Monday, April 30, 2007

SIDEWALK ARTS IN SAVANNAH

The Missus and I spent a thoroughly pleasant weekend in Savannah with our friends Gary and JoAnn, visiting the Mistress of Sarcasm. We had selected this past weekend in particular as it coincided with the annual Savannah College of Art and Design Sidewalk Arts Festival.

It had been four years since SWMBO and I had last attended the Festival, and it was time to recharge our Creative Artsy-Fartsy Batteries. Besides, the Mistress was getting ready to sign a lease on some new digs adjacent to Forsyth Park, so we could kill several birds with one cliché-raddled stone: see the Festival and see the new apartment without having to burn up a lot of shoe leather.

The Mistress of Sarcasm at the Park
Oh boy! Now I get to schlep boxes and furniture!

We arrived at the park Saturday morning around 11:00, after having witnessed the ceremonial Signing of the Lease. Things were just getting underway, so we took a quick stroll around and then headed out to run an assortment of errands, one of which was to help the Mistress look for a new car. Her 1995 Saturn was beginning to show signs of Impending Doom, and she did not want to lay out money for the ever-increasing repair bills that were beginning to loom over the short-term horizon. Ain’t nuthin’ scarier than Old-Car Roulette.

Mistress New Car
The Mistress and her latest acquisition.

Remember buying a new car for the first time? It can be a nerve-wracking business...but Gary and I were there to show her the Official Ploybook. There are certain Sales Tactics that are as predictable as sunrise, and it was amusing to watch the salesman and his manager go through the script line for line, almost as if it had been written out for them. We did not buy a car that day, but with the end of the month fast approaching, we left everything in the Mistress’s capable hands. [Sure enough, she ended up buying the car she wanted at very close to the price she wanted, after a couple of days of bargaining.]

Back at the park, the sidewalks had filled in nicely with Impromptu Works of Art. Here’s a sampling...

Hindenburg
Oh, the humanity!

Taiwan
This one took first place in the Student Individual category.

One of the minor highlights of the afternoon was a performance by a group that calls themselves Albania Mania. Their website looks like it was designed by Borat, and their music is reminiscent of Leningrad’s stuff from the late 1990’s - or the soundtrack of the movie Everything Is Illuminated. The kind of music a bunch of drunken Russians would make: right up my alley.

After we took in as much Forsyth Fun as we could stand, we repaired to the Sentient Bean, a pleasant little coffee shop on the south edge of the park, to refresh our spirits with Caffeinated Beverages. A willowy blonde provided a brief moment of entertainment by walking in wearing a pair of spandex camouflage pants so tight, you could see that she had had herself waxed. Exactly three days, eight hours, and 17 minutes ago. Plus, she had a dime in her pocket with a 1997 date...and a Denver mintmark. We dubbed her “Miss Camo-Toe,” and to my everlasting regret, I took no photos of her.

All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable weekend, even if we were unable to hook up with the Monkey Man, who was in town visiting his semi-disreputable brother.

More Sidewalk Art below the fold...

Zonker's Alter Ego
Remind you of anyone?

Mr. Monkay
Another one that seemed...Strangely Familiar.

Evil Clown
A fair enough drawing, but check out that signature!

Volcano
Live action always jazzes things up. This was the first place entry in the Student Group category.

Chinababy
A big-eyed kid? What next? Dogs playing poker?

SINGIN’ SOPRANO

Singin' Soprano

Just click on the pic, Slick...

Sunday, April 29, 2007

NATURE, RED IN TOOTH AND CLAW

Nature, red in tooth and claw
Doo-dah, doo-dah
Tiger’s fang and lion’s paw
Oh, doo-dah day
Dog eat dog all night
Dog eat dog all day
It’s a real pain
At the base of the Food Chain
All de doo-dah day


Neighbor, the Mistress of Sarcasm’s animal companion, will jealously guard her home from Reptilian Invaders. Here, she faces off with a vicious Komodo Dragonet.

Neighbor the Huntress
Who the hell are you and what are you doing in my house?

Things don’t look too good for Komodo, here, who managed to put up a brave front...

Brave Komodo
You talkin’ to me?

...but our friend Gary came to the rescue and took the little dude outside before Neighbor could finish him off.

Here he is, a little worse for wear, but alive. A little makeup, and he can go right back to making those GEICO ads.

Safe at Last
Safe at last!

“He who fights and runs away
Lives to fight another day!”

MATCHED SET

Matched Set

One of these cats just celebrated her twelfth birthday. Can you guess which one?

It’s Hakuna...the one on the right...who turned 12 on Saturday.

Next year, when the girls turn 13, it’ll be time for their Bat Meowtzvah. Or is that Cat Mitzvah? Gefilte fish for everyone...right after they read their Meowftir!

Friday, April 27, 2007

DON GONE: A 100-WORD LAMENT

Last week, I was drinking Irish Mist and playing whist with Bill Frist. And he had his shorts in a twist.

What was on his mind? Here’s the gist:

Said Frist, “I miss Imus.”

Continued Frist, “Sure, Imus was remiss, laying down a gratuitous dis. A lotta people were pissed. Said it was heinous.

“But in spite of all this, I miss Imus.

“It’s not like Imus said ‘penis.’ Something like that’d never come between us.

“But he said ‘nappy’ and got the Bitch-Slappy, Pappy. Now, are you happy? Me, I think it’s crappy.

“What’s next? Will they burn Stern?”

NATURE...

...the delicate filigree of newborn leaves makes a canopy over my driveway…fetal leaves...flush with the new life of Springtime...

...as I repose on my deck with tea and tunafish, the Western horizon darkens with looming thunderheads...mercy...it looks to be a genuine toad-choker...perhaps I should do my reposing in the indoors...

...fat drops patter down, washing the encrustation of pollen off the deck chairs...a distant rumble...

...the pink azalea blossoms were hit hard a few weeks ago by a late frost...Nature’s fury takes many forms, rubberneckers...sometimes it is the violence of the thunderstorm, sometimes the insidious Frost Crystal...the azaleas look like hammered dogshit, as do the crepe myrtles...but Springtime’s healing touch is upon us, even now...

...I love nature, I truly do...since I have no day job I get to contemplate it more than most...and right now I hear its call, a soft, insistent voice...

...peace on you, rubberneckers...it’s time to drop the kids off at the pool...perhaps afterwards I will apply my trusty Gillette to my nethers...and then prepare some Ribs Vindaloo and a brace of gin-and-tonics...

...it’s tough being straight and white these days...

FRIDAY RANDOM TEN

This week seems to have flown by. It’s Friday again!

Tomorrow morning, the Missus and I, along with our friends Gary and JoAnn, will hit the road at the Butt Crack of Dawn and head down to Savannah, which this weekend hosts the SCAD Sidewalk Arts Festival. Students and alumni from the Savannah College of Art and Design will, weather permitting, fill the sidewalks of Forsyth Park with their hand-drawn creations. Last time we attended the Festival, we were amazed at some of the Impromptu Masterpieces we saw...

The Mistress at the SCAD SAF, April 2003
The Mistress of Sarcasm defaces decorates Forsyth Park with her Fine Artwork, April 2003.

Sunday Rembrandt
A prize-winning creation from 2003, complete with Sunday Funnies hat.

But enough of this. It’s time once again for the Weekly List o’ Random Selections from the Little White Choon-Box. What’s on tap today? Lessee:
  1. Still Fighting It - Ben Folds
  2. So Fucking Stupid - Bickley

    Bickley was a Houston-based punk band in the 1990’s, of interest because of their demented songs (“Pink Power Ranger,” “Piss Fetish,” “Arkansas Death Ride,” “This Song Sucks,” et al.), as well as for the fact that one of their members was a fellow employee at the Great Corporate Salt Mine (!)

  3. Longer Boats - Cat Stevens
  4. What If? - Klaus Badelt, The Time Machine (2002)
  5. Little Wing - Jimi Hendrix
  6. Trapped In The Future - Russell Garcia, The Time Machine (1960)
  7. Rypistynyt profeetta - Tuomari Nurmio & Alamaailman Vasarat

    No, I don’t know what the fuck it means, either.

