Thursday, May 31, 2007

THE AROMA OF HOMA

This morning, I went out of my way to remind myself to roll the Great Big Trash-Bin to the curb.

Our garbage is picked up twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays. By coincidence, the same days we read Torah during the week...
“Thou shalt take thy garbage out from thy dwelling-place when the midden-heap becometh full, and deposit it in the Great Big Rolly Thing By The Driveway. Do this, lest thy habitation become stinky: I am the Lawd.

“On the second day and on the fifth day, thou shalt roll the Great Big Rolly Thing to the boundary of thy driveway, even unto the edge of thy driveway, that the Garbage Men may come to remove it from thy dwelling-place.

“And on the first of the month, thou shalt send thy Check-Offering unto the Garbage-Men, that they may continue to do their service, and the Crap in thy Dwelling-Place shall not become as numerous as the stars in the sky. It shall be a commandment unto you from generation to generation.”
I had, sadly, neglected my Garbage-Bin Rolling Duty last Thursday...and what with Monday being a holiday, and our planning to be away next week on vacation, it would have been a disaster to miss today’s pick-up. Things were getting pretty fragrant in there, the deadly combination of used cat litter, chicken guts, and fish-asses working its chemical magic over the span of some ten days. Another ten days might have had traumatic results.

One of the unsung advantages of living in a modern technology-driven society is the relative ease of waste removal. Ease - and invisibility. Our bodily wastes are silently flushed away, never to be seen again. Our household garbage is carted off, to become part of a far-away landfill. We don’t pay much attention to these processes unless and until there is a breakdown in the orderly operation of the system.

Imagine the sheer volume (and nastiness) of the crap generated by an average household in a single day. Dishwater. Food waste. Crumpled up tissues, drenched with Nostril-Blowage. The urinary remnants of the six pack of Dos Equis you drank, along with the digestive residuum of the four Double-Krisp Korn ’n’ Beef Tacos you ate at Macho Camacho’s last night. The water from the shower, complete with soap scum, ass hair, and the filth you were rolling in after you got into a fistfight in the parking lot at Macho Camacho’s (thanks to the good offices of that six-pack). Eccch.

If you want to destroy our cushy Western civilization, don’t waste your time hijacking planes and blowing up buildings. Blow up a few hundred garbage trucks instead. Plug a few sewer lines, shut down a few landfills, and our society will grind to a halt. Believe it.

MORE BOOKY LINKS

Shorts in a Wad

You can get it at Amazon.

You can get it at Borders.

You can get it at Abebooks.

And you can get it at Alibris.

Yes, you too can get your Shorts in a Wad!

[And after you piss away $12.99 on this certified Piece of Crap Work of Great Literature, you really will have your shorts in a wad.]

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

ECNALUBMA

A horde of Eli-Related People crammed into the DuPont Circle Buca di Beppo in Washington, D.C. last Saturday night.

We were there for a Family Reunion of sorts. Several months ago, Elder Daughter had come up with the idea of gathering our far-flung clan together...just to enjoy each other’s company. Better to get together on a happy occasion, so her reasoning went, than at (Gawd forbid) a tragic one...and since we’re all over the map, it’s not an easy task to gather the troops.

We settled on Washington, D.C., as it was a more-or-less central location. People would be coming in from all up and down the eastern seaboard, and this way we would all have to travel (except for Elder Daughter). But Washington is a destination in and of itself, and what better time than during Memorial Day weekend, when the city would be spreading open her ample arms to greet those who would come to visit on such a nationally significant occasion?

The first wave of Shock Troops started filtering in Friday evening: me, She Who Must Be Obeyed, and the Mistress of Sarcasm (who had flown up from Savannah, the second leg of her flight being the same one we took from Atlanta). Stepbrother Doug - the eldest of Toni’s children - arrived (solo, alas) from northern California, and The Other Elisson showed up with Eli (his ownself) and Toni after a grueling eight-hour drive from Long Island. Grueling, indeed: Normally, the trip would take no more than five hours, but holiday traffic being what it was, it was slow going. You’d think all those other people would stay home, the price of gasoline being what it is these days...but no.

Also there were Phil and Marge, who had come up from south Florida. Phil, the Momma d’Elisson’s elder brother, is looking remarkably fit these days, and he was ready and willing to hike all over town with us over the weekend. Un-fricking-believable.

Additional reinforcements filtered Saturday. Curtis, the youngest of my stepbrethren, arrived with wife Michelle, kids Carmen and Seth, and sister Diane (the eldest of Toni’s brood). And finally, stepsis Karen, her son Andrew, and her Significant Other Anthony showed up just in time for dinner.

And so it was a gang of no less than eighteen Elisson-related Fambly Members gathered about the dinner table Saturday evening. And aside from just our being together, we had one more reason to celebrate - for Monday, Memorial Day, was also Eli’s 82nd birthday.

Eli and Toni
Eli and Toni.

We had chosen Buca di Beppo for its jovial, family-friendly atmosphere and frantic, over-the-top décor, but side benefits included gargantuan portions of well-prepared food. And at reasonable prices, too! It’s not Veni, Vidi, Vici or Antica Posta, but then, it doesn’t pretend to be. Just a big, honkin’, fun place to stuff oneself to the gills. And everyone - from the octogenarians to the preschoolers - had a wonderful time.

After packing about a week’s worth of food through our respective Face-Holes, we paid the check and everyone headed for the door. Curtis, along with Michelle and his two kids, needed to drive back home to New Jersey that night - and his sister Diane, who had caught a ride with them, was on her way back to the Hamptons. With the car parked conveniently right in front of the restaurant, Diane helped strap Carmen in and put Seth in his car seat, and Curtis and Michelle busied themselves with saying their goodbyes.

That’s when things began to get interesting.

As I was making my way toward the exit, I heard a commotion outside - as if a traffic accident had just taken place. I suddenly thought of Curtis and his kids - had one of them been hit? What was going on? I dashed out of the restaurant, just in time to hear Curtis ordering the driver of a silver Porsche Carrera to step out of his car. The Porsche then pulled away, tires squealing, from a spot right in front of the restaurant...with Curtis gamely hanging on, up until the point that he realized that he was not going to be able to hold the car in its place. Especially wearing a cast on his leg.

It seems that Mr. Drunken Porsche-Driver had been trying to park in front of the restaurant, and there was a nice space in front of Curtis’s minivan. But he backed into the space at high speed, oblivious to the presence of the minivan behind him. WHACK!

Then, in an alcohol-soaked panic, he pulled forward - right into the BMW in front of him. WHACK! It was like something out of an animated cartoon...except that Diane was in the minivan with Curtis’s kids, and they got shaken up badly. Meanwhile, Mr. Drunken Porsche-Driver got his ass out of Dodge.

Within minutes, a National Park Police officer showed up. He had no real authority to do much more than call the DC Metro cops, who appeared (in two separate cars) about 40 minutes later. They began taking witnesses’ statements and sent the Porsche’s tag number out over the wires.

The DC shamuses advised us that leaving the scene of an accident is a misdemeanor - unless an injury is involved. Was there an injury? Well, the kids were pretty shaken up, and Diane’s neck was sore...enough for them to send for an ambulance, for the sole purpose of rendering aid on the spot. There was no need to go to the hospital, but the involvement of medical professionals would be enough to turn the misdemeanor into a felony.

Fire Engine
Fire engines!

Ambulance and Cop Car
Police cars! Ambulances!

Within minutes, a fire engine (!) arrived, followed by an ambulance and two - count ’em - two DC Metro cops on motorcycles. It looked like we had been involved in a train wreck, not a hit-and-run fender-bender.

The whole process of checking out Diane’s neck, giving statements to the police, and - at long last - saying our goodbyes, took well over an hour. All this time, little Carmen and Seth, who had been badly rattled at first, began to realize that they were in the eye of the Police and Fire Engine Hurricane: every little kid’s dream! They even got to give their own statements to the police.

Too Much Excitement
Curtis and Michelle comfort Carmen and Seth as brother Doug looks on.

For the adults, this was a minor inconvenience (although Mr. Drunken Porsche-Driver will, very likely, find himself inconvenienced in a more serious way). A dinged fender, some scratched paint, some lost time - that’s about it. But you know that for Carmen and Seth, young enough so that wonder can still overcome fear, this will be a Night to Remember.

Bad Disco
Elder Daughter, the Mistress, and SWMBO keep themselves amused by doing their best imitation of a bad Finnish music video.

