Saturday, September 30, 2006


Hakuna in a pensive pose.


The summit was only fifty yards away. Sisyphus could practically taste it.

Heaving with all his strength, he struggled to keep pouring forward momentum into the massive round boulder. Droplets of sweat pattered in the dust around his feet.

Zeus, he could use a drink. But there would be no drink, no rest for him until he got that fucking boulder all the way to the top.

Ten more yards.

Suddenly, stabbing pain lanced through his left kidney. Gasping, he clutched his side and watched horrorstricken as the boulder rolled to the bottom.

Damn that stone. And damn that stone!

Friday, September 29, 2006


... it seems my friend up Tennessee way is out of ideas for blog-posts, rubberneckers... “out of gas,” I believe, was the phrase he used...

... this cannot stand... it is unacceptable...

... listen, the man can spin literary gold out of the most gossamer, insubstantial raw materials... I’ve seen him do it...

... take acorns, for instance... along with sweet gums, they piss him off... why this is, I cannot fathom, except it may have something to do with Tree Debris...

... you know about Tree Debris, rubberneckers... some trees have the unfortunate habit of spewing detritus... acorns from the mighty oak... pods from the not-so-mighty mimosa... and cherries from the chokecherry tree...

... in my Snot-Nose days, we had several chokecherry trees growing around our house... not a year would go by without them dumping their noisome fruit upon the walkways and patio... the sounds of cherrystones crunching and fruit squishing would fill our ears... not to mention the sounds of parents screaming when we would track the indelibly stainful cherry-juice onto the household carpets...

... and if that were not bad enough, the fermenting fruit would attract birds, who in their greed would sup upon the cherries and become tipsily unpredictable... depositing guano in random patterns... smacking into walls... I tell you, it was horrific...

... eventually, the ’rents hacked those trees down... they were merciless... not even the stumps remained...

... acorns were another story...

... my friend Barry describes how, after Saturday morning services, amongst the goodies on the kiddush groaning board were chickpeas... set forth in bowls, they were, and the old men would tell stories and discuss the weekly Torah portion while eating them out of hand...

... it seems the Rabbi’s son had a mischievous streak... a universal characteristic of Offspring of the Clergy, in my experience... he would gather the acorns that fell from the oak trees behind the synagogue...

... crack open an acorn, rubberneckers, and you will find a nut inside that looks remarkably like a chickpea...

... you can see where I’m going with this, can’t you?... several acorn kernels having been slipped into the bowls of chickpeas... consternation amongst the elders ensued... much gnashing of teeth and cracking of dentures...

... so, yes, acorns can piss you off...


Holy Mackerel! Is it Friday already?

Yes, it is...and it’s Holiday Season. Jewish Holiday Season, that is.

This time of year is jam-packed with Jewish holidays. Last Friday evening, the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, sounded the opening gun for the current crop of Sacred Occasions. Monday, September 25 was the Fast of Gedaliah, and this Sunday evening, Jews everywhere will observe Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Twenty-five hours of no food, no drink, no leather shoes, no bathing (I’ll take a shower, but I won’t enjoy it), no shaving, and no Ficky-Fick.

But that’s not all. The seven-day holiday of Sukkot kicks off next Friday evening, followed by Shemini Atzeret on October 14 and Simchat Torah on October 15. Whew!

But in the meantime, we have our Little White Choon-Box, busily spewing out its Random Assortment o’ Moozik. What do we have for the folks today, Johnny?
  1. Bumblebee - Leo Kottke
  2. So Danço Samba - Stan Getz & João Gilberto
  3. Spirit In The Night - Bruce Springsteen

    Crazy Janey and her mission man
    Were back in the alley tradin’ hands
    ’Long came Wild Billy with his friend G-man
    All duded up for Saturday night
    Well, Billy slammed on his coaster brakes and said
    Anybody wanna go on up to Greasy Lake
    It’s about a mile down on the dark side of Route 88
    I got a bottle of rose so let’s try it
    We’ll pick up Hazy Davy and Killer Joe
    And I’ll take you all out to where the gypsy angels go
    They’re built like light
    And they dance like spirits in the night (all night)
    In the night (all night)
    Oh, you don’t know what they can do to you
    Spirits in the night (all night)
    In the night (all night)
    Stand right up now and let ’em shoot through you

    Well now Wild Billy was a crazy cat
    And he shook some dust out of his coonskin cap
    He said, “Trust some of this, it’ll show you where you’re at,
    Or at least it’ll help you really feel it.”
    By the time we made it up to Greasy Lake
    I had my head out the window
    And Janey’s fingers were in the cake
    I think I really dug her ’cause I was too loose to fake
    I said, “I’m hurt.” She said, “Honey, let me heal it.”
    And we danced all night to a soul fairy band
    And she kissed me just right like only a lonely angel can
    She felt so nice, just as soft as a
    Spirit in the night (all night)
    In the night (all night).
    Janey don’t know what she do to you
    Spirit in the night (all night)
    In the night (all night)
    Stand right up and let her shoot through me

    Now the night was bright and the stars threw light
    On Billy and Davy dancin’ in the moonlight
    They were down near the water in a stone mud fight
    Killer Joe gone passed out on the lawn
    Well now Hazy Davy got really hurt,
    He ran into the lake in just his socks and a shirt
    Me and Crazy Janey was makin’ love in the dirt
    Singin’ our birthday songs
    Janey said it was time to go
    So we closed our eyes and said goodbye to Gypsy Angel Row,
    Felt so right
    Together we moved like
    Spirits in the night, all night
    Baby don’t know what it do to you
    Spirits in the night (all the night)
    In the night (all night)

  4. One And One - Miles Davis
  5. Magicians / Politics - Bobby Slayton
  6. Zig Zag Wanderer - Captain Beefheart
  7. I’ll Be Your Mirror - The Velvet Underground
  8. Spanish Key - Miles Davis
  9. The King of the Golden Hall - Howard Shore, The Two Towers
  10. Surf Wax America - Weezer
It’s Friday. What are you listening to?


Yes, it’s Friday, and Friday Ark #106 is floating as usual over at Modulator Bay.

Don’t forget to swing by Pet’s Garden this Sunday evening, where the 132nd Carnival of the Cats will be hosted. Kitties! Gotta love ’em.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


Yet more of the magic that prevails in the House of Elisson:

SWMBO (to Elisson, as he is reaming his ears out with a Q-Tip and striking, as it were, the Mother Lode): It’s a good thing you didn’t show me that before I fell in love with you.

Elisson: Thank Gawd.


Mr. Sluggo.

While visiting the East Coast last week, our friends Laura Belle and Don happened upon this cute little feller, hard by the Jersey shore. The car key fob is shown to provide a size comparison.

Slugs aren’t everyone’s idea of a Top-Notch Pet, but they have to be at least as much fun as hermit crabs. Certainly, they’re easy to keep up with. You don’t have to chase a wayward slug around the house. They’re slow (in fact, they are downright sluggish), and they leave a handy trail of Slug-Mucus that makes it easy to track ’em.

You say you don’t like slugs? How ’bout this friendly little feller?

Mr. Cocky-Roach.

Here’s what was waiting for me in the shower stall this evening upon my return from dinner.

Whether you call him a Tree Roach, blattidae americanus (the American cockroach), a palmetto bug, archy, or just a Motherfucking Humongous Gawd-Damned Cocky-Roach, he is Not Welcome In My Habitation, oh, no.

Normally, we don’t see a lot of these Big Guys, but this year seems to be an exception: I’ve spotted three in one month. It almost feels like Houston or New Orleans. [Say, could these be Gulf Coast evacuees?]

Most times, they’re already dead when I find ’em, thanks to Frequent Applications of Deadly Chemicals. This one was comatose, managing a few half-hearted wriggles as I picked him up and sent him swirling down the White Porcelain Flume Ride from which no roach has ever returned.


Quick! Bring me a small mammal to comfort me!


This time of year, the mid-morning sun floods our front staircase with warm light. Matata - no fool she - loves to park herself on a stair tread and kick back. I just have to remember that she’s there...