  8. Good Morning Good Morning - The Beatles
  9. Little Light Of Love - R.X.R.A.
  10. Reggae fi Radni - Linton Kwesi Johnson

    You nuh see how de clou’ them jus’ came sit upon me dream
    Came sit upon me dream like a dark silk screen
    A dark silk screen over de vision I had seen
    Vision I had seen, the vision I had seen

    So me say that Walter Radni was a victim of hate
    Someone say that him gone thru heaven’s gate
    Someone that Walter Radni shouldn’t tek up his true weight
    An’ go carry ’pon ’im back like ’im de weary man a rock

    But look how de clou’ dem jus’ came sat upon me dream
    Came sit upon me dream like a shout or a scream
    A shout or a scream or a really ugly scene
    That awake me from the dream an’ alert me to the scheme

    So me say that Walter Radni was a prisoner of fate
    Someone say that him gone thru de hero’s gate
    Someone say that Walter Radni couldn’t tek his true weight
    So ’im tek it off ’im back an’ go pick it ’pon ’im lap
    An’ go fall in a trap, an’ Sam Burnham get it drop

    But look how me dream come jus’ get blown to smithereen
    Came blown to smithereen ina de miggle of the dream
    Miggle of the dream before de peeple dem come in
    Peeple dem come in, the peeple dem come in

    So me say that Walter Radni was no shark fi de sea
    An’ all that him did wan’ was fi set ’im peeple free
    Wi’ de workers an’ de peasan’s him should a corporate
    But like a fish to de hook, ’im go bite ’pon Burnham bait

    You nuh see how me dream come jus’ get blown to smithereen
    An’ blown to smithereen ina de miggle of the dream
    Miggle of the dream before de really crucial scene
    De really crucial scene when de peeple dem come in
It’s Friday. What are you listening to?

TALKIN’ TEXAN

A note to some of you Blown-Eyes who may be attending your first Texas Blogmeet in another week.

Texans, by and large, don’t sound like people from New Jersey.

To the uneducated ear, Texas English may sound like Southern English. But Suthen and Texan are two different things.

As a wee lad, I would be hauled down to North Miami Beach for periodic visits with the Grand-’Rents. That was where I heard Southern English for the first time. There was a lady named Thelma (Thelma!) who lived a couple of doors down from my grandparents. She was originally from Alabama, and she spoke with a honeyed drawl that I, at that tender age, found enchanting. I could never get enough of Thelma’s beautiful Southern voice.

Plus, she had bodacious ta-tas. [Although I may have made that part up.]

Texas English is different, though. It has a more Southwestern flavor.

Houston Steve tells a story of his first exposure to Texas English. His family emigrated from England to the United States when he was seven years old, finally ending up in Houston. Steve was duly brought in to the local elementary school, there to be registered. The lady in the registration office patted him on the head and said, “Hi there! My name is Mrs. Goff.”

Only it sounded more like, “Hah thayur! Mah name is Missiz Gawff!”

And little Steve turned to his mother, bewildered, and said, “Mummy, I thought they spoke English here.”

True story.

Now, you won’t need a Texan Phrasebook to navigate your way through the wilds of Kerrville...although you would be well served by laying your hands on a copy of Ken Weaver’s masterwork Texas Crude. A paperback copy of this Literary Classic - lavishly illustrated by Robert Crumb - will set you back at least $49.00, according to the latest listings at Amazon.

Just do what all the other bloggers will be doing. Open your mouth and pour in liberal amounts of Shiner Bock. Or whatever other Adult Beverage you prefer. You won’t have any problem making yourself understood.

FUZZY FRIDAY

Consider, friends, the lowly Yeast.
Is it a Plant? Or is it Beast?
Without it, Man doth not have Bread
With which his hungry Face is fed.
And even worse - a Thing to fear:
That, lacking Yeast, we have no Beer.

OK, yeast isn’t an animal. But if it were, you’d find it at the Friday Ark, the 136th voyage of which is afloat over at the Modulator under the guidance of Good Cap’n Steve.

And, of course, be sure to stop by Catymology this Sunday evening to check in on Carnival of the Cats #162.

Yeast & Beast: It’s what’s for dinner!

Update: CotC #162 is up.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

THE GOOD WAR - REIMAGINED

I’m not a big fan of computer animation - it’s no substitute for 2D, in my Thoroughly Useless Opinion - but once in a rare while, you see a film whose subject matter is perfectly suited to it.

Check out this little gem by one Marco Spitoni: 13 minutes of running time, not a dull moment, and created entirely on desktop.

Since I found it over at A Perfectly Cromulent Blog, I’ll let Pete introduce it:

Think about how much more entertaining World War II would've been if the nations involved had abandoned heavy water experimentation in favor of... mechs.

Holy Crap! It’s the Trifecta of Filmic Entertainment: Nazis, Giant Robots, and Shit Blowing Up!



Watch Code Guardian. Walt Disney, this ain’t.

YET MORE CARTOONY CRAP

Rocket Jones provides us with a link to the Cartoon Laws of Physics.

An example, chosen at random:

Cartoon Law III
Any body passing through solid matter will leave a perforation conforming to its perimeter.

Also called the silhouette of passage, this phenomenon is the speciality of victims of directed-pressure explosions and of reckless cowards who are so eager to escape that they exit directly through the wall of a house, leaving a cookie-cutout-perfect hole. The threat of skunks or matrimony often catalyzes this reaction.
They may not have covered this stuff in my Physics 101 class, but it’s Required Reading in Animation Graduate Studies.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

NOT JUST ANIMATION

As much as we kids loved cartoons back in our Snot-Nose Days, there was more than just animation to entertain us.

We had Classic Stuff: material that, in many cases, was superannuated Theatrical Fodder that had been resurrected by television stations desperate for content. Abbott and Costello (whose show I personally never cared much for.) Laurel and Hardy. Our Gang, AKA The Little Rascals. Somehow, their Kidly Adventures were fresh and funny to us, despite the fact that they had been filmed in the 1930’s. The occasional Depression-Era Anachronism didn’t faze us.

We had Howdy Doody. No, that was not a Defecation-Related Inquiry. That was a marionette. Anyone remember the Flub-a-dub? What the fuck was that thing, anyway? I nearly wept when they pulled the plug on Howdy in September, 1960; I remember watching the final show, the only one on which Clarabell the Clown (originally played by one Bob Keeshan in his pre-Captain Kangaroo days, and after 1952 by Lew Anderson) ever spoke.

We had The Three Stooges. You got your Minimum Daily Stooge Requirement by watching Officer Joe “I’m not a real cop but I play one on TV” Bolton, who hosted a daily half-hour show on one of the local stations.

And we had...Soupy Sales.

Click here to see the clip! (8 min 15 sec, 19.5 MB)

Click here for a shorter version (1 min 20 sec, 3.4 MB)

[Tip o’ th’ Elisson fedora to John Kricfalusi for the Soupy link!]

HARE RIBBIN’



Velociman, being the Lazy Turd Thoughtful Individual he is, is attempting to kick-start a new meme over at his place.

The Theme o’ th’ Meme is Cartoons of our Childhood...the ones that made a deep and lasting impression...the ones that may have damaged our psyches irreparably...the ones that we may even laugh at today.

I was a Warner Brothers cartoon disciple. Once I grew old enough to disdain the treacly output of the Disney studios, I began to develop a keen appreciation for the Warner’s cartoon shorts, especially the ones produced in the early 1940’s under the direction of geniuses like Bob Clampett and Tex Avery (before the latter’s defection to MGM, where he also did some inspired work). It was obvious which cartoons were made for showing in movie theatres and which were made for TV: The made-for-TV cartoons all sucked. Cheap-looking.

Boomers get nostalgic for old Hanna-Barbera ’toons. Huckleberry Hound. Yogi Bear. Quick Draw McGraw. Not me. I though that stuff was shite (though I watched it avidly anyway). But the vintage Warner’s stuff was jaw-droppingly good.

The Warner Brothers characters had an edge that was lacking in Mickey Mouse and his cohorts. They were sassy. Obnoxious, even. And Bugs Bunny was the best of them all.



