob’s motivation for avoiding the Beer Aisle is the risk of backsliding in a life-and-death struggle to stay sober. The Missus, if she yields, faces not much more than a temporary Stink-Eye from me...and since it would be delivered half in jest, you could call it the Wink-Eye Stink-Eye.

I hope there’ll be room for me in the house by the time I get back from my travels. Because there are sure to be more Cat Toys.

WAITING FOR PENTECOST: A 100-WORD STORY

They carried his broken, bleeding body to the cave, weeping with every step.

They laid him down, bade their farewells, and sealed the cave entrance with a massive rock.

Three days later, he arose, clad in pure white raiment. He leaped to the mouth of the cave, rolled the rock away, and stepped into the blinding sunlight. Almost as quickly, he retreated into the depths of the cave, shaken and fearful.

That terrible dark shape on the ground! He shivered in horror. Could it have been the Devil himself?

No matter. After six more weeks, Punxsutawney Jesus would try again.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

THE CONE OF STUPIDITY

For years now, we’ve had a Mysterious Device in our house, a Mysterious Device with a sinister function.

To the casual observer, it’s a combination Kitty Scratching Post and Hiding Spot: a hollow conical polyhedron with a hexagonal footprint, covered in skritchable carpet. Matata enjoys sharpening her nails on it, and once in a while she’ll lurk within.

Matata Lurks in the Cone

But several years ago, quite by accident, we discovered that the Carpeted Polyhedron had sinister powers.

It was back when we were living in Houston, about ten years ago, that, on the whimsiest of whims, I decided to get a cat’s eye view of the Carpeted Polyhedron. The opening was large enough for me to allow me put my head inside comfortably. When I did so, a strange sense of peaceful relaxation stole over me. I may even have taken a nap.

That evening, Elder Daughter, then a high school student, came home from a night out. As was our custom, she came into our bedroom to greet us before retiring for the night; this allowed us to administer the Parental Kiss ’n’ Sniff Sobriety Test. SWMBO was sound asleep, so I exchanged numerous pleasantries with the (apparently sober and unbaked) E.D. before turning out the lights and sacking out.

The next morning, I got up in Elder Daughter’s grille for having come in after curfew without coming in to our room to say goodnight. The nerve of the kid!

She looked at me like I was insane.

And perhaps I was, for I had - until being reminded - absolutely no recollection of a single iota of the lengthy conversation I had had with Elder Daughter after her arrival home the night before.

It was as if the memory had been sucked right out of me. It was like I had lost a chunk of my cognitive abilities. Was it a stroke? An aneurysm? A Brain-Fart?

It was the Polyhedron.

We figured out that the Polyhedron - which we immediately, if at the sacrifice of geometric accuracy, dubbed the Cone of Stupidity - had sucked the intelligence right out of my head.

It has taken years to recover...and once again, the siren call of the Cone calls unto me...

Elisson in the Cone of Stupidity

Now, what was it I was writing about?

GOT JESUS?

Yesterday, as She Who Must Be Obeyed and I were on our way out to dinner, we saw a car in front of us with a decal in the rear window: Got Jesus?

It was clear, based on the design of the decal, that it was Yet Another Ripoff of the well-known “Got Milk?” advertising campaign, the one that features all those celebrities sporting Milk Moustaches.

And thus it was the SWMBO posed the question: When you Get Jesus, do you get a Jesus Moustache? And if you do, what color is it?

Well, I’m not an expert on these matters, but if I had to hazard a guess, I’d say that between Ash Wednesday and Easter, you have a purple moustache...but on Easter, it turns white.

SURFACE TEXTURE

Cats are connoisseurs of surface texture. At least, our Matata is.

Matata on Paper

Ahh, paper. Wonderful, stuff, this!

Plastic? Even better. I can roll around on its cool, slick surface ’til the cows come home. Dry cleaning debris is the best of both worlds: it has both paper and plastic! Nirvana!

Matata on Plastic 1

Matata on Plastic 2

Meanwhile, sister Hakuna is content to enjoy the living room carpet. Hakuna loves her some carpet, both as a Comfy Surface upon which to rest, and as a between-meal snack.

Hakuna on Carpet

Surface Texture. Try some today!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

A POETIC OBSERVATION

David Ben-Gurion
Was no Presbyturion.

Friday, April 21, 2006

FRIDAY RANDOM TEN

What, Friday already?

Time flies when you’re eating matzoh. But Passover is over and done with for another year...and as we return to the Leaven-Eating World, let’s take a gander at what the Little White Choon-Box d’Elisson has coughed up:
  1. Elmer Fudd Kill Da Wabbit - Weird Al Yankovic
  2. Lonely M - Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks
  3. The Minotaur’s Song - The Incredible String Band

    Straight from the shoulder
    I think like a soldier
    I know what’s right and what’s wrong
    He knows what’s right and what’s wrong.

    I’m the original discriminating buffalo man
    And I’ll do what's wrong as long as I can
    He’ll do what’s wrong as long as he can

    I live in a labyrinth under the sea
    Down in the dark as dark as can be
    I like the dark as dark as can be
    He likes the dark as dark as can be

    I’ll even attack you or eat you whole
    Down in the dark my bone mills roll
    Porridge for my porridge bowl
    Porridge for his porridge bowl

    I’m strong as the earth from which I’m born
    He’s strong as the earth from which he’s born
    I can’t dream well because of my horns
    He can’t dream well because of his horns

    Moo

    I’m strong as the earth from which I’m born
    He’s strong as the earth from which he’s born
    I can’t dream well because of my horns
    He can’t dream well because of his horns

    A minotaur gets very sore
    His features they are such a bore
    His habits are predicta-bull
    Aggressively relia-bull, bull, bull

    I’m strong as the earth from which I’m born
    He’s strong as the earth from which he’s born
    I can’t dream well because of my horns
    He can’t dream well because of his horns

    I’m the original discriminating buffalo man
    And I’ll do what’s wrong as long as I can
    He’ll do what’s wrong as long as he can

  4. Funeral for a Friend (Love Lies Bleeding) - Elton John
  5. One Note Song - Tenacious D
  6. King Kong - James Newton Howard: King Kong, Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
  7. New Crass Massahkah - Linton Kwesi Johnson
  8. Helen Butte - Miles Davis
  9. Convalescing In Spain - The Judybats
  10. Jesus Thinks You’re A Jerk - Frank Zappa
It’s Friday. What are you listening to?