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Zonker and I were having a discussion about the recent Yellin’ in Helen, wherein he made the observation that every blogmeet has its share of Hollywood Moments.

Of course, the term “Hollywood” covers a lot of ground. There’s science fiction. There’s film noir. There’s comedy. There are mysteries, action-adventures, westerns, tear-jerkers, horror movies, suspense films, romances. Something for every taste.

As with Hollywood, so with Helen and other Blodgy Occasions. Some get-togethers are positively packed with meller-drammer, violence, and slapstick stoopidity. Others are more restrained in a Merchant Ivory sort of way. At the very least, virtually any blogmeet worthy of the name will offer many chances to watch the interplay between various personalities and blogging styles. And the Yellin’ in Helen was no exception.

Recalling some of the dialogue that was going on between certain elements of the Blown-Eyed crowd, Zonker and I were put in mind of a particular well-known Comedic Western. You may agree, after you peruse the Damning Evidence...

And later that same day...

[Tip o’ th’ Elisson fedora to Thunderboy for th’ screen grabs and carefully transcribed film quotations actual photos of events in Helen! And, for that matter, the inspiration for this post.]


As I was cruising the Inter-Bloggy-Web today, I discovered a Remarkable New Concept in Perfumery: The Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s Lovecraft Collection, a series of scents inspired by “the works of H. P. Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos.”

Holy Fuck.

Since She Who Must Be Obeyed is allergic to most perfumes and fragrances - at least, when she wears ’em - I don’t spend a lot of time agonizing over what kind of Stinkum I’m going to buy for her birthday. And as a result of this, I’m a little out of touch with What All The Popular Kids Smell Like.

Why plump for Chanel Number 5 or Obsession when you can have...Cthulhu!

“If I say that my somewhat extravagant imagination yielded simultaneous pictures of an octopus, a dragon, and a human caricature, I shall not be unfaithful to the spirit of the thing. A pulpy, tentacled head surmounted a grotesque and scaly body with rudimentary wings... It represented a monster of vaguely anthropoid outline, but with an octopus-like head whose face was a mass of feelers, a scaly, rubbery-looking body, prodigious claws on hind and fore feet, and long, narrow wings behind. This thing, which seemed instinct with a fearsome and unnatural malignancy, was of a somewhat bloated corpulence...”

Mmmmm. What do dat smell like? Fish? Breakfast at the Local Bagel and Smoked Fish Emporium? Or something...more sinister?

Davy Jones

Dayum! I knew he looked familiar!

[Tip o’ th’ Elisson fedora to Pete of A Perfectly Cromulent Blog for the link.]


The Mistress of Sarcasm and her boyfriend Mickey have just returned to Savannah after a not-quite-two-day visit here at Chez Elisson. It’s always a pleasure to have the Mistress around, and Mickey is a sharp-witted enough lad to keep up with her.

A few months ago, the Mistress wrote a song for Mickey, inspired by an article she read about the possible influence of neurochemicals on human emotions. She has given me permission to post it here. Now all I need is someone who can put it to music and I’m all set...


Oh, Mickey, you’re the one for me,
I can feel it in my heart.
Your love seems everpresent,
Even when I cut a fart.

You call me out on my neuroses
Every chance you get –
But then you’ll rock me in your arms,
And tell me not to fret.

They say that it’s all chemicals
That keep us as a pair.
Well, if it’s true that love’s a sickness,
I need intensive care.

You smoke too many cigarettes.
Your sweat smells like hot chrome.
But, lover, when I’m with you,
I just feel right at home.

Just like how scientists don’t know
Why galaxies collide,
It’s true that I have no idea
How you landed by my side.

All I know is that I’m grateful
To have my handsome Mick –
I really doubt it’s dopamine
That’s made me so lovesick.

They say that it’s all chemicals
That keep us as a pair.
Well, if it’s true that love’s a sickness,
I need intensive care.

They say that it’s all chemicals
That keep us as a pair.
Well, if it’s true that love’s a sickness,
I need intensive care.

Now, is she a Chip off the Old Block, or what? At least she didn’t rhyme “Mick” with “dick” - thank Gawd for small favors.


But somebody’s gotta do it. In this case it’s Mike Rowe, who hosts a show on The Discovery Channel entitled Dirty Jobs. It’s about...well, it’s about Dirty Jobs. Unpleasant, filthy, stinking jobs.

I recall that, many years ago, Texas Monthly magazine published an article on the Ten Worst Jobs in Texas. Among these horror-shows were such gigs as working a Texas road crew in the summer, picking up dead animals by the side of the road and carting them off to a rendering plant, and working as a chicken-sexer in a poultry plant.

Yeah, chicken-sexer. Nasty job, that: sticking your finger in a baby chick’s Hoo-Hoo and determining, by sense of touch alone, whether there is a little fleshy bud in there that indicates an Incipient Rooster. Incipient Roosters go in the trash bin, still peeping. Females, on the other hand, get put to work laying eggs or scarfing grain so as to become tomorrow’s broilers. A good chicken-sexer can do about thirty chicks per minute. Good Gawd.

I should ask Elder Daughter about Dirty Jobs. She works for the Discovery Channel now, and she may have some inside poop. Just how much filth and horror Mike Rowe is prepared to deal with, f’r instance.

Whether he can deal with Erin O’Brien’s Immodest Proposal, however, is open to question. Read the whole thing here. I warn you, however. Do not be drinking coffee or other beverages when you read it, lest you cause dismay, embarrassment, and excessive fluid deposition unto your Computer Monitor.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006



Rosh Hashanah - the Jewish New Year - being just past, it’s an opportune time to reflect upon the nature of Holidays and Food.

Eating is a basic component of human existence, and thus it is only natural that our Holy Days involve some change in the culinary routine, regardless of the Belief System by which we comport ourselves.

What would Christmas be without a ham or roast turkey? What would Easter be without a festive ham? What, for that matter, would Ramadan be without its own eating traditions - no food during daylight hours, and a blow-out feast at month-end?

Closer to home, what would Passover be without matzoh ball soup? Or Chanukah without those delightful fried goodies, potato latkes and sufganiyot (Israeli jelly doughnuts)?

Even Yom Kippur, the observance of which includes a 25-hour fast, has food traditions. Ya gotta eat both before and afterwards, and every family has its own traditions. We’ve got a friend who always has a nice big bottle of Crown Royal handy at the closing Yom Kippur services. As soon as that last shofar blast is sounded, out come the shot glasses.

For us, the major Jewish holidays are an excuse to have a classic Ashkenazic (Eastern European) Food Blowout. Chicken soup, gefilte fish, braised brisket, Russian chicken, the works. All the stuff Grandma used to make, and which we little kids never fully appreciated until we got older. Afterwards, there is much groaning and farting...but nobody is hungry. For days.

This year, one of the Traditional Favorites we enjoyed was a beef brisket, prepared Lil Pachter style. The recipe may be found here. Herewith a step-by-step Illustrated Guide:

The seasoned brisket, ready to sear in a hot skillet.

Searing the meat.

I sear the brisket in a medium-hot skillet for about eight minutes on a side.

The brisket, after searing on both sides.

Smothered with onions, tomatoes, and garlic; ready to braise.

Four hours later.

Here’s the brisket after four hours of braising at 350°F.

Allow the meat to rest at least ten minutes before slicing. Slice it against the grain at a bias, then smother with the sauce, which by now has reduced to a yummy, oniony mess. Enjoy!

The finished product.

Now, that’s the way to start the year off right!

I WANT A BOAT... this one.

[Tip o’ th’ Elisson fedora to our friends G and JoAnn for the photo, taken during their recent West Coast cruise.]

Monday, September 25, 2006


The ability of the Internet to forge connections and to disseminate information sometimes astonishes even Elisson.

After the Swift Boat Veterans business back in 2004 and the Dan Rather imbroglio, most of us are at least moderately aware of the Bloggy-Sphere’s unparalleled power to correct factual errors. Of course, Blognis can also offer up the same stew of propaganda, political spin, and bullshit that the MSM doles out, but it’s done at a grassroots level - and that’s not my focus in this post.

