Monday, March 31, 2008

WHO KNEW?

Got this snazzy little gadget from Leslie. It purports to give you some idea of how much Vile Language is on one’s site. Lookee:

The Blog-O-Cuss Meter - Do you cuss a lot in your blog or website?
Created by OnePlusYou - Free Online Dating

Gee...who knew?

THE GREY LADY GOES MAD

MAD Magazine fans who remember Al Jaffee’s rear-cover Fold-Ins will enjoy this interactive collection of vintage Fold-Ins hosted by (of all places!) the New York Times.

The Grey Lady has gone MAD!

[Tip o’ th’ Elisson fedora to Jack at Random Thoughts for the link.]

Sunday, March 30, 2008

CURRICULUM VITAE - TIGHTY

Leslie tagged me with the infamous Six Words Meme:

Write a memoir of your life in six words or fewer, mention your tagger, and tag six more people.

It doesn’t get much simpler than that. Except Leslie, in tagging me, insisted that I write my six word Curriculum Vitae in Yiddish. Awright; I’m game.

Er sitzt, und zayn vayb schvitzt.

(He sits, and his wife sweats.)

It may not be perfect Yiddish, and it’s not at all a complete representation of my Baneful Existence, but it is six words, and, well, there you are. In English, I might’ve put it this way:

Food in; shit, bad jokes out.

Tags? I don’t tag. If you like it enough to do it, just link back here and consider yourself tagged. Ba-bing!

AN AVIAN COMEUPPANCE

This afternoon, as we enjoyed a cup of coffee at Georgia Tech’s Ferst Center just before the Audra McDonald concert, we saw something that would have warmed the cockles of Eric’s heart.

[Just what are Heart-Cockles anyway? And why is warming them generally considered to be a good thing? Are they naturally cold? But I digress...]

It was a mockingbird in full Birdly Fury, attacking a squirrel for some reason unknown to us.

We can only speculate as to what got the bird pissed off at Mr. Acornpants. Perhaps it was the desire to demonstrate solidarity with all the birds who are screwed out of Bird Feeder meals by the wily squirrels who steal their food. Perhaps the squirrel - inadvertently or not - wandered too close to the bird’s nest, threatening its young birdlings.

Regardless, the squirrel was having a hard time of it. Rocky the Flying Squirrel might’ve stood a chance, but not this unassuming land-bound grey fellow. The bird was knocking the crap out of him.

How humiliating. The worst part of being smacked around by a mockingbird, of course, is the taunting. You can be sure that that bird was ragging on Mr. Squirrel’s ass, talking trash like an NBA player:

“Yo, man, you call that a bushy tail? That ain’t no bushy tail. Yo mama’s punani mo’ bushy than that skanky-ass tail...”

Eventually, the bird got tired of chasing his furry prey. More likely, the squirrel took off for parts unknown, too embarrassed to ever show his face in that neighborhood again.

I tell ya, Eric would have been pleased.

THE GREAT INVENTION

Kaleidoscope

Dr. Timothy Bleary was one of the Hallowed Names in gastroenterology in the 1960’s.

Among his many contributions to the field were diagnostic imaging technologies that allowed physicians, with minimally invasive procedures, to identify intestinal ailments with amazing accuracy. Patients would line up around the block to secure a coveted appointment with the good doctor, knowing that he could figure out what afflicted them, effecting a cure while other gastroenterologists could only scratch their heads in puzzlement.

Amazingly, it was under the influence of LSD that Bleary invented his greatest diagnostic tool.

Of course you’ve heard of it: the Colitis-Scope.

TWENTY YEARS


The Momma d’Elisson at age 20, in a photograph taken roughly 60 years ago.

Twenty years ago today - as reckoned by our civil calendar, anyway - I joined a vast club, a club with an almost universally reluctant membership: the Motherless Children’s Collective.

This year, owing to the vagaries of the Hebrew calendar, I’ll be observing my mother’s Yahrzeit beginning at sundown Wednesday, April 16. Three days before the onset of Passover, as always. But this time, it will be in a traditional Japanese inn - a ryokan - in Kyoto, a perfect place for the contemplation of Beauty and Inward Thoughts. Jews may be thin on the ground in the ancient capital city, but I will still be able to manage an Eil Malei Rachamim, if not a Kaddish.

Today being the anniversary date by the secular calendar, I feel the need to be a little maudlin, for which forgive me.

Mom was an active, intelligent woman, and she would have been proud of her granddaughters. That, perhaps, is what pains me the most, after all these years - that she never got to see the young women Elder Daughter and the Mistress of Sarcasm have blossomed into...and how much of her is in them.

In twenty years, the sense of loss gets a lot duller, though it never goes away completely. It’s like an old scar that aches when the weather changes, as if to say, “Now, you ain’t gonna forget me, Bub, are ya?” And you don’t forget. You could never forget. But life goes on, because it must.

Oy. This business of being maudlin? Definitely not Momma’s style. If she caught me writing this post, she’d kick my ass.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

A NIGHT IN CASABLANCA

Marx Brothers fans will recognize the post title as the name of one of the Brothers’ latter-day filmic efforts. Released in 1946 by United Artists, its title was similar enough to that of the well-known 1942 Bogart-Bergman film that - according to the popular legend - Warner Brothers threatened the Marx Brothers with a lawsuit. The legend goes on to say that Groucho responded with a threat of his own: to sue Warner Brothers for the use of the name “Brothers,” on the basis that they were brothers before the Warners were.

The truth is somewhat less exciting - but at least as entertaining.

The title suggested itself to me when we spoke to Elder Daughter earlier today. She was about to board a Washington D.C. - New York flight, after which she would fly nonstop to - where else? - Casablanca.

From one White House to another, you might say.

And I had, in my mind’s eye, a picture of the conversation that would ensue sometime early tomorrow morning, Morocco time, when Elder Daughter is interviewed by the Moroccan immigration officer upon her arrival there:

Immigration Officer: What in heaven’s name brought you to Casablanca?
Elder Daughter: My health. I came to Casablanca for the waters.
Immigration Officer: The waters? What waters? We’re in the desert.
Elder Daughter: I was misinformed.

Elder Daughter plans to return a week from today. Just enough time to recover from her jet lag and get ready for a voyage to even more distant horizons the following week!

Update: Arrived safely and all is well...keyn ayin hora.

Friday, March 28, 2008

AN OPEN LETTER...

...to the asshole who made that left turn right in front of us on Roswell Road at 10:20 pm, narrowly escaping getting T-boned by our car at 50 MPH instead of waiting five seconds for us to pass, after which there was absolutely no oncoming traffic:

Was getting to that Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet right that fucking second so important to you that you were willing to risk dying for it?

Shithead.

FRIDAY RANDOM TEN

It’s Friday, which means it’s time once again for Blog d’Elisson’s Friday Random Ten, our Motley Assemblage of Music as disgorged at random by my Little White Choon-Box.

This is going to be a busy weekend. We’ve got show tickets for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings: Paula Poundstone and Audra McDonald at the Ferst Center and Avenue Q at the Fabulous Fox.

Meanwhile, Elder Daughter heads off for a week in Morocco tomorrow morning...and two weeks from tomorrow, she and I will be journeying to Tokyo to begin our long-awaited “Troublemakers in Japan” tour.

In the meantime, we have some Choons to check out. Here they is:
  1. Flipper - Béla Fleck & The Flecktones

  2. These Days - Nico

  3. You Can’t Always Get What You Want - The Rolling Stones

    But if you try, sometimes you get what you need.

  4. Hey Jude - The Beatles

    That other Great Band of the 1960’s.

  5. Pink Power Ranger - Bickley

    I wish I were a Mighty Morphin Ranger
    I could save your life when you’re in danger...
    I wanna fuck the Pink Power Ranger
    I wanna fuck the Pink Power Ranger
    I wanna fuck the Pink Power Ranger
    All night, watch the girl of my dreams...