MR. ARTY-PANTS

During our Washingtonian sojourn this past weekend, we spent a lot of time wandering about various museums. One of these was the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, which features the Smithsonian’s collection of international modern and contemporary art. Herewith a few pics - I’ve stuck ’em in the extended entry.

Click on any of the images for a full-size version.

Electric Flag
The American flag as video: an electronic sculpture.


I have no mouth and I must scream.

I Have No Torso
I have no torso and I must jump around.

I Have No Flesh
I have no flesh and I must just hang here against the window.

Donnie Darko
Reminds me of the Evil Bunny from Donnie Darko.

Phil and Elisson2
Uncle Phil and The Other Elisson.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I DON’T DRINK...WINE

We had spent a goodly portion of the afternoon Saturday traipsing around various sites in our nation’s capital, the Missus, Elder Daughter, the Mistress of Sarcasm, and I, and we were footsore and sweaty.

A dip in the hotel pool would be just the thing, thought we, and so we dropped our swag off at our room, changed into our bathing suits, and rode the elevator down. But once there, a quick survey of the Indoor Pool from Hell altered our plans.

The pool looked as though it had been packed into a large walk-in closet. There was barely room enough to walk along its edge without falling in, much less stretch out and relax on a few chaises longues (none of which were in evidence anyway). The temperature had been cranked up to somewhere between Coney island Schvitz and Summertime in Houston levels, and there appeared to be a large family - complete with an army of prepubescent children - who had taken up residence there. We all turned on our heels as one and walked right back to the elevator. Time for Plan B.

Watching Ed Wood
Plan B.

Plan B consisted of all of us piling into the king-sized bed in our room and either (a) grabbing a few z’s, (b) watching the tube, or (c) combining both (a) and (b) in varying proportions. And what should be on the tube but Tim Burton’s homage to quite possibly the worst Hollywood film director ever: Ed Wood?

Aside form Johnny Depp’s brilliant and idiosyncratic performance as the eponymous director, one of the bright spots of Ed Wood is Martin Landau’s Academy Award-winning turn as (then) washed-up character actor Béla Lugosi, who starred or was a featured performer in several of Wood’s magnum opuses. Lugosi himself, of course, is best remembered as one of the great horror film actors of the 1930’s and ’40’s, his most notable role being the titular vampire in Dracula, Tod Browning’s 1932 classic.

Well, we had to watch Ed Wood. And the nice big high-definition flatscreen TV made it just that much more enjoyable. Damn, I’m gonna have to get me one of them things one of these days...

And that’s when Elder Daughter told us of a gala she had attended just a few weeks prior, at which she was seated next to a tall, silver-haired attorney, one who specialized in cases involving the intellectual property rights of celebrities. And this gentleman bore a striking resemblance to Béla Lugosi, old Dracula hizzownself. Except for the silver hair.

Béla Lugosi, Jr.
Béla Lugosi, Jr.

And that is scarcely odd, because the subject gentleman was none other than Béla Lugosi, Jr.

Elder Daughter enjoyed a lengthy conversation with Béla the Younger while scrupulously avoiding the topic of his famous father. She figured that he would, at this point in his life, be sick unto death of people doing their stupid Dracula impressions or quoting lines from Lugosi Sr.’s films. (Later she learned, to her surprise, that he would have welcomed questions about his late father. Who knew?)

Amazing, the people you run into, innit?

A GOOD SIGN

When I walk into a fine Dining Establishment, my appetite is often whetted by the overall décor of the restaurant. It’s those little touches that tell me I’m about to enjoy an excellent meal.

The tables are bedecked with clean tablecloths. The place settings sparkle, silver gleaming and napery crisply folded.

There may be various signs on the wall attesting to the quality of the food. Perhaps a citation from the Châine des Rotisseurs; perhaps a plaque from a major ratings organization. Mobil Five-Diamond Award? You just know the meal will be good. Or at least, it will drain enough simoleons from your pocket so that you will convince yourself that it was.

And if, as at our family dinner last Saturday night, the walls are adorned with Tasteful Artwork, why, that just helps all the more to get the Digestive Juices flowing...

Restaurant Sign

Mr. Debonair will tell you that a proper Eating Establishment offers enemas in both white and black rubber bags, so that one need not worry about getting unsightly smudges upon one’s clothing...

MR. SMART-BRAINS STRIKES AGAIN

I’m enough of a dinosaur that I still like to read the newspaper every day. An actual hard-copy paper.

We have a newspaper delivered to Chez Elisson every day, rain or shine. Sometime around 5:30 every morning, the route man cruises by and tosses the paper in our driveway. Yeah, it would be nice if he’d put it on the stoop at our side entrance, but that’s not how it works around here. Most of the time, it’ll end up in the middle of the driveway. Occasionally, it will be in the grass at the side of the driveway.

Typically, I’ll drive off to morning Minyan, than pick the paper up when I return. And, try as I might not to run over the paper as I leave, I will do so now and then.

Not a big deal most of the time. It’s just a newspaper, right?

Wrong.

Sometimes, in a gesture of Advertising Beneficence, the geniuses who package the newspaper in that convenient plastic sack - a sack that generally provides adequate protection against rain, its main function - will include Free Samples of advertised products along with the paper.

Inevitably, when there is a Free Sample in the newspaper sack, I will choose that day to run over the paper with the Elissonmobile. It’s practically a Law of Nature.

So it was this past Friday. I nailed the paper perfectly on my way to Minyan...in the process, squashing the three little boxes of cold cereal with which the fine people of General Mills had chosen, on that selfsame day, to gift our household.

Fuck.

Squash
The tragic aftermath.

I mourn not the loss of the Multi-Grain Cheerios. I mourn not the loss of the Honey-Nut Cheerios. These are, after all, mere Sugar-Jacked Pretenders to the Cheerios throne.

But alas, I weep for that little box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

Sure, it’s basically a kid’s cereal, full of sugar and empty of serious nutrition. But Cinnamon Toast Crunch is a guilty pleasure, one that I no longer permit myself to purchase in grocery-store quantities, lest I snarf an entire box up in a single sitting. A Free Sample is just the thing, permitting me a modest degree of enjoyment.

I wonder if it tastes good when reduced to a fine powder? Perhaps I should call upon Powdered (Cinnamon) Toast Man for assistance...

Update: I opened the package of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and found - you guessed it - Cinnamon Powdered Toast Crunch. But with a little milk, it tasted just fine. Hardly any driveway gravel to spit out.

WOMB WITH A VIEW

Beddie Bye Tata
Matata reclines in a distinctly Womb-Like Environment.

Today, May 29, is Matata’s twelfth birthday. As I look at her sleeping in her Kitty-Bed, I can imagine her residing comfortably in her pre-birth Feline Uterine Environment...bullying all of the other little Fetal Kitties.

She’s always leaned to the patriotic side, has our little grey one. Perhaps it’s the result of having been born on Memorial Day. Lookit:

Uncle Matata
Vote Matata!

Twelve years...ahhh, they pass by so quickly. Just think: In only one year, Hakuna and Matata will be ready for their Bat Meowtzvahs!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

GREAT LITERATURE, A MERE MOUSE-CLICK AWAY

Shorts in a Wad

Oh, boy! Now you can read my dopey 100-word stories in the bathtub without the fear of electrocution.

Shorts in a Wad, a collection of my Finest and Most Egregious Very Short Stories, is now available from Amazon. Just click on the picture above.

Yes, that is my street name. I guess that blows my cover, but so what? There’s something about having one’s own name on a real actual book (though it be a mere 5 x 8" paperback) that makes it worth losing my semi-anonymity here. Hiding in plain sight, you could call it.

Any of you who would care to pimp this Bad Boy on your own sites, have at it. For I am a Literary Whore, without question.

And remember - Baby SWMBO needs a new pair of shoes. For that matter, Daddy could use a couple bottles of single malt and some help with the Amex bill.

Friday, May 25, 2007

UNINTENTIONAL HUMOR

I’m sure that when Finnish musicians Armi and Danny set out to make a music video of “I Wanna Love You Tender,” they thought they were being perfectly serious, with all the most Hep and Up-to-Date Dance Moves, the snazziest English-Lyric Vocals.

But it sure came out looking like a gold-plated Cluster-Fuck.

This is the music that gave disco an enema. Enjoy.