This is a story of how Elisson got caught in an inadvertent Error of Fact, and how the error was quickly winkled out.

In my recent post about International Talk Like a Pirate Day, I made – purely for the sake of a Piratical Pun – an offhand reference to “the late FCC Chairman Newton Minow,” who chaired the FCC during the Kennedy administration. Minow had famously described the television industry at the beginning of the 1960’s as “a vast wasteland,” and of course that’s only one step away from “avast wasteland” – something a pirate might want to avoid.

The thing is, Mr. Minow is still walking the planet, and as commenter David pointed out, Minow “is very much with us, and as far as I know he has never been late for an appointment in his life.”

My bad. I had not done my homework, and instead assumed that Newt was watching teevee with the Choir Eternal. But, as Mark Twain once said, “Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” Minow, in fact, is not Late, but is On Time. And as someone who delivered a speech - “Television and the Public Interest” - that is considered by some to be one of the 100 best American speeches of the 20th century, he is worthy of a closer look.

Minow, a close personal friend of Robert F. Kennedy, was assistant counsel to Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson prior to being tapped for the head post at the FCC in 1961. After leaving the FCC, he did not exactly let grass grow under his feet. According to Wikipedia,
He has also been chairman of the Public Broadcasting Service and its predecessor, National Educational Television. He is a recent past-president of the Carnegie Foundation, an influential PBS sponsor, along with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. He has been chairman of the RAND corporation and a trustee of the Mayo Clinic. He is a life trustee of Northwestern University and the University of Notre Dame. He co-chaired the 1976 and 1980 presidential debates and is a director of the Commission on Presidential Debates. He has served on numerous presidential commissions and is chairman of a special advisory committee to the Secretary of Defense on protecting civil liberties in the fight against terrorism.
So, of course Mr. Smart-Brains here figured he must also be defunct.

Minow’s landmark speech was made in May of 1961, at a time when “pay TV” was a concept taking its gingerly first steps; when there were only three national networks; when UHF channels were a new technology with exciting potential; when there was no Internet. He acknowledged the excellence of the best TV had to offer, while decrying the rest:
I have seen a great many television programs that seemed to me eminently worthwhile and I am not talking about the much bemoaned good old days of “Playhouse 90” and “Studio One.

“I am talking about this past season... When television is good, nothing - not the theater, not the magazines or newspapers - nothing is better.

“But when television is bad, nothing is worse. I invite each of you to sit down in front of your own television set when your station goes on the air and stay there for a day - without a book, magazine, newspaper, profit and loss sheet or rating book to distract you. Keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off. I can assure you that what you will observe is a vast wasteland.

“You will see a procession of game shows, formula comedies about totally unbelievable families, blood and thunder, mayhem, violence, sadism, murder, western bad men, western good men, private eyes, gangsters, more violence, and cartoons. And, endlessly, commercials - many screaming, cajoling, and offending. And most of all, boredom. True, you will see a few things you will enjoy. But they will be very, very few. And if you think I exaggerate, I only ask you to try it.”
What has changed in the past 45 years?

Besides the three major networks, we now have Fox, UPN, and WB. Between broadcast television, satellite, and cable, we now have hundreds of channels to choose from, including premium movie channels, HBO, Showtime, pay-per-view, and a bucketful of superstations. Consistent with the general coarsening of our popular culture, phrases cross the lips of sitcom characters that would have burst bloodvessels back in 1961.

There is excellence, and there is crap...and that crap is oh, so crappy.

There is Reality Television. The Biggest Loser. The Apprentice. Big Brother. Fuck a Dwarf for Jesus. Bowling for Handjobs. The Home Shopping Network. Kiddie shows that are nothing but half-hour advertisements.

On the other hand, there are shows like “The Sopranos,” “Law and Order,” “Scrubs,” and the late “Seinfeld.” In the forty-five years since Minow’s speech, we’ve seen television both as an agent of social change and as a mirror that allows us to see how much we have changed. Compare “I Married Joan” and “Amos ’n’ Andy” to “All In The Family”...or “The Dick Van Dyke Show” to “Mary Tyler Moore.”

Nova. National Geographic. Sesame Street.

Today, it’s a vaster wasteland – but among the swamps and desert wilderness, there are a few glimmering outposts of quality and hope.

Newton Minow, the man of vision, is still around. He’s not thrilled with the state of the television industry, I’m sure – especially in the area of children’s programming – but he is still, in the words of Nell, another commenter, “...captain of the good ship Minow (and I don’t mean the one from the three-hour tour).” I won’t make the mistake of assuming his premature demise again.

Speaking of the “good ship Minow,” here’s an interesting bit of trivia: the S.S. Minnow, of “Gilligan’s Island” fame, was named after Newton Minow his ownself. Sherwood Schwartz, the show’s producer, christened the unfortunate vessel the Minnow in an attempt to stick it to the FCC Chairman.

And that other commenter Nell? None other than Newton Minow’s daughter, whom you may also know as the Movie Mom. You meet the damndest people on the Inter-Bloggy-Net!

Sunday, September 24, 2006


KeesKennis has hit the magic 10,000 hitcount milestone, a feat worthy of congratulations.

Kees is one of the more unusual denizens of my blogroll, being a resident of Tanzania who speaks Afrikaans, writes in English (well, sorta), and posts amazing pictures of the local wildlife. I like to think of him as a child of Boers, magically invested with the soul of a Jawja Blown-Eyed Blodger.

He’s well worth a visit. Stop by and tell him Elisson sent ya.


ArmyWifeToddlerMom has tagged me with a meme, and being the Good Sport that I fancy myself to be, I will be happy to play along...if only for having the opportunity to write “ArmyWifeToddlerMeme.” There.

Anyway, the Memely Task is to name four songs that you can listen to over and over. This is not exactly the same as listing one’s four favorite songs; what we’re after here are songs that not only are good, but that bear repetition without getting tiresome. Here’s my list:
  1. With You There To Help Me - Jethro Tull

    There are several Tull songs from their vintage 1969-70 Stand Up and Benefit albums that, for me, have managed to withstand the test of time. “We Used To Know,” “To Cry You A Song,” and “Bourree” are just a few worthy of note. But “With You There To Help Me” is one of those tunes that always makes me want to turn it all the way up to 11.

  2. Thunder Road - Bruce Springsteen

    Back in 1976, my standard routine upon arriving home from a day at the Great Corporate Salt Mine always involved putting Springsteen’s Born to Run LP on the turntable - yes, turntable - and cranking up the volume until the walls shook. Strangely, my neighbors never complained. They must have thought I was a dangerous nut.

  3. A Day In The Life - The Beatles

    Gotta have one Sergeant Pepper tune in here, and this one works for me, every time....even with the Pretentious Crashing Piano-Chord ending.

  4. Bolero - Frank Zappa

    Take Maurice Ravel’s classic Fuck-Tune and give it the Zappa “eyebrows”...’nuff said.

    What tunes can you listen to over and over?


[Inspired by a recent post at Velociworld.]

Saturday, September 23, 2006


Herewith some of the magic that prevails in the House of Elisson:

SWMBO (to Elisson, as he is taking a whiz): When you’re finished, would you mind picking up off the rug that rolled up piece of toilet paper that fell out of your ass, and throwing it away?

Elisson: OK.

Friday, September 22, 2006


Sundown this evening marks the start of the new Jewish year of 5767 and the beginning of the ten-day period known as the Yomim Nora-im, the Days of Awe.

At the front end of the Yomim Nora-im we have Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and at the end, Yom Kippur - the Day of Atonement, holiest of Jewish holidays. And so it is strangely appropriate that the first tune in this week’s Random Ten - spewed directly from the electronic bowels of the iPod d’Elisson - is Kol Nidre, the prayer that ushers in Yom Kippur.