One of my all-time favorites is Hare Ribbin’, a 1944 short in which Bugs tangles with a dog modeled on a popular comedian of the time, Bert Gordon, who played a character known as the Mad Russian. Complete with Gordon’s red shock of Brilloesque hair, his accent, and his catchphrases (“How doooo you do?” and “Do you mean it?”), the dog runs afoul of Bugs and spends most of the movie chasing him underwater (!) - with Bugs attired appropriately in a mermaid costume. It was directed by Bob Clampett and animated by Robert McKimson - an unbeatable combination.



The movie is rarely seen uncut, thanks to a violent ending in which the dog, convinced that he has killed Bugs, tears out chunks of his hair and remorsefully wails, “Oh, what have I done? I killed the little rabbit! I don’t deserve to live! Ohhhhh, I wish I were dead! I wish I were dead!”


“Ohhh, I wish I were dead!”

To which Bugs retorts, stealing a Mad Russian catchphrase, “Nyeeeeh, do you mean it?” He then hands the dog a pistol and the dog shoots himself in the head. The short closes with the dog sitting up and saying “This shouldn’t even happen to a dog!

But the original ending - seen only at the end of the rare Director’s Cut - is even more violent: Bugs, instead of handing the dog the pistol at the end, simply blows the dog away. You won’t see that one on TV these days. Ever.

Try to imagine that happening to one of Mickey Mouse’s friends. Walt Disney would’ve shit a peach pit if one of his animators came up with it.

For a brief time, you could see this cartoon on YouTube, but Warner Brothers, citing copyright infringement, made them take it down.

All is not lost, however. On this page at Toon Zone, you can find a link to the Real Thing - just scroll down to “Hare Ribbin’ (Director’s Cut).” [You’ll need RealPlayer to view it.]

What cartoons did you love as a kid?

[Tip o’ th’ Elisson fedora to John Kricfalusi for the screenshots.]

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

CONSERVATION

Mr. Debonair

Dear Mr. Debonair,

I read recently that Sheryl Crow (one of my fave musicians!) is touring America with environmental activist Laurie David in order to promote conservation and environmental responsibility. Don’t you think that there is a place for saving the Earth in the world of etiquette?

Sincerely,
Janet Planet


Dear Miss Planet,

I most certainly agree that Conservation and Environmental Sensitivity are issues that must be addressed by all of us...even when we are being polite. Sheryl Crow and Laurie David, in fact, in conducting their Short Bus-Tour of the Continental United States to alert the populace to the dangers of Global Warming, are setting a rather high standard for all of us to emulate.

They are traveling in a biodiesel-fueled Omnibus. Not only does this conserve valuable fossil fuel, but it also leaves behind it a vapor cloud redolent of French Fries. Mmmmm...fries! How gracious of them to use their not-insignificant Carbon Footprint to stimulate the appetities of random Passers-By.

Miss Crow is recommending that conservation be practiced in even the most intimate of venues. Allow me to thus quote from her wisdom-filled pronunciamento:
I have spent the better part of this tour trying to come up with easy ways for us all to become a part of the solution to global warming. Although my ideas are in the earliest stages of development, they are, in my mind, worth investigating. One of my favorites is in the area of forest conservation which we heavily rely on for oxygen. I propose a limitation be put on how many squares of toilet paper can be used in any one sitting. Now, I don’t want to rob any law-abiding American of his or her God-given rights, but I think we are an industrious enough people that we can make it work with only one square per restroom visit, except, of course, on those pesky occasions where 2 to 3 could be required.
[Emphasis mine.]

I must admit that the casual reader will greet this statement with skepticism, nay, even disbelief. But I believe Miss Crow is on to something. Please let Mr. Debonair assure you that a single square is sufficient unto almost all Abstergent Necessities, as explained in this post. [Simply substitute a lone square of Tee-Pee for the Cocktail Napkin, and you are All Set.] No matter what your diet, no matter the consistency of your Personal By-Product Materials (ahem), you need no longer contribute to the gradual deforestation of the planet, with the inevitable consequence of a long-term increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and its resultant unfortunate impact on Climate Change, by using excessive quantities of Bun-Wad.

In Singapore, it is a misdemeanor to use a public Rest-Room Facility without flushing afterward, a regulation that poses some interesting enforcement challenges. I therefore leave it as an exercise for the imaginations of my Esteemed Readers to concoct a method of enforcing the putative Sheryl Crow Bun-Wad Act.

Of course, there is a smally, cynical part of Mr. Debonair that wonders whether doing this whole Save The Planet tour by e-mail and internet forum might have resulted in a much smaller Carbon Footprint than driving a bus cross-country...but that wouldn’t have been as much fun, now, would it?

[Tip o’ th’ Elisson fedora to Erica for alerting me to Miss Crow’s Stop Global Warming College Tour.]

PAGING TIM BURTON

Ever wonder what Elisson does in his free time?

He thinks up Useless Shit like this...

Possible Sequels to Edward Scissorhands, as yet unproduced.
  • Richard Hatchetfeet
  • Henry Cleavertoes
  • Anne Staplernipple
  • Elizabeth Boxgraterkneecaps
  • George Nailclipperknuckles
  • James Melonballerkidney
  • Charles Swissarmyknifenavel
  • John Potatopeelerpenis

THE PERFECT ACCESSORY

Leggy ’Ta
Matata snuggles up to SWMBO.

Forget shoes or handbags...this season’s Perfect Accessory is a warm, fuzzy Meatloaf-Cat.

There’s just enough belly showing in this picture for it to qualify as a “Tummy Tuesday” post, too!

Technorati tags:

Monday, April 23, 2007

APRIL GUILD FUNCTION: ONE WINEY EVENING

Tonight, Denny and I had to choke down yet another Sommelier Guild tasting dinner. This time we were joined by none other than Houston Steve, one of the Minyan Boyz, at Grace 1720 in Norcross.

The theme of the tasting was “Other” French wines, i.e., wines from places in France other than Bordeaux and Burgundy. St. Jean de Rubber-Boot, f’rinstance. Here’s what we had to eat and drink:

Starter:
Domaine Marc Portaz Apremont Savoie

Flight 1:
Pierre Ragon Quincy 2005
Albert Mann Pinot Auxerrois Vieilles Vignes 2003
Tardieu-Laurent Hermitage Blanc 2000

Serrano Ham Wrapped Alaskan Halibut, Roasted Baby Vidalia Onions, Whole Grain Mustard Crème

Flight 2:
Duboeuf Julienas Prestige 2003
Duboeuf Fleurie Quatre Vents 2003
Duboeuf Moulin à Vent Domaine des Rosiers 2005

Seared Duck Breast, Crispy Fried Potato, Fennel Salsa

Flight 3:
Domaine du Gros Nore Bandol 1999
Domaine Tempier Bandol Cuvee Special La Tourtine 2001
Calvet Thenvin Les Dentelles 2004

Australian Lamb Loin, Reggiano Crusted Green Tomato, Sweet Tomato Jam

Dessert:
Domaine Deletang Mont Louis Moelleux Gran Reserve 1996

For a second dessert, I brought along a bottle of Quady Essencia Orange Muscat, a sweet wine. Denny, Steve, and I managed to kill most of that bottle over a lengthy postprandial conversation.

Honestly, I just don’t know how we managed to eat this stuff. Whar da beanie weenies at?

BREADSTICK: A 100-WORD TRAGEDY

Size may not matter in the real world, but the Adult Entertainment Industry is all about Length. And Girth. Sheer impressiveness counts.

In the seamier parts of Hollywood, men like John Holmes, Ron Jeremy, and Biff Wellington were celebrated. Not so much for their acting abilities, but for certain physical attributes they brought to their roles.

In the world of French Adult Cinema, one actor’s name stood head and shoulders above the rest: Jacques LeBoeuf, affectionately dubbed “le Baguette” by legions of fans.

One day, he neglected to apply sunblock before a long outdoor shoot. Afterwards, Le Baguette was toast.

OLDEN GOLDIES

It’s not exactly a meme, but it seems that lately, a significant number of otherwise sane bloggers have been posting YouTube clips of 1970’s music videos.

Did the inimitable Velociman start it? Possibly. By pure coincidence, I embedded one in my Friday Random Ten post of April 6...and then all hell began to break loose.

So I may as well jump back in.

Normally, I’d be tempted to put up another Procol Harum video - they have some really good ones available on YouTube - but instead, I will call upon my Mystical Connections for inspiration.