FRIDAY RANDOM TEN

It’s Friday, and the Missus and I are getting ready to spend Memorial Day Weekend in Washington, D.C.

It promises to be an exciting and action-packed three days. We’re having a mini-Family Reunion, and on top of that, Monday marks the 82nd Trip Around the Sun for Eli, Hizzownself. We will eat, drink, and indulge in Happy Narrischkeit...and what better place for fun ’n’ foolishness than the City o’ Fools by the Potomac?

But for now, down to business. The Little White Choon-Box is just bursting with Random Musical Goodness this morning:
  1. Shhh Peaceful - Miles Davis
  2. World in Changes - Dave Mason
  3. Bed and Breakfast - Mitch Hedberg
  4. Chopsticks (Live) - Ben Folds Five
  5. Sixteen Tons - Mickey Katz

    Joel Grey’s daddy, in case you didn’t know.

  6. Sound And Vision - David Bowie
  7. Baby, I Need Your Lovin’ - The Four Tops
  8. Genius of Love (Remix) - Tom Tom Club
  9. Bulgar à la Klezmatics - Klezmatics
  10. I’m Not That Girl - Wicked, Original Cast Recording
It’s Friday. What are you listening to?

FUZZY FRIDAY

The Honeybee has a familiar buzz.
In like wise, Friday’s the day for Fuzz.
We owe our thanks to the Modulator
For collecting links to cat, flea, and ’gator.


Friday Ark #140 is a-sail at its usual spot on the Inter-Webby-Net: the Modulator.

I can’t tell you where Carnival of the Cats #166 will be posted Sunday evening, because not even Laurence Simon knows. Or if he does, he’s not telling. I’d volunteer to host it myself, but I will be out of town, and Blogging (as the cliché goes) will be Light.

As soon as I find out, I’ll try to post a link.

Update:
CotC #166 is up at Fire Phil Garner, yet another star in Laurence Simon’s Full Of Crap Bloggy-Galaxy.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

TURDUCKEN...FOR A CROWD

I’ve written about turducken before, that peculiarly horrifying (and yet tasty) Cajun concoction. It’s nothing more than a chicken stuffed into a duck, in turn stuffed into a turkey. The birds are deboned (the turkey, partially so) and any remaining empty space is packed with various stuffing mixtures.

It’s a real Culinary Chimera, a turducken. Buoyed by the general interest in Things Cajun, turduckens have been showing up in supermarket meat sections here in Atlanta for several years now. They’re not cheap, but there’s very little waste. The perfect dish for, say, IEATAPETA Day.

Turducken came to mind as I was listening to Steve Graham’s new podcast, Code Blue Cooking. Most of my Esteemed Readers who know Steve are more familiar with his Bloggy Incarnation, the Steve H. who writes at Hog On Ice (“Broadcasting Live From the Holy City of Coral Gables”). Steve is a man of many talents, and when he takes his prodigious cooking abilities and combines them with his homespun podcasting technique, the result is at once amusing and educational.

Code Blue Cooking is a podcasted radio show on BlogTalkRadio, and it looks like it’s settling into a time slot Wednesday evenings at 10:00 pm Eastern (US) time. As is appropriate for something that calls itself BlogTalkRadio, facilities are provided for listeners to call in and contribute to the show. And as is appropriate for something that calls itself Code Blue Cooking, the focus is on Matters Culinary, especially Manly Dishes containing massive quantities of pork fat.

On one of the recent shows, the topic of manatees - Nature’s Speed Bumps - came up. Manatees are a protected species (the current status is “threatened,” a notch down from “endangered”), inhabiting estuaries and rivers in Florida and other southern swampy climes. I recall an unusual incident in the late 1990’s in which a wayward manatee ended up in the Houston Ship Channel.

Manatee
Manatee.
Photo: Wikipedia.

They’re big, harmless, dopey mammals, manatees are, reminiscent of devolved walruses. No tusks, and no ability to get around on land. Mostly they just float below the water’s surface, playing tag with motorboat propellers and scaring little children. Drunken sailors, it is rumored, were inspired by manatee sightings to spin wild tales of mermaids - which doesn’t say much for the kind of women these sailors associated with.

Apparently, Seminole Indians are permitted, owing to their status as Aboriginal Americans, to harvest and eat a limited number of manatees. Apart from a gamy layer of blubber-like fat, the meat is supposedly nice, lean, and red. And there’s plenty of it. A full-grown ’tee will weigh something on the order of half a metric ton.

Think of the Extreme Turducken possibilities. Submitted for your consideration: a quail stuffed into a chicken stuffed into a duck stuffed into a turkey stuffed into an emu. Then, cram everything into a Deboned Alligator...and for the pièce de résistance, shove everything into a cored-out manatee carcass. Cart the whole bloated mess over to an abandoned car wash, and then set fire to the building. It’s the only way you’ll ever deliver enough BTU’s to this thing to cook it properly. When a thermometer inserted into the quail’s ass shows 165°F, your Extreme Turducken is done. Feed a crowd? It’ll feed a whole frickin’ battalion.

If anybody could cook something like that, it’d be Steve H. Graham. And then he’d try it again with a different spice rub just to see which version was better.

SQUEEZING THEM BABIES

Did I mention Baby Squeezin’ in my last post? Yes, I did. It was one of the highlights of our visit to Denton last weekend.

Can you blame us?

Madison
Niece Madison: One happy baby.

Check Out Those Toenails!
Whoa! Check out those red-lacquered toenails! I want that!

Madison is (keynayinhora) an exceptionally happy baby. Even though she was suffering from a full-blown head cold, she was always smiling.

William
Nephew William, looking pensive.

This kid needs to fill out an application for Mensa’s Kiddie Division. Unbelievable.

Of course, She Who Must Be Obeyed and I were not the only ones making with the Baby-Squeezing...

SWMBO and the Momma d’SWMBO.
Mother and Daughter.

SWMBO’s Momma got to squeeze her baby, too!

STRETCH

Ringo
Ringo: Morris William’s cat.

One of the nice things about visiting Morris William, SWMBO’s brother in Denton, Texas, is that we get to play Squeeze the Babies with our little niece and nephew.

Another nice thing is the chance to visit with Ringo. Cute little guy, ain’t he?

And stretchy, too:

Stretch Ringo

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

THE CHEATER: A 100-WORD STORY

He sat in the examination room, forehead beaded with sweat. It was all of sixty degrees in there, A/C turned up full blast: His perspiration was from nerves, not heat.

He had to decide.

The University’s code was strict. “On my honor, I give my word that I have neither given nor received aid during this examination.” Transgressors were expelled.

Should he sneak a peek at his crib notes and risk getting caught? Could he look at himself in the mirror if he got away with it? If he relied on memory alone, would he fail?

Should he cheat? Or not?

The unnamed protagonist of this story may or may not have cheated...but I for sure did. This story is 101 words long.

SEASON’S GREETINGS

What a wonderful time to be Jewish!
It’s the holiday known as Shavu-ish.
We all eat cheese blintzes,
After-dinner mintzes,
And ask all our friends, “So? What’s new-ish?”


Shavuot is one of the three big Jewish pilgrimage festivals (sh’losh regalim): Back in Temple days, the Israelites all gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate and observe the festivals of Sukkot, Pesach, and Shavuot.

But Shavuot is the Rodney Dangerfield of festivals. Except among very observant Jews, Shavuot gets no respect...and even among them, it’s the runt of the Holiday Litter.

It’s only a two-day holiday*, for one thing. Compared to Pesach (eight days) and Sukkot (eight days, not counting Sh’mini Atzeret and Simchat Torah tacked on to the end), it’s downright puny.

Not only that, but the other festivals have distinct ritual foods and or objects associated with them. At Pesach, we eat a Seder meal incorporating matzoh and bitter herbs. At Sukkot, we wave the Four Species around (palm, myrtle, willow, and the lemon-like etrog). Nutty, sure, but it beats handling snakes. At Shavuot? Nada. Gornisht. Zippo.

Well, OK: We eat dairy foods. Blintzes, anyone?

To my Jewish friends and readers (who will kindly overlook the fact that I’m blogging on yontiff), Chag Sameach, Moadim l'Simchah, Happy Shavuot, and all dat.

To my non-Jewish friends and readers, Happy Wednesday and Thursday!

*These figures include the extra day that is added to Festival observances in the Diaspora.