Let’s see what else shows up in our Mix o’ Miscellany today:
  1. Kol Nidre - Al Jolson
  2. Why? - The Specials

    Why did you try to hurt me?
    I got to know
    Did you really want to kill me
    Tell me why, tell me why, tell me why

    Why do we have to fight?
    Why must we fight?
    I have to defend myself
    From attack last night

    I know I am black
    You know you are white
    I’m proud of my black skin
    And you are proud of your white, so

    Why did you try to hurt me?
    Tell me why, tell me why, tell me why
    Did you really want to kill me
    Tell me why, tell me why, tell me why

    We don’t need no British Movement
    Nor the Ku Klux Klan
    Nor the National Front
    It makes me an angry man

    I just want to live in peace
    Why can't you be the same?
    Why should I live in fear?
    This fussing and fighting’s insane

    With a Nazi salute and a steel capped boot
    A Nazi salute and a steel capped boot
    You follow like sheep inna wolf clothes
    You follow like sheep inna wolf clothes
    We chase you out the dance hall, we chase you through the door
    We chase you out the dance hall, we chase you through the door
    Cos we can’t take no more of this at all
    Cos we can’t take no more of this at all
    With a Nazi salute and a steel capped boot
    Tell me why, tell me why, tell me why
    You follow like sheep inna wolf clothes
    Tell me why, tell me why, tell me why

    You’re too scared to make a speech during the light
    Without a thousand police protecting your rights
    To threaten and abuse, incite or fight
    But who will protect me from you in the night?

    Why did you try to hurt me?
    Tell me why, tell me why, tell me why
    Did you really want to kill me
    Tell me why, tell me why, tell me why

    With a Nazi salute and a steel capped boot
    Tell me why, tell me why, tell me why
    You follow like sheep inna wolf clothes
    Tell me why, tell me why, tell me why

  3. Dog Pound Hop (Ren and Stimpy Theme) - Jim Smith
  4. Sweet Georgia Brown - Django Reinhardt & Stephane Grappelli
  5. Come With Me - Monty Python’s Spamalot
  6. Good Thing - Paul Revere and the Raiders
  7. Chocolate Jesus - Tom Waits

    Don’t go to church on Sunday
    Don’t get on my knees to pray
    Don’t memorize the books of the Bible
    I got my own special way
    But I know Jesus loves me
    Maybe just a little bit more

    I fall on my knees every Sunday
    At Zerelda Lee’s candy store

    Well it’s got to be a chocolate Jesus
    Make me feel good inside
    Got to be a chocolate Jesus
    Keep me satisfied

    Well I don’t want no Abba Zaba
    Don’t want no Almond Joy
    There ain’t nothing better
    Suitable for this boy
    Well it’s the only thing
    That can pick me up
    Better than a cup of gold
    See only a chocolate Jesus
    Can satisfy my soul

    When the weather gets rough
    And it’s whiskey in the shade
    It’s best to wrap your savior
    Up in cellophane
    He flows like the big muddy
    But that’s OK
    Pour him over ice cream
    For a nice parfait

    Well it’s got to be a chocolate Jesus
    Good enough for me
    Got to be a chocolate Jesus
    Good enough for me

    Well it’s got to be a chocolate Jesus
    Make me feel good inside
    Got to be a chocolate Jesus
    Keep me satisfied

  8. The Lady Is A Tramp - Skanatra
  9. For Good - Wicked, Original Broadway Cast
  10. In The Aeroplane Over The Sea - Neutral Milk Hotel
It’s Friday. What are you listening to?


The 105th Friday Ark sets sail today at the Modulator, with Hakuna and Matata in pole position.

Also, be sure to stop by House of Chaos Sunday evening to check out the 131st Carnival of the Cats. More fuzzy fun!

Update: CotC #131 is up.


Hakuna likes her solitude, but sometimes she and Matata can be quite sisterly.

Here’s Hakuna being her usual aloof self.

Matata joins her...

...and starts going all back-rolling, belly-baring crazy.

Entertaining, what?

Later, in the sunroom, the two ladies continue to enjoy each other’s company. Must be the smell of Chicken Soup in the air.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


[Aside from the fact that she’s looking at Mr. Ridiculous, here.]

She Who Must Be Obeyed is smiling because of some Good News she got from Doctor Professor Jaw Surgeon this afternoon.

For the first time in a little over three months, the Chewing Light is On!

To celebrate, SWMBO had a Caesar salad with chicken. The porterhouse steaks will come later. Walk before you run, and all that.

Good timing. Now my sweetie will be able to enjoy Rosh Hashanah dinner, brisket and all, without having to hack everything up into miscroscopic chunks. Yes, it’s more fun to be a Jew...when you can chew.


A Yemenite-style Shofar - the traditional Ram’s Horn Trumpet.

The aroma of a beef brisket, braising under a blanket of sliced onions and chopped tomatoes, fills the house. A cauldron of chicken soup simmers on the stovetop, awaiting a final addition of golden egg noodles to make it complete. A dish of sliced apples sits next to its seasonal complement, a container of Tupelo honey.

The mornings are cool, despite daytime temperatures that still sneak into the lower 80’s. In the dawn stillness, a thin sliver of moon floats in a dark ultramarine sky.

The New Year approaches, when Old gives way to New.

Friday evening marks the beginning of the two-day Rosh Hashanah holiday, kicking off the ten Days of Awe that culminate in that most solemn of observances, Yom Kippur. It is the start of the year 5767.

For us, it’s a time of preparation. Preparing Rosh Hashanah dinner is one of the handful of Major Culinary Projects of the year, ranking up there with Thanksgiving and the Passover seder, and SWMBO is all over it. Meanwhile, I am preparing for Yom Kippur, at which time I will serve as shaliach tzibur – cantor and leader - of the Musaf service. Fear o’ Public Speaking is not an option.

It’s also a time of introspection, of taking stock.

There is a prayer in the High Holiday liturgy – the U-netaneh Tokef – that evokes the image of a heavenly tribunal, a court of judgment from which even the angels are not exempt, when the Almighty extends his figurative Shepherd’s Crook and watches the flock pass by, deciding who will be written into the Book of Life for another year.

Hyperreligious people and little children might take the U-netaneh Tokef literally, but I don’t imagine that things really work that way. Nevertheless, it’s a powerful allegory, one that is presented with dramatic language: “The great shofar is sounded, and a still, small voice is heard.”

“Who shall live and who shall perish; who by fire and who by water...”

After my mother passed away, I was never able to listen to the U-netaneh Tokef in quite the same way. I could not get through it without getting a major-league lump in the throat and a tear in the eye.

I fear this year will be the same, for all too many of my friends have received a call from the Unexpected Visitor this past year. Howard. Joe. Gravel-Voice Larry. “Who shall live and who shall perish,” indeed. For none of us knows just what is written next to our names in that ol’ Allegorical Book...and none of us is guaranteed a seat at next year’s New Year services.

But I will put those maudlin thoughts aside for now. I need to run through Hineni a few more times (it’s not good to fumfer in front of 2,000 people), and the noodle kugel is in the oven, perfuming the house with the aroma of apricots.

It’s a beautiful time of the year, as the Old is replaced by the New.

To my friends, family, and Esteemed Readers, Jewish or not, may this new year be a healthy and sweet one for you and yours, without limit to any good thing.


There are all kinds of periodicals out there that cater to the “foodies” amongst us, but my absolute favorite has to be Saveur Magazine.

Food and Wine is overstuffed with advertisements and seems to be aimed at the “Let’s Spend Big Bucks and Entertain A Whole Lot” audience. Gourmet goes for the, well, gourmet market...a little too Fancy-Pants for my taste. Chef’s Illustrated is excellent, but its focus is the ins and outs of the Test Kitchen. Lotta detail there. And Bon Appetit is OK...but for celebrating the sheer joy and variety of eating Good Stuff, you can’t beat Saveur.

The latest issue - October 2006 - arrived in our mailbox a couple of days ago. Here are a few of the things I saw in the space of just three pages:
  • An article about finding familiar food while backpacking in exotic places (page 17). What caught my eye was the mention of banana pancakes.