Whoever came up with that “Six Degrees of Separation” may have been on to something. I find that the people I come into contact with in my daily life have all sorts of bizarre connections.

One example: Yesterday evening, we visited our friends JoAnn and Gary for a Springtime Hanging Out on the Deck event. Watermelon martinis, wine, grilled salmon and flank steak, roasted corn on the cob, SWMBO’s homemade guacamole, the works.

One of the women there had the vaguest trace of an accent. It turns out that she was from Poland, her family among the small handful of Jews that survived the Holocaust there. They somehow managed to secure passports, escaping to the United States in the early 1960’s. When I found out that here maiden name was Nesselroth, I jokingly said, “Oh, like the pie!”

The pie being, of course, Nesselrode pie, a Bavarian cream pie laden with candied fruits and jacked up with rum. It’s a dessert you don’t see anymore, but at one time it was immensely popular, especially in the New York area.

Surprise! Our friend was indeed related to the eponymous Karl Robert Nesselrode, after whom the pie was named. The family, it seems, had several branches in various European countries, and there were minor variations in how the name was spelled...but it was the same family.

So, what does all this have to do with 1970’s music?

Not much...except that our friend JoAnn, at whose house we were, has a cousin who used to play in a band. And, again, there’s a minor spelling variation.

Seems her maiden name was Kornick, the English spelling of which was finalized at Ellis Island ’way back when. But part of the family emigrated to England, and their name ended up being spelled Cornick.

And, back in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, JoAnn’s cousin Glenn Cornick played bass for a band called Jethro Tull.

So, while casting about for an Olden Goldie to post, I figured, why not Jethro Tull?

Why not, indeed.


FEEDING FRENZY

This week’s Carnival of the Recipes is up at The Porch Light. The theme of this carnival is Italian cuisine, which makes my submission (Matzoh Ball Soup) look a little ridiculous...unless you think of Matzoh Balls as giant, economy-size gnocchi.

If Kosher Kookin’ is your preference, you should check out the 17th Kosher Cooking Carnival at Baleboosteh.

Go! Eat, bubeleh!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

SMOKIN’: A 100-WORD STORY

Superman finished setting the table in his Penthouse of Semi-Solitude, his pied-à-terre in Metropolis. Furnished with the exotic furniture of Krypton’s Techno-Deco period, it was perfect for those times when the Man of Steel wanted privacy.

He lit the candles; a blast of Super-Breath chilled the Champagne. Lana Lang was coming by for a home-cooked dinner (yay, Heat Vision!). Afterward? That disaster with Lois was still fresh on his mind...

Three hours later, a semi-drunk, exhausted Lana Lang lay against Superman’s naked chest. Smoke curled upwards from under the sheets.

“Ow! Next time, Supes, would ya knock off the Super-Speed?”

[Inspired by that infamous old one-liner: “Do you smoke after sex?” “I don’t know, I never looked.”]


SUMMER OF TEARS

That’s the name of a Los Angeles-Based comedy troupe the existence of which was completely off my radar screen until Elder Daughter alerted me to it in a recent e-mail.

Watch these videos (you will need Quicktime 7), and the only tears will be tears of helpless, gut-wrenching laughter.

Politicians - In which Rob and Todd vie for a very important office. (The Aspen cut of this video is available here.)

A.F.H.V. (Aspen cut) - Jim, Clark, Dan, and Ed’s submission to America's Funniest Home Videos.

Cash (Aspen cut) - Outtakes from Johnny Cash’s last recording sessions with producer Rick Rubin.

How did Elder Daughter know about this bunch? Simple: One of the performers (Todd) is an old high school buddy.

Keep an eye out for these kids. I predict that they will be making a name for themselves.

Friday, April 20, 2007

FRIDAY RANDOM TEN

Hoo-hah! It’s Friday yet again!

Which means that it’s once again time for the Randomly Selected Spewage from the iPod d’Elisson. Whadda we got for the folks today, Johnny?
  1. The Scariest Thing You’ve Ever Done Is Right On The Horizon - Ben Folds
  2. Reting’s Eyes - Philip Glass, Kundun
  3. Tizita - Maritu Legesse
  4. Act II, Scene 1, “At last the weather’s warming up” - John Adams, Nixon In China
  5. Amazon River - Philip Glass
  6. Mars Needs Women: They’re Here - Béla Fleck and the Flecktones
  7. The Beach Gets Cold - Michael Leviton
  8. Mardi Gras in New Orleans - Professor Longhair
  9. Malen’kiy Mal’chik - Leningrad
  10. Psycho Killer - Talking Heads

    A song - or at least a song title - that seems to have especial resonance this week.

    I can’t seem to face up to the facts
    I’m tense and nervous and I
    Can’t relax
    I can’t sleep ’cause my bed’s on fire
    Don’t touch me I’m a real live wire

    Psycho killer
    Qu’est-que c’est
    Fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa far better
    Run run run run run run run away
    Psycho killer
    Qu’est-que c’est
    Fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa far better
    Run run run run run run run away

    You start a conversation you can’t even finish it
    You’re talkin’ a lot, but you’re not sayin’ anything
    When I have nothing to say, my lips are sealed
    Say something once, why say it again?

    Psycho killer,
    Qu’est-que c’est
    Fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa far better
    Run run run run run run run away
    Psycho killer
    Qu’est-que c’est
    Fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa far better
    Run run run run run run run away

    (*spoken interlude in French*)

    Psycho killer,
    Qu’est-que c’est
    Fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa far better
    Run run run run run run run away
    Psycho killer,
    Qu’est-que c’est
    Fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa far better
    Run run run run run run run away

    Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh...
It’s Friday. What are you listening to?

FUZZY FRIDAY

It’s Friday: That means it’s time for the Ark.
Our bloggity Floating Zoölogical Park.


Indeedy.

Friday Ark #135 is up at the Modulator, where one may go to see Modulation at its Finest...not to mention the regular assortment of Puppies and Kitties.

This Sunday, be sure to check out the Carnival of the Cats, where the 161st edition will be hosted by The Scratching Post. [And you can see Neighbor - the Mistress of Sarcasm’s cat - at the CotC home page, where she is Catmodel of the Week!]

Update: CotC #161 is up...and Hakuna is the new Catmodel of the Week!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

BEANS ON THE BRAIN

From my friend David H. comes this intriguing little Brain Teaser.

Below the fold, you will find a picture of some coffee beans. Looks more like Dunkin’ Donuts beans than the Evil Mermaid’s stuff, but that’s just pure speculation.

The trick is to look at the picture and see if you can find the Man Amongst the Beans.

Supposedly, if you are able to find the man in 3 seconds, the right half of your brain is better developed than most people. If it takes you between 3 seconds and 1 minute, the right half of the brain is developed normally. If it takes you between 1 and 3 minutes, then the right half of your brain is functioning slowly and you need to eat more protein. And if you have not found the man after 3 minutes, start taking lecithin pills. Doing crosswords and sudoku may also help.

Actually, I don’t know how helpful the lecithin is. My mother was once told that lecithin - a naturally-occurring emulsifying agent - was an effective memory aid. But she could never remember to take the pills.

It took me the greater part of a minute to find the man...possibly a little more. (Typical Engineering Brain: all left-half.) Meanwhile, it took SWMBO about four seconds. You go, girl!

Yes, the man is really there. It’s not one of those animated pictures where something jumps out at you (like a fat lady’s ass, or some such). You’ve just gotta spot him amongst alla them beans. And once you do, your eye will be irresistibly drawn to him every time you look at this picture.

Good luck. Let me know how you did. I’m compiling a dossier...

Coffee Beans

RING: A 100-WORD STORY

The aptly-named Dr. Isaiah Tusch was, without exception, the most well-regarded proctologist in the entire state. More than a few would have said “the entire country.”

Nobody was more knowledgeable about the Nether Regions of the human body. Nobody could conduct a physical examination more expertly. Nobody could palpate a prostate more professionally. The snap of his gloves as he put them on was like music, and patients queued up outside his waiting room to hear it in their turn.

His hands were his livelihood, and so he insured them: Lloyd’s covered his Ring Finger for a cool thirty mil.

SATYRICON

That would be a good working title for a convention of half-goat, half-man beasties...which could be either more or less interesting, depending on which half was the goat and which the man.