FAUX-RANKLIN

The last place you’d expect to be handed a counterfeit bill is at the bank. But that’s exactly what happened to me yesterday.

The teller gave me the envelope. I thumbed through the bills, counting them...and one of them felt wrong. Soft...as though it had been through the washing machine. Looked wrong, too. Instead of the razor-sharp intaglio engraving of genuine currency, it was fuzzy.

Hmmm. Something’s not right.

I held the bill up to the light to check the watermark. Instead of the expected image of Benjamin Franklin, this bill had...Abraham Lincoln?

Hmmm. Something’s definitely not right.

I handed the bill back and told the teller it was counterfeit. She looked at it and agreed, immediately giving me a replacement. I showed her how a moistened finger smudged the ink on the bogus bill. Real bills don’t do that.

I’m guessing that someone bleached a five-spot, then printed off a C-note on it. [Update: This technique is mentioned in Wikipedia, and it appears the Treasury now plans to redesign the $5 note as a preventive measure.] That way, you'd at least have the blue and red fibers in the paper, and a watermark - the wrong one, but who bothers to look? Of course, all of the other subtle anti-counterfeiting measures would be missing.

This is the second time in seventeen months that someone has tried to pass me a bogus bill. But the last time, it was at a supermarket, and it was only a double sawbuck. This time it was a C-note, right from the bank.

You can’t trust anybody these days, I guess...

How well do you know your currency? Could you be a victim of counterfeiters?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A WING AND A PRAYER

From Houston Steve comes this amazing video of an Israeli fighter pilot who manages a difficult landing in an F-15.

Difficult, yes: with only one wing. That’s a pilot with beitzim, bruthuh...flying on - literally - a wing and a prayer.

YUMMY

Lemon Rose Cake
Lemon Rose Cake with Rum Glaze.

Every so often, ol’ Elisson will bake a cake.

It’s not a talent I inherited. Eli, hizzownself, never sets foot in a kitchen these days, nor did he when I was growing up. And my Momma was not a baker. I recall her baking a cake exactly one time. And it was a fine cake - a spice cake, the aroma of which I can still summon up with pleasure from my Reptilian Hindbrain.

No, baking was not her thing. Far easier to toss a few bucks at the Dugan Man - or pick up that box of Entenmann’s. That was back when Entenmann’s was a strictly local affair...and their New York style crumb cake was (and is) second to none.

The Bad Boy you see pictured above is a Lemon Rose Cake with Rum Glaze. The “Rose” part has to do with the cake pan, which is a vaguely rose-shaped piece of work. And a bitch to clean, I’ll tell you. The batter uses cake flour - resulting in an incredibly tender crumb - and is flavored with rum and lemon oil. Then you soak the whole mess down with a butter-rum glaze. Mmmmmm, good.

I had baked one of these last week for SWMBO to take to her school, where it was to be served at a Volunteers’ Luncheon, but it turned out less than satisfactory. The cake proper was fine: I just couldn’t get the fucking thing out of the pan without demolishing it. Eric and Fiona were there to watch my attempt at getting the damn cake to release, and, if nothing else, my efforts provided considerable amusement. On the plus side, while it meant me enduring a few poorly-concealed chuckles and SWMBO making a trip to the supermarket Monday morning, we had Jigsaw-Puzzle Cake Sunday evening.

It may not have been pretty, but with freshly-made whipped cream and some blackberries piled on it, cosmetic flaws could be forgiven.

Being the nit-picky perfectionist I am, I had to prove to myself that I could do the job without fucking it up, and so I cranked out another cake last night. This one turned out perfectly. The (not-so-secret) secret? Don’t be a wiseguy, trying to grease the pan with that spray-on crap like I did the last time. You have to take the time to butter the pan, making sure every nook and cranny is covered - then apply a thin layer of flour. Bingo.

The next cake project? An attempt to duplicate that ineffable Entenmann’s crumb cake. There is nothing that goes so well with a steaming mug of java. Sure, I could just buy one, but where’s the fun in that?

AND NOW FOR SOME MILD PIMPAGE

“...And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
” - W. B. Yeats

Dis one!

Shorts in a Wad

Shorts in a Wad - My Magnum Eppis - is ready to roll off the presses. In just a week or two it’ll be available on Amazon, Borders.com, Alibris, and Abebooks, at which time I’ll post links.

SQUEEZE

I had to laugh at a comment left here by a lovely majuscule-impaired lady:

“that’s why i like you. your brain is so big. really, and you post a lot. and your sense of comedic timing. but mainly, it’s your big freekin brain.”

Well. OK, then.

Not quite sure what set that off, unless it was my use of fitty-cent words (as is my wont) like “antipodes” in the last post.

I like that word. “Antipodes.” Say it with me: An. Ti. Po. Deez.

Sounds like a character right out of a Greek tragedy, no?

Heracles: Rejoice, friend! For King Antinoös returns from his voyage upon the wine-dark sea!

Oedipos: How can I rejoice? I have not yet slain Pater and made Bouncy-Bouncy with Mater, as I am, alas, fated to do...

Antipodes: Da fuck?!!?

Adipos: O, Oedipos, my brother - does this chiton make my ass look fat?

All: Yes!

But I digress. Yes, I use a Big Word now and again...and sometimes, I even carve out new ones to suit my fancy. What do I carve ’em out of? Why, the old Writer’s Block, of course.

Anyway, this business of big brains. It’s all a load of crap...but it did remind me of a cartoon that appeared in the Princeton Tiger’s hundredth anniversary retrospective (which itself is twenty-five years old this year). The cartoon was originally drawn sometime in the late 1970’s (the artist, Jonathan Bumas, was in the class of 1978, so I place it sometime between 1975 and 1978), and was done in the Mort Drucker style familiar to anyone who ever read Mad magazine. And when I read that comment, well...

...let’s just say it sounded All Too Familiar...

Squeeze
­©1983 The Princeton Tiger, Inc.

Monday, May 21, 2007

POLAR OPPOSITES

Antipodes
Click to embiggen.

Remember when you were a kid and they told you (whoever “they” were) that if you dug a deep enough hole, you’d end up in China?

Well, that’s a crock of shit...just in case you haven’t figured that out already. Aside from the slight logistical difficulty posed by the Earth’s molten core, if one were able to dig through the planet from, say, right here in May-Retta, Georgia, one would end up smack-dab in the depths of the southern Indian Ocean...1,175 miles WSW of Perth, Australia. Rightinnamiddleafuckingnowhere.

You can use Google Earth to find the antipodes - the exact opposite spot on the globe - from any place on the planet. Just open the Measure tool, left-click on your starting point, and run a line to the other side of the world. When the line starts to swivel around - about 12,422 miles - left click again to mark the place.

Ain’t technology wonderful?

[Tip o’ th’ Elisson fedora to Brandon Hoover at javajive for the Kool Koncept!]

Sunday, May 20, 2007

HAVEIL HAVALIM

Haveil Havalim, AKA Vanity of Vanities, or the Jewish Blog-Carnival, is observing its 117th incarnation at Random Thoughts.

Go and visit: You’ll find plenty of (kosher) food for thought. And some Ridiculous Crap, too - for I am represented there this week.

YO HO HO, AND A BOTTLE OF SLIVOVITZ

Back in the heyday of maritime piracy, Henkele Morgen and Schwartzburt were amongst the most feared buccaneers of all: the Jewish Pirates of the Sephardic Main.

Every morning, before beginning their day’s work of rapine and pillaging, they would darrrrhven: say their daily prayers.

They would start with P’sukei d’Zimrarrrrh, including Birkot ha-Shacharrrh, Barukh she-Amarrrrh and the Aarrrrhshrei. Then they would say the Sh’marrrrh, working up to the Amidarrrrh, the Standing Prayer. Not easy to do, that one, on the rolling deck of a pirate ship.

They would conclude with Arrrrhleinu and the Mourner’s Karrrrhdish, the latter honoring their many comrades lost at sea.

Shabbat was special. After the Musarrrrhf service, the crew would retire to the foc’s’l, where a nice Oneg luncheon would be set out. But there would never be any meat in the cholent.

Everything had to be parrrrhve.

THE SPECIAL GLOW OF LOVE

Rose and Jim
Rose and Jim, married 50 years.

We spent yesterday evening at the Denton Country Club celebrating the golden wedding anniversary of family friends.