  • A squib about the 29th annual Turkey Testicle Festival, to be held October 14 in Byron, Illinois. Oh, those wacky Midwestern folk! (page 18)

  • A recipe for Shit on a Shingle [sic]. Most people are aware of, if not familiar with, this Mess Hall Staple, chipped beef on toast, commonly known by the felicitous abbreviation “S.O.S.” But Saveur is nothing if not authentic. Find me one other foodie rag that will print a recipe that incorporates “shit” in its title. (Page 20)

  • On the same page, there’s a mention of the late Joe Carcione, whose birthday is October 31. Carcione became famous as The Greengrocer in the 1970’s - but for us, there’s another connection: he was the cousin of our good friend Laura Belle’s father.
Add some excellent writing, sparkling photography and design, mouthwatering recipes, and not too much Foodie Pretension, and you’ve got a winner.


A few weeks ago, I was up in Alpharetta enroute to a shiva minyan. I had allowed plenty of time for the (usually horrendous) traffic, so I ended up a few blocks from my destination with time to kill. That’s when I noticed that there was a Carvel ice cream store conveniently located nearby.

Those of us who grew up in the Northeast are familiar with Carvel, the ne plus ultra soft-serve ice cream. The company was founded by one Tom Carvel (né Thomas A. Carvelas), a Greek-American who sold ice cream from a truck in Hartsdale, New York back in 1929. One day, the truck broke down and he simply set up shop in the parking lot where he had been stranded. Sales were better when he stayed in one spot, so he put down his first roots right there.

Carvel specialized in soft-serve ice cream. Back in my Snot-Nose Days, Carvel stands offered a choice of vanilla, chocolate, and a Flavor of the Week – all soft-serve. Going out to “get a Carvel” was a real treat. Screw Dairy Queen or Mister Softee (another New York-area fave) – Carvel ruled. Eventually, Carvel began copying the Baskin-Robbins model, offering a large assortment of hard-pack flavors - but to us old-school Carvel fans, it’s the soft-serve that made Carvel special...and still does.

Carvel offered several novelties at his stores, including the “Flying Saucer,” a round ice-cream sandwich – but it was his imaginative approach to ice cream cakes that made him stand out. Tom was a believer in economy, and so it was that he took one or two molds and used them to make a variety of cakes simply by changing their decoration and orientation. Cake designs such as “Fudgie the Whale” (pictured at left), the Easter Bunny, “Cookie Puss,” and the seasonal “Cookie O’Puss” (done up in green for St. Patty’s Day) were not only big sellers, they were all produced using the same stupid molds.

Maybe the best thing about Carvel was his insistence on being the Official Spokesman for his own products. Tom had absolutely no acting ability, but he really believed in his product. You could hear it in his gravelly voice as he introduced his latest franchisee to the radio audience:
“This is Tom Carvel, and I’m here with Rajneesh Gupta, who operates a new Carvel ice cream store at 1115 Grand Concourse. What do you think makes Carvel so special, Rajneesh?”

“Oh, Mister Carvel, I am telling you that we are having the thirty-one flavors, and we are having the Fudgie the Whale, and the Cookie Puss, and they are 100 per cent fresh, and certified kosher! Oh, my ghosht!”
You can’t make this shit up, Esteemed Readers.

Along with Tom Carvel, one of the great unsung heroes of Ice Cream Technology has to be the person who invented Vanilla Fudge.

Vanilla Fudge is insidious. You have a tub of nice, bland vanilla ice cream, shot through with dark, fudgy veins. (In the better ice creams, you can actually taste the fudge.) As you scoop the ice cream out of the tub (or – let’s be honest here, shall we? – excavate your way though the tub with your spoon), every time you hit a vein of fudge, you tend to want to dig it all out. Like copper mining, but without the heavy metals. And there’s always another vein lurking beneath the one you just finished off. The result: you consume far more ice cream than you had originally planned to. Marketing genius!

If you really want Ice Cream Imagination, though, you have to look to Ben and Jerry.

I’m generally a fan of simple ice cream flavors. I don’t like lumpy shit like nuts or chunks of fruit in my ice cream: smooth is what works for me. But Ben and Jerry are the past masters at creating Really Good Ice Cream Flavors with Lots of Chunky Crap In ’Em.

I remember the first time I saw Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream. Here I was in a check-out line at our local Randall’s in Houston, when the lady in front of me set a couple of pints of Ben & Jerry’s on the conveyor belt.

Holy. Fucking. Shit. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream?!!?

Leave it to Ben and Jerry, I remember thinking at the time. These are guys who obviously know how to tap into Fatbody Consciousness. For only the True Fatbodies among us will look at a bowl of raw chocolate chip cookie dough and think, “Hey, why even bother to bake this? I’m gonna eat it with a spoon, right out of the frickin’ bowl!” From there, it’s not too huge an intuitive leap to, “Let’s mix this shit into vanilla ice cream. Bet it’ll taste great!”

Thanks to guys like Ben and Jerry, for me, a trip down the ice cream aisle of the Stoopid-Market is fraught with danger...kind of like a trip through the beer aisle with Rob Smith back in his Bad Old Days. It’s only the knowledge that yielding to temptation means Certain Doom that keeps me from cleaning out 80% of the Ben & Jerry’s and Häagen-Dazs section. These bastards with their Mayan Chocolate (H-D), New York Super Fudge Chunk (B&J), Dublin Mudslide (B&J), and Gawd knows what other flavors tempt me sorely...but I do not give in. Most of the time.

Ahh, but Carvel. You can find their dopey-looking cakes in the Stoopid-Market freezer section, but it’s not the same, no, no. But give me a simple, uncomplicated sugar cone or cup loaded with Carvel’s plain ol’ soft-serve chocolate, and I’m a kid again.


Red was a man who believed in an orderly life.

Perhaps it was his military background, but for whatever reason, it was “a place for everything, and everything in its place.”

His gun cabinet was carefully arranged, weapons sorted by type and caliber. You could eat off the floor of his garage...provided you cleaned up afterwards.

And his butt-plugs? Meticulously shelved by size.

To those who questioned his orderly outlook, Red would always say, “There’s nothing wrong with being a little anal.”

To those who questioned his personal proclivities, Red would always say, “There’s nothing wrong with a little anal.”

[This post is a collaborative effort between Yours Truly and the lovely (and only slightly perverse) Lisa W. of Lemons and Lollipops. You can listen to the podcast at Laurence Simon’s 100 Word Story Podcast site.]

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Every once in a while, I break loose from my conventional, Middle-American suburban existence and do something completely unexpected. It’s the only way to keep the adrenaline flowing.

That’s why I took action today, an action without precedent - at least, in my recent experience. I renewed my Georgia driver’s license a full two weeks before it expired. Woo-Hoo!

Georgia driver’s licenses formerly were issued for four-year terms, with the expiration date on the holder’s birthday. That actually makes sense - a rarity amongst licensing regulations - because it means that the flow of people seeking renewals is fairly steady. You can imagine what the rush at the tag offices was like in the bad old days when all vehicle registrations in the state expired on the same day. Now your vehicle registrations and your DL expire on your birthday, which means that (1) you’ll be more likely to remember when to renew, and (2) there’s less likely to be a line of frustrated wanna-be motorists a quarter-mile long. And with Georgia’s ad valorem taxes on vehicles (which make the annual registration renewal an expensive ordeal), it’s like getting a birthday present in reverse…

“Say, it’s my birthday. Here’s a check for $250. Can my license plate read ‘GO FCK URSLF’?”

But back to the Driver’s License. We’ve been back in the greater Atlanta area for a little over eight years, which means this is the second time I’ve had to renew. It’s ridiculously easy - in fact, it can be done over the Internet, no eye test required, as long as there’s no change of address. And now, you can renew for a term of five years ($20) or ten years ($35) - your choice.

I decided to brave the crowds and go in to the Driver’s Services office to renew. My rationale? The photograph on my license is already eight years old. If I renew for ten years, the photo will be eighteen years old when the new license expires in 2016.

The old photo is OK, but it shows a bearded Elisson. This year’s model is clean-shaven and wears, thanks to the depredations of age, a pair of eyeglasses with progressive lenses. (Progressive used to refer to a kind of politics - or jazz - but these days, it’s the non-bifocal bifocal.) Having a more recent photograph will help me avoid some of the stupider questions that pass for small talk these days:

Dumb Fuck Behind Counter: “Shaved the beard, huh?”