Conventional depictions of satyrs show a man above the waist, a goat below. But what about a man below and a goat above? Not much for conversation, but a good substitute for a garbage disposal.

And for the really bizarre, how ’bout goat on the left, man on the right? Gawd, that’d be ugly as a bastard. Wonder what its thought processes would be like? Left brain? Right brain?

Oh, but wait: You wanted satire.

Get thee to the skwib, where you can enjoy the 72nd Carnival of Satire. Afterwards, you can go and speculate upon satyrs all you want.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

REMEMBERING KITTY

Kitty Memoriam

When I saw this at This Blog Is Full Of Crap, my heart sank:
To tell the truth, Kitty Carlisle-Hart is now appearing as a panelist on “What’s My Flatline?”
Leave it to Laurence Simon to write a one-line obit that manages to sneak in references to two of the vintage game shows that were graced by Kitty Carlisle-Hart’s presence. “To Tell the Truth,” “I’ve Got a Secret,” and “What’s My Line?” all featured regular appearances by Miss Carlisle.

Laurence’s post - and an e-mail I received shortly afterwards from Houston Steve - were the first I had heard of the death of Kitty Carlisle-Hart.

It was hardly shocking. Miss Carlisle was 96 years old, having lived a life at the heart of American twentieth-century popular culture. Operetta singer, movie actress, stage performer, game show icon, New York socialite, and zealous supporter of the performing arts, she was, until the last months of her life, still performing a cabaret act on stage. Standing up, mind you, on what columnist Liz Smith once called “the best pair of legs in New York.”

Useless trivia: Born in New Orleans, Carlisle (who pulled her stage name right out of the phone book - her birth name was Catherine Conn, pronounced “Cohen”) was the granddaughter of the first Jewish mayor of Shreveport, Louisiana. Whodathunkit?

Among her circle of friends were cultural and political luminaries such as George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Kurt Weill, Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, Oscar Hammerstein, Frederick Loewe, Harpo Marx, Thomas E. Dewey, and Nelson Rockefeller.

And my very own Daddy, as related here.

The Missus and I met Miss Carlisle at Reagan International Airport in Washington, D.C. last December. One of those bizarre coincidences. But less than a month later, she was taken ill with pneumonia, and eventually it proved to be too much for her.

IMDB and Wikipedia both feature biographies, and NPR has a remembrance posted.

Today, the world is minus one very classy lady. Alas.

LIVIU LIBRESCU

Liviu Librescu
Liviu Librescu, 1930-2007.

One of the victims of the Virginia Tech Massacre was a Holocaust survivor, according to this report from ABC News:
JERUSALEM Apr 17, 2007 (AP)— Liviu Librescu survived the Nazi Holocaust. He died trying to keep a gunman from shooting his students in a killing spree at Virginia Tech, a heroic feat later recounted in e-mails from students to his wife.

Librescu, an aeronautics engineer and teacher at the school for 20 years, saved the lives of several students by using his body to barricade a classroom door before he was gunned down in Monday’s massacre, which coincided with Holocaust Remembrance Day.

His son, Joe Librescu, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that his mother received e-mails from students shortly after learning of her husband's death.

“My father blocked the doorway with his body and asked the students to flee,” Joe Librescu said in a telephone interview from his home outside of Tel Aviv. “Students started opening windows and jumping out.”
Here was a man who survived the charnel house of WWII Europe, escaping the Holocaust that engulfed the Jews of Romania, where between 280,000 and 380,000 were murdered, eventually coming to America to build a life full of accomplishment.

If I were a fatalist, I might be inclined to believe that he survived for a reason. For his final act was to save the lives of an untold number of students from a crazed, ruthless gunman. Those students will go on, one may hope, to live long and productive lives.

But I think Meryl Yourish says it even better:
If Librescu is one of the Jews that Hitler missed, just imagine the kinds of men and women we lost. Just imagine the leaps in science and medicine and technology we didn’t make, because of Europe’s Jew-hatred. And today, I think, there are a few parents out there who are thanking God that Hitler missed Liviu Librescu. So should we all.
Food for thought, that. And a spark of tragic beauty in an otherwise grim, grim story.

TRAGEDY

Those of us who have been around long enough to see the Unexpected Visitor in action know that lives can be changed in an instant. Changed...or ended.

It’s bad enough when the Guy with the Scythe, the guy we all must deal with eventually, comes after someone who has lived a full life. It’s much worse when he pays that Unexpected Visit to someone who is in the flower of youth, that part of life that is so full of expectation, of becoming.

She Who Must Be Obeyed and her family know this at the deepest personal level. Her sister was struck down by a bolt of lightning at age sixteen, a tragedy the emotional repercussions of which continue to reverberate to this very day, almost 32 years later. She would have been 48 by now, had she lived. What might her life have been like? Her accomplishments, her contributions? The children she never got to have? To me, she will always be that blank space in my mental Family Album, the sister-in-law I never got to know - but to SWMBO, she is a real, albeit ever more distant, memory of times shared and lives lived together.

That horrible, life-changing shock of having a loved one abruptly snatched away struck a family in our synagogue last week. Their son, a high-school senior, had gone on a road trip with two friends to catch a concert in Jacksonville. It was, apparently, a trip that had not been parentally sanctioned: each of them had told his parents that he was spending the night with one of the others. It’s the kind of thing high-school boys do, I suppose, a Rite of Passage, sneaking out to do something that should have been more-or-less innocuous.

Somewhere around Tifton, Georgia, in the wee hours of the morning, things went wrong. The driver of the car fell asleep. Their SUV rolled, killing one of the boys and seriously injuring another. Only the driver escaped physically unscathed. [It was reported that all three boys had been wearing seatbelts; this was not enough to protect them in the deadly rollover collision.]

When the police came to the house of the young man who had been killed to deliver the tragic news, the parents were doubly stunned, for they had expected their son to be sleeping at a friend’s house that night. Now they had a bedroom with an empty bed...and the awful knowledge that it would be forever empty.

The graveside funeral was attended by hundreds, all in shock at the suddenness with which one life had been ended and two others irrevocably, permanently changed. The driver of the car (who, as we were later horrified to learn, is our next-door neighbor) will have to live the rest of his life with the death of his friend on his conscience, accidental though it was.

Now, imagine this tragedy multiplied: thirty-two people, most of them young men and women in that same age of as-yet-unfulfilled potentialities, shot down two days ago by a deranged individual in what will be forever known as the Virginia Tech Massacre. So many of those lives snuffed out before they could find their place in the world.

Thirty-two. The mind boggles.

All of those parents, all of those families, their lives irrevocably changed. Not through the agency of a sudden, unplanned bout of highway drowsiness, but through the deliberate actions of a disturbed young man with a couple of guns and a heart full of hate, the avatar of the Unexpected Visitor.

May the souls of their children - and of the others who perished, for it was not only students who were gunned down - be bound up in the wings of the Divine Presence, and may they be comforted in knowing that they are not alone. A nation weeps with them.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

ARE YOU READY FOR TEXAS?

Those of my Esteemed Readers who will be attending the Blowneyed Blast in Kerrville, Texas - this year’s Big Bloggity Event (outside the hallowed state of Georgia, anyway) - need to prepare themselves mentally for the Texas Experience.

I’m thinking specifically of that hardy handful of Northeasterners who will be making the trip.

Having lived in Texas for fourteen out of the past 33 years, I can safely say that they ain’t noplace else like it. It’s the natal home of She Who Must Be Obeyed, a state that has its own Pledge of Allegiance. To the Texas flag. Really!

In part, Texas owes its unique personality, and its pride therein, to the fact that it was an independent country before joining the United States. That independent spirit still thrives; it beats in the heart of every true Texan.

My very first commenter - and the first blogger I ever met face-to-face - is the self-styled Cowtown Pattie, a lovely lady who hails from Foat Wuth. SWMBO’s old stomping grounds, don’tcha know. And Pattie posted several photographs on her site recently, which I have taken the liberty of snarfing up...and tinkering around with a leetle bit, using Old Mr. PhotoShop.

I present my versions here below - my homage to both the State of Texas and to a wonderful lady blogger (and photographer). May they help to kick up your Kerrville Eagerness Index a notch or two!

Old Timey Texas
Kenny Fred’s place in Bluff Dale, Texas.