Fifty years is a long time. Not a lot of marriages enjoy that kind of longevity, for one reason or another. Sometimes love fades. Sometimes people grow apart, or problems that were insignificant at first begin to grow like a cancer. And sometimes the Unexpected Visitor comes a-calling. But none of these problems (keyn ayin hara) had befallen Rose and Jim.

Rose and Jim - like me and SWMBO - are a Geographically Diverse Couple. She came from the wilds of the Bronx, he from the open spaces of Texas, and they met thanks to the good offices of Mike, one of Jim’s Army buddies, back in 1953. Seems Mike had been trying to set up Jim up with his sister Rose for some time, and Jim was dragging his feet. Then, one weekend, the two of them were to go out on a double date, and Mike’s girlfriend failed to line up a date for Jim. Perhaps that had been the plan all along; in any case, Rose got drafted for the job. The rest, as they say, is history.

Shortly afterward, Jim got sent to Desert Rock, Nevada, where the U.S. Army was conducting yet another in a series of above-ground atomic bomb tests. Operation Upshot-Knothole, this was, and the objective was to see how combat could be conducted on an atomic battlefield. Soldiers would sit in trenches less than 5,000 feet from ground zero as an atomic bomb would be set off. They would then jump out of the trenches and run toward Ground Zero. Jim was one of those soldiers, and in his pocket he carried a letter from Rose.

Upshot-Knothole: Badger
April 1953: Test BADGER, one of the Upshot-Knothole series. Imagine being less than 5,000 feet away...

Back then, the Army and the AEC were less than candid about the risks attendant upon exposure to radioactivity. The soldiers at Desert Rock were never given a choice, never told about what might happen to their germ plasm. It was all about fighting the Commies in those days, and many of these soldiers contributed their lives to the cause, dying of various mysterious cancers many years after Upshot-Knothole was a faded memory. Not only soldiers. One of the Upshot-Knothole tests sent fallout drifting over St. George, Utah, where John Wayne, Susan Hayward, and Agnes Moorehead would shortly afterward film The Conqueror, in which the Duke played a young Genghis Khan (!) in what may have been his worst film ever. He, Hayward, Moorehead, and at least 88 others of the 220 people of the cast and crew later succumbed to cancers that were very likely caused by radiation from that fallout. Unlike the Duke et al., Jim was lucky: He survived, although he would never sire children.

After Jim was mustered out of the Army, he and Rose got married. It was shortly after that when they met Bill and Ceil, SWMBO’s parents. They became fast friends. And eventually, Rose and Jim had a happy, chaotic house full of kids...all adopted, of course.

Alas, Bill did not live to see Rose and Jim celebrate this occasion. He’s been gone 21 years now...and this evening made his absence hurt all the more keenly. I watched as SWMBO and her brother Morris William clutched each other in a tearful embrace, happy for Rose and Jim but wishing their Daddy were here to celebrate with them.

There was dinner, and there was dancing...and there was Jim, telling the story of how he and Rose met. And then he pulled a faded letter out of his pocket, the same letter that he had carried with him into the heart of the atomic mushroom cloud. It was the letter Rose had sent him, 54 years ago. And I thought I could see it glow just a little...with a half-century of love.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

BETRAYAL

Rachel shrugged Ron’s hand from her shoulder. “I told you, I have a yeast infection.”

“That’s the third one in two months,” Ron muttered darkly. His eyes narrowed.

Six weeks later, Ron sat in a dark corner of the local Starbucks, his Americano (two Splendas and a shot of half-and-half) cooling untouched. Schwartz, the private investigator, slid a stack of 8 x 10 glossies across the table, narrowly missing a stray glob of half-dried latte foam.

Ron picked up the photographs and riffled through them, his stomach doing a half-lurch. It was one thing to be suspicious...but to have your suspicions confirmed in black and white, that was different. It hurt. Betrayal always hurt.

The evidence was undeniable.

All those years with Rachel. The candle-lit dinners, the weekends at Tahoe, the expensive ski trips. Getting married. The first house. Ron remembered how scary it was, signing the papers at the closing. The babies – first Ralph, then Randi. Vacations at Disney World. Dealing with the kids’ skinned knees and snotnoses. School plays. His first big promotion. Seventeen years of sweet memories.

All of them tasted like ashes in his mouth now. He had been made a fool of. Cuckolded.

He looked at the pictures again, his eyes focusing and unfocusing on the white chef’s toque; the pale, doughy flesh; the dark, comma-shaped eyes. His wife’s lover.

Son of a bitch, thought Ron. The egotistical little bastard. Always had a God complex, and his ability to seduce Rachel would only reinforce it. As it was, when Lover-Boy would see those church signs at Eastertime, the ones saying “He is risen,” Lover-Boy always thought the signs referred to him.

Ron could feel his anger and hatred congeal into a little lump within him. He rolled it around on his tongue. It tasted bitter, with afternotes of vinegar and coppery blood. He thought he could hear Lover-Boy laughing. Laughing at him. Hee-hee.

God, how Ron hated that laugh.

When Lover-Boy turned up dead three weeks later, a cyanide capsule crammed halfway down his gullet, with Ron disappearing that same day, it didn’t take John Law too long to figure out that something was rotten in Denmark. They found him within ten days, drinking piña coladas at a run-down tourist house in Guanajuato. At first he was tight-lipped, but the shammeses noticed he hadn’t eaten a single bite of bread in over a week, so they started sweating him. And that’s when he confessed.

“Yeah, I’m the guy who put the pill in the Pillsbury Doughboy.”

Friday, May 18, 2007

FUZZY FRIDAY

The beasts that eat Iams and Ken-L-Ration
Are ready for their weekly Modulation.
Birds, cats, dogs, and maybe an aardvark
Invite you to visit the Friday Ark.


Friday Ark #139 is afloat over at the Modulator.

Sunday evening, be sure to check out the Carnival of the Cats, the 165th edition of which will be posted at The Cat Blogosphere. Looka alla them kitties!

Update: CotC #165 is up.

FRIDAY RANDOM TEN

Here it is Friday, and I am esconced happily in my hotel room in the bowels of Sweat City - uncharacteristically unsweaty right now - digesting a Barbecue Dinner I enjoyed at Goode Company courtesy of Mr. Crap himself, Laurence Simon, and his lovely wife Gina...whose sole fault is that she consistently and forcefully refuses to ever let me pay for dinner. Her town, her rules, I suppose.

Tomorrow afternoon, She Who Must Be Obeyed will join me here so that we may attend a Fancy-Ass Banquet courtesy of the Great Corporate Salt Mine (Our Motto: A nice dinner is cheaper than a raise). Bright and early Saturday morning, it will be off to Denton, where we’ll be joining some family friends of long standing as they celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary. While we’re there, we will spend our spare moments squeezing our nephew William and niece Madison...’cos babies is fer squeezin’, ya know?

But meanwhile, there are Random Tunes to share with you, coughed up outta that little white iPod that we know and love so well. Listen up:
  1. Monkey Lust - Leo Kottke

    Velociman’s theme song.

  2. Cat’s in the Kettle - Weird Al Yankovic
  3. Peaceful Inside - Moonraker
  4. The City Sleeps - MC 900 Foot Jesus
  5. Nothing Manly About Walking Around Singing Neil Sedaka - Ben Folds
  6. Camarillo Brillo - Frank Zappa

    She had that Camarillo brillo
    Flamin’ out along her head,
    I mean her Mendocino bean-o
    By where some bugs had made it red

    She ruled the toads of the short forest
    And every newt in Idaho
    And every cricket who had chorused
    By the bush in Buffalo

    She said she was a magic mama
    And she could throw a mean Tarot
    And carried on without a comma
    That she was someone I should know

    She had a snake for a pet
    And an amulet
    And she was breeding a dwarf
    But she wasn’t done yet
    She had gray-green skin
    A doll with a pin
    I told her she was awright
    But I couldn’t come in
    (I couldn’t come in right then...)