EL ON WHEELS

Rory, he who knows What not to do in Australia, somehow snagged a picture of me and my Sizzlin’ Ride. Man, this Internet thingy is amazing! How he doooo dat?

Denny’s Z3
Denny Wilson’s Z3. Zoom!

No, that’s not my ride, more’s the pity. That’s Denny’s Z3.

Here we are:

El on Wheels!
Elisson and his Hot Hoopty!

Watch out, all y’all! I’m headed your way, and I’m El On Wheels!

POONCAST

My good friend Mac, over at peskyapostrophe’, suggested that I do a podcast of the Infamous List of Beaver Synonyms. Struck a chord, did it?

Anyway, go visit Mac’s site, where you can download and listen to Yours Truly and the one and only Pooncast. Enjoy!

Now: anybody got a Big-Ass List of Dick Nicknames? Equal time, yo.

Update: The ’cast no longer resides at Mac’s place, but I’ve found a new home for it...so the link should work.

FRIDAY ARK #83

This week’s Friday Ark - Number 83, for those who keep track of such things - is boarding over at The Modulator.

The 109th Carnival of the Cats will be hosted this Sunday evening by My Animal Family. Perhaps they will be a little less tight-assed strict than the prior host, Begin Each Day, who blew my submission off because I sent it in twenty minutes after the deadline. Oh, well. If them’s the rules, them’s the rules...

Update: The 109th Carnival of the Cats is up, despite the untimely loss of the host’s pet rabbit Rambo Rabbeet. Rambo (may his memory be for a blessing) has, thanks to his family’s courage and willingness to tackle the Carnival hosting responsibilities despite their grief, been made an Honorary Catmodel on the Carnival of the Cats homepage.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

BREVITY, THE SOUL OF BULLSHIT WIT

You say you’d listen to podcasts, except they’re too fucking long and boring?

Worry no more. Go visit 100 Word Stories - IFOC Podcast, where Laurence Simon - the “This Blog Is Full Of Crap” guy - has posted a whole collection of Little Gems narrated by a dissolute group of derelicts and degenerates, not least of whom is Yours Truly.

Here are my contributions. Now you can not only read ’em and weep; you can listen to ’em and puke.

Big Dave

Salad Bowl

Mass Confusion

The Horrible, Terrible, Very Bad Breakfast Cereal

Wax Job

The Designer

New Rome

Don’s Night In

Deadly Technology

Block of Ages

Waiting For Pentecost

Critical Mass

Podcasting! Just in case spewing Blog-Crap out onto the World Wide Web doesn’t stroke your bloated ego enough to give it a stiffie...

A DINNER OBSERVATION

Tonight we went out to dinner at a local Italian joint, there to celebrate the end of the Passover dietary restrictions. Joining us were a dozen or so fellow congregants from our shul - the regular Thursday evening bunch.

I’m not especially observant when it comes to the Jewish dietary laws, but there’s something about Passover that compels a level of Attention To The Rules that goes well beyond normal week-to-week practice. And matzoh ain’t all that bad, aside from its prodigious crumb-generating capabilities and its unfortunate tendency to generate Sticky, Tarry Stools. There is nothing so fine as a board or two of matzoh, slathered with fresh butter, for a Passover breakfast.

But after eight days of eating no grain products save those made from Unleavened Bread (or ground-up derivatives of same), I, like most of my coreligionists, am ready for something distinctly Un-Matzoh-Like.

And I think I captured the general sentiment of our Dinner Group pretty well when I observed that, “After eight days of matzoh, they could bring out a dead dog on a plate, as long as it was properly breaded...or if they served pasta on the side.”

Don’t agree? Hey, you try going without bread for a week.

YIZKOR

Today was the last day of Passover, which meant that today’s morning service included Yizkor, the Service of Remembrance.

Yizkor was scary and mysterious to us when we were children. It was The Service Where They Make The Kids Leave, which gave it a frightening, dark cachet. And afterwards, when we were allowed back in the sanctuary, many of the adults had moist, red-rimmed eyes. Just what was it that went on behind those doors?

When we got older, the mystery evaporated. Children were booted out because they might be a distraction; it was also considered unlucky for someone to attend Yizkor if that person still had living parents. But anyone may stay for this portion of the service if they desire to do so.

The main thing about Yizkor is that it’s emotionally very powerful. You are called upon to remember those people you loved and who are no longer with us, and this can be painful. Bittersweet. You reflect upon the fragility and evanescence of life, and this is also painful. We do not live forever, and to be reminded of that basic, unavoidable fact is not easy.

And if all that is not enough to get the waterworks going, the Rabbi usually will - on Yom Kippur, at least - lob out a tearjerker of a sermon that will have people openly weeping in the aisles.

So: it’s not for kiddies, and people who do not have a deceased relative tend to avoid it. Alas, She Who Must Be Obeyed and I have not been in that fortunate cohort for many years now.

Yizkor services are held four times a year: on the last day of each of the three pilgrimage festivals (Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles; Pesach, AKA Passover; and Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks), as well as on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. I’ll cop to not showing up for every single one, but I try to attend as many as I can...for I have all too many people to remember.

People that were a part of my life, or that of SWMBO, and who walk this world no longer.

They’re still around, of course. They’re lodged firmly in our memories, memories we treasure. But the absence of their physical presence is nevertheless a source of sorrow, and we still feel the dull ache of loss.

On this day, we set aside a precious few minutes to remember them - and they live again.

Sis d
SWMBO’s Younger Sister, 1958-1975.

Billy Bob
Billie Bob, SWMBO’s daddy, 1928-1986.

Momma d'Elisson
Momma d’Elisson, 1927-1988.

Eil malei rachamim, shokhein bam’romim, ham’tzei m’nuchah n’khonah tachat kanfei hash’khinah b’ma-alot k’doshim u-t’horim k’zohar harakia maz-hirim, et nishmot kol eileh she-hizkarnu hayom liv’rakha she-hal’khu l’olamam, b’gan eiden t’hi m’nuchatam. Ana ba’al harachamim, hastireim b’seiter k’nafekha l’olamim utz’ror bitzror hachayim et nishmoteihem. HaShem Hu nachalatam, v’yanuchu v'shalom al mishk’voteihem. V’nomar amein.