Bluebonnets
Bluebonnets - a prominent feature this time of year.

[Click on the images to embiggen.]

TUMMY TUESDAY

Sunning Matata

Matata takes in a bit of the morning sun. Mmmm...comfy!

BOUNCE


I don’t know how many takes it took to get all of these shots, and I don’t really care. What I do know is, here’s a guy who has made the most of his University Education.

[Tip o’ th’ Elisson fedora to Moishe Pipik.]

Monday, April 16, 2007

THINKING BLOGGER AWARD



Or, Dopey Meme of the Month.

Jimbo, he of the Place to Stop and Pee by the Side of the New Jersey Turnpike, a gentleman with real musical and writing talent as well as a full-blown phobic-level fear of Things Reptilian, has gone and nominated me for a Thinking Blogger Award. Thankee kindly, Jim.

This whole Thinking Blogger bidnis was started here, by one Ilker Yoldas, someone with way too much time on his hands. Ilker looks at memes as one way to build site traffic and facilitate link-whoring link-sharing; I look at ’em as ways to fill blogspace when your brain hurts. Use with caution, sez I.

Having said all that, it’s not the easiest thing to start a successful meme, one that really takes off throughout the Bloggy-Sphere. My sole attempt was the infamous Punch-Bowl Meme, one that eventually died a quiet (yet smelly) death. So props to Ilker for this one.

Here be the Rules:
  1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to five (5) blogs that make you think,
  2. Link to Ilker’s original post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme. [While you’re at it, link back to this post, per Normal Bloggy Link-Whorage Procedures. What other point is there to this Memey Bidnis?]
  3. Optional: Display the “Thinking Blogger Award” badge with a link to the post that you wrote.

I read and enjoy a lot of blogs, but this meme presents an interesting challenge. Not necessarily your five favorite blogs, but five that make you think. Hmmm...lessee...can I pick just five? Ahh, here goes:
  1. Velociworld. The self-styled Velociman sometimes comes across as the result of a genetic lab accident gone askew, in which the DNA of William Faulkner and Hunter S. Thompson got all hinkytight...but when he bothers to post, he can whipsaw you between laughter (fit to piss blood) and racked out melancholia.

  2. Straight White Guy. Eric, master of the ellipsis and the well-placed italic, can take the completely mundane and make it magical. I have been struck on more than one occasion at how Eric and I will see the exact same thing at the exact same time, and write completely different posts about it. And I generally like his better.

  3. Treppenwitz. David Bogner provides a unique perspective on Israel, Mideast politics, family life, and Jewish culture. There’s more intelligent dialogue going on in the comments to a single one of his posts than there is in the entire U.N...or my blog.

  4. peskyapostrophe’. I discovered Mac fairly early in my blogging career. Politically, she’s somewhat left-of-center (although her site is not primarily a political site) - and she expresses her opinions on everything from knitting, Planned Parenthood, the workplace, and Fred Phelps clearly and intelligently. A daily read, despite my gargantuan blogroll.

  5. all kinds of stuff. This is the blog of John Kricfalusi, the demented creator of Ren and Stimpy. John is a rara avis in the world of animation, with strong opinions and a relentless drive to make cartoons as good as they can possibly be. He writes lengthy posts chock-full of artwork and insider’s thoughts on every aspect of animation. Makes me wish I had been a professional animator; makes me realize how talentless I would have been in that field.
What five blogs make you think?

BREWING UP SOME TROUBLE, or
ONE BLOGGY EVENING

With That 1 Guy working his way from Florida back to Chicagoland - and swinging by Atlanta on the way - it seemed like the perfect excuse for a few of the Usual Suspects to get together.

And so it was that a handful of us - me, Zonker, Denny, RSM, Richard, and (of course) T1G - met at the 5 Seasons Brewing Company in Sandy Springs Sunday evening to quaff some of the excellent Fermented Beverages there produced, to snarf up a Goor-May meal, and to enjoy the pleasure of our mutual company.

Sissy (who had suggested the venue) was, alas, unable to join us when the dinner hour approached, citing an excuse us guys have all heard before: “Not tonight - I have a headache frickin’ migraine.” That was unfortunate: She Who Must Be Obeyed used to get migraines, and they are No Fun Whatsoever.

Richard, T1G, RSM
Richard, T1G, and RSM enjoy a brew. Or two.

Denny
Denny, grouchy as usual. Heh.

Zonker
Say hello to my leetle friend.

The food and drink were excellent. I had Duck Two Ways, washed down with a couple of coffee-infused Wired Straight Stouts, all of which was good enough for me to want to bring the Missus back here for a future visit. And it’s always a pleasure to spend time with this happy crew of degenerates Online Journalists.

And, being the creative guy he is, T1G even came up with a design concept for the T-shirts at the next Helen blogmeet...



Helen Zeejus


Sunday, April 15, 2007

ELECTION

Election Season of 2036 was the most grueling one in years.

All throughout the primaries, even unto the finals, the competition had never been so difficult, the Judges so capricious and exacting, the electorate so fickle. But now it was down to the wire: only two candidates remained, on this, the final night of the Election.

Each one, in his turn, stood on the stage at the Kodak Theatre.

Each one had to decide: Should I sing of guns, or butter? Or should I appeal to good old-fashioned patriotism and trot out one of the Old Standards? “God Bless America” had helped elect President Taylor in 2028...

The Supreme Court rendered its verdict on each candidate almost immediately. It didn’t take long, the court now numbering three Justices.

And now, the voting. The electorate flocked to its telephones, logging over 70 million ballots. Sure, it was only 20% of the population, but until the Election Reform Acts of 2024, voter participation had fallen below 5%. Back then, nobody had given a Rat’s Ass anymore. Electoral college? Proportional representation? The traditional two-party system? All of them had been dying on the vine.

But things were different today, in a new, revitalized America, where the progress of each and every candidate was water-cooler talk for months as Election Season ground forward. People actually cared about who would run the country!

The two candidates stood at the center of the stage. The lights dimmed as Speaker of the House Ryan Seacrest Jr. strode to the microphone. Suddenly, a spotlight pierced the darkness of the theatre and settled on Munson Jones, the Democrat-Rock Anthem candidate.

“America voted...and you are the next American President!”

COMFORT

Chicken Soup
Homemade-from-scratch chicken soup. [Click to embiggen.]

It’s a cold, blustery Sunday: comfort food weather. For there is nothing to keep you warm, both body and soul, than Comfort Food on a windy, rainy Sunday.

Beef stew? Hot oatmeal? Chili? Spaghetti and meatballs? Everyone has his or her own idea of the perfect Comfort Food. But today, for us, Comfort Food took the form of a pot of Chicken Soup with Matzohballs, the perfect Blustery Sunday Lunch.

“Matzohballs? Is Elisson out of his feckin’ mind? Isn’t Passover over and done with?”

Yes, indeedy. To the Passover question, anyway. But chicken soup is a year-round dish, and matzohballs are good any old time. Besides, after having to eighty-six a cauldron of SWMBO’s finest chicken soup - owing to my stupidity in leaving it out overnight - I felt that some penance was in order.

And thus it was that I started a fresh cauldron yesterday.

You take a whole chicken - minus the giblets - and put it in a huge-ass pot. Got some chicken feet? Put ’em in. (If not, about half a dozen drumsticks will work almost as well.) Add six quarts of cold water. Peel and coarsely chop three carrots, a yellow onion, and a couple of parsnips and add ’em to the pot. Throw in a dozen chopped parsley stems, a few sprigs each of cilantro and dill, ten whole peppercorns, and four cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced. Bring it up to a gentle simmer - you do not want to ever bring it to a rolling boil! - and let it sit for about three hours. Some crud will rise to the surface; skim this off periodically.

Now, fish out the chicken. Let it cool. You can use the meat for enchiladas or chicken salad.

Strain the stock (I use a coarse strainer, followed by a fine-mesh China cap) and chill it down by putting the pot in a sink full of ice water. When it's reasonably cool, stick it in the fridge overnight.

Next morning, take the stock out and scrape the chicken fat off the surface. Save this.

Put that stock back on the stove and throw in another chicken. Bring it up to a simmer. Meanwhile, it’s time to make the matzoh balls.