    And so she wandered through the doorway
    Just like a shadow from the tomb
    She said her stereo was four-way
    And I’d just love it in her room

    Well, I was born to have adventure
    So I just followed up the steps
    Right past her fuming incense stencher
    To where she hung her castanets

    She stripped away her rancid poncho
    And laid out naked by the door
    We did it till we were un-concho
    And it was useless any more

    She had a snake for a pet
    And an amulet
    And she was breeding a dwarf
    But she wasn’t done yet
    She had gray-green skin
    A doll with a pin
    I told her she was awright
    But I couldn’t come in
    (actually, I was very busy then)

    And so she wandered through the doorway
    Just like a shadow from the tomb
    She said her stereo was four-way
    And I’d just love it in her room

    Well, I was born to have adventure
    So I just followed up the steps
    Right past her fuming incense stencher
    To where she hung her castanets

    She said she was a magic mama
    And she could throw a mean Tarot
    And carried on without a comma
    That she was someone I should know

    (Is that a real poncho? I mean...
    Is that a Mexican poncho or is that a Sears poncho?
    Hmmm...no foolin’...)


  7. Flight of the Fly - Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks
  8. Smoke - Ben Folds Five
  9. Beat Box - Matisyahu
  10. Don’t Let Me Down - The Beatles
It’s Friday. What are you listening to?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

COMFORTER

Hakuna

Nothing enhances the look of a freshly-made bed quite like a happy, relaxed Hakuna. We got yer comforter...right here!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

JUST PERFECT

Blue skies, with a few wisps of high altitude clouds to enhance their beauty.

72°F - a rarity in the Texas Hill Country this time of year.

Gentle breezes.

Rolling hills, rocky cliffs, emerald greensward.

It was a perfect day for an afternoon on the golf course. But don’t think it came cheap. The price: a morning spent sitting in a stultifying Corporate Meeting Room, wandering from breakout session to breakout session, slurping down cup after cup of coffee in an effort to keep the eyelids propped open.

I know. Poor me. Alas, alackaday.

Screw that self-pity. The golf, at the Crenshaw Cliffs course, really was superb. I played with a rented set of Titleist clubs, including a driver with a big-ass 460cc head. Kinda like a watermelon on a toothpick. But I was smacking that evil white pill a looooong ways with it, generally in the right places. And I damn near got a hole-in-one on the 17th, my 6-iron tee shot landing a few feet from the hole, coming within inches of hitting the flagstick, and settling down five feet from the hole. The birdie putt was almost an anticlimax.

It’s Macallan o’clock, as my dinner - a fine, pepper-encrusted, seared chunk of ahi tuna - settles within my gently roiling kishkes.

And so to bed.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

HILL COUNTRY

I’ve been to Austin, Texas many times, but this is the first time I can remember setting foot in the airport here. Yep: I’m in Austin, site of the legendary Blown-Star Blodgemeet a little over a year ago.

I’ll confess to feeling a twinge as I piloted my Rental Vehicle over the highway, enroute to my Great Corporate Salt Mine Bidnis Meeting. The last time I had driven these roads I had been with the late, great Rob Smith, and his absence was almost palpable. It’s the same semi-wistful feeling of loss I get in Savannah when I visit Rancho Alegre, the little Cuban hole-in-the-wall restaurant where the Missus, the Mistress, and I last broke bread with him. Alas.

Having lived in Sweat City on the Texas coastal plain for so many years, the topography of Austin is always a happy surprise. They don’t call it the Hill Country for nothing. There’s a lot of up-and-down, especially on the southwestern side of town. The vista I saw as I turned off US 290 and got on Loop 360 headed north was impressive...and as I approached my destination, the hills got even more prominent. It felt a little like being back home in Atlanta.

For the next couple of days, I will be a bird in a gilded cage, as it were. The accommodations at the Barton Creek Resort and Spa are nothing if not tony. Outside the meeting room, they pile an impressive array of snicky-snacks on the table - fruit, granola bars, and a freezer full of ice cream bars (which I will do my Fat-Assed Best to avoid). The golf courses, where I will be spending a goodly chunk of the afternoon tomorrow, are lush and inviting. But I am stuck here amongst my Salt Mine Colleagues when what I really would like to do is roll a few miles down the road and enjoy some Blodgy Hospitality. Oh, well - another time, perhaps.

The Cocktail-Hour looms nigh. A prime opportunity for some Face Time with the Big Cheeses, one of whom is enjoying his pre-retirement Swan Song. And I recall the immortal words of C. S. Calverly, the 19th century Cambridge don:

But hark! a sound is stealing on my ear -
     A soft and silvery sound - I know it well.
Its tinkling tells me that a time is near
     Precious to me - it is the Dinner Bell.
O blessed Bell! Thou bringest beef and beer,
     Thou bringest good things more than tongue may tell:
Seared is, of course, my heart - but unsubdued
     Is, and shall be, my appetite for food.

I go. Untaught and feeble is my pen:
     But on one statement I may safely venture:
That few of our most highly gifted men
     Have more appreciation of their trencher.
I go. One pound of British beef, and then
     What Mr. Swiveller called a “modest quencher”;
That home-returning, I may “soothly say,”
     “Fate cannot touch me: I have dined to-day.”

FALWELL: NOT SO WELL

A Requiem-Haiku

Jerry Falwell’s dead.
Now he gets to see Jesus
And, boy, is he pissed.

TRADITION: A 100-WORD BIOGRAPHY

Hard to believe, but it was only two generations ago that his ancestors were scratching out meager livings in the shtetls of Eastern Europe.

You say you didn’t know he was Jewish? That’s OK: Not many people do. It’s a well-guarded secret. Comes from a Hasidic sect famous for commercial real estate development.

But by 1915, it was no longer possible to make a living in the little village of Combov. That’s when Hyman Trumpowitz, the family patriarch, came to America.

The rest is history. Today, with shortened name, Donald Trump carries on the fine tradition of the Combover Hasidim.

Monday, May 14, 2007

FOLK THIS

My Minyan buddy Barry shared a little story with me this morning concerning a pair of musicians who visited Memphis State back when he was an undergraduate in the spring of 1966.

Seems the musicians were Fraternity Brethren - fellow members of Alpha Epsilon Pi - despite one having been graduated from Queens College in New York, the other a grad student at Columbia working on a master’s degree. School ties, it seems, pale in comparison to the ties ’twixt Fraternity Brethren.

This is an area of which I have little knowledge, having gone to college at a school that booted all the Greek-letter fraternities out in the mid-19th century, a ban that lasted well eighty years and one that, unofficially, continues to this very day.

Anyway, back to Barry. He and his frat brother were given the mighty task of making sure the Visiting Music Men were well taken care of, in a fashion suitable for Fraternity Brethren Who Have Made Good. Or were in the process of Making Good, at least.

You might, if you look at this contemporary photograph, recognize the two musicians:

S and G and Barry

Yes, indeedy...it’s Simon and Garfunkel. And the guy standing between them in the Nerd-Glasses - towering a full inch over Paul Simon! - is Barry hizzownself.

Simon and Garfunkel! It was at Memphis State that spring of 1966, for this select audience of Alpha Epsilon Pi guys, that the duo rolled out their new song, “I Am A Rock.”

And it was some three years later that I would see them, in one of the strangest concert bills ever to grace the stage at Madison Square Garden.

Of course, we all look a little...different today, 41 years later. Barry, at least, has lost those Nerd-Glasses...and I’m sure his Missus is grateful.

Elisson and Barry

Sunday, May 13, 2007

MOTHER’S DAY

Today is Mother’s Day.

Of course, to those of us who have, or have had, a mother - or to those of us who are married to one - every day is Mother’s Day. But the combined Corporate Interests of America (the Card Consortium, the Flower Trust, and the Amalgamated Chocolate Producers’ Cartel) have convinced us that only a low-down cad (How low? Lower than Whale-Shit) would neglect to heap some lovin’ on the mothers in his life on the second Sunday in May.

Today, our congregation’s Men’s Club hosted its annual Mother’s Day Breakfast. This year’s well-attended affair offered prize raffles, a great breakfast (scrambled egg soufflés, cheese blintzes, home-fried ’taters, bagels, cream cheese, smoked salmon, herring in wine sauce, herring in cream sauce, pastries, orange juice, coffee), and High-Class Entertainment - a goodly chunk of it provided by Yours Truly in my Dr. Israel Patel radio persona, answering random medical questions from the audience. Stupid but effective.

Afterwards, we went over to our friends Gary and JoAnn’s place, where they had put on a big spread for various family and friends (among whom there were numerous mothers). Good: Yet more food.

SWMBO and I spent the afternoon shopping - a favorite Motherly Activity - followed by a nice, sweaty workout at the local gym. The perfect thing to build up an appetite for the traditional Sunday evening fare of Jews everywhere: Chinese food.