Me: “Yeah. What gave it away?”

Fortunately, the wait for my new license was downright reasonable. I answered a few useless questions, plunked down my $35, and smiled for the camera in my usual tight-lipped semi-serious Official Documents way. And no, I did not wear my Panama hat.

Ten years. That’s an awfully long time until the next renewal. Like a frickin’ passport. Wonder what I’ll look like for the next one? I guess anything that doesn’t involve the descriptive terms “skeletal remains” or “moldering, necrotic flesh” will be plenty good.

Oh, I suppose you’re expecting a poem, too, eh? OK, here ya go:

Elisson went to the office,
To renew there his License to Drive.
The damn thing is good for a decade -
When it runs out, will El be alive?

There’s a lot that can happen in ten years:
Disasters, diseases, and such.
It seems like a bit of a gamble,
Staying ’way from the Grim Reapist’s touch.

But it’s thirty-five bucks, not a hundred,
So Elisson says, “What the fuck?
Who cares if it’s risky? Just bring me some whiskey.
For once, let’s try pressing my luck!”

Update: Ask and ye shall receive...

The New Driver’s License d’Elisson.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Cold wind rattled the bushes as Pak Rhee plastered himself against the side of the building, making himself invisible.

The street was empty. It was time for him to make his move.

He hoisted himself up and slid the pry-bar under the window’s edge. Ten seconds later, he was inside the elderly lady’s apartment. Working quickly, padding from room to room in complete silence, he filled his sack.

It was a good haul. Fifteen of ’em. Crazy old woman.

The manager of Korea House handed Rhee a fat envelope. “Dinner?”

Rhee declined politely. He had never cared for Seoul food.


Meryl Yourish may be able to help me with this one.

Today I took a day-trip to Richmond, there to meet one of my Corporate Colleagues and visit a customer on behalf of the Great Corporate Salt Mine. During the course of the day’s journeys, my colleague and I found ourselves driving on the Powhite Parkway, west-southwest of downtown.

And I found myself wondering: What do they call the detritus that piles up alongside that particular highway?

Powhite trash?


Monday, September 18, 2006


I can’t wait to see Mike Judge’s latest filmic effort, Idiocracy.

Unfortunately, that might not be easy to do. For some bizarre reason, the film - which was completed two years ago - has been released (“dumped” is more like it) in only six markets, completely without benefit of reviews and publicity. And markets like New York and San Francisco, where Judge’s style of humor is well-appreciated, are not even on the short list. What were they thinking?

The L.A. Times (among many others) gives it a favorable review:
Judge has a gift for delivering brutal satire in the trappings of low comedy and for making heroes out of ordinary people whose humanity makes them suspect in a world where every inch of space, including mental, is mediated. The movie would be worth seeing for its skewering of the health system alone...even if its opening thesis on the moment in history (roughly now) that evolution tipped into devolution weren’t so clear-eyed.
But it’s not a pile of glowing critiques that makes me want to see this film. It’s the story.
The movie begins with a comparison of two family trees. A high-IQ couple waits for the perfect time to have a child, a decision they don’t take lightly, while elsewhere, in the trailer park, the dim bulbs breed like rabbits. The high-IQ couple waits too long, the husband dies of stress during fertility treatments, and their line stops there. Meanwhile, the moron population explodes.
And the Onion’s A.V. Club weighs in:
Idiocracy’s dumb-ass dystopia suggests a world designed by Britney Spears and Kevin Federline, a world where the entire populace skirts the fine line separating mildly retarded from really fucking stupid, and where anyone displaying any sign of intelligence is derided as a fag.
Sound familiar? It does to anyone who is acquainted with the work of the late, great science fiction writer Cyril M. Kornbluth, whose classic short story “The Marching Morons” was first published in Galaxy magazine in March 1951.

Strangely, not a single review I’ve read for Idiocracy - with the exception of an excellent post by billmon at his blog Whiskey Bar - has picked up on the Marching Morons connection. And yet it’s clear from every plot summary I’ve seen that Kornbluth’s story had to have been the direct inspiration for Mike Judge’s screenplay.

Cyril Kornbluth died young of a hypertension-driven heart attack, but it could just as easily have been his poisonous worldview that killed him. A more cynical, misanthropic writer this side of Jonathan Swift would be hard to find. In his short story, a modern-day real estate salesman is accidentally thrown into suspended animation, waking up in a dystopian world hundreds of years hence in which intelligence has been bred out of 99.9% of humanity, leaving the hyper-intelligent 0.1% remnant covertly running things - and killing themselves with overwork. The protagonist helpfully suggests a Final Solution to the problem...

Reading “The Marching Morons” today, 55 years after it was written, is actually a little bit scary. The story seems almost perversely prescient, written as it was before reality television, videogames, and Paris Hilton. (Before The Beverly Hillbillies, for that matter.)

From what I understand, the most extremely bitter and cynical elements of Kornbluth’s story have been jettisoned from the movie’s plotline. Even so, that leaves ample opportunity to skewer pretty much everything in modern, vintage-2006 society. I’ve got to see it...if I can find it playing anywhere near here. Otherwise, it’ll be “wait for the DVD” time again.


Tomorrow, September 19, is International Talk Like A Pirate Day, for those of my Esteemed Readers who keep up with such things.

It’s a perfect day to spend in Arrrh-kansas, eating Harrrh-vard beets, smoking cigarrrhs, drinking in barrrhs, and driving fast carrrhs. [The Oldsmobile Cutlass, unfarrrh-tunately now discontinued, comes to mind.]

It’s a good day to watch television, a medium famously characterized by the late FCC chairman Newton Minow as “Avast Wasteland.”

And it’s a good time for me to end this post, before I take things too farrrh.

Update: Commenters David and Nell* have been kind enough to remind me that Newton Minow is, in fact, very much alive. I am glad to hear it, even though his presence in this post is merely for the sake of advancing a stupid pun.

*Who oughta be in a position to know.


It may look like a pillow to you and me, but to Matata it’s Free Parking.

“Move along, now. Daddy wants to get some sleep, and your fat ass is in the way.”

Sunday, September 17, 2006


Long live the jig.

Update: This keeps getting better and better.


Friday evenings, She Who Must Be Obeyed is generally beat from a week of dealing with Teaching Responsibilities - so this past Friday I volunteered to cook dinner for us and for our friends Laura Belle and Don, just returned from a wedding trip to the Northeast.

At the local Fresh Market, some nice fillets of wild Alaska sockeye salmon were calling my name. The flesh was an impressive dark orange-red.

Once home, SWMBO seasoned the fillets with a liberal coating of Potlatch Seasoning. We grilled them over medium-high heat on a cedar plank that had soaked in water for about an hour. The result was indescribable, a blend of spice and smoke that complemented the fish perfectly.

To accompany the fish, I prepared a Carrot-Parsnip Mash. I peeled six carrots and three good-sized parsnips and cut ’em into chunks. These went into a pot of boiling salted water for 45 minutes, along with a handful of Italian (flat-leaf) parsley stems. Once the root vegetables were tender, I drained them and removed the parsley stems, then ran them through a potato ricer. [If you don’t have a ricer, a quick spin in the food processor works about as well.]

To the resulting mash, I added a liberal handful of chopped parsley leaves and 2 tbsp of butter. Salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste, and Bob’s yer uncle. Yummy!

I sliced up a handful of red, ripe tomatoes and dressed them with sea salt, a little pepper, a scattering of parsley, and some basil-infused olive oil. Alongside the tomatoes I placed a small dish with chunks of Roquefort cheese, for those who wanted something with which to doctor up their tomatoes.

A nice 2001 Merlot to wash everything down, and we had a delightful Friday evening meal.

After dinner, it seems that a solitary tomato had remained untouched...and whether it was grateful for my having spared it, or whether it was contemptuously thumbing its Tomatoey Nose at me, it started showing up in the damndest places when I least expected it.

Of course, it was the ever-playful SWMBO who had started a Tomato War. It became a game between us - to see where the tomato would next appear. In my cereal bowl. On SWMBO's bathroom counter. On my pillow.