  6. Sonata No. 3 in G Minor: II. Allegro - Rachel Isserlis & The Locatelli Trio: Locatelli - 10 Sonatas, Opus 8

  7. The Black Angel’s Death - The Velvet Underground

  8. Gershwin: An American in Paris - Leonard Bernstein, New York Philharmonic Orchestra

  9. The Search - Pat Metheny Group

  10. Whisky Train - Procol Harum

It’s Friday. What are you listening to?

FUZZY FRIDAY

The cherry blossoms are out in this first week of Spring,
While the animals prepare for their weekly fling
On the Ark, where the day dawns sunny and clear.
Cars, dogs, and beetles: They’re all glad to be here
.

Friday Ark #184 is afloat over at the Modulator, with our very own Hakuna in pole position.

This Sunday, be sure to catch the Carnival of the Cats, to be hosted by Musings of a Mad Macedonian, AKA Nikita’s Place.

Update: CotC #211 is up.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I NEED A SHOWER

I always feel like I need a hot shower after I watch even a few minutes of “Moment of Truth,” the nastiest, smarmiest, vilest, most obnoxious Reality Show since “Marry My Midget.”

The premise of the show is that contestants are asked questions in ascending order of Nosiness and Potential for Embarrassment. As you answer more questions truthfully (according to a polygraph examiner), you have the chance to win prizes of ever-increasing value. Presumably, one can win $500,000 by honestly answering incredibly personal questions such as, “When did you stop sucking your own dick?”

It says a lot about the concupiscence of the average American - or perhaps of his Lust for Fame - that people would line up for the chance to reveal Life-Shattering Truths on this show, in the process laying waste to their marriages, friendships, and family relationships for a few moments of sweaty, breathless television exposure and a crack at a few shekels.

Gawd, what assholes. Don’t they know how dangerous truth is?

Little white lies are part of the lubrication that keeps the machinery of Polite Society running. Strip away that lubrication - tell the truth about everything - and people’s lives grind to a halt.

None of us, alas, is perfect. Each one of us has a list of questions, the answers to which could conceivably make other people unhappy. But in the normal course of Human Events, we are never called upon to answer these questions...and if we are, we are allowed the face-saving expedient of the Little White Lie.

Let’s put aside the heinous premise of “Moment of Truth” aside for a moment and talk about Nuts ’n’ Bolts matters. Personally, I think the show could be improved. It tends to drag, and the producers have the nasty habit of stretching each segment out with repetitive, annoying teasers.

Me, I’d dispense with the teasers. You don’t need ’em.

Want to keep those viewers riveted? All you have to do is give the contestants’ spouses, girlfriends, or boyfriends a loaded pistol...

EVENING EATS

Wednesday evening is usually my evening to knock around in the kitchen. I felt like eating something light, which generally means fish, and we happened to have some fillets of tilapia handy from our last Protein Foraging Expedition to Costco.

What to do with the fish? A month or so ago, the Missus had discovered an interesting recipe on the Weight Watchers (!) website. When she tried it at for a dinner party, using dried tart cherries in lieu of the sweet cherries the recipe specified, it was a resounding success. So I took a crack at it.

I thawed out the fillets, salted and peppered those bad boys, then sautéed ’em in a smidgen of olive oil. Then I sweated down a small chopped onion in the same pan for a few minutes, then added a few tablespoons of white vermouth (“Once In A While, Useful For Something Other Than A Martini!™”) to deglaze the pan, followed by 1/3 cup vegetable broth and a half-cup of dried tart cherries that had been soaked in hot water to soften them up. This made a nice sauce, which I dumped over the fish. A tablespoon of toasted almond slices finished it off.

Tilapia
Sautéed Tilapia with Cherries and Toasted Almonds.

By way of sides, we had some steamed brown rice (ya gotta have starch) and asparamagoosalum. The latter is tasty enough by itself, but I tarted it up with a little olive oil, piment d’espelette (Basque red pepper), and Balinese sea salt. Suddenly, I had a side dish that would have felt at home in any fine dining establishment...but which I could eat (if I so chose) in my Simpsons lounging pants. Schweeet!

Asparagus
Asparagus with piment d’espelette and Balinese sea salt.

I don’t usually bother to peel the lower part of the asparagus stems, preferring to simply chop off the bottommost inch. With white asparagus, ya gotta peel the stalks...and since white asparagus is brittle, it’s a major pain the ass to do it without snapping half of the stalks in two. Give me the green stuff any old day.

The Missus, to be honest, does not care overmuch for the Costco tilapia, which has a subtle metallic flavor undertone. I don’t notice it too much - that’s what the damn sauce is for! - but once we work through the rest of this load, we’ll buy our tilapia at Fresh Market. Or we’ll blow it off and get salmon instead. It’s hard to screw salmon up, unless you really overcook it.

And, just in case you were wondering, no, we don’t eat like this all the time. But I never seem to get around to posting shots of the cans of beans and Stagg’s chili, or of the bags of Jolly Time popcorn.

HAKUNA UPDATE

Hakuna in the Morning, 26 March 2008
Hakuna takes the sun in Elder Daughter’s room.

Several of my Esteemed Readers have inquired as to how Hakuna is getting along without her sister Matata to keep her company.

The short answer is “Just Great.” ’Kunie mooned around for a few days, calling out and pacing, but she seems to have settled down. Perhaps she realizes that Matata, always a larger-than-life presence in our household, is not coming back.

Which means Hakuna will no longer suffer Sisterly Wrath for presuming to get too cuddly with the Humans. Or eating without permission. These are all silver linings - for Hakuna, anyway - in what otherwise is a dark cloud for the rest of us.

She’s a lot more friendly, Hakuna is, these past few weeks. She’ll come downstairs when a Strange Human is in the house, a formerly unheard-of act of courage for her. She still will not lie or sit upon us, as her sister was wont to do, but she seems to be more willing to suffer our close presence, sitting up against SWMBO or me more readily than in the past.

Hakuna rests against SWMBO’s leg
Hakuna rests against SWMBO’s leg.

And she’s as soft and skritchable as ever.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

GUILD EVENT: NOW WITH PICS!

For those who care about such things, I’ve updated yesterday’s Guild Event post with photographs.

Check it out. It’s your opportunity to see Denny with something other than a bottle of Shiner Bock in his hand.

SPRINGTIME IN MAY-RETTA

Never mind that we had a hard freeze this morning. The cherry trees are in bloom! Click either photo to embiggen.

Cherry Blossoms 1

Cherry Blossoms 2

Monday, March 24, 2008

TRUTH, LIES, AND DIPLOMACY

This past Saturday, we had the opportunity to listen to a half-hour talk by our Scholar-in-Residence, noted historian Dr. Ken Stein, director of the Institute for the Study of Modern Israel at Emory University. Stein was also the first director of the Carter Center, serving from 1983 to 1986. In late 2006, he severed his ties to the Center following the publication of Jimmy Carter’s book Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid, which Stein claimed was “...not based on unvarnished analyses; it is replete with factual errors, copied materials not cited, superficialities, glaring omissions, and simply invented segments.” A polite way of saying “Bullshit.”

Most of Dr. Stein’s discussion had to do with the increasingly left-leaning environment in modern universities - no surprise to any of us who have spent time in one - and its implications for critical thinking and a rational view of Middle Eastern events. But what I found most interesting were some of his comments toward the end of the talk, comments having to do with former President Jimmy Carter and his attempts at diplomacy in the region.

Stein is in a unique position to weigh in on Carter and his unfortunate tendency to use the Convenient Lie…because Stein, formerly a close associate of Carter, was actually present when certain diplomatic discussions were held. He cited one particular instance in which Carter had met with the late President Hafez Assad of Syria (yemach shemo). After the meeting, Carter announced that Assad had agreed to discuss the future of the Golan Heights with Israel and had indicated his willingness to create a demilitarized zone in the area.

The only problem was, this wasn’t true. Assad had never said any such thing, and Stein called Carter on it in the limousine, after exiting the talks. President Jimmy’s excuse was that the next stop was Israel, and he felt that it was important to come there with positive news…even if it wasn’t true.

In the subsequent meeting with Yitzchak Shamir and his officials, Carter told the same lie, misrepresenting Assad’s willingness to negotiate the status of the Golan. One of the officials caught Ken Stein’s eye and asked quietly, in Hebrew, whether Assad had really said this. Ken’s quiet response was “Lo nakhon” - it was false.