Exalted, compassionate God, grant perfect peace in Your sheltering Presence, among the holy and the pure, to the souls of all our beloved who have gone to their eternal home. May their memory endure as inspiration for deeds of charity and goodness in our lives. May their souls thus be bound up in the bond of life. May they rest in peace. And let us say: Amen.

THE MADISON AVENUE BOYS ARE ON CRACK

Jennifer and the Robot

How else to explain the latest TV advertisement for the Hummer, in which a Robotic Colossus (seemingly modeled after the one in The Iron Giant) and a hulking Female Monster meet while laying a city to waste, fall in love, and produce a Hummer as offspring?

The Iron Giant
The Iron Giant. Looks familiar, eh?

Now, that’s a concept that I want to associate with my product, thinks the Advertising Executive: A monster fucking a robot. Sweeet.

Now, I don’t drive a Hummer. I drive a Honda Element, which has been likened elsewhere to the offspring of a union between a Hummer and a Cooper Mini. Does that mean Jennifer the Monster is my car’s Grandma?

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

THE LIST

In the Elisson Archive, I have an Excel spreadsheet containing 455 458 - count ’em! - 458 synonyms and nicknames for the word “vagina.”

It makes for amusing reading.

They say the Inuit have 25 different words for “snow,” owing to the importance of that substance in their lives. What does it say about that other Significant Noun, that we should have so many ways to describe it?

Do not look for me to post the list here. That sucker would be a Spam-Magnet with a field more powerful than that of a Neutron Star.

[If you really want a copy of The List, just e-mail me at elisson1 (at) aol (dot) com.]

PLE REPLY

We have narrowed our search to you. Please help us by emailing us your full name and phone number. We believe you might be the closest inheritor of a huge family values and cash left under our care for many years back by your grand or great grand relatives. Who have passed on a long time ago. This is very important to us. Take it serious. This might be your final chance to claim your inheritance. This is not a spam letter.
Send all your correspondence to KEM@ukpc.net

Sincerely
Kem Purr
International department SWB

[Actual, unedited text of a spam e-mail that landed in SWMBO’s inbox late last night.]

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

ANOTHER ONE GETS SUCKED IN

It looks like frequent commenter Lisa W. has succumbed to the Temptations of the Bloggy-Sphere, finally starting her own Online Electronic InterWeb-Journal. The site is called Lemons and Lollipops, a neat alliterative reference to Things Acidic and Sweet - the two extremes between which we navigate in our daily lives.

[Hmmm. Taste analogies. How ’bout Bitter and Salty: Campari and Crab Dip.]

Ahhh, Lisa, Lisa. You have no idea what you are getting into, do you? The wasted hours, the sleepless nights...and eventually, you will want to attend one of those notorious “Blog-Meets,” such as that little three-day Southeastern Writers’ Conference, Tea Party, and Ice Cream Social we have in Helen, Georgia...or the Blown-Eyed Blodger wingding in Austin, Texas. [Do you even know where the term “Blown-Eyed Blodgers” came from? Hint: It has something to do with a whiskery sort of fish...]

Debauchery, thy name is “Bloggy.”

Lisa, welcome to our strange little world. We look forward to your providing a uniquely Canajan perspective on life. And I’m sure we’ll enjoy your writing...because there is only one bore* in New Brunswick, and you’re not it.

* A subtle reference to the geography of St. John, home of the famous Bay of Fundy Tidal Bore. Heh.

Monday, April 17, 2006

QUEEN MATATAR

Yesterday, Matata had perched herself upon one of the stools in the kitchen.

Kitty Butt Elephant

There was something about that pose that struck me as being strangely familiar. And then it came to me:

Babar
Yes, it was King Babar the Elephant, who (coincidentally) turns 75 this year!

Now, for better or for worse, every time Matata parks her hairy butt on that stool, I’ll be hard pressed to get that “Kitty Butt Elephant” picture out of my mind. I’m not sure who to blame: Babar or Laurence Simon.

Hell, I’ll blame Laurence. He not only came up with the whole idea, he committed the abominable sin of giving it a soundtrack. Aieeee!

Queen Matatar

All hail, King Babar Queen Matatar!

MUSEUM MUSING

Dinosaurs at Fernbank

Nothing impels you to take advantage of the cultural offerings in your own city more than a visit from someone who lives somewhere else. And, therefore, because Bro d’Elisson - the other Elisson, if you will - was in town this weekend, we all decided to visit the Fernbank Museum of Natural History.

In the main atrium at Fernbank, there’s an impressive tableau of a skeletal Argentinosaurus being chased by an equally skeletal Giganotosaurus. The Giganotosaurus looks plenty ferocious, despite having no innards and being completely composed of inert matter. If he had balls, they’d be big brass ones, considering he is chasing - with intent to devour - a behemoth more than double his size.

As at the Georgia Aquarium, which we also visited this weekend, music wafts from concealed speakers. She Who Must Be Obeyed made the observation that in the Ancient Days of our youth, museums were quiet places, places suited to contemplation. Is the music there to drown out the shouting of Contemporary Kiddies? Or is it intended as a Mood-Enhancer?

The fact that the music playing near the dinosaurs was a Muzakified version of the John Willimas score from Jurassic Park did not escape our notice. Now, that’s Subtle Indoctrination for you...

I’m not sure I care to hear a soundtrack in this kind of setting. When I’m looking at Artifacts ’n’ Specimens, I do not like to be made to feel as though I am in a Theme Park, or at the Picture Show. Welcome to 21st-Century Culture.

So: one could say that we were musing over the idea of music at the museum, and were not amused.

One could say that, but it would be...perverse.

CRITICAL MASS: A 100-WORD STORY

Superman’s forehead glistened with a film of sweat as he strained with momentary effort.

Clink. House note.

Strain. Clink. Car note.

Strain. Clink. Electric bill.

Every month, the same routine. Scarf a few charcoal briquettes, crap out a few water-white diamonds. That was how the world’s most famous superhero kept the wolf from the door. Couldn’t very well knock over a bank, could he?

The system worked. Most of the time, anyway.

Of course, there was that grim Tax Day back in 2016 when Lex Luthor doped the charcoal supply with plutonium. Where Metropolis had stood was now radioactive glass.

[This is a retelling, of sorts, of an earlier post, Making A Living. I just couldn’t let go of the notion of Superman as Diamond-Factory, and then the idea of critical mass occurred to me...]

[You can hear this story at the 100 Word Stories Podcast.]