This morning, as I went to get a clean pair of untervesch out of the drawer, I discerned a strange weightiness in the pouch area. Sure enough, there was the tomato.

I resisted the urge to laugh out loud. Instead, I quietly buried it in SWMBO’s carton of Twat-Plugs, went downstairs, kissed SWMBO goodbye, and nonchalantly headed off to my committee meeting.

During the meeting, my phone beeped in a text message:

“The Tomato Surrenders.”

Saturday, September 16, 2006


The Kennedy half-dollar. [click to embiggen]

Lisa W. commented on a previous post that she had “never heard of a ‘Kennedy half-dollar.’ Cool...”

That’s not too surprising, given that Lisa is Canadian, and considerably younger than Yours Truly. The Kennedy half - and half-dollar coins in general - are virtually unknown outside the World o’ Coin Collectors these days. And, in large measure, that is the fault of the Kennedy half.

Let’s hop on the Wayback Machine and travel to 1964.

In the wake of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, a clamor arose for his memorialization on a circulating coin. Strangely, instead of selecting the Washington quarter, which had been around since 1932, the Franklin half - in circulation only since 1948 - was targeted for replacement by the new coin. And thus it was that the Kennedy half-dollar coin was created.

Half-dollars had been around since the earliest days of the Republic. Larger in diameter than the quarter-dollar (because they contained more precious metal content), halves were, at the time, made of .900 fine coinage silver: 90% silver, 10% copper. Dimes and quarters were also made of coinage silver, and their sizes reflected their relative value.

1964 was a tumultuous year for coins, which were in short supply due to a strong economy, increased use of vending machines, and (to a lesser extent) an exploding collectors’ market. Simultaneously, the price of silver was rising, to the point where the intrinsic value of the coins due to their precious metal content threatened to move above their face value.

Today, in the era of U.S. Mint webmarketing, Statehood Quarters, and seventy-’leven kinds of commemorative coins, it’s hard to imagine the adversarial relationship that existed between the Mint and the numismatic hobby in 1964. But back then, the Mint blamed the collectors for having created the coin shortage - a shortage that was exacerbated by the popularity of the Kennedy half. People salted away every Kennedy half they could get their hands on - it was an attractive coin with a bold portrait of a slain young President, and people kept them rather than spending them.

And that’s when the Treasury Department stepped in and decided to pull the silver out of circulating coins.

Henceforth, dimes and quarters would be made of a “clad” composition - a copper core, bonded to outer layers of 75% copper/25% nickel - with no silver; halves would also be “clad,” but with a silver content of 40%. (A few years later, halves moved to the same silver-free construction as the dime and quarter.) At the same time, the Mint announced that it would pull mintmarks from the coins produced in Denver, a direct slap in the face of collectors. Not only that, they announced that the sale of proof coins - specimen coins with a brilliant mirror finish, produced especially for collectors - was to be suspended indefinitely.

To make the 1964 coins even less attractive to collectors, the Mint continued to produce coins dated 1964 for a goodly part of 1965 - a break with tradition. And then they phased in the silverless coins of 1965.

Gresham’s Law states that “bad money drives out good,” and it operated with a vengeance starting in 1965. With no new silver coins being produced, people began hoarding the old ones almost immediately, and they disappeared from circulation. Soon, old friends like the familiar Liberty-Head (“Mercury”) dime and the Walking Liberty half were but memories.

Between the sentiment-driven collecting of Kennedy halves and the general hoarding of all silver coins, half-dollars vanished. Kennedy, Walking Liberty, Franklin - the design didn’t matter. Gone. And after a few years had passed, people found that they did not miss these large coins - slightly larger in diameter than a Toonie, to give a point of reference to our Canadian friends. Why use a big half-dollar when two quarters worked just as well?

The vending machine and tollbooth manufacturers seem to have agreed. You can’t use halves anymore...not in anything with a slot or change basket. Strangely, though, the Mint still cranks ’em out.

And so it is no surprise that Lisa has never heard of - or seen - a Kennedy half-dollar. The same is true for many Americans today. And - to me, at least - it is a shame.


It’s mid-September, and Fall is in the air.

Oh, we still will have our share of warm - nay, torrid - days in the weeks to come. But now, the night-time temperatures are beginning to dip into the low 60’s, even the upper 50’s. Just like spring in Saint John - but without the incessant drizzle.

It’s too early for frost to be appearing on the pumpkin, but one of the signs of the season is the sudden appearance of spiders. Big ones, too.

Yesterday evening, I noticed that there were two - two! - huge webs in the ivy at the side of our driveway. These were Orb Spider webs, with the classic round “spiderweb” shape - and a honkin’ humongous spider sitting comfortably in the center of each one. I dubbed them Boris and Boris II.

The light of the setting sun caught those diaphanous webs just right, so I ran to get my camera. After all, if Dax Montana can collect Buggy Photographs, so can I.

Boris the Spider

Boris the Spider

Boris the Spider

The Missus wanted to knock the webs down, but I dissuaded her. First, these spiders serve a valuable function, eating pestiferous Small Insects, mosquitoes, and the occasional wayward poodle. Second, they were, located as they were at the side of the driveway, not in anybody’s way. And third, as long as the webs were up, I knew where these big guys were.

Fast forward to later in the evening, as our friends Laura Belle and Don were getting ready to depart after having dinner. Upon opening the front door, they were greeted by a huge web that another Orb Spider had constructed - sometime after their arrival only three hours before.

Borisovich the Spider

Jebus! The last thing you want to do is to walk out your front door and get a face full of spiderweb - especially with a nice, big, excited spider in the middle of it. Yeef!

Borisovich - for so I named him - had to go. His fatal mistake was one the Spider Realtors could have drilled into him: Location, Location, Location. I was mercifully quick...but I was ruthless. Eric would understand.

But this morning, I went to get the paper and Borises I and II were still fat and happy, their webs glistening with droplets of dew. SWMBO was kind enough to lend a hand so you could see how big these bad boys are.

Boris the Spider - Huge!

That’s not a quarter in SWMBO’s hand, Esteemed Readers - it’s a Kennedy half-dollar.

Friday, September 15, 2006


Turd in the Punchbowl?

Turd in a punchbowl
(Resurrecting a meme)
Turd in a punchbowl
Giving off steam.

Turd in a punchbowl
At the yellin’ in Helen -
Turd in a punchbowl
Is that what I’m smellin’?

Turd in a punchbowl
Eric’s not amused.
Turd in a punchbowl
Lucky Scotch is his booze.

Turd in a punchbowl
To tell you the truth -
Turd in a punchbowl
It’s a Baby Ruth.

[Tip o’ th’ Elisson fedora to Yabu for the image]


A diet rich in irony will keep you young.

This morning, Pill-Pushin’ Barney - one of my regular Breakfast-Compadres - was describing the latest pile of stuff he had sold on eBay.

Barney, it should be explained, is a pharmacist. In his spare time, however, he earns a little extra coin by trading antiques and other crap. With all the old junk and miscellany he buys and sells, I’m tempted to start calling him “Rubble Barney.” Lately, he has also become something of an eBay hound.

So here he is, telling us of his latest electronic Fire Sale.

Freeze-dried food. More freeze-dried food. Yet more freeze-dried food. An electric still for purifying water. Survival gear.

All of this stuff, it seems, had belonged to a survivalist, one of those whackos who squirrels away a huge Hoard o’ Necessities in the event the Apocalypse descends upon us. Barney snarfed it all up in an estate sale. The survivalist had not, as it were, survived.

Irony! It’s what’s for breakfast!


This week has seemingly flown by.

Monday, life got back to normal after an Exceptionally Bloggy Weekend in Helen, Georgia. I took Lisa to the airport that morning, fully expecting to see the usual Monday Mob o’ Frantic Travelers - but Hartsfield-Jackson was a ghost town. Were people avoiding travel on 9/11? Surely not everybody in the greater Atlanta area was suffering from the aftereffects of a surfeit of Chatham Artillery Punch!