Now that we’re home, I cannot let the day go by without a great big Bloggy Shout-Out to the Mothers In My Life:

To Ceil, the Mom-in-Law d’Elisson, a veritabobble mother to me since I married She Who Must Be Obeyed all those many years ago. This is the lady that brought SWMBO into the world, and for that (and much else!) I am eternally thankful.

To Toni, AKA Missus Eli, who has continued to make my Daddy’s life so sweet these last 16+ years. She and Eli Hizzownself are now snowbirds, wintering in central Florida and summering (and springing and falling) on the south shore of Lawn Guyland - but wherever on the globe they are at any given moment, Toni will take care of you in High Style.

To She Who Must Be Obeyed, who earned the title “Mother” by giving me the most precious gifts I can imagine: Elder Daughter and the Mistress of Sarcasm. I loves me my SWMBO, yes I do, for more reasons than I care to, or have time to, enumerate on this dopey blog...and I love her more every single day.

And, finally, to Bernice, the Momma d’Elisson, who, alas, is no longer with us to celebrate Mother’s Day. She’s been gone 19 years now, but her salty sense of humor, her love of mysteries and science fiction, and (a tiny portion of) her prodigious golf ability live on in me. I only wish she could see her granddaughters today...

To these Moms and to all others: I salute you!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

EYE OF THE BEHOLDER

To paraphrase the late Art Linkletter, kids’ll draw pictures of the damndest things.

They have no inhibitions whatsoever. They will try to capture on paper whatever crosses their minds. Sometimes the results will be horrifying to adults at first blush...

Child Art

Any speculations as to what this is? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

Child Art, Revealed

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So is perversity, eh?

Friday, May 11, 2007

A BUILDING WITH A HISTORY

SCAD Student Center
The new Scad Student Center.

The new SCAD Student Center is housed in a building with a long and colorful history.

Originally built in 1908, the Moorish-style structure housed the B’nai B’rith Jacob congregation prior to their moving to new quarters in the southern end of town on Abercorn Street in 1970. It was then taken over by the local Episcopalians, who converted it into a church while (thankfully) leaving most of the architectural details intact. Which would explain the unusual juxtaposition of a crucifix atop the building, flanked by stars of David on the twin spires.

When that congregation, in turn, departed for greener pastures in 2002, the Savannah College of Art and Design took it over. They selectively and carefully gutted the interior - taking pains to preserve the original millwork and ornate decorations - and turned it into a Student Center. It’s now open for business in its newest incarnation, and when we were walking in the neighborhood a few weeks ago, we stopped in for a visit on the strength of the Mistress’s ties to the institution as an alumna...and our ties as tuition-paying parents.

It’s an impressive place. Way nicer than the student center I hung out at back in my College-Student Days. On the main floor, there are at least a half-dozen pool tables, and plenty of computer workstations - all equipped with the finest flat-screen monitors. Upstairs, there are study carrels - but unlike the study carrels of my youth, these are not in a dark, dank, dingy Sub-Basement - they are lit by the glow of the sun coming through huge frosted windows, and they command an impressive view of the first level.

Go up to the top level, and you’ll find something different: the Zombi-Pod.

Zombi-Pod
The Zombi-Pod.

I’m not sure whether these were originally designed to reanimate zombies, but they also serve as a perfect place to cop a few Z’s. Just close the lid (making you look like Dark Helmet from Spaceballs, except in white), elevate the feet, plug in your earbuds, and you’re good to go. And when you wake up, you have an inexplicable hankerin’ for some braaaaaaains...

Braaaaains...
Braaaaains!!!

As we were getting ready to leave, the wall decoration - done up in mid-19th century style - caught my eye.

Wall Decoration

Wallpaper Detail

Wait a minute...That guy looks awfully familiar! Where had I seen that face before?

Why, at Thanksgiving dinner!

Josh’s Mullet

It’s the Mistress’s friend Josh!

What’ll those crazy Art Student kids do next? Zombi-Pods...and Time Machines!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ELDER DAUGHTER

Twenty-eight years ago today, I learned the true meaning of Love at First Sight when I laid eyes on my newly-emerged-from-the-womb baby daughter for the first time.

Beer Goggles have legendary powers of obscuration, they say, and whatever you see through them looks especially lovely...but they got nothing on Baby-Goggles. For Elder (then, Only) Daughter was a mess, SWMBO having gone through eight hours of hard labor. At the very end, one of the delivery nurses (who had evidently earned her sobriquet “Jo Jitsu” for a reason) was leaning on the Missus with her arm, trying to squeeze Elder Daughter out like toothpaste from a tube. She finally emerged, slathered in blood and vernix, with a head whose shape bore a vague resemblance to an aubergine.

All of that mattered not one whit to me and the Missus. It was, indeed, Love at First Sight, striking with all the impact of a barreling freight train. A huge emotional impact, wrapped up in a tiny six-pound body.

We took our new baby home and learned to be parents...and Elder Daughter was a good teacher. Some moments stand out. Her first solid food at the age of three months, propped up in a baby carrier while we visited friends in Houston. The first time she laughed, lying on her back at my grandmother’s apartment in North Miami Beach, as I played with her by dropping a wadded up Kleenex on her face over and over.

She was an amazingly verbal child, speaking in complete sentences at nine months. Until she learned to talk, she had been been subject to frequent bouts of Extreme Crankiness; as soon as she mastered a more effective way of expressing herself, she became far more pleasant. The ability to communicate put paid to most of her childish frustrations, it seemed.

She did not master walking until she was fifteen months old...and she explained why, while pulling herself up on the furniture: “I no walk. I fall down!” She wanted to wait until she was sure she could do it right.

Elder Daughter 1981
Me and my shadow: Atlanta, 1981.

As she matured, however, her cautious nature was gradually displaced by an adventuresome spirit. She learned to sing and dance, putting those talents to good use in high school and college theatrical productions. In her senior year of college she studied abroad, and, after being graduated, went off to England to live and work for a year. A shrinking violet? Not this kid.

She’s always welcomed change, even when changes have been challenges. Now living in a new place - Washington, D.C. - and toiling away at a career that melds television production and education, she is articulate, intelligent, and perceptive, all traits that date back to her earliest days.

Elder Daughter 2007
Elder Daughter, 2007.

As a baby, she stole our hearts from her first minute on Earth. As an adult, she thrills us, captivates us, and makes us proud. (Plus, she shares my twisted sense of humor.)

She is our Elder Daughter, and we love her. Happy birthday, sweetie!

FRIDAY RANDOM TEN

Holy Crap! What happened to the week? Is it Friday already?

Yes, it is. And we all know what that means. It means Elisson is once again ready to give his Little White Choon Box its weekly Enema Electronica, flushing out ten random chunks of calcified Musical Excrement from its Digital Bowels.

What’s poopin’ out from the speakers this morning? Let’s take a listen:
  1. Yellow Fellow - Ahmad Jamal

    Mesdames et messieurs, bonsoir et bienvenue au Festival Internationale de Jazz de Montréal. CBF-FM présent la série «Jazz Dans la Nuit», qui sera fois diffusé toute aux ondes de la saison prochaine. Exceptionnelment ce soir, le concert est diffusé en directe sur les ondes FM dehors au Canada. Sans plus tarder, accueillons le quartet de Ahmad Jamal...

  2. Friday On My Mind - Easybeats
  3. Lyin’ Ass Bitch - Fishbone

    Lalalala Lalalalala (x4)

    I knew her and she knew me
    When she asked me to introduce him
    When I did we were three
    Until she tried to seduce him

    I really thought our love was much too strong
    But that little slut just proved us wrong
    I still care and that’s my fatal flaw
    Cause sharing you will surely kill us all!

    She’s just a...
    Lalalala Lalalalala

    You’re nothing but a little lyin’ ass bitch!
    You know she says she loves you but you know she doesn’t
    You’re nothing but a little lyin’ ass bitch!
    You know she says she loves you but you know she doesn’t
    You’re nothing but a little lyin’ ass bitch!
    You know she says she loves you but you know she doesn’t
    You’re nothing but a little lyin’ ass bitch!
    You know she says she loves you but you know she really doesn’t

    She swears that her heart’s for you
    And she swears that her love never ends
    She swears that she’s all for you
    As she messes around with your friends

    I really thought our love was much too strong
    But that little slut just proved us wrong
    I still care and that’s my fatal flaw
    Cause sharing you will surely kill us all!