This exchange was overheard by Yitzchak Shamir himself, who cast his eye upon Stein and gave him a signal to indicate he had heard…and went on as though nothing had happened, not tipping Carter off that he had been caught in his lie.

Carter’s book Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid is full of deliberate untruths, according to Stein, who claims to have kept detailed notes on every discussion for which he was present. Many times, his notes directly contradict something Carter states in the book. And in the subsequent book tours and campus visits, people were not given an opportunity to challenge the specifics of the book. As to why Carter has become such a fervent advocate of the Palestinian cause, Stein speculates that it’s a combination of his longtime role as Champion of the “Downtrodden and Oppressed” (words and emphasis mine), coupled with anger at the Jewish community, a community that supported Carter strongly in the 1976 election but deserted him in droves four years later. (The same is true of the evangelical Christian community.) So perhaps he blames the Jews for costing him the election in 1980. It’s easier, I suppose, than blaming himself or his failed presidency.

It was a fascinating discussion. It’s one thing to read about history; quite another to hear about it from someone who was right there as it was being made. Now, if we can only make sure it’s reported factually...

MARCH GUILD EVENT

Denny, Houston Steve, and Elisson
Denny, Houston Steve, and Yours Truly, enduring another Guild event.

Agggh.

It looks like Denny, Houston Steve, and I will have to suffer through yet another Winey Dinner with the Sommelier Guild of Atlanta.

This one’s tonight at Grace 1720 in Norcross. The featured Grape o’ th’ Evening is grenache; all wines are red unless noted otherwise.

Speaker’s Wines
Consilience Grenache Blanc 2006
Espelt Coralí Grenache Rosé 2005

First Flight
Yangarra Old Vine 2005
Consilience “Rodney Shull” 2005
Longhop 2006
Kenneth-Crawford “Larner” 2006

Roasted New Zealand lamb loin with wild mushroom bread pudding, rosemary jus

Second Flight
Artazo “Santa Cruz” 2005
Laurona Montsant 2003
Menguante (Seleccion) 2004

Seared Ahi tuna “scallop,” crispy buckwheat noodle cake, caper crème, roasted garlic oil

Third Flight
Château de la Gardine Châteauneuf-du-Pape 1998
Vieux Télégraphe Châteauneuf-du-Pape 1998
Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape 1998

Maple Leaf Farms muscovy duck carpaccio with dried cherry & chili duck leg confit spring roll

Lagniappe (courtesy of Parks)
Domaine de Cristia Vin de Pays des Portes de Méditerranée 2006
Cave du Romanie Côtes du Rhône Cuvée Réservée 2005

Sounds horrible, doesn’t it? Such suffering and grief...oy...

[If you want to suffer by proxy, photos are below the fold.]

Denny
Denny surveys a forest of wineglasses.

Houston Steve
Houston Steve.

Guild Guys
Some of the Guild stalwarts. L to R: Mike W., Bennett, Lloyd, and Pat.

First Flight
The first flight, accompanied by roasted New Zealand lamb loin.

Second Flight
The second flight, accompanied by seared ahi tuna.

Third Flight
The third flight, accompanied by Muscovy duck carpaccio.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

ASK MR. DEBONAIR

Mr. Debonair

Dear Mr. Debonair,

Is it appropriate to trim one’s fingernails at the Breakfast Table?

Sincerely,
Somewhat Disgusted


Dear Disgusted,

In addressing this question to Mr. Debonair, you knew the answer before you even asked the question, didn’t you?

Of course you did.

And I shall not disappoint you. I will state that, unless you were raised by wolves, the only appropriate place to trim one’s fingernails is in the bathroom, preferably standing near a sink so that the trimmings may be easily caught and disposed of.

If one is trimming one’s toenails, it is preferable to find a comfortable seat in the bathroom rather than to trim the nails at one’s bedside, as the trimmings have an unfortunate way of lodging in out-of-the-way places where they may be discovered (with some modest discomfort) with one’s bare feet.

To trim one’s fingernails at table - be it at breakfast, luncheon, dinner, or supper - is revolting. And imagine the possibility of a stray nail clipping embedding itself in one’s food. Even worse, a companion’s food. How loathesome!

And to trim one’s toenails at table...why, that is beyond revolting. But Mr. Debonair has lived a long time, and Mr. Debonair has seen many things, not all of which have been pleasant. It is regrettable that one cannot “unsee” such things, but, well, there you are.

LET’S GO KROGERING

There was a whole chicken sitting in our Meat Locker, waiting for us to do something with it. And it was getting to be time to (you should excuse the expression) shit or get out the pot.

“Hey, bub, ya gonna cook me, or what? ’Cause otherwise, I’m gonna just lay here until I stink to high heaven.”

I’ve cooked Chicken in a Pot several times over the last month or two. It’s a fine dish, but it results in a very chicken-y tasting chicken. Not that that’s a bad thing, but there aren’t a whole lot of other flavor notes. And She Who Must Be Obeyed wanted something with a little more oomph. So I suggested Coq au Vin, that venerable old standby consisting of chicken braised in red wine. It’s got onions, carrots, shallots, and mushrooms to help create a whole symphony of Good Tastes...just what the Missus ordered.

The larder was short by one key ingredient, though: We lacked mushrooms. So we took a spin over to the local Kroger, the Publix where we normally shop being closed for the Easter holiday.

I guess the Kroger folks aren’t “shomer Easter.”

Anyone who does most of his or her food shopping in one particular store will always feel a little disoriented when in a different one. And adding to my sense of disorientation was the Kroger penchant for Trying to Make Shopping Entertaining and/or Educational.

In the dairy section, for example, there was a device that simulated the sound of cows mooing. And over by the eggs, you could hear the clucking of chickens. Was this Kroger’s attempt to tell us how wholesome their dairy products were? That the eggs were “Really Clucking Fresh,” straight from the chicken’s ass? Or were they trying to tell the less intellectually capable of their customers that “the milk comes from the animal that sounds like this, and the eggs come from the animal that sounds like that” – as opposed to the huge factory complex that produces Rice Krispies?

I began to get worried. When we got to the meat department, were we going to be treated to the sounds of cattle being whacked on the head with sledgehammers? Squealing pigs, bleeding out while hanging upside-down from a hook on a conveyor belt?

Naw. It was actually a little disappointing.

But, having scored our mushrooms (and a bunch of other comestibles), we headed home, where, at this very moment, the Coq au Vin is simmering merrily upon Darth Stover’s largest burner.

And it’ll be Clucking Fresh. I’ll even provide the sound effects.

Update: Here’s the finished product.

Coq au Vin

TODAY’S CHEESE AISLE

Cheese Aisle Logo

On today’s installment of Lost in the Cheese Aisle, I’ll be talking about Pie.

Everybody loves pie. It’s the all-American confection!

Be sure to listen in at www.radiosandysprings.com at 4 p.m. Eastern time. Or at 1 p.m. Pacific time, if you prefer. The fortunate residents of Sandy Springs, Georgia can even tune their AM radios to 1620 and dispense with all that Internet nonsense.

This show was pre-recorded, so there’ll be no opportunity to call in. This was so the station owner and all the engineering personnel could enjoy the Easter holiday with their families.

You can find archive versions of past shows - some of ’em, anyway - at the show’s web page for you to download and enjoy (urp) at your convenience.

Friday, March 21, 2008

A SETUP IN SEARCH OF A PUNCHLINE

Setup
A priest, a rabbi... (Photo credit: Houston Steve)

A priest, a rabbi, and an idiot in a Silly Hat walk into the Local Bagel and Smoked Fish Emporium...

Yes, this actually happened this morning. I couldn’t come up with a punchline to go with the setup, though. Can you?

GOOD FRIDAY RANDOM TEN

It’s Friday, time once again for Blog d’Elisson’s Friday Random Ten, the weekly collection of crap spewed out by the iPod d’Elisson.