No matter. With Lisa on her way safely, it was back to the Great Corporate Salt Mine and its daily drill instructions. Next week, I’ll be spending a day in Richmond - Yourish-land! - and then it’ll be back home to get ready for the rapidly approaching High Holidays.

So: What Miscellaneous Magic does Elisson’s Little White Choon-Box have for us today? Let’s check it out:
  1. Stand Up Comedy - Mitch Hedberg
  2. I Want A New Duck - Weird Al Yancovic
  3. Whaling Stories - Procol Harum

    Pailing well after sixteen days,
    A mammoth task was set
    Sack the town, and rob the tower,
    And steal the alphabet
    Close the door and bar the gate,
    But keep the windows clean
    God’s alive inside a movie!
    Watch the silver screen!
    Rum was served to all the traitors;
    Pygmies held themselves in check
    Bloodhounds nosed around the houses,
    Down dark alleys sailors crept
    Six bells struck, the pot was boiling -
    Soup spilled out on passers-by
    Angels mumbled incantations,
    Closely watched by God on high
    Lightning struck out - fire and brimstone!
    Boiling oil and shrieking steam!
    Darkness struck with molten fury,
    Flashbulbs glorified the scene
    Not a man who had a finger,
    Not a man who could be seen
    Nothing called (not name nor number) -
    Echo stormed its final scream

    Daybreak washed with sands of gladness,
    Rotting all it rotted clean
    Windows peeped out on their neighbors,
    Inside fireside bedsides gleam
    SHALIMAR, the trumpets chorused,
    Angels wholly all shall take
    Those alive will meet the prophets,
    Those at peace shall see their wake

  4. Inside Out - Paul Cantelon, Everything Is Illuminated soundtrack
  5. I Looked Away - Derek and the Dominos
  6. Russian Sher - The Klezmer Conservatory Band
  7. Carey - Joni Mitchell
  8. Bodhisattva - Steely Dan
  9. Underture (Entr’acte) - Tommy, Original Broadway Cast
  10. Allison Krause - The Stills
It’s Friday. What are you listening to?


Tissue ’Tata

Here it is Friday again, and Miss Matata is here to remind us that it’s time to board the Friday Ark. This week, Voyage 104 sets sail from the Modulator’s fine port facility.

Don’t forget to check in with Justin’s Random Thoughts this Sunday evening when the 130th Carnival of the Cats will be posted.

[Tip o’ th’ Elisson fedora to Lisa of Lemons and Lollipops for the photo of Matata!]

Thursday, September 14, 2006


More pics to come, but these will give my Esteemed Readers a taste of the Jollity and Madness that is Helen, Georgia when the Blown-Eyeds come to town.

RockYou slideshow |

[Note: If you want to get a better look at any of the images, click on the slideshow picture - this will take you to the RockYou slideshow page. When the page finishes loading, you’ll see the slideshow on the left side of the page, with thumbnails of the individual pictures below it. Click on the thumbnail to jump the slideshow to that image; click on “View Pic” to see the full-size image.]

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


By the shore of Chatta-Hoochee,
By the shining River-Water,
At the doorway of his cabin,
In the warm late Summer evening,
Elisson stood there and waited.

All the air was full of freshness,
All the earth was bright and joyous,
And before him, through the sunshine,
Westward from the Chalet Kristy
Passed in drunken swarms the Blodgers,
Passed the Blown-Eyed Jawja Blodgers,
Stumbling, singing in the sunshine.

Bright above him shone the heavens,
River spread like glass before him;
On its bosom floated tubers,
Dodging rocks from warlike V-Man;
[Wait a minute; that was last year.]
On its bosom floated tubers,
This year floating unmolested,
Floating past the Chalet Kristy.

On the river bank the Blodgers
Sat there drinking punch and whisky,
Sat there swapping tales of bullshit,
Getting up to play half-rubber
On the field beside the Kristy
Redneck trying to catch the pitches
Flung by Eric, noble White Guy.

Denny came, the Grouchy Cripple,
Bringing fancy car and Git-Box,
So he could regale the Blodgers,
Singing of the Brokeback Cowboys.

Rick was there, with lovely Georgia,
Driving from South Carolina,
There to keep the old tradition
Of not missing any blogmeets.
Hair cut short, you’d hardly know him -
Cleans up real good, Recondo.

Shadowscope and Holder sat there,
Newly welcomed to this conclave,
Holder wearing a tiara
As befits a science teacher.

Dax was standing in the river,
Vainly trying to find a nugget,
Just one little golden nugget -
(Georgia found a toy Buzz Lightyear
Floating down the selfsame river
Floating down the Chatta-Hoochee.)
V-Man, meanwhile, found a mushroom:
Big white sucker, like a penis -
Like a huge albino penis -
With it V-man had amusement,
To the horror of his sister.

Lisa came there, joined by SWMBO,
Joined by SWMBO and by Leslie.
They had traipsed through downtown Helen,
Getting tats upon their titties.
(OK, not on Leslie’s titty.
She had got hers on her ankle.)
Lisa came from far New Brunswick
Leaving Hubby with the harvest -
Harvest of the sweet blue-berries.
Rode with Leslie in a rent-car,
(Actually, she drove the rent-car)
Thanks to her connection’s lateness.

Kelly came there, from the Restroom,
Came there with her husband Richard,
There to join the Jawja Blodgers,
And to share the Revelations
She had found inside the Restroom.

RSM paid them a visit:
When the smoke cleared, he could find them
Camped beside the Chatta-Hoochee.
He had just run down the mountain,
Just to find the Jawja Blodgers.
He cleaned up in Zonker’s cabin.

Yabu came there, bringing Barbie -
Bringing with him beauteous Barbie
Proving he is not a nutjob.
Late at night he lit the skies up,
Lit the skies up with his rockets.
Then, when the constabulary
Showed up on the Kristy’s doorstep,
All the other bloggers scattered,
Leaving him to face the music.
Getting busted? Bad, Bad Juju!

Kelley came up from Atlanta,
Came up from Suburban Blight-Land
Leaving Pete to tend the baby,
New arrival Saruman Dooku,
So she could hang out with Blodgers.

Zonker was the organizer -
Organizer of the Blogmeet.
Made the deal with Chalet Kristy,
Blocking out the rooms and cabins.
Zonker brought a bunch of whisky,
Cigarettes, and case of sparkling
Wine to throw into the punchbowl.

Dash and Shoe came out from Texas -
All the way from sunny Texas
There to join the happy party.
Shoe had made a bet with Redneck,
Bet with Redneck on the football,
That the one whose team did poorly
Had to turn the Blog-Keys over
To the winner of the contest.
Texas lost, so ’Neck’s the winner
Letting him post any horseshit
That he wants to on her blogsite.
(Redneck, please, spare us the Goatse.)

Dash had driven up with SWMBO,
Elisson and lovely SWMBO.
On the way they mixed the Chatham
Punch that made the bloggers drunken.
Carefully they stirred the mixture,
Lest they slosh it in the kitchen,
Slosh it on the kitchen floorboards,
There to strip off all the varnish.

Key Monroe came up to visit -
All too briefly, came to visit -
And to give her arm a tattoo,
Leaving untouched her left titty.
(There’s a girl that’s got some Issues.)

Dax Montana’s wife Priscilla
Brought with her the brand-new baby,
Little Dax Montana Junior,
And their other lovely children.
To the Troll they went at lunchtime,
Place beloved of the Blodgers.

Late that night, at Yabu’s cabin,
All descended on the punchbowl,
To their horror finding that a
Turd was floating in the Punchbowl.
Elisson, you nasty bastard!
Did you place that dookie in there?”
[It was really not a Turd-Chunk,
Just a piece of choc’late candy.]
Eric did avoid the punchbowl,
Drinking, instead, Scottish whisky.
Blessèd, turd-free Scottish whisky.

Sunday morning came too quickly,
Far too quickly for the Blodgers,
Scattering in all directions
At the ending of the Blogmeet.
Ave atque vale, Blodgers!
It was great, as I expected.
Note to self: Come next September,
Book a room at Chalet Kristy,
Kristy on the Chatta-Hoochee
Blogmeet-Home for ever after!