    She’s just a...
    Lalalala Lalalalala

    You’re nothing but a little lyin’ ass bitch!
    You know she says she loves you but you know she doesn’t
    You’re nothing but a little lyin’ ass bitch!
    You know she says she loves you but you know she really doesn’t

    She’s just a...
    Lalalala Lalalalala

    You’re nothing but a little lyin’ ass bitch!
    You know she says she loves you but you know she doesn’t
    You’re nothing but a little lyin’ ass bitch!
    You know she says she loves you but you know she doesn’t
    You’re nothing but a little lyin’ ass bitch!
    You know she says she loves you but you know she doesn’t
    You’re nothing but a little lyin’ ass bitch!
    You know she says she loves you but you know she really doesn’t

    The lyin’, piss off, sack of shit
    Slut trash can scummish
    Dirt bag...Biiiitch ! ! ! ! ! ! !

  4. Jóga - Björk
  5. Journey to the Center of the Earth - Salt Slides - Bernard Herrmann
  6. L’Éléphant - Tom Tom Club
  7. Hallelujah - Rufus Wainwright
  8. La Valse d’Amélie (orchestra version) - Yann Tiersen, Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain
  9. Olisimme Uineet Vieläkin Pidemmälle - Alamaailman Vasarat
  10. I Me Mine - The Beatles
It’s Friday. What are you listening to?

FUZZY FRIDAY

Sing ho! for the critters that meow and that bark,
Set sail with me on the Friday Ark!
From the humble mouse to the fearsome ’gator,
They’re all welcomed here by the Modulator.


The Friday Ark sails forth today on its 138th voyage, courtesy of Steve, the Modulator hizzownself.

Sunday evening, head over to A Location Yet To Be Divulged and visit Carnival of the Cats #164. That’s correct: as of this writing, there is no announced host for the Carnival...but I’ll let you know as soon as Lair announces one.

Update: CotC #164 is up...and (no surprise), it’s at the very Ursprung of Cat-Blogging, Laurence Simon’s own This Blog Is Full Of Crap.

COCOMMENTING

Just setting up a couple things...
Technorati Profile

Thursday, May 10, 2007

THE BLOG

Be kind and tender to the Blog,
And do not call it names,
As “Rumble-guts,” or “Huffing-scum,”
Or likewise, “Hooker (James),”
Or “Full-of-crap,” or “Treppen-witz,”
Or “I-can’t-use-my-knees”;
The Blog is justly sensitive
To epithets like these.

No Written Form will more repay
A treatment kind and fair,
At least, so lonely people say,
Who keep a Blog (and, by the way,
They are extremely rare).

[Being a lampoon of “The Frog,” a poem by Hilaire Belloc.]

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

MONEY, HONEY

Washington, D.C., May 9, 2007 - Effectively admitting that the combination of recent tax cuts, rising energy prices, ballooning real estate costs, and galloping military spending have rendered the U.S. Dollar worthless, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing today announced yet another design for the ten-dollar Federal Reserve Note. This newest design removes most of the costly anti-counterfeiting technology that had been introduced in the Series 1999 and Series 2003 notes. Ricardo Cabeza, a spokesman for the Bureau, explained the rationale during a Wednesday morning press conference:
“I mean, really, what’s the point? Our money has gotten to the point where you can practically wipe your ass with it. So we’ve added special features that will make it easier and more pleasant to do so.

“Thanks to a special arrangement between the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and Procter and Gamble, the new bills will be made of a special paper blend that contains the traditional red and blue fibers seen in today’s banknotes...but which is, at the same time, squeezably soft. It will be far less irritating to the Delicate Rosebud than older bills.

“In addition, since our money is pretty much worthless, we are removing the familiar portraits of Dead Presidents and replacing them with pictures of Worthless Americans.”
The new Series 2007 Federal Reserve Notes will be released beginning June 1.

Picture? Look below the fold...

Elissonbux

CLINGY

Clingy Matata

Through her half-opened eyes she effects a squint.
Matata clings to SWMBO’s skirt tighter than lint.

COMING SOON...

...to a bookstore near you. Well, to Amazon.com, anyway. My very first book!

Shorts in a Wad

More details as the Publication Date approacheth.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

DRIVING ME UP THE DENTIST-TREE

This morning, I enjoyed one of my favorite pastimes. I went to the dentist to have the Accumulated Crud scraped off my teeth. It’s Prophylaxis Time!

I’m not a big fan of Mr. Dr. Dentist, but I like chewing food with my own teeth, so I try to take care of the ones I have. I had all four wisdom teeth yanked out at the same time five years ago, so that leaves twenty-eight various molars, incisors, bicuspids, and whatnots. The odds, I hope, are with me: My paternal grandmother kept every single one of her teeth until she died at the age of 94.

The appointment started off with the hygienist shooting a full set of X-rays, the first in six years. Sixteen films. I love how they jam those sumbitches into every crevice of your face.

Then came the cleaning proper, a 45-minute ordeal involving the little metal scrapy-thing, the Infamous Cavitron, the Sandblaster, and, finally, a thorough flossing. The Cavitron is my least-favorite part of all this, feeling like someone has wired an ultrasonic dog-whistle right into my forebrain. Yeef. Then the Blaster, with finely-divided baking soda being blown at my teeth at Typhoon Force, simultaneously giving me my week’s requirement of sodium...up my nose.

The only part that freaks me out a little is when they get out the Dremel with the polishing discs.

After all this, the usual procedure is for Mr. Dr. Dentist to poke and probe a little with his Magickal Dentickal Icepick...but there was a hitch. The X-ray developing machine had choked, causing my entire set of 16 films to cack. This meant a reshoot. Fuck!

Best yet, for the reshoot, they found another hygienist, a sweet young thing with the nastiest breath this side of Zombieville. Mmmmm Boy, that was fun.

The good news was that, after all that misery, I got a clean bill of health.

But I wasn’t done, no, no. I needed some trays cast, which meant another 20 minutes of having my mouth packed with several gallons of gag-inducing fast-hardening rubberoid goop. Feh.

And now I’m home, with no desire to have lunch. Who wants to eat, if it means messing up those nice clean choppers?

Monday, May 07, 2007

A FISH THAT GOOD...

You say you like your sushi fresh? Really fresh? Checka dis:



Reminds me a little of that old joke, the punchline of which is, “A pig that good, you don’t eat him all at once.”

Imagine what this could lead to. You go to The Palm and order up a five pound lobster, right out of the tank. “I just want his right claw and his ass. You can put the rest of him back in there...maybe he’ll grow a new ass.”

Or the French restaurant, from whose kitchen would issue a stream of legless frogs in wheelchairs, flashing nasty looks at the diners as they leave...reminiscent of a gag cartoon in the National Lampoon some thirty years ago.

Ah dunno. I like sushi, but eating the flesh off of a living creature is perverse. In fact, if you’re a biblical sort of person, you may have a real issue with it: Eating the limb of a living creature (while it is still alive) is prohibited, according to the Seven Laws of Noah that supposedly apply to all humans.

Jews are obligated to observe 613 commandments; non-Jews are not. But Non-Jews who observe the Noahide Laws in all their details are said to attain the same spiritual and moral level as Israel’s own Kohen Gadol (High Priest), according to the Talmud.

I guess that means Stone Crabs are out, too. Damn.

[Tip o’ th’ Elisson Fedora to J at C. Buddha’s Hasty Musings for the video, and to Kevin for digging up this tasty link.]

Sunday, May 06, 2007

CHECK THIS OUT

The South
©2007 The South Magazine.

You’re looking at a page from this month’s issue of The South, a magazine whose tagline reads, “Savannah and the Creative Coast.” It’s a thick, beautifully produced, slick-page bimonthly. As the publishers put it, The South “uses its home base of Savannah as a lens through which to view the distinctive heritage of the South and examine how that legacy is upheld and updated. Savannah and the coastal Southeast is a perfect starting point for this bold publication, with a sublime blend of inescapable tradition and refined modern growth.”

The model is attractive enough, as is the layout, but what catches this Proud Daddy’s eye is the pendant hanging from the model’s neck...for it is the handiwork of none other than the Mistress of Sarcasm. And you, my Esteemed Readers, saw it here first.

Bird Pendant
The Mistress’s pendant, inspired by Hitchcock’s The Birds.

One correction to the magazine’s blurb: The piece is sterling silver, not silver plate. And if you want one, it’ll only set you back 240 simoleons. Wotta deal!