Today is a day that abounds in Religious Significance. For Christians, it’s Good Friday, the opening shot of Easter Weekend, the day on which Jesus was crucified. For Jews, it’s Purim, a holiday that celebrates our deliverance from destruction at the hands of Haman as related in the Book of Esther.

That’s an unusual juxtaposition: Good Friday and Purim. Usually, Good Friday and Easter are more-or-less coincident with Passover, the major Jewish spring festival, for obvious historical reasons. But this year, owing to the peculiarities of both the Christian ecclesiastical calendar and the Jewish calendar, the Easter season is exceptionally early this year...and since this is a Jewish leap year, Passover will be observed next month.

In centuries past, Jews would keep a low profile this time of year: Attracting the attention of Gentiles whipped into an anti-semitic fury by Passion plays and sermons was a good way to get yourself killed. But that was then, and this is now...and we have other people seeking our destruction to be concerned about. So it’s perfectly OK for us to enjoy our Purim silliness - it’s traditional to enjoy a liberal taste of the grape or even of Yakov Barleycorn, and to dress in costumes - while our Christian friends celebrate the more solemn joy of their holiday today.

Purim is, in a way, a perfect day for a Random Ten. Or a random anything, for that matter...because purim literally means “lots.” As in “casting lots.” Throwing the dice. Relying on randomness to help make a decision.

What does the Little White Choon-Box have to say about all this? Let’s find out:
  1. Loser - Richard Cheese

    Richard Cheese’s Vegas lounge-style cover of the Beck classic adds an extra layer of dementia to an already-demented tune.

    In the time of chimpanzees I was a monkey
    Butane in my veins and I’m out to cut the junkie
    With the plastic eyeballs, spray-paint the vegetables
    Dog food skulls with the beefcake pantyhose
    Kill the headlights and put it in neutral
    Stock car flamin’ with a loser in the cruise control
    Baby’s in Reno with the Vitamin D
    Got a couple of couches, asleep on the love-seat

    Soy un perdedor
    I’m a loser, baby, so why don’t you kill me?

    Someone keeps sayin’ I’m insane to complain
    About a shotgun wedding and a stain on my shirt
    Don’t believe everything that you breathe
    You get a parking violation and a maggot on your sleeve
    So shave your face with some Mace in the dark
    Savin’ all your food stamps and burnin’ down the trailer park
    (Yo. Cut it.)

    Soy un perdedor
    I’m a loser, baby, so why don’t you kill me?
    (Double-barrel buckshot)

    Soy un perdedor
    I’m a loser, babe, so why don’t you kill me?
    (Kill me, baby)

    (Get crazy with the Cheez-Wiz)
    (Drive-by body pierce)
    (Sprechen Sie Deutsch, baby?)
    (Yo, bring it on down)

    Soy un perdedor
    I’m a loser, baby, so why don’t you kill me?
    (I can’t believe you!)

    Soy un perdedor
    I’m a loser, baby, so why don’t you kill me?


  2. MacArthur Park - Richard Harris

    One of the truly nutty - and unexplainable - hits of the 1960’s.

  3. V.T.T.L.O.T.F.D.G.F. - Fishbone

    According to Wikipedia, the initials stand for “Voyage To The Land Of The Freeze Dried Godzilla Farts,” and is about a government attempt to convince the public that Hiroshima was actually caused by Godzilla farting. I’ll try to test that hypothesis four weeks from today, when I plan to be in Hiroshima with Elder Daughter.

  4. One Note Song - Tenacious D

  5. Tankkaustunti - Alamaiilman Vasarat

  6. L’Dor Va-Dor - Josh Nelson

  7. New Jersey - Red House Painters

  8. Day Tripper - The Beatles

  9. Act II, Scene 1: This Is Prophetic - John Adams, Nixon in China

  10. Bleeker Street - Klaus Badelt, The Time Machine (2002)

It’s Friday. What are you listening to?

FUZZY FRIDAY

It’s early morning; the sky is dark
As the animals board the Friday Ark.
They cast off the ropes and the ship sails away
To Places Unknown on this bright, sunny day.


The Friday Ark sets forth on its 183rd voyage at the Modulator.

This Sunday, be sure and stop by the 210th installment of Carnival of the Cats at Chey’s Place.

Update: CotC #210 is up.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

TAKING IT EASY

Hakuna on the Bed
Hakuna racks out on Elder Daughter’s bed.

One of Hakuna’s favorite spots: the bed in Elder Daughter’s room.

MARINER: A 100-WORD STORY

I row through the Underground, navigating past the Ordure Ocean, the Beeyem Bay, the Sea of Shit. I’m a regular Crap Mariner, sailing the sewers like Jason and the Cacanauts.

After all these years, I’ve gotten used to the reek. Almost.

Life was different once. You might remember me: I was the Ty-D-Bowl Man.

With my blazer and jaunty captain’s cap, I’d paddle around in toilet tanks, freaking out the housewives. You’d freak too, if you found a little dude rowing a boat in your tank. Great gig while it lasted.

Lousy defective flapper valve.

I still miss my cap.

WELCOME TO THE CLUB

Irwin

This morning, my friend Irwin, the Paintner - one of the Minyan Boyz - was in high clover.

It wasn’t that his eldest child Ari’s face had been plastered on the front page of USA Today’s sports section yesterday - one of two UGA fans holding up banners as the Georgia Bulldogs won the SEC championship, coming from behind (as Dawgs are wont to do) - and was now being gazed upon by millions of people coast-to-coast. It was for a far more important reason.

Ari at the SEC Championship
Irwin’s son Ari (L) and friend Steve (R) celebrate the Dawgs’ come-from-behind victory.

Yesterday, Irwin became an American citizen.

Irwin was a Canadian, growing up in Montréal after (he says) his family had taken a wrong turn coming over from Europe. He and his family have lived here for many years as solid, productive citizens, contributing to the economy and to the community. He’s one of those “go to” guys, the kind of person you ask for help when something needs to get done, the kind of guy who never met a stranger. And now, in the culmination of a process that took over five years, he, his wife Ava (a Romanian by birth), and his four children (all born in Canada) have taken the oath of citizenship. Younger son Danny, who is attending Sciences Po, a political science university in Paris, flew in especially for the occasion.

By way of celebration, Irwin bought breakfast for today’s Minyan crowd at the Local Bagel and Smoked Fish Emporium…just the kind of menschlichkeit you’d expect. It was Fisherrific™.

I’m proud to call Irwin a friend...and not just because he laughs at my stupid jokes.

[And to those who will point out the apparent contradiction in having breakfast after Minyan on a minor fast day - today is Ta’anit Esther, commemorating Esther’s having fasted three days before going in to King Achashveirosh to plead for the life of her people - I will say that it is, after all, only a half-fast day. And besides...we ate under Rabbinical supervision.]

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

SPONGEBOGIE

SpongeBogie
SpongeBogie.

My favorite Porous Yellow Dude and his friends mangle the Classics in this post at Boudicca’s Voice.

ADULTHOOD’S END

Arthur C. ClarkeBritish SF author Arthur C. Clarke has gone off exploring new worlds, having left this one behind at the age of 90.

I will miss Mr. Clarke. While the world at large may remember him best for 2001: A Space Odyssey, the landmark Stanley Kubrick film for which he co-wrote the screenplay, he has created many other fine works. The very first science fiction novel I can recall reading, way back in my Snot-Nose Days, was Childhood’s End, a book that I will still pick up from time to time. As often as I’ve regretted that no film version of this SF classic has ever been made, I realize that Hollywood invariably takes great literature and reduces it to garbage...so it’s just as well that the only movie of Childhood’s End I will ever see is the one that plays in my own head.

Communications satellites? They’re part of the landscape (spacescape?) these days, but Clarke wrote about them long before Telstar was a glint in the eye of some engineer at Bell Telephone Laboratories.

One of my favorite Clarke quotes: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Ave atque vale, Mr. Clarke. May you now uncover the secrets of the Universe you wrote so eloquently about.

[Tip o’ th’ Elisson fedora to Laurence Simon, who sees dead people...or at leat hears about ’em faster than I do.]