Break six large or extra-large eggs into a large bowl and beat with a wire whisk. Add three tsp. salt. Now take that chicken fat you just scraped off the stock and melt it; add six tbsp. of the melted chicken schmaltz to the eggs in the bowl and mix well. Add 1½ cups of matzoh meal. Now add 6 tbsp. of that nice chicken stock and stir the whole mess well with a wire whisk. If you want Extra Fancy-Schmancy Matzoh Balls, chop up a handful of fresh parsley and dill and add this to the mixture. Cover the bowl and stick it in the fridge for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, getcha a big pot of lightly salted water and set it on the stove to boil.

When that 15 minutes is up - and that pot of water is boiling - take the matzoh meal mixture out of the fridge. Wet your hands and grab out enough dough to form a ball about one inch in diameter. Drop it gently into the boiling water; in moments, it will bob to the surface. Wet your hands again before making the next one.

Some people have struggled for generations to figure out the secret of the Perfect Matzoh Ball: not too heavy and rubbery, not too light and insubstantial. They use seltzer instead of water or stock. They separate the eggs and beat the whites to a froth, folding them into the batter. This is all bullshit.

The secret to the Perfect Matzoh Ball is just this: Don’t fiddle-fuck around with ’em too much. If you spend too damn much time rolling them in a vain attempt to form perfect spheres, you will overwork ’em and they will be as dense as Dwarf-Star Matter. I don’t mind dense matzohballs - hell, I grew up eating sinkers - but when you try to cut into one with the edge of your spoon, it’s likely as not gonna shoot across the room like a Nike missile. Just roll ’em quickly and drop ’em in the water. It ain’t brain surgery.

Let those babies boil for about 40 minutes with the lid on the pot. When they’re done (they should be cooked through), fish ’em out with a slotted spoon. Set aside to cool.

After your soup (remember the soup?) has been simmering with that chicken in it for about 90 minutes, throw in a couple of peeled and diced carrots and parsnips and a handful of chopped fresh parsley. (I added a little cilantro and dill just for fun.) Simmer for another half-hour, then fish out the chicken. Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, strip the meat off the bones, shred it or cut it into chunks (your preference), and add the meat back into the soup. Gently add the matzohballs and simmer until they’re warmed through.

Now getcha a bowl and ladle out some of that nice, hot soup. One matzohball? Two? Three? It’s a rotten day outside - go wild!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

WARNING LABEL

No surprise, this...

PARENTAL
ADVISORY
BLOG D'ELISSON CONTAINS
EXPLICIT LYRICS

Username:

From Go-Quiz.com

[Snarfed up from Kel at Mom is Nutz.]

BREAKFAST INSTRUCTION MANUAL

Start with one Weetabix biscuit.

Weetabix may look like Shredded Wheat upon cursory examination, but any resemblance is purely superficial. Unlike Shredded Wheat, which retains its Brillo-like texture after being immersed in milk, Weetabix instantly breaks down to a mushy goo reminiscent of Portland cement, or wet shredded newspapers. But tastier.

Add some Grape Nuts. The late Euell Gibbons used to say that Grape Nuts tasted like wild hickory nuts. I think he was full of shit, but no matter. They’re crunchy, and they add a certain “tooth” to the goopy milk-Weetabix sludge.

Throw in some dried fruit. I use dried blueberries, apricots, and orange-essence prunes. Sure, they make for a Happy Bowel - especially when combined with all that cereal - but I add ’em for the flavor. And antioxidants. Really.

Soak well with milk. I use 2%. Anything lighter and it may as well be water.

Now pour a cup of freshly-brewed coffee and enjoy your Weekend Morning Breakfast. Aaahhhh.

Cereal & Coffee

Friday, April 13, 2007

FRIDAY RANDOM TEN

Yes, indeedy - it’s Friday. The weekend, with its Sundry and Manifold Joys - which for me will include Fun with Mr. TurboTax - approacheth. Time for yet another installment of “What’s Playing on Elisson’s Little White Choon Box?”

Let’s just take a look, shall we? Here we go:
  1. I’m Going Straight to Heaven - MC 900 Foot Jesus
  2. The More You Ruv Someone - Avenue Q, Original Broadway Cast

    Kate Monster:
    Why can’t people get along and love each other, Christmas Eve?

    Christmas Eve:
    You think getting along same as loving?
    Sometimes love right where you hating most, Kate Monster.

    Kate Monster:
    Huh?

    Christmas Eve:
    The more you love someone,
    The more you want to kill ’im.
    The more you love someone,
    The more he make you cry

    Though you are try
    For making peace
    With them and loving,
    That’s why you love so strong
    You like to make him die!

    The more you love someone,
    The more he make you crazy.
    The more you love someone,
    The more you wishing him dead!

    Sometime you look at him
    And only see fat and lazy,
    And wanting baseball bat
    For hitting him on his head!

    Love

    Kate Monster:
    Love

    Christmas Eve:
    And hate

    Kate Monster:
    And hate

    Christmas Eve:
    They like two brothers

    Kate Monster:
    Brothers

    Christmas Eve:
    Who go on a date

    Kate Monster:
    Who...what?

    Christmas Eve:
    Where one of them goes,
    Other one follows
    You inviting love
    He also bringing sorrows

    Kate Monster:
    Ah, yes.

    Christmas Eve:
    The more you love someone,
    The more you want to kill ’im.
    Loving and killing
    Fit like hand in glove!

    Kate Monster:
    Hand in glove.

    Christmas Eve:
    So if there someone
    You are wanting so
    To kill ’im.
    You go and find him.
    And you get him.
    And you no kill him.
    ’Cause chances good

    Both:
    He is your love.

  3. Golden Shower of Hits - Circle Jerks
  4. Gently Tender - The Incredible String Band
  5. Chances Are - Johnny Mathis
  6. You’re Drivin’ Me Crazy - Squirrel Nut Zippers
  7. Harlem Swing - Django Reinhardt
  8. Stompin’ with Fess - Professor Longhair
  9. Muffin Man - Frank Zappa

    (spoken)
    The Muffin Man is seated at the table in the laboratory of the Utility Muffin Research Kitchen. Reaching for an oversized chrome spoon, he gathers an intimate quantity of dried muffin remnants. And brushing his scapular aside, proceeds to dump these inside of his shirt...

    He turns to us and speaks:
    “Some people like cupcakes better. I, for one, care less for them!”

    Arrogantly twisting the sterile canvas snoot of a fully charged icing anointment utensil, he poots forth a quarter-ounce green rosette (oh, ah, yuk yuk. Let’s try that again...!) He poots forth a quarter-ounce green rosette near the summit of a dense but radiant muffin of his own design.

    Later he says:
    “Some people...some people like cupcakes exclusively, while I, myself, say there is naught, nor ought there be, nothing so exalted on the face of God’s grey earth as that prince of foods...The Muffin!”

    (sung)
    Girl you thought he was a man
    But he was a muffin
    He hung around ’til you found
    That he didn't know nuthin’
    Girl you thought he was a man
    But he only was a-puffin’
    No cries is heard in the night
    As a result of him stuffin’

    [This song is dedicated to the lovely Boudicca.]

  10. Ladykillers - Lush
It’s Friday. What are you listening to?

FUZZY, FEATHERY FRIDAY (WITH FLAMINGOS)

Yes, it’s time for the Friday Ark, the 134th edition of which is up at (surprise!) the Modulator.

Just to make things interesting - and to provide an alternative to the Cat Pictures I post all the frickin’ time - herewith a few Bird Piccies from our recent visit to Silver Springs, Florida:

Black Swans
Black swans.

Pink Flamingos
Inspiration for a John Waters movie, perhaps?

Flamingo
Graceful or ridiculous? You decide.

As always, don’t forget to visit Carnival of the Cats Sunday evening. This week’s host will be Nina’s Books 4 Israel Project. See you there!

Update: Carnival of the Cats #160 is up.

TOOTSIES

Tootsies

Whenas In Jeans

Whenas in jeans my Julia crams
Her vasty hips and mammoth hams,
And zips-up all her diaphragms,

Then, then, methinks, how quaintly shows
(Vermilion-painted as the rose)
The lacquefaction of her toes.