Sunday, April 16, 2006

IN THE BAG

Baggy Matata

Matata, lover of Confined Spaces, finds a wicker beach bag in which to lurk, shining her radioactive gaze upon those who dare seek her...

Friday, April 14, 2006

THE DAY LINCOLN WAS SHOT

Precisely on a day like this,
Booth shouted “Sic Semper Tyrannis”
And blew a ball through Lincoln’s brain,
Since which the theatre’s not the same.

Yes, it's the 141st anniversary of the day Lincoln was shot.

What might have been, had he lived out his second term? Would the radical Republicans have remained in check, the excesses of their reign prevented? Would the reconciliation of South and North have evolved differently? Would Jim Crow have made his appearance in the same manner?

Would Lincoln be as well-regarded today had he lived, or would he have Fucked Up in some massive way? Squandered his lead in the polls in the manner of George W. Bush? Would his face have ended up on the Half-Sawbuck or the humble one-cent piece?

Speculate amongst yourselves, Esteemed Readers.

BLOCK OF AGES: A 100-WORD STORY

Furtive whispers in the dark.

Thirty pieces of silver change hands. In moments, the purported Messiah is in irons.

He is led in chains through the streets of Jerusalem, where the mobs howl for his death.

“Behead him! Behead him!”

He is led to the hill at Calvary, where stands the grim scaffold. The axe falls.

Two thousand years later, James Avery enjoys a successful business selling miniature Chopping Blocks, and on Good Friday, Christians everywhere commemorate the Decapitation.

In this world of Humane Romans, the Nicene Creed reads:

“He lost his head so that you could lose your sins.”

POD PEOPLE

...should get their heinies over to 100 Word Stories - IFOC Podcast, where they can enjoy a collection of Terse Tales narrated by a motley crew of contributors, including Yours Truly.

So far, there are four of my 100-Word Stories available for your Listening Delectation, and Lair is posting a new one every evening...until the supply runs out.

Here are the ones you can listen to right now:

Big Dave

Salad Bowl

Mass Confusion

The Horrible, Terrible, Very Bad Breakfast Cereal

Brought to you by the guy with a Face for Radio, with the help of the guy who’s Full of Crap. Sweeeeet.

FRIDAY RANDOM TEN, PASSOVER EDITION

Like Forrest Gump’s famous box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get from the iPod d’Elisson when it’s set on “Shuffle Songs.” And this week’s Friday Random Ten is about as random as they come...everything from 1970’s Hair Band Music to Modern Opera and Klezmer. Enjoy...
  1. Lizzy - Ben Kweller
  2. M (Instrumental) - J. Ralph
  3. Bloody Well Right - Supertramp
  4. The Difficult Kind (Live) - Sheryl Crow & Sarah McLaughlin
  5. On The Table - A. C. Newman
  6. Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi - Christian Thielemann: Orff, Carmina Burana
  7. Act I, Scene 1 “The People Are The Heroes Now” - Orchestra of St. Luke: Adams, Nixon in China
  8. Please Please Me - The Beatles
  9. Yism’Khu - The Klezmer Conservatory Band
  10. Vital Transformation - Mahavishnu Orchestra
It’s Friday. What are you listening to?

PASSOVER MEMORIES REDUX

Bro d’Elisson - yes, the other Elisson - arrived in Atlanta yesterday afternoon to join us for the second Seder. For the last few years, it has been normal practice for my Kid Brudder to spend a few days with us during Passover, and we always look forward to his visit. Last year was a notable exception... but more about that later.

Our Seder meal, lovingly prepared by She Who Must Be Obeyed, consisted of Gefilte Fish Three Ways, the obligatory Chicken Soup with Matzoh Balls, Russian Chicken, Mashed Carrots and Parsnips, and Potato Kugel. Not to mention her fine charoset, that fine Ritual Condiment composed of apples, nuts, cinnamon, and wine. SWMBO adds an extra fillip of flavor by adding golden raisins to her charoset, and it’s easily the finest example of its type.

The soup was magnificent, redolent of warm, chickeny goodness, with just a few droplets of chicken fat floating on the surface. Each serving came with a hefty chunk of carrot and two delicious Matzoh Balls. The Missus has mastered the art of making Matzoh Balls that are neither too fluffy and insubstantial nor leaden and rubbery. They were perfect.

The Gefilte Fish - definitely an acquired taste for most non-Jews - consisted of a slab of “regular” whitefish and pike, a slab of salmon, and a three-layer terrine (dill, salmon, and lemon peel). We could easily have made a meal of the fish alone.

Dessert? It’s not easy making a cake without flour, but it can be done. I whipped up a Torte Soufflé au Chocolat, specially adapted for Passover and with the flavor kicked up with a hefty addition of Slivovitz and a dab of orange oil. And for the Frugivorous Ones among us, I cooked up a Dried Fruit Compote, perfect for counteracting the Intestinal Blockages that may be brought on my excessive matzoh consumption.

Enough about the food. I thought I would be lazy and yank last year’s Passover Post out of the Archive d’Elisson... so here it is:

* * *

I spoke to Bro d’Elisson – technically speaking, he is also Elisson, but I’m the one with the blog – the other night. His leg was bothering him, painful enough to the point where he was going to have to cancel his trip to Atlanta to join us for Passover.

Crap.

It’s a hell of a note when your plans are affected by your kid brother’s problems with his aging corpus. Getting old (er) is no picnic – but I still think it beats the Big Dirt Nap all hollow.

Bro had spoken to Aunt Marge and Uncle Phil and was concerned about Phil’s health. Phil has the attitude of a 30-year-old, unfortunately encased in a body that looks 70 but is really quite a bit older than that. And the signs of age are starting to creep in…

But it still beats that Big Dirt Nap – keyn ayin hora.

You may remember meeting Phil and Marge in a post I wrote back in September, when many sane Floridians were fleeing from the wrath of the eighty-seven hurricanes to hit the laughingly-named “Sunshine State” that summer.


Phil - with Sabrina, the Teen-Age Witch.

Maybe it’s kismet, karma, or What-Ever, but I always think of Phil and Marge this time of year. Passover time.

Passover – the Hebrew term, Pesach, gives its name to the Paschal lamb, and Pâques, the French word for Easter – is a holiday that has close associations with food. That’s because there are foods that are prohibited during Pesach, including anything made from fermentable wheat, spelt, barley, oats, or rye; and foods that are mandated: matzoh and bitter herbs.

As a result of the complex food-related laws and customs of the holiday, it has evolved its own peculiar dishes. Eastern European Jews will eat gefilte fish (think of it as the offspring of Mr. Fish and Mrs. Meatloaf), beef brisket, chopped liver, tzimmes (a sort of dried fruit and meat stew), spring vegetables such as asparagus, and the famous Chicken Soup with Matzoh Balls. Fruit compote and sponge cake for dessert... and all of this washed down with plenty of wine.

The central ritual practice of Pesach is the Seder meal, essentially a Socratic retelling of the Biblical Exodus story. Four mandatory glasses of wine punctuate the meal at specific times, with other glasses consumed at the participant’s (hic) discretion. For those ritual shots of vino – and only those ritual shots of vino - I use the tried-and-true Manischewitz Concord Grape Wine.

Ahh, Manischewitz.

Sure, it’s nasty, and sweet. Sure, it’s a favorite of winos around the civilized world. Sure, it has the finesse of a chimpanzee in a wedding dress and the subtle tact of Ann Coulter on steroids... but it has the absolute lock on the Passover Taste-Memory Association.

And for this I can blame Phil and Marge. You knew I was going to get back to them eventually, didn’t you?

Back in my Runny-Nose Days, we would spend several weeks in Florida every year, visiting the Southern branch of the family. Those vacation trips eventually became a thing of the springtime, which inevitably meant spending part of Passover with Phil and Marge, who would host the Seder meal.

Those were memorable Seders. Already wound up from the excitement of seeing my cousins, I would eagerly await sundown on Seder night – a chance to drink a few sips of the Elusive Fruit o’ th’ Vine, to eat matzoh slathered with charoset (a mixture of grated apples, cinnamon, nuts, and wine intended to represent the mortar with which the Hebrew slaves constructed the Pharaoh’s cities), and to eat gefilte fish with a load of horseradish sufficient to water the eyes and shorten the breath. I loved those Seders.

Not that they were “ritually correct” in any significant way. Yeah, we did the major stuff. We read the Haggadah – well, the first half, anyway. We ate the matzoh and bitter herbs. We dipped the vegetables in salt water. But I’m sure there was a lot we glossed over. I mean, my family’s level of Jewish Observance was such that we would, like as not, order in a pizza for the second Seder – if we had ever bothered to have a second Seder. [N.B. – Outside of Israel, Seder meals are held on both the first and second nights of Passover.]

But we always had fun Chez Phil ’n’ Marge. One night, our cousins’ dog, an evil-tempered piece of shit dachshund yclept Rembrandt, bit a chunk out of my kid brother’s hand. Yes, Rembrandt: the model of the Temperamental Artiste, creating Living Sculpture. It made for an exceptionally exciting Seder, and Bro still carries the scar.

And I still carry the sense-memories. Every year at this time, as the perfume of simmering chicken soup wafts through the house and the pong of freshly-opened Gold’s horseradish attacks the sensitive nasal lining, those memories bubble up from deep inside me, and I remember with love all of those Seder meals long past. All of those grandparents who no longer walk this planet. My mother, SWMBO’s father, both of blessed memory.

And I think of the ones who are still with us, and I treasure them.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

GETTING SHRIMPED

It was early 1977, and my friend Mel was getting ready to move away.

Mel was one of the first friends I made when I moved to Sweat City in 1974, there to begin my career at the Great Corporate Salt Mine. He, like I, worked in Baytown, at a research facility set in the fringes of a monstrous oil refinery and chemical plant. He, like I, was a Jew from the Northeast, adrift in this land of Texans.

It was, in the fullness of time, Mel who pulled the strings that led to my meeting She Who Must Be Obeyed. His girlfriend had a friend who had a Cute Roommate, you see...and one thing led to another. I owe Mel big-time for the favor, and it’s a debt I will never be able to repay.

But put all this aside for the moment. Mel lived in an apartment complex in what was then considered West Houston - a hellacious commute to Baytown, in fact even more hellacious than my own. And it was the fashion, back in those days, to have Asshole Neighbors.

You may have already heard about some of the Asshole Neighbors SWMBO and I had, but Mel’s neighbors were not mere Assholes. They were Gaping Assholes. A couple of Brokeback Cowboy types, back before anyone had any idea what Brokeback meant. [To be honest, neither Mel nor I had any idea what these boys’ Sexual Proclivities were, but I just liked the sound of “Brokeback Cowboy types.”]

Mel didn’t care that these clowns would get loaded every other night and play twangy Country Music at top volume, without regard to the lateness of the hour. But what Mel did care about was their propensity for Cockeyed Parking. It’s difficult, you see, to align one’s car in a narrowish Apartment Parking Space when one is four or five sheets to the wind. And thus Mel would, as often as not, be unable to use his assigned space.

Repeated polite requests bore no fruit. More strongly-worded demands were ignored.

All of this became inconsequential to Mel when he landed a job in Washington, D.C. with the Department of Energy. Fuck the stupid cowboys, he thought. I’m outta here.

I came over to help Mel pack. As we began to clean the Miscellaneous Crap out of his freezer, what should we happen upon but ten pounds of frozen Gulf shrimp? Shrimp that had been sitting in there for months. No way to consume it - it was probably too old to eat anyway, one of those impulse purchases from one of the ubiquitous vendors parked alongside I-10.

An evil gleam lit Mel’s eyes...and I knew at once what Fateful Purpose those shrimp would serve.

We thawed them out in Mel’s sink and hauled them out to the parking lot. Sure enough, the Ambiguously Gay Redneck Duo had pulled their car into their space in the usual sloppy fashion, blocking Mel out. Again.

We popped the hubcaps off the four wheels - the Cowboys were no doubt in their Nightly Stupor by now - and packed each one with several pounds of dripping, soggy raw shrimp, while my visiting brother (“The Other Elisson”) kept an eye out for passersby.

There were a few pounds of shrimp left, and that’s when Mel realized that the Bumpkin Geniuses generally left their car unlocked with the keys in the ignition. [Stupid? Sure, but at least it made it easier to find the keys when trying to drive while lit.] And thus it was that the remaining shrimp ended up shoved underneath the front seat of the car, where it would not be noticed for a day or two...and possibly not discovered for several days after that.

Mel wasn’t a total bastard. Instead of simply starting the car and locking the keys inside with the engine running, he locked the car and flung the keys up onto the roof of the carport.

We never found out the results of our Merry Prank. Mel moved away, and I had no desire or reason to return to the scene of the crime. I suspect that the Cowboy Clowns had to sell that car...for scrap value...after boiling it first.

Yes, indeedy: Revenge is a dish best served with Cocktail Sauce.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

PODCASTING IS FULL OF CRAP

...and it’s getting crappier by the minute.

My friend Laurence Simon of This Blog Is Full Of Crap operates a satellite site that offers up podcasts of his 100-Word Stories. If you’re familiar with the (now defunct) site 100 Words or Les Nessman, you may have seen some of these, including the beloved Mustard Man and The Wacky Adventures of Abraham Lincoln series.

The 100-word format is perfect for podcasting. Short, sweet, and to the point. And Laurence is a master of the genre.

Thanks to his kind offices, you can now hear some of my own Gems o’ th’ Spoken Word at 100 Word Stories - IFOC Podcast, where I am now part of a small, select group of contributors. Laurence will be putting them up on his site over the next several...days? weeks? However long it takes for him to work through the small inventory of stories I’ve sent him. And I may just have to record a few more...

They always said I had a voice for the newspapers and a face for radio. Perhaps the same goes for podcasting.

Monday, April 10, 2006

I REMEMBER MOMMA


The Momma d’Elisson, age 20.

Today is the 12th of Nisan on the Hebrew calendar, three days before the start of the Passover holiday.

It’s also eighteen years since I held my mother’s hand as she slipped off to explore the Undiscovered Country from which none of us ever return.

Following a tradition of long standing, I led services at this morning’s Minyan, after which it was my treat for a Fishy Breakfast at the Local Bagel and Smoked Fish Emporium. It’s a way of thanking the people that show up, thus ensuring that there is a quorum of ten Jewish adults present and permitting me to fulfill my obligation to recite Kaddish.

That’s the religious aspect of Remembering Momma... but there are so many other ways.

Every time I take a golf club in hand, I remember my mother. She and Dad - Eli, his ownself - were regular golfers back in the day. Dad would play on the weekends; Mom reserved most of her Golfy Time for two or three days during the week. She could knock that ball around, all right. To this day, I wish I could play as well and as consistently as she did.

When I was young and still learning the game, I used to let my temper get the better of me... until Mom told me that she would no longer play with me until I got a grip on my emotions. It’s a lesson that has stuck to this very day. I may not be the best player, and I may still ionize the air with a judicious oath or two during a hotly contested round, but I do not whack my driver into the ground after a bad tee shot, nor do I throw my clubs. By treating golf as a game and not a Personal Deathmatch, I remember Momma.

Whenever I read a book, I remember Momma. She was a voracious reader from whom I acquired my love of science fiction. Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Stanislaw Lem, Harlan Ellison (that’s with two l’s and one s), and all the rest are names I learned at my mother’s knee. Even today, about 25% of my average Book-Pile consists of science fiction of some kind or another, and with every page, I remember Momma.

The memories are there, to be called up every time I pick up a tennis racquet or a bowling ball. Every time I order a perfect Rob Roy, straight up. Every time I watch something on public TV instead of the latest reality show tripe. And, for that matter, every time I tell a ribald joke. Momma sure did love a good, filthy joke.

I’m sorry she’s not around to see the beautiful and intelligent young women her granddaughters have become. I’m sorry she’s not around to pester me about my diet or the need to get more exercise (although Dad sees to that quite adequately, thankyouverymuch.) But, in a way, she’s always with me.

And before the sun goes down, I’ll drink a Rob Roy to her memory. Straight up, of course.

Update: My cousin Eli in Jerusalem points out that “Eighteen years is a long time. Chai which means life in Hebrew is 18 in gematria [numerology - E.]. It was also her name in Hebrew - Chaya Riva. A person’s Hebrew name has the deepest of meanings. With your wonderful mother there could have been no better name to describe her - always full of life and lots of love. We will always cherish her memory.”

Sunday, April 09, 2006

SUB TABULA

Sammy, Under The Table

I like the play of light and shadow in this picture of Sammy, my Dad’s cat. She’s sitting in one of her favorite spots, on the cushion of a dining room chair underneath the edge of the table.

If only she could talk. She would probably say something like, “Go, thou Bifurcated One, and visit the 107th Carnival of the Cats, this week hosted by K T Cat at The Scratching Post...and get thee out of my grille with thy stupid-ass Picture-Capturement Box!”

WHY I LOVE GEORGIA

Azaleas in the springtime.

Azaleas

Not to mention the dogwoods, cherry blossoms, forsythia, et cetera.

Any questions?

HALF-NEKKID SUNDAY

The Evilicious Blonde may have her Half Nekkid Thursday, but I’ve got my own Half-Nekkid Sunday going on right here.

[Lewis Grizzard, the late Georgia humorist, used to say that there was a profound difference between “naked” and “nekkid”: if you’re naked, then you’re simply not wearing clothes; however, if you’re nekkid, then you’re undressed and up to something!]

We - She Who Must Be Obeyed and I - were in the shul’s Gift Shop this morning, and she espied these tasty Matzoh-Themed Boxers. “Just the place to put your Matzoh Balls,” quoth SWMBO.

Needless to say, she bought them on the spot.

And so, submitted for your delectation: A Boxer Matzoh.

Matzoh Balls

[With love from Elisson, the guy who put the “Dik” in “Pesahdik.”]

MY LITTLE GIRL

Last night, we were on the phone with the Mistress of sarcasm, who was driving around Savannah with her boyfriend Mickey and his brother Joe. Joe was visiting Savannah for the first time, and he was in the process of getting the Cook’s Tour.

During the course of our telephone call, the Mistress observed that “People in Savannah drive around like idiots with their thumbs up their asses.”

That’s a line that could’ve come right from my mouth.

Ahhh, my sweet Mistress. Nothing warms a Daddy’s heart more than knowing that his child is a Chip Off The Old Block.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

PEPPER POLL

Rory (What not to do in Australia) has posted the results of his poll on the merits of that uniquely American beverage, Dr Pepper.

With 69 votes total, the consensus seems to be that either DP is fine as is, or that it may be used to polish metal. I should point out that those answers may not necessarily be mutually exclusive.

But I had my own poll, and my results are a little different:

Pepper Poll

It’s clear that, given the greater number of votes represented in my poll, that Dr Pepper (a) does not blow goats, and (b) is, if not exactly the Nectar of the Gods, better than a sharp stick in the eye.

I declare a victory for Dr Pepper. There will be no apologies issued to the Fosters-drinking hordes Down Under, where the Vegemite makes men chunder.

Now, if you want to vilify an American soft drink, here’s a Short List of real horrors:
  • Moxie. Yes, you can still get this venerable New England soft drink. But why would you? Two words, Esteemed Readers: Gentian Root.
  • Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray. As the name implies, this stuff tastes like (yecch) celery. Useful for cleaning drains, too.
  • Tab. This is Coca-Cola’s original entry into the world of Diet Cola, still on the market...because there are enough people who love its saccharin-fueled chemical pong to justify keeping it around. These people need to be dragged off and shot.
Anybody got any other Hateful Beverage Suggestions out there? Perhaps we can start a Soft-Drink Jihad.

STORMY WEATHER

Early, early this morning, the sirens awakened She Who Must Be Obeyed and me just before four o’clock.

We turned on the TV and were greeted by a frantic weatherman standing in front of a Radar-Map that showed horrific swaths of orange and deep red headed our way. Outside, the night was eerily calm, that quiet before the storm, but a look toward the northern sky told the true story.

The sky was boiling with looming clouds that were lit from within by an almost continuous flickering of lightning. I stood transfixed at the window, watching the spectacle, a spectacle that was strangely silent.

Then the sirens sounded once again, and SWMBO and I took refuge in the basement, flashlight at the ready in case the power died. When the storm struck, it was as though a switch were turned on. Violent gusts slapped at the house, blasting rain at the windows. The trees swayed and bent. It was a scene right out of King Lear...

I expected to hear the tell-tale clatter of hailstones any moment, but no hail came. And this was good, because the last thing I need is to have to deal with repairing a hail-damaged roof.

After a few minutes, things calmed down and we returned to bed.

Today we found out that we had dodged a bullet. Two tornadoes had touched down, slicing their way across the county and lifting off just a few miles west of us. In our neighborhood, tree limbs were smashed to flinders in several places. And less than a mile from our house, along a busy thoroughfare, there was a single, isolated piece of storm damage: a metal sign that had been twisted and mangled as if by a giant’s hand, leaving the surrounding buildings completely untouched.

It’s that capricious, completely unpredictable nature of tornadoes that makes them so frightening - and fascinating at the same time. I’ve dreamed of them many times, invariably in the form of frightening dreams of black, worm-filled skies, dreams that leave me with a peculiar fearful exhilaration. It’s the exhilaration that comes of facing the whirlwind - coming face-to-face with God’s awesome power - and surviving.

As we survived last night.

CARNIVAL OF THE RECIPES #86

Ziggurat of Doom hosts the 86th Carnival of Recipes, this time with a Superhero and Supervillain theme.

Makes sense to me. Right now, the sushi I ate for lunch is duking it out with the Saumon en Croute and Roasted Vegetables I had for dinner at our friend Barry’s 60th birthday party. I wonder who will win?

Friday, April 07, 2006

MISTUH BIG SHOT

100,000

Early this afternoon, a Mystery Visitor with the IP address 70.157.246.75 became - best as I can tell - Visitor Number 100,000 to this, my Humble Electronic Internet Web-Log.

Sitemeter says the Mystery Visitor is in Westpoint, Tennessee. Statcounter says Mystery Visitor uses Bellsouth DSL Internet Access. The operating system? It’s a mystery, as befits a Mystery Visitor.

I certainly hope said Mystery Visitor identifies him- or herself, so that I may procrastinate several months before sending an appropriately tasteful prize by way of commemmorating this Vastly Overrated Occasion.

I started this mess in early July 2004, exactly 21 months ago today. Since then, I’ve written 1,410 posts of wildly varying quality, length, and readability, on topics ranging from food to religion to Nasal Mucus. It’s mostly bullshit, of course, but once in a while there is an Entertaining Anecdote sprinkled in, much as one might find a golden nugget. Yes, Esteemed Readers: you are the grizzled prospectors seeking buried treasure. Corn Kernels amongst the Shite-Lumps. And I thank you for it.

100,000 site visits sounds like a lot, until you realize that there are Big Dawgs out there who have that many visitors every month...and a few, every day. But no matter. I’m not trying to make a living here, just trying to inflict my twisted worldview upon a cadre of willing victims. And to have fun.

’Cause it’s all about the fun, innit?

FRIDAY RANDOM TEN

This week’s Friday Random Ten kicks off with a perfectly appropriate Golden Oldie from the 1960’s - “Friday On My Mind” by the Easybeats. Can anyone remember anything else they did?

The Little White Choon Box d’Elisson speaketh:
  1. Friday On My Mind - Easybeats
  2. Long Way Home - Supertramp
  3. Human - Goldfrapp
  4. Run, Freedom, Run! - Urinetown, Original Cast
  5. Eminence Front - The Who
  6. Manoir de mes Rêves - Django Reinhardt
  7. IBM - Moonraker
  8. Dio - Tenacious D
  9. The Rescue - Moonraker
  10. Killing In The Name - Rage Against The Machine
It’s Friday. What are you listening to?

FRIDAY ARK

The 81st sailing of the Friday Ark is underway at the Modulator, with reliable old Captain Steve at the helm. And this week, Yours Truly is first up the gangplank.

But wait! There’s more.

Remember to visit Carnival of the Cats, the 107th edition of which will be hosted by KT Cat of The Scratching Post this coming Sunday.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

BOXING MATATA

What is it about cats and confined spaces?

Boxing Matata

The way Matata’s little jowls hung over the edge of the box had both me and the Missus cracking up.

TRAGEDY IN VIDALIA

Tragedy struck a Vidalia, Georgia family last Saturday when three children found crack cocaine in a plastic M&M’s container in their mother’s apartment.
Thinking it was candy, the children put the small rocks in their mouths, then ran to the toilet to spit them out. But the youngest girl, 2-year-old Diamond Johnson, returned and put some more in her mouth and swallowed.
Diamond died later that day, an apparent victim of drug poisoning.

“Our hearts go out to the family of the child; however, this death was entirely preventable,” said Representative Cynthia McKinney (D-Georgia) at a press conference held Monday morning.

“For that reason, I am sponsoring a bill that will require crack cocaine to be packaged in child-proof containers. While it is too late for little baby Diamond, HR6969 will protect other children who live with substance-dependent parents and/or care providers. This kind of senseless loss must never happen again - and believe me, I know from ‘senseless’!”

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

STRANGE HEADFELLOWS

The image below is unsettling. Strangely disturbing...

Isro and Afro

For some reason, it is playing bloody hob with my innards. A clenched-cheek sprint to the Porcelain Deity is in the offing, I fear, to purge this nauseous mass from my burbling bowels!

Perhaps I should restrict myself to posting less-disturbing imagery. With that in mind, I’m searching for my colonoscopy results...

...and perhaps I should take this moment to point out that, merely because I may have worn my hair a tad, er, ahhh...frizzy at one happily distant point in my life, it in no way constitutes an endorsement of the Political Views and generally Assholish Behavior of the individual at right who happens to share the same Frizzy Appearance.

Buckwheat, however, is O-Tay in my book.

[Tip o’ th’ Elisson fedora to Denny, the Grouchy Old Cripple, for the images.]

THE INSCRUTABLE CUISINE OF THE ORIENT

A brand spankin’ new Panda Express restaurant celebrated its Grand Opening about half a mile down the Big Street from us. The good news was, my friend Gary and I got to eat a two-entrée dinner at no charge. The bad news was, the food was barely worth what we paid for it.

Well, perhaps that’s a wee bit harsh. After all, Panda Express – despite the presence of the word “Gourmet” in their tagline - makes no pretense of being a Serious Chinese Restaurant. It’s the Mickey D of Chinee, more at home in a shopping mall food court than as a stand-alone facility.

And it’s attractive enough. Sparkling clean, and staffed with a squad of fresh-faced young man and women. Raw materials – fresh veggies – arranged in clear plastic bins. Bright colors. A restaurant Concept Consultant’s wet dream. Alas, there’s the small matter of the food…

Between us, Gary and I sampled the fried rice (flavorless); the Spicy Thai Shrimp (spicy enough, and colorful, but without anything that would give it a Thai flavor profile); the Mongolian Beef (bland and chewy, lacking the distinctive taste of sweet soy sauce and scallions); and the Signature Dish, Orange Chicken (slightly tough, with a pleasant enough afterburn, but utterly ruined by the cloyingly sweet, gloppy glaze). The local Chinese Take-Out Joint will not lose our business, despite their being another half-mile down the road.

I wasn’t surprised by the insipid food; it’s more or less what I expected. Mall Food. But deep down, I was hoping against hope that there would be a pleasant surprise awaiting us. But, no.

An abiding love for Chinese food was nurtured in the earliest of my Snot-Nose days. Once a week, we’d take a short ride into the neighboring burg of Amityville, there to eat at a greasy little hole-in-the-wall Cantonese place (back then, they were all Cantonese places) called Wong’s.

Wong’s was two doors down from what might have been the Filthiest Bowling Alley in North America, not no matter. The food was ambrosia to the young Elisson. I can still conjure up its homey flavor with perfect clarity. Wonton soup, with cloudlike wontons floating in an ethereal chickeny broth, with shreds of scallion, spinach, and delectable roast pork. Crispy, slightly greasy fried noodles. Crunchy, succulent Roast Pork with Bean Sprouts. Shrimp with Lobster Sauce – or if Dad was feeling flush, Lobster Cantonese.

Dessert was directly from the Standard Chinese-American Restaurant Dessert Handbook and Operating Guide. You could choose between a scoop of ice-chunk-laden chocolate ice cream, served in a little metal dish, or a rectangular block of Concentrated Cherry Jell-O™ with a dot of whipped topping, or an almond cookie. Each choice equally vile, and yet…equally wonderful.

When Wong’s inexplicably fell out of favor from time to time (what did I know about health codes back then, anyway?), we would eat at a more upscale place in the local shopping center – Long Full. The humor of the name never registered on me as a kid. It was pretty much the same food as Wong’s, but in a fancier atmosphere. The waiters would drape folded napkins over their forearms, or some such pretentious shit. And they had the same fucking Red Jell-O Squares.

Over the years, a greater variety of Chinese food came to the shores of America, and I learned to love it all. Szechuan. Hunan. Beijing. I moved to Houston and laughed out loud to see baskets of rolls on the table instead of the sacred Fried Noodles. And eventually, I began to travel to Asia in the course of business, enjoying Chinese food – and other Asian cuisines – on its home turf, as it were.

Fujianese Duck Tongues. Shanghai Hairy Crab. Singaporean Fish Head Curry. Cantonese dim sum. Indonesian nasi goreng. Peking Duck. Thai panang curry. Not to mention Japanese food in all its fishy glory. Sushi. Robatayaki.

I love it all.

But every so often, I will remember Long Full, long gone now. And Wong’s. Especially Wong’s. I pine for the taste of their Roast Pork with Bean Sprouts, the equal of which I have never found.

That bright, happy, fake-ass Panda? It leaves an empty hole in my soul.

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A TIMELY POST

This is being posted at two minutes and three seconds after one A.M. on April 5, 2006.

American-style, that’s 01:02:03 04/05/06.

You won’t live to see that again.

[Tip o’ th’ Elisson fedora to The BBQ General for this completely useless piece of trivia.]

A TERSE MOVIE REVIEW

We went out and saw The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe this evening at the Cheap-Ass Theatre.

Tuesdays, admission is 50¢. That’s fitty cents, people! Less than a bottle of water, assuming you’re the kind of person who pays to drink water out of a bottle. You can’t do better than that unless you rent a movie at Blarghbuster and watch it with eight or more friends.

And here’s a Capsule Review, Complete with Spoilers, that’s only one word longer than the movie title itself:

“The Walrus may have been Paul, but the Lion is definitely Jesus.”

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

FROM THE ELISSON ARCHIVE

El and SWMBO
SWMBO and Elisson, 1976.

This charming little snapshot, taken near the T.G.I. Friday’s that used to sit on Richmond near Post Oak in Houston, dates from the very first days of our time together. She Who Must Be Obeyed looks young and lovely; I, on the other hand, look completely ridiculous tricked out in my mid-1970’s Disco Era Qiana shirt and Afro Isro hairstyle. Thank Gawd the Platform Shoes are not visible in this photograph...

Disco Duck? Muthafuck!