Update: Og - who actually met Clarke and later carried on an e-mail correspondence with the Great Man - has written a fine memorial post. Check it out.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

RHET BUTLER

Rhetorical Butler

The last time I invented a Cartoon Character, it never went anywhere…but the essay I wrote about creating Super Baciagalupe was good enough to gain me entry to a major Ivy League university. Which, I suppose, goes to show you that there’s no predicting what those double-domes are looking for in an applicant.
Hey, this guy sounds like a psycho! What’s our target percentage of nutjobs in the class of ’74, anyway? Thirty-seven? Hey, he’s in.
But that was then, and this is now…which means it’s time for a new Cartoon Character, someone who can do battle on the Funny Pages against the likes of Ziggy, Dennis the Menace, and Marmaduke in the One-Panel Gag arena.

Meet Rhet – short for Rhetorical – Butler.

His speciality is asking questions to which the answer is obvious or unnecessary. Some examples:
  • “Will you be wanting me to lay out your clothes, Sir, or would you prefer to traipse around the city with your Dangly Bits out?”

  • “Would you like for me to clean your shoes, Sir, or would you just like to continue tracking dog excrement on the Oriental rug?”

  • “Shall I pour Eric a glass of single malt Scotch?”

So: What do you think? Do you think Rhet Butler stands a chance against Ziggy?

FROM THE ELISSON ARCHIVE

Ice
A January 2005 ice storm turns branches into a filigree of glass.

Monday, March 17, 2008

A FAREWELL TO THUNDER

Zonker, he of the mullet and Fake Arm Tats, has formally announced that he is shutting down his Bloggy Activities.

Given his frequency of posting these past few months, many of us will not notice much difference.

Which is too bad, really. Thunderman is a helluva writer, with a sly sense of humor and the ability to surprise. I will miss his blogposts, although I have had plenty of time in which to get used to the absence of Zonker-Material.

On a more personal note, Zonker is one of the nicest, most thoughtful, and considerate guys I know. A real mensch in every respect...and a dab hand at Partying Hearty, to boot. And that, I suppose, is one of the unsung benefits of This Thing We Do - that through writing Web-Logs, I have met - in Meatworld - and, as Z-man puts it in his valedictory post, “I’ve become friends with good people whom, under different circumstances, I’d likely otherwise have never met.”

Real life obtrudes, but we will just have to deal with it. All the best, buddy.

[Tip o’ th’ Elisson fedora to ol’ Beerbrains, who conveyed the Sad News in this post...a post that captures the Essence of the Thunderman whilst incorporating a subtle Penile Reference in its title.]

SAINT PADRAIG

A Happy Saint Patrick’s Day shout-out to all my Irish and wanna-be Irish friends.

In the words of the Dublin Feminists: “Erin go braghless!”

THE RETURN OF CAPTAIN JACK

You may recall that in late December, Houston Steve and I set forth to recapture the glory days of the British Royal Navy with a blowout reminiscent of the sort celebrated in Patrick O’Brian’s novels: a dinner such as might have been enjoyed by Captain Jack Aubrey and Dr. Stephen Maturin.

That was a majestic dinner indeed, one that whetted our appetites for Yet Another British Royal Navy Extravaganza. But this time, we set our aim on recreating the more down-to-earth Gunroom Fare, rather than the conspicuous consumption of the Captain’s Table.

Once again, the festivities took place at Houston Steve’s, where we were joined by Barry and his wife Malka. With the happy strains of “Heart of Oak,” “Spanish Ladies,” “The Roast Beef of Olde England,” and various pieces by Locatelli and Bach playing in the background, we sat down to enjoy our Gunroom Dinner.

We started off with a platter of Brie and mozzarella cheese encased in phyllo dough and deep fried, courtesy of Malka. I chose to wash this down with several glasses of Gonzáles Byass Tio Pepe fino sherry, while SWMBO stuck to a Sonoma red zinfandel.

Fried cheese in phyllo
Fried cheese in phyllo. Yum!

The main dish, courtesy of Houston Steve, was a Pickwick Pudding, named for the Dickens novel in which it appears. It’s basically a steak and kidney pudding, jacked up by the addition of oysters. Steve covered all the bases, however, providing a huge platter of Herbed Chicken as an alternative for those timid souls that might balk at eating Organ Meats.

Pickwick Pudding
Savory Pickwick Pudding.

Herbed Chicken
Herbed Chicken.

Alongside the pudding, Houston Steve served mash (mashed potatoes, a traditional accompaniment) and collard greens (the favorite of Collard People everywhere). And because this was the relatively humble fare of the Gunroom, we drank Guinness as we tucked in to our heaped trenchers...an advance nod to Saint Patrick, perhaps.

It was massive.

But it got even more massive, for I had prepared a notoriously Rich Dessert: the same Rum Chocolate Dessert - appropriately pudding-like in texture - that I had brought to our dinner with the Grouchy One a few weeks ago. With a pile of whipped cream alongside each slice, it was practically indecent.

A Slice of Heaven
A little slice of Heaven.

Coffee and a fine 1982 tawny Port (with which we drank the health of the King) completed the picture. Another memorable meal, one of which Captain Jack would have been proud. Burp!

Houston Steve, Barry, and Elisson
(L. to R.) Houston Steve, Barry, and Elisson.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

KLAATU BARADA NIKTO

“Go to him and say,
‘Klaatu barada nikto.’
Or we are all fucked.”


We were watching one of my favorite Old Movies yesterday afternoon between tornado warnings: The Day The Earth Stood Still, starring Patricia Neal and Michael Rennie. It’s one of the great films in the Science Fiction canon, despite there being plenty of errors in the Science. There are also some wonderful anachronisms, such as scenes of doctors smoking in a hospital, that are laughable today – but these only add to the film’s charm.

The plot of the film is straightforward. Alien visitor Klaatu arrives on Earth on a mission to persuade its denizens to live peaceably or face destruction. Shortly after arriving, as he holds out a threatening-looking device that turns out to be a gift intended for our President, he is shot in the hand by a young soldier with an itchy trigger finger. This display of bad manners causes Gort the Scary Robot to reveal himself and to demonstrate some Badass Disintegrating Powers. But Klaatu tells Gort to calm down, thereby ensuring that the film is more than a ten minute short subject with a really downbeat ending.

Klaatu is taken to Walter Reed Hospital for treatment...and, not incidentally, confinement. After he fails to get the world’s governments to agree on a single meeting place where he can deliver his Important Message, Klaatu escapes from the hospital and secretes himself amongst the general population, the better to understand the Average Human Being. While panicked officialdom searches for the Man from Space, Klaatu, adopting the guise of one “Mr. Carpenter,” falls in among the residents of a boarding house, where he befriends a young widow and her son.

Klaatu arranges to meet Professor Barnhardt, the leading savant of the day, and convinces him to arrange a meeting of the World’s Leading Scientists so that he can reveal his Important Message to them. To demonstrate his powers (and thus to emphasize the importance of his Important Message), he arranges to “neutralize” the world’s electricity for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, the widow’s boyfriend has figured out that Mr. Carpenter is really the Man from Space, and he sics the authorities on him. Klaatu, knowing he is in Big Trouble, gives his widow friend a message to deliver to Gort the Scary Robot that will keep him from getting pissed off and destroying the Earth if anything happens to him.

The widow is put to the test when Klaatu is shot to death on the streets of Washington. She runs to Gort and delivers the message – “Klaatu barada nikto” - that calms him down. He retrieves Klaatu’s corpse and reanimates it just in time for the meeting of the World’s Leading Scientists...so Klaatu gets to deliver his Important Message after all before flying off into the sunset.

“Klaatu barada nikto” is one of the Iconic Movie Quotes of the Science Fiction canon. It’s hard to forget the image of Patricia Neal, scared completely shitless, as she delivers this message to Gort. She’s hunkered down amidst a sea of folding chairs in the classic Female in Distress pose. And we know she’d really be pissing her pants if she had seen Gort disintegrate those two soldiers moments before she arrived.

But all I can think about is those three little words, and how the Fate of the Earth depended on them being delivered to Gort. Correctly and intelligibly. What were the chances?

F’rinstance, what if Patricia Neal’s character had had a cold?

“Gort! Klaatu barada dikto! (sniff)”

BLAMMO!

Or what if Klaatu’s people spoke a complex language in which subtle variations of tone conveyed huge differences in meaning - like Mandarin Chinese here on Earth? Speaking the Three Words with the incorrect tone might change the meaning from “Klaatu is dead, but don’t get all pissed off ’n’ shit” to “Hoo, hoo, hoo, there’s a doodie on your shoe!” With predictable, and unpleasant, results.

I don’t know about you, but if I were faced with that sort of situation, I might just choke completely.

<RALPHKRAMDEN>

“Gort! Homina, homina, homina...”

</RALPHKRAMDEN>

BLAMMO!

This, by the way, is why watching movies with me is so...entertaining.


Technorati tags:


DEAD DUCK

Yesterday having been International Eat A Tasty Animal for PETA (IEATAPETA) Day, She Who Must Be Obeyed and I celebrated by enjoying Animal-Based Protein at every opportunity.

If it has a face - or a mother - it’s fair game on IEATAPETA Day. And the cuter the animal, the better.

For breakfast, I had a couple of eggs over easy. But eggs do not exploit the chicken quite enough, so I placed them gently atop a salmon patty.

Lunch was a corned beef and pastrami sandwich that I shared with SWMBO. Considerate husband that I am, I did not insist that the sandwich also contain tongue or chopped liver, neither of which the Missus will deign to eat.

For dinner, we joined our friends Tom and Ellen and their daughter Cailin at Pasta Vino, a homey Italian joint in Johns Creek. The Missus had grouper; I had rigatoni with spinach, garlic, and Italian sausage. Meaty good!

There’ll be more meat today. Houston Steve has been yearning to make a Steak and Kidney Pudding (Mmmmm...kidneys...), so of course I’ll help him eat it.

But there’s one meat we won’t be having:

Dead Duck
Dead duck in a can.

You’re looking at a can of Duck Confit - duck preserved in its own fat - that was given to us by Amélie, an exchange student who stayed with us for several weeks back in the spring of 1994. (She also gave us a CD: “Edith Pilaf sings Songs About Cooked Rice,” but that’s another story.)

I love duck confit, but for some stupid reason, we never opened that can...and now, I fear, it’s too late. Because I’m a little nervous about consuming something that is fully ten years past its “Best If Consumed Before” date. Dead Duck in a can.

If I want duck confit, I guess I’ll have to make it myself. But I could cut a couple of slices from the Strasburg Pie that sits in our freezer. Duckies are cute...all the better to eat ’em...and their livers are the cutest part of all.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

MORE WILD WEATHER

As if the Meteorological Shenanigans of last night were not bad enough, we spent a good part of the day today listening to the tornado warning sirens.

And this afternoon, we were treated to a ferocious - but mercifully short-lived - hailstorm. The stones were nickel- and dime-sized, mostly, but there were enough of them to form some respectable piles on our deck.

Here’s a bit of Visual Documentation. Click on any of these to embiggen:

Falling Hail
Hail pounds down from above.

Clouds Darken the Sky
Clouds and sun at war during a lull in the storm.

Aftermath 1
After the storm.

Aftermath 2
Piles of ice litter the deck.

We were relieved to have escaped with no broken glass or pebble finishes on our cars’ paint jobs. And no funnels. For now, anyway...kein ayin hora.

AN ILL WIND

It’s unusual for a tornado to strike at the heart of a big city, but it does happen. I remember incidents when tornadoes hit downtown Miami and Fort Worth. And let’s not forget Oklahoma City, where tornadoes strike with “Dog Bites Man” frequency. But last night, it was Atlanta’s turn:
The storm hit the most prominent section of downtown Atlanta, which includes major attractions such as CNN, the Georgia Dome, the Georgia World Congress Center, the Georgia Aquarium and the new World of Coca-Cola that are clustered around Centennial Olympic Park, which was built for the 1996 Summer Olympics.
I normally don’t spend a lot of time downtown, but just two nights prior, I had been at Philips Arena with a handful of friends, watching the Houston Rockets extend their winning streak to 20 by thrashing the Atlanta Hawks.

(Thrashing may be too strong a word. The Hawks actually acquitted themselves well, but after taking an early lead and being up a point at the half, they melted down in the last three minutes. Ah, well.)

Now the whole area where we traipsed around getting from parking lot to dinner to the Arena is trashed. Demolished. It looks like a war zone. Gaaaah.

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade was to have been today, its observance moved up a couple of days to avoid celebrating it during Holy Week. But now? Fuhgeddaboudit.

Mississippi State and the University of Alabama were playing over at the Georgia Dome, but the game was halted after the storm blew part of the roof in. Oy.

But as much as I feel like I dodged a bullet, how about Gilad, the Mistress’s friend, who was enroute from Savannah to Nashville with a planned stop at our place? He cruised through downtown Atlanta just moments before the storm hit. He’s in our guest room even now, sleeping the happy sleep of someone who doesn’t know that he just had a Close Call.

Timing is everything, I tell ya.

Friday, March 14, 2008

JOLLY

Asparagam stood, staring off into space, a tear running down his chlorophyll-stained face.

It had been a hellish season. So many of his family cut off in the prime of their lives. Flayed. Stuffed into the brightly colored body bags, then trundled off into cryogenic storage.

But he could not mourn for them. That was...forbidden.

It was in the contract. The hellish clothing, perversely constructed of stinging nettles. The omnipresent shit-eating grin. It was all there in green and white. He was sworn to obey.

Just the same, he thought, can’t the Jolly Green Giant weep for his lost children?

[Listen to the podcasted version here.]

FRIDAY RANDOM TEN

It’s Friday, time once again for Blog d’Elisson’s Friday Random Ten, the weekly Collation o’ Cacophony horked out at random by my Little White Choon-Box.

What with tomorrow being International Eat a Tasty Animal for PETA (IEATAPETA) Day, meat will be on the menu at every opportunity. Perhaps a thick steak...or some tasty Beef Ribs...the possibilities are endless. Sunday, assuming Houston Steve can score the proper ingredients, we plan to enjoy a second (and slightly lower-key) Jack Aubrey Dinner, this one featuring the more déclassé fare of the Gunroom instead of that of the Captain’s Table. Steak and Kidney Pudding is the featured entrée: How’s that for Meaty Goodness?

Also on Sunday, the topic of my Lost in the Cheese Aisle radio show will be - what else? - Meat. Meaty meat. Yum. Be sure to tune in to www.radiosandysprings.com at 4:00 pm.

Meanwhile, the iPod d’Elisson has something to share with us. Check it out:
  1. I Wanna be Like You - Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

  2. Yesternow - Miles Davis

    The second half of the Tribute to Jack Johnson album.

    “I’m Jack Johnson, heavyweight champion of the world! I’m black - they never let me forget it. I’m black, all right: I’ll never let them forget it.”

  3. The Ascent of Stan - Ben Folds

  4. Bourée - Leo Kottke

  5. Animal Zoo - Spirit

  6. The Innocent Bystander - Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks

  7. Fat Man In The Bathtub - Little Feat

  8. Get Behind The Mule - Tom Waits

  9. Inward Singing - Tenacious D

  10. Lover’s Lane - Squirrel Nut Zippers

    How ’bout that? A Friday Random Ten bracketed by Jazzy Swing Bands!

It’s Friday. What are you listening to?

FUZZY FRIDAY

Hakuna
Hakuna sits beneath her favorite chair.

The Ark sails beneath the Bloggy Firmament,
Though missing a part of its normal complement.
But life goes on for the pets that we love
While those who’ve Gone Before wait patiently above.


The Friday Ark is afloat on its 182nd mission over at the Modulator.

This Sunday, Carnival of the Cats stops off at This That & The Other Thing. Be sure to swing by and pay a visit.

Update: CotC #209 is up.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A PAEAN IN PRAISE OF POLYPROPYLENE

Alfi La Ola Thermal Carafe
The Alfi La Ola Thermal Carafe.
[Image snarfed from the inimitable Sissy Willis.]

I spotted this striking orange-cobalt blue thermal carafe in a recent post at sisu. Designed by Julian Brown, this German-made Objet d’Art Utilitaire is the kind of thing you might expect to see on the shelves at Target, where similar arty-yet-useful housewares have rolled off the drawing boards of design visionaries like Michael Graves. Alas, no: If you want one of these, you have to go to the Alfi website.

As Sissy points out in a subsequent post, the working heart of the beast - a double-walled glass vacuum flask, AKA Dewar flask - is enclosed within a decorative and protective outer sheath of frosted polypropylene.

Aahhh, polypropylene, a product I know a little something about. O, the countless billions of pounds of thee that the Great Corporate Salt Mine hath produced since my employment began over thirty years ago. Thou hast inspired this Paean, a paean in Praise of this most Versatile Polyolefin...

Let us speak of the wonderful automobile -
That fabulous driving machine,
Made of rubber and glass (and let’s not forget steel)
And fine polypropylene.

We shall talk of the car seats protecting our kids
As we motor past fields so green,
And shiny containers with living-hinge lids -
It’s all polypropylene.

We will buy a dishwasher - yes, that’s what we’ll do,
Because we want dishes so clean.
It’ll last twenty years (give or take one or two)
Thanks to our polypropylene.

Don’t forget the fantastic returnable bin
Packed with produce: the lowly string bean
And the kumquat. To throw boxes out is a sin,
But we keep polypropylene.

And let’s go get some yogurt, both fruited and plain,
Low in calories: helps us stay lean.
It’s protected (so it will not give us ptomaine)
By food-grade polypropylene.

The stuff’s all around us! From birth until death,
Its impact on our lives is seen.
So please mold my coffin (when I draw no more breath)
Of long-lived polypropylene.


CAKED: A 100-WORD STORY

Gary Gateau was a uranium miner.

Every morning he would don lead-fiber coveralls and facemask and descend into the bowels of the Athabasca Pit. Every evening he would shamble home exhausted, encrusted with triuranium octoxide.

Caked with yellowcake.

Gary hated the yellowcake. It got in his nostrils, his ears, his eyes. He knew that eventually it would kill him. But he had to make a living. Ironic, that, he thought.

Today, however, was his birthday. He rushed to his shack, eager to celebrate.

His face fell when he saw that his wife had baked a cake.

A fucking yellow cake.

[You can listen to the podcasted version here, part of Weekly Challenge #100 at the 100 Word Stories Podcast.]

FILMEME

Mark A. Rayner, he who operates The Skwib (home of the Carnival of Satire, the 96th edition of which is up right now), has slapped me with a Movie-Related Meme. And it’s a good ’un.

Here’s the drill:
  • Look up 15 of your favorite movies on IMDB.

  • Take a quote from each and post them for your readership to properly identify.

  • As your movie-savvy readers correctly identify the quotes’ cinematic origins in the comments, strike out the quotes and name the commenter who answered correctly.

  • If the commenter also identifies the name of the speaker (the character or the actor), he or she gets bonus points in the form of a link to his or her site.
Simple, huh?

OK, let’s see what kind of Movie Buff you are. Oh, and no fair using IMDB or other Internet-related sources. It’s more fun if you try to figure these out from memory:
  1. “When that rope starts to pull tight, you can feel the Devil bite your ass.” - The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly (BobG)

  2. “One cannot choose but wonder.” - The Time Machine (1960) (Mamacita)

  3. “Listen, there are dozens of girls in this town tonight that are in more danger than they’ll ever see with me.”

  4. “You use your tongue prettier than a twenty dollar whore.” - Blazing Saddles (BobG, El Capitan)

  5. “You gotta be fucking kidding.” - The Thing (1982) (BobG)

  6. “I was misinformed.” - Casablanca (Houston Steve)

  7. “I can remember everything. That’s my curse, young man. It’s the greatest curse that’s ever been inflicted on the human race: memory.” - Citizen Kane (Jerry)

  8. “You’re gonna have to answer to the Coca-Cola company.” - Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Tbird)

  9. “Goodness is something to be chosen. When a man cannot choose he ceases to be a man.” - A Clockwork Orange (Mamacita)

  10. “Tell me, Hilda, does all this frighten you? Does it make you feel insecure?” - The Day the Earth Stood Still (K-Nine)

  11. “I had two heart attacks, an abortion, did crack... while I was pregnant. Other than that, I’m fine.” - Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain (The Mistress of Sarcasm)

  12. “I guess you’ve noticed something a little strange with Dad. It’s okay, though. I’m still Dad.” - Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Jerry)

  13. “You shouldn’t keep souvenirs of a killing. You shouldn’t have been that sentimental.” - Vertigo (The Mistress of Sarcasm)

  14. “There’s a lot of things about me that you don’t know anything about, Dottie. Things you wouldn’t understand. Things you couldn’t understand. Things you shouldn’t understand. You don’t want to get mixed up with a guy like me.” - Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (The Mistress of Sarcasm)

  15. “It’s a Zen thing, like how many babies fit in a tire.” - Waiting For Guffman (Mamacita)

Now, who to tag with this mess? Naw, I don’t do the Taggy Thing. But I’ll bet Eric and Erica would have fun with this...not to mention Ivan G. Shreve, who can probably run rings around everyone else in this Subject Area. Anyone else, please feel free to play along.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

POTTY INVITATION

You may want to sit down before you read this. Or maybe not.

Wait: you’re probably already sitting down, with your butt parked in front of a computer monitor.

Anyway, it’s not all that often that She Who Must Be Obeyed will call me in the middle of the day, telling me of a News Item of such colossal import, such burning interest, that I must write a post about it right away. But she did, and so here we are.

The News Item? Well, according to a report that came over the AP wire today, a woman in western Kansas sat on her boyfriend’s toilet for two years...long enough to become attached to the toilet seat as her skin grew around it. Checkit:
[The boyfriend] told investigators he brought his girlfriend food and water, and asked her every day to come out of the bathroom.

“And her reply would be, ‘Maybe tomorrow,’” [Ness County Sheriff Bryan] Whipple said. “According to him, she did not want to leave the bathroom.”

Must’ve been some nice bathroom.

Seventeen years ago, on my last trip to Japan, I was booked in at the New Otani Hotel, a High-Rent Crib in the heart of the Akasaka District in downtown Tokyo. When I arrived at the check-in desk, the clerk was apologetic: “So sorry, Erisson-san, but your roomu is not ready yet. Prease accept our aporogies. You wirr have to stay in a different roomu.”

The “different roomu” turned out to be a honking big suite. It was Ultra De Luxe, and I was being charged the room rate for the regular single room I had booked. Just Damn!

And the bathroom...ahhh, that bathroom! I still reflect back upon it warmly. It was gorgeous, completely done up in marble. Absolutely spotless, and equipped with every gadget you might ever want. Color TV, stereo music, the finest porcelain amenities. I was almost sorry I didn’t have a monster case of the Hershey Squirts, the better to justify spending time in there.

But two frickin’ years squatting on your Significant Other’s toilet seat? Hard to justify, I tell ya. And even harder to explain why, without benefit of Super Glue, why one would want to sit there long enough to have your skin start to engulf the seat itself, long enough for your legs to atrophy.

How long, I wonder, would it take for your ass to work itself around the entire toilet, digesting it like an Amoeba Gone Wild? Trying to imagine it makes me shudder. A delicious sort of shudder, the kind that comes from knowing that it’s not my ass stuck to that toilet seat.

I guess if you have someone bringing you your meals, there’s really no pressing need to move. I mean, you’re already on the Throne in the event Nature calls. And all you need is a Teevee Set, so as not to get too bored. Me, I’d want an Internet hookup, so’s I could Blog on the Bog.

I love this world we live in. No need to make up Weird Shit. There’s more than enough of it out there.

MOO

By way of getting ready for IEATAPETA Day, here’s an article from the LA Times on the world’s most celebrated Italian butcher.

Gentlemen (and Ladies) - Start your salivary glands!

[Tip o’ th’ Elisson fedora to Houston Steve.]

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

TRUCKIN’

When someone asks you why you think the Internet is the greatest thing since sliced bread, just hop over to this site.

Q. E. Frickin’ D.

And there’s something for everybody. Looky! A nice picture for Jimbo!

[Tip o’ th’ Elisson fedora to Bane for the link.]

A CAREER IN PUBIC SERVICE

(Or: Eliot Spitzer, At Your Cervix.)

It never ceases to amaze me. No, wait: it has ceased to amaze me. Because it happens all the fucking time.

Yet another politician has got his Dick in a Wringer by sticking it where it doesn’t belong, the latest casualty being one Eliot “Idiot” Spitzer, soon to be ex-Governor of New York.

Years ago, I stopped wondering why people whose political star was on the rise – or at the zenith - would risk it all on the throw of the Shtup-Dice. I had asked a politically-connected acquaintance why anyone in Public Service would risk his career for a blowjob (this was when Charles Robb had gotten caught with his dick in some chippie’s face, long before the Clinton-Lewinsky mess), and he answered, “A politician will always take the blowjob.” And it looks like he was right. Charles Robb, Bill Clinton – hell, the list is so long, it would make my bloated blogroll vanish into insignificance by comparison.

And you know, normally, I don’t especially care. If I were less of a cynic, I might get bent out of shape about entrusting people who routinely violate their marriage vows with managing the Public Trust…but that seems to be an issue with Americans, mainly. A relic of our Puritan heritage, I expect.

But I do have an issue with hypocrisy.

It’s why I think Larry Craig is an asshole. When you’re buried so deep in the closet that you hide behind a pile of anti-gay rhetoric and legislation, you’re being a hypocrite.

And it’s why I think Eliot Spitzer is an asshole. Not just a hypocrite, but someone who has punished people for doing the same things he does. Schmuck.

Read the wise words of the munchkin wrangler on this subject. I wish I’d have said ’em first:
Anyone - anyone - who uses the power of their public office to prosecute and incarcerate people for a crime that they themselves commit should face a firing squad - and I don’t mean the metaphorical kind. I mean the actual kind, with rifles and bullets, and a paper target pinned to the chest of the wayward public servant.

Amen to that. [Tip o’ th’ Elisson fedora to Erica for finding this little gem.]

I also like Joe Tobacco’s take on the story:
Most “affairs” presume at least some sort of romantic involvement, which is bad enough, but prostitutes fill a different kind of need altogether, don’t they?

At least, for most people, they fill that need. For others, however, the need itself is associated with another, uglier need…the need to assert one’s power over a woman who, as a paid chattel, is pretty much guaranteed to do exactly what the “employer” asks.

Read the whole thing.

And that, I guess, is what adds the ultimate fillip, that extra dab of ridiculousness, to this story. Spitzer was nailing prostitutes. High-end call girls, some charging over four large per session. Jeez, what do you get to do to a whore for $4000? Stick it in her small intestine?

Anyway, here’s the thing. What kind of lame-ass politician pays for sex, when he can probably get all he wants for free?

Monday, March 10, 2008

CLASSIC

Last Friday evening, as She Who Must Be Obeyed and I waited to board our flight to Washington, D.C., I saw a young man, dressed in civvies but with an Army pack, sitting and reading Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

I smiled and leaned over to SWMBO.

“It’s always such a pleasure to see young people reading the classics.”

IN MOURNING: A 100-WORD LAMENT

When Matata took ill, Hakuna went into mourning, calling out and searching vainly for her sister. I thought of the familiar passage from Jeremiah:

A voice is heard on high, wailing, bitter weeping; Rachel weeps for her children, she refuses to be consoled…

Thus Hakuna grieved in her own, quiet way.

We became concerned when she didn’t touch her food without Matata there to give permission. Yet the morning Matata died, she cleaned her bowl.

We’re convinced Matata spoke to her. “It’s okay to eat, Sister. Be strong. Be strong for them, because they need you more than ever now.”

[You can listen to the podcasted version of this post here.]

Sunday, March 09, 2008

WE EATA MEATA 4 PETA

Bistrot du Coin
Bistrot du Coin.

As I write this, the Missus and I are winging our way back to Atlanta on the Silver Aerial Bus. It’s a clear, cold afternoon, and the weather is much more pleasant than it was when we flew up to Washington, D.C. Friday night. And – keyn ayin hora – this flight is a whole lot smoother.

With our flight Friday arriving about an hour late, we didn’t have energy to do much more than get to our hotel and collapse in our room. It’s doubtful we would have spent a lot of time running around out of doors anyway, given the intermittent rain showers.

Saturday morning, we marched up to Elder Daughter’s residence, which lies dead between the DuPont Circle and Adams Morgan neighborhoods. After taking a light meal at the local Belgian café (where it took a major effort of will to not order several selections from the impressive Beer Menu), we met a few of her friends that had driven down from New York (and that we had known from her Boston-area days). As soon as we had helped to get some of the equipment loaded backstage for that evening’s show, SWMBO and I left Elder Daughter and her friends to their rehearsal and headed back to our hotel, riding shank’s mare.

Our walks had taken us past Nora, an elegant little restaurant at the corner of Florida Avenue and R Street. I’ve wanted to check this place out ever since reading about the Bakerina’s experience there last spring, but I had already decided on a different choice for the evening meal. Nora is, after all, the kind of Serious Foodie Experience that one should linger over...and this evening we had a back-end constraint.

Nora
Restaurant Nora.

Our friend Sue met us at our hotel at about 3:30, and we were joined shortly afterwards by Meryl Yourish, who was still looking for an opportunity to smack me upside the head for being a Cranky Bat-Mitzvah Tutor several months ago. After exchanging a few pleasantries, we piled in Sue’s car and went off in search of dinner.

I had booked us a table at a local place, Bistrot du Coin, which I had selected for its combination of menu and location. And menu was important, because I wanted a place that served meat. What with EATAPETA Day being just one week away, both Meryl and I had figured that it was none too soon to start packing in a few meaty meals. The fine bistro-style cooking was an added bonus.

I started off with a salad piled high with sliced, roasted duck breast. You get extra EATAPETA points for eating cute animals, and what could be cuter than a cute little duckie? A cute little bunny, you say? Or a cute little lambie? They had those on the menu, too.

For the main dish, both Meryl and I dug in to hanger steaks. Mmmmm, I do love a good hanger steak, especially with a roasted shallot and a pile of the best honkin’ French fries I ever tasted occupying the rest of the plate. Whatever they fry them fries in, I can tell you it is not Vegetabobble Oil. Duck schmaltz, maybe. Beef suet, more likely.

Meryl and her Meat
Meryl tucks in to a yummy Hanger Steak.

Sue and SWMBO went the Fishy Route, ordering perfectly grilled filets of salmon. Hey, fish counts for EATAPETA grub, too…’cuz everyone knows Fishies have Feelings. And Faces.

SWMBO and Sue
SWMBO and Sue.

The only disappointment? No Meat-Based Desserts.

All too soon, dinner was over. Sue and Meryl dropped us off near the theatre for Elder Daughter’s show and headed off to their respective homes in Virginia. And we settled in to see the Big Production.

I freely acknowledge that I am in no way a Disinterested Observer, but I have to say that I was thoroughly impressed with the show. And that’s saying something, because, let’s face it: this was not the kind of event I would normally seek out on my own, being a middle-aged Penile-American. Elder Daughter’s own performance, coming near the end of the second act, was so astonishingly professional that I was left there with my jaw figuratively hanging open. I was even more gobsmacked when I found out that not only had she performed her piece; she had written it as well.

Mother Flower
Elder Daughter performs in The Mother Flower.

Holy. Crap.

Brick Facade

The next morning, SWMBO and I took Elder Daughter for a quick lunch before we headed off to the airport. The day was crisp, cold, and breezy. No: make that downright windy. But the local birds didn’t seem to care as they bathed themselves in a handy fountain...

Lion and Bird

...and then dried off in the warm dirt below.

Dirt Bath

It was an all-too-brief visit, but we packed a lot into one weekend, seeing many old friends and meeting new ones...and enjoying the work of a talented young woman who just happens to share our DNA.

SWMBO and Suitcase

I am a lucky guy.