[Parody of Robert Herrick’s “Whenas In Silks” by Paul Dehn]

Of course, She Who Must Be Obeyed has nought in common with the fictional Julia...except for those gorgeous tootsies.

Acidman would have eaten his heart out.

UH-OH

Looks like Friday the 13th came on a Friday this month...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

NESTLING

Leggy Matata
Matata nestles up to the Pajama’d Leg d’Elisson.

Matata likes nothing so much as cuddling up to Daddy. And when he crosses his legs just so...and he’s wearing his Flannel Relax-O-Pants...there just ain’t anything better in this kitty’s world.

THE DUDE WITH THE SCYTHE TAKES TWO

By now, most of my Esteemed Readers are aware of the passing of novelist Kurt Vonnegut at the age of 84.

It’s been some time since I have read any of Vonnegut’s work, but there was a time some 36 years ago that I developed a sort of Vonnegut-mania, plowing through all six of his (as-yet published) novels in about two weeks. On top of finals, no less.

I had first discovered Vonnegut’s writing in the form of a collection of short stories, Welcome To The Monkey House, that my mother, of blessèd memory and voracious reading habits, had brought home from the library. I loved the black humor, the cynicism. Just right for a high-school senior.

Then, in the fall of my freshman year at college, I got hold of a copy of Cat’s Cradle. I started it but for some reason it didn’t get its hooks into me. Months later, in the heat of springtime, I picked it up again. This time, it made perfect sense. Which, if you are familiar with Cat’s Cradle, makes no sense at all.

Maybe it was a manifestation of Spring Fever, but I proceeded to read all of Vonnegut’s other books. Mother Night. God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater. Player Piano. The Sirens of Titan. I was fascinated with the way characters from one novel would pop up in the others, the interconnectedness of them all.

A few years later, when Breakfast of Champions came out, I read that, too. But this time, it seemed that Vonnegut was trying too hard, having just a little too much fun with his propensity for coining words, writing in choppy little chapters. Meh.

But here it is, some thirty years later, and this brilliant, satirical, creative mind is gone. I will miss him.

Of course, the Scythe-Dude likes to economize on travel. And so this week he claimed not one, but two cultural luminaries. Vonnegut...and Johnny Hart.

Johnny Hart, who died last week, was the creator of the Reuben award-winning comic strip B.C., as well as the co-creator (and scripter) of The Wizard of Id. Both were brilliant strips, although one could make the case that in recent years, both suffered from that gradual decline in quality that overtakes anyone who must create new content on a daily basis. Go look at Hart’s earlier work, and you’ll be amazed at how good it is...and how much black humor it contained, especially The Wizard of Id.

Hart, in recent years, would incorporate overtly Christian themes into his strips. But his messages could be, on occasion, lacking in subtlety. On Easter Sunday, 2001, the B.C. strip showed a menorah with seven candles progressively burning out as the strip captions ran the final words of Jesus. In the penultimate panel, the outer arms of the menorah were shown broken away, leaving a Christian cross. The last panel portrayed the opened and empty tomb of Jesus. You don’t have to have a whole lot of brain cells to rub together to see that Jews just might find this paean to Replacement Theology a mite offensive...and even Protestant and Catholic clergy agreed.

But, on the whole, the world of the Funny Pages was made happier by the contributions of Johnny Hart, and I will miss him too.

Ave atque vale, gentlemen. Godspeed.

OH, BOY

200k
The magic 200,000th site visit. Click to embiggen (and make clearer).

Well, thanks to the clickety-clicking of my Esteemed Readers (Reading the content? Pfaugh - screw content, we just clickeen!), this site recorded its 200,000th visit at one minute and thirty seconds past 10:00 am, Eastern Daylight Time, this morning.

According to Sitemeter, the culprit is this guy (as evidenced by the screenshot above) - but wait!

This somewhat obsessive dedicated young lady also has a claim on #200,000 - a claim supported by a screenshot of the Sitemeter on my sidebar:

200k, too
The other magic 200,000th site visit.

I think I know what happened. Erica no doubt camped out on the site and kept clicking away in an attempt to roll the odometer over - but Sitemeter, even while it totted up alla them clickies, kept track of all the other visitors who dropped by in the interim.

So, what to do? Erica got the coveted screenshot, whilst Rube got the Magic Visit. Shall I reward both? Of course! Allus I need is Rube’s snail-mail addy. Rube, ya listening? Alles klar, Herr Kommissar?

At this rate, I should see my millionth visitor sometime in May, 2018. Of course, by then, the technology will have evolved to the point where you’ll be able to write posts by squeezing your ass-cheeks together in a syncopated rhythm...and everyone will be logging their bodily functions on Twitter, as mandated by law.

I can’t frickin’ wait.

THE (ALA) MAAILMAN ONLY RINGS TWICE

Vasarat 2
Photo courtesy Rami Talja.

A few days ago, a thick white envelope came in the mail, all the way from Finland. Whatever could it be?

Of course, I knew what it was. I had been expecting this little package: the just-released fourth CD from my favorite Finnish band, Alamaailman Vasarat.

Alamaailman Vasarat - the band’s name means “Hammers of the Underworld” - is one of the more bizarre components of the Elisson Musical Library. Call them progressive, call them alternative - or use the band’s own description of themselves, players of “fictional world music.”

I stumbled across these guys sometime back in 2001, just around the time they released their first album, Vasaraasia. It may have been a Google search gone awry, but somehow, the notion of a “kosher-kebab-film music” group sounded intriguing.

Check out some of the descriptions, culled at random from a music review site:
“Craziness. Endlessly entertaining instrumentals which can’t seem to decide which 20 genres they want to encompass.”
“Alamaailman Vasarat is excellent because they play a blend of metal and tango, which would tend to be the background music to an ancient bar fight between two burly guys with impressive beards. The band only consists of cellos, trombone, sax and keyboards, but they create a hectic and lushly orchestrated instrumental avant-prog that is surprisingly, incredibly catchy. In my opinion, their sound is something I keep coming back to because of how unique and just how cool it is. From the snarling polka of ‘Mamelukki & Musta Leski,’ to the brooding pirate anthem of ‘Lakeus,’ Alamaailman Vasarat consistently impresses throughout the entire album, sometimes catching you off guard with heavy grooves, or just dazzling you with melody. I’d also like to add here that this is definitely the coolest use of a cello I’ve ever heard, because sometimes it’s distorted, and retains the bowing sound, it’s definitely something to be heard...”
“Oink! This fresh chamber world-prog KlezMetal is one of a kind and I think it’s flabbergasting. It’s got nice eastern-European melodies and harmonics in pretty colors of sound. This beats the holy Jesus out of Universe Zero.”
“If Duke Ellington’s ‘Far East Suite’ and other big band ensembles made a good impact on an east-European group of musicians. If those musicians were also very fond of the Rock in Opposition outfits and decided to join as a band. If the whole band went to the circus and got amazed by the experience. If coming out of the circus they got lost into the woods and got to see things most of us would call imaginary. If some of those things were rather scary. If some of those things were Jewish and some others were dancing tango with a French entity. If all of that got deeply marked upon the band’s mind. If, after escaping the forest, they were hired to play in a festivity event, in which The Annual Parade Of Proud Crippled Freaks And Their Mutant Pets would take place along with the Radical Kamikaze Dance Contest and three or four funerals. If the cello player revealed himself a metal fan, bringing to the gig an overdrive pedal in which he managed to somehow plug his instrument. If Dracula arrived quite drunk. If someone recorded and released the entire damn thing.

If all of this would happen after 2000, the result would be very possibly an imitation of Vasaraasia.

Delicious!”
Alamaailman Vasarat has four albums out: their debut, Vasaraasia; Käärmelautakunta; Kinaporin Kalifaatti, on which they teamed up with volicalist/psycho Tuomari Nurmio; and their latest, Maahan. Vasaraasia is still my favorite, followed closely by Käärmelautakunta - but Maahan, only now delivered unto my hot little hands, is proving to be right up there with their best work.

Check out the band’s official website and listen to a few samples. You’ll have to admit these guys are unlike any band you have heard before.

More pics below the fold.

Vasarat 1
Photo courtesy Tomi Palsa.

Vasarat 3
Photo courtesy Tomi Palsa.

Vasarat 4
Photo courtesy Rami